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Bill Thayer

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Book XIX

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.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book XXI

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 XX

 p333  Philip, king of Macedon, had put to death his son Demetrius and was about to slay his other son Perseus, when death overtook him. For because Demetrius had gained the affection of the Roman people through his sojourn as hostage and hoped, along with the rest of the Macedonian people, that he should secure the kingdom after Philip's death, Perseus, who was his elder had become jealous of him and falsely reported him to be plotting against his father. Thus Demetrius was forced to drink poison and died. Philip not long afterward ascertained the truth, and desired to take vengeance upon Perseus; but he did not possess sufficient strength, and not only did he die himself, but Perseus succeeded to the kingdom. The Romans confirmed his claims to it and renewed the compact of friendship made with his father.

In the period following this some events took place, to be sure, yet they were not of such great importance as to seem worthy of record. Still later Perseus became hostile to the Romans, and in order to delay actual warfare until he should have made his preparations, he sent envoys to Rome nominally to present his answer to the charges which were being brought against him. These messengers the Romans would not receive within the wall; and  p335 although they gave them a hearing in the space before the city, they returned no other answer than that they would send a consul with whom he might confer on whatever topics he pleased. They also caused them to depart the same day, after giving them guides to prevent their associating with anybody. And Perseus was forbidden for the future to set foot on the soil of Italy.

The Romans later sent out Gnaeus Sicinius, a praetor, with a small force, as they had not yet made ready their greater armament; and Perseus made an invasion of Thessaly, in which he won over the greater part of that country. When spring opened, they sent Licinius Crassus against him, as well as a praetor, Gaius Lucretius, in charge of the fleet. Crassus first encountered Perseus near Larissa and was worsted in a cavalry skirmish; later, however, he got the best of him, and Perseus accordingly retreated into Macedonia. Crassus meanwhile assailed the Greek cities which were held in subjection by Philip and was repulsed from the majority of them, although he got possession of a few and razed some of them to the ground, selling the captives. When the people in Rome learned of this, they became indignant, and later they imposed a fine on Crassus, liberated the captured cities, and bought back from the purchasers such of their inhabitants as had been sold and were then found in Italy.

Thus the Romans fared in these undertakings; but in the war against Perseus they suffered many severe reverses and their fortunes at many points were at a low ebb. Perseus occupied the greater part of Epirus and Thessaly, having gathered a large body of troops. As a special measure of defence against the Romans' elephants he had a trained phalanx of heavy-armed warriors whose shields and helmets he had had studded with sharp iron nails. Also, in order to make sure that the beasts should not prove a source of terror to the horses, he constructed images of elephants and smeared them with some kind of ointment to give them a dreadful odour. They were terrible both to see and to hear, since they were skilfully arranged to emit a roar resembling thunder; and he would repeatedly lead the horses up to these figures until they gained courage. Perseus, then, as a result of all this had acquired great confidence and even hoped to surpass Alexander in glory and in the size of his domain; and the people of Rome, when they learned this, speedily sent out Marcius Philippus, who was consul. He, on reaching the camp in Thessaly, went to drilling the Romans and the allies, so that Perseus became afraid, and remained quiet at Dium in Macedonia, near Tempe, and kept watch of the pass. Philippus, encouraged by this behaviour of his, crossed over the middle of the mountain range and occupied some possessions of Perseus. But as he was advancing toward Pydna he fell short of provisions and turned back to Thessaly. Perseus now gained courage anew, recovered the places that Philippus had occupied, and with his fleet caused the Romans numerous injuries.

Text, 66 1 

Perseus hoped to eject the Romans from Greece  p339 completely, but through his excessive and inopportune parsimony and the consequent contempt of his allies he became weak once more. For when the Roman influence was declining and his own was increasing, he became filled with scorn and thought he had no further need of his allies, but believed that either they would assist him free of cost or he could prevail by himself. Hence he paid neither Eumenes nor Gentius the money that he had promised, thinking that they had reasons of their own for enmity toward the Romans. These princes, therefore, and the Thracians, who also were not receiving their full pay, became indifferent; and Perseus fell into such depths of despair again that he even sued for peace.

