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I: Part 7

This webpage reproduces part of
The Epitome of Roman History


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

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


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I: Part 9

Lucius Annaeus Florus

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

Book I (continued)

XXIII. The First Macedonian War.
XXIIII. The Syrian War against King Antiochus.
XXV. The Aetolian War.
XXVI. The Istrian War.
XXVII. The Gallo-Greek War.
XXVIII. The Second Macedonian War.
XXVIIII. The Second Illyrian War.
XXX. The Third Macedonian War.

 p115  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXIII. The First Macedonian War

II, 7 After the conquest of Carthage, no nation felt ashamed of being conquered. The peoples of Macedonia, Greece, Syria and all the other countries immediately followed in the wake of Africa, as if borne along by the flood and torrent of fortune. 2 Of all these the first were the Macedonians, a people who had once aimed at imperial power; and so, though at the time King Philip occupied the throne, the Romans nevertheless felt as if they were fighting against King Alexander. 3 The Macedonian War gained importance rather from its name than from any consideration of the nation with whom it was waged. 4 The original cause of the war was a treaty by which Philip had joined himself in alliance with Hannibal at a time when he had long been dominating Italy. Subsequently an additional pretext was afforded when the Athenians implored help against the injuries of the king, who was venting his fury, beyond any rights which victory conferred, on their temples, altars and even sepulchres. 5 The senate resolved to grant help to such important suppliants; for by this time kings and leaders, peoples and nations of the world were beginning to seek protection from this city. 6 In the consul­ship of Laevinus,​1 therefore, the Roman people first entered the Ionian Sea and coasted along all the shores of Greece with their fleet in a kind of triumphal procession; 7 for they bore in the front of their vessels the trophies of Sicily, Sardinia, Spain and Africa, and the bay tree  p117 which sprouted on the prow of the flagship promised certain victory. 8 Attalus, king of Pergamon, was there of his own accord to help us; the Rhodians were there, a naval people who spread consternation everywhere at sea with their ships, as did the consul on land with his horsemen and foot-soldiers. 9 King Philip was twice defeated, twice driven into flight, twice despoiled of his camp; but nothing caused the Macedonians greater fear than the sight of their wounds, which, having been dealt not with darts or arrows or any Greek weapon but by huge javelins and no less huge swords, gaped wider than was necessary to cause death. 10 Indeed under the leader­ship of Flamininus we penetrated into the mountains of the Chaonians, hitherto impassable, and the river Aous which flows through deep gorges, the very gates of Macedonia. 11 To have effected an entrance into this country meant victory; for afterwards the king, who had never ventured to meet us in the field, was overwhelmed, near the hills which they call Cynoscephalae, in a single engagement which could hardly be called a regular battle. 12 To Philip, then, the consul granted peace and restored to him his kingdom, and afterwards, that no foe might remain, subdued Thebes and Euboea and Lacedaemon, which attempted resistance under its tyrant Nabis. 13 To Greece Flamininus restored its ancient constitution, that it might live under its old laws and enjoy its ancestral liberty. 14 What joy there was, what cries of delight there were, when this proclamation was made, as it happened, at the quinquennial games in the theatre at Nemea! How they vied with one another in their applause! What flowers they showered upon the consul! 15 Again and again  p119 they bade the herald repeat the declaration by which the liberty of Achaea was proclaimed; and they took as much delight in the consul's decision as in the most harmonious concert of pipes and strings.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXIIII. The Syrian War against King Antiochus

