Go to previous books (-18)
[22.1] Agathocles, tyrant of Sicily, who attained greatness equal to that of the elder Dionysius, rose to royal dignity from the lowest and meanest origin. 2 He was born in Sicily, his father being a potter, and spent a youth not more honourable than his birth; 3 for, being remarkable for beauty and gracefulness of person, he supported himself a considerable time by submitting to the infamous lust of others. 4 When he had passed the years of puberty, he transferred his services from men to women. 5 Having thus become infamous with both sexes, he next changed his way of life for that of a robber. 6 Some time after, having gone to Syracuse and been received as a citizen among the other inhabitants, 7 he was long without credit, appearing to have as little of property to lose as he had of character to blacken. 8 At last, enlisting in the army as a common soldier, he showed himself ready for every kind of audacity, his life being then not less distinguished by restlessness than it had previously been by infamy. 9 He was noted for activity in the field, and for eloquence in making harangues. 10 In a short time, accordingly, he became a centurion, and soon after a tribune. 11 In his first campaign against the people of Aetna, he gave the Syracusans great proofs of what he could do: 12 in the next, against the Campanians, he excited such hopes of himself throughout the army, that he was chosen to fill the place of the deceased general, Damascon, 13 whose wife, after the death of her husband, he married, having previously had a criminal connection with her. 14 And, not content, that from being poor he was suddenly made rich, he engaged in piracy against his own country. 15 He was saved from death by his companions, who, when apprehended and put to the torture, denied his guilt. 16 Twice he attempted to make himself sovereign of Syracuse; and twice he was driven into exile.
[22.2] By the Murgantines, with whom he took refuge in his banishment, he was first, from hatred to the Syracusans, made praetor, and afterwards general-in-chief: 2 in the war which he conducted for them, he both took the city of the Leontines, and proceeded to besiege his native city, Syracuse: 3 when Hamilcar, general of the Carthaginians, being entreated to aid it, laid aside his hatred as an enemy, and sent a body of troops thither. 4 Thus, at one and the same time, Syracuse was both defended by an enemy with the love of a citizen, and attacked by a citizen with the hatred of an enemy. 5 But Agathocles, seeing that the city was defended with more vigour than it was assailed, entreated Hamilcar, through his deputies, to undertake the settlement of a peace between him and the Syracusans, promising him particular services in return for the favour. 6 Hamilcar, induced by such hopes, and by dread of his power, made an alliance with him, on condition that whatever assistance he furnished Agathocles against the Syracusans, he himself should receive as much for the augmentation of his power at home. 7 Not only peace, in consequence, was procured for Agathocles, but he was also appointed praetor at Syracuse; 8 and he then swore to Hamilcar that he would be faithful to the Carthaginians, the [sacred] fires, at the same time, being set forth, and touched by him. 9 Some time after, having received from Hamilcar five thousand African troops, he put to death the most powerful of the leading citizens; 10 and then, as if intending to re-model the constitution, he ordered the people to be summoned to an assembly in the theatre, convoking the senate, in the meantime, in the Gymnasium, as though he designed to make some previous arrangements with them. 11 His measures being thus taken, he sent his troops to surround the people, and caused the senate to be massacred, 12 and, when he had finished the slaughter of them, cut off the richest and boldest of the commoners.
