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Book XV

This webpage reproduces a Book of
Roman History

Cassius Dio

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
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Cassius Dio
Roman History

Thayer's Note: Before e-mailing me with questions, comments, or corrections involving the numbering of Books, chapters, and sections in this text, please read the orientation page.

Fragments of Book XVI


Text, 57 1 

6 The Romans made overtures to Hannibal, asking for a return of the prisoners on both sides, but they did not effect the exchange, although he sent Carthalo to them for this very purpose. For the envoy, when they would not receive him within the walls because he was an enemy, refused to hold any conversation with them, but immediately turned back in a rage.

The people of Rome made overtures to Hannibal for a return of the prisoners on both sides. But that did not effect the exchange because they would not receive Carthalo, an enemy, inside of their walls. And he refused to hold any conversation with them, but immediately turned back enraged.

Laevinus, however, made friends at this time with the Aetolians, who were allies of Philip; and when Philip advanced as far as Corcyra, he frightened him away again, so that the king returned in haste to Macedonia.

7 The people of Rome sent Gaius Claudius Nero with soldiers into Spain. He sailed along with his fleet as far as the Iberus, and finding the remainder of the Roman forces there, he confronted Hasdrubal before his presence had become known; and then, after hemming him in, he was cheated out of his victory in the following manner. Hasdrubal, finding himself cut off, made a proposition to Nero to give up the whole of Spain and leave the country. Nero gladly accepted the offer, and his opponent put off the settlement of the terms until the following day. That night Hasdrubal quietly sent out a number of his men to various parts of the mountains, and they got safely away, because the Romans, in expectation of a truce, were not keeping guard. The next day he held a conference with Nero, but used up the whole time without reaching any conclusion. That night he again sent off other men in like manner. This he did similarly on several other days while disputing some points in the treaty. When the entire infantry had gone on ahead, he himself at last with the cavalry and elephants silently slipped away. Thus he reached safety, and again became a formidable adversary for Nero.

On learning that the people of Rome blamed Nero, and voted to entrust the command to somebody else. And they were at a loss whom to send, for the situation required no ordinary man, and many were declining the position on account of the fate of the Scipios.


Scipio, the general, who had saved his wounded father, had splendid native ability supplemented by an excellent education, and displayed the  p191 greatest nobility of mind, and of language as well, whenever there was occasion for this; and this quality was especially conspicuous in his acts, so that he seemed to be a man at once of lofty purpose and lofty achievement, not from any vain boastfulness, but as the result of a steadfast determination. 39 It was for these reasons, and because he scrupulously paid honours to the gods, that he was elected; in fact he would never undertake any public or private enterprise before ascending to the Capitol and spending some time there. On this account he acquired the reputation of having sprung from Jupiter, who had taken the form of a serpent on the occasion of intercourse with his mother; and this reputation was responsible in part for the hopes which he caused many to place in him.

40 Scipio, although he did not receive the legal title of commander at the time of his election, nevertheless  p193 made the army his friend, drilled the men who had become sluggish through want of a commander, and brought them out of the terror with which their misfortunes had filled them. As for Marcius,1 Scipio did not, as most men would have done, treat him as an enemy because he had acquired popularity, but both in word and deed always showed him respect. He was the sort of man to wish to make his way not by slandering and overthrowing his neighbour, but by his own excellence. And it was this as much as anything that enabled him to conciliate the soldiers.

Thereupon that Publius Scipio, who had saved his wounded father, offered himself voluntarily for the campaign. He had splendid ability supplemented by an excellent education. And he was chosen at once; but not long afterward they regretted their action because of his youth (he was in his twenty-fourth year), and also because his house was in mourning for the loss of his father and uncle. Accordingly, he came before the people a second time and addressed them; and by his remarks he put the senators to shame, so that he was not deprived of the command, although Marcus Junius, an elderly man, was sent with him.

After these events the situation improved for the Romans, yet not without a hard struggle. Marcellus, after his acquittal, set out against Hannibal and for the most part acted on the safe side, since he was afraid to risk an engagement with men driven to desperation; and if at any time he was forced into a combat, he came out victorious as the result of prudence mingled with daring. Accordingly Hannibal, both on this account, and because the cities in his alliance had either abandoned him or were intending to do so, and for certain other reasons, undertook to ravage those regions which he was unable to hold; so he devastated many districts, with the result that still larger numbers deserted to the Romans.

