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XIX.102‑110

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.19‑44

(Vol. X) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

p137 Book XX (beginning)

How Agathocles crossed into Libya, defeated the Carthaginians in a battle, and became master of many cities in making himself tyrant of Syracuse (chaps. 3‑18).

How Cassander went to the aid of Audoleon; and how he made an alliance with Ptolemaeus, Antigonus' general, who had become a rebel (chap. 19).

How Ptolemy took some of the cities of Cilicia, and how Antigonus' son Demetrius recovered them (chap. 19).

How Polyperchon attempted to bring Heracles, the son of Barsinê, back to his ancestral kingdom; and how Ptolemy made away with Nicocreon,1 the king of Paphos (chaps. 20‑21).

Concerning the actions of the kings in the Bosporus, and of the Romans and Samnites in Italy (chaps. 22‑26).

The campaign of Ptolemy against Cilicia and the adjacent coast (chap. 27).

Assassination of Heracles by Polyperchon (chap. 28).

Capture of Hamilcar, the general of the Carthaginians, by the Syracusans (chaps. 29‑30).

How the people of Acragas attempted to liberate the Sicilians (chap. 31).

How they capture twenty2 ships of the Syracusans (chap. 32).

p139 About the revolt that took place in Libya, and the peril of Agathocles (chaps. 33‑34).3

About the acts of Appius Claudius during his consulship (chap. 36).

Delivery of Corinth and Sicyon to Ptolemy (chap. 37).

Assassination of Cleopatra in Sardis (chap. 37).

How Agathocles defeated the Carthaginians in battle; and how, after summoning Ophellas, the tyrant of Cyrenê, to co-operate with them, he assassinated him and took over the army that was with him (chaps. 38‑42).

How the Carthaginians put down Bormilcar, who had attempted to become tyrant (chaps. 43‑44).

How, when Agathocles sent the booty to Sicily, some of the ships were wrecked (chap. 44).

How the Romans went to the aid of the Marsi, who were being attacked by the Samnites; and how they took Caprium4 in Etruria after a siege (chap. 44).

The naval expedition of Demetrius Poliorcetes into the Peiraeus, and his capture of Munychia (chap. 45).

Liberation of the Athenians and the Megarians (chap. 46).

Voyage of Demetrius to Cyprus, his battle against the general Menelaüs, and the siege of Salamis (chaps. 47‑48).

Demetrius' naval battle against Ptolemy and victory of Demetrius (chaps. 49‑52).

Capture of all Cyprus and of the army of Ptolemy (chap. 53).

How, because Antigonus and Demetrius assumed the diadem after this victory, the other dynasts, jealous of them, proclaimed themselves kings (chap. 53).

p141 How Agathocles, having besieged and taken Utica, transported part of his troops across into Sicily (chaps. 54‑55).

How the people of Acragas took the field against Agathocles' generals and were defeated (chap. 56).

How Agathocles won over to himself Heraclea, Therma, and Cephaloedium, but reduced the country and city of the Apolloniates to utter slavery (chap. 56).

How in Sicily Agathocles defeated the Carthaginians in a naval battle and the people of Acragas in a battle on land (chaps. 57‑63).

Agathocles' crossing to Libya for the second time and his defeat (chap. 64).

The confusion that arose in the camps of both armies (chaps. 65‑70).

Agathocles' flight to Sicily (chap. 71).

The slaughter of the Sicilians by Agathocles (chaps. 71‑72).

Expedition of King Antigonus against Egypt with great forces (chaps. 73‑76).

Desertion of Pasiphilus, a general, from Agathocles (chap. 77).5

How the Carthaginians made peace with Agathocles (chap. 79).

How Demetrius, after laying siege to Rhodes, abandoned the siege (chaps. 81‑88, 91‑99).6

How the Romans defeated the Samnites in two battles (chap. 90).

How Demetrius sailed from Rhodes to Greece and freed most of the cities (chaps. 100, 102‑103).

How Agathocles unjustly exacted money from the Liparaeans and lost the ships in which the money was (chap. 101).

p143 How the Romans reduced the tribe of the Aecli and made peace with the Samnites (chap. 101).

What Cleonymus did in Italy (chaps. 104‑105).

For what reasons Cassander and Lysimachus, and likewise Seleucus and Ptolemy, combined and made war on Antigonus (chap. 106).

Campaign of Cassander into Thessaly against Demetrius, and of Lysimachus into Asia (chap. 107).

Revolt of the generals Docimus and Phoenix from Antigonus (chap. 107).

How Antigonus, taking the field against Lysimachus, was far superior to him in military might (chaps. 108‑109).7

How he summoned his son Demetrius from Greece (chaps. 109, 111).8

How Ptolemy subdued the cities of Coelê Syria; and how Seleucus made an expedition from the upper satrapies as far as Cappadocia (chap. 113).

