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I: Part 8

This webpage reproduces part of
The Epitome of Roman History


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

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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I: Part 10

Lucius Annaeus Florus

The two books of the Epitome,
extracted from Titus Livius,
of all the wars of seven hundred years

Book I (continued)

XXXI. The Third Punic War.
XXXII. The Achaean War.
XXXIII. Operations in Spain.
XXXIIII. The Numantine War.

 p137  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXXI. The Third Punic War

II, 15 The Third Punic War was brief in its duration (for it was brought to an end within four years), and much less difficult in comparison with the earlier wars (for it was fought not so much against an army in the field as against the city itself). In its results, however, it was by far the most important, for at last an end was made of Carthage. 2 If one considers the significance of the three periods, the first saw the beginning of the war, the second saw it given a decisive turn, the third saw its final end. 3 The pretext of the war was that, contrary to an article in the treaty, the Carthaginians had equipped a fleet and army — though it was only against the Numidians. 4 Massinissa, it is true, caused frequent alarms on their frontier; but the Romans supported this monarch as a good friend and ally. Deciding upon war, they discussed what was to happen when it was concluded. Cato, with implacable hatred, kept declaring, even when he was consulted on other subjects, that Carthage must be destroyed. 5 Scipio Nasica thought that it ought to be preserved, lest, if the fear of the rival city were removed, prosperity should begin to have a demoralizing effect. The senate decided upon the middle course, namely, that the city should merely be removed to another site; 6 for they could imagine nothing which redounded more to their credit than that Carthage should still exist, but a Carthage which they need not fear. 7 And so, in the consul­ship of Manilius and Censorinus,​1 the Roman people attacked Carthage and burnt within the very sight of the city the fleet which had been voluntarily surrendered because hopes of peace had been raised. 8 They then summoned the chief citizens and ordered  p139 them to leave Carthaginian territory, if they wished to save their lives. This demand, by its severity, so kindled their wrath that they preferred to suffer any extremity. And so they immediately gave up all hope of the national cause,​2 and with one voice the cry was raised, "To arms!" 9 and it was resolved to resist by every means in their power — not that any hope remained, but because they preferred that their country should be ruined by the hands of the enemy rather than by their own. 10 Their spirit of furious resistance may be understood from the facts that they tore off the roofs of their houses for material to construct a new fleet, and that, in the munition factories, gold and silver were melted down instead of bronze and iron, while the women contributed their hair to form cords for the engines of war. Under the consul Mancinus a hot siege was kept up by land and sea. 11 The harbours were blocked up; the first, then the second, and finally the third wall was dismantled; but the Byrsa, as they called their citadel, held out like a second city. 12 Though the destruction of the city was thus as good as certain, yet it seemed as if fate required a Scipio to make an end of Africa. The State, therefore, turned to another Scipio and demanded that he should complete the war. This man, the offspring of Paulus Macedonicus, had been adopted by the son of the great Africanus for the glory of the family, for the grandson was destined by fate to overthrow the city which his grandfather had shattered. 13 But, just as the bite of a dying animal is always most deadly, even so Carthage, half destroyed, caused more trouble than when it was whole. 14 While the enemy had been driven into the sole remaining  p141 stronghold, the Romans had also blocked up the harbour from the sea. The Carthaginians thereupon excavated another harbour on another side of the city, though not with the object of escaping; 15 but at a point where no one imagined that they could break out, a fleet, as it were, sprang suddenly into birth and sallied forth, while at the same time, now by day and now by night, some new structure or engine of war or some fresh band of desperate men started forth like a sudden flame from the ashes of a buried fire. 16 When the position finally became hopeless, 36,000 men led — though it is scarcely credible — by Hasdrubal surrendered themselves. 17 How much braver was the conduct of a woman, the wife of the commander, who, with her two children in her arms, hurled herself from the roof of her house into the midst of the flames, following the example of the queen who founded Carthage!​3 18 How mighty was the city which was destroyed is shown, to mention only a single fact, by the long duration of the fire; for it was only after seventeen days of continual effort that the flames were with difficulty put out which the enemy had themselves kindled in their houses and temples, in order that, since the city could not be saved from the Romans, the material for a triumph might be burnt.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXXII. The Achaean War

