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XIX.49‑65

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Library of History

of
Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. X
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1954

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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XX.1‑18

(Vol. X) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

(Book XIX, end)

p111 102 1 In Sicily,1 where peace had just been established between Agathocles and the Sicilians except the Messenians,2 the exiles of Syracuse gathered in Messenê since they saw that this was the only city remaining of those that were hostile to the dynast; 2 but Agathocles, who was eager to break up their group, sent Pasiphilus with an army to Messenê as general, telling him in secret instructions what he should do. 3 Pasiphilus, entering the region unexpectedly and gaining possession of many prisoners and much other booty, urged the Messenians to choose friendship with him and not be forced to seek terms in common with his bitterest foes.3 4 The Messenians, gaining hope of a bloodless termination of the war, expelled the Syracusan exiles and welcomed Agathocles when he came near with his army. 5 At first he treated them in a friendly manner and persuaded them to receive back the exiles who were in his army, men who had been legally banished by the Messenians. 6 But then he brought together from Tauromenium and Messenê those who had previously been opposed to his rule and put them all to death, being no less than six hundred in number; 7 for his intention was to wage war on the Carthaginians, p113and he was getting rid of all opposition throughout Sicily. When the Messenians had driven out of the city those non-citizens who were most favourably disposed to them and best able to protect them from the tyrant, and saw that those of their own citizens who were opposed to the dynast had been put to death, and when, moreover, they had been forced to receive back men who had been convicted of crime, they regretted what they had done; but they were forced to submit, since they were completely cowed by the superior power of those who had become their masters. 8 Agathocles first set out for Acragas, intending to organize that city also in his own interest; when, however, the Carthaginians sailed in with sixty ships, he abandoned that purpose; but he entered the territory subject to the Carthaginians and plundered it, taking some of the fortified places by force and winning others by negotiation.

103 1 While this was taking place, Deinocrates,4 the leader of the Syracusan exiles, sent a message to the Carthaginians, asking them to send aid before Agathocles should bring all Sicily under his sway; 2 and he himself, since he had a strong army after receiving those exiles who had been driven out of Messenê, dispatched one of his friends, Nymphodorus, with part of the soldiers to the city of the Centoripini.5 3 Although this city was garrisoned by Agathocles, some of its chief men had promised to betray it on condition that the people be given autonomy. But when Nymphodorus broke into the p115city by night, the commanders of the garrison, perceiving what had taken place, slew both the man himself and those who pressed fiercely on within the walls. 4 Seizing upon this opportunity, Agathocles brought accusations against the Centoripini and slaughtered all who were thought to have been guilty of the sedition. While the dynast was thus engaged, the Carthaginians sailed into the great harbour of Syracuse with fifty light boats. They were able to do nothing more, but falling upon two merchant ships from Athens, they sank the ships themselves and cut off the hands of the crews. 5 They had clearly treated with cruelty men who had done them no harm at all, and the gods quickly gave them a sign of this; for immediately, when some of the ships were separated from the fleet in the vicinity of Brettia, they were captured by the generals of Agathocles, and those of the Phoenicians who were taken alive suffered a fate similar to that with they had inflicted upon their captives.

104 1 The exiles who were with Deinocrates, having more than three thousand foot-soldiers and not less than two thousand mounted men, occupied the place called Galeria,6 the citizens of their own free will inviting them; and they exiled the followers of Agathocles, but they themselves encamped before the city. 2 When, however, Agathocles quickly dispatched against them Pasiphilus7 and Demophilus with five thousand soldiers, a battle was fought with the exiles, who were led by Deinocrates and Philonides, p117each in command of a wing. For some time the conflict was evenly balanced, both of the armies fighting with zest; but when one of the generals, Philonides, fell and his part of the army was put to flight, Deinocrates also was forced to withdraw. Pasiphilus killed many of his opponents during the flight and, after gaining possession of Galeria, punished those guilty of the uprising. 3 Agathocles, on hearing that the Carthaginians had seized the hill called Ecnomus in the territory of Gela, decided to fight them to a finish with his whole army. When he had set out against them and had drawn near, he challenged them to battle since he was elated by his previous victory. 4 But the barbarians not venturing to meet him in battle, he assumed that he now completely dominated the open country without a fight and went off to Syracuse, where he decorated the chief temples with the spoils.8

These are the events of this year that we have been able to discover.