Dispersion of all the armies for wintering (chap. 113).

p145 1 1 One might justly censure those who in their histories insert over-long orations or employ frequent speeches; for not only do they rend asunder the continuity of the narrative by the ill-timed insertion of speeches, but also they interrupt the interest of those who are eagerly pressing on toward a full knowledge of the events. 2 Yet surely there is opportunity for those who wish to display rhetorical prowess to compose by themselves public discourses and speeches for ambassadors, likewise orations of praise and blame and the like; for by recognizing the classification of literary types and by elaborating each of the two by itself, they might reasonably expect to gain a reputation in both fields of activity. 3 But as it is, some writers by excessive use of rhetorical passages have made the whole art of history into an appendage of oratory. Not only does that which is poorly composed give offence, but also that which seems to have hit the mark in other respects yet has gone far astray from the themes and occasions that belong to its peculiar type. 4 Therefore, even of those who read such works, some skip over the orations although they appear to be entirely successful, and others, wearied in spirit by the historian's wordiness and lack of taste, abandon p147the reading entirely; 5 and this attitude is not without reason, for the genius of history is simple and self-consistent and as a whole is like a living organism. If it is mangled, it is stripped of its living charm; but if it retains its necessary unity, it is duly preserved and, by the harmony of the whole composition, renders the reading pleasant and clear.

2 1 Nevertheless, in disapproving rhetorical speeches, we do not ban them wholly from historical works; for, since history needs to be adorned with variety, in certain places it is necessary to call to our aid even such passages — and of this opportunity I should not wish to deprive myself — so that, whenever the situation requires either a public address from an ambassador or a statesman, or some such thing from the other characters, whoever does not boldly enter the contest of words would himself be blameworthy. 2 For one would find no small number of reasons for which on many occasions the aid of rhetoric will necessarily be enlisted; for when many things have been said well and to the point, one should not in contempt pass over what is worthy of memory and possesses a utility not alien to history, nor when the subject matter is great and glorious should one allow the language to appear inferior to the deeds; and there are times when, an event turning out contrary to expectation, we shall be forced to use words suitable to the subject in order to explain the seeming paradox.

3 But let this suffice on this subject; we must now write about the events that belong to my theme, first setting forth the chronological scheme of our narrative. In the preceding Books we have written of the p149deeds of both the Greeks and the barbarians from the earliest times down to the year before Agathocles' Libyan campaign; the years from the sack of Troy to that event total eight hundred and eighty-three.9 In this Book, adding what comes next in the account, we shall begin with Agathocles' crossing into Libya, and end with the year in which the kings, after reaching an agreement with each other, began joint operations against Antigonus, son of Philip, embracing a period of nine years.

3 1 When Hieromnemon was archon in Athens, the Romans elected to the consulship Gaius Julius and Quintus Aemilius;10 and in Sicily Agathocles, who had been defeated by the Carthaginians in the battle at the Himeras River and had lost the largest and strongest part of his army, took refuge in Syracuse. 2 When he saw that all his allies had changed sides and that barbarians were masters of almost all Sicily except Syracuse and were far superior in both land and sea forces, he carried out an undertaking that was unexpected and most reckless. 3 For when all had concluded that he would not even try to take the field against the Carthaginians, he determined to leave an adequate garrison for the city, to select those of the soldiers who were fit, and with these to cross over into Libya. For he hoped that, if he did this, those in Carthage, who had been living luxuriously in long-continued peace and were therefore without experience in the dangers of battle, would p151easily be defeated by men who had been trained in the school of danger; that the Libyan allies of the Carthaginians, who had for a long time resented their exactions, would grasp an opportunity for revolt; most important of all,a that by appearing unexpectedly, he would plunder a land which had not been ravaged and which, because of the prosperity of the Carthaginians, abounded in wealth of every kind; and in general, that he would divert the barbarians from his native city and from all Sicily and transfer the whole war to Libya. And this last, indeed, was accomplished.

4 1 Disclosing this intention to none of his friends, he set up his brother Antander11 as curator of the city with an adequate garrison; and he himself selected and enrolled those of the soldiers who were fit for service, bidding the infantry be ready with their arms, and giving special orders to the cavalry that, in addition to their full armour, they should have with them saddle-pads and bridles, in order that, when he got possession of horses, he might have men ready to mount them, equipped with what was needed for the service; 2 for in the earlier defeat the greater part of the foot-soldiers had been killed, but almost all the horsemen had survived uninjured,12 whose horses he was not able to transport to Libya. 3 In order that the Syracusans might not attempt a revolution after he had left them, he separated relatives from each other, particularly brothers from brothers and fathers from sons, leaving the one group p153in the city and taking the others across with him; 4 for it was clear that those who remained in Syracuse, even if they were most ill disposed toward the tyrant, because of their affection for their relatives would do nothing unbecoming against Agathocles. 5 Since he was in need of money he exacted the property of the orphans from those who were their guardians, saying that he would guard it much better than they and return it more faithfully to the children when they became of age;b and he also borrowed from the merchants, took some of the dedications in the temples, and stripped the women of their jewels. 6 Then, seeing that the majority of the very wealthy were vexed by his measures and were very hostile to him, he summoned an assembly in which, deploring both the past disaster and the expected hardships, he said that he himself would endure the siege easily because he was accustomed to every manner of hardship, but that he pitied the citizens if they should be shut in and forced to endure a siege. 7 He therefore ordered those to save themselves and their own possessions who were unwilling to endure whatever fortune might see fit that they should suffer. But when those who were wealthiest and most bitter against the tyrant had set out from the city, sending after them some of his mercenaries, he killed the men themselves and confiscated their property. 8 When, through a single unholy act, he had gained an abundance of wealth and had cleared the city of those who were opposed to him, he freed those of their slaves who were fit for military service.

