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This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


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

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
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(Vol. VI) Polybius
The Histories

 p389  Fragments of Book XXXVIII

I. From the Introduction

1 1 The thirty-eighth Book contains the completion of the disaster of Greece. 2 For though both the whole of Greece and her several parts had often met with mischance, yet to none of her former defeats can we more fittingly apply the name of disaster with all it signifies than to the events of my own time. 3 For not only are the Greeks to be pitied for what they suffered, but we cannot fail to think that what they did was still more disastrous to them when we know the truth in detail. 4 The ruin of Carthage is indeed considered to have been the greatest of calamities, but when we come to think of it the fate of Greece was no less terrible and in some ways even more so. 5 For the Carthaginians at least left to posterity some ground, however slight, for defending their cause, but the Greeks gave no plausible pretext to any one who wished to support them and acquit them of error. 6 And again the Carthaginians, having been utterly exterminated by the calamity which overtook them, were for the future insensible of their sufferings, but the Greeks, continuing to witness their calamities, handed on from father to son the memory of their misfortune. 7 So that inasmuch  p391 as we consider that those who remain alive and suffer punishment are more to be pitied than those who perished in the actual struggle, we should consider the calamities that then befel Greece more worthy of pity than the fate of Carthage, unless in pronouncing on the matter we discard all notion of what is decorous and noble, and keep our eyes only on material advantage. 9 Every one will acknowledge the truth of what I say if he recalls what are thought to have been the greatest misfortunes that had befallen Greece and compares them with my present narrative.

2 1 The greatest terror with which fortune afflicted Greece is supposed to have been the crossing of Xerxes to Europe. 2 For then we all were in danger but very few came to grief; first and foremost the Athenians, who, intelligently foreseeing what would happen, abandoned their city, taking their wives and children with them. 4 Of course at the time they suffered severe damage, for the barbarians became masters of Athens and destroyed the town pitilessly. They did not, however, incur any reproach or shame but on the contrary their action was universally regarded as being most glorious, in that, regardless of what might happen to themselves, they decided to throw in their fortunes with the rest of Greece. 5 And in consequence, by this brave resolve, not only did they at once recover their fatherland and their country, but were soon disputing with Sparta the hegemony of Greece. 6 And subsequently, when they were crushed in the war with Sparta, they were actually forced to pull down the walls of their own city; 7 but it must be said that the fault here lay not with the Athenians  p393 but with the Lacedaemonians, who made an oppressive use of the power that Fortune had placed in their hands. 8 The Spartans again in their turn when defeated by the Thebans lost the hegemony of Greece, and afterwards renouncing all projects of foreign conquest were confined to the limits of Laconia. 9 And what disgrace was there in this, if after struggling for the highest prize they so far failed that they had to retire once more to their ancestral dominions? 10 So all these events may be described as misfortunes but not by any means as disasters. 11 The Mantineans again were compelled to abandon their city when the Spartans dispersed them and broke them up and to live in villages. 12 But every one in this case blamed the Spartans, and not the Mantineans for their unwisdom. 13 The Thebans some time afterwards witnessed the utter destruction of their city when Alexander, intending to cross to Asia, thought that by chastising the Thebans he would frighten the other cities into subjection to him while he was otherwise occupied. 14 But then every one pitied the Thebans for the cruel and unjust treatment they suffered, and no one attempted to justify this act of Alexander. 3 1 And consequently in a short time with some slight assistance they were able to restore their city and again dwell safely in it. 2 For the compassion of others is no small help to those who have suffered undeserved misfortune, and we often see that general sympathy is attended by a change of Fortune and that those in power themselves repent of their conduct and repair the calamity that they unjustifiably inflicted. 3 Again for a certain time Chalcis, Corinth and some  p395 other cities owing to their favourable situations were obliged to obey the kings of Macedonia and to receive garrisons. 4 But in this case all did their best to free them from persistent slavery and looked with hatred and persistent enmity on those who had subjected them to it. 5 To speak generally, they were single cities or groups of cities which in former times came to grief, some of them contending for supremacy or practical objects and others treacherously seized by despots and kings. 6 So that in very few cases did the victims of misfortune incur reproach or did they continue to be spoken of as having met with disaster.​a 7 For we should consider that all states or individuals who meet with exceptional calamities are unfortunate, but that only those whose own folly brings reproach on them suffer disaster. 8 In the time I am speaking of a common misfortune befel the Peloponnesians, the Boeotians, the Phocians, the Euboeans, the Locrians, some of the cities on the Ionian Gulf, and finally the Macedonians . . . not resulting merely from the number of defeats they suffered, far from it, but by their whole conduct they brought on themselves no misfortune, but a disaster as disgraceful and discreditable as it could be. 11 For they showed both faithlessness and cowardice and brought on their heads all this trouble . . . Therefore they lost every shred of honour, and for various reasons consented to receive the Roman lictors into their cities, in such terror were they owing to their own offences, if they must be called their own. 13 For I should rather say that the people in general acted  p397 mistakenly and failed in their duty, but that the actual authors of the mistakes were the real offenders.