II, 16 As though that age could only run its course by the destruction of cities, the ruin of Carthage was immediately followed by that of Corinth, the capital of Achaea, the glory of Greece, set for all men to behold between the Ionian and Aegean seas.  p143 This city, by an act unworthy of the Romans, was overwhelmed before it could be accounted in the number of their declared enemies. 2 The cause of the war was the action of Critolaus,​4 who used against the Romans the liberty which they themselves had granted, and insulted the Roman ambassadors, 3 certainly by his words and perhaps also by personal violence. The task of vengeance was therefore entrusted to Metellus, who just at the time was settling matters in Macedonia. Thus the Achaean war began. First of all the consul Metellus​5 defeated the forces of Critolaus all along the Alpheus in the wide plains of Elis. 4 The war was thus finished by a single battle, and a siege already threatened the city itself; but — so fate decreed — though Metellus had fought the battle, Mummius interposed to reap the fruits of the victory. 5 He completely routed the army of the other general, Diaeus, in the very neck of the Isthmus and dyed the twin harbours with blood. The city, deserted by its inhabitants, was first plundered and then destroyed at a signal given by trumpets. 6 What a vast quantity of statues, garments and pictures was carried off, burnt, and thrown away! How great was the wealth which was plundered or burnt may be judged from the fact that we are told that all the Corinthian bronze-work, which enjoys so high a repute throughout the world, was a survival from the conflagration. 7 For the damage inflicted on this rich city in itself caused a higher value to be placed upon Corinthian bronze, because, by the melting together of countless statues and images by the flames, brass, gold and silver ore were fused into one common mass.

 p145  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXXIII. Operations in Spain

II, 17 As the fate of Corinth followed upon that of Carthage, so the fate of Numantia followed upon that of Corinth; and thereafter not a single place in the whole world was left unassailed by the arms of Rome. 2 After the burning of these two famous cities, a single war was waged far and wide everywhere at once, and not merely against one nation after another; so that it seemed as if these two cities, as by the action of winds, had scattered the flames of war over the whole world.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 3 Spain as a whole never had any desire to rise against us; it never thought of pitting its strength against us, and either making a bid for empire or a united defence of its liberty. Otherwise it is so well protected on all sides by the sea and the Pyrenees that, owing to its geographical conformation, it would be unassailable. 4 But it was beset by the Romans before it recognized its own possibilities, and was the only one of the provinces that discovered its strength only after it had been defeated. 5 Fighting continued in Spain over a period of nearly two hundred years, from the earliest of the Scipios down to the first Caesar Augustus, yet not continuously and without intermission, but at the call of circumstances; and the first hostilities were directed not against the Spanish but against the Carthaginians in Spain, from whom the contagion spread and who were the cause of all the wars.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 6 The two Scipios, Publius and Gnaeus, bore the first Roman standards over the Pyrenees, and defeated Hanno and Hasdrubal, the brothers of Hannibal, in important encounters. Spain would  p147 have been carried by assault had not the gallant Roman leaders, in the hour of victory, been surprised and killed by Carthaginian craft, when they had been successful by land and sea. 7 And so, that other Scipio, afterwards to be known as Africanus, coming to avenge his father and uncle, entered as it were a new and unimpaired province. After immediately capturing Carthage​6 and other cities, not content with having expelled the Carthaginians, he made Spain into a province paying tribute to Rome, and subdued all the inhabitants on both sides of the Iberus, and was the first Roman general to reach Gades and the shores of the Ocean as a conqueror. It is easier to create than to retain a province. 8 Generals were, therefore, sent to deal with the inhabitants in detail, now to this region and now to that, who, with much toil and after sanguinary encounters, taught submission to savage races who had hitherto been free and were, therefore, impatient of the yoke. 9 Cato, the well-known censor, broke the resistance of the Celtiberians, the flower of Spanish manhood, in several battles. Gracchus, the famous father of the Gracchi, punished the same race by the destruction of a hundred and fifty cities. 10 Metellus, who had won in Macedonia the title of Macedonicus, deserved also that of Celtibericus, after he had achieved a notable exploit in the capture of Contrebia and had gained still greater glory by sparing Nertobriga. 11 Lucullus conquered the Turduli and Vaccaei, from whom the younger Scipio had won the spolia opima in a single combat to which their king had challenged him. 12 Decimus Brutus conquered a much wider district, which included the Celts and Lusitanians  p149 and all the peoples of Callaecia and the River of Oblivion,​7 much dreaded by the soldiers, and, after marching victorious along the shores of the Ocean, did not turn back until, not without a certain dread of impiety and a feeling of awe, he beheld the sun sinking into the sea and its fires quenched in the waters.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 13 But the chief trouble in the contest lay with the Lusitanians and the Numantines, and not without reason; for they were the only Spanish tribe that possessed leaders. There would have been trouble also with all the Celtiberians had not the leader of their rising, Olyndicus — a man of great craft and daring, if only fortune had favoured him — been put out of the way early in the war. 14 This man, brandishing a silver spear which he claimed had been sent from heaven, and behaving like a prophet, had attracted general attention; but having, with corresponding temerity, approached the consul's camp under the cover of night, he ended his career by the javelin of a sentry close to the very tent of the consul. 15 The Lusitanians were stirred to revolt by Viriatus, a man of extreme cunning, who from being a hunter became a brigand, and from a brigand suddenly became a leader and general, and, if fortune had favoured him, would have become the Romulus of Spain. Not content with defending the liberty of his countrymen, for fourteen years he laid waste with fire and sword all the land on both sides of the Iberus and Tagus; 16 attacked the camps of the praetors and the Roman garrisons; defeated Claudius Unimanus, almost completely exterminating his army; and fixed up in his native mountains trophies adorned with the official robes and fasces which he had  p151 captured from us. 17 At last Fabius Maximus had overcome him also; but his victory was spoilt by the conduct of his successor Popilius, who, in his eagerness to finish the campaign, assailed the enemy leader, when he was already defeated and was contemplating the final step of surrender, by craft and stratagem and private assassins, and so gave him the credit of seeming to have been invincible by any other method.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXXIIII. The Numantine War