p155 5 1 When everything was ready, Agathocles manned sixty ships and awaited a suitable time for the voyage. Since his purpose was unknown, some supposed that he was making an expedition into Italy, and others that he was going to plunder the part of Sicily that was under Carthaginian control; but all despaired of the safety of those who were about to sail away and condemned the prince for his mad folly. 2 But since the enemy was blockading the port with triremes many times more numerous than his own, Agathocles at first for some days was compelled to detain his soldiers in the ships since they could not sail out; but later, when some grain ships were putting in to the city, the Carthaginians with their whole fleet made for these ships, and Agathocles, who already despaired of his enterprise, as he saw the mouth of the harbour freed of the blockading ships, sailed out, his men rowing at top speed. 3 Then when the Carthaginians, who were already close to the cargo vessels, saw the enemy sailing with their ships in close order, assuming at first that Agathocles was hastening to the rescue of the grain ships, they turned and made their fleet ready for battle; but when he saw the ships sailing straight past and getting a long start of them, they began to pursue. 4 Thereupon, while these were contending with each other, the ships that were bringing grain, unexpectedly escaping the danger, brought about a great abundance of provisions in Syracuse, when a scarcity of food was already gripping the city; and Agathocles, who was already at the point of being overtaken and surrounded, gained unhoped-for safety as night closed in. 5 On the next day there occurred such an eclipse of the p157sun that utter darkness set in and the stars were seen everywhere;13 wherefore Agathocles' men, believing that the prodigy portended misfortune for them, fell into even greater anxiety about the future.14

6 1 After they had sailed for six days and the same number of nights, just as day was breaking, the fleet of the Carthaginians was unexpectedly seen not far away. At this both fleets were filled with zeal and vied with each other in rowing, the Carthaginians believing that as soon as they destroyed the Greek ships they would have Syracuse in their hands and at the same time free their fatherland from great dangers; and the Greeks foreseeing that, if they did not get to land first, 2 punishment was in store for themselves and the perils of slavery for those who had been left at home. When Libya came into sight, the men on board began to cheer and the rivalry became very keen; the ships of the barbarians sailed faster since their crews had undergone very long training, but those of the Greeks had sufficient lead. The distance was covered very quickly, and when the ships drew near the land they rushed side by side for the beach like men in a race; indeed, since they were within range, the first of the Carthaginian ships were sending missiles at the last of those of Agathocles. 3 Consequently, when they had fought for a short time with bows and slings and the barbarians had come to close quarters with a few of the Greek p159ships, Agathocles got the upper hand since he had his complement of soldiers. At this the Carthaginians withdrew and lay offshore a little beyond bowshot; but Agathocles, having disembarked his soldiers at the place called Latomiae,15 and constructed a palisade from sea to sea, beached his ships.

7 1 When he had thus carried through a perilous enterprise, Agathocles ventured upon another even more hazardous. For after surrounding himself with those among the leaders who were ready to follow his proposal and after making sacrifice to Demeter and Corê, he summoned an assembly; 2 next he came forward to speak, crowned and clad in a splendid himation, and when he had made prefatory remarks of a nature appropriate to the undertaking,16 he declared that to Demeter and Corê, the goddesses who protected Sicily, he had at the very moment when they were pursued by the Carthaginians vowed to offer all the ships as a burnt offering. 3 Therefore it was well, since they had succeeded in gaining safety, that they should pay the vow. In place of these ships he promised to restore many times the number if they would but fight boldly; and in truth, he added, the goddesses by omens from the victims had foretold victory in the entire war. 4 While he was saying this, one of his attendants brought forward a lighted torch. When he had taken this and had given orders to distribute torches likewise to all the ship captains, he invoked the goddesses and himself first set out to the trireme of the commander. Standing by the stern, he bade the others also to follow his example. Then as all the captains threw in the fire p161and the flames quickly blazed high, the trumpeters sounded the signal for battle and the army raised the war-cry, while all together prayed for a safe return home. 5 This Agathocles did primarily to compel his soldiers in the midst of dangers to have no thought at all of flight; for it was clear that, if the retreat to the ships was cut off, in victory alone would they have hope of safety. Moreover, since he had a small army, he reasoned that if he guarded the ships he would be compelled to divide his forces and so be by no means strong enough to meet the enemy in battle, and if he left the ships without defenders, he would put them into the hands of the Carthaginians.