[22.3] These things being done, he made choice of troops, and embodied a regular army; with which, he suddenly attacked several of the neighbouring cities when they were under no apprehension of hostilities. 2 He also disgracefully harassed, with the connivance of Hamilcar, certain allies of the Carthaginians, who, in consequence, sent complaints to Carthage, not so much against Agathocles as against Hamilcar, 3 accusing " the former, indeed, as an oppressor and tyrant, but the latter as a traitor, by whom the possessions of their allies, under a settled compact, were betrayed to the bitterest of enemies; 4 for as, at first, Syracuse (a city always hostile to the Carthaginians, and a competitor with Carthage for the dominion of Sicily) was delivered to Agathocles as a bond of union with Hamilcar, so, at the present time, the cities of the allies of Carthage were given up to the same tyrant under pretence of making peace. 5 They warned them, therefore, that these proceedings would shortly come home to themselves, and that they would feel what mischief they had brought, not more upon Sicily than upon Africa itself." 6 At these complaints the senate was incensed against Hamilcar, but as he was in command of the army, they gave their votes concerning him secretly, and caused their several opinions, before they were openly read, to be put in an urn, and sealed up, until the other Hamilcar, the son of Gisco, should return from Sicily. 7 But the death of Hamilcar prevented all effects from these subtle contrivances and suppressed judgments, and he, whom his fellow citizens had unjustly condemned unheard, was freed from danger of punishment by the kindness of destiny. 8 The proceeding furnished Agathocles with a pretext for making war on the Carthaginians. 9 His first engagement was with Hamilcar, the son of Gisco, by whom he was defeated, and retired to Syracuse to prepare himself for war with fresh vigour. 10 But the result of his second encounter was the same as that of the first.
[22.4] The victorious Carthaginians, in consequence, having invested Syracuse with a close siege, Agathocles, perceiving that he was neither a match for them in the field, nor provided for enduring a blockade, and being deserted, moreover, by his allies, who were disgusted at his cruelties, resolved to transfer the war into Africa; 2 a resolution formed with wonderful audacity, that he should make war on the city of a people for whom he was not a match in his own city; that he who could not defend his own country should invade that of others; and that one who had been conquered should brave his conquerors. 3 Nor was the secrecy of his plan less striking than the contrivance of it. Stating merely to the people, that " he had found out a way to victory, and that they had only to prepare their minds to endure a short siege, or that, if any of them were dissatisfied with their present circumstances, he gave them full liberty to depart," 4 he proceeded, after one thousand six hundred had left him, to furnish the rest with provisions and money for the necessities of a blockade, taking away with him only fifty talents for present use, and intending to get further supplies rather from his enemies than his friends. 5 He then obliged all the slaves that were of age for war, after receiving their freedom, to take the military oath, and put them and the greater part of the soldiers, on ship-board, supposing that, as the condition of both was made equal, there would be a mutual emulation in bravery between them.
[22.5] In the seventh year of his reign, therefore, accompanied by his two grown-up sons, Archagathus and Heracleides, 2 he directed his course towards Africa, not one of his men knowing whither he was sailing; but while they all supposed that they were going to Italy or Sardinia for plunder, he landed his army on the coast of Africa, and then for the first time made known his intentions to them all. 3 He reminded them in what condition Syracuse was, " for which there was no other remedy but that they should inflict on the enemy the distresses that they themselves were suffering. 4 Wars," he said, " were conducted in one way at home and in another abroad; at home, a people's only support was what the resources of their country supplied; but abroad, the enemy might be beaten by their own strength, while their allies fell off, and from hatred of their long tyranny, looked about for foreign aid. 5 To this was added, that the cities and fortresses of Africa were not secured with walls, or situated on eminences, but lay in level plains without any fortifications, and might all be induced, by the fear of destruction, to join in the war against Carthage. 6 A greater war, in consequence, would blaze forth against the Carthaginians from Africa itself than from Sicily, as the forces of the whole region would combine against a city greater in name than in power, and he himself would thus gain from the country the strength which he had not brought into it. 7 Nor would victory be only in a small degree promoted by the sudden terror of the Carthaginians, who, astonished at such daring on the part of their enemies, would be in utter consternation. 8 Besides, there would be the burning of country houses, the plundering of fortresses and towns that offered resistance, and siege laid to Carthage itself; 9 from all which disasters they would learn that wars were practicable not only for them against others, but for others against them. 10 By these means the Carthaginians might not only be conquered, but Sicily might be delivered from them; for they would not continue to besiege Syracuse, when they were suffering from a siege of their own city. 11 Nowhere else, therefore, could war be found more easy, or plunder more abundant, for, if Carthage were taken, all Africa and Sicily would be the prize of the victors. 12 The glory, too, of so honourable an enterprise, would be so celebrated through all ages, that it could never be buried in oblivion; for it would be said that they were the only men in the world who had carried abroad against their enemies a war which they could not withstand at home; who, when defeated, had pursued their conquerors, and besieged the besiegers of their own city. 13 They ought all accordingly, to prosecute, with equal courage and cheerfulness, an enterprise, than which none could offer them a more noble reward if they were victorious, or greater honour to their memory if they were conquered."