4 1 It should not surprise anyone if abandoning here the style proper to historical narrative I express myself in a more declamatory and ambitious manner. 2 Some, however, may reproach me for writing with undue animosity, it being rather my first duty to throw a veil over the offences of the Greeks. 3 Now neither do I think that a man who is timid and afraid of speaking his mind should be regarded by those qualified to judge as a sincere friend, nor that man should be regarded as a good citizen who leaves the path of truth because he is afraid of giving temporary offence to certain persons; and in a writer of political history we should absolutely refuse to tolerate the least preference for anything but the truth. 6 For inasmuch as a literary record of facts will reach more ears and last longer than occasional utterances, a writer should attach the highest value to truth and his readers should approve his principle in this respect. 7 In times of danger it is true those who are Greek should help the Greeks in every way, by active support, by cloaking faults and by trying to appease the anger of the ruling power, as I myself actually did at the time of the occurrences; 8 but the literary record of the events meant for posterity should be kept free from any taint of falsehood, so that instead of the ears of readers being agreeably tickled for the present, their minds may be reformed  p399 in order to avoid falling more than once into the same errors. 9 Enough on this subject.

5 1 I am not unaware that some people will find fault with this work on the ground that my narrative of events is imperfect and disconnected. 2 For example, after undertaking to give an account of the siege of Carthage I leave that in suspense and interrupting myself pass to the affairs of Greece, and next to those of Macedonia, Syria and other countries, while students desire continuous narrative and long to learn the issue of the matter I first set my hand to; 3 for thus, they say, those who desire to follow me with attention are both more deeply interested in the story and derive greater benefit from it. 4 My opinion is just the reverse of this; and I would appeal to the testimony of Nature herself, who in the case of any of the senses never elects to go on persistently with the same allurements, but is ever fond of change and desires to meet with the same things after an interval and a difference. 5 What I mean may be illustrated in the first place from the sense of hearing, which never either as regards melodies or recitation readily consents to give ear persistently to the same strain, but is touched by a diversified style and by everything that is disconnected and marked by abrupt and frequent transitions. Take again the sense of taste. You will find that it is incapable of constantly enjoying the most luxurious viands but becomes disgusted with them and likes change, often preferring quite simple dishes to expensive ones merely owing to their  p401 novelty. 8 And the same holds good as regards the sense of sight. For it is quite incapable of gazing constantly at one object, but requires variety and change to captivate it. 9 But this is especially true as regards the intellect. For hard workers find a sort of rest in change of the subjects which absorb and interest them. 6 1 And this, I think, is why the most thoughtful of the ancient writers were in the habit of giving their readers a rest in the way I say, some of them employing digressions dealing with myth or story and others digressions on matters of fact; so that not only do they shift the scene from one part of Greece to another, but include doings abroad. 2 For instance, when dealing with the Thessalian affairs and the exploits of Alexander of Pherae, they interrupt the narrative to tell us of the projects of the Lacedaemonians in the Peloponnese or of those of the Athenians and of what happened in Macedonia or Illyria, and after entertaining us so tell us of the expedition of Iphicrates to Egypt and the excesses committed by Clearchus in Pontus. 3 So that you will find that all historians have resorted to this device but have done so irregularly, while I myself resort to it regularly. 4 For the authors I allude to, after mentioning how Bardyllis, the king of Illyria, and Cersobleptes, the king of Thrace, acquired their kingdoms, do not give us the continuation or carry us on to what proved to be the sequel after a certain lapse of time, but after inserting these matters as a sort of patch, return to their original subject. 5 But I myself, keeping distinct all the most important parts of the world and the events that took place in each,  p403 and adhering always to a uniform conception of how each matter should be treated, and again definitely relating under each year the contemporary events that then took place, leave obviously full liberty to students to carry back their minds to the continuous narrative and the several points at which I interrupted it, so that those who wish to learn may find none of the matters I have mentioned imperfect and deficient. 7 This is all I have to say on the subject.