8 1 Nevertheless, when all the ships were aflame and the fire was spreading widely, terror laid hold upon the Sicilians. Carried away at first by the wiles of Agathocles and by the rapidity of his undertakings, which gave no time for reflection, all acquiesced in what was being done; but when time made possible detailed consideration, they were plunged into regret, and as they considered the vastness of the sea that separated them from home, they abandoned hope of safety. 2 Agathocles, however, in an effort to rid his soldiers of their despondency, led his army against the place called Megalepolis, a city of the Carthaginians.17 3 The intervening country through which it was necessary for them to march was divided into gardens and plantations of every kind, since many streams of water were led in small channels and irrigated every part. There were also country houses one after another, constructed in luxurious fashion and covered with stucco, which gave evidence of the p163wealth of the people who possessed them. 4 The farm buildings were filled with everything that was needful for enjoyment, seeing that the inhabitants in a long period of peace had stored up an abundant variety of products. Part of the land was planted with vines, and part yielded olives and was also planted thickly with other varieties of fruit-bearing trees. On each side herds of cattle and flocks of sheep pastured on the plain, and the neighbouring meadows were filled with grazing horses. In general there was a manifold prosperity in the region, since the leading Carthaginians had laid out there their private estates and with their wealth had beautified them for their enjoyment. 5 Therefore the Sicilians, amazed at the beauty of the land and at its prosperity, were buoyed up by expectation, for they beheld prizes commensurate with their dangers ready at hand for the victors; 6 and Agathocles, seeing that the soldiers were recovering from their discouragement and had become eager for battle, attacked the city walls18 by direct assault. Since the onset was unforeseen and the inhabitants, because they did not know what was happening and because they had no experience in the wars, resisted only a short time, he took the city by storm; and giving it over to his soldiers for pillage, he at a single stroke loaded his army with booty and filled it with confidence. 7 Then, setting out immediately for White Tunis,19 as it is called, he subdued this city, which lies about two thousand stades from Carthage. p165The soldiers wished to garrison both of the captured cities and deposit the booty in them; but Agathocles, meditating actions conforming to those that had already been accomplished and telling the crowd that it was advantageous to leave behind them no places of refuge until they should have been victorious in battle, destroyed the cities and camped in the open.

9 1 When the Carthaginians who lay at anchor off the station where the Sicilian fleet was beached saw the ships burning, they were delighted, thinking that it was through fear of themselves that the enemy had been forced to destroy his ships; but when they saw that the army of their opponents was moving into the country, as they reckoned up the consequences, they concluded that the destruction of the fleet was their own misfortune. Therefore they spread hides over the prows of their ships as they were in the habit of doing whenever it seemed that any public misfortune had befallen the city of Carthage; 2 and, after taking the bronze beaks of the ships of Agathocles on board their own triremes, they sent to Carthage messengers to report exactly what had happened. 3 But before these had explained the situation, the country folk who had seen the landing of Agathocles, reported it quickly to the Carthaginians. Panic-stricken at the unexpected event, they supposed that their own forces in Sicily, both army and navy, had been destroyed; for Agathocles, they believed, would never have ventured to leave Syracuse stripped of defenders unless he had been victorious,c nor to transport an army across the straits p167while the enemy controlled the sea. 4 Therefore panic and great confusion seized upon the city; the crowds rushed to the market place, and the council of elders consulted what should be done. In fact there was no army at hand that could take the field against the enemy; the mass of the citizens, who had had no experience in warfare, were already in despair; and the enemy was thought to be near the walls. 5 Accordingly, some proposed to send envoys to Agathocles to sue for peace, these same men serving also as spies to observe the situation of the enemy; but some urged that they should delay until they had learned precisely what had taken place. However, while such confusion prevailed in the city, the messengers sent by the commander of the fleet sailed in and made clear the true explanation of what had happened.

10 1 Now that all had regained their courage, the council reprimanded all the commanders of the fleet because, although controlling the sea, they had allowed a hostile army to set foot on Libya; and it appointed as generals of the armies Hanno and Bormilcar,20 men who had an inherited feud. 2 The councillors thought, indeed, that because of the private mistrust and enmity of the generals the safety of the city as a whole would be secured; but they completely missed the truth. For Bormilcar, who had long had his heart set on tyranny but had lacked authority and a proper occasion for his attempt, now gained an excellent starting point by getting the command as general. 3 The basic cause in this matter was the Carthaginians' severity in inflicting punishments. p169In their wars they advance their leading men to commands, taking it for granted that these should be first to brave danger for the whole state; but when they gain peace, they plague these same men with suits, bring false charges against them through envy, and load them down with penalties. 4 Therefore some of those who are placed in positions of command, fearing the trials in the courts, desert their posts, but others attempt to become tyrants; and this is what Bormilcar, one of the two generals, did on this occasion; about him we shall speak a little later.21