2 Perseus sued for peace at the hands of the Romans, and would have obtained it but for the presence in  p341 his embassy of the Rhodians, who joined it through fear that the Romans' rival might be destroyed. Their language had none of the moderation which it was fitting for petitioners to employ, and they talked as if they were not so much asking peace for Perseus as bestowing it, and adopted a very arrogant tone generally; finally they threatened those who should be responsible for their failing to come to an agreement, declaring that they would fight with the others against them. Even before this time they had not been free from suspicion on the part of the Romans, and by their present conduct they made themselves more hated than ever; thus they prevented Perseus from obtaining peace.

He also secured allies and hoped to eject the Romans from Greece altogether, but through his excessive and inopportune parsimony and the consequent contempt of his allies he became weak once more. For as soon as the Roman influence was declining and his own was increasing, he became filled with scorn and thought he had no further need of his allies, and would not give them the money which he had offered. The zeal of some, accordingly, became damped and others abandoned him entirely, whereupon he was so overwhelmed by despair that he even sued for peace. And he would have obtained it through Eumenes but for the presence of Rhodians also in the embassy. These, by adopting an arrogant tone with the Romans, prevented him from obtaining peace.

At this point the war against him was entrusted to Aemilius Paulus, now for the second time consul. He quickly reached Thessaly, and having first restored discipline among the soldiers, forced his way through Tempe, which was being guarded by only a few men, and marched against Perseus. The latter had erected breastworks along the river Elpeus, which lay between the armies, had occupied and rendered impassable by means of stone walls and palisades and buildings all the ground between Olympus and the sea, and was encouraged by the lack of water in the place. Yet even so the consul attempted to effect a passage, and he found a means of remedying  p343 the lack of water; for by piercing the sand bed at the foot of Olympus he found an abundant supply suitable for drinking. Meanwhile envoys of the Rhodians came to him, animated by the same boldness which they had displayed on their former embassy to Rome. But he made no statement to them beyond saying that he would return an answer in a few days, and dismissed them. Now when he could accomplish nothing by direct assault, but learned that the mountains were passable in places, he sent a portion of his army toward that pass across them which was the most difficult of approach, to seize opportune points along the route, — for on account of the difficulty of access it had an extremely small guard, — while he himself with the remainder of his army attacked Perseus, so that the latter might not become suspicious and guard the mountains with greater care. Afterwards, when the heights had been occupied, he set out by night for the mountains, and by passing unnoticed at some points and employing force at others he got across. Perseus on learning of this became afraid that the enemy might assail him from the rear, or even seize Pydna, since the Roman fleet was at the same time sailing along the coast; and he accordingly abandoned his fortification near the river, and hastening to Pydna, encamped in front of the town. Paulus, too, came there, but instead of beginning an engagement immediately they delayed for a good many days. Paulus had learned beforehand that the moon was going to be eclipsed, and so, assembling his army on the evening when the eclipse was due to occur, he gave the men notice of what would happen and warned them not to let it disturb  p345 them at all. Accordingly the Romans on beholding the eclipse looked for no evil to come from it; but the Macedonians were in fear because of it and thought that the prodigy referred to Perseus. While each side was in this frame of mind an accidental occurrence the next day forced them into an unpremeditated battle and put an end to the war. One of the Romans' pack-animals fell into the water from which they were getting their supply, whereupon the Macedonians laid hold of him and the water-carriers offered resistance. At first they fought by themselves; then the other troops also gradually issued from their respective camps to the assistance of their own men, and everybody on both sides became engaged. A disordered but sharp conflict ensued, in which the Romans were victorious; and pursuing the Macedonians as far as the sea, they slaughtered numbers of them themselves and allowed the fleet, which was drawing inshore, to slay many more. Indeed, not one of them would have been left alive had not night come to their aid; for the battle occurred during the late afternoon.

