The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

LABIENUS.

gaming a complete victory over Camulogenus, who commanded the enemy. During the winter of this year he was left in command of the troops, while Caesar repaired, according to his usual custom, to Cisalpine Gaul; and finding that Commius, the Atrebatian, was endeavouring to excite a new re­volt in Gaul, he made an ineffectual attempt to remove him by assassination. During the two following years, which preceded the breaking out of the civil war, Labienus continued to hold the chief command in the army, next to Caesar him­self. In b. c. 51 Caesar sent him into Gallia Togata, or Cisalpine Gaul, to defend the Roman colonies, lest the barbarians should make any sudden attack upon them ; and on his return into Transalpine Gaul, he was again despatched against the Treviri, whom he had conquered three years before, and whom he again subdued without any difficulty. So much confidence did Caesar place in Labienus, that when he returned into Transalpine Gaul in b. c. 50, he left Labienus in command of Cisalpine Gaul, that the latter might in his absence still further win over the Roman citizens in his province to support Caesar in his attempts to gain the consulship for the year following. (Caes. B. G. vii. 57—62, viii. 23, 24, 25, 45, 52 ; Dion Cass. xl. 38, 43.)

But Caesar's confidence was misplaced. The great success which Labienus had gained under Caesar, and which was rather due to Caesar's genius than to his own abilities, had greatly elated his little mind, and made him fancy himself the equal of his great general, whom he was no longer disposed to obey as heretofore. (Comp. Dion Cass. xli. 4.) Such conduct naturally caused Caesar to treat him with coolness ; and the Pompeian party eagerly availed themselves of this opportunity to gain him over to their side. They entered into negotiations with him in this year, while he was in Cisalpine Gaul, and their efforts were successful, notwithstanding the large fortune which had been bestowed upon him by Caesar (comp. Cic. ad Ait. vii. 7), and the other numerous marks of favour which he had received at his hands. Accordingly, on the breaking out of the civil war in b. c. 49, Labienus took an early opportunity to desert his old friend and captain. The news of his defection was received at Rome with transport ; and Cicero speaks of it again and again in terms of the greatest exultation. "I look upon Labienus as a hero," he writes to Atticus ; " that great man Labienus," he calls him in another letter, and speaks of " the tremendous blow" (maxima plaga) which Caesar had received from the desertion of his chief officer. But this " hero" was destined to disappoint grievously his new friends. He brought no ac­cession of strength to their cause ; he had not sufficient influence with Caesar's veterans to induce them to forsake the general whom they idolised ; even the town of Cingulum, on which he had spent so much money, was one of the first to open its gates to Caesar (Caes. B.C. i. 15) ; and in war his talents seem to have been rather those of an officer than of a commander ; he was more fitted to execute the orders of another than to devise a plan of action for himself. In a few weeks' time we find Cicero speaking of him in very altered language, and expressing a desire for the arrival of Afraniiis and Petreitis, as little was to be expected from Labienus. (In Labieno parum est dignitatis, Cic. ad Alt. viii. 2. § 3; comp. Cic. ad Att. vii.

697

tABIENUS;

11. 12, 13, a, b. 15, 16, ad Fam. xiv. 14, xvi.

12.)

In the following year (b.c.48) Labienus took an active part as one of Porapey's legates in the campaign in Greece. Here he distinguished himself, like many others of Pompey's officers, by his cruelty and overweening confidence ; though we ought perhaps to make some deduction from the un­favourable terms in which he is spoken of by Caesar. Appian, however, relates (B.C. ii. 62 )* that it was through the advice of Labienus that Pompey did not follow up the success which he had gained at Dyrrhachium, by forcing Caesar's camp, which he might easily have done, and thus have brought the war to a close. And the act of cruelty committed by Labienus after this battle was of so 'public a nature, that Caesar would not have ventured to record it unless it had been ac­tually committed. He is related to have obtained from Pompey all Caesar's soldiers who had been taken prisoners in the battle, to have paraded them before the Pompeian army,, and, after taunting them as his " fellow-soldiers," and upbraiding them by asking " whether veteran soldiers were accus­tomed to fly," to have put them to death in the presence of the assembled troops. In the council of war held before the fatal battle of Pharsalia, he expressed the utmost contempt for Caesar's army, and thus contributed his share to increase that false confidence, which was one of the main causes of the disastrous issue of the battle. (Caes. B. C. iii. 13, 19, 71, 87.)

After the defeat at Pharsalia Labienus,fled to Dyrrhachium, where he found Cicero, and informed him of the news (Cic. de Div. i. 32), but at the same time, to give some courage to his party, pre­tended that Caesar had received a severe wound in the engagement. (Frontin. Strat. ii. 7. § 13.) From Dyrrhachium Labienus repaired with Afranius to Corcyra, in order to join Cato ; arid from thence he proceeded to Cyrene (Plut. Cat. Min. 56), which refused to receive him, and finally he joined the scattered remnants of the Pompeian party in Africa. Here Scipio and Cato, two of the most celebrated leaders of the Pompeians, collected a considerable army. Labienus had at first the command of an army near Ruspina, where he fought against Caesar, in b. c. 46, at first with some success, but was at length repulsed. Soon after this battle Labienus united his forces with those of Scipio, under whom he served as legate during the rest of the campaign. (Dion Cass. xlii. 10, xliii. 2 ; Appian, B. C. ii. 95 ; Hirt. B. Afr. 15—19, &c.)

When the battle of Thapsus placed the whole of Africa in Caesar's power, Labienus fled into Spain with the surviving relics of his party, in order, to continue the war there in conjunction with Cn. Pompey. At the battle of Munda, which was fought in the following year, b.c. 45, Labienus was destined once more to oppose his old com­mander, and by a strange fatality to give the. death-blow to the very party that had welcomed him with so much joy. The battle was undecided, and would probably have remained so, had not Labienus quitted his ranks, to prevent Bogud, king of Mauritania, from capturing the Pompeian camp. The Pompeian troops, thinking that La­bienus had taken to flight, lost their courage, wavered, and fled. Labienus himself fell in the ; battle, and his head was brought to Caesar. The

Pages
About | First

696

697

698
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.