5 But to resume, the generals of the Carthaginians, seeing that the situation was not at all consistent with delay, did not await soldiers from the country and from the allied cities; but they led the citizen soldiers themselves into the field, in number not less than forty thousand foot-soldiers, one thousand horsemen, and two thousand chariots.22 6 Occupying a slight elevation not far from the enemy, they drew up their army for battle. Hanno had command of the right wing, those enrolled in the Sacred Band23 fighting beside him; and Bormilcar, commanding the left, made his phalanx deep since the terrain prevented him from extending it on a broader front. The chariots and the cavalry they stationed in front of the phalanx, having determined to strike with these first and test the temper of the Greeks.

11 1 After Agathocles had viewed the array of the barbarians, he entrusted the right wing to his son p171Archagathus,24 giving him twenty-five thousand foot-soldiers; and he drew up the Syracusans, who were thirty-five hundred in number, then three thousand Greek mercenaries, and finally three thousand Samnites, Etruscans, and Celts. He himself with his bodyguard fought in front of the left wing, opposing with one thousand hoplites the Sacred Band of the Carthaginians. The five hundred archers and slingers he divided between the wings. 2 There was hardly enough equipment for the soldiers; and when he saw the men of the crews25 unarmed he had the shield covers stretched with sticks, thus making them similar in appearance to the round shields, and distributed them to these men, of no use at all for real service but when seen from a distance capable of creating the impression of arms in the minds of men who did not know the truth. 3 Seeing that his soldiers were frightened by the great numbers of barbarian cavalry and infantry, he let loose into the army in many places owls, which he had long since prepared as a means of relieving the discouragement of the common soldiers. 4 The owls, flying through the phalanx and settling on the shields and helmets, encouraged the soldiers, each man regarding this as an omen because the bird is held sacred to Athena.26 5 Such things as this, although they might seem to some an inane device, have often been responsible p173for great successes. And so it happened on this occasion also; for when courage inspired the common soldiers and word was passed along that the deity was clearly foretelling victory for them, they awaited the battle with greater steadfastness.

12 1 Indeed, when the chariots charged against them, they shot down some, and allowed others to pass through, but most of them they forced to turn back against the line of their own infantry. 2 In the same way they withstood also the charge of the cavalry; and by bringing down many of them, they made them flee to the rear. While they were distinguishing themselves in these preliminary contests, the infantry force of the barbarians had all come to close quarters. 3 A gallant battle developed, and Hanno, who had fighting under him the Sacred Band of selected men and was intent upon gaining the victory by himself, pressed heavily upon the Greeks and slew many of them. Even when all kinds of missiles were hurled against him, he would not yield but pushed on though suffering many wounds until he died from exhaustion. 4 When he had fallen, the Carthaginians who were drawn up in that part of the line were disheartened, but Agathocles and his men were elated and became much bolder than before. 5 When Bormilcar, the other general, heard of this from certain persons, thinking the gods had given him the opportunity for gaining a position from which to make a bid for the tyranny, he reasoned thus with himself: If the army of Agathocles should be destroyed, he himself would not be able to make his attempt at supremacy since the citizens would be strong; but if the former should win the victory and p175quench the pride of the Carthaginians, the already defeated people would be easy for him to manage, and he could defeat Agathocles readily whenever he wished. 6 When he had reached this conclusion, he withdrew with the men of the front rank, presenting to the enemy an inexplicable retirement but making known to his own men the death of Hanno and ordering them to withdraw in formation to the high ground; for this, he said, was to their advantage. 7 But as the enemy pressed on and the whole retreat was becoming like a rout, the Libyans of the next ranks, believing that the front rank was being defeated by sheer force, broke into flight; those, however, who were leading the Sacred Band after the death of its general Hanno, at first resisted stoutly and, stepping over the bodies of their own men as they fell, withstood every danger, but when they perceived that the greater part of the army had turned to flight and that the enemy was surrounding them in the rear, they were forced to withdraw. 8 And so, when rout spread throughout the entire army of the Carthaginians, the barbarians kept fleeing towards Carthage; but Agathocles, after pursuing them to a certain point, turned back and plundered the camp of the enemy.

