Caesar’s speech Pro Bithynis is usually considered to
be an expression of the positive relationships between Caesar and the Kingdom of
Bithynia. The context in which the speech was delivered is, however, unclear.
By means of a lexical analysis of the two extant fragments of the Pro
Bithynis, this paper aims at providing a new interpretation of the
speech and its historical background. Caesar probably delivered the speech not
immediately after King Nicomedes’s death – as commonly
accepted – but after the Roman siege of Heraclea Pontica, when the
proconsul M. Aurelius Cotta, Caesar’s propinquus,
was accused of having sacked the city.
As had already happened in Macedonia (thanks to Dolabella’s
prosecution) and in Greece (Caesar represented some Greeks in a process against
C. Antonius around 79 BC), the Bithynian affair represented a further occasion
for Caesar to win over friends and allies among foreign communities.