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Further reading

The Civil War is well documented by the standards of ancient conflicts, but there remain many gaps in our knowledge. The best account is provided by Caesar’s War Commentaries in three books covering 49-48, supplemented by separate accounts of the Alexandrian War, African War and Spanish War written by his continuators. The identities of the latter are unknown, but all appear to have been officers who served with Caesar and witnessed at least some of the events they described. All of these accounts are inevitably highly favourable to Caesar, even though in his own narrative he writes about himself in the third person, but they are very detailed. Another of Caesar’s officers, Caius Asinius Pollio, claimed that Caesar did not always bother to check the details of events which he did not witness. Pollio’s own account, written after Caesar’s death, has not survived, although it is referred to in some of our other sources, such as the early-second-century AD Roman History of Appian. Roughly contemporary with the latter were Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, which include biographies of many of the main protagonists in the Civil War. Less useful for military detail, but invaluable for the political background and a vivid impression of the time, are the speeches, and particularly the correspondence, of Cicero.