Titus Labienus

Last updated
Titus Labienus
Bornc. 100 BC
Died17 March 45 BC (aged c. 55)
Cause of deathKilled in battle
Occupation(s)Soldier and politician
Office Tribune of the plebs (63 BC)
Praetor (60/59 BC)
Children Quintus Labienus
Military career
Allegiance Julius Caesar (58–49 BC)
Pompey (49–45 BC)
Branch Roman army
Rank Legate
Wars Gallic Wars
Caesar's Civil War

Titus Labienus (c. 100 17 March 45 BC) was a high-ranking military officer in the late Roman Republic. He served as tribune of the Plebs in 63 BC. Although mostly remembered as one of Julius Caesar's best lieutenants in Gaul and is mentioned frequently in the accounts of his military campaigns, Labienus chose to oppose him during the Civil War and was killed at Munda. He was the father of Quintus Labienus.



Early career

As his praetorship was in 60 or 59 BC, Titus Labienus most likely was born around 100 BC. [1] Many sources suggest that he came from the town of Cingulum in Picenum. His family was of equestrian status. He most likely had early ties with Pompey during his time as a patron for Picenum and his desire to rise in military rank. [1] His early service was c. 78–75 BC in Cilicia under Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus fighting pirates and the Isaurian hill tribes. [2]

Tribune of the Plebs, Trial of Gaius Rabirius

In 63 BC, Titus Labienus was a tribune of the Plebs with close ties to Pompey. Gaius Julius Caesar was also working closely with Pompey and therefore he and Labienus occasionally cooperated. These interactions were the seed that eventually developed into a friendship between Labienus and Caesar.

At Caesar's instigation, Labienus accused Gaius Rabirius of high treason (perduellio) for the murder of the tribune Lucius Appuleius Saturninus and of his uncle Titus Labienus in 100 BC. The purpose of this trial was to discredit the so-called "final decree of the Senate" (senatus consultum ultimum), an emergency measure of the senate commonly used against the Populares and the Roman assemblies. Labienus used the antiquated procedure of the duumviri, used in the early republic, against Rabirius. The procedure bypassed normal criminal law and Rabirius would be tried without defense. Since tribunes were sacrosanct, it was seen as an act against the gods to kill one. Thus punishment of the culprit was seen as more of a cleansing to appease the gods. The killing was seen as a pollution so profound that a normal criminal trial was unnecessary and immediate cleansing was necessary to avoid the wrath of the gods. The duumviri were assigned to accuse under the pretense of obvious guilt and cleanse the culprit through scourging.

Rabirius appealed to the Centuriate Assembly and Cicero spoke in his defense. However, before the assembly could vote, Metellus Celer used his powers as an augur to claim the sightings of bad omens and take down the flag in Janiculum. That postponed the trial. Rabirius was ultimately sentenced to exile, as he was unable to pay an unreasonable fine. [3]

In the same year, Labienus carried a plebiscite returning the elections of the pontifices to the people. That indirectly secured for Caesar the dignity of pontifex Maximus, by his act of supporting Labienus in this cause (Dio Cassius xxxvii. 37). [4]

Labienus was more a soldier than politician and primarily used his office as a gateway to secure himself positions of high military command. After his term as tribune, Labienus served as Caesar's legate (second-in-command) in Gaul and so he took Caesar's place whenever he was out of Gaul. [4]

Lieutenant under Caesar in Gaul

As Caesar's senior legate during his campaign in Gaul Labienus was the only legate mentioned by name in Caesar's writings about his first campaign. [5] He was a skilled cavalry commander.

Labienus commanded the winter quarters in Vesontio in 58 BC. He also had full command of the legions in Gaul during Caesar's absence, as his legatus pro praetore . [6] He had this privilege when Caesar was administering justice in Cisalpine Gaul as well as during Caesar's second campaign in Britain (in 54 BC). [7]

In 57 BC, during the Belgian campaign, in a battle against the Atrebates and Nervii near Sabis, Labienus, commanding the 9th and 10th legions, defeated the opposing Atrebates force and proceeded to take the enemy camp. [8] From there he sent the 10th Legion against the rear of the Nervii line while they were engaged with the rest of Caesar's army, single-handedly turning the tide of battle and securing Caesar the victory. [9]

Labienus is also credited with the defeat of the Treviri under Indutiomarus. Labienus spent days with his army fortified in their camp, while Indutiomarus harassed him daily in an attempt at intimidation and demoralization. Labienus waited for the right moment, when Indutiomarus and his forces were returning to their camp disorganized, to send out his cavalry through two gates. He gave them the orders to first kill Indutiomarus, then his trailing forces on their return. Labienus's men were successful, and with the death of their leader, the Treviri army scattered. [10] The Treviri forces later regrouped under relatives of Indutiomarus and moved upon Labienus, setting up camp across the river from his legions, waiting for reinforcements from the Germans. Labienus feigned a withdrawal, enticing the Treviri to cross the river, after which he turned around and had his men attack. Being in such a disadvantageous position, the Treviri forces were shattered. After hearing this, the German reinforcements turned around. [11]