In the case of the city of Salapia the following incident occurred. Two men managed affairs there who were hostile to each other: Alinius2a favoured the Carthaginian cause, and Plautius2b the Roman;  p195 and the latter even talked with Alinius about betraying the place to the Romans. Alinius at once informed Hannibal of the fact, and Plautius was brought to trial. While Hannibal was deliberating with his advisers how to punish him, Plautius dated in his presence to speak again to Alinius, who stood near, about betrayal. But when the latter cried out, "There, there, he's talking to me about this very matter now," Hannibal distrusted him on account of the improbability of the matter and acquitted Plautius as a victim of blackmail. After his release the two men came to an understanding, and brought in soldiers obtained from Marcellus, with whose aid they cut down the Carthaginian garrison and delivered the city to the Romans.

This was the state of Carthaginian interests in Italy. And not even Sicily retained its friendliness for them, but was siding with the consul Laevinus. The leader of the Carthaginians in Sicily was Hanno, and Muttines was a member of his staff. Muttines had been with Hannibal formerly, but owing to the latter's jealousy of his great deeds of valour had been sent into Sicily. When he made a brilliant record there also as commander of the cavalry, he incurred the jealousy of Hanno likewise, and in consequence was deprived of his command. Deeply grieved at this, he joined the Romans. And first he aided them in the betrayal of Agrigentum; then he helped them in reducing the other places, so that the whole of Sicily came again under their sway without any great trouble.

8 Fabius and Flaccus subdued, among other cities, Tarentum, which Hannibal was holding. They had given orders to a body of men to overrun Bruttium, in order that Hannibal might leave Tarentum and go to its assistance; and when it had turned out thus, Flaccus kept watch of Hannibal, while Fabius by night assailed Tarentum with ships and infantry at the same time, and captured the city by means of the assault, aided by betrayal. Hannibal, angry at this trick, was eager to find some scheme for paying Fabius back. So he sent him a letter from Metapontium, purporting to be from the inhabitants, and proposing the betrayal of the city; for he hoped that Fabius would advance carelessly in that direction, and that he might set a trap for him on the way. But train leader suspected the truth of the matter, and by comparing the writing with the letters which Hannibal had once written to the Tarentines, he detected the plot from their similarity.

Scipio, however much he longed to avenge his father and uncle, and however much he yearned for glory in the war, nevertheless for a time showed no haste on account of the multitude of his opponents. But when he ascertained that they were passing the winter at a considerable distance, he disregarded them and marched upon Carthage (the Spanish town); no one, however, gained the slightest knowledge of his march till he had come close to Carthage itself. And by great exertion he took the city.


 p197  42 When a mutiny of the soldiers took place, Scipio distributed many gifts to the soldiers and set apart  p199 many also for the public treasury. He appointed some of the captives to service in the fleet and gave back all the hostages to their relatives without ransom. For this reason many towns and many princes, among them Indibilis and Mandonius of the Ilergetes, came over to his side. 43 The Celtiberian race, the largest and strongest of those in that region, he gained in the following way. He had taken among the captives a maiden distinguished for her beauty, and it was supposed, on general principles, that he would fall in love with her; but when he learned that she was betrothed to Allucius, one of the Celtiberian  p201 magistrates, he voluntarily sent for him and delivered the girl to him along with the ransom her kinsmen had brought. As a result of this act he attached to his cause both these and the rest of the nation.

48 Scipio was stern in the exercise of his command, but agreeable in familiar intercourse, terrifying to his opponents, yet humane to such as yielded. Furthermore, through his father's and his uncle's reputation he was thoroughly able to inspire confidence in what he did, because it was felt that he owed his fame to inherited excellence and not to chance. But now, more than ever, the swiftness of his victory, the fact that Hasdrubal had retreated into the interior, and especially the fact that he had made a prediction,  p203 either through divine inspiration or by some chance information, that he would encamp in the enemy's country3 — a prediction now fulfilled — caused all to honour him as superior to themselves, while the Spaniards even named him Great King.