105 1 When Simonides was archon in Athens, the Romans elected to the consulship Marcus Valerius and Publius Decius.9 While these held office, Cassander, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus came to terms with Antigonus and made a treaty. In this it was provided that Cassander be general of Europe until Alexander, the son of Roxanê, should come of age; that Lysimachus rule Thrace, and that Ptolemy rule Egypt and the cities adjacent thereto in Libya and Arabia; that Antigonus have first place in all Asia; p119and that the Greeks be autonomous. However, they did not abide by these agreements but each of them, putting forward plausible excuses, kept seeking to increase his own power. 2 Now Cassander perceived that Alexander, the son of Roxanê, was growing up and that word was being spread throughout Macedonia by certain men that it was fitting to release the boy from custody and give him his father's kingdom; and, fearing for himself, he instructed Glaucias,10 who was in command of the guard over the child, to murder Roxanê and the king and conceal their bodies, but to disclose to no one else what had been done. 3 When Glaucias had carried out the instructions, Cassander, Lysimachus, and Ptolemy, and Antigonus as well, were relieved of their anticipated danger from the king; 4 for henceforth, there being no longer anyone to inherit the realm, each of those who had rule over nations or cities entertained hopes of royal power and held the territory that had been placed under his authority as if it were a kingdom won by the spear.

This was the situation in Asia and in Greece and Macedonia.11

5 In Italy12 the Romans with strong forces of foot and horse took the field against Pollitium, a city of the Marrucini.a1 They also sent some of their citizens as a colony and settled the place called Interamna.a2

p121 106 1 In Sicily,13 where Agathocles was constantly increasing in power and collecting stronger forces, the Carthaginians, since they heard that the dynast was organizing the cities of the island for his own ends and that with his armed forces he surpassed their own soldiers, decided to wage the war with more energy. 2 Accordingly they at once made ready one hundred and thirty triremes, chose as general Hamilcar,14 one of their most distinguished men, gave him two thousand citizen soldiers among whom were many of the nobles, ten thousand men from Libya, a thousand mercenaries and two hundred zeugippae15 from Etruria, a thousand Baliaric slingers, and also a large sum of money and the proper provision of missiles, food, and the other things necessary for war. 3 After the whole fleet had sailed from Carthage and was at sea, a storm fell suddenly upon it, sank sixty triremes, and completely destroyed two hundred of the ships that were carrying supplies. The rest of the fleet, after encountering severe storms, with difficulty reached Sicily in safety. 4 Not a few of the Carthaginian nobles were lost, for whom the city instituted public mourning; for it is their custom whenever any major disaster has befallen the city, to cover the walls with black sackcloth. 5 Hamilcar, the general, gathered together the men who had survived the storm, enrolled mercenaries, and enlisted those troops of the Sicilian allies p123who were fit for service. He also took over the forces that were already in Sicily and, having attended to all things expedient for war, mustered his armies in the open country, about forty thousand foot-soldiers and nearly five thousand mounted men. Since he had quickly rectified the misfortune that he had suffered and won the reputation of being a good general, he revived the shattered spirits of his allies and presented no ordinary problem to his enemies.

107 1 As Agathocles saw that the forces of the Carthaginians were superior to his own, he surmised that not a few of the strongholds would go over to the Phoenicians, and also those of the cities that were offended with him. 2 He was particularly concerned for the city of the Geloans since he learned that all the forces of the enemy were in their land. At about this time he also suffered a considerable naval loss, for at the straits twenty of his ships with their crews fell into the hands of the Carthaginians. 3 Deciding nevertheless to make the city of Gela secure with a garrison, he did not venture to lead an army in openly lest the result be that the Geloans, who were looking for an excuse, forestall him and he lose the city, which provided him with great resources.16 4 He therefore sent in his soldiers a few at a time as if for particular needs until his troops far surpassed those of the city in number. Soon he himself also arrived and charged the Geloans with treason and desertion, either because they were actually planning to do something of this sort, or because he was p125persuaded by false charges made by exiles, or again because he wished to gain possession of wealth; and he slew more than four thousand of the Geloans and confiscated their property. He also ordered all the other Geloans to turn over to him their money and their uncoined silver and gold, threatening to punish those who disobeyed. 5 Since all quickly carried out the command because of fear, he gathered together a large amount of money and caused a dreadful panic among all who were subject to him. Being thought to have treated the Geloans more cruelly than was proper, he heaped together in the ditches outside the walls those who had been slain; and, leaving behind in the city an adequate garrison, he took the field against the enemy.

