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Book IX

This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
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Book XI

(Vol. IV) Polybius
The Histories

 p101  Fragments of Book X

I. Affairs of Italy

1 1 

The Recovery of Tarentum

The distance from the Sicilian strait and Rhegium to Tarentum is more than two thousand stades, but all this side of Italy has not a single harbour except those of Tarentum. 2 This part of Italy faces the Sicilian Sea and verges towards Greece, and it contains the most populous barbarian tribes and the most famous Greek cities, 3 being inhabited by the Bruttians, Lucanians, a portion of the Daunians, the Calabrians, and several other tribes, while on its coast lie Rhegium, Caulonia, Locri, Croton, Metapontum, and Thurii, 5 so that those travelling either from Greece or from Sicily to any of the aforesaid places must of necessity anchor in the harbours of Tarentum, and make that city the seat of the exchange and traffic with all the inhabitants of this side of Italy. 6 One can form some idea of the advantages of its situation from the prosperity of the people of Croton; for they, although they have  p103 but roadsteads suitable for the summer and though quite few ships put in there, have, it would seem, attained great wealth simply owing to the favourable situation of the place, which is in no way to be compared with the harbours and district of Tarentum. 7 Tarentum is also very favourably situated with respect to the harbours of the Adriatic even at the present day, and was still more so formerly. 8 For from the extremity of Iapygia, as far as Sipontum, everyone coming from the opposite coast to put in to an Italian harbour crossed to Tarentum and used that as an emporium for the exchange and sale of merchandise, 9 the town of Brundisium having not yet been founded. 10 So that Fabius, regarding this enterprise as of great moment, neglected other matters and turned his whole attention to this. . . .

II. Affairs of Spain

Character of Scipio

2 1 Now that I am about to recount Scipio's exploits in Spain, and in short everything that he achieved in his life, I think it necessary to convey to my readers, in the first place, a notion of his character and natural parts. 2 For the fact that he was almost the most famous man of all time makes everyone desirous to know what sort of man he was, and what were the natural gifts and the training which enabled him to accomplish so many great actions. 3 But none can help falling into error and acquiring a mistaken impression of him, as the estimate of those who have given us their views about him is very wide of the truth. 4 That what I myself state here is sound will be evident to all who by means  p105 of my narrative are able to appreciate the most glorious and hazardous of his exploits. 5 As for all other writers, they represent him as a man favoured by fortune, who always owed the most part of his success to the unexpected and to mere chance, 6 such men being, in their opinion, more divine and more worthy of admiration than those who always act by calculation. They are not aware that one of the two things deserves praise and the other only congratulation, the latter being common to ordinary men, 7 whereas what is praiseworthy belongs alone to men of sound judgement and mental ability, whom we should consider to be the most divine and most beloved by the gods. 8 To me it seems that the character and principles of Scipio much resembled those of Lycurgus, the Lacedaemonian legislator. 9 For neither must we suppose that Lycurgus drew up the constitution of Sparta under the influence of superstition and solely prompted by the Pythia, nor that Scipio won such an empire for his country by following the suggestion of dreams and omens. 10 But since both of them saw that most men neither readily accept anything unfamiliar to them, nor venture on great risks without the hope of divine help, Lycurgus made his own scheme more acceptable and more easily believed in by invoking the oracles of the Pythia in support of projects due to himself, 12 while Scipio similarly made the men under his command more sanguine and more ready to face perilous enterprises by instilling into them the belief that his projects were divinely inspired. 13 That everything he did was done with calculation  p107 and foresight, and that all his enterprises fell out as he had reckoned, will be clear from what I am about to say.

3 1 It is generally agreed that Scipio was beneficent and magnanimous, but that he was also shrewd and discreet with a mind always concentrated on the object he had in view would be conceded by none except those who associated with him and to whom his character stood clearly revealed. 2 One of these was Gaius Laelius, who from his youth up to the end had participated in his every word and deed, and who has produced the above impression upon myself, as his account seems both probable on the face of it and in accordance with the actual performances of Scipio. 3 For he tells us that Scipio first distinguished himself on the occasion of the cavalry engagement between his father and Hannibal in the neighbourhood of the Po.​1 4 He was at the time seventeen years of age, this being his first campaign, and his father had placed him in command of a picked troop of horse in order to ensure his safety, but when he caught sight of his father in the battle, surrounded by the enemy and escorted only by two or three horsemen and dangerously wounded, 5 he at first endeavoured to urge those with him to go to the rescue, but when they hung back for a time owing to the large numbers of the enemy round them, he is said with reckless daring to have charged the encircling force alone. 6 Upon the rest being now forced to attack, the enemy were terror-struck and broke up, and Publius Scipio, thus unexpectedly delivered, was the first to salute his son in the hearing of all as his preserver. 7 Having by this service gained  p109 a universally acknowledged reputation for bravery, he in subsequent times refrained from exposing his person without sufficient reason,​2 when his country reposed her hopes of success on him — conduct characteristic not of a commander who relies on luck, but on one gifted with intelligence.

4 1 After this his elder brother Lucius was a candidate for the aedile­ship, which is almost the highest office at Rome open to young men, 2 it being the custom to elect two patricians; but there being on this occasion several patrician candidates, Publius Scipio for long did not venture to stand for the same office as his brother. 3 But on the approach of the election, judging from the disposition of the peopleº that his brother had a poor chance of being elected, and seeing that he himself was exceedingly popular, he came to the conclusion that the only means by which his brother would attain his object would be by their coming to an agreement and both of them making the attempt, and so he hit on the following plan. 4 Seeing that his mother was visiting the different temples and sacrificing to the gods on behalf of his brother and generally exhibiting great concern about the result — he had only to concern himself with her, his father having left for Spain, where he had been appointed to the command in the campaign I have described — he, as a fact, told her that he had twice had the same dream. 6 He had dreamt that both he and his brother had been elected to the aedile­ship and were going up from the forum to their house, when she met him  p111 at the door and fell on their necks and kissed them. 7 She was affected by this, as a woman would be, and exclaimed, "Would I might see that day" or something similar. "Then would you like us to try, mother?" he said. 8 Upon her consenting, as she never dreamt he would venture on it, but thought it was merely a casual joke — for he was exceedingly young — he begged her to get a white toga ready for him at once, this being the dress that candidates are in the habit of wearing. 9 What she had said had entirely gone out of her head, 5 1 and Scipio waiting until he received the white toga appeared in the forum while his mother was still asleep. 2 The people, owing to the unexpectedness of the sight and owing to his previous popularity, received him with enthusiastic surprise, and afterwards when he went on to the station appointed for candidates and stood by his brother they not only conferred the office on Publius but on his brother too for his sake, and both appeared at their house elected aediles. 4 When the news suddenly reached his mother's ears, she met them overjoyed at the door and embraced the young men with deep emotion, so that from this circumstance all who had heard of the dreams believed that Publius communed with the gods not only in his sleep, but still more in reality and by day. 6 Now it was not a matter of a dream at all, but as he was kind and munificent and agreeable in his address he reckoned on his popularity with the people, 7 and so by cleverly adapting his action to the actual sentiment of the people and of his mother he not only attained his object but was believed to have acted under a sort of divine inspiration.  p113 8 For those who are incapable of taking an accurate view of operations, causes, and dispositions, either from lack of natural ability or from inexperience and indolence, attribute to the gods and to fortune the causes of what is accomplished by shrewdness and with calculation and foresight.

9 I have made these observations for the sake of my readers, that they may not by falsely accepting the generally received opinion of Scipio neglect to notice his finest qualities and those most worthy of respect, I mean his cleverness and laboriousness. 10 This will be still more evident from my account of his actual exploits.

6 1 To resume my narrative — on this occasion he assembled his soldiers and exhorted them not to be cast down by their recent reverse. 2 The Romans, he said, were never beaten by the Carthaginians owing to the superior courage of the latter, but it was all due to the treachery of the Celtiberians and to rashness, the generals having been cut off from each other owing to their trust in the alliance of that people. 3 "Both of these disadvantages," he said, "now affect the enemy; for they are encamped at a long distance apart, and by their tyrannical treatment of their allies they have estranged them all and made them their enemies. 4 So that some of them are already negotiating with us, while the rest, as soon as they have the courage to do it and see that we have crossed the river, will be glad to come in not so much out of affection for us as from eagerness to be avenged on the Carthaginians for their brutal conduct. 5 But the chief point is that the enemy's commanders are on ill terms with each other and will not readily engage us with their united forces, while if they attack us separately it  p115 will be easy to overcome them." 6 He therefore begged his soldiers to take all this into consideration and cross the river confidently. 7 After that it would be the business of himself and the other commanders to decide what was next to be done. Having made this speech he left his colleague Marcus Silanus with three thousand foot and five hundred horse at the ford to watch over the allies on the near side of the river, and himself began to cross with the rest of his forces, revealing his plan to no one. 8 The fact was, he had decided not to do any of the things he had publicly announced, but to invest suddenly the town in Spain to which they had given the name of Carthage. 9 This we take as the first and strongest confirmation of the view I have just expressed. 10 He was now but twenty-seven years of age, and yet he in the first place took in hand a situation pronounced by most people as desperate owing to the serious nature of the recent reverses, 11 and secondly in dealing with it he put aside the measures obvious to anyone and planned out and decided on a course which neither his enemies nor his friends expected. 12 There was nothing in all this that was not due to most close calculation.

