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Forum Home > Research > Pharsalus Armies

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i queried the numbers for Ceasars army in Armies andEnemies of Imperial Rome on the SOA Forum:

Duncan Heads response:


Re: Pharsalus

« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2015, 09:53:31 PM »


Caesar himself says 22,000. Other ancient sources (Orosius, Eutropius) say 30,000 or so. Delbruck's argument for c.32,000 here.

Patrick Watersons response:

« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 11:45:46 AM »


The original anomaly may spring from counting only legionaries (22,000) or legionaries plus auxiliaries (putatively 30,000 - cf. Appian II.10//70).


Caesar's six 500-man cohorts retained for his surprise seem to have been double-strength cohorts; they would have an average strength of 500-ish while the remaining cohorts would each field an average of 250 or so. His seventh double-strength cohort seems to have stayed with the Tenth legion, perhaps on account of its key position on his open flank. It reveals its presence through Crastinus' 120-man century (and its overall strength may have been 600 rather than 500 if the other centuries were of comparable strength).


Given the uneven attrition experienced by Caesar's units during this campaign, I would be wary of assuming that average strengths necessarily represented actual strengths (the weakened VIII and IX legions were combined into a composite legion and there is no indication whether this was stronger, the same as or weaker then the 'average' legion strength) but we may have to use this as a default basis in the absence of detailed unit descriptions.

May 16, 2015 at 6:35 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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