13 1 There fell in this battle Greeks to the number of two hundred, and of Carthaginians not more than a thousand, but as some have written, upwards of six thousand.27 In the camp of the Carthaginians were found, along with other goods, many waggons, in which were being transported more than twenty p177thousand pairs of manacles;28 2 for the Carthaginians, having expected to master the Greeks easily, had passed the word along among themselves to take alive as many as possible and, after shackling them, to throw them into slave pens. 3 But, I think, the divinity of set purpose in the case of men who are arrogant in their calculations, changes the outcome of their confident expectations into its contrary. Now Agathocles, having surprisingly defeated the Carthaginians, was holding them shut up within their walls; but fortune, alternating victories with defeats, humbled the victors equally with the vanquished. 4 For in Sicily the Carthaginians, who had defeated Agathocles in a great battle, were besieging Syracuse, but in Libya Agathocles, having gained the upper hand in a battle of such importance, had brought the Carthaginians under siege; and what was most amazing, on the island the tyrant, though his armaments were unscathed, had proved inferior to the barbarians, but on the continent with a portion of his once defeated army he got the better of those who had been victorious.

14 1 Therefore the Carthaginians, believing that the misfortune had come to them from the gods, betook themselves to every manner of supplication of the divine powers; and, because they believed that Heracles, who was worshipped in their mother city,29 was exceedingly angry with them, they sent a large sum of money and many of the most expensive offerings to Tyre. 2 Since they had come as colonists from that city, it had been their custom in the earlier p179period to send to the god a tenth of all that was paid into the public revenue; but later, when they had acquired great wealth and were receiving more considerable revenues, they sent very little indeed, holding the divinity of little account. But turning to repentance because of this misfortune, they bethought them of all the gods of Tyre. 3 They even sent from their temples in supplication the golden shrines with their images,30 believing that they would better appease the wrath of the god if the offerings were sent for the sake of winning forgiveness. 4 They also alleged that Cronus31 had turned against them inasmuch as in former times they had been accustomed to sacrifice to this god the noblest of their sons, but more recently, secretly buying and nurturing children, they had sent these to the sacrifice; and when an investigation was made, some of those who had been sacrificed were discovered to have been supposititious. 5 When they had given thought to these things and saw their enemy encamped before their walls, they were filled with superstitious dread, for they believed that they had neglected the honours of the gods that had been established by their fathers. In their zeal to make amends for their omission, they selected two hundred of the noblest children and sacrificed them publicly; and others who were under suspicion sacrificed themselves voluntarily, in number not less than three hundred. 6 There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed p181thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire. It is probable that it was from this that Euripides has drawn the mythical story found in his works about the sacrifice in Tauris, in which he presents Iphigeneia being asked by Orestes:

But what tomb shall receive me when I die?

A sacred fire within, and earth's broad rift.32

7 Also the story passed down among the Greeks from ancient myth that Cronus did away with his own children appears to have been kept in mind among the Carthaginians through this observance.

15 1 However this may be, after such a reversal in Libya, the Carthaginians sent messengers into Sicily to Hamilcar, begging him to send aid as soon as possible; and they dispatched to him the captured bronze beaks of Agathocles' ships. Hamilcar ordered those who had sailed across to keep silent about the defeat that had been sustained, but to spread abroad to the soldiers word that Agathocles had utterly lost his fleet and his whole army. 2 Hamilcar himself, dispatching into Syracuse as envoys some of those who had come from Carthage and sending with them the beaks, demanded the surrender of the city; for, he said, the army of the Syracusans had been cut to pieces by the Carthaginians and their ships had been burned, and the production of the beaks offered proof to those who disbelieved. 3 When the inhabitants of the city heard the reported misfortune of Agathocles, the common people believed; the magistrates, p183however, being in doubt, watched closely that there might be no disorder, but they sent the envoys away at once; and the relatives and friends of the exiles and any others who were displeased with the actions of the magistrates they cast out of the city, in number not less than eight thousand. 4 Thereupon, when so great a multitude was suddenly forced to leave its native place, the city was filled with running to and fro and with uproar and the lamentation of women; for there was no household that did not have its share of mourning at that time. 5 Those who were of the party of the tyrant lamented at the misfortune of Agathocles and his sons; and some of the private citizens wept for the men believed to have been lost in Libya, and others for those who were being driven from hearth and ancestral gods, who could neither remain nor yet go outside the walls since the barbarians were besieging the city, and who, in addition to the aforesaid evils, which were great enough, were being compelled to drag along with them in their flight infant children and women. 6 But when the exiles took refuge with Hamilcar, he offered them safety; and, making ready his army, he led it against Syracuse, expecting to take the city both because it was bereft of defenders and because of the disaster that had been reported to those who had been left there.

