Philippi – Triumvirate takes it all

Final encounter

Now everything was on the table in Philippi. Both sides were standing silently in long rows watching forward to enemy lines. Javelins, bows and swords were firmly grabbed by hands and all killing tools were ready to drink blood. Soon about 400 000 men were to clash each others in close combat with hand arms. This battle would not be a normal fight about glory and booty but fight to destroy hated opponent totally. Because this was a real civil war – civil war where men hated firmly each others. Especially Antony’s side wanted to destroy traitors totally. With brutal force! Caesars veterans had not forget their fair master but wanted to take terrible revenge! Between these lines were still some 100 meters no mans land and flags were waving on wind on both sides. For a moment men were wondering strength and quality of enemy soldiers – could they win or would they loose. On upper hill were legions and warriors of eastern empire – Creeks, Syrians and Easter kings. On lower hill was western empire with it’s Roman veterans – legions of Italy, Hispania and Gaul. Both sides were Romans but still from different part of Roman realm. And now everything in this life were separating them…

Marcus Junius Brutus was standing on another side amongst his army and Antony, Octavia and Marcus Agrippa on another side. Even though Brutus was standing with his massive army – 17 legions – on upper hill, he was now missing Cassius. He still tried to convince himself to be a liberator – a man for Republic. But what was Republic? It was just a realm where group of old noble men where controlling everything as they wished. Not the people of Rome! But Brutus had been educated to that dream of old famous families and therefore he could not understand the wrong in it. When all rights of republic were given to old noble families it was not any better than to have one dictator – or king! At least for normal poor Roman people. But this kind of analyze in thinking was too strange for Brutus. And now he was alone with all pressures of Roman world in his shoulder – Antony and Octavian had killed all his friends in Rome. And just few days ago Cassius has thrown himself onto his gladius-sword when he had thought that they lost the whole battle in first fight. But he had been too hasty! Same time as Antony had override Cassius on right flank Brutus had routed same way both Octavian and Agrippa on left side. So even though Antony showed again to be the real hero of Rome – maybe the only one – the whole battle was still unsolved tie.

But now all responsibilities of the future fate laid on shoulders of Brutus alone. He – Brutus – had to bear all pressures. When Brutus was watching now – in this living seconds – downhill, he could see Antony in front of his army without fear smiling and laughing courageously. Typical Antony. As usual Octavian was on background feeling ill but Agrippa was in middle of the troops guiding them the best he could. Both men – Octavian and Agrippa – were still rookies concerning hard battles. But Antony was on their side giving that invincible status to them also. Brutus knew well that both men – Antony and Octavian – would tear him apart if they win. They would disgrace him in all possible ways in front of Roman people in Forum and then kill him. That was the reason why also Cassius had committed suicide. He did not want to let himself to be caught by Antony. The hatred of Antony and Octavian was too heavy against so called liberators because they have killed Caesar like cowards. The cowardly killing of Gaius Julius Caesar has also been in thought’s of Brutus ever since. He had seen nightmares and he knew his deed was not the brave one. To kill a man who had saved him in former civil war this way… He had also broken his oath in front of all Roman gods! Because of that, he had already seen ghost from hell couple nights ago. In darkness of night a strange shadow had suddenly approached him in his tent and told that he would loose the civil war and be perished…

But now it was just question of minutes and fate of Brutus would be found. Would he be the ruler of Rome or dead hero! He still tried to convince him that he and his companions had been right when they have killed Caesar. He still tried to tell himself that they have been in the course of Republic and common people when they have robbed and sacked eastern Rome with Cassius to gather this army. But even though he tried to say it over and over again in his mind, his subconsciousness answered that they were just fighting from power. It was all about ruling. And how could it be other way? So deep it was educated in Roman minds that personal career meant everything to noble men. They were not fighting for poor farmers but their own “virtus”. Success in life. And now it was here – the moment of truth! Brutus sighed and felt still confused but determined – now or never! He wanted this to be soon over because so long he had suffered from nervousness. He had felt fear and pain from becoming ordeal – did he right or wrong? Soon the fate of Brutus was to take place and he would get rest with one way or another. And it was good because time was playing for triumvirates.