II. The Third Punic War

7 1 Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian general, was an empty-headed braggart and very far from being a competent statesman or general. 2 There are many evidences of his lack of judgement. To begin with, at his meeting with Golosses, king of the Numidians, he appeared in a complete suit of armour over which was fastened a cloak of sea purple and with a retinue of ten swordsmen. 3 Then advancing in front of these ten men he remained at a distance of about twenty feet from the king protected by a trench and palisade, and made signs to him to come to him, while it ought to have been the reverse. 4 However, Golosses with true Numidian simplicity advanced to him unaccompanied, and when he approached him asked him in fear of whom he had come thus armed cap‑a‑pie. 5 Hasdrubal answered, "In fear of the Romans." "But then," said Golosses, "you would scarcely have trusted yourself in the town without any necessity. But what do you want, what is your request?" 6 "I beg you," answered Hasdrubal, "to act as my envoy to the general, and I consent on my part to submit to any terms, if only they will spare this  p405 unhappy city." 7 "My good friend," said Golosses, "you seem to me to make a perfectly childish request. 8 How do you expect, now you are surrounded by land and sea and have almost abandoned every hope of safety, to persuade the Romans to front you what they refused you, when at the time they were still in Utica, you approached them with your strength yet intact?" 9 "You are mistaken," said Hasdrubal, "for I still have good hopes of what our foreign allies may do for us." For he had not yet heard what had happened to the Moors or to his own force in the field. And he added that he was not even in despair as regards their own resources: for he chiefly relied on the support of the gods and the hope he placed in them. 10 "Surely," he said, "they will not suffer us to be thus undisguisedly betrayed but will give us many means of salvation." 11 He therefore begged him to implore the general to think of the gods and of Fortune and to spare the town, and he might be quite sure that if they could not obtain this request they would all rather be slaughtered than give up the town. 12 After conversing more or less in this sense they separated, agreeing to meet again in three days. 8 1 When Golosses communicated the conversation to Scipio the latter laughed and said, "I suppose you were about to make this request, when you treated our prisoners in such an inhuman manner, and now you expect help from the gods after violating even the laws of men." 2 And when the king wished to submit some further reflections to Scipio and chiefly that he ought to bring matters to a conclusion; 3 for, apart from  p407 the uncertainty of things, the appointment of the new consuls was close at hand and he should take this into consideration, lest when he was overtaken by winter another commander should succeed him and without any trouble credit himself with the result of all his pains, the general paid careful attention to what he said, and told him to inform Hasdrubal that he answered for the safety of himself, his wife and children, and the families of ten of his friends, and that, in addition to this, he might keep ten talents out of his own fortune and carry off with him any slaves he chose to the number of a hundred. 5 Golosses conveying this kind offer met Hasdrubal again two days afterwards. 6 The Carthaginian again advanced slowly to meet him in great state, wearing his full armour and purple robe, leaving the tyrants of tragedy much to seek. 7 He was by nature corpulent, and he had now become pot-bellied and was unnaturally red in the face, so that it looked as if he were living like a fatted ox in the plenty of a festival, instead of being at the head of a people suffering from such extreme misery that it would be difficult to set it down in words. 8 However, when he met the king and listened to Scipio's offer, slapping his thigh often and calling upon the gods and Fortune, he said that the day would never come on which Hasdrubal would look at the same time on the sun and on his city being consumed by fire; 9 for the most noble funeral for right-minded men was to perish in their native city and amid her flames. 10 So that when we look at his utterances we admire the man and his high-souled words, but when we turn  p409 to his actual behaviour we are amazed by his ignobility and cowardice. 11 For, to begin with, when the rest of the citizens were utterly perishing from famine, he gave drinking-parties and offered his guests sumptuous second courses and by his own good cheer exposed the general distress. 12 For the number of deaths was incredibly large and so was the number of daily desertions due to famine. 13 And next by making mock of some and inflicting outrage and death on others he terrorized the populace and maintained his authority in his sorely stricken country by means to which a tyrant in a prosperous city would hardly resort. 14 Therefore I think I was exceedingly right in saying as I did that it would not be easy to find men more like each other than those who then swayed the destinies of Greece and Carthage. 15 This will become evident when I come to speak of the former and compare them with this man.