16 1 After Hamilcar had sent an embassy in advance and had offered safety to Antander and those with him if they surrendered the city, those of the leaders who were held in highest esteem came together in council. After prolonged discussion Antander thought p185it necessary to surrender the city, since he was unmanly33 by nature and of a disposition the direct opposite of the boldness and energy of his brother; but Erymnon the Aetolian, who had been set up by Agathocles as co-ruler with his brother, expressing the contrary opinion persuaded all of them to hold out until they should hear the truth. 2 When Hamilcar learned the decision of those in the city, he constructed engines of all kinds, having determined to attack. 3 But Agathocles, who had built two thirty-oared ships after the battle, sent one of them to Syracuse, placing on board his strongest oarsmen and Nearchus, one of his trusted friends, who was to report the victory to his own people. 4 Having had a fair voyage, they approached Syracuse during the night of the fifth day, and wearing wreaths and singing paeans as they sailed they reached the city at daybreak. 5 But the picket ships of the Carthaginians caught sight of them and pursued them vigorously, and since the pursued had no great start, there arose a contest in rowing. While they were vying with each other, the folk of the city and the besiegers, seeing what was happening, both ran to the port, and each group, sharing in the anxiety of its own men, encouraged them with shouts. 6 When the dispatch boat was already at the point of being taken, the barbarians raised a shout of triumph, and the inhabitants of the city, since they could give no aid, prayed the gods for the safety of those who were sailing in. But when, not far from the shore, the ram of one of the pursuers was already bearing down to deliver its blow, the pursued ship succeeded in getting p187inside of the range of missiles and, the Syracusans having come to its aid, escaped from the danger. 7 But when Hamilcar saw that the inhabitants of the city, because of their anxiety and because of the surprising nature of the message they now anticipated, had run together to the port, surmising that some portion of the wall was unguarded, he advanced his strongest soldiers with scaling ladders. These, finding that the guard-posts had been abandoned, ascended without being discovered; but, when they had almost taken the wall between two towers, the guard, making its rounds according to custom, discovered them. 8 In the fighting that ensued the men of the city ran together and arrived in advance of those who were coming to reinforce the men who had scaled the wall, of whom they killed some and hurled others down from the battlements. 9 Hamilcar, greatly distressed at this, withdrew his army from the city and sent to those in Carthage a relief expedition of five thousand men.

17 1 Meanwhile Agathocles, who had control of the open country, was taking the strongholds about Carthage by storm; and he prevailed on some of the cities to come over to him because of fear, others because of their hatred for the Carthaginians. After fortifying a camp near Tunis34 and leaving there an adequate garrison, he moved against the cities situated along the sea. Taking by storm the first, Neapolis, he treated the captured people humanely; then, marching against Hadrumetum, he began a siege of that city, but received Aelymas, the king p189of the Libyans, into alliance. 2 On hearing of these moves the Carthaginians brought their entire army against Tunis and captured the encampment of Agathocles; then, after bringing siege engines up to the city, they made unremitting attacks. 3 But Agathocles, when some had reported to him the reverses suffered by his men, left the larger part of his army for the siege, but with his retinue and a few of the soldiers went secretly to a place in the mountains whence he could be seen both by the people of Hadrumetum and by the Carthaginians who were besieging Tunis. 4 By instructing his soldiers to light fires at night over a great area, he caused the Carthaginians to believe that he was coming against them with a large army, while the besieged thought that another strong force was at hand as an ally for their enemy. 5 Both of them, deceived by the deceptive stratagem, suffered an unexpected defeat: those who were besieging Tunis fled to Carthage abandoning their siege engines, and the people of Hadrumetum surrendered their home-land because of their fright. 6 After receiving this city on terms, Agathocles took Thapsus by force; and of the other cities of the region some he took by storm and some he won by persuasion. When he had gained control of all the cities, which were more than two hundred in number, he had in mind to lead his army into the inland regions of Libya.

18 1 After Agathocles had set out and had marched for a good many days, the Carthaginians, advancing with the force that had been brought across from Sicily and their other army, again undertook the siege p191of Tunis; and they recaptured many of the positions that were in the hands of the enemy. But Agathocles, since dispatch bearers had come to him from Tunis and disclosed what the Phoenicians had done, at once turned back. 2 When he was at a distance of about two hundred stades35 from the enemy, he pitched camp and forbade his soldiers to light fires. Then, making a night march, he fell at dawn upon those who were foraging in the country and those who were wandering outside their camp in disorder, and by killing over two thousand and taking captive no small number he greatly strengthened himself for the future. 3 For the Carthaginians, now that their reinforcements from Sicily had arrived and that their Libyan allies were fighting along with them, seemed to be superior to Agathocles; but as soon as he gained this success, the confidence of the barbarians again waned. In fact, he defeated in battle Aelymas, the king of the Libyans, who had deserted him, and slew the king and many of the barbarians.

This was the situation of affairs in Sicily and Libya.36


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 In chap. 21 this king is called Nicocles, probably incorrectly.

2 In chap. 32.5 only ten ships are captured.

3 Chap. 35 is omitted: campaigns of the Romans in Etruria and Samnium.

4 Called Caerium in chap. 44.9.

5 Chap. 78 omitted: comparison of Agathocles with Dionysius.

6 The Greek Table of Contents makes no mention of the events world in chap. 80, the Roman raids on Samnium, and in chap. 89, Agathocles' defeat of Deinocrates in Sicily.