108 1 The Carthaginians held the hill Ecnomus, which men say had been a stronghold of Phalaris. Here it is reported that the tyrant had constructed the bronze bull that has become famous, the device being heated by a fire beneath for the torment of those subjected to the ordeal; and so the place has been called Ecnomus17 because of the impiety practised upon his victims. 2 On the other side Agathocles held another of the strongholds that had belonged to Phalaris, the one which was called Phalarium after him. In the space between the encamped armies was a river,18 which each of them used as a defence against the enemy; and sayings from earlier times were current that near this place a great number of men were destined to perish in p127battle. Since, however, it was not clear to which of the two sides the misfortune would happen, the armies were filled with superstitious fear and shrank from battle. 3 Therefore for a long time neither dared to cross the river in force, until an unexpected cause brought them into general battle. The raids made by the Libyans through the enemy's country aroused Agathocles into doing the same; and while the Greeks were engaged in plundering and were driving away some beasts of burden taken from the Carthaginian camp, soldiers issued from that encampment to pursue them. 4 Agathocles, foreseeing what was about to happen, placed beside the river an ambush of men selected for courage. These, as the Carthaginians crossed the river in their pursuit of those who were driving the beasts, sprang suddenly from the ambush, fell upon the disordered soldiers, and easily drove them back. 5 While the barbarians were being slaughtered and were fleeing to their own camp, Agathocles, thinking that the time had come to fight to a finish, led his whole army against the camp of the enemy. Falling on them unexpectedly and quickly filling up a part of the moat, he overthrew the palisade and forced an entrance into the camp. 6 The Carthaginians, who had been thrown into a panic by the unexpected attack and could find no opportunity for forming their lines, faced the enemy and fought against them at random. Both sides fought fiercely for the moat, and the whole place round about was quickly covered with dead; for the most notable of the Carthaginians rushed up to give aid when they saw the camp being taken, p129and the forces of Agathocles, encouraged by the advantage gained and believing that they would end the whole war by a single battle, pressed hard upon the barbarians.

109 1 But when Hamilcar saw that his men were being overpowered and that the Greeks in constantly increasing numbers were making their way into the camp, he brought up his slingers, who came from the Baliaric Islands and numbered at least a thousand. 2 By hurling a shower of great stones, they wounded many and even killed not a few of those who were attacking, and they shattered the defensive armour of most of them. For these men, who are accustomed to sling stones weighing a mina,19 contribute a great deal toward victory in battle, since from childhood they practise constantly with the sling. 3 In this way they drove the Greeks from the camp and defeated them. But Agathocles continued to attack at other points, and indeed the camp was already being taken by storm when unexpected reinforcements from Libya arrived by water for the Carthaginians. 4 Thus again gaining heart, those from the camp fought against the Greeks in front, and the reinforcements surrounded them on all sides. Since the Greeks were now receiving wounds from an unexpected quarter, the battle quickly reversed itself; and some of them fled into the Himeras River, others into the camp. The withdrawal was for a distance of forty stades;20 and since it was almost entirely over level country, they were hotly pursued by the barbarian cavalry, numbering not less than five thousand. p131As a result the space between was filled with dead; and the river itself contributed greatly to the destruction of the Greeks. 5 Since it was the season of the Dog Star and since the pursuit took place in the middle of the day, most of the fugitives became very thirsty because of the heat and the distress caused by the flight and drank greedily, and that too although the stream was salt.21 Therefore no fewer men than those killed in the pursuit itself were found dead beside the river without a wound. In this battle about five hundred of the barbarians fell, but of the Greeks no less than seven thousand.