III. The Achaean War

9 1 When Aurelius Orestes and the other legates returned from the Peloponnesus and informed the senate of what had happened to them 2 and how they had been very nearly in danger of their lives, both exaggerating the truth and exercising their invention — for they did not represent the danger to which they had been exposed as a fortuitous one, but pretended that the Achaeans had of set purpose determined to make an example of them — the senate was more indignant at the occurrence than it had ever been before, and at once appointed a commission under Sextus Julius Caesar and dispatched  p411 it with instructions, however, merely to administer a mild censure for what had taken place, and then to beg and instruct the Achaeans not to give heed in future to those who urged them to the worst courses or to incur before they were aware of it the hostility of Rome, but once again to correct their errors and bring the blame home to the real authors of the offence. This made it quite evident that by the instructions they gave to Aurelius they did not wish to dissolve the League, but to alarm the Achaeans and to deter them from acting in a presumptuous and hostile manner. Some, it is true, thought that the Romans were playing false, as the fate of Carthage was still undecided. This, however, was not the fact; but having for so long acknowledged the League and regarding it as the most loyal of the Greek powers, they thought fit to alarm the Achaeans and curb their undue arrogance, but by no means wished to go to war with them or proceed to an absolute rupture.

10 1 Sextus Julius and his colleagues on their way from Rome to the Peloponnesus met the envoys headed by Thearidas who had been sent by the Achaeans to excuse themselves and to inform the senate of the truth concerning the foolish insults inflicted on Aurelius and his fellow-legates. 3 Sextus and his colleagues upon meeting the Achaean envoys begged them to return to Achaea, as they themselves were charged to discuss the whole matter with the Achaeans. 4 When upon reaching the Peloponnesus  p413 they conversed with the Achaeans in Aegium their language was most courteous; they scarcely alluded to the charge of ill-treating the legates or demanded any justification of the conduct of the Achaeans, but taking a most favourable view of what had occurred than the Achaeans themselves, begged them not to give any further offence either to the Romans or to the Lacedaemonians. 6 Upon this all the wiser people gladly accepted the advice, conscious as they were of their error and having before their eyes the fate that awaited those who opposed Rome; but the majority, while having nothing to say against the just strictness of Sextus and being obliged to keep silence, yet remained ill-conditioned and demoralized. 8 And Diaeus and Critolaus and all who shared their views — and these were, so to speak, a deliberate selection from each city of the worst men, the most god-forsaken and the greatest corruptors of the nation — not only as the proverb has it, took with the left hand what the Romans gave with the right, but were under an entire and absolute misconception. 9 For they imagined that the Romans, owing to their campaigns in Africa and in Spain, were afraid of a war with the Achaeans, and consequently tolerated everything and were ready to say anything. 11 Consequently, thinking that they were masters of the situation, they answered the legates in courteous terms, insisting, however, upon sending Thearidas and his colleagues to the senate: they themselves would accompany the legates as far as Tegea, where they  p415 would discuss matters with the Lacedaemonians and try to find a means of coming to an agreement with them which would put an end to the war. 12 After giving this answer, they by their future conduct, led on the unhappy nation to adopt the mistaken policy they had set their hearts on. 13 What else could be expected when those in power were so ignorant and ill-disposed?

