Text #9760

Plutarch. Lives. Vol. 7
[Plut. Caes. 43. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. Harvard University Press. 1967. (11 Vols.) p. 545]


Caesar called his soldiers together, and after telling them that Corfinius was near with two legions for him, and that fifteen cohorts besides under Calenus were stationed at Athens and Megara, asked them whether they wished to wait for these troops, or to hazard the issue by themselves. 2 Then the soldiers besought him with loud cries not to wait for the troops, but rather to contrive and manoeuvre to come to close quarters with the enemy as soon as possible. 3 As he was holding a lustration and review of his forces and had sacrificed the first victim, the seer at once told him that within three days there would be a decisive battle with the enemy. 4 And when Caesar asked him whether he also saw in the victims any favourable signs of the issue, “Thou thyself,” said the seer, “canst better answer this question for thyself. For the gods indicate a great change and revolution of the present status to the opposite. Therefore, if thou thinkest thyself well off as matters stand, expect the worse fortune; if badly off, the better.” 5 Moreover, one night before the battle, as Caesar was making the round of his sentries about midnight, a fiery torch was seen in the heavens, which seemed to be carried over his camp, blazing out brightly, and then to fall into Pompey’s. 6 And during the morning watch it was noticed that there was actually a panic confusion among the enemy. 7 However, Caesar did not expect to fight on that day, but began to break camp for a march to Scotussa.

Text #1935

Dio Cassius. Roman History. Series: Dio's Roman History. Vol. 4
[DioCass. 41.61. Translated by Earnest Cary. William Heinemann. 1916. (9 Vols.) p. 105]


At last, after they had carried on an evenly-balanced struggle for a very long time and many on both sides alike had fallen or been wounded, Pompey, since the larger part of his army was Asiatic and untrained, was defeated, even as had been made clear to him before the action. For thunderbolts had fallen upon his camp, a fire had appeared in the air over Caesar’s camp and had then fallen upon his own, bees had swarmed about his military standards, and many of the victims after being led up close to the very altar had run away. And so far did the effects of that contest extend to the rest of mankind that on the very day of the battle collisions of armies and the clash of arms occurred in many places. In Pergamum a noise of drums and cymbals rose from the temple of Dionysus and spread throughout the city; in Tralles a palm tree grew up in the temple of Victory and the goddess herself turned about toward an image of Caesar that stood beside her; in Syria two young men announced the result of the battle and vanished; and in Patavium, which now belongs to Italy but was then still a part of Gaul, some birds not only brought news of it but even acted it out to some extent, for one Gaius Cornelius drew from their actions accurate information of all that had taken place, and narrated it to the bystanders. These several things happened on that very same day and though they were, not unnaturally, distrusted at the time, yet when news of the actual facts was brought, they were marvelled at.

Text #9761

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

It’s curious that the earlier text by Plutarch refers to this phenomenon as a fiery torch in heaven that blazed out brightly and then fell in the camp of Pompey; that’s a good description of a fireball/meteorite. However, it is further described as “thunderbolts” in the text from Dio Cassius.

Please view our Legal Notice before you make use of this Database.

See also our Credits page for info on data we are building upon.