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The Battle of the Nile in 47 BC saw the combined RomanEgyptian armies of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII defeat those of the rival Queen Arsinoe IV and King Ptolemy XIII and secure the throne of Egypt.

Battle of the Nile
Part of the Alexandrine Civil War
Date47 BC
Location
Result Decisive Roman victory
Belligerents
Caesar's and Cleopatra's forces Ptolemaic forces
Commanders and leaders
Gaius Julius Caesar
Cleopatra VII
Mithridates I
Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator
Arsinoe IV of Egypt
Strength
20,000 c. 20,000

Contents

PreludeEdit

After pursuing his rival Pompey to Egypt, Caesar, recently victorious in a civil war closer to home, became entwined in the Alexandrine civil war after his rival, Pompey Magnus, was killed by King Ptolemy XIII in an attempt to please Caesar.

From August 48 BC until January 47 BC, Caesar was besieged in Alexandria, Egypt with about 4,000 men. He was attempting to resolve the Egyptian Civil War between Ptolemy XIII and his sister Cleopatra. When Caesar began to appear to favor Cleopatra over him, Ptolemy was first captured, but then released by Caesar, and gathered his army to besiege the Romans in a small area of Alexandria.

By January, the Egyptians had begun to get the upper hand in their efforts to cut the Romans off from reinforcements and resupply. Caesar had requested reinforcements from his ally, Mithridates of Pergamum, who marched overland from Asia Minor to assist him. Arriving in the Nile delta in January, Mithridates defeated one Egyptian force sent to stop him. Caesar, getting a message that his allies were close, left a small garrison in Alexandria and hurried to meet them. The combined force, about 20,000 strong, met the Egyptians in February 47 BC at the Battle of the Nile. The Egyptian army, equipped in the Greek manner, was probably about the same size.

BattleEdit

Caesar, knowing of the strong Egyptian position, opened the battle by having Roman led legions destroyed a Ptolemaic fort to try to lure the Egyptians off the hill. However when the Egyptians stayed in their positions, the Roman army then engaged the Egyptian Forces at the hill, resulting in fierce fighting between the two forces. Several Roman cohorts then tried to flank the Egyptians, only to suffer heavy casualties after the Egyptians pinned down the flanking force and fired at them with missile fire on the Egyptians ships. Eventually, a gap was exposed on the main Egyptian line which a Roman contingent managed to exploite and attacked the Egyptians from the rear causing the Egyptian army to panic and flee from the battlefield. Among the retreat included Ptolemy, who reputedly drowned when his ship capsized. Egypt was now in the hands of Caesar, who then lifted the Siege of Alexandria and placed Cleopatra on the throne with another of her brothers, Ptolemy XIV. He then uncharacteristically lingered in Egypt until April, enjoying a liaison with the youthful queen.

ReferencesEdit

SourcessEdit

  • Brice, Lee L. (2014). Warfare in the Roman Republic: From the Etruscan Wars to the Battle of Actium. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610692991.
  • Cary, M. & H. H. Scullard (1980) [1976]. A History of Rome. London: MacMillan. ISBN 0-312-38395-9.
  • Fischer-Bovet, Christelle (2014). Army and Society in Ptolemaic Egypt. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107007758.
  • Grainger, John D. (2013). Egypt and Judaea. Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781848848238.
  • Smith, William (1867). "Achillas". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Tomo I. Boston: Brown.
  • Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich (1962). Social and Cultural Dynamics: FLuctuation of social relationships, war, and revolution. New York: Bedminster Press.
  • Tucker, Spencer C. (2009). A Global Chronology of Conflict: From the Ancient World to the Modern Middle East. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781851096725.
  • Yalichev, Serge (1997). Mercenaries of the ancient world. Hippocrene Books. ISBN 9780781806749.

Coordinates: 30°54′N 31°7′E / 30.900°N 31.117°E / 30.900; 31.117