7 1 For from the very outset, having learnt by careful inquiries at Rome the facts about the treachery of the Celtiberians and the separation of the Roman armies, and reaching the conclusion that his father's defeat was due to these causes, 2 he was not in terror of the Carthaginians nor broken in spirit like most people. 3 When subsequently he heard that the allies on the Roman side of the Ebro remained friendly, and that the Carthaginian commanders  p117 had fallen out with each other and were treating their subjects tyrannically, he felt full confidence in the result of his expedition, relying not on chance but on inference from the facts. 4 For on his arrival in Spain he set everyone on the alert and inquired from everyone about the circumstances of the enemy, and thus learnt that the Carthaginian forces were divided into three bodies. 5 Mago, he heard, was posted on this side of the pillars of Hercules in the country of the people called Conii; Hasdrubal, son of Gesco, was in Lusitania near the mouth of the Tagus; and the other Hasdrubal was besieging a city in the territory of the Carpetani: none of them being within less than ten days' march from New Carthage. 6 He thought, then, that if he decided to engage the enemy it would be extremely dangerous to risk a battle with all the three at once, both because his predecessors had been defeated and because the enemy were greatly superior in numbers, 7 while if he made a dash at one of the three and upon his declining an engagement found himself shut in somewhere by the other hostile forces coming up to help, he feared that he might meet with a disaster such as befel his uncle and father. 8 1 He therefore rejected any such course; and on learning that the above city, New Carthage, was of very great service to the enemy, and a cause of great damage to himself in the present war, he made detailed inquiries about it during the winter from people acquainted with it. 2 He learnt in the first place that it stood almost alone among Spanish cities in possessing harbours fit for a fleet and for naval forces, and that it was at the same time very favourably situated for the Carthaginians to make the direct sea crossing from  p119 Africa. 3 Next he heard that the Carthaginians kept the bulk of their money and their war material in this city, as well as their hostages from the whole of Spain, and, what was of most importance, 4 that the trained soldiers who garrisoned the citadel were only about a thousand in number, because no one dreamt that while the Carthaginians were masters of nearly the whole of Spain it would enter anyone's head to besiege the city, 5 while the remaining population was exceedingly large but composed of artisans, tradesmen, and sailors, men very far from having any military experience. This he considered to be a thing that would tell against the city, if he appeared suddenly before it. 6 Nor was he ignorant of the position and plan of New Carthage and of the nature of the lagoon which surrounded it, but had learnt from some fishermen who plied their craft there that the whole lagoon was shallow and in most parts fordable, and that usually the water in it receded every day towards evening. 8 Taking all these facts into consideration he came to the conclusion that if he succeeded in his enterprise he would not only damage the enemy, but would much advance the Roman cause, while in the event of failure he could, since he was master of the sea, place his troops in a position of safety, once he had secured his camp — an easy matter as the forces of the enemy were at so great a distance. 10 Abandoning, therefore, all other projects he spent his time while in winter quarters in preparing for this, 9 1 and though he had formed such a great project and was only of the  p121 age I just stated he concealed the plan from everyone except Gaius Laelius, until the time when he judged it proper to make it public.

2 Although authors agree that he made these calculations, yet when they come to the accomplishment of his plan, they attribute for some unknown reason the success not to the man and his foresight, but to the gods and to chance, 3 and that in spite of all probability and in spite of the testimony of those who lived with him, and of the fact that Scipio himself in his letter to Philip explained clearly that it was after making the calculations which I have just recited that he undertook all his operations in Spain and particularly the siege of New Carthage.

4 Be that as it may, he now gave secret orders to Gaius Laelius, who commanded the fleet, to sail to that city — 5 it was Laelius alone, as I above stated, who was aware of the project — 6 while he himself with his land forces marched rapidly against it. He had about twenty-five thousand infantry and two thousand five hundred horse. 7 Arriving on the seventh day he encamped to the north of the city, defending the outer side of his camp by a palisade and double trench reaching from sea to sea, but erecting no defences at all on the side facing the town, where the nature of the ground sufficiently secured his position.

8 Now that I am about to narrate the siege and capture of the place, I think it behoves me to make  p123 my readers acquainted to some extent with its surroundings and actual position. 10 1 New Carthage lies half way down the coast of Spain, in a gulf which faces south-west and is about twenty stades long and ten stades broad at the entrance. This gulf serves as a harbour for the following reason. 2 At its mouth lies an island which leaves only a narrow passage on either side, 3 and as this breaks the waves of the sea, the whole gulf is perfectly calm, except that the south-west wind sometimes blows in through both the channels and raises some sea. 4 No other wind, however, disturbs it as it is quite land-locked. In the innermost nook of the gulf a hill in the form of a peninsula juts out, and on this stands the city, surrounded by the sea on the east and south and on the west by a lagoon which extends so far to the north that the remaining space, reaching as far as the sea on the other side and connecting the sea with the mainland, is not more than two stades in breadth. 7 The town itself is low in the centre, and on its southern side the approach to it from the sea is level. On the other sides it is surrounded by hills, two of them lofty and rugged, and the other three, though much lower, yet craggy and difficult of access. 8 The biggest of these hills lies on the east side of the town and juts out into the sea, and on it is built a temple of Aesculapius. 9 The second is opposite it on the western side in a similar position, and on it stands a magnificent palace said to have  p125 been built by Hasdrubal when he aspired to royal power. 10 The three other smaller eminences are to the north of the city, 11 the most easterly being called the hill of Vulcan, the next one the hill of Aletes, who is said to have received divine honours for his discovery of the silver mines, while the third is known as the hill of Saturn. 12 An artificial communication has been opened between the lagoon and the neighbouring sea for the convenience of shipping, 13 and over the channel thus cut through the tongue of land that separates lagoon and sea a bridge has been built for the passage of beasts of burden and carts bringing in supplies from the country.

11 1 Such being the situation of the place, the Roman camp was protected on its inner side without any fortification by the lagoon and by the outer sea. 2 The intervening space, which connects the city with the mainland and which lay in the middle of his camp, was also left unintrenched by Scipio, either to intimidate the enemy or to adapt it to his own particular purpose, so that there should be no impediment to sorties from his camp and subsequent retirement into it. 4 The circumference of the city was formerly not more than twenty stades — I am quite aware that many state it to be forty, but this is not true, as I speak not from report but from my own careful observation — and at the present day it has still further shrunk.

5 Scipio, then, when the fleet arrived in due time, decided to call a meeting of his troops and address  p127 them, using no other arguments than those which had carried conviction to himself and which I have above stated in detail. 6 After proving to them that the project was feasible, and pointing out briefly what loss its success would entail on the enemy and what an advantage it would be to themselves, he went on to promise gold crowns to those who should be the first to mount the wall and the usual rewards to such as displayed conspicuous courage. 7 Finally he told them that it was Neptune who had first suggested this plan to him, appearing to him in his sleep, and promising that when the time for the action came he would render such conspicuous aid that his intervention would be manifest to the whole army. 9 The combination in this speech of accurate calculation, of the promise of gold crowns, and therewithal of confidence in the help of Providence created great enthusiasm and ardour among the lads.

12 1 Next day, encircling the city from the sea by ships furnished with all kinds of missiles under the command of Laelius, and sending forward on the land side two thousand of his strongest men together with the ladder-bearers, he began the assault at about the third hour. 2 Mago, who was in command of the place, divided his regiment of a thousand men into two, leaving half of them on the citadel and stationing the others on the eastern hill. 3 After the rest, he armed two thousand of the strongest with such arms as were to be found in the town, and  p129 posted them near the gate leading to the isthmus and the enemy's camp: the others he ordered to do their best to defend the whole of the wall. 4 As soon as Scipio had given the signal for the assault by bugle, Mago sent the armed citizens out through the gate, feeling sure of striking terror into the enemy and entirely defeating their design. 5 They delivered a vigorous assault on the Romans who had issued from the camp and were now drawn up on the isthmus, and a sharp engagement ensued, accompanied by vehement shouts of encouragement from both sides, those in the camp and those in the town respectively cheering on their own men. 6 But as the assistance sent to either side was not equal, the Carthaginians arriving through a single gate and from a distance of nearly two stades and the Romans from close by and from several points, the battle for this reason was an unequal one. 7 For Scipio had purposely posted his men close to the camp itself in order to entice the enemy as far out as possible, well knowing that if he destroyed those who were so to speak the steel edge of the population of the town he would cause universal dejection, and none of those inside would venture out of the gate. 8 However, for some time the battle was hotly contested, as both sides had picked out their best men. But finally, as reinforcements continued to come up from the camp, the Carthaginians were forced back, by sheer weight, and took to flight, 9 many of them falling in the actual battle or in the retreat but the greater number being trodden down by  p131 each other in entering the gate. 10 When this took place the city people were thrown into such panic that even the defenders of the walls fled. 11 The Romans very nearly succeeded in entering together with the fugitives, and at any rate set up their scaling ladders in full security.

13 1 Scipio took part in the battle, but consulted his safety as far as possible; 2 for he had with him three men carrying large shields, who holding these close covered the surface exposed to the wall and thus afforded him protection. 3 So that passing along the side of his line on higher ground he contributed greatly to the success of the day; 4 for he could both see what was going on and being seen by all his men he inspired the combatants with great spirit. 5 The consequence was that nothing was omitted which was necessary in the engagement, but the moment that circumstances suggested any step to him he set to work at once to do what was necessary.

6 When the front rank advanced confidently to mount the ladders, it was not so much the numbers of the defenders which made the assault hazardous as the great height of the wall. 7 Those on the wall consequently plucked up courage when they saw the difficulties of the assailant. 8 For some of the ladders broke, as owing to their height so many mounted them at the same time, while on others those who led the way grew dizzy owing to their elevated position, and a very slight resistance on the part of the besieged sufficed to make them throw themselves off the ladders. 9 Also whenever the defenders adopted the expedient of throwing beams or suchlike things from the battlements the  p133 whole of those on the ladders would be swept off and fall to the ground. 10 Yet in spite of all these difficulties nothing could restrain the dash and fury of the Romans, but while the first scalers were still falling the vacant places were instantly taken by the next in order. 11 The hour, however, was now advanced, and as the soldiers were worn out by fatigue, Scipio recalled the assailants by bugle.