II, 18 Numantia, however inferior in wealth to Carthage, Capua and Corinth, in respect of valour and distinction was the equal of any of them, and, if one judges it aright, was the greatest glory of Spain. 2 This city, without any walls or fortifications and situated on only a slight eminence on the banks of a stream, with a garrison of 4,000 Celtiberians, held out alone against an army of 40,000 men for eleven years, and not only held out but repulsed its foes with considerable vigour on several occasions and drove them to make discreditable terms. Finally, when they found that the city was undefeated, they were forced to call in the general who had overthrown Carthage.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] 3 Scarcely ever, if the truth may be confessed, was the pretext for any war more unjust. The Numantines had harboured their allies and kinsmen the Segidians who had escaped from the hands of the Romans. 4 The intercession which they made on their behalf produced no result. When they offered to withdraw from all participation in the war, they were ordered to lay down their arms as the price of a regular treaty. This demand was interpreted  p153 by the barbarians as equivalent to the cutting off of their hands; and so they immediately had recourse to arms under the leader­ship of the brave Megaravicus. They attacked Pompeius, but, when they might have utterly defeated him, they preferred to conclude a treaty. They next attacked Hostilius Mancinus; 5 him too they reduced by inflicting continual losses upon him, so that no one could endure even to look in the eyes or hear the voice of a Numantine. 6 Nevertheless, when they might have wreaked their fury in wholesale destruction, they preferred to make a treaty with him, being content to despoil his men of their arms. 7 But the Roman people, as much incensed at the dishonour and shame of this Numantine treaty as they had been at that of the Caudine Forks, wiped out the disgrace of the disaster of the moment by surrendering Mancinus to the enemy,​8 8 and then, under the leader­ship of Scipio, who had been trained for the destruction of cities by the burning of Carthage, at last their desire for vengeance burst into flames. At first he had a harder struggle in the camp than in the field, 9 and more with our own soldiers than with the Numantines; 10 for, worn out with continual, excessive and, for the most part, servile tasks, on the ground that they did not know how to fight they were ordered to carry more than the usual number of stakes,​9 and because they refused to stain themselves with blood, they were bidden to befoul themselves with mud. In addition to this, the women and camp-followers and all the baggage except what was absolutely necessary were dispensed with. 11 It is a true proverb which says that a general has the army which he deserves. The troops having been thus reduced to  p155 discipline, a battle was fought, and the sight of the Numantines in flight, which no one had even expected to see, was actually realized. 12 They were willing to surrender if conditions were imposed to which men of spirit could submit. But since Scipio desired a complete and unqualified victory, they were first reduced to the necessity of rushing into the fray resolved to die, after they had first gorged themselves with, as it were, a funeral banquet of half-raw flesh and caelia,​10 a name which they give to a local drink made from corn.º 13 Their intention was perceived by the general, and so, ready though they were to die, no opportunity was given them of fighting. When famine pressed hard upon them — for they were surrounded by a trench and breastwork and four camps — they begged the general to allow them to engage him, so that he might slay them like men, and, when their request was refused, they determined to make a sortie. 14 This resulted in a battle in which very many of them were slain and, as hunger pressed them hard, they lived for a while on the dead bodies.​11 Finally, they made up their minds to flee, but this was prevented by their wives, who cut the girths of their horses — a grievous wrong, but due to their affection. 