Following the capture of Carthage, a most serious mutiny of the soldiers came very near taking place. Scipio had promised to give a crown to the first one who scaled the wall, and two men, the one a Roman, the other belonging to the allies, quarrelled over it. Their continued dispute promoted a disturbance among the rest of the soldiery as well, and they became so greatly excited that they would have committed some fearful deed, had not Scipio crowned both men. He also distributed many gifts to the soldiers, and assigned many also to public uses; and he gave back to their relatives without ransom all the hostages who were being detained there. As a result, many towns and many princes espoused his cause, the Celtiberian race among the rest. For he had taken among the captives a maiden distinguished for her beauty, and it was thought that he would fall in love with her; but when he learned that she was betrothed to one of the Celtiberian magistrates, he sent for him and delivered the maid to him, bestowing upon him also the ransom which her kinsmen brought for her. As a result, he attached to his cause both these and the remainder of his nation.

Next he learned that Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, was approaching rapidly, still ignorant of the capture of the city, and expecting to meet no hostile force on his march. Scipio, therefore, advanced to meet him and defeated him, and afterward bivouacked in his camp, and won over many people in his vicinity. He was stern in the exercise of his command, but agreeable in familiar intercourse, terrifying to opponents, yet thoroughly humane to such as yielded. And especially the fact that he had made a prediction, announcing beforehand that he would encamp in the enemy's country, caused all to honour him as superior to themselves, while the Spaniards even named him Great King.

Hasdrubal, despairing of Spain, was anxious to depart for Italy. So after packing up everything for the march, he set out in winter. His fellow-commanders held their ground and kept Scipio busy so that he could not pursue Hasdrubal nor lighten the burden of war for the Romans in Italy by going there, nor sail to Carthage. But, although Scipio did not pursue Hannibal, he sent runners through whom he apprised the people in Rome of his approach, while he himself gave attention to his own immediate concerns. And observing that his opponents were scattered over various parts of the country, he feared that whenever he began an engagement with any of them, he should be the cause of their gathering in one place to aid one another. Accordingly, while he himself conducted a campaign against Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, he sent Silanus into Celtiberia against Mago, and Lucius Scipio, his brother, into Bastitania. Lucius occupied the latter district after hard fighting, conquered Mago, followed  p205 him up as he fled to Hasdrubal, and came to Scipio before the latter had accompanied anything as yet.

Now that Mago had joined Hasdrubal, and Lucius his brother Scipio, at first they would descend into the plain with their cavalry and engage in sharp contests, and later they would array their whole armies opposite each other, but would not do any fighting. This went on for several days. When the clash finally came, the Carthaginians and their allies were defeated and their stronghold was taken by the Romans, who made use of the provisions in it. This Scipio had prophesied, as the story goes, three days before. For when their food supplies failed them, he had predicted, by what prompting is unknown: "On such and such a day we shall make use of the enemy's store." After this he left Silanus to take care of the remaining foes, and went off himself to the other cities, many of which he won over. When he had brought order into the newly acquired territory, he took up his winter abode there; and he sent his brother Lucius to Rome to report the progress made, to convey the captives thither, and to discover how the people of Rome felt toward him.

9 The people in Italy not only suffered from disease but also encountered hardships in battles, since some of the Etruscans had rebelled. But what grieved them more than all else was their loss of Marcellus. For both the consuls, having undertaken a campaign against Hannibal, who was at Locri, had been surrounded by an ambuscade,  p207 and Marcellus had perished instantly, while Crispinus had been wounded and died not long after. Hannibal found the body of Marcellus, and taking his ring with which Marcellus was accustomed to seal his documents, he forwarded letters to the cities purporting to come from Marcellus. He was accomplishing whatever he pleased, until Crispinus became aware of it and sent them a warning to be on their guard. As a result of this the tables were turned upon Hannibal. He had sent a message to the citizens of Salapia through a pretended deserter, and now approached the walls in the guise of Marcellus, using the Latin language in company with other men who understood it, in order to be taken for Romans. The Salapians, informed of his artifice, were artful enough in their turn to pretend that they believed Marcellus was really approaching. Then drawing up the portcullis they admitted as many as it seemed to them they could conveniently dispose of, and killed them all. Hannibal withdrew at once on learning that Locris was being besieged by the Romans, who had sailed against it from Sicily.

Publius Sulpicius, assisted by Aetolians and other allies, devastated a large part of Achaia. But when Philip the Macedonian formed an alliance with the Achaeans, the Romans would have been driven out of Greece completely but for the fact that the helmet of Philip fell off, and the Aetolians got possession of it; for in this way a report reached Macedonia that he was dead, and an uprising took place there. Philip,  p209 consequently, fearing that he should lose his kingdom, hastened into Macedonia. Hence the Romans remained in Greece and conquered a few cities.