After first battle and death of Cassius, Brutus men have started to desert. Not because of their numbers. No. Their army was magnificent size and nearly 200 000 men. But his creek allies and eastern kings had started to fear the big decisive skirmish. In first battle they have seen how strong and bitter were the veterans of Caesars. Veterans of Caesar practically wanted to break every skull and tear out guts of their enemies. Like the way they had once built a high pyramid of their enemies heads in Munda! Because they were all experienced and battle-harded men from Gallic wars and civil wars against Pompey, they did not fear anything. And they were lead by that ruthless man – Marc Antony. Easter kings and Creeks were starting to shiver and wonder why they should took part to this fight. Why? This was not their war but war of Roman nobles. In Philippi they were not much spoils to win but if they loose, Antony would surely massacre them. He was known to be man with extreme hate and brutal mind. Everybody knew what he had done to Cicero. After killing him he had nailed his hands and tongue on wooden door in Forum as he had promised earlier! That man was surely from underworld of Hades! So little by little Eastern allies of Brutus had started to desert him. One by one his middle-eastern allies had fled from battlefield. Even though his fortress on upper hill was great, he could not let his men flee on by one. Otherwise he would loose his whole army with time. Therefore he had decided with heavy heart to give up to Antony and accept his battle charge. Battle charge that Antony threw every morning against his face because that was his nature – straight and courageous. This morning Brutus has accepted it and led his men on typical battle formation – left side, middle and right wing. There they were – watching silently each others…
But his would be different fight than any other. This would be a close combat with men against men by swords and cavalry would not have any role. This was going to be a brutal fight till the end…

.Centurion (in hotel) in Lugo – an ancient Roman castle city in northwest Spain
It was already autumn and weather felt chilly. Even though sun was now rising high on eastern Macedonian blue sky. A cool wind was blowing from the north when men were standing in dense rows – cohort by cohort. Chilly wind cooled the hot thoughts of Antony’s men who were just waiting order to charge opposite site. They waited for killing to start. And they were the best professionals in that – veterans of Caesar with so many battles behind. Their eager minds wanted the fighting to start soon so that all this painful waiting would be over. Also cavalrymen – Equites – were commanded as foot soldiers because this would be a combat without any smart tricks. Just brutal force men against men in close combat. One of the officers of Equites was extremely experienced. He was Marcus Claudius Porsenna who was once a war tribune in Caesar’s Gaulic army. For him these moments before battles were nothing new anymore. He had seen so many big battles already in his lifetime – and he was now man in thirties. He was experienced warrior with his mightiest fit. As being an equites he was used to hit with heavy and long Spatha – the cavalry sword. Therefore his arm strengths were magnificent and his sword gave powerful hits. After experiencing Alesia, Pharsalus, Munda and many other battles, he had seen all devilish that could exist in battles. Because of that he had hardened his feelings and he could push his emotions background. So he stood there long and muscular beside his friend – Marc Antony. Together they had once ride aside Gaius Julius Caesar in Gaul. And Marcus had always respected highly Caesar – more than anything else! Therefore he also hated strongly traitors and this campaign had become as his personal crusade for revenge. He wanted to destroy Brutus, Cassius and other traitors – many of them senators. For him they were the lowest creatures in the earth after giving up from their oaths to Caesar. So also for Marcus Porsenna this was different fight than any other. This was not for winning but for revenging Caesar – his master. And he has made his oath loudly to take a revenge and he had also asked that for Octavian. So after some confused weeks when Caesar had been killed, former officers and veterans of Caesars had found each others. Finally they joined and started the hot pursuit of traitors in Italy. And finally they were here in Easter Macedonia and they were ready to take their vengeance.

