Rufio (officer of Caesar)

officer of the Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar

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OccupationRoman officer

Rufio was an officer of the Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar. In 47 BC he was appointed by Caesar as commander-in-chief of the three Roman legions that were stationed in Egypt.

Rufio was the son of a freedman and came in 48 BC as a member of Caesar's army to Egypt. After Caesar had intervened in the Ptolemaic struggle for the throne between the siblings Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII and won the Alexandrian war against the party of Ptolemy XIII (January 47 BC) he stationed three legions in Egypt to safeguard his victory. These troops of the 27th, 37th, and 39th legion[1] served to protect but also keep in check the rule of Cleopatra, who had become Caesar's mistress and now reigned as allied queen.

Contrary to tradition Caesar did not appoint a senator as supreme commander of the Roman occupying army but his reliable officer Rufio. The main reason for this nomination was that Caesar feared that an influential senator, left behind in Egypt as commander-in-chief, could use the economically strong and strategically important land on the Nile as a base to make a bid for power,[2] whereas Rufio had too low a rank and did not possess the necessary connections. Caesar also seems to have considered his officer very trustworthy because Suetonius calls Rufio a lover (exoletus) of Caesar (but probably not in a sexual sense).[3]

Cultural references


  1. ^ The 39th legion was formed from members of the former Gabiniani.
  2. ^ For the same reason Caesar had not made Egypt a Roman province but allowed his mistress Cleopatra, who was dependent on him, to remain allied queen.
  3. ^ Suetonius, Caesar 76.3; compare De Bello Alexandrino 33.3-4


  • Michael Grant: Cleopatra, 1972, Rev. ed. 1974, German Bergisch Gladbach 1998, ISBN 3-404-61416-X, pp. 113–114; 116–117.
  • Friedrich Münzer: Rufio 3. In: Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, vol. I A,1, Stuttgart 1914, col. 1198.
  • Christoph Schäfer: Kleopatra, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-534-15418-5, pp. 80–81 with note 105.
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