Perseus consequently made his escape to Amphipolis, where he intended to rally the survivors and reorganize the campaign; but as nobody came to him but Cretan mercenaries and he learned that Pydna and other cities had chosen the Roman side, he moved on from there also, and after putting aboard some vessels all the money that he was carrying he sailed away by night to Samothrace. Before long he ascertained that Octavius was approaching at the head of his fleet and that Paulus had arrived at Amphipolis; so he sent him a letter expressing a desire to come to terms. But since he styled himself king in the letter, he did not even get an answer. Subsequently he sent a letter without any such title in it; and Paulus entertained his plea for peace, but declared that he would make terms only on condition that Perseus entrusted himself and all his possessions to the Romans' keeping. Hence they failed to come to an agreement.

Text, 66 1 

 p347  When Perseus was in the temple at Samothrace, a demand was made of him for the surrender of one Evander, of Cretan stock, a most faithful follower who had assisted him in many other schemes against the Romans and had helped to concoct the plot carried out at Delphi against Eumenes. Perseus, fearing that he might declare all the intrigues to which he had been privy, did not deliver him up, but secretly slew him and spread the report that he had made away with himself before he could be apprehended. The associates of Perseus, fearing his  p349 treachery and blood-guiltiness, then began to desert him.

4 Perseus allowed himself to be discovered, and he was brought to Amphipolis. Paulus accorded him no harsh treatment in deed or word, but on the contrary rose at his approach, welcomed him in other ways, and let him sit at his table; he kept him in honourable confinement and treated him with great consideration.

After this a demand was made upon Perseus by the Romans for the surrender of one Evander, a Cretan, who had assisted him in many schemes against them and was most faithful to him. Perseus, fearing that he might declare all the intrigues to which he had been privy, did not deliver him up, but secretly slew him and spread the report that he had perished by his own hand. Then the associates of Perseus, fearing his treachery, since they were not ignorant of what had occurred, began to desert him. Perseus, in dread of being delivered up to the Romans, tried to escape at night by flight, and would have gotten away unobserved to Cotys, a Thracian prince, but for the fact that the Cretans abandoned him; for after placing the money in boats they sailed off home. So he remained there for some days in concealment with Philip, one of his sons, but on ascertaining that the rest of his children and his retinue had fallen into the hands of Octavius, he allowed himself to be discovered. When he was brought to Amphipolis, Paulus did him no injury, but welcomed him and let him sit at his table; he kept him in honourable confinement and treated him with consideration.

After this Paulus returned through Epirus to Italy.

24 1 At this same time Lucius Anicius, a praetor, sent to conduct operations against Gentius, not only conquered those who withstood him but also pursued Gentius, when he fled to Scodra, where his  p351 palace was, and shut him up there. The city was built on the summit of a mountain and had deep ravines with rushing torrents winding about it, besides being surrounded by a strong wall; and the siege would have come to naught, had not Gentius, presuming greatly upon his own power, voluntarily advanced to battle. In consequence Anicius gained control of his entire domain; he then proceeded to Epirus, before Paulus arrived, and quieted that disturbed district also.

The people of Rome by some rumour or other heard of the victory of Paulus on the fourth day after the battle, but they placed no sure confidence in it. Then letters were brought from Paulus regarding his success, and they were greatly pleased and plumed themselves not merely upon having vanquished Perseus and acquired Macedonia but upon having beaten the renowned Philip of old and Alexander himself, together with all that empire which he had held. When Paulus reached Rome, many decrees were passed in his honour and his triumphal procession was a most brilliant one. For in addition to all the booty which he had taken he also had in his procession Bithys, the son of Cotys, besides Perseus with his wife and three children in the garb of captives. But fearing that Heaven might become displeased with the Romans because of their excessive good fortune, he prayed, as Camillus had once done, that no ill to the state might result from it all, but rather to him, if it must come; and, indeed, he lost two sons, one a little before the celebration and the other during the triumphal festival itself.

