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I: Part 11

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 13

Lucius Annaeus Florus

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

Book I (continued)

XLI. The War against the Pirates.
XLII. The Cretan War.
XLIII. The Balearic War.
XLIIII. The Expedition to Cyprus.

 p191  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XLI. The War against the Pirates

III, 6 In the meantime, while the Roman people were preoccupied in various parts of the world, the Cilicians had invaded the seas, and, making intercourse impossible and interrupting the peace of the world, had by their warlike operations caused the same result as a tempest in closing the seas to traffic. 2 The disturbed condition brought about in Asia by the Mithridatic wars engendered a spirit of daring in these abandoned and desperate robbers, who, under the cover of the confusion caused by a war in which they took no part and the odium against a foreign prince, ranged over the seas with impunity. 3 At first, under their leader Isodorus, they confined their operations to the neighbouring sea and committed their depredations between Crete and Cyrenae and Achaea and the sea off Cape Malea, which, from the richness of the spoil which it yielded, they themselves named the Golden Sea. 4 Publius Servilius was sent against them, and, although with his heavy and well-equipped ships of war he defeated their light and elusive brigantines, he won a by no means bloodless victory. 5 Not content, however, with having driven them off the seas, he overthrew their strongest cities, full of spoil collected over a long period, Phaselis, Olympus and the city of the Isauri, the very stronghold of Cilicia, from which, conscious of the greatness of his achievement, he assumed the title of Isauricus. 6 But the pirates, though overcome by so many disasters, would not on that account confine themselves to the land, but, like certain animals whose nature fits them equally well for living in the sea and on the earth, as soon as ever the enemy had gone away,  p193 impatient of remaining ashore they launched forth again upon their natural element, the sea, and, extending their operations over a far wider area than before, were eager to create a panic on the coasts of Sicily and our own Campania by a sudden attack. 7 Cilicia was, therefore, deemed worthy of being conquered by Pompeius and was added to his sphere of operations against Mithridates. Pompeius, determining to make an end once and for all of the pest which had spread over the whole sea, approached his task with almost superhuman measures. 8 Having at his disposal an ample force both of his own ships and of those of our allies the Rhodians, he extended his operations from the mouth of the Black Sea to that of the Ocean with the aid of numerous commanders and captains. 9 Gellius was placed in charge of the Tuscan Sea, Plotius over the Sicilian Sea; Atilius occupied the Ligurian Gulf, Pomponius the Gallic Gulf; Torquatus commanded in the Balearic waters, Tiberius Nero in the Straits of Gades, where the threshold of our sea opens; Lentulus Marcellinus watched over the Libyan and Egyptian Seas, the young sons of Pompeius over the Adriatic, 10 Terentius Varro over the Aegean and Ionian Seas, Metellus over the Pamphylian, and Caepio over the Asiatic Sea, while Porcius Cato sealed the very mouth of the Propontis with ships stationed so close to one another as to form, as it were, a gate.​1 11 Thus, in every harbour, bay, shelter, creek, promontory, strait and peninsula in the sea, every single pirate was enclosed as it were in a net. 12 Pompeius himself proceeded against Cilicia, the origin and source of the war; nor did the enemy refuse an engagement, 13 though their boldness seemed to be inspired not so  p195 much by confidence as by the knowledge that they were hard pressed. However, they did no more than meet the first onslaught; for as soon as they saw the beaks of our ships all round them, they immediately threw down their weapons and oars, and with a general clapping of hands, which was their sign of entreaty, begged for quarter. 14 We never gained so bloodless a victory, and no nation was afterwards found more loyal to us. This was secured by the remarkable wisdom of our commander, who removed this maritime people far from the sight of the sea and bound it down to the cultivation of the inland districts, thus at the same time recovering the use of the sea for shipping and restoring to the land its proper cultivators. 15 In this victory what is most worthy of admiration? Its speedy accomplishment — for it was gained in forty days — or the good fortune which attended it — for not a single ship was lost — or its lasting effect — for there never were any pirates again?

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XLII. The Cretan War

III, 7 The Cretan war, if the truth is to be told, was due solely to our desire to conquer that famous island. It was thought to have supported Mithridates, an offence which we resolved to punish by force of arms. 2 Marcus Antonius made the first attack upon the island with such expectation of victory and confidence that he carried more fetters than arms on board his ships. 3 And so he paid the penalty of his rashness; for the enemy cut off most of his ships and hung the bodies of their prisoners from the sails and tackle; and then spreading their  p197 sails the Cretans returned in triumph to their harbours. 4 Metellus subsequently laid waste the whole island with fire and sword and drove the inhabitants into their strongholds and cities, Cnossus, Eleutherna and Cydonia, the mother of cities, as the Greeks usually call it. 5 So severe were the measures which he took against the prisoners that most of them put an end to themselves with poison, while others sent an offer of surrender to Pompeius across the sea. 6 Pompeius, although while in command in Asia he had sent his officer Antonius outside his sphere of command to Crete, was powerless to act in the matter, and so Metellus exercised the rights of a conqueror with all the greater severity and, after defeating the Cydonian leaders, Lasthenes and Panares, returned victorious to Rome. However, from his remarkable victory he gained nothing but the title of Creticus.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XLIII. The Balearic War

III, 8 Seeing that the family of Metellus Macedonicus had become accustomed to the assumption of surnames won in war, after one of his sons had become Creticus, it was not long before the other received the name of Balearicus. 2 The Balearic islanders at this period had ravaged the seas with their piratical outrages. You may wonder that savages who dwelt in the woods should venture even to look upon the sea from their native rocks, 3 but they actually went on board roughly constructed ships, and from time to time terrified passing ships by attacking them unexpectedly. 4 When they had espied the Roman fleet approaching from the open sea, thinking it an  p199 easy prey, they actually dared to assail it, and at the first onslaught covered it with a shower of stones and rocks. 5 They fight with three slings apiece; and who can wonder that their aim is so accurate, seeing that this is their only kind of arm and its employment their sole pursuit from infancy? A boy receives no food from his mother except what he has struck down under her instruction. But the alarm caused among the Romans by their slinging of stones did not last long; 6 when it came to close fighting and they experienced the attack of the beaks of our ships and our javelins, they raised a bellowing like cattle and fled to the shore, and scattering among the neighbouring hills had to be hunted down before they could be conquered.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] XLIIII. The Expedition to Cyprus

III, 9 The fate of the islands was sealed; and so Cyprus too was taken over without any fighting. This island, rich in ancient wealth 2 and therefore dedicated to Venus, was under the rule of Ptolemy. 3 But such was the fame of its riches (and not without cause) that a people which had conquered nations and was accustomed to make gifts of kingdoms ordered, on the proposal of Publius Clodius, the tribune of the people, that the property of a king, allied to themselves and still living, should be confiscated. 4 Ptolemy, on hearing the news of this, anticipated fate by taking poison, 5 and Porcius Cato brought the wealth of Cyprus in Liburnian galleys to the mouth of the Tiber. This replenished the treasury of the Roman people more effectively than any triumph.

The Loeb Editor's Note:

1 The reading and punctuation adopted in this passage are those of Professor H. A. Ormerod, who in an article published in Liverpool Annals of Archaeology, Vol. X, pp46 ff., has cleared up the whole question of the distribution of Pompeius' forces in the campaign of 67 B.C.

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Page updated: 29 Oct 08