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This webpage reproduces a portion of
The Library of History

Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. XI
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1957

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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(Vol. XI) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

 p145  Fragments of Book XXV

1 1 Epicurus the philosopher, in his work entitled Principal Doctrines, declared that whereas the just life in unperturbed, the unjust is heavily burdened with perturbation. Thus in a single brief sentence he encompassed much true wisdom, which has, moreover, in general the power to correct the evil that is in man. For injustice, as it is a very metropolis of evils, brings the greatest misfortunes not only upon private citizens, but also collectively upon actual nations and peoples, and upon kings.1

2 1 Though the Carthaginians had endured great struggles and perils over Sicily and had been continuously at war with the Romans for twenty-four years, they experienced no disasters so great as those brought upon them by the war against the mercenaries​2 whom they had wronged. For as a result of defrauding their foreign troops of the arrears of pay that were due, they very nearly lost their empire and even their own country. For the mercenaries  p147 thus cheated suddenly revolted, and thereby brought Carthage into the direst distress.

2 Those who had served in the Carthaginian forces were Iberians, Celts, Balearic Islanders, Libyans, Phoenicians, Ligurians, and mongrel Greek slaves; and they it was who revolted.

3 1 The Carthaginians sent a herald to the rebels to negotiate for the recovery of the dead bodies.​3 Spondius and the other leaders, with intensified brutality, not only refused the request for burial but forbade them ever again to send a herald about any matter whatsoever, threatening that the same​4 punishment would await anyone who came. They also decreed that henceforth all captives who were Carthaginians should incur the same penalty as these, while any who were allies of the Phoenicians should have their hands cut off and be sent back thus mutilated to Carthage. Hence, by such impiety and cruelty as I have described, Spondius and the other leaders succeeded in undermining Barca's strategy of leniency. For Hamilcar himself, though distressed by their cruelty, was in this way forced to abandon his kindness to prisoners and to impose a like penalty upon those who fell into his hands. Accordingly, by way of torture, he tossed to the elephants all who  p149 were taken prisoner, and it was a stern punishment as these trampled them to death.

2 The inhabitants of Hippo and Utica revolted and cast the men of the garrisons down from the walls to lie unburied; and when envoys arrived from Carthage to take up the bodies, they blocked the move to bury them.

4 1 And so it came about that the rebels, because of the scarcity of food, were as much in the position of men besieged as of besiegers.5

2 In courage they were fully the equals of the enemy, but they were seriously handicapped by the inexperience of their leaders. Here again, therefore, it was possible to see in the light of actual experience how great an advantage a general's judgement has over a layman's inexperience or even a soldier's unreasoned routine.

5 1 For it was a higher power, apparently, that exacted from them this retribution for their impious deeds.6

2 Hamilcar crucified Spondius. But when Matho took Hannibal prisoner, he nailed him to the same cross. Thus it seemed as if Fortune of set purpose was assigning success and defeat in turn to these offenders against humanity.7

3 The two cities​8 had no grounds for negotiating a  p151 settlement, because from the first onslaught they had left themselves no room for mercy or forgiveness. Such is the great advantage, even in wrongdoing, of moderation and the avoidance of practices that are beyond the pale.

6 1 After their withdrawal from Sicily the mercenary forces of the Carthaginians rose in insurrection against them for the following reasons. They demanded excessive compensation for the horses that had died in Sicily and for the men who had been killed . . . and they carried on the war for four years and four months.​9 They were slaughtered by the general, Hamilcar Barca, who had also fought valiantly in Sicily against the Romans.

7 1 [This island​10 gained such fame for the abundance of its crops that at a later time the Carthaginians, when they had grown powerful, coveted it and faced many struggles and perils for its possession. But we shall write of these matters in connection with the period to which they belong.]