Text, 67 1 

 p353  Paulus was not only good at generalship but most inaccessible to bribes. Of this the following is a proof. Though he had at that time entered upon the consulship for a second term and had gained possession of untold spoils, he continued to live in such great poverty that when he died the dowry was with difficulty paid back to his wife. Such was the nature of the man and such were his deeds. The only thing regarded as a blemish that attached to his character was his turning over the possessions of the Epirots? to his soldiers for pillage; for the rest, he showed himself a man not devoid of charm and temperate in good fortune, who was seen to be at once most fortunate and most shrewd in military affairs. For example, he did not assume a pompous or boastful attitude toward Perseus, nor had he been careless or incautious in his conduct of the war against him.

He was not only good at generalship, but he scorned money. Of this the following is a proof. Though he had at that time entered upon the consulship for a second term and had gained possession of untold spoils, he continued to live in such great poverty that when he died the dowry was with difficulty paid back to his wife.

Of the captives Bithys was returned to his father without ransom, but Perseus with his children and attendants was settled in Alba. There he held out as long as he still hoped to recover his kingdom, but when he despaired of this, he made away with himself. His son Philip and his daughter also died a little later; only the youngest son survived for a time and served as under-secretary to the magistrates of Alba. Thus Perseus, who boasted of tracing his descent through twenty kings and often had on his lips the name of Philip and still oftener that of Alexander, lost his kingdom, became a captive, and marched in the triumphal procession wearing chains as well as his diadem.

Text, 68 1 

 p355  The Rhodians, who formerly had possessed a great deal of self-esteem, thinking that they, too, were the conquerors of Philip and Antiochus and were superior to the Romans, became so alarmed that they sent for Popilius, who had been despatched as an ambassador to Antiochus, king of Syria, and in his presence to condemn all those who had been opposed to the Roman policy and to send such of them as were apprehended to punishment.

2 This same people, though they had frequently sent envoys to the Romans, as often as they wanted anything, now ceased to bring to their attention any of their former claims, but mentioned only the cases they could cite of services once rendered them which might be useful in diverting their ill-will.  p357 They were especially anxious at this time to secure the title of Roman allies, which formerly they had refused to accept; for they had wished to inspire the Romans with fear through the fact that they were not bound to friendship by any oath and hence were free to transfer their allegiance at any time, and furthermore they had wished to be courted by such states as from time to time might be engaged in war with Rome. But now they were endeavouring to strengthen the good-will of the Romans, while at the same time seeking the honour that was sure to be accorded them in consequence by others.

69 1 Prusias himself came to that, and entering the senate-house, kissed the threshold; and he termed the senators gods, and did them obeisance. Thus he readily obtained mercy, though he had fought against Attalus contrary to the Romans' advice. It  p359 was said that at home, too, whenever their envoys came to him, he did them obeisance, calling himself a freedman of the people, and often he would put on the cap of liberty.

The Rhodians, who in their earlier dealing with the Romans had shown a haughty spirit, now begged the latter not to bear ill-will toward them; and whereas they had previously refused to be called their allies, they were now especially anxious to secure this privilege. They obtained the object of their striving, but only after long delay. The Romans harboured resentment against the Cretans, too, but in response to frequent entreaties on the part of this nation they eventually relaxed their anger. Their behaviour was similar in the case of Prusias and Eumenes. The former came personally to the city, and entering the senate-house, kissed the threshold and did obeisance to the senators, whereupon he obtained mercy and pardon; Eumenes, however, owed to his brother Attalus his security against further ill-will on their part.