II, 8 Asia then immediately took the place of Macedonia, and Antiochus that of King Philip, a mere coincidence making it seem as if fortune designedly so arranged matters that, just as the empire had advanced from Africa into Europe, so now, owing to causes which spontaneously presented themselves, it should spread from Europe into Asia, and that the series of victories might follow a geographical sequence.​a 2 Report never represented any war as more formidable than this, as the Romans bethought them of the Persians and the East, of Xerxes and Darius, of the days when impassable mountains were said to have been cut through and the sea hidden with sails. 3 Moreover, threats from heaven alarmed them; for the statue of Apollo at Cumae was in a constant sweat, though it was really due to the fear of the god in his affection for his beloved Asia. 4 No land indeed is richer than Syria in men, resources and arms, but it had fallen into the hands of so poor-spirited a king that the most notable fact about Antiochus was his conquest by the Romans. 5 The two persons who instigated the king to undertake this war were, on the one hand, Thoas, prince of Aetolia, who complained that he had not received due credit from the Romans for the support given by his army against the Macedonians, and, on the other  p121 hand, Hannibal, who, defeated in Africa, now a fugitive and unable to rest in peace, was scouring the whole world to find an enemy to fight against the Roman people. 6 And, indeed, how great would have been the peril if King Antiochus had entrusted himself to his guidance and the unhappy Hannibal had had all the resources of Asia at his command! The king, however, confident in his own powers and royal title, thought it enough merely to set war in motion. 7 Europe without doubt belonged to the Romans by right of conquest; yet Antiochus demanded back, as of hereditary right, a European city, Lysimachia, which had been founded by his ancestors on the coast of Thrace. 8 This action, like the rising of some star,​2 stirred up the storm of war in Asia. The mightiest of kings, however, content with his bold declaration of war, marched out of Asia with loud noise and tumult, and immediately seizing the islands and coasts of Greece, spent his time in ease and luxury as though he had already won the day. 9 The island of Euboea, lying close to the mainland, is separated therefrom by the narrow straits of the Euripus, whose waters continually ebb and flow. Here he set up his tents of cloth of gold and silk within the very sound of the straits, whose waters as they flowed past murmured in harmony with the music of pipes and strings, and having collected roses, although it was winter, from every quarter, that he might seem in some way at any rate to act the general, held his levies of maidens and boys. 10 Against this king then, already defeated by his own luxury, the Roman people, in the consul­ship of Acilius Glabrio,​3 advanced while he was in the island, and immediately drove him into flight by the mere  p123 announcement of their approach. 11 They pursued him in his headlong flight, and at Thermopylae, a spot memorable for the glorious defeat of the three hundred Spartans (even this scene did not inspire him with confidence enough to make a stand), forced him to own them victors by land and sea. 12 Then instantly, without delay, they set out for Syria. The royal fleet entrusted to the charge of Polyxenidas and Hannibal — for the king could not even bear to look upon a battle — was completely destroyed by the Romans under Aemilius Regillus, with the aid of the Rhodian fleet. 13 Let not Athens be over-proud: in Antiochus we defeated a Xerxes; in Aemilius we had the equal of an Alcibiades; at Ephesus we rivalled Salamis. 14 Then, under the consul Scipio, whose brother, the great Africanus, the recent conqueror of Carthage, was serving voluntarily under him as second-in‑command, it was decided utterly to defeat King Antiochus. He had entirely abandoned the sea, but we carried the war beyond it, 15 and our camp was pitched near the river Maeander and Mount Sipylus. Here the king had taken up a position with an incredible number of auxiliaries and other troops. 16 He had 300,000 foot-soldiers and an equal number of cavalry and chariots armed with scythes. He had also protected both his flanks with elephants of huge size, brilliant with gold, purple and silver and the sheen of their own ivory. 17 But all this great force was embarrassed by its very size, as well as by a shower of rain, which, suddenly descending, had, by a piece of wonderful good luck, destroyed the efficiency of the Persian bows. First there was panic, then flight, and finally complete triumph. 18 To the conquered and suppliant Antiochus  p125 it was decided to grant peace and a portion of his kingdom, and this all the more willingly because he had yielded so easily.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXV. The Aetolian War

II, 9 The Syrian war was followed, as it was bound to happen, by an Aetolian war; for after the conquest of Antiochus, the Romans pursued those who had kindled the war in Asia. And so the task of vengeance was committed to Fulvius Nobilior. 2 He immediately attacked Ambracia, the capital of the nation and the royal abode of Pyrrhus, with his engines of war. Its surrender quickly followed. 3 The Athenians and Rhodians supported the supplications of the Aetolians, and we remembered their former services and decided to pardon them. 4 Hostilities, however, spread more widely among the neighbouring peoples; and all Cephallenia and Zacynthus and all the islands in that sea between the Ceraunian mountains and Cape Malea were involved in the Aetolian war.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXVI. The Istrian War

II, 10 The Istrians were dealt with after the Aetolians, for they had recently assisted them in war. 2 The beginnings of the struggle were favourable to the enemy, and this very success was the cause of their ruin. For when they had captured the camp of Gnaeus Manlius and were gloating over their rich spoil, Appius Pulcher fell upon most of them feasting and enjoying themselves and so deep in their cups that they were unconscious and did not know  p127 where they were. 3 Thus, as they yielded up their blood and breath, they disgorged the ill-gotten spoils of victory. Their king Aepulo himself, who had been placed upon a horse, from which he frequently fell in his intoxicated and dizzy condition, was with difficulty at last made to understand, when he woke up, that he was a prisoner.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXVII. The Gallo-Greek War