110 1 Agathocles, having met with such a disaster, collected those who had survived the rout and after burning his camp withdrew into Gela. After he had given it out that he had decided to set out quickly for Syracuse, three hundred of the Libyan cavalry fell in with some of the soldiers of Agathocles in the open country. Since these said that Agathocles had departed from Syracuse, the Libyans entered Gela as friends, but they were cheated of their expectations and shot down. 2 Agathocles, however, shut himself up in Gela, not because he was unable to go safely to Syracuse, but because he wished to divert the Carthaginians to the siege of Gela in order that the Syracusans might quite fearlessly gather in their crops as the season demanded. 3 Hamilcar at first attempted to besiege Gela, but discovering that there were troops in the city defending it and that Agathocles had ample supplies of all kinds, he gave up the attempt; instead, by visiting the fortresses and cities, he won them over and treated all p133the people with kindness, seeking to win the goodwill of the Sicilians. And the people of Camarina and Leontini, also those of Catana and Tauromenium, at once sent embassies and went over to the Carthaginian; 4 and within a few days Messenê and Abacaenum and very many of the other cities vied with each other in deserting to Hamilcar, for such was the desire that came upon the common people after the defeat because of their hatred of the tyrant. 5 But Agathocles conducted what survived of his army to Syracuse, repaired the ruined parts of the walls, and carried off the grain from the countryside, intending to leave an adequate garrison for the city, but with the strongest part of his army to cross to Libya and transfer the war from the island to the continent.

But we, following the plan laid down at the beginning,22 will make Agathocles's expedition into Libya the beginning of the following book.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Continued from chap. 72.2.

2 In chap. 71.6 Messenê is included among the cities that made peace with Agathocles.

3 Or, following Madvig's reading: "urged the Messenians to dissolve their friendship and not to be counted among his bitterest foes."

4 An old friend of Agathocles, he had been spared when the tyrant first established himself in power (chap. 8.6); we do not hear of the occasion of his exile.

5 Centoripa is a city in the interior of Sicily, south-west of Aetna and north-west of Catana.

6 The exact location is not known.

7 For his later treachery and death cp. Book 20.77.2; 90.2.

8 Continued in chap. 106.

9 Simonides was archon in 311/10 B.C. In the Fasti the consuls of 312 B.C. are M. Valerius Maximus and P. Decius Mus (CIL I, p130; cp. Livy 9.28.8). The narrative is continued from chap. 100.7.

10 This Glaucias, who is not to be identified with the Glaucias of chaps. 67.6 and 70.7, had been placed in charge of the guard by Cassander (chap. 52.4). For the murder of Alexander and Roxanê cp. Justin, 15.2.5; Pausanias, 9.7.2.

11 Continued in Book 20.19.

12 Continued from chap. 101.3. Cp. Livy, 9.28.8. Diodorus returns to Roman affairs in Book 20.26.3.

13 Continued from chap. 104.4. Cp. Justin, 22.3.9. Beloch, Griechische Geschichte, 42.1.189, places this campaign in the early summer of 310 B.C.

14 The son of Gisco, not to be confused with the Hamilcar of chaps. 71.6, 72.2, who was now dead.

15 If the text is sound, we must suppose the otherwise unknown zeugippae to be horsemen who had each an extra horse, like the ἄμφιπποι of chap. 29.2; but perhaps we should read ζευγίτας, heavy armed infantry.

16 Cp. chap. 71.6 for the treaty between Agathocles and Gela.

17 Literally, "Lawless." In Book 13.90.4‑7, Diodorus claims that he himself had seen the brazen bull, which Hamilcar had taken to Carthage (about 480 B.C.) and Scipio Aemilianus had brought back to Acragas after the sack of Carthage. Cp. also Book 20.71.3.

18 The Himeras.

19 Not quite a pound.

20 About 4½ miles.

21 Cp. Vitruvius, 8.3.7. From its natural saltiness, the river gets its modern name, "Salso."

22 Cp. chap. 1.10.


Thayer's Note:

a1 a2 Diodorus is the only ancient writer to mention Pollitium; Holstenius and other scholars have searched for the site of the town, but in vain. It is asserted, but on no good grounds, to have stood in the modern region of the Abruzzo west of Chieti, either at "S. Agatopo", a tiny named place, or somewhere near the town of Manoppello.

Interamna, on the other hand, is probably Interamn(i)a Praetutiana (now Teramo, also in the Abruzzo) or Interamn(i)a Nahars (now Terni, in Umbria), although both of those towns are usually said to have been taken by the Romans in the early 3c B.C., a few years later than the date given by Diodorus. Since the name is a generic one (from inter amnes = "between rivers"), it may thus be some other place.


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