class period 2
Julius Caesar crossing the rubicon river
The Great Roman Civil War (49–45 BC), also known as Caesar's Civil War, was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire. It began as a series of political and military confrontations, between Julius Caesar (100–44 BC), his political supporters (broadly known as Populares), and his legions, against the Optimates (or Boni), the politically conservative and socially traditionalist faction of the Roman Senate, who were supported by Pompey (106–48 BC) and his legions.
On 10 January 49 BC, leading one legion, the Legio XIII Gemina, General Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River, the boundary between the Cisalpine Gaul province to the north and Italy proper to the south, a legally-proscribed action forbidden to any army-leading general. The proscription protected the Roman Republic from a coup d'état; thus, Caesar's military action began a civil war.
After spending the first months of 47 BC in Egypt, he went to Syria, and then to Pontus to deal with Pharnaces II, a client king of Pompey's who had taken advantage of the Romans being distracted by their civil war to oppose the Roman-friendly Deiotarus and make himself the ruler of Colchis and lesser Armenia. At Nicopolis he had defeated what little Roman opposition Caesar's lieutenant, the governor of Asia Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, could muster. He had also taken the city of Amisus, which was a Roman ally, made all the boys eunuchs, and sold the inhabitants to slave traders. After this show of strength against the Romans, Pharnaces drew back to suppress revolt in his new conquests.
Caesar was later proclaimed dictator first for ten years and then in perpetuity. The latter arrangement in openly doing away with a term limit, triggered the conspiracy leading to his assassination on the Ides of March in 44 BC out of such fears. Following this, Antony and Caesar's adopted son Octavius (later Caesar Augustus) had to fight yet another civil war against remnants of the Optimates and Liberatores faction, but they were crushed by the skill of Marcus Antonius, who was able to defeat his two main opponents, and Octavius, despite having his camp overrun, evaded capture.