II, 11 The disastrous termination of the Syrian war involved Gallo-Graecia also. 2 Whether its inhabitants had really been among the auxiliaries of King Antiochus, or whether Manlius Vulso, in his eagerness for a triumph, had pretended that they were so, is uncertain. 3 In any case, though he was victorious, he was refused a triumph, because the Romans did not approve of the pretext under which he had gone to war. The race of the Gallo-Greeks, as their very name implies, was of mixed and confused origin; they were the remnants of those Gauls who had laid Greece waste under the leader­ship of Brennus, and then, taking an easterly direction, settled in the middle of Asia. 4 And so, just as seeds of cereal degenerate in a different soil, so their natural ferocity was softened by the mild climate of Asia. 5 They were, therefore, routed and put to flight in two engagements, although, at the approach of the enemy, they had left their homes and retired to the highest mountains. The Tolostobogi had occupied Olympus, the Tectosagi Magaba. Dislodged from both these places by slings and arrows, they surrendered under a promise of perpetual peace. 6 Some of them, however, after they had been bound, caused astonishment by trying to sever their bonds by  p129 biting them with their teeth and offering their throats to one another to be strangled. The wife of their king Orgiacon, who had suffered violation at the hands of a centurion, achieved the remarkable exploit of escaping from custody and carrying to her husband the head of her licentious foe which she had cut off.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXVIII. The Second Macedonian War

II, 12 While nation after nation was involved in the disaster of the Syrian war, Macedonia again raised her head. 2 The memory and recollection of its former greatness spurred that valiant people to action. Also Philip had been succeeded by his son Perses, who thought that it ill accorded with the high repute of the nation that Macedonia, once conquered, should remain for ever conquered. 3 Under his leader­ship, therefore, the Macedonians rose with much more vigour than under his father. They had induced the Thracians to support their efforts and had thus tempered the Macedonian persistence with Thracian energy, and Thracian savagery with Macedonian discipline. 4 A further advantage was the skill of their leader, who, having surveyed the topography of his territory from the summit of Mount Haemus, pitched his camp in an inaccessible spot, and so fortified his realm with arms and the sword that he seemed to have left no means of access except to an enemy who should descend from the sky. 5 But the Roman people, under the consul Marcius Philippus,​4 having entered the province and having carefully explored the approaches by the Lake of Ascuris and the Perrhaebian Mountains,  p131 effected an entrance over heights which seemed inaccessible even to birds, and by a sudden inroad surprised the king, who thought himself safe and feared no such attack. 6 Such was his alarm that he ordered all his money to be thrown into the sea, lest it should be lost,​5 and his fleet to be burned, lest it should be set on fire. 7 Under the consul Paulus,​6 after larger and more frequent garrisons had been established, other methods were used to take Macedonia by surprise through the remarkable skill and perseverance of the general, who threatened an attack at one point and broke through at another. 8 His mere approach so alarmed the king that he did not dare to take an active part in the war, but committed the management of it to his generals. 9 Being defeated, therefore, in his absence he fled to the sea, and to the island of Samothrace, relying on the well-known sanctity of the place, as though temples and altars could protect one whom his own mountains and arms had been unable to save. 10 No king ever clung more tenaciously to the memory of the great position which he had lost. When he wrote to the Roman general as a suppliant from the temple in which he had taken refuge and signed the letter with his name, he added the title of king. On the other hand, no one ever showed more respect than Paulus for captured majesty. 11 When his enemy came into his presence, he received him upon his tribunal, invited him to his own table, and warned his own children to respect Fortune whose power was so great. 12 The triumph in honour of the conquest of Macedonia was among the most splendid which the Roman people ever held and witnessed. The spectacle occupied three days; 13 on  p133 the first day the statues and pictures were displayed in procession, on the next day the arms and treasure, on the third day the captives, including the king himself, who seemed still to be dazed and stupefied by the suddenness of the disaster. 14 But the Roman people had already received the glad news of the victory long before it was announced by the victorious general's despatches. For it was known in Rome on the very day on which Perses was defeated 15 through the presence of two young men with white horses washing off dust and gore at the pool of Juturna. These brought the news, and were popularly believed to have been Castor and Pollux because they were twins, and to have taken part in battle because they were dripping with blood, and to come from Macedonia because they were still out of breath.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXVIIII. The Second Illyrian War