Even though Marcus waited impatiently battle to begin he also let his thoughts to wonder just a minute towards home – towards Rome. He had left his friends and Aurelia in Rome to reach personal revenge. Was that right thing to do he had wondered? Aurelia – that blond haired Celtic woman had been in his mind always from the moment they had once met. After all lived years he could not have found anything else worthwhile of living than Aurelia. It was not a wonder because mainly he had seen in life killing and misery. First as a child and then later in war campaigns. On the other hand in war campaigns he had seen all realm and Mediterranean around! So he had lot to compare for. But it did not help… Even though he had known Aurelia more than ten years after great wars in Gaul, she had not given her heart to Marcus. Not even though they lived in Rome together in his Domus on Quirinalis hills. For a second Marcus let the beautiful face of Aurelia come into his mind. For a second he watched again her hazel brown eyes, long blond hair and her beautiful smile. For a moment he remembered all those times that they have spent together in beautiful gardens in Rome having picnic together. Yes – she had something that had always fascinated Marcus and he – Marcus – could not escape that. But only into death. Because she did not love him and she would never give her heart to Marcus – he knew. But he was a warrior and he could take it. Many times he had wondered the peculiar ways of life and human nature. Even though he was a great Roman hero Aurelia would never love him. Still he could have taken Aurelia as his slave during the Gaulic war but he had not done it. This was because she was Celtic spoils of Gaulic war. But he loved her with pure heart and he had not want to do it. He had wanted Aurelia to flourish and he had humbled his heart. How peculiar was human nature… Still Marcus thought short time that maybe he will never see bright eyes of Aurelia again. Maybe everything is here soon over for him. For a moment he felt will to survive from this battle to see Aurelia again. Just for one time! Was it right decision to leave freely Rome to join this campaign for vengeance Marcus still wondered. Who knows … finally he ended his thoughts and got ready in his mind for becoming battle. Marcus sighed and felt that it was just now question of seconds when trumpets would give sign to attack. Antony gave already sign for his centurions to guide troops to get ready in their position at rows. Marcus sighed and felt drop of sweat rolling down cross his face from overhead. Even though it was already October. His heart was starting to beat faster and heavier with every second when excitement rose. Soon – soon it will happen. His mind was repeating this when adrenaline was pumped into his veins …

Suddenly he started to hear silent voices in his ears. Voices that no-one else could hear. It was like light buzzing in his ears and he could find clear words in humming – words of dead spirits or Roman gods. Like so many times earlier he had again that strange feeling before decisive battle. He had lost hundreds of friends in earlier battles and therefore he was sure that those words were voices of his past friends. And the silent words of spirits echoed comfort, trust and courage for Marcus. And Marcus could hear them…
“Duty… Honour… Courage” whispered rough voice.
“Rome. Rome is everything!” said one proud voice strongly.
“You live only for Rome… only for Rome…” said pleading voice.
“Victory and glory always for Rome…” many voices whispered together.
“Revenge… revenge our blood…” said cold and painful voice.
And Marcus listened the voices and felt himself stronger every second. He felt that voices were giving him more courage than he had in himself. And he was sure that one voice was his dearest friend – his only friend Rufio. An equites soldier who had died so long ago in Munda. But still Rufio wanted to encourage Marcus in becoming battle from realm of Orcus – world of death. Rufio and silent voices of past spirits gave Marcus the strength that he would not collapse in midst of battle. So finally he was ready for the big charge.

And suddenly Antony gave another sign with his right hand and soldiers nearby on hills lifted their trumpets and clear sound of horns filled the air. Like howls of dozen wolves. That was it! Just couple seconds later trumpets were heard from Brutus side and men started to walk slowly towards each others. Same time all soldiers were yelling and screaming insults on each others and banging their shields with swords. They shouted honor to their victory signs and gods to reach battle energy. Centurions of armies were shouting orders now and then to keep cohorts in line. With terrible noice and shout men started to walk faster and faster when getting nearer each others. Finally Brutus gave order to his centurion to start run downhill with good speed. He wanted his legionaries to rout Antony’s army who was running upwards from downhill. And soon both armies were running against opponent’s rows with high speed. Marcus led his own equites troops and knew that his teuton mercenaries were on his both sides strong as rock. First touch of lines would be important and men were taking high speed and trying to jump against enemys shield so that enemy soldier would fall. And then it happened. First lines of these two armies clashed against each others and terrible boom took place when shields and men collided against enemy. It was like two tidal waves rammed against other and men were screaming from pain when swords and spears were pushed against man flesh. Blood were splashing along whole line when dying men were felling and being stamped below soldiers feet. This was a battle like not any other. Here men trusted to their swords and bows were thrown away. Every men wanted to use only their swords to cut opponents guts from their bellies. This was the most brutal war! As everybody knew Gladius sword was not done to hit upwards but to stab. Therefore in close combat thousands of Gladius swords tried to stab enemy bodies to immobilize them. Therefore it looked like two enormous circular saws were ramming each others and trying to destroy everything living on their path. Thus blood, flesh and guts were hurled on the air when desperate men shouted and screamed for their pain. More and more men in front rows were hit badly by swords and they fell on the ground below feet either dead or seriously wounded. But always new men from second row took their place and for a moment battlefront remained on the place were two armies faced.