11 1 The end of the catastrophe was brought about in the following way. 2 When Sextus and the other legates reached Tegea they invited the Lacedaemonians to attend there so that they might act in unison towards the Achaeans, both as regards exacting justice for their offences in the past and as regards the suspension of hostilities, until the Romans should send commissioners to deal with the whole situation. 3 Critolaus and his party now held a meeting at which it was decided that the others should decline to meet the Romans, but that Critolaus alone should proceed to Tegea. 4 Critolaus arrived at Tegea when Sextus and his colleagues had almost given up all hope of his coming, and when they called in the Lacedaemonians to negotiate he refused to make any concessions, saying that he was not empowered to arrange anything without taking the opinion of the people, but that he would refer the matter to the next Assembly which was to meet in six months. 6 So that Sextus and his colleagues, now recognizing that Critolaus was guilty of wilful obstruction, and indignant at his answer, allowed the Lacedaemonians to return home and themselves left for Italy, pronouncing Critolaus to have acted in a wrong-headed way and like a madman. 7 After their departure Critolaus visited the different cities during the winter and called meetings,  p417 on the pretext that he wished to inform the people of the language he had used to the Lacedaemonians and the Roman legates at Tegea, 8 but in reality for the purpose of accusing the Romans and giving the worst sense to all that they had said, 9 by which means he inspired the populace with hostility and hatred. 10 At the same time he advised the magistrates not to exact payment from debtors or to admit into the prisons those arrested for debt, and also to make the enforced contributions permanent; until the war was decided. 11 As a result of such appeals to the rabble everything he said was accepted as true, and the people were ready to do anything he ordered, incapable as they were of taking thought for the future, and enticed by the bait of present favour and ease.

12 1 When Quintus Caecilius in Macedonia heard of all this, and of the foolish excitement and commotion in the Peloponnesus, he dispatched there as legates Gnaeus Papirius, the younger Popilius Laenas, Aulus Gabinius, and Gaius Fannius. 2 They happened to arrive when the General Assembly of the Achaeans was being held at Corinth, and when brought before the people addressed them at length in the same conciliatory terms as Sextus and his colleagues had done, employing every effort to prevent the Achaeans from proceeding to acts of declared hostility towards Rome, either on account of their difference with Sparta or owing to their dislike of the Romans themselves. 4 The people, on listening to them, showed no disposition to comply, but jeered at the legates, hooted and  p419 hustled them out of the meeting. 5 For never had there been collected such a pack of artizans and common men. All the towns, indeed, were in a drivelling state, but the malady was universal and most fierce at Corinth. 6 There were a few, however, who were exceedingly gratified by the language of the legates. 7 But Critolaus, thinking he had got hold of the very handle he had been praying for and of an audience ready to share his fervour and run mad, attacked the authorities and inveighed against his political opponents, and used the utmost freedom of language regarding the Roman legates, 8 saying that he wished to be friends with Rome, but he was not at all minded to make himself subject to despots. 9 The general tenour of his advice was that if they behaved like men they would be in no want of allies, but if they behaved no better than women they would have plenty of lords and masters. 10 By dealing freely and systematically in such phrases he continued to excite and irritate the mob. 11 He much insisted that his policy was by no means a haphazard one, but that some of the kings and states shared his design. 13 1 When the assembly of elders wished to check him and keep him from using such language, he defied them, soliciting the aid of the soldiery and calling on anyone who chose to come on, to approach him, or to dare even lay hands on his cloak. 2 He said in fine that he had long held his hand, but would say what he felt. 3 "For," he said, "we should not so much fear the Lacedaemonians or the Romans, as those among ourselves who are co-operating with the enemy. Yes, there are some who favour  p421 the Romans and Lacedaemonians more than our own interests." 4 He even produced proofs of this, saying Euagoras of Aegium and Stratius of Tritaea communicated all the secret decisions of the magistrates to Gnaeus. 5 And when Stratius confessed he had associated with the legates and said he would continue to do so, as they were friends and allies, but swore that he had never reported to them anything that had been said at the meetings of magistrates, a few people believed him, but most gave ear to the accusation. 6 Critolaus having excited the mob by the charges he brought against these men, persuaded the Achaeans again to vote for war, nominally against Sparta, but really against Rome. 7 He added another unconstitutional decree, enacting that the men they chose as strategi should have absolute power, by which means he acquired a kind of despotic authority.