7 Chap. 110 is omitted: the initiation of Demetrius and his campaign against Cassander.

8 Chap. 112 is omitted: the adventures of Pleistarchus.

9 An error for 873. Cp. Book 19.1.10.

10 Hieromnemon was archon in 310/09 B.C. In the Fasti the consuls of 311 B.C. are C. Iunius Bubulcus Brutus for the third time and Q. Aemilius Barbula for the second (CIL I, p130; cp. Livy, 9.30.1). The narrative is continued from Book 19.110.5. For the first part of the African campaign, cp. Justin, 22.4‑6; Orosius, 4.6.23‑29.

11 He was probably an older brother: in 317 B.C. he was one of the Syracusan generals in the war with the Bruttii, and Agathocles was only a chiliarch (Book 19.3.3). He later wrote a biography of Agathocles (Book 21.16.5).

12 Agathocles' losses in the battle at the Himeras River are given in Book 19.109.5 as not less than 7000 men.

13 August 15, 310 B.C., cp. Beloch, Griechische Geschichte2, 4.1.190. Calculations of the course of this eclipse indicate that Agathocles must have sailed north around Sicily (Cary in Cambridge Ancient History, 7.625).

14 According to Justin, 22.6.2, he explained away the omen to his men, saying that if it had happened before the expedition started it would have portended evil to them, but since it took place after the sailing it foretold misfortune for their enemies.

15 i.e. the Quarries; probably near Cape Bon, the ancient Promuntorium Mercurii, cp. Strabo, 17.3.16.

16 Justin, 22.5‑6, gives the substance of a long oration, which he ascribes to Agathocles on this occasion.

17 The exact situation of this city is not known.

18 Of Megalepolis.

19 The city cannot be certainly identified. If it is Tunis, as seems probable, it is distant from Carthage only about 12 miles. In any case, since the city in question must lie between Cape Bon and Carthage, the 2000 stades (about 240 miles) is certainly wrong (cp. Beloch, Griechische Geschichte2, 3.2.206).

Thayer's Note: What seems likeliest to me is that at some stage before that represented by our current Greek text, in which the number is spelled out (δισχίλιους σταδίους), it was given as a numeral. One hundred Attic stades (18.5 km, or just short of 12 English miles) would have been written ρ′ σταδίους; it's easy to see how the numeral could be corrupted to the very similar ͵β, 2000.

20 This Hanno is otherwise unknown. Bormilcar (or Bomilcar according to the more usual spelling) was the son of a brother of the Hamilcar who had negotiated a treaty between Agathocles and certain Sicilian cities (Book 19.71.6) and was recalled because of his supposed friendship with Agathocles (Justin, 22.2.6, 7.10); cp. p28, note 31.

21 Cp. chaps. 12.5; 43‑44.

22 According to Justin, 22.6.5, the army consisted of 30,000 men from the country districts (pagani) under the leadership of Hanno alone, cp. Orosius, 4.6.25.

23 In Book 16.80.4 we are told that the Sacred Band consisted of 2500 men, outstanding for valour and wealth.

24 He is called Agatharchus in chap. 55.5 and in Book 21.3.2; also by Polybius, 7.2.4.

25 Or, reading ἀτάκτων, "the camp followers."

26 For the owls that gave an omen of victory before the battle of Salamis cp. Plutarch Themistocles, 12.1, and Aristophanes, Wasps, 1086, together with scholia on the passage.

27 Justin, 22.6.6, places the Greek losses at 2000 men, the Carthaginian at 3000. Orosius, 4.6.25, says that the Carthaginians lost 2000 and the Sicilians only 2.

28 So, too, the Spartans in a campaign against Tegea carried fetters, and with the same result (Herodotus, 1.66).

29 Or, reading τὸν παρόντα τοῖς ἀποίκοις, "who aids colonists." The Greeks regularly identified the Tyrian god Melkart with their Heracles.

30 These golden shrines containing images of the gods, which are called offerings just below, seem to have been dedications in the temples in Carthage. One may compare the silver shrines of Diana of Ephesus made and sold in large numbers in that city in the first century after Christ, Luke, Acts of the Apostles, 19.24‑27.

31 i.e. Baal, or Moloch.

32 Euripides, Iphigeneia among the Taurians, 625‑626. The second line is Iphigeneia's answer to Orestes; and the sense seems to demand the insertion between the lines of some such phrase as "and answering."

33 The play on words (Ἄντανδρος, ἄνανδρος) is probably intentional.

34 Cp. chap. 8.7, and note.

35 About 23 miles.

36 Continued in chap. 29.2.


Thayer's Notes:

a It's not by any means the opportunity for plunder that's the most important; rather what follows, a basic principle of warfare: Take the war to your enemy's territory, not your own. A modern illustration: America's decision to take the war against Islamic fundamentalism to Afghan and Iraqi theaters.

b A precursor of modern, quaintly-named, "Social Security" schemes.

c They had obviously never seen a hockey match. The tactic is one of desperation: the goalie leaves his goal untended to go on the attack into enemy territory.


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