The following year, upon the announcement of Hasdrubal's approach, the people of Rome gathered their forces and summoned their allies, after choosing Claudius Nero and Marcus Livius consuls. They sent Nero against Hannibal and Livius against Hasdrubal. Livius met his foe near the city of Sena, but did not immediately open an engagement with him. For many days he remained stationary; and Hasdrubal was in no hurry for battle, either, but remained at rest awaiting his brother. Nero and Hannibal were encamping in Lucania, but neither hastened to array his forces for battle, although in other ways they had some conflicts. Hannibal would frequently change his position, and Nero kept careful watch of him. As he constantly had the advantage of him and presently captured the letter sent to him by Hasdrubal, he conceived a scorn for Hannibal; and fearing that Hasdrubal might overwhelm Livius through force of numbers, he ventured upon a hazardous exploit. He left on the spot a portion of his force sufficient to check Hannibal, in case the latter should make any movement, and he gave the men injunctions to do everything to create the impression that he was also there. Then, selecting the flower of the army, he set out as if to attack some neighbouring city; and none knew his real intention. So he hastened on against Hasdrubal, reached his colleague at night, and took up his quarters in the latter's entrenchments. And they both prepared for a sudden joint attack  p211 upon the invader. The situation, however, did not go undiscovered, since Hasdrubal inferred what had happened from the fact that the word of command was given twice; for each consul issued orders to his own troops separately. Suspecting, therefore, that Hannibal had been defeated and had perished — for he calculated that if his brother were alive, Nero would never have marched against him, — he determined to retire among the Gauls and after finding out definitely about his brother, carry on the war at his convenience.

So, after giving orders to the army to break camp, he started out that night; and the consuls suspected from the noise what was going on, yet they did not move immediately because of the darkness. At dawn, however, they sent the cavalry ahead to pursue the enemy and they themselves followed. Hasdrubal made a stand against the cavalry, thinking them an isolated force, but the consuls came up and routed him, and followed after the fugitives, of whom they slew a great many. Even the elephants were of no help to the Carthaginians, since some of them upon being wounded did more harm to those stationed beside them than did the enemy; and so Hasdrubal gave orders to those seated upon them to slay the beasts as soon as they were wounded. Now they killed them very easily by piercing them with an iron instrument under the ear. The elephants, then, were destroyed by the Carthaginians, and the men by the Romans. So many fell that the Romans became surfeited with slaughter and had no desire to pursue the rest. They had destroyed Hasdrubal along with many others, had secured huge  p213 quantities of spoils, had found Roman captives to the number of four thousand in the camp, and thought they had sufficiently retrieved the disaster of Cannae.

When this result had been achieved, Livius remained where he was, but Nero returned to Apulia, arriving on the sixth day, before his absence had as yet been detected. He now sent some of the prisoners into Hannibal's camp to explain what had happened, and fixed Hasdrubal's head on a pole near by. Hannibal, learning that his brother was vanquished and dead, and that Nero had conquered and returned, lamented bitterly, often crying out against Fortune and Cannae. And he retired into Bruttium where he remained inactive.

10 1 Scipio was appointed to look after Roman interests in Spain until he should have restored order in all parts. He first sailed to Africa with two quinqueremes, and it so happened that Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, landed there at the same time as he did. Syphax, who was king of a portion of Africa and was in alliance with the Carthaginians, entertained them both and endeavoured to reconcile them. But Scipio declared that his was no private enmity and that he could not, of course, on his own responsibility make terms for his country.

Accordingly he went back again and began a war against the Iliturgitani because they had handed over to the Carthaginians the Romans who took refuge with them after the death of the Scipios. He did not become master of their city until he ventured to scale the wall in person and got wounded. Then the  p215 soldiers, put to shame and fearing for his life, made a more determined assault. And having captured the place, they killed all the inhabitants and burned down the whole city. As a result of the fear thus inspired many voluntarily ranged themselves on his side, and many others were subdued by force. Some, when besieged, burned their cities and slew their relatives and finally themselves.