14 1 The garrison were now overjoyed at having, as they thought, repelled the danger, 2 but Scipio, who was now waiting for the fall of the tide, got ready five hundred men with ladders on the shore of the lagoon and recruited his force at the isthmus and by the gate. 3 Then after addressing his soldiers he gave them still more ladders than before so that the whole extent of the wall was covered with escaladers. 4 When the signal for attack was sounded and the assailants setting up the ladders against the wall mounted it everywhere in the most daring manner, the defenders were thrown into great confusion and became very despondent. 5 They had thought they were delivered from peril, and now they saw they were menaced again by a new assault. 6 As at the same time they had run out of ammunition and their losses were so severe as to dispirit them, they supported the assault with difficulty, but nevertheless offered a stubborn resistance. 7 Just when the escalading attack was at its height 8 the tide began to ebb and the water gradually receded from the edge of the lagoon, a strong and deep current setting in through the channel to the neighbouring sea, so that to those who were not prepared for the sight the thing appeared incredible. 9 But  p135 Scipio had his guides ready and bade all the men he had told off for this service enter the water and have no fear. 10 He indeed possessed a particular talent for inspiring confidence and sympathy in his troops when he called upon them. 11 Now when they obeyed and raced through the shallow water, it struck the whole army that it was the work of some god. 12 So that now remembering Scipio's reference to Neptune and the promise he made in his speech their courage was redoubled, and under cover of their shields they forced their way in dense order to the gate and began to try to cut down the doors with axes and hatchets. 13 Meanwhile those who reached the wall through the lagoon finding the battlements deserted not only set up their ladders unmolested, but ascended them and occupied the wall without striking a blow, 14 the defenders having been diverted to other quarters, especially to the isthmus and gate there, and having never conceived it possible that the enemy would reach the wall from the lagoon, 15 while above all there was such disorderly shouting and such crowding and confusion that they could neither hear nor see to any effect.

15 1 The Romans, having once taken the wall, at first marched along it sweeping the enemy off it, the nature of their arms being very well adapted for such a service. 2 Upon reaching the gate some of them descended and began to cut through the bolts, upon which those outside began to force their way in, while the escaladers at the isthmus had  p137 now over­powered the defence and established themselves on the battlements. 3 Finally, when the walls had been taken in this manner, those who entered through the gate occupied the hill on the east after dislodging its defenders. 4 When Scipio thought that a sufficient number of troops had entered he sent most of them, as is the Roman custom, against the inhabitants of the city with orders to kill all they encountered, sparing none, and not to start pillaging until the signal was given. 5 They do this, I think, to inspire terror, so that when towns are taken by the Romans one may often see not only the corpses of human beings, but dogs cut in half, and the dismembered limbs of other animals, 6 and on this occasion such scenes were very many owing to the numbers of those in the place. 7 Scipio himself, with about a thousand men, proceeded to the citadel. On his approach Mago at first attempted to resist, but afterwards, when he saw that the city had undoubtedly been captured, he sent a message begging for his life and surrendered the citadel. 8 After this, upon the signal being given, the massacre ceased and they began pillaging. 9 At nightfall such of the Romans as had received orders to that effect, remained in the camp, while Scipio with his thousand men bivouacked in the citadel, and recalling the rest from the houses ordered them, through the tribunes, to collect the booty in the market, each maniple separately, and sleep there, keeping guard over it. 10 Summoning also the light-armed  p139 troops from the camp he stationed them on the easternmost hill.

11 Such was the manner in which the Romans gained possession of Spanish Carthage. 16 1 Next day the booty, both the baggage of the troops in the Carthaginian service and the household stuff of the townsmen and working classes, having been collected in the market, was divided by the tribunes among the legions on the usual system. 2 The Romans after the capture of a city manage matters more or less as follows: according to the size of the town sometimes a certain number of men from each maniple, at other times certain whole maniples are told off to collect booty, but they never thus employ more than half their total force, the rest remaining in their ranks at times outside and at times inside the city, ready for the occasion. 4 As their armies are usually composed of two Roman legions and two legions of allies, the whole four legions being rarely massed, all those who are told off to spoil bring the booty back each man to his own legion, and after it has been sold the tribunes distribute the profits equally among all, including not only those who were left behind in the protecting force, but the men who are guarding the tents, the sick, and those absent on any special service. 6 I have already stated at some length in my chapters on the Roman state how it is that no one appropriates any part of the loot, but that all keep the oath they  p141 make when first assembled in camp on setting out for a campaign. 8 So that when half of the army disperse to pillage and the other half keep their ranks and afford them protection, there is never any chance of the Romans suffering disaster owing to individual covetousness. 9 For as all, both the spoilers and those who remain to safeguard them, have equal confidence that they will get their share of the booty, no one leaves the ranks, a thing which usually does injury to other armies. 17 1 For since most men endure hardship and risk their lives for the sake of gain, it is evident that whenever the chance presents itself it is not likely that those left in the protecting force or in the camp will refrain, since the general rule among us is that any man keeps whatever comes into his hands. 2 And even if any careful king or general orders the booty to be brought in to form a common fund, yet everyone regards as his own whatever he can conceal. 3 So that, as most of the men start pillaging, commanders cannot maintain any control and run the risk of disaster, 4 and indeed many who have been successful in their object have, after capturing the enemy's camp or a town, not only been driven out but have met with complete disaster simply for the above reason. 5 Commanders should therefore exercise the utmost care and foresight about this matter, so that as far as is possible the hope of equal participation in the booty when such a chance presents itself may be common to all.

6 The tribunes, then, were now dealing with the  p143 booty, but the Roman commander, when the whole of the prisoners, numbering little less than ten thousand, had been collected, ordered first the citizens with their wives and children, and next the working men, to be set apart. 7 Upon this being done, after exhorting the citizens to be well disposed to the Romans and to be mindful of the kindness shown to them, he dismissed them all to their houses. 8 Weeping and rejoicing at one and the same time, owing to their unexpected delivery, they made obeisance to Scipio and dispersed. 9 He told the working men that for the time being they were public slaves of Rome, but if they showed goodwill and industry in their several crafts he promised them freedom upon the war against Carthage terminating successfully. 10 He ordered them to enrol themselves in the quaestor's office, appointing a Roman superintendent over every thirty, the whole number being about two thousand. 11 Selecting from the other prisoners those who were strongest, finest looking, and in the prime of youth, he incorporated them with the crews of his ships, and having thus got half as many sailors as before, he manned the captured vessels also, and made the complement of each ship nearly double what it had been, 13 the captured vessels numbering eighteen sail and his original fleet thirty-five. 14 He promised these men also their liberty after the final defeat of Carthage if they displayed good will and zeal. 15 By this treatment of the prisoners  p145 he produced in the citizens great affection and loyalty to himself and to the common cause, while the workmen were most zealous owing to their hope of being set free. 16 Having thus by his foresight seized the opportunity of making his fleet half as large again. . . .

18 1 After this he set apart Mago and the Carthaginians who were with him, two of them being members of the council of elders and fifteen members of the senate. 2 He committed these to the custody of Laelius, ordering him to pay them due attention. 3 Next he invited the hostages, over three hundred in number, to visit him, and calling the children to him one by one and caressing them bade them be of good cheer, as in a few days they would see their parents. 4 He also bade the rest take heart and asked them all to write to their relations at home, firstly, that they were safe and well, and secondly, that the Romans were willing to restore them all in safety to their homes if their relatives chose to become allies of Rome. 6 After speaking thus, having reserved from the booty the most suitable objects for this purpose, he gave them such gifts as became their sex and age, presenting the girls with earrings and bracelets and the young men with poniards and swords. 7 When one of the captive women, the wife of Mandonius, who was the brother of Andobales,​3 king of the Ilergetes, fell at his feet and entreated him with tears to treat them with more proper consideration than the  p147 Carthaginians had done, he was touched and asked her what they stood in need of. 8 The lady was indeed of advanced age, and bore herself with a certain majestic dignity. 9 Upon her making no reply he sent for the officials appointed to attend on the women. 10 When they presented themselves and informed him that they kept the women generously supplied with all they required, the lady again clasped his knees and addressed him in the same words, upon which Scipio was still more puzzled, and conceiving the idea that the officials who attended on the women were neglecting them and had now made a false statement, 11 he bade the ladies be of good cheer, for he said he would himself appoint other attendants who would see to it that they were in want of nothing. 12 The old lady after some hesitation said, "General, you do not take me rightly if you think that our present situation is about our food." 13 Scipio then understood what the lady meant, and noticing the youth and beauty of the daughters of Andobales and other princes he was forced to tears, recognizing in how few words she had pointed out to him the danger to which they were exposed. 14 So now he made it clear to her that he had taken her meaning, and grasping her by the right hand bade her and the rest be of good cheer, 15 for he would look after them as if they were his own sisters and children and would accordingly appoint trustworthy men to attend on them.

19 1 After this he handed over to the quaestors all the public funds of the Carthaginians which had  p149 been captured. 2 There were more than six hundred talents, so that when these were added to the four hundred he had brought from Rome, the total sum at his disposal was more than a thousand talents.