8 1 Hamilcar, surnamed Barca, performed many great services for his country, both in Sicily, in the war against the Romans, and in Libya, when the mercenaries and the Libyans rose in insurrection and held Carthage under siege. Since in both these wars  p153 his achievements were outstanding and his conduct of affairs prudent, he gained the well-deserved approbation of all his fellow citizens. Later on, however, after the conclusion of the Libyan War, he formed a political group of the lowest sort of men, and from this source, as well as from the spoils of war, amassed wealth; perceiving, moreover, that his successes were bringing him increased power, he gave himself over to demagoguery and to currying favour with the populace, and thus induced the people to put into his hands for an indefinite period the military command over all Iberia.11

9 1 Since the Celts​12 were many times over more numerous, and because of their daring spirit and bold deeds had grown very arrogant, their attitude throughout the struggle was one of contempt, whereas Barca and his men sought to remedy their deficiency in numbers by bravery and experience. That their plans were soundly conceived was generally agreed, yet it was Fortune who beyond their hopes presided over the course of events and unexpectedly brought to a happy issue an undertaking that appeared impossible and fraught with peril.

10 1 When Hamilcar was placed in command at  p155 Carthage he soon enlarged the empire of his country and ranged by sea as far as the Pillars of Heracles, Gadeira,​13 and the ocean. Now the city of Gadeira is a colony of the Phoenicians, and is situated at the farthest extremity of the inhabited world, on the very ocean, and it possesses a roadstead. Hamilcar made war on the Iberians and Tartessians, together with the Celts, led by Istolatius and his brother, and cut to pieces their whole force, including the two brothers and other outstanding leaders; he took over and enrolled in his own army three thousand survivors. 2 Indortes then raised an army of fifty thousand men, but before the fighting even began he was put to flight and took refuge on a certain hill; there he was besieged by Hamilcar, and although, under cover of night, he again fled, most of his force was cut to pieces and Indortes himself was captured alive. After putting out his eyes and maltreating his person Hamilcar had him crucified; but the rest of the prisoners, numbering more than ten thousand, he released. He won over many cities by diplomacy and many others by force of arms. 3 Hasdrubal, the son-in‑law of Hamilcar, having been sent by his father-in‑law to Carthage to take part in the war with the Numidians who had revolted against the Carthaginians, cut down eight thousand men and captured two thousand alive; the rest of the Numidians were reduced to slavery, having formerly paid tribute.​14 As for Hamilcar, after bringing many cities throughout Iberia under his dominion, he founded a very large city which, from its situation, he named Acra  p157 Leucê.​15 While Hamilcar was encamped before the city of Helicê​16 and had it under siege, he sent off the greater part of his army and the elephants into winter quarters at Acra Leucê, a city of his own foundation, and remained behind with the rest. The king of the Orissi,​17 however, came to the aid of the beleaguered city, and by a feigned offer of friendship and alliance succeeded in routing Hamilcar. 4 In the course of his flight Hamilcar contrived to save the lives of his sons and his friends by turning aside on another road; overtaken by the king, he plunged on horseback into a large river and perished in the flood under his steed, but his sons Hannibal and Hasdrubal​18 made their way safely to Acra Leucê.

5 As for Hamilcar, therefore, although he died many years before our time, let him have from History by way of epitaph the praise that is properly his.

11 1 Hasdrubal, having learned that fair dealing is more effective than force, preferred peace to war.

2 The entire city was constantly agog for news, and since every rumour that spread brought a change of heart, anxiety was universal.19

12 1 Hasdrubal, the son-in‑law of Hamilcar, immediately upon learning of the disaster to his kinsman broke camp and made for Acra Leucê; he had with  p159 him more than a hundred elephants. Acclaimed as general by the army and by the Carthaginians alike, he collected an army of fifty thousand seasoned infantry and six thousand cavalry, together with two hundred elephants. He made war first on the king of the Orissi and killed all who had been responsible for Hamilcar's rout. Their twelve cities, and all the cities of Iberia, fell into his hands. After his marriage to the daughter of an Iberian prince he was proclaimed general with unlimited power by the whole Iberian people. He thereupon founded a city on the sea coast, and called it New Carthage; later, desiring to outdo Hamilcar, he founded yet another city. He put into the field an army of sixty thousand infantry, eight thousand cavalry, and two hundred elephants. One of his household slaves plotted against him, and he was slain after he had held the command for nine years.