II, 13 The contagion of the Macedonian war involved the Illyrians, since they served as mercenaries in the pay of King Perses in order to cause a diversion in the rear of the Romans. 2 They were subjugated without delay by the praetor Anicius. It sufficed to destroy Scodra, their capital, and their submission immediately followed. Indeed, the end of the war occurred before the news that it had begun could reach Rome.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XXX. The Third Macedonian War

II, 14 By a dispensation of fate which made it seem as if the Carthaginians and Macedonians had made compact together that they should both be conquered  p135 for a third time, both nations began hostilities at the same time. 2 The Macedonians were the first to throw off the yoke, having grown far more formidable than before, because they were treated with contempt. 3 The cause of the war almost makes one blush for shame. Andriscus, a man of the lowest origin, had seized the throne and begun war at the same moment. It is uncertain whether he was a freeman or a slave, but he had certainly served as a hired labourer; however, being popularly called Philip from his resemblance to Philip, son of Perses, he supplied a royal presence, a royal name and a royal spirit as well. 4 The Roman people then, despising all these pretensions and considering the praetorº Juventius as a match for him, rashly engaged him when he was strongly supported not only by the Macedonians but by vast numbers of Thracian auxiliaries, and though they had never been beaten by real kings, were defeated by this pretended and stage-play monarch. 5 However, ample vengeance was taken by the consul Metellus​7 for the loss of the praetor and his legion. For he not only punished the Macedonians by enslaving them, but also brought back in chains to the city the instigator of the war, who was surrendered to them by a Thracian prince with whom he had taken refuge. Fortune, however, thus far smiled upon him in his misfortune that the Roman people triumphed over him as though he had been a real king.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 210 B.C.

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2 Cicero uses a similar figure (pro Murena, 17).

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3 191 B.C.

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4 186 B.C.

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5 For the paradox cp. Martial, II.80:

Hostem cum fugeret, se Fannius ipse peremit.

Hic, rogo, non furor est, ne moriare, mori?

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6 182 B.C.

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7 168 B.C.

Thayer's Note: Aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus. The Loeb editor (or, as is common in book publishing, a separate lower-level person, say a graduate student, charged with writing footnotes and preparing indexes) has nodded off here. 168 B.C. is the date not of Andriscus' defeat, but of that Perseus that put an end to the Third Macedonian War long before that. I am indebted to Adam Favaro for the careful reading and good catch: the footnote should read

"148 B.C."

And as long as we're at it, the date of 168 B.C. for the end of the Third Macedonian War, derived from that of the battle of Pydna, itself deduced from a lunar eclipse, is far from unanimously agreed upon. European scholars in particular prefer 172 B.C., as do I. For a presentation of the arguments in favor of 172, see my note to Plutarch's Life of Aemilius.

Finally, Metellus was only a praetor when he defeated Andriscus, becoming consul only five years later; Florus' consul Metellus is thus either a mistake on his part or a way of referring to the man by his highest rank, much as in the United States we refer to a former Cabinet member, now a private citizen, as "Madam Secretary".

Thayer's Note:

a I was arrested by the inanity of this statement, until I looked at Florus' original Latin. . . . Given three continents arranged in a circle — with the Mediterranean in the center — it is obvious that no matter where these wars started, no matter where the second war took place, and no matter where the series ended, "a geographical sequence" will be formed; a diagram will make it instantly clear:

[image ALT: A diagram in which Europe, Asia, and Africa are represented clockwise as parts of the outer ring of a doughnut, with the Mediterranean Sea as the 'hole'; the diagram is further explained in the accompanying text.]

Florus, however, didn't say anything quite so dumb — and in fact, had something like my diagram in mind, when he wrote "et cum terrarum orbis situ ipse ordo victoriarum navigaret". Literally, "and that the very sequence of victories should navigate along with the disposition of the circle (orbis) of lands"; or in less crabbed English: "and that the sequence of victories should sail the round of the entire earth." The image is that of a triumphal procession that in order to make a complete circle, required victories on all three continents.

For those of us who read the classics, this is a good example of why we shouldn't lean too much on a translation, getting back instead to the original text if we can. That Florus might be rhetorical is one thing, but that he was stupid would be another.

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Page updated: 6 Jan 18