15 Despairing, therefore, of escape and in a revulsion of rage and fury, they, at last, under the leader­ship of Rhoecogenes, made an end of themselves, their families and their native city with the sword, with poison and with general conflagration. 16 All glory to a brave city, a city blessed, so it seems to me, even in its misfortunes; for it loyally helped its allies and with so small a force withstood for so long a period a people which was supported by the resources of the whole world.  p157 Having been finally overcome by the greatest of generals, it left the enemy no cause for exultation; 17 for not a single Numantine was left to be led in triumph as a prisoner; the city, being poor, provided no spoil; their arms they themselves burned. Only the name of the city remained over which they could triumph.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] II, 19 Hitherto the Roman people had been glorious, illustrious, humane, upright and high-minded; the rest of their history during this period, though equally grand, was more disturbed and disgraced by the vices which increased with the very greatness of their empire; 2 so much so that, if one were to subdivide this third age, which saw conquests beyond the seas and to which we have allotted two hundred years, he would reasonably and justly admit that the first hundred years, during which they subdued Africa, Macedonia, Sicily and Spain, might be named, in the language of the poets, golden, 3 and the following hundred years an age of iron and bloodshed or whatever is still more terrible. For these years included not only the Jugurthine, Cimbrian, Mithridatic, Parthian and piratical wars, and the wars in Gaul and Germany (when the glory of Rome rose to the very heavens), but the murders of the Gracchi and Drusus, and also the wars against the slaves, and also (that nothing might be wanting to their infamy) those against the gladiators. 4 Lastly, the Romans, turning upon themselves, as though in madness and fury, rent themselves to pieces — a crime indeed — by the hands of the Marian and Sullan parties, and finally by those of Pompeius and Caesar. 5 These events, though they are closely connected and involved with one another, nevertheless, in order that they may be set forth more clearly, and  p159 also that the crimes may not obscure the virtues, shall be related separately. And so, in the first place, in accordance with our original plan, we will describe the just and honourable wars waged against foreign nations, in order that that greatness of the daily increasing empire may be made manifest; and afterwards we will turn to the crimes and to the disgraceful and impious struggles of the citizens amongst themselves.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 149 B.C.

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2 Cf. Liv. XXII.53.4, desperata et complorata republica.

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3 i.e. Dido.

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4 Head of the Achaean League.

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5 Consul in 146 B.C.

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6 New Carthage, the modern Cartagena.

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7 Also called the Limaea (Strabo, III, p153).

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8 Mancinus was placed unarmed and bound before the gates of Numantia, but the Numantines refused to take him prisoner (Vell. Pater. II.1.5).

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9 Cp. Liv. Epit. 57 (where the incident is referred to): militem triginta dierum frumenta ac septenos vallos ferre coegit.

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10 A kind of beer: cf. Plin. N. H. XXII.25.82.

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11 This interpretation of inde is confirmed by the account given by Val. Max. VII.6.2.

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Page updated: 18 Sep 12