Caesar’s crossing of the Adriatic Countered by a Winter Blockade During the Roman Civil War

By Ian Longhurst, published May 2016


During the Roman Civil War that broke out in 49 bc between Julius Caesar and Pompey naval operations played a critical role. In order to confront Pompey’s army quickly in the Balkans, a major amphibious crossing of the Adriatic was undertaken by Caesar’s army. The text of Caesar’s Civil War and other sources, including Lucan’s epic poem Pharsalia, pose problems for understanding the campaign. This paper identifies and corrects a number of key points from the texts and reconstructs a new narrative that enhances our understanding of events. The most significant problem is the identification of Caesar’s landing place for his army with Palaeste, when it can be shown that he probably landed inside the Gulf of Valona.

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Filed under: Antiquity | Mediterranean
Subjects include: Archaeology | Battles & Tactics | Navies

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