Labienus's victory over the Parisii at Lutetia in the Battle of Lutetia is another example of his tactical genius. Sending five cohorts back towards Agedincum, and himself crossing the Sequana River with three legions, he tricked the enemy into thinking that he had divided his army and was crossing the river in three places. [12] The enemy army split into thirds and pursued Labienus. The main body met Labienus which he subsequently surrounded with the rest of his legions. He then annihilated the reinforcements with his cavalry. [13]

In September, 51 BC, Caesar made Labienus governor of Cisalpine Gaul. [14]

Defection from Caesar, command under Pompey in Civil War

After Caesar crossed the Rubicon, Labienus left his post in Cisalpine Gaul and joined Pompey. [15] He was rapturously welcomed on the Pompeian side, [4] bringing some Gallic and German cavalry with him. He also brought an account on Caesar's military strength. [16]

Pompey made Labienus commander of the cavalry (magister equitum). Labienus attempted to persuade Pompey to face Caesar in Italy and not retreat to Hispania (Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal) to regroup, insisting that Caesar's army was thin and weakened after his campaign in Gaul. [17]

But Labienus's ill fortune under Pompey was as marked as his success had been under Caesar. From the defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus, where he commanded the cavalry, he fled to Corcyra, and after hearing of the death of Pompey then proceeded to Africa. [4] He created confidence in the followers of Pompey by lying to them, claiming that Caesar had received a mortal wound at the Battle of Pharsalus. [18] He was able through sheer force of numbers to inflict a slight check upon Caesar at the Battle of Ruspina in 46 BC. [19] By arranging his troops into dense formations, he tricked Caesar into thinking he had only foot soldiers, and was able to rout Caesar's cavalry and surround his army. However, Labienus was unable to defeat Caesar's forces, and was compelled to leave the field. After the defeat at the Battle of Thapsus, he joined the younger Gnaeus Pompeius in Hispania. [4]

Death came to Labienus in the Battle of Munda, an evenly matched conflict between the armies of Caesar and the sons of Pompey. King Bogud, an ally of Caesar, approached the Pompeians with his army from the rear. Labienus was commanding the Pompeians' cavalry unit at the time, and seeing this, took the cavalry from the front lines to meet him. The Pompeian legions misinterpreted this as a retreat, became disheartened and began to break. [20] Pompeians suffered massive casualties during the rout. This defeat ended Caesar's Civil War. Labienus was killed during the rout. According to Appian, (BC2.105), his head was brought to Caesar. Caesar then dispatched men to locate the body of his old friend, and buried Labienus with full honours.

Fictional accounts

See also


  1. 1 2 Tyrrell (3)
  2. Tyrrell (4)
  3. Tyrrell (9)
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Chisholm 1911.
  5. Tyrrell (19)
  6. Dio (41.4.3)
  7. Bellum Gallicum (5.8)
  8. BG (2.23)
  9. BG (2.26)
  10. BG (5.57)
  11. BG (6.8)
  12. BG (7.61)
  13. BG (7.62)
  14. BG (8.52)
  15. M. Tullius Cicero (Fam, 16.12)
  16. John Leach, Pompey the Great, p. 176.
  17. Tyrrell (31)
  18. Sextus Julius Frontinius: Stratagems Book II
  19. Bellum Africum Book 41
  20. Dio (43.38)
  21. timski. "Praetorians – Guide and Walkthrough". gamefaqs.gamespot.com. Retrieved April 9, 2023.
  22. JÀSHÁN. "Praetorians HD Remaster - Just One... More... Fight (Hard)". youtube.com. Retrieved April 9, 2023.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Pharsalus</span> Decisive battle of Caesars Civil War (48 BC)

The Battle of Pharsalus was the decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War fought on 9 August 48 BC near Pharsalus in Central Greece. Julius Caesar and his allies formed up opposite the army of the Roman Republic under the command of Pompey. Pompey had the backing of a majority of Roman senators and his army significantly outnumbered the veteran Caesarian legions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Antony</span> Roman politician and general (83–30 BC)

Marcus Antonius, commonly known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic from a constitutional republic into the autocratic Roman Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pompey</span> Roman general and statesman (106–48 BC)

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a Roman general and statesman. He played a significant role in the transformation of Rome from republic to empire. Early in his career, he was a partisan and protégé of the Roman general and dictator Sulla; later, he became the political ally, and finally the enemy, of Julius Caesar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">40s BC</span>

This article concerns the period 49 BC – 40 BC.