8 Critolaus then, having carried through these measures, set himself to intrigue against and attack the Romans, not listening to reason, but forming projects which outraged the laws of god and man. 9 As for the legates, Gnaeus proceeded to Athens and thence to Sparta to await the progress of events, while Aulus went to Naupactus and the other two remained in Athens until the arrival of Caecilius. Such was the state of affairs in the Peloponnesus.

14 1 Pytheas was the brother of Acastides the stadium-runner and the son of Cleomnastus. He had led an evil life and was thought to have been debauched in his early years. 2 He was also reckless  p423 and grasping in public life, and for the reasons I have stated above had been indebted for his advancement to Eumenes and Philetaerus.

(From Orosius V.3)

3 Polybius the Achaean, though he was then with Scipio in Africa, nevertheless, as he could not remain in ignorance of the disaster of his own country, tells us there was only one battle in Achaea, Critolaus being in command. But he adds that Diaeus, who was bringing up reinforcements from Arcadia, was defeated by the same praetor Metellus.

15 1 Upon the death of Critolaus, the strategus of the Achaeans, since the law enjoined that if anything happened to the actual strategus he should be succeeded by his predecessor until the regular Assembly of the Achaeans met, the management and direction devolved on Diaeus. Consequently, sending a message to Megara and proceeding himself to Argos, he wrote to all the cities to set free twelve thousand of such of their home-born and home-bred slaves as were in the prime of life, and after arming them, to send them to Corinth. But he apportioned the number of slaves ordered to be sent by each city as he chose and unfairly, as he always did about other matters. If they had not enough home-bred slaves, they had to supply the deficiency from their other slaves. As he saw that their public exchequers were very badly off in consequence of the war with Sparta, he compelled them to make also special calls and to exact contributions from the wealthier inhabitants, not only from men but from women also. 7 At the same time he  p425 ordered all citizens capable of bearing arms to muster at Corinth. 8 In consequence all the cities were full of confusion, disturbance, and despondency. 9 They praised those who had fallen and pitied those who were marching off, and everyone apart from this was perpetually in tears as if they foresaw the future. 10 They suffered much from the insolence and impudence of the slaves, some of whom had been just set free while the rest were excited by the hope of freedom. 11 At the same time the men were forced to contribute willy-nilly whatever they were supposed to possess, and the women, stripping themselves and their children of their jewellery, had to contribute this, almost as of set purpose, to a fund that could only bring destruction on them. 16 1 As all this was happening at one and the same time, the dismay created by the particular events of every day rendered people incapable of that general and careful reflection, which would have made them foresee that they all with their wives and children were clearly on the road to ruin. 2 So, as if carried away and swept down by the force of a fierce torrent, they resigned themselves to the demented and perverse guidance of their leader. 3 The people of Elis and Messene indeed remained at home in expectation of an attack by the fleet, but they would have profited nothing by the circumstances if that cloud had appeared on their horizon as was originally contemplated. 4 The people of Patrae and those who contributed assistance together with them had a short time previously met with disaster in Phocis, and their case was much more lamentable than that of their allies in the Peloponnese; 5 for some of them in strange desperation had put an  p427 end to their lives, and others were flying from the cities across country, directing their flight to no particular place, but terror-stricken by what was taking place in the towns. 6 Some arrested others to surrender them to the enemy as having been guilty of opposition to Rome, and others informed against their friends and accused them, although no such service was demanded of them at present. Others again presented themselves as suppliants, confessing their treachery and asking what their punishment should be, in spite of the fact that no one as yet demanded any explanation of their conduct in this respect. 7 The whole country in fact was visited by an unparalleled attack of mental disturbance, people throwing themselves into wells and down precipices, so that, as the proverb says, the calamity of Greece would even arouse the pity of an enemy, had he witnessed it. 8 In former times indeed they had erred gravely and sometimes entirely come to grief, quarrelling now about questions of state and now betrayed by despots, but at the time I speak of they met with what all acknowledge to be a real calamity owing to the folly of their leaders and their own errors. 10 The Thebans even abandoned their city in a body and left it entirely desert: among them was Pytheas, who fled to the Peloponnese with his wife and children and was wandering about the country.