13 1 The Celts and Gauls, having assembled a force of two hundred thousand men, joined battle with the Romans and in the first combat were victorious. In a second attack they were again victorious, and even killed one of the Roman consuls.​20 The Romans, who for their part had seven hundred thousand infantry and seventy thousand cavalry, after suffering these two defeats, won a decisive victory in the third engagement.  p161 They slew forty thousand men and took the rest captive, with the result that the chief prince of the enemy slashed his own throat and the prince next in rank to him was taken alive. After this exploit Aemilius,​21 now become proconsul, overran the territory of the Gauls and Celts, captured many cities and fortified places, and sent back to Rome an abundance of booty.

14 1 Hiero, king of Syracuse, coming to the aid of the Romans, sent grain to them during the Celtic War, and was paid for it after the conclusion of the war.

15 1 Since after the assassination of Hasdrubal the Carthaginian there was no one in command, they chose as general Hannibal, the elder son of Hamilcar. The people of Zacantha,​22 whose city was under siege by Hannibal, collected their sacred objects, the gold and silver that was in their houses, and the ornaments, earrings, and silver pieces of their women, and melting them down put copper and lead into the mixture; having thus rendered their gold useless they sallied forth and after an heroic struggle were all cut down, having themselves inflicted many casualties. The women of the city put their children to death and hanged themselves. The occupation of the city, therefore, brought Hannibal no gain. The Romans requested the surrender of Hannibal to be tried for  p163 his lawless acts, and when this was refused embarked on the "Hannibalic" War.

16 1 In the senate-chamber of the Carthaginians the eldest of the envoys sent by Rome showed to the senate the lap of his toga and said that he brought them both peace and war, and would leave there whichever the Carthaginians wished. When the suffete​23 of the Carthaginians bade him do whichever he wished, he replied, "I send on you war." Straightway a majority of the Carthaginians cried aloud that they accepted it.

17 1 The men of Victomela, having been forced to yield their city, hastened home to their wives and children to take pleasure in them for the last time. For indeed, what pleasure is there for men who are doomed to die save only tears and the last parting embraces of family and kindred whereby, as it seems, such hapless wretches do gain some ease from their misfortunes? Be that as it may, most of the men set their houses ablaze, were consumed in the flames together with all their household, and raised for themselves a tomb above their own hearths; others, again, with high courage killed their families first and then slew themselves, considering a self-inflicted death preferable to death with outrage at the hands of their enemies.24

 p165  18 1 Antigonus,​25 son of Demetrius, was appointed his​26 guardian and ruled over the Macedonians for twelve years or, according to Diodorus, for nine.

19 1 Hannibal, as Diodorus, Dio, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus all record, was general of the Sicels​27 and the son of Hamilcar. This Hamilcar had conquered the whole of Iberia but was killed when the Iberians treacherously set upon him. On this occasion he ordered his whole army to flee, and when his sons — Hannibal, aged fifteen, and Hasdrubal, aged twelve — clung to him and desired to share his death, he drove them off with whips and made them join the others in flight; then lifting the crest and helmet from his head he was recognized by the Iberians. Since all the Iberians, just as they were, rushed to attack him, the fugitives gained a respite and escaped. As soon as Hamilcar saw that the army was safe he turned about and strove against his own defeat by the Iberians, but when they pressed hard on every side he spurred his horse furiously and dashed into  p167 the waters of the Iber​28 River. As he sped on someone struck him with a javelin; though he was drowned, still his corpse was not found by the Iberians — and that was his object — for it was swept away by the currents. Hannibal, the son of this heroic man, served under Hamilcar's son-in‑law, and with him ravaged all Iberia to avenge his father's death.