Men of Brutus tried all their best to take advantage from their better position on upper hill – but with no success. Still after fifteen minutes veterans of Caesars army keep their lines steady and even took some steps forward. Now the difference of veteran and normal recruited soldier came clear. After fighting some minutes the Gaulic veterans were getting warmer and more blood thirsty. When seeing blood running everywhere on battlefield that odd ecstasy of killing filled Antony’s veterans. Their spirit got even more wilder and courageous when smell of blood penetrated their nostrils. Same time as Antony’s veterans were just getting on their best, young recruited eastern legionaries and eastern allies started to hesitate. When they saw the mad and burning gaze in the eyes of veterans they started to fear of their lives. After fighting bravely more than twenty minutes fear of death started to fill hearts of Brutus army. Now little by little veterans got further on upper hill and army of Brutus started to take steps backwards. When Brutus saw what was happening he started to yell and shout courage to his men. He did his best and guided his centurions to support breaking points and even personally entered on points of front where his soldiers seem to stumble. But is was all for vain! Even though Brutus did his best he could not win the gap in experience of service years in battlefields. Antony’s veterans had seen so many terrible and tight battles in their past that there was nothing they anymore feared. On the contrary – when battle was getting more critical they got the best effort from their skills. All those years in battles turned now the tide against Brutus and little by little his army had to give up and retreat. Now also the battle condition of men came visible. After pushing, stabbing and taking blows of sword on their shields, Brutus men were starting to get tired. Little by little they got weaker and were not able to respond with heavy hits to Antony’s veterans.

Also Marcus Claudius Porsenna was pushing upwards the hill with his Teuton mercenaries. With his strong body he shared nasty blows against enemy and was now heading towards Brutus. Even though they were equites – cavalry soldiers – they were as used to battle on foot. This all was learned long time ago in Gaul. when battle started they had taken firmly the first clash of Brutus men and opposed them with their shields. Then little by little Marcus pushed with his teuton mercenaries enemy backwards with all their strengths. Now and then they hit enemy with sword when they saw an opening in enemy’s defense. Soon they were starting to show the terrible expertise of their killing profession. With their heavy Spatha swords they gave all the time heavier blows against men of Brutus and soon enemy soldiers had to yield when faced to their anger. So blood started to flow more and more on the ground and hill started to get slippery. The strong smell of hot blood started to raise from the ground and veterans turned drunk from it. Also Marcus had begun to feel that strange urge to attack and kill his enemies as the fury and heavy odor of hot blood occupied him. So he gave more and more courageous and gave wild hits with his sword up and front. After fifteen minutes enemy soldiers begun to tremble before him. After first minutes he had even thrown his shield away to be able to hit heavier with two hands by his sword to opponents. Again he felt how his heavy sword easily cut mailchain shirt of Syrian legionary and torn apart soldier guts. When this man fell down a new man stepped forward as replacement from second line. But already then Marcus had lifted his sword up for second blow as new enemy took his place on line. He saw how this young man hesitated only while what to do and it was enough. Marcus let his sword sank downwards. With heavy blow he hit straight forward the head off from torso and blood splashed everywhere. next man lost his right arm in few seconds and so killing continued along whole line. So Marcus and his teuton friends got forward up the hill and left dying men behind them. Always after killing one enemy they already lifted their sword to destroy next enemy without hesitation or thinking – it was just killing with pure instinct from old experience. After half an hour men were covered by splashed blood and clear lines started to fade. Fighting was now getting mixed when groups of men gathered together among dust and Antony’s veterans started to chase men of Brutus.