Year 45 BC was either a common year starting on Thursday, Friday or Saturday or a leap year starting on Friday or Saturday and the first year of the Julian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday of the Proleptic Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Caesar without Colleague. The denomination 45 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Lucius Afranius was an ancient Roman plebeian and a client of Pompey the Great. He served Pompey as a legate during his Iberian campaigns, his eastern campaigns and remained in his service right through to the Civil War. He died in Africa right after the Battle of Thapsus in 46 BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Munda</span> Final battle of Caesars Civil War in present-day southern Spain, 45 BC

The Battle of Munda, in southern Hispania Ulterior, was the final battle of Caesar's civil war against the leaders of the Optimates. With the military victory at Munda and the deaths of Titus Labienus and Gnaeus Pompeius, Caesar was politically able to return in triumph to Rome, and then govern as the elected Roman dictator. Subsequently, the assassination of Julius Caesar began the Republican decline that led to the Roman Empire, initiated with the reign of the emperor Augustus.

Gaius Volusenus Quadratus was a distinguished military officer of the Roman Republic. He served under Julius Caesar for ten years, during the Gallic Wars and the civil war of the 40s. Caesar praised him for his strategic sense and courageous integrity.

Publius Attius Varus was the Roman governor of Africa during the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey. He declared war against Caesar, and initially fought Gaius Scribonius Curio, who was sent against him in 49 BC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caesar's civil war</span> War in the Roman Republic (49 to 45 BC)

Caesar's civil war was a civil war during the late Roman Republic between Gaius Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. The main cause of the war was political tensions relating to Caesar's place in the republic on his expected return to Rome on the expiration of his governorship in Gaul.

Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer, a member of the powerful Caecilius Metellus family who were at their zenith during Celer's lifetime. A son of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Nepos, or, according to some, the son of tribune Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer while the latter is the son of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Nepos, was an ancient Roman statesman and general during the First Century BC. He became consul in 60 BC and previously he held the offices of praetor and augur.

Marcus Petreius was a Roman politician and general. He was a client of Pompey and like Pompey he came from Picenum a region in eastern Italy. He cornered and killed the notorious rebel Catiline at Pistoia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Publius Licinius Crassus (son of triumvir)</span> Son of Crassus the triumvir

Publius Licinius Crassus was one of two sons of Marcus Licinius Crassus, the so-called "triumvir", and Tertulla, daughter of Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus. He belonged to the last generation of Roman nobiles who came of age and began a political career before the collapse of the Republic. His peers included Marcus Antonius, Marcus Junius Brutus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus, and the historian Gaius Sallustius Crispus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Lutetia</span> 52 BC battle between Roman and Gallic forces, part of Caesars Gallic Wars

The Battle of Lutetia was a battle on the plain of Grenelle in what is now Paris between Roman forces under Titus Labienus and an anti-Roman Gallic coalition in 52 BC during the Gallic Wars. It was a Roman victory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military campaigns of Julius Caesar</span> Caesars military campaigns of 58–50 and 49–45 BC

The military campaigns of Julius Caesar constituted both the Gallic Wars and Caesar's civil war. The Gallic War mainly took place in what is now France. In 55 and 54 BC, he invaded Britain, although he made little headway. The Gallic War ended with complete Roman victory at the Battle of Alesia. This was followed by the civil war, during which time Caesar chased his rivals to Greece, decisively defeating them there. He then went to Egypt, where he defeated the Egyptian pharaoh and put Cleopatra on the throne. He then finished off his Roman opponents in Africa and Hispania. Once his campaigns were over, he served as Roman dictator until his assassination on 15 March 44 BC. These wars were critically important in the transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Labiena gens</span>

The gens Labiena was a plebeian family at Rome. Members of this gens are first mentioned during the final century of the Republic.

The lex Vatinia also known as the lex Vatinia de provincia Caesaris or the lex Vatinia de imperio Caesaris, was legislation which gave Gaius Julius Caesar governorship of the provinces of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum for five years. It was named after and proposed, in the Tribal Assembly, by plebeian tribune Publius Vatinius. Along with the provinces, it also gave him the three legions already present there and the privilege of naming his own legates. Caesar also received Titus Labienus as legatus cum imperio in the law; Labienus' appointment may have been, according to Syme, a sign of friendship between Pompey and Caesar.

The battle off Carteia was a minor naval battle during the latter stages of Caesar's Civil War won by the Caesarians led by Caesar's legate Gaius Didius against the Pompeians led by Publius Attius Varus.

The Siege of Apamea was a failed attempt by the Caesarians near the end of Caesar's Civil War to capture the rebel city of Apamea, Syria Secunda. Lucius Statius Murcus and Quintus Marcius Crispus led the attempt to capture the city, while Equite Quintus Caecilius Bassus led the defence of the city.

Caesar's invasion of Macedonia occurred as part of Caesar's civil war, starting with his landing near Paeleste on the coast of Epirus, and continuing until he forced Pompey to flight after the Battle of Pharsalus.