Meanwhile the Ausonian Romans after many reverses had defeated the Sicels and had laid upon them the stern injunction that no one might retain even a sword. Hannibal, at the age of twenty-five, without the consent of the senate or of those in authority, brought together a hundred and more impetuous and spirited young men and lived by plundering Iberia, the while he constantly increased the size of his band. As its numbers passed beyond the hundreds and ran into the thousands and into the tens of thousands, and, though assembled thus without pay or bounties, when it became at last a great army of stalwart warriors, then straightway this was revealed to the Romans. One and all they arrayed themselves for war on land and sea, and seven hundred and seventy thousand strong they strove to  p169 destroy the Sicels root and branch. The Sicels besought Hannibal to desist, lest they perish utterly. He suffered such as were so inclined to talk and bluster, and without waiting for the aforesaid Romans to attack, one man alone of all the Sicels he moves on Italy and over the Alpine mountains makes his way. Where access was difficult he cut his way down rocky cliffs, and in six months had met the Roman forces. In various battles he slew large numbers of their men. But he kept waiting and watching for his brother Hasdrubal, who, after crossing the Alps in fifteen days, was approaching Hannibal leading a mighty army. Having discovered this the Romans, attacking secretly, slew him,​29 then brought the head and cast it at the feet of Hannibal. After he had duly mourned his beloved brother, Hannibal later arrayed his forces against the Romans at Cannae;  p171 the Roman generals were Paullus and Terentius. Cannae is a plainland of Apulia, where Diomedes founded the city of Argyrippa,​30 that is, in the Greek tongue, Argos Hippeion. This plain has belonged to the Daunians, thereafter to the Iapygians, then to the Sallentians, and now to the people whom all men call Calabrians; it was furthermore at the boundary between Calabrians and Lombards​a that the great battle between them broke forth. On the occasion of this fearsome battle there was a dreadful earthquake, which made mountains split asunder, and showers of great stones poured from heaven, but fighting hotly the warriors were unaware of anything.​31 Finally, so many Romans fell in battle that when Hannibal, the general, sent to Sicily the rings of the commanders and other men of distinction, it was by pecks and bushels that they were measured. The noble and prominent ladies of Rome thronged weeping to the temples of the city and cleansed the  p173 statues with their hair; later, when the Roman land suffered a total dearth of males, they even consorted with slaves and barbarians, that their race might not be wiped out root and branch. At this time Rome, when absolutely all its men were lost, stood wide open for many days, and the elders sat before its gates, bewailing that most grievous calamity and asking those who passed by whether none at all was left alive. Though Rome was then gripped by such misfortunes, Hannibal neglected the chance to raze it to the ground, and showed himself too sluggish for such action by reason of victories and drinking and soft living, until the Romans again had an army of their own levied. Then he was thrice balked in his attacks on Rome, for suddenly out of a clear sky came hail most violent and a darkness that hindered his advance. At a later time Hannibal, now regarded with envy by the Sicels, ran short of food, and when  p175 they sent none, that once noble conqueror, himself now conquered by starvation, was put to flight​32 by the Roman Scipio, and was the occasion for fearful destruction to the Sicels. He himself died by drinking poison in Bithynia, at a place called Libyssa, though he had thought to die in his own Libyan land. For Hannibal had a certain oracle, which ran somewhat like this: "A Libyan​33 sod shall cover the body of Hannibal."

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 See Book 21.1.4a and note. The quotation from Epicurus is number 17 in the collection.

2 Also called the "Truceless War." The only complete account is given by Polybius (1.65‑88), whom Diodorus follows closely.

3 The rebels had cruelly tortured and put to death Gesco their late benefactor, and seven hundred prisoners (cp. Polybius, 1.80 and, for the events of the present chapter, 81‑82). Polybius calls the rebel leader Spendius.

4 i.e. the same as that inflicted on Gesco, as Polybius makes clear.

5 This refers to the rebels' siege of Carthage; cp. Polybius, 1.84.1. The following passage is taken almost verbatim from Polybius, 1.84.5‑6.

6 Cp. Polybius, 1.84.10.

7 Cp. Polybius, 1.86.4‑7.

8 Hippo and Utica, which refused to surrender (Polybius, 1.88.1‑3).

9 Polybius (1.88.7) says three years and four months. Livy (21.2) has "per quinque annos".

10 Sardinia. Cp. Polybius, 1.79; 1.88.8‑12; 3.10; 3.28. In 240 B.C. the Carthaginian mercenaries on the island revolted, and two years later Rome forced Carthage to cede her the island.