More and more Brutus lost the control of battle and his men turned to escape but they were stopped by they fellow men behind them. Therefore battle started to turn more like survival game. Men of Brutus did not think anymore how to win but how to survive. When stopped they started to defend their lives as small groups when Antony’s men attacked them from all sides. At this moment battle was totally lost and Brutus understood it soon. From all sides Antony, Octavian, Agrippa and their men were chasing them. They were too numerous and too experienced! There was no way to escape from this trap, Brutus understood. And he remembered the fate of Caesar’s second man in Gaul – Titus Labienus. After selling his soul from money to Pompey the Great Labienus left Caesar when war has ended in Gaul. Then he fought in all continents against Caesar in civil war. And lost everyone of them. Finally in Munda gods called him from this life. So one by one all Caesar’s opponents were destroyed during civil war. Against all reasons Brutus and his band of traitors had brought a new civil war over Rome. Something that Caesar had put his faith – that no-one would be so crazy after seeing the first one. But They have been Brutus thought and now it all was to end he thought. And he felt sad when he thought that even though they had so good start for this campaign they had lost it. Maybe it was clear from the start… Anyways the greatest gods – Jupiter, Juno and Minerva – had deserted their course. It was evident now he thought. Even though they have sacked whole eastern empire to build this massive army and killed all Antony’s friends in east like Cornelius Dolabella – but it was not enough! Not enough ….

Now whole army of Brutus escaped as confused mass backwards on hills to search cover. Brutus men deserted their well equipped walls and towers and run or ride as fast as possible through camp wishing to be lucky enough to escape pursuit. Some men just throw away their weapon and asked winners to save their life. They promised to serve new masters and told that they were tricked to this campaign. Meanwhile Antony’s men conquered the camp and fortifications of Brutus. And soon they sacked it totally while some men continued chase. Antony asked Marcus and some other cavalry officers to get on horseback and take care that as few as possible would escape. Especially Antony and Octavian wanted to get Brutus! And of course other senators and officers who were the evil center of Brutus movement. But Brutus has already escaped with four legions on the hills that were behind his camp. he still wondered would there be any way out of this – even thin chance. But after he sat and thought sometime on hills with his remaining legions he lost his hope. He did not have any treasure left to buy a new army. After his lost no-one would give him anymore money enough to build a new army. No eastern king and no western ally and no Lepidus in Africa. His only solution would be to leave to Parthia to ask help. But they were extreme enemies of Rome. The only real enemy! Now when Antony and Octavian had killed all his friends and supporters in western Rome and he had lost eastern there was no place left for him to hide. Only Sextus Pompey with Sicilian pirates. But was that a living for his kind of hero coming from old family line of elder Brutus who saved once Rome from Etruscan kings? No – Brutus decided. He could only do as Cato. And he had broken his oath to Caesar. So maybe that was his punishment and only way to have some honor back. So Brutus asked few of his most loyal friends and companion to say his last words.
“My friends – We have to flee with all possible means. But not with our feet but through our hands!”
And he continued to curse Antony who had made this to him.
“Jupiter – don’t forget him who has written the verses for this happenings!”
After that he throwed himself onto his sword!
So ended the civil war in Philippi in times of second triumvirate.
After triumvirates were delivered body of Marcus Junius Brutus, they sighed with relief. Now it was over. For a moment they thought however that this body could have been them. Despite earlier hate Antony surprised his friends. After seeing the bloody body of Brutus he covered it with his most valuable purple robe and wanted to show that he still honored Brutus. Maybe to show that Brutus has been yet a senator and from noble birth. Or maybe he wished that once when he would meet his fate he would also be honored and not shamed. Or maybe he remembered that actually Brutus had forbidden his fellow senators to kill Antony after killing Caesar in senate. And surely traitors would have chased Antony to death on that day and moment. Even Cicero said later on that Brutus deed was noble but childish. And in the end as dead senator he was no more dangerous for Antony. So in the end Brutus received honored burials after caused so much death and misery in Roman world. Finally Antony even sent the ashes of Brutus to his mother Servilia.

Now gods had decided that Antony, Octavian and Agrippa would lead Rome. At home – in Rome – there was still waiting and keeping order Lepidus, who was Antony’s friend in Gaulic wars and third triumvirate. Now the war was ended and Antony merged the enemy legions to his army and marched to conquer and take control of eastern Empire. So eastern Rome was to come his realm and finally his destiny. So Octavian went back home to Rome and started to organize and heal the divided and suffered realm. And he had to face all the problems of poverty and riots in Rome and how to get new land and settle old legionaries. And later on he had to deal with Sextus Pompey who held Sicilia as his private sea piracy empire. And Lepidus was given North Africa where he would not disturb Octavian. And so Rome grew glorious in time – again!