At this time, too, the affairs of Cappadocia were settled in the following manner. The monarch of that country, Ariarathes, had a legitimate son Ariarathes. But since for a long time before she had this son his wife had failed to conceive, she had adopted a child whom she called Orophernes. When the true son was later born, the position of the other was detected and he was banished. But after the death of Ariarathes he headed an uprising against his alleged brother. Eumenes allies himself with Ariarathes, and Demetrius, the king of Syria, with Orophernes. Ariarathes, after sustaining a defeat, fled to the Romans and was appointed by them to share the kingdom with Orophernes. But the fact that Ariarathes had been termed a friend and ally by the Romans enabled him subsequently to make the entire domain his own. Then Attalus, who succeeded Eumenes upon the death of the latter, drove both Orophernes and Demetrius out of Cappadocia altogether.

25 1 Ptolemy, the ruler of Egypt, passed away leaving two sons and one daughter. When the brothers began to quarrel with each other about the sovereignty, Antiochus, the son of Antiochus the  p361 Great, sheltered the younger, who had been driven out, in order that under the pretext of defending him he might get his hands on Egyptian affairs. In a campaign directed against Egypt he conquered the greater part of the country and spent some time in besieging Alexandria. When the rest sought refuge with the Romans, Popilius was sent to Antiochus and bade him keep his hands off Egypt; for the brothers, comprehending the designs of Antiochus, had become reconciled. When the latter was for putting off his reply, Popilius drew a circle about him with his staff and demanded that he deliberate and answer standing where he was. Antiochus then in fear raised the siege. The Ptolemies (this was the name of both princes) on being relieved of their dread of danger from outside, quarrelled again. Then they were reconciled once more by the Romans, on the condition that the elder should have Egypt and Cyprus, and the other the country about Cyrene, which also belonged to Egypt at that time. But the younger brother, angry at receiving the inferior portion, came to Rome, where he secured from the people a grant of Cyprus in addition. Then his brother once more effected an arrangement with him by giving him some cities in exchange for Cyprus and agreeing to make fixed payments of money and grain.

Antiochus subsequently died, leaving the kingdom to a child of the same name, whom the Romans confirmed in possession of it and to whom they sent three men ostensibly to act as his guardians, as he was very young. The commissioners, on finding elephants and triremes contrary to the compact,  p363 ordered the elephants all to be slain and administered everything else in the interest of Rome. Therefore Lysias, who had been entrusted with the guardianship of the king, incited the populace to expel the Romans and also to kill Gaius Octavius. When these plans had been carried out, Lysias straightway despatched envoys to Rome to offer a defence for what had been done. Now Demetrius, the son of Seleucus, and grandson of Antiochus, who was staying in Rome as a hostage at the time of his father's death and had been deprived of the kingdom by his uncle Antiochus, had asked for the domain of his father when he learned of the death of Antiochus, but the Romans would neither help him to get it nor permit him to depart from Rome; and he, in spite of his dissatisfaction, had remained quiet. But when this affair of Lysias occurred, he no longer delayed, but escaped by flight and sent a message to the senate from Lycia stating that it was not his cousin Antiochus, but Lysias that he was attacking, with the purpose of avenging Octavius. And hastening to Tripolis in Syria, he won over the town, representing that he had been sent out by the Romans to take charge of the kingdom; for no one had any idea of his flight. Then after conquering Apamea and gathering a body of troops he marched on Antioch; and when the boy and Lysias offered no opposition through fear of the Romans, but came to meet him as friends, he put them to death and recovered the kingdom. He then forwarded to  p365 Rome a crown and the assassin of Octavius; but the citizens were angry with him and would accept neither.

Later the Romans made a campaign again the Dalmatians. This race is a branch of the Illyrians who dwell along the Ionian Gulf, some of whom the Greeks used to call Taulantii, and part of whom are close to Dyrrachium. The cause of the war was that they had been abusing some of their neighbours who enjoyed the friendship of the Romans, and when the Romans joined an embassy in their behalf, the Dalmatians returned no respectful answer, and even arrested and killed the envoys of the other nations. Scipio Nasica made a campaign against this race and brought them to submission; for he captured their towns and proceeded to sell the captives. Other events, too, took place in those days, yet not of a kind to deserve mention or record.

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