3 It was at this time that some young Romans came across a girl of surpassing bloom and beauty, and being aware that Scipio was fond of women brought her to him and introduced her, saying that they wished to make a present of the damsel to him. 4 He was overcome and astonished by her beauty, but he told them that had he been in a private position, no present would have been more welcome to him, but as he was the General it would be the least welcome of any, 5 giving them to understand, I suppose, by this answer that sometimes, during seasons of repose and leisure in our life, such things afford young men most delightful enjoyment and entertainment, but that in times of activity they are most prejudicial to the body and the mind alike of those who indulge in them. 6 So he expressed his gratitude to the young men, but called the girl's father and delivering her over to him at once bade him give her in marriage to whomever of the citizens he preferred. 7 The self-restraint and moderation he displayed on this occasion secured him the warm approbation of his troops.

8 Having arranged these matters and handed over the rest of the prisoners to the tribunes, he dispatched Laelius on a quinquereme to Rome, to convey the news, placing under his charge the Carthaginians and the most distinguished among the other prisoners. 9 For as the Romans had for the most part regarded the situation in Spain as desperate  p151 he knew that this intelligence would revive their spirits and that they would redouble their efforts to support him.

20 1 He himself remaining for some time in New Carthage constantly exercised his navy and instructed the tribunes to train the land forces in the following manner. 2 He ordered the soldiers on the first day to go at the double for thirty stades in their armour. On the second day they were all to polish up, repair, and examine their arms in full view, and the third day to rest and remain idle. 3 On the following day they were to practise, some of them sword-fighting with wooden swords covered with leather and with a button on the point, while others practised casting with javelins also having a button at the point. On the fifth day they were to begin the same course of exercise again. 5 In order that there should be no lack of weapons for practice and for real warfare he paid particular attention to the artificers. As I before stated, he had appointed skilled supervisors of the different sections of this branch, and he used himself to visit the workshops daily and personally distribute the materials required. 6 So with the infantry exercising and drilling on the ground outside the town, with the fleet at sea practising manoeuvres and rowing, and with the men in the town sharpening weapons, forging brass or carpentering, in a word, with everyone busily engaged upon the preparation of weapons, 7 no one could have helped when he saw that town saying, in the words of Xenophon, that it was "a workshop  p153 of war." 8 As soon as he considered that all the requirements of the service had been properly met, he secured the town by placing guards and repairing the wall, and setting forth with his army and navy began to advance towards Tarraco,º taking the hostages with him.

III. Affairs of Greece


21 1 Euryleon, the strategus of the Achaeans, was a timid man, without any military capacity. 2 Now that the course of my narrative has brought me to the beginning of the achievements of Philopoemen, I think it is incumbent on me, just as in the case of other eminent men I have attempted to sketch their training and character, to do now the like for him. 3 It is indeed a strange thing that authors should narrate circumstantially the foundations of cities, telling us when, how, and by whom they were founded, and detailing the precise conditions and difficulties of the undertaking, while they pass over in silence the previous training and the objects of the men who directed the whole matter, though such information is more profitable. 4 For inasmuch as it is more possible to emulate and to imitate living men than lifeless buildings, so much more important for the improvement of a reader is it to learn about the former. 5 Now had I not dealt with Philopoemen in a special work in which I explain who he and his family were, and the nature of his training when young, I should be compelled  p155 to give an account of all these matters here. 6 Since, however, I have formerly in three books, which do not form part of the present work, treated of him, stating which was his training as a boy and enumerating his most famous actions, 7 it is evident that in the present narrative my proper course is to omit details concerning his early training and the ambitions of his youth, but to add detail to the summary account I there gave of the achievements of his riper years, in order that the proper character of each work may be preserved. 8 For just as the former work, being in the form of an encomium, demanded a summary and somewhat exaggerated account of his achievements, so the present history, which distributes praise and blame impartially, demands a strictly true account and one which states the ground on which either praise or blame is based.

22 1 Philopoemen, then, came of a good stock, his family being one of the noblest in Arcadia. He was brought up and educated under the charge of Cleander of Mantinea, an old family friend and the most distinguished of the Mantineans, but living at the time in exile. 2 When he grew up he became an admirer of Ecdemus and Demophanes, who were natives of Megalopolis, but had escaped from the oppression of the tyrants, and after being with Arcesilaus the philosopher during their exile liberated their country by organizing a plot against the tyrant Aristodemus, 3 and also took part in the overthrow of Nicocles, the tyrant of Sicyon, joining Aratus in that enterprise. In addition to this, when the people of Cyrene sent for them they had championed their  p157 cause in a brilliant manner and preserved their liberty. 4 Spending much of his time with these two men in his early youth he soon came to excel all his contemporaries in endurance and courage both in the chase and in war. 5 He was also strict in his way of living and simple in dress and other such matters, for these men had instilled into him such convictions as that it was impossible for a man who was careless about the conduct of his own life to administer public affairs well, and that it was impossible for a man who lived more extravagantly than his own resources allowed to keep his hands off public money.

6 Being appointed by the Achaeans to the command of the cavalry at this time and finding the regiments in every way disorganized and the men dispirited, 7 he made them in a short time not only superior to what they had been but superior to the enemy by submitting them to a course of real training and inspiring them with such zeal as could not fail to ensure success. 8 For, as for most of the others who are appointed to this office, some of them owing to their own incapacity in horse exercise do not even dare to give any proper orders to the men they have under them, 9 while others who treat this office as a step to that of strategus, canvass the soldiers and secure their future support, never rebuking a man who deserves it, which is the way to safeguard public interests, but screening all faults and by conferring a small favour doing infinite harm to those who trust them. 10 And if at any time some commanders are personally efficient and are also anxious to keep their hands off public money, they  p159 manage by their unhappy ambition to do more harm to the infantry than the negligent ones, and they do still more mischief to the cavalry.

23 1 The movements in which he thought the cavalry should be trained, as being applicable to all circumstances, were as follows. 2 Each separate horseman must learn to wheel his horse to the left or to the right and also to wheel round and again return. 3 In sections and double sections they were to wheel so as to describe either a quarter, a half, or three-quarters of a circle and next to dash out at full speed from either of the wings or from the centre in single or double companies and then reining in to resume their formation in troops, squadrons, or regiments. 5 Besides this they must be able to extend their line on either wing either by filling up intervals or by bringing up men from the rear. 6 He considered that deployment by wheeling required no practice, as it was much the same thing as falling into marching order. 7 After this they were to practise charging and retiring in every kind of formation until they could advance at a tremendous pace but without falling out of line or column, keeping at the same time the proper distances between the squadrons, 8 as he considered that nothing was more dangerous or ineffectual than cavalry which have broken their order in squadrons and choose to engage the enemy while in this state.

9 When he had given these instructions to the people and the municipal magistrates, he paid a second visit to the towns to inquire in the first place if the soldiers were obeying orders, and next if the municipal magistrates were thoroughly capable of giving the words of command clearly and properly,  p161 10 as he considered that for actual warfare nothing was more essential than the efficiency of particular officers. 24 1 After thus making his preliminary preparations, he collected the cavalry from the different towns at one spot, where he personally supervised their evolutions and directed the whole of their drill, 2 not riding at the head of them as is done by the generals of our day, who fancy that the foremost place is the proper one for a commander. 3 What, I should like to know, can be less practical or more dangerous than a commander's being seen by all his troops, but seeing none of them? 4 A leader of cavalry should during exercise not make a display of his military rank but of his capability and power as a commander, placing himself now in front, now in the rear, and now in the centre. 5 This was what Philopoemen did, riding alongside and personally inspecting all his men, making matters clear to those who were in doubt and correcting all mistakes at the outset. 6 Such mistakes, however, were quite trivial and rare owing to the care which had been taken previously in exercising each part in particular. 7 Demetrius of Phaleron pointed this out, if not in practice in a phrase at least, when he said that just as a building will be solid if each brick is placed rightly and every course laid with care, so in an army it is the careful instruction of each man and each company which makes the whole force strong.

Fragment of the Speech of a Macedonian Orator

25 1 What is happening now is exceedingly like the disposition and management of an army for battle. 2 For in that case also the first to be exposed to danger and to suffer loss are the light and most  p163 active part of the force, whereas the phalanx and the heavy-armed troops get the credit for the result. 3 Similarly at present those who bear the brunt of the danger are the Aetolians and those Peloponnesians who are in alliance with them, while the Romans, like a phalanx, hold themselves in reserve. 4 If the former are beaten and destroyed, the Romans will get away unharmed from the struggle, 5 but should the Aetolians be victorious, which Heaven forbid, the Romans will subjugate them as well as all the other Greeks. . . .

Philip V

26 1 Philip, king of Macedon, after celebrating the Nemean games, returned to Argos and laid aside his diadem and purple robe, wishing to produce the impression that he was on a level with the others and a lenient and popular prince. 2 But the more democratic the clothes he wore, the greater and more absolute was the power he assumed. 3 For he no longer confined himself to attempting to seduce widows or to corrupting married women, but used to send and order any woman he chose to come to him, and insulted those who did not at once obey his behests, making noisy processions to their houses. 4 Summoning their sons or husbands on absurd pretexts he intimidated them, and on the whole behaved in a most outrageous and lawless manner. 5 Consequently by this excessive exercise of arbitrary power during his stay in the country he vexed many of the Achaeans and especially the most respectable men, 6 but pressed as they were on all sides by war they had perforce to put up with which was naturally offensive to them. . . .

 p165  7 None of the former kings possessed more of the qualities which make a good or bad ruler than Philip, 8 and in my opinion his good qualities were natural to him, but his defects were acquired as he advanced in age, as is the case with some horses when they grow old. 9 I, however, do not, like other writers, deliver such judgements in the preface of my work, but always in dealing with actual facts employ terms suited to the situation to convey my opinion of kings and other prominent men, 10 thinking that this method of indicating it is most proper for writers and most agreeable to readers.