11 The MS. says "command over all Libya." This reading might seem to be supported both by the vague στρατηγήσας κατὰ Καρχηδόνα of chap. 10 and by the statements of Appian (Hisp. 4; cp. Hann. 2) that after the Libyan War Hamilcar got himself appointed general, jointly with Hanno, on the occasion of a Numidian revolt. Polybius, however, expressly states (2.1.5; 3.10.5) that Hamilcar left for Spain immediately after the Mercenary War. Diodorus has followed Polybius closely up to this point, and while the end of chap. 8 shows some influence of an anti-Barcid tradition alien to Polybius, the statement later in chap. 10 that Hamilcar sent Hasdrubal home from Spain on the occasion of the Numidian revolt would suggest that on the point at issue Diodorus and Polybius were again in agreement (cp. also Book 26.24).

12 These Celts (possibly Celtiberians) are the same as those mentioned in the next fragment. They were mercenaries of the unwarlike Tartessians.

13 Latin Gades, the modern Cadiz.

14 Or perhaps "were subjugated and made to pay tribute." See critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text (ἐδουλώθησαν φόρους τελέσαντες) reads:

So Rhodoman (in marg.): τελέσαντας H, τελέσοντες Hoeschel, Rhodoman (and Vulgate).

15 "White Citadel," the modern Alicante.

16 Perhaps Ilici, the modern Elche, a few miles south-west of Alicante.

17 The Orissi are probably identical with the Oretani of Strabo.

III.3.2 and elsewhere in chapters 1‑4 of Book 3, passim.

18 Hamilcar had both a son and a son-in‑law named Hasdrubal.

19 This sentence may refer to Rome on the eve of the Gallic War of 225 B.C.; see below, chap. 13, and cp. Polybius, 2.23.7.

20 C. Atilius Regulus. The events are narrated more clearly and amply in Polybius, 2.23‑31. The death of Regulus and the defeat of the Gauls both occurred in the same battle, at Telamon in Etruria. The figures given for the Roman forces reflect the census of Italian manpower, recorded by Polybius (2.24); the actual army was of course much smaller.

21 L. Aemilius Papus, the other consul of 225 B.C. His raid on the Boii preceded his triumph (Polybius, 2.31.1‑6), which, according to the Fasti Triumphales, he celebrated as consul, not as proconsul.

22 Lat. Saguntum. In contrast to the account given here, Polybius (3.17.10) says that the fall of the city brought Hannibal much booty and many prisoners. Livy (21.14‑15) manages to combine the two versions.

23 Literally "king." The narrative is based closely on Polybius, 3.33.1‑4.

24 If, as is probable, Victomela is identical with Victumulae, in Liguria, this fragment belongs properly to Book 26, between chapters 2 and 3. According to Livy (21.57) the capture of Victumulae came in the winter of 218/7 B.C., some time after the battle of the Trebia, but see G. de Sanctis, Storia dei Romani, 3.2.99 ff., on the doubtful historicity of this part of Livy's narrative.

25 Antigonus Doson, son of Demetrius the Fair.

26 The young son of Demetrius II, the future Philip V.

27 Here, as in Book 23.16, Tzetzes confuses the Carthaginians and Sicels.

28 The river is probably not the Ebro, but the Taber or Tereps, the modern Segura (or its tributary, Tarafa), near Ilici: see critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text (τοῦ ποταμοῦ τοῦ Ἴβηρος τοῖς ῥεύμασιν ἐμπίπτει) reads:

Perhaps Τάβερος or Τέρεβος (cp. Ptolemy, Geog. 2.6.14).

29 Hasdrubal's invasion of Italy and death in battle actually occurred in 208 B.C. On the tradition that he was summoned to Italy in 215 B.C. see Hallward in Cambridge Ancient History, 8.60, n1.

30 Arpi. There was a prophecy that the Romans would be defeated in the "plain of Diomedes"; cp. Zonaras, 9.1.

31 Tzetzes seems to have borrowed these portents from Dio's account of the battle of Trasimene; cp. Zonaras, 8.25.

32 Or perhaps "was driven into exile."

33 In Greek the adjective has the same form as the name of the Bithynian town. Cp.  Pliny, H. N. 5.43.148: "Fuit et Libyssa oppidum, ubi nunc Hannibalis tantum tumulus."

Thayer's Note:

a An anachronism by the 12th-century Byzantine excerptor Tzetzes: the Lombards did not invade Italy until the late 6c; the word was not in the text of Diodorus.

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