17 March 45 BC a battle that is supposed to end the civil war breaks out. 30 thousand soldiers are about to fight for Caesar against Gnaeus Pompeius. Caesar has promised his soldiers that this is going to be their last fight after all the hardship they had to endure for the past 16 years on the area from Brittany to North Africa and from Spain to Greece. Now they are on a slope below Munda and are awaiting the signal for battle. And here it is!
Caesar’s soldiers are rushing towards Pompeius. The enemy’s army is not moving an inch. The best legion of Caesar’s, the X, is 2 thousand soldiers big. One of the soldiers is 34 years old Flavianus. He has been with Caesar since 61 BC and was recruited by him personally. Now he knows this one battle is what’s standing between him and his peaceful retirement in the countryside. Caesar is happy to give land to his loyal soldiers and Flavianus is as loyal as they come.
Pompeius was the one to choose the location of the battle and he was the one to force his opponent to leave his position. This is why the Caesar’s army is now on a 5 mile hike to meet him, walking through a stream and breaking ranks. Caesar gives an order to attack. Pompeius responds with a rain of spears falling onto the first lines of soldiers and wreaking havoc. This forces the soldiers to stop and causes their concern. Were they too hasty in going into the battle, which was supposed to be the last one for many of them? The enemy is on a good position and can storm them by going down the hill, thus winning quickly. Had Caesar underestimated the opponent?
The leader sees the commotion in his ranks, which may result in retreat, and quickly rushes to the front of the formation. He gives a fiery speech, threatening, explaining, flattering and ranting at his soldiers to rouse them to the battle. Unfortunately, this doesn't help much, so he finally goes to face the enemy himself, with a small shield in his hand. Both armies freeze for a moment with amazement and admiration for Caesar. Pompeius orders his soldiers to throw all the remaining weapons at approaching Ceasar. To everyone's surprise, the spears either do not hit Ceasar or land on his small shield. Flavianus is one of the first soldiers to follow his leader in attack. Then, the rest of the army follows too, even though they were scared as hell a moment ago. The rest is history – a history of good human resources management. Apparently even Caesar knew that a good manager is not only giving orders, but also leads by example in the moments of truth. I don't have to add that Ceasar won the battle! He didn't die in it, although that was his dream, but he was deceitfully knifed by senators, including the famous Brutus.
In the place of his death in Rome, in the ruins of the senate, in the middle of the city, there is now a cats' shelter. I can show you the place.
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If a maritime catastrophe expert was asked about an example of one of the most interesting stories, he would probably mention the case of Vasa. In 1961, this very warship was taken out of the sea to be examined by scientists. It is known for being the most expensive and the most decorated ship in the 17th century’s Sweden. The ship that, after sailing 1,300 metres, sunk in the harbour of Stockholm. This embarrassing distance unfortunately did not live up to the expectations people had of Vasa, which was supposed to outshine all the military units on the Baltic Sea at that time.
The engineering talent of aqueduct builders from ancient Rome has always astounded me. During those times, the majority of people were happy to use the water from rivers and wells, while building aqueducts, which were supposed to provide water for enormous Roman cities, was a true challenge. Water pipes had not been yet invented, so water had to be coming down. But what if the water source was many kilometers away?