IV. Affairs of Asia

Expedition of Antiochus against Arsaces

27 1 Media is the most notable principality in Asia, both in the extent of its territory and the number and excellence of the men and also of the horses it produces. 2 It supplies nearly the whole of Asia with these animals, the royal stud farms being entrusted to the Medes owing to the excellence of the pastures. 3 On its borders a ring of Greek cities was founded by Alexander to protect it from the neighbouring barbarians. Ecbatana is an exception. 4 This city is situated in the northern part of Media and commands that portion of Asia which borders on the Maeotis and Euxine. 5 It had always been the royal residence of the Medes and is said to have greatly exceeded all the other cities in wealth and the magnificence  p167 of its buildings. 6 It lies on the skirts of Mount Orontes and has no wall, but possesses an artificial citadel the fortifications of which are of wonderful strength. 7 Beneath this stands the palace, regarding which I am in doubt whether I should go into details or keep silence. 8 For to those who are disposed to recount marvellous tales and are in the habit of giving exaggerated and rhetorical reports of certain matters this city affords an admirable theme, but to such as approach with caution all statements which are contrary to ordinary conceptions it is a source of doubt and difficulty. 9 The palace, however, is about seven stades in circumference, and by the magnificence of the separate structures in it conveys a high idea of the wealth of its original founders. 10 For the woodwork was all of cedar and cypress, but no part of it was left exposed, and the rafters, the compartments of the ceiling, and the columns in the porticoes and colonnades were plated with either silver or gold, and all the tiles were silver. 11 Most of the precious metals were stripped off in the invasion of Alexander and his Macedonians, and the rest during the reigns of Antigonus and Seleucus the son of Nicanor, 12 but still, when Antiochus reached the place, the temple of Aene alone had the columns round it still gilded and a number of silver tiles were piled up in it, while a few gold bricks and a considerable quantity of silver ones remained. 13 From all the objects I have mentioned sufficient was collected  p169 to coin money with the king's effigy amounting to very nearly four thousand talents.

28 1 Arsaces had expected Antiochus to advance as far as this region, but he did not think he would venture with such a large force to cross the adjacent desert, chiefly owing to the scarcity of water. 2 For in the region I speak of there is no water visible on the surface, but even in the desert there are a number of under­ground channels communicating with wells unknown to those not acquainted with the country. 3 About these a true story is told by the inhabitants. They say that at the time when the Persians were the rulers of Asia they gave to those who conveyed a supply of water to places previously unirrigated the right of cultivating the land for five generations, 4 and consequently as the Taurus has many large streams descending from it, people incurred great expense and trouble in making under­ground channels reaching a long distance, so that at the present day those who make use of the water do not know whence the channels derive their supply. 5 Arsaces, however, when he saw that Antiochus was attempting to march across the desert, endeavoured instantly to fill up and destroy the wells. 6 The king when this news reached him sent off Nicomedes with a thousand horse, who,º finding that Arsaces had retired with his army, but that some of his cavalry were engaged in destroying the mouths of the channels, attacked and routed these, forcing them to fly, and then returned to Antiochus. 7 The king having traversed the desert came to the city called Hecatompylus,  p171 which lies in the centre of Parthia. This city derives its name from the fact that it is the meeting-place of all the roads leading to the surrounding districts.

29 1 Here he gave his army a rest, and now came to the conclusion that had Arsaces been able to risk a battle he would not have withdrawn from his own country and could not have chosen a place more favourable to his army for the struggle than the neighbourhood of Hecatompylus. 2 It was evident then to anyone who gave proper consideration to the matter that as he was retreating he had other intentions. Antiochus therefore decided to advance into Hyrcania. 3 Upon reach Tagae and learning from the inhabitants what a difficult country he would have to pass through before reaching the pass over Mount Labus, which leads down to Hyrcania, and how great numbers of barbarians were posted at different spots where his march would be particularly hard, 4 he decided to break up his light-armed troops into several bodies and divide their officers among them, with instructions as to the route they should take. He also resolved to break up the pioneers whose duty it was to march together with the light-armed troops and make the ground occupied by these passable for the phalanx and the pack-train. 5 Having made this plan he gave the command of the first division to Diogenes, entrusting him with archers and slingers and those of the mountaineers who were expert in throwing javelins and stones, who also, whenever time and place called for it, fought singly and rendered most useful service on difficult ground. 6 After these he placed about two thousand  p173 Cretans armed with bucklers under the command of Polyxenidas of Rhodes, and lastly the light troops armed with breastplate and shield under Nicomedes of Cos and Nicolaus the Aetolian.

30 1 As these separate bodies advanced they found the road much rougher and narrower than the king had expected. 2 For the total length of the ascent was about three hundred stades, and for the greater part of this distance it was through a deep torrent bed, in which progress was rendered difficult by quantities of rock and trees that had fallen of their own accord from the precipices above, while numerous other obstacles placed there by the barbarians contributed to the result. 3 For they had constructed a series of barricades of felled trees and had collected a quantity of huge rocks, while they themselves along the whole defile had occupied favourable positions on the heights where they fancied themselves in security. So that Antiochus would have found it perfectly impossible to execute his project had they not miscalculated: 4 for these preparations had been made and these positions occupied under the idea that the whole enemy army must necessarily ascend through the defile itself; 5 but they never saw that though the phalanx and pack-train could not march by any other route than the one they supposed, since it was impossible for that part of the army to attack the mountain slopes, yet it was by no means beyond the power of unburdened and light-armed troops to ascend over the bare rocks.  p175 6 So that as soon as Diogenes, advancing outside the defile, came in contact with the first barbarian post the face of things was entirely changed. 7 For at once upon encountering the enemy he acted as circumstances suggested and making a further flank movement up hill got on higher ground, and by throwing showers of javelins and stones from the hand inflicted severe punishment on them, the greatest damage being done by the stones slung from a distance. 8 As soon as they had forced this first post to withdraw and occupied their position the pioneers had time to clear and level the ground in front of them at their ease, a task soon accomplished owing to their large numbers. 9 In fact, by this means, with the slingers, archers and javelineers marching along the high ground in loose order, but closing up and occupying favourable positions, and with the Cretans covering their movements and marching parallel to them close to the defile slowly and in good order, the barbarians no longer stood their ground, but abandoning their positions collected on the actual summit of the pass.

31 1 Antiochus traversed the worst part of the road in the manner I have described, safely but very slowly and with difficulty, only just reaching the pass of Mount Labus on the eighth day. 2 The barbarians were collected there, convinced that they would prevent the enemy from crossing, and a fierce struggle now took place, in which the barbarians were forced back for the following reason. 3 Formed in a dense mass  p177 they fought desperately against the phalanx face to face, but while it was still night the light-armed troops had made a wide detour and occupied the heights in their rear, and the barbarians, the moment they noticed this, were panic-stricken and took to flight. 4 The king made every effort to restrain his men from continuing the pursuit, summoning them back by bugle-call, as he wanted his army to descend into Hyrcania unbroken and in good order. 5 Having regulated his march in the manner he wished he reached Tambrax, an unwalled city, but of large size and continuing a large royal palace, and encamped there. 6 Most of the enemy, both from the scene of the battle and from the surrounding country, had retreated to a town called Sirynx, which was at no great distance from Tambrax, and was as it were the capital of Hyrcania owing to its strength and favourable situation, and he decided to take this city by storm. 7 He advanced therefore with his army and encamping round it began the siege. 8 The chief means he employed was the use of mantelets for sappers. There were three moats, each not less than thirty cubits broad and fifteen deep, and each defended at its edge by a double row of palisades, and behind all there was strong wall. 9 There were constant combats at the works, in which neither side could bring off their dead and wounded, as the hand-to‑hand fighting took place not only on the surface of the ground but beneath it in the mines. 10 But in spite of all, owing to the superiority of numbers and the  p179 personal activity of the king, the moats were very soon filled up and the wall was undermined and fell, 11 upon which the barbarians were thoroughly discouraged, and after killing all the Greeks in the town and pillaging all the finest things they made off by night. 12 When the king became aware of this he sent Hyperbas after them with the mercenaries, and the barbarians when overtaken by him threw away their encumbrances and fled again into the town. 13 When the peltasts now vigorously forced their way through the breach, they surrendered in despair.

V. Affairs of Italy

Death of the Consul Claudius Marcellus

32 1 The consuls, wishing to survey accurately the side of the hill which was turned towards the enemy's camp, ordered the rest of their forces to remain in the entrenched camp, 2 and themselves taking two troops of cavalry and about thirty velites together with their lictors advanced to reconnoitre the ground. 3 Certain Numidians, who were in the habit of lying in ambush for skirmishers and in general for any of the enemy who advanced out of their camp, were by hazard hidden at the foot of the hill. 4 Upon their look-out signalling to them that some of the enemy had appeared on the crest of the hill just above them, they rose, and marching up the slope obliquely, cut off the consuls and prevented their return to their camp. 5 Marcellus and some others with him were cut down at the first onset, and the others were wounded and compelled to take to flight down the  p181 cliffs in different directions. 6 The Romans in the camp, though they were spectators of what was happening, had no means of coming to the help of their comrades who were in danger. For while they were still shouting out in a state of great consternation, some of them bridling their horses and others putting on their armour, the whole affair was over. The son of Marcellus was wounded, and with great difficulty and beyond expectation escaped.