After subjugating the greater part of the country Scipio moved his quarters to New Carthage and there instituted funeral contests in full armour in honour of his father and of his uncle. When many others had contended, there came also two brothers who were at variance about a kingdom, though Scipio had made efforts to reconcile them. And the younger man, even though more powerful, was slain by the elder.

Subsequently Scipio fell sick, and thereupon the Spaniards rebelled. For one of Scipio's armies that was wintering near Sucro had become turbulent; even before this it had shown insubordination, but had not ventured upon open rebellion. Now, however, learning of Scipio's illness, and in view of the fact, moreover, that their pay had been delayed, they mutinied outright, drove away the tribunes, and elected consuls for themselves. Their number was about eight thousand. So the Spaniards, becoming aware of this, revolted with greater readiness, and proceeded to harry the territory belonging to the Roman alliance. And thus Mago, who had already made up his mind to abandon Gades, did not do so, but crossed over to the mainland and caused no little havoc.

 p217  Scipio, learning of this, sent a letter to the mutinous legion, in which he affected to pardon them for revolting on account of the scarcity of provisions, asked them to feel no anxiety because of this, and actually praised those who had accepted the leadership over them to prevent their suffering or doing any violence in the absence of lawful commanders. When Scipio had written to this effect, and the soldiers had learned that he was alive and was not even angry with them, they made no further trouble. Even after he had recovered his health he did not use harsh threats in dealing with them, but sent a promise to supply them with food and commanded them all to come to him, either in a body or a part at a time, as they might prefer. The soldiers, not daring to go in small groups, went all together. Now Scipio arranged that they should encamp outside the wall — for it was nearly evening — and supplied them with provisions in abundance. Thus they encamped; but Scipio saw to it that the bolder spirits among them entered the city, and during the night he overpowered and imprisoned them. At daybreak he sent forth his whole army as if he were going to make an expedition somewhere. Then he summoned the recent arrivals inside the wall without their weapons, in order that they might receive their rations and join his expedition. As soon, accordingly, as they had entered, he signalled to the men who had gone forth to return just as they were. Thus he surrounded the rebels and heaped upon them many reproaches and threats, declaring finally:


 p219  47 Dio, XVI. "You all deserve to die, yet I, for my part, will not put you all to death, but will punish only a few whom I have already arrested; the others I release."

"You all deserve to die, yet I, for my part, will not put you all to death, but will execute only a few whom I have already arrested; the others I release."

With these words he brought forward the prisoners, bound them to stakes, and put them to death by scourging. Some of the soldiers standing by grew indignant and raised a disturbance, whereupon he punished a number of them also. After this he gave the rest their pay, and conducted a campaign against Indibilis and Mandonius. As these were too timid to offer him battle, he attacked them and was victorious

Following their capitulation most of the remainder of Spain was again enslaved, Mago abandoned Gades, and Masinissa took the Roman side. For the Carthaginians, upon the death of Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, had voted to give up Spain, but to recover their conquests in Italy. And they sent money to Mago, in order that he might gather a force of auxiliaries and make an expedition against that country. So he set out once more for Italy, and came to the Gymnesian islands. The larger one escaped his grasp; for the natives from a distance kept using their slings, in which art they were masters, against  p221 his ships, so that he could not effect a landing; but he anchored off the smaller one and waited there on account of the winter.

Tzetzes in Lycophr. Alex. 633

These islands are situated close to the mainland in the vicinity of the Iberus. They are three in number, and are called by the Romans in common with the Greeks the Gymnesia, but by the Spaniards the Valeriae or Hyasusae,4 or, individually, the first Ebusus, the second the Larger,5a and the third the Smaller5b — very appropriate names.

Dio Cocceianus, however, says they are near the Iberus river and near the European Pillars of Hercules; these islands the Greeks and Romans alike call the Gymnesiae, but the Spaniards Valeriae or Healthful Islands.

And Gades was occupied by the Romans.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 L. Marciusm chosen commander by the soldiers after the death of the Scipios.

2a 2b The names Alinius and Plautius are corruptions of some copyist for Dasius and Blattius.

3 Some phrase defining the time appears to have been lost. Furthermore the enemy's "camp" (ἐν τῷ, as suggested by Reimar) in place of his "country" (ἐν τῇ) would seem to improve the sense; compare Zonaras' words on p201.

4 A corruption of Baleares and Pityusae.

5a 5b Or, in other words, Balearis Major and Balearis Minor.

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