11 The enemies' answer seemed surprising to Diaeus; but I think that as the proverb says, "Empty heads have empty notions." So that naturally such people think that what is obvious is surprising.

 p429  12 And he (Diaeus) began to think about the best way of getting home, acting just like a man who cannot swim but is about to throw himself into the sea, and never hesitates in making the plunge, but having made it begins to think how he can swim to shore.

17 1 A short time after the arrival of Diaeus at Corinth, on his having been appointed strategus by the people, 2 Andronidas and his colleagues returned from their embassy to Caecilius. He had previously circulated a report that they were in league with the enemy and he now gave them up to the mob, so that they were arrested with every circumstance of ignominy and led off to prison in chains. 3 Philo of Thessaly also came the bearer of many kind offers to the Achaeans, and certain Achaeans, on learning of this, gave him their support, among others Stratius, who was now advanced in years, and embra­cing and imploring Diaeus, begged him to accept the proposals of Caecilius. 5 But the members of the assembly paid no attention to what Philo said, for they did not think that the whole nation would be spared, but that Philo spoke so in his own interest and concerned chiefly for his own safety and that of his friends. They therefore discussed the situation under this impression, although they were entirely wrong in entertaining it. 7 For as they were perfectly conscious of their guilt, they could not conceive that the Romans could possibly have any compassion on them. 8 They did not in the least think of making any brave sacrifice for the sake of the state, and the safety of  p431 the people in general, as was their duty if they were men who valued their reputations and pretended to be the leaders of Greece. 9 But how could they possibly show any such spirit, for the members of the Council were Diaeus and Damocritus — who had recently been allowed to return owing to the prevailing unwisdom — and in addition Alcamenes, Theodectes, and Archicrates, 10 all men of whom I have already spoken at length, describing who they were and what were their characters, principles, and lives.

18 1 Such being the members of the council, the result of their deliberations was in accord with their characters. 2 Not only did they at once imprison Andronidas and Lagius, but the under-strategus Sosicrates as well, alleging that he had presided over the previous council, and had taken part in the decision to send to Caecilius, and was in fact the main cause of all the evil. 3 On the following day they appointed a tribunal and condemned Sosicrates to death, and binding him on the rack continued the torture until he died under it without making any such avowal as they expected. 4 As for Lagius and Andronidas and Archippus, they released them, partly because the attention of the people had been aroused by the flagrant injustice of their treatment of Sosicrates, and partly because Diaeus received a talent from Andronidas and forty minae from Archippus; 5 for Diaeus could not even when he was at bay, as the saying is, abstain from such shameless and illegal exactions. 6 He had a short time previously behaved in a very similar manner to Philinus of Corinth. For accusing him of communicating with Menalcidas and of being a partisan  p433 of the Romans, he continued to flog and rack Philinus himself and his sons before each others' eyes until both the father and the boys gave up the ghost. 7 One is inclined to ask oneself, in view of the fact that all were guilty of such folly and demoralization as it would not be easy to find among barbarians, how it came to pass that the whole nation was not utterly destroyed. 8 For my part I should say that some sort of resourceful and ingenious fortune counteracted the folly and insanity of the leading statesmen — a power which, though the leaders in their folly took every means and every opportunity to expel her, yet had resolved to leave nothing undone to save Achaea, and like a skilful wrestler adopted the sole device left to her, 9 and that was to bring about the speedy discomfiture and easy defeat of the Greeks, as she in fact did. 10 For owing to this the indignation and wrath of the Romans were not still further aroused, nor did the forces come from Africa, nor were the leading statesmen, whose characters were such as I said and who only wanted a pretext, able to reveal fully their guilty intentions to their countrymen. 11 For it is evident from the analogy of their previous conduct, such as I have described it, how they would probably have acted against their own people if they had had any opportunity or achieved any success. 12 Everybody in fact kept repeating the proverb, "Had we not perished so soon we would never have been saved."