7 Marcellus, it must be confessed, brought this misfortune on himself by behaving not so much like a general as like a simpleton. 8 Throughout this work I am often compelled to call the attention of my readers to such occurrences, as I observe that generals are more liable to make mistakes in this matter than in any other parts of their duty as commanders, although the error is such an obvious one. 9 For what is the use of a general or commander who does not comprehend that he must keep himself as far away as possible from all partial encounters in which the fate of the whole army is not involved? 10 Of what use is he if he does not know that, if circumstances at times compel commanders to undertake in person such partial encounters, they must sacrifice many of their men before the danger is suffered to approach the supreme commander of the whole? 11 Let the risk be for the Carian, as the proverb has it, and not for the general.​4 12 And as for saying "I should never have thought it" or "Who would have expected it to happen?" that in a general is a most manifest sign of incompetence and dullness.

 p183  33 1 For this reason while we regard Hannibal as being a good general in very many ways, we should lay especial stress on the fact that after spending many years in a hostile country and meeting with great variety of fortune he frequently by his cleverness worsted the enemy in partial engagements, whereas he never met with disaster to himself in spite of the numerous and severe battles in which he engaged, 3 so great was the care he took of his own safety. 4 And very properly too; for when the commander is safe and sound, even if a total defeat takes place, Fortune furnishes many means for retrieving the loss, 5 but if he falls, just as in the case of the pilot of a ship, even if Fortune give victory to the soldiers, it is of no service to them, as all their hopes depend upon their leaders. 6 So much for those who fall into such errors from ostentation and childish vanity or from inexperience or contempt of the enemy. 7 One or other of these is always the cause of such accidents. . . .

Incident in Hannibal's attempt to capture Salapia after the above event

8 Suddenly letting down the portcullis which they had raised somewhat higher by mechanical means, they attacked the intruders and capturing them crucified them before the wall.

VI. Affairs of Spain

34 1 In Spain Publius Scipio, the Roman commander, who, as I above stated, was wintering at Tarraco, first of all secured the confidence and  p185 friendship of the Iberians by the restoration of the hostages to their respective homes, 2 availing himself in the matter of the assistance voluntarily proffered by Edeco the prince of the Edetani, who on receiving the news of the capture of New Carthage and learning that his wife and sons were in Scipio's power, at once anticipated the change that would take place in the attitude of the Iberians and desired to be leader of this movement, chiefly owing to his conviction that by this reason he would recover the part of the Romans not under compulsion but deliberately. And this proved to be so. 4 For just after the troops had been dispersed to their winter quarters he appeared at Tarraco with his relatives and friends. 5 Seeking an interview with Scipio he said he gave thanks to Heaven that he was the first of the Spanish princes to come to him. 6 The others, he said, were still communicating with Carthage and looking to that quarter, while at the same time stretching out their hands to the Romans, but he himself had come in and put not only his own person but his friends and relatives at the mercy of the Romans. 7 So, if Scipio would regard him as a friend and ally, he would be of the greatest service to him both at present and in the future. 8 For the Iberians at once, upon seeing that he had been received into Scipio's friendship and that his requests had been granted, would all come with the same object, desirous of recovering their relatives and securing the alliance of Rome, 9 and their affections would be so much engaged for the future by such honour and kindness that they would unreservedly  p187 co-operate with Scipio in the rest of his operations. 10 He therefore begged that his wife and children might be restored to him and that before returning to his home he should be pronounced to be a friend, so that he might have a plausible pretext for displaying by every means in his power the goodwill that he himself and his friends bore to Scipio and the Roman cause. 35 1 Edeco after speaking somewhat in these terms ended his discourse, and Scipio, who had been previously disposed to take such a course, and whose views corresponded with those expressed by Edeco, returned his wife and children and made him his friend. 2 And not only this, but he captivated the Spaniard by diverse means during the time they spent together, and holding out high hopes of future advantage to all those with him, he sent them back to their home. 3 The matter was soon bruited abroad, and all the Iberians on the side of the Ebro who had not previously been friendly to the Romans now as with one consent embraced their cause.

4 These matters, then, were proceeding as well as Scipio could wish, 5 and after the departure of the Iberians he broke up his navy, as no enemy was visible at sea, and selecting the most capable men from the crews distributed them among the maniples and thus increased his land forces.

6 Andobales and Mandonius were at this time two of the greatest princes in Spain and were supposed to be the most trusty adherents of Carthage, but they had long been disaffected and were watching for an opportunity of revolt, ever since Hasdrubal, as I above stated, on the pretext that he mistrusted them, had demanded from them the payment of a  p189 large sum of money and the surrender of their wives and daughters as hostages. 7 Thinking that the present time was favourable, they left the Carthaginian camp with all their forces by night and withdrew to a strong position where they would be in safety. 8 Upon this most of the other Iberians also deserted Hasdrubal. They had long been offended by the arrogance of the Carthaginians, but this was the first opportunity they had of manifesting their inclinations.

36 1 The same thing has happened before to many people. For, as I have often said, while success in policy and victory in the field are great things, it requires much more skill and caution to make a good use of such success. 2 So that you will find that those who have won victories are far more numerous than those who have used them to advantage. This is exactly what happened to the Carthaginians at this period. 3 For after having defeated the Roman forces and killed the two commanders Publius and Gnaeus Scipio, they regarded their position in Spain as undisputed and treated the natives in an overbearing manner. 4 In consequence their subjects, instead of being their allies and friends, were their enemies. And quite naturally; 5 for they fancied that there is one method by which power should be acquired and another by which it should be maintained; they had not learnt that those who preserve their supremacy best are those who adhere to the same principles by which they originally  p191 established it, 6 and this although it is evident and has been observed by many that it is by kind treatment of their neighbours and by holding out the prospect of further benefits that men acquire power, 7 but when having attained their wish they treat their subjects ill and rule over them tyrannically it is only natural that with the change of character in the rulers the disposition of their subjects should change likewise, as actually happened now to the Carthaginians.

37 1 As for Hasdrubal, beset by these difficulties, he was disturbed by many and various apprehensions regarding the dangers that menaced him. 2 To begin with he was troubled by the revolt of Andobales and next by the opposition and estrangement of the other commanders. The prospect of Scipio's arrival also caused him much anxiety. 3 Expecting him as he did to be soon on the spot with his army, and seeing himself deserted by the Iberians, who all with one accord were joining the Romans, he more or less decided on the following course. 4 He proposed to make all possible preparations and meet the enemy in battle. Should Fortune give him victory, he would afterwards deliberate in security as to his future action, but if he met with a reverse in the battle he would retreat from the field with the survivors to Gaul and getting as many of the natives as he could to join him would pass into Italy and throw in his fortunes with his brother Hannibal.

6 Hasdrubal, then, having resolved on this course was making his preparations. Meanwhile Scipio, having received Gaius Laelius and heard from him  p193 the senate's orders, withdrew his troops from their winter quarters and advanced, being met on his march by the Iberians who joined him with hearty alacrity. 7 Andobales had been for long communicating with Scipio, and now that he was in the neighbourhood came to him from his camp together with his friends, and when they met, justified his former friendship with the Carthaginians and likewise pointed out all the services he had rendered them and how loyal he had been to their cause. 8 He next gave an account of the injuries and insults he had met with at their hands. 9 He therefore begged Scipio to judge for himself as to his statements, and if it appeared to him that he was accusing the Carthaginians unjustly, he might be perfectly sure that he was not capable of remaining loyal to Rome. 10 But if, taking into consideration their many acts of injustice, Scipio might feel confident that now he had chosen the cause of Rome he would be firm in his affection.

38 1 Andobales spoke still further on the subject, and when he had finished Scipio in reply said that he perfectly believed his statements and himself had the clearest evidence of the tyrannical conduct of the Carthaginians in their licentious treatment of the wives and daughters of the speaker and his friends, 2 whom he himself had found in the position not so much of hostages as of prisoners and slaves, adding that he had kept faith to them with a loyalty that not even they, their fathers, could have displayed. 3 When they acknowledged that they agreed and did obeisance and all saluted him as king,  p195 those present applauded, and Scipio, who was much touched, exhorted them to be of good cheer, for they would meet with all kindness at the hands of the Romans. 4 He at once handed over their daughters to them, and next day made a treaty with them, 5 the essential part of the agreement being that they should follow the Roman commanders and obey their orders. 6 After this they retired to their own camps, and taking their forces came back to Scipio, and now joining the Roman camp advanced against Hasdrubal.

7 The Carthaginian general was then quartered in the district of Castalon near the town of Baecula not far from the silver mines. 8 On hearing of the arrival of the Romans, he shifted his camp to a position where he had in his rear the effective protection of a river and in his front a stretch of level ground defended by a ridge and of sufficient depth for safety and sufficient width for deploying his troops. Here he remained, stationing all the time his covering force on the ridge in front of him. 9 Scipio on approaching was eager to risk a battle, but was somewhat at a loss, as he saw how advantageous and safe the enemy's position was. 10 But after waiting for two days he became apprehensive lest Mago and Gesco should come up and he should find himself surrounded by the enemy on all sides, and he therefore decided to take his chance and make an attempt on the enemy.

39 1 Getting the rest of his forces ready for battle  p197 he kept them inside the camp, and sending off the velites and a picked force of foot he ordered them to throw themselves on the ridge and attack the enemy's covering force. 2 They executed his order with great gallantry, and at first the Carthaginian commander remained waiting for the result. But when he saw that, owing to the dashing courage of the Romans, his men were hard pressed and in an evil plight, he led out his forces and drew them up near the ridge, relying on the strength of the position. 3 Scipio at once dispatched the whole of his light-armed troops with orders to support the force which had commenced the attack, and having the rest of his army ready, he himself took one half of it and skirting the ridge to the left of the enemy fell upon the Carthaginians; 4 the other half he gave to Laelius with orders to attack the enemy on their right in a similar manner. 5 While this was happening Hasdrubal was still engaged in leading his forces out of the camp. For up to now he had waited there relying on the strength of the position and convinced that the enemy would never venture to attack him: thus, owing to the unexpectedness of the assault, he was too late in deploying his troops. 6 The Romans fighting on the wings, since the enemy had not yet occupied the ground on their wings, not only succeeded in safely mounting the ridge, but as the enemy were still forming up and in motion when they attacked, slaughtered some of them by falling on their flank and compelled those who were getting into formation to turn and fly. 7 Hasdrubal, as had been his original intention, when he saw his troops  p199 giving way and in disorder, declined to fight it out to the death, 8 but taking his money and his elephants and drawing off after him as many of the fugitives as he could, retreated along the River Tagus in the direction of the pass over the Pyrenees and of the Gauls who inhabited that part of the country. 9 Scipio did not think it advisable to follow Hasdrubal, as he was afraid of being attacked by the other generals, but gave the enemy's camp up to his soldiers to plunder.

40 1 Next day collecting the prisoners, of whom there were about ten thousand foot and more than two thousand horse, he occupied himself with their disposal. 2 The Iberians in the districts I spoke of who were still allies of the Carthaginians now came in to submit to the Romans, and on meeting Scipio saluted him as king. 3 Edeco was the first who had done this and made obeisance to him, and he had been followed by Andobales. On that occasion Scipio had paid no great attention and did not particularly notice the appellation, 4 but when after the battle all addressed him as king, the matter gave him pause. 5 He therefore assembled the Iberians and told them that he wished to be called kingly by them and actually to be kingly, but that he did not wish to be king or to be called so by any one. After saying this he ordered them to call him general. 6 Perhaps even on this occasion one would be justified in noting with admiration Scipio's greatness of mind, in view of the fact that though he was still quite young and fortune had favoured him so  p201 highly that all who were subject to him were prompted to form this estimate of him and bestow on him the name of king of their own accord, he still kept his head and declined to profit by their enthusiasm and accept this splendid title. 7 But much more must we admire this exceptional greatness of mind when we look at the close of his life, at the period when in addition to his exploits in Spain he had destroyed the power of Carthage and subjected to the dominion of his country the largest and finest part of Libya from the altars of Philaenus to the pillars of Heracles, when he had reduced Asia and overthrown the kings of Syria and had made the greatest and richest part of the world subject to Rome, and had the opportunity of attaining royal power in whatever part of the world he chose to attempt it. 8 Such success indeed might have made not only a man, but if it is permitted to say so, even a god overweening. 9 And yet Scipio so far excelled all other men in greatness of mind, that when kingship, the greatest blessing for which any man would dare to pray to the gods, was often offered to him by fortune, he refused it, and valued more highly his country and his own loyalty to her than the thing which is the object of universal admiration and envy. 10 To resume my narrative, on the present occasion he picked out the Iberians from the prisoners and left them all free to return to their own countries without ransom, and ordering Andobales to choose for himself three hundred of the horses, he distributed the rest among those who had none. 11 After this he transferred his army to the Carthaginian camp owing to its favourable  p203 position, and dispatched a force to the pass over the Pyrenees to observe the movements of Hasdrubal. 12 Subsequently, as the season was now advanced, he retired with his army to Tarraco to pass the winter in that district.

VII. Affairs of Greece

Action of Philip

41 1 The Aetolians, whose hopes had recently risen high owing to the arrival of the Romans and King Attalus, were terrorizing and threatening everyone by land while the Romans and Attalus were doing the same by sea. 2 The Achaeans therefore came to Philip to beg for his help, for they were not only in dread of the Aetolians but of Machanidas, as he was hovering with his army on the Argive frontier. 3 The Boeotians, who were afraid of the enemy's fleet, begged for a commander and for succour, but the inhabitants of Euboea were the most energetic of all in their instances to Philip to take precautions against the enemy. The Acarnanians made the same request, and there was also an ambassador from Epirus. 4 Information had been received that Scerdilaïdas and Pleuratus were setting their forces in motion, and also that the Thracians on the Macedonian frontier, and especially the Maedi, intended to invade Macedonia if the king were drawn away however so little from his native country. 5 The Aetolians also had occupied the pass of Thermopylae, fortifying it with a palisade and trench and strongly garrisoning it, feeling sure that they thus shut out  p205 Philip and prevented him from coming to help his allies beyond the pass. 6 It seems to me that it is only reasonable to bring into relief and prominently before the eyes of my readers those occasions on which the mental and physical capacities of commanders are really tried and put to the test. 7 For just as in the chase the courage and power of wild beasts is then fully revealed, when they are exposed to danger on all sides, so is it with commanders, as was manifest then from Philip's action. 8 He dismissed all the embassies after promising each to do what was in his power and devoted his whole attention to the war, waiting to see in what direction and against whom in the first place he should act. 42 1 Upon news reaching him at this time that Attalus had crossed and anchored off Peparethus and occupied its country districts, he dispatched a force to protect the town against them; 2 to Phocis and Boeotia and that neighbourhood he sent Polyphantus with an adequate number of troops, and to Calchis and the rest of Euboea Menippus with a thousand peltasts and five hundred Agrianians; 3 he himself marched upon Scotusa, and ordered the Macedonians also to meet him at that town. 4 Hearing now that Attalus had sailed back to Nicaea and that the Aetolian magistrates were about to meet at Heraclea to discuss the situation, he took the force he had with him from Scotusa and made for Heraclea with the object of arriving in time to frighten and disperse  p207 their meeting. 5 He arrived too late for the meeting, but after destroying or carrying off the crops of the inhabitants round the Gulf of Aenus, he returned. 6 Leaving his main force again in Scotusa he halted and remained at Demetrias with the royal troop of horse and his light-armed troops, waiting for the enemy to reveal their plans. 7 So that nothing that was going on should escape his notice he sent to the Peparethians, and to his commanders in Phocis and Boeotia, ordering them to inform him of everything by fire-signals direct to Mount Tisaeus, a mountain in Thessaly favourably situated for commanding a view of the above places.


43 1 I think that as regards the system of signalling by fire, which is now of the greatest possible service in war but was formerly undeveloped, it will be of use not to pass it over but to give it a proper discussion. 2 It is evident to all that in every matter, and especially in warfare, the power of acting at the right time contributes very much to the success of enterprises, and fire-signals are the most efficient of all the devices which aid us to do this. 3 For they show what has recently occurred and what is still in the course of being done, and by means of them anyone who cares to do so even if he is at a distance of three, four, or even more days' journey can be informed. 4 So it is always surprising how help can be brought by means of fire messages when the situation requires it. 5 Now in former times, as fire-signals were simple beacons, they were for the most part of little use  p209 to those who used them. 6 For the service should have been performed by signals previously determined upon, and as facts are indefinite, most of them defied communication by fire-signals. 7 To take the case I just mentioned, it was possible for those who had agreed on this to convey information that a fleet had arrived at Oreus, Peparethus, or Chalcis, but when it came to some of the citizens having been guilty of treachery or a massacre having taken place in the town, or anything of the kind, things that often happen, but cannot all be foreseen — 9 and it is chiefly unexpected occurrences which require instant consideration and help — all such matters defied communication by fire-signal. 10 For it was quite impossible to have a preconcerted code for things which there was no means of foretelling.

44 1 Aeneas, the author of the work on strategy,​a wishing to find a remedy for the difficulty, advanced matters a little, but his device still fell far short of our requirements, as can be seen from this description of it. 2 He says that those who are about to communicate urgent news to each other by fire-signal should procure two earthenware vessels of exactly the same width and depth, the depth being some three cubits and the width one. 3 Then they should have corks made a little narrower than the mouths of the vessels and through the middle of each cork should pass a rod graduated in equal sections of three fingerbreadths, each clearly marked off from the next. 4 In each section should be written the most evident and ordinary events that occur in war,  p211 e.g. on the first "Cavalry arrived in the country," on the second "Heavy infantry," on the third "Light-armed infantry," next "Infantry and cavalry," next "Ships," next "Corn,"º and so on until we have entered in all the sections the chief contingencies of which, at the present time, there is a reasonable probability in war time. 7 Next he tells us to bore holes in both vessels of exactly the same size, so that they allow exactly the same escape. Then we are to fill the vessels with water and put on the corks with the rods in them and allow the water to flow through the two apertures. 8 When this is done it is evident that, the conditions being precisely similar, in proportion as the water escapes the two corks will sink and the rods will disappear into the vessels. 9 When by experiment it is seen that the rapidity of escape is in both cases exactly the same, the vessels are to be conveyed to the places in which both parties are to look after the signals and deposited there. 10 Now whenever any of the contingencies written on the rods occurs he tells us to rise a torch and to wait until the corresponding party raise another. When both the torches are clearly visible the signaller is to lower his torch and at once allow the water to escape through the aperture. 11 Whenever, as the corks sink, the contingency you wish to communicate reaches the mouth of the vessel he tells the signaller to raise his torch and the receivers of the signal are to stop the aperture at once and to note which of the messages written on the rods is at the mouth of the vessel. 13 This will be  p213 the message delivered, if the apparatus works at the same pace in both cases.

45 1 This is a slight advance on beacons with a preconcerted code, but it is still quite indefinite. 2 For it is evident that it is neither possible to foresee all contingencies, or even if one did to write them all on the rod. So that when circumstances produce some unexpected event, it is evident that it cannot be conveyed by this plan. Again none of the things written on the rod areº defined statements, for it is impossible to indicate how many infantry are coming and to what part of the country, or how many ships or how much corn. 4 For it is impossible to agree beforehand about things of which one cannot be aware before they happen. 5 And this is the vital matter;​b for how can anyone consider how to render assistance if he does not know how many of the enemy have arrived, or where? And how can anyone be of good cheer or the reverse, or in fact think of anything at all, if he does not understand how many ships or how much corn has arrived from the allies?