V. The Fall of Carthage

(From Plutarch, Apophthegmata, p200)

19 1 Scipio had reached the wall, the Carthaginians still defending themselves from the citadel, and as  p435 he found that the depth of the sea between them was not very great, Polybius advised him to set it with iron caltrops or to throw into it planks furnished with spikes to prevent the enemy from crossing and attacking the mole, "But it is absurd," said Scipio, "now we have taken the wall and are inside the town to take steps to prevent our fighting the enemy."

20 1 When Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian commander, threw himself as a suppliant at Scipio's knees, the general turning to those round him said, "Look, my friends, how well Fortune knows to make an example of inconsiderate men. 2 This is that very Hasdrubal who lately rejected the many kind offers I made him, and said that his native city and her flames were the most splendid obsequies for him; and here he is with suppliant boughs begging for his life from me and reposing all his hopes on me. 3 Who that witnesses this with his eyes can fail to understand that a mere man should never either act or speak presumptuously?" 4 Some of the deserters now came forward to the edge of the roof and begged the front ranks of the assailants to hold back for a moment, and when Scipio gave this order they began to abuse Hasdrubal, some of them for having violated his oath, saying that he had often sworn solemnly that he would not desert them, and others for his cowardice and general baseness of spirit. 6 And this they did with jeers and in the most insulting, coarse, and hostile language.

7 At this moment his wife, seeing Hasdrubal seated with Scipio in front of the enemy, came out from  p437 the crowd of deserters, herself dressed like a great lady, but holding her children, who wore nothing but their smocks, by each hand and wrapping them in her cloak. 8 At first she called on Hasdrubal by his name, but when he maintained silence and bent his eyes to the ground, she began by calling on the gods and expressing her deepest thanks to Scipio for sparing as far as he was concerned not only herself but her children. 9 Then, after a short silence, she asked Hasdrubal how without saying a word to her he had deserted them all and betaken himself to the Roman general to secure his own safety; how he had thus shamelessly abandoned the state and the citizens who trusted in him, and gone over secretly to the enemy; 10 and how he had the face to sit now beside the enemy with suppliant boughs in his hands, that enemy to whom he had often boasted that the day would never dawn on which the sun would look on Hasdrubal alive and his city in flames . . . 21 1 Turning round to me at once and grasping my hand Scipio said, "A glorious moment, Polybius; but I have a dread foreboding that some day the same doom will be pronounced on my own country." It would be difficult to mention an utterance more statesmanlike and more profound. 2 For at the moment of our greatest triumph and of disaster to our enemies to reflect on our own situation and on the possible reversal of circumstances, and generally to bear in mind at the season of success the mutability of Fortune, is like a great and perfect man, a man in short worthy to be remembered.

 p439  (From Appian, Punica, 132)

22 1 Scipio, when he looked upon the city as it was utterly perishing and in the last throes of its complete destruction, is said to have shed tears and wept openly for his enemies. 2 After being wrapped in thought for long, and realizing that all cities, nations, and authorities must, like men, meet their doom; that this happened to Ilium, once a prosperous city, to the empires of Assyria, Media, and Persia, the greatest of their time, and to Macedonia itself, the brilliance of which was so recent, either deliberately or the verses escaping him, he said:

A day will come when sacred Troy shall perish,

And Priam and his people shall be slain.​1

3 And when Polybius speaking with freedom to him, for he was his teacher, asked him what he meant by the words, they say that without any attempt at concealment he named his own country, for which he feared when he reflected on the fate of all things human. Polybius actually heard him and recalls it in his history.

The Loeb Editor's Note:

1 Iliad VI.448‑9.

Thayer's Note:

a This is very awkward and unclear. I am indebted to Adam Favaro for pointing out Shuckburgh's much clearer translation:

"so that, so far from their losses bringing them any reproach, they escaped even the name of misfortune"

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Page updated: 29 Mar 22