6 The most recent method, devised by Cleoxenus and Democleitus and perfected by myself, is quite definite and capable of dispatching with accuracy every kind of urgent messages, but in practice it requires care and exact attention. 7 It is as follows: We take the alphabet and divide it into five parts, each consisting of five letters. There is one letter less in the last division, but this makes no practical difference. 8 Each of the two parties who are about to signal to each other must now get ready five  p215 tablets and write one division of the alphabet on each tablet, and then come to an agreement that the man who is going to signal is in the first place to raise two torches and wait until the other replies by doing the same. 10 This is for the purpose of conveying to each other that they are both at attention. 11 These torches having been lowered the dispatcher of the message will now raise the first set of torches on the left side indicating which tablet is to be consulted, i.e. one torch if it is the first, two if it is the second, and so on. 12 Next he will raise the second set on the right on the same principle to indicate what letter of the tablet the receiver should write down.

46 1 Upon their separating after coming to this understanding each of them must first have on the spot a telescope​5 with two tubes, so that with the one he can observe the space on the right of the man who is going to signal back and with the other that on the left. 2 The tablets must be set straight up in order next the telescope, 3 and there must be a screen before both spaces, as well the right as the left, ten feet in length and of the height of a man so that by this means the torches may be seen distinctly when raised and disappear when lowered. 4 When all has been thus got ready on both sides, if the signaller wants to convey, for instance, that about a hundred of the soldiers have deserted to the enemy, he must first of all choose words which will convey what he means in the smallest number of letters, e.g. instead of the above "Cretans a hundred deserted us," for thus  p217 the letters are less than one half in number, but the same sense is conveyed. 6 Having jotted this down on a writing-tablet he will communicate it by the torches as follows: 7 The first letter is kappa. This being in the second division is on tablet number two, and, therefore, he must raise two torches on the left, so that the receiver may know that he had to consult the second tablet. 8 He will now raise five torches on the right, to indicate that it is kappa, this being the fifth letter in the second division, and the receiver of the signal will note this down on his writing tablet. 9 The dispatcher will then raise four torches on the left as rho belongs to the fourth division, and then two on the right, rho being the second letter in this division. The receiver writes down rho and so forth. This device enables any news to be definitely conveyed. 47 1 Many torches, of course, are required, as the signal for each letter is a double one. 2 But if all is properly prepared for the purpose, what is required can be done whichever system we follow. 3 Those engaged in the work must have had proper practice, so that when it comes to putting it in action they may communicate with each other without the possibility of a mistake. 4 From many instances it is easy for all who wish it to learn how great the difference is between the same thing when it is first heard and when it has become a matter of habit. 5 For many things which appear at the beginning to be not only difficult but impossible are performed quite easily after time and practice. 6 There are many other examples which  p219 confirm this, but the clearest of all is the case of reading. 7 Here if we put side by side a man who is ignorant and unpractised in letters, but generally intelligent, and a boy who is accustomed to read, give the boy a book and order him to read it, 8 the man will plainly not be able to believe that a reader must first of all pay attention to the form of each letter, then to its sound-value, next to the combinations of the different letters, each of which things requires a considerable amount of time. 9 So when he sees that the boy without hesitation reels off five or seven lines in a breath he will not find it easy to believe that he never read the book before, 10 and he will absolutely refuse to believe this if the reader should be able to observe the action, the pauses, and the rough and smooth breathings.​c 11 We should not, therefore, abandon anything useful owing to the difficulties which show themselves at the outset, but we must call in the aid of habit, through which all good things fall into the hands of men, and more specially when the matter is one on which our preservation mainly depends.

12 In offering these observations I am acting up to the promise I originally made at the outset of this work. For I stated that in our time all arts and sciences have so much advanced the knowledge of most of them may be said to have been reduced to a system. 13 This is, then, one of the most useful parts of a history properly written.

 p221  VIII. Affairs of Asia

The River Oxus

48 1 The Apasiacae inhabit the district between the Oxus and Tanaïs, the former of which rivers falls into the Hyrcanian Sea, while the Tanaïs falls into the Palus Maeotis. Both are large enough to be navigable, 2 and it is considered marvellous how the nomads passing the Oxus on foot with their horses reach Hyrcania. 3 There are two stories regarding this, one reasonably probable and the other very surprising, but yet not impossible. 4 The Oxus, I should say, rises in the Caucasus, but in traversing Bactria greatly increases in volume owing to the number of tributaries it receives, and henceforth runs through the plain with a strong and turbid current. 5 Reaching in the desert a certain precipice it projects its stream, owing to the volume of the current and the height of the fall, so far from the crest of the cataract that in falling it leaps to a distance of more than a stade from the bottom of the precipice. 6 It is in this place that they say the Apasiacae pass dry-shod with their horses to Hyrcania, skirting the precipice under the waterfall. 7 There is more reasonable probability in the second account than in the first. They say there are at the foot of the cataract large slabs of rock on which the river falls, and by the force of the current hollows out and pierces these rocks for some depth and flows under­ground for a short distance, after which it comes to the surface again. 8 The barbarians are acquainted with this and cross to Hyrcania with  p223 their horses at the place where the river thus interrupts its course.

Campaign of Antiochus in Bactria

49 1 When the news came that Euthydemus with his army was before Tapuria, and that ten thousand cavalry were in his front guarding the ford of the river Arius, Antiochus decided to abandon the siege and deal with the situation. 2 The river being at a distance of three days' march, he marched at a moderate pace for two days, but on the third day he order the rest of his army to break up their camp at daylight 3 while he himself with his cavalry, his light-armed infantry, and ten thousand peltasts advanced during the night marching quickly. 4 For he had heard that the enemy's horse kept guard during the day on the river bank, but retired at night to a town as much as twenty stades away. Having completed the remainder of the distance during the night, as the plain is easy to ride over, 5 he succeeded in getting the greater part of his forces across the river by daylight. 6 The Bactrian cavalry, when their scouts had reported this, came up to attack and engaged the enemy while still on the march. 7 The king, seeing that it was necessary to stand the first charge of the enemy, called on one thousand of his cavalry who were accustomed to fight round him and ordered the rest to form up on the spot in squadrons and troops and all place themselves in their usual order, 8 while he himself with the force I spoke of met and engaged the  p225 Bactrians who were the first to charge. 9 In this affair it seems that Antiochus himself fought more brilliantly than any of those with him. 10 There were severe losses on both sides, but the king's cavalry repulsed the first Bactrian regiment. When, however, the second and third came up they were in difficulties and had the worst of it. 11 It was now that Panaetolus ordered his men to advance, and joining the king and those who were fighting round him, compelled those Bactrians who were pursuing in disorder to turn rein and take to headlong flight. 12 The Bactrians, now hard pressed by Panaetlus, never stopped until they joined Euthydemus after losing most of their men. 13 The royal cavalry, after killing many of the enemy and making many prisoners, withdrew, and at first encamped on the spot near the river. 14 In this battle Antiochus's horse was transfixed and killed, and he himself received a wound in the mouth and lost several of his teeth, having in general gained a greater reputation for courage on this occasion than on any other. 15 After the battle Euthydemus was terror-stricken and retired with his army to a city in Bactria called Zariaspa.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Battle of the Ticino.

2 I have left Mr. Paton's translation as it was, and since he gives no indication what reading he proposed to adopt, I alter πάντως to σπανίως. — Ed.

3 Indibilis in Livy.

4 ἐν Καρὶ κινδυνεύειν, periculum facere in corpore vili, the Carian being, according to the current explanation, a slave of little value.

5 The instrument did not, of course, magnify but merely limited the area of vision.

Thayer's Notes:

a Aeneas, known as "Tacticus". A work by him survives, almost certainly the one meant by Polybius; it's onsite. His passage on fire-signals, however, survives only in Polybius and a (later) collection of fragments by Julius Africanus.

b Indeed it is. This whole section is, that I'm aware of, the earliest detailed discussion of the difference between a code and a cypher, and rightly points out the immense advantages of the latter: flexibility, and no bulky and capturable codebook. The standard fire signalling method, even with Aeneas' tweaking, relies on a fixed code; the method devised by Cleoxenus and Democlitus relies on a cypher. In computer science terms, a code operates on the data, and a cypher on the instructions (program). Almost all modern "codes" are in fact cyphers.

Especially if you are visually oriented, you will benefit from a look at this page of John Savard's Cryptographic Compendium; although you should not be so sanguine about the unbreakability of simple cyphers, including that of Polybius.

Returning to the text of Polybius above, the passage starting at 45.6 is famous as the statement of the cryptographic invention now known as Polybius' square.

c The day before I typed this, I invited a neighbor, a woman in her seventies who has never owned or used a computer, to look at mourning doves on the Web. We found all the information she wanted in about 3 minutes. I was amused to see, as clear as day, that she didn't believe I'd just found it online: rather that I must surely have some kind of private cache of my own squirrelled away in my computer!

This is another way of stating the immense flexibility of the cypher as against the code. I know nothing about mourning-doves, of course (data); but I do know how to use search engines (instructions). For young students out there, it is also a key to your education. You don't need to learn facts; learn how to reason and to find information and the world is yours. In the words of Montaigne, better have your head "together" than crammed full of knowledge:

Mieux vaut une tête bien faite (well programmed) qu'une tête bien pleine (overloaded with data).

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