[22.6] By these exhortations the courage of the soldiers was excited; but the superstitious influence of an omen had spread some dismay among them; for the sun had been eclipsed during their voyage. 2 But with regard to this phenomenon Agathocles was at no less pains to satisfy them than he had been with regard to the war; alleging that, " if it had happened before they set out, he should have thought it a portent unfavourable to their departure, but since it had occurred after they had set sail, its signification was directed against those to whom they were going. 3 Besides," he said, " the eclipses of the heavenly bodies always presaged a change in the present state of things, and it was therefore certain that an alteration was foretold in the flourishing condition of the Carthaginians and in their own adverse circumstances." 4 Having thus pacified his soldiers, he ordered all the ships, with the consent of the army, to be set on fire, in order that, the means of flight being taken away, they might understand that they must either conquer or die.
5 While they were devastating the country wherever they went, and laying farm-houses and fortresses in ashes, Hanno advanced to meet them with thirty thousand Carthaginians. 6 When they came to a battle, two thousand of the Sicilians, and three thousand of the Carthaginians, with their general himself, were left on the field. 7 By this victory the spirits of the Sicilians were elated, and those of the Carthaginians depressed. 8 Agathocles, taking advantage of his success, stormed several towns and forts, took a vast quantity of plunder, and killed many thousands of the enemy. 9 He then pitched his camp at the distance of five miles from Carthage, that they might view from the walls of the city the destruction of their most valuable possessions, the devastation of their lands, and the burning of their houses. 10 At the same time a great rumour of the destruction of the Carthaginian army, and of the capture of their cities, was spread through all Africa, 11 and astonishment fell upon every one, wondering how so sudden a war could have surprised so great an empire, especially from an enemy already conquered. This wonder was gradually changed into a contempt for the Carthaginians; 12 and not long after, not only the populace of Africa, but the most eminent cities, out of fondness for change, revolted to Agathocles, and furnished the victorious army with corn and money.
[22.7] To these disasters of the Carthaginians, and as if to crown their evil fortune, was added the destruction of their army and its general in Sicily. 2 For after the departure of Agathocles from the island, the Carthaginians, prosecuting the siege of Syracuse with less vigour, were reported to have been utterly cut off by Antander, the brother of Agathocles. 3 The fortune of the Carthaginians, therefore, being similar at home and abroad, not only their tributary towns, but even princes that were in alliance with them, began to fall off, estimating the obligations of confederacy not by the standard of honour but by that of fortune. 4 Among these was Ophellas, king of Cyrene, who, grasping, with extravagant hopes, at the dominion of all Africa, made an alliance with Agathocles through ambassadors, arranging that, when the Carthaginians were subdued, the government of Sicily should fall to Agathocles, and that of Africa to himself. 5 But when he came, accordingly, with a numerous army, to take a share in the war, Agathocles, after throwing him off his guard by the affability of his address and the abjectness of his flattery, and after they had supped together several times, and he had been adopted by Ophellas as a son, 6 put him to death, and taking the command of his forces, defeated the Carthaginians, who were renewing the war with all their might, in a second great battle, but with much loss to both armies. 7 At this result of the contest, such despair was felt by the Carthaginians, that, had not a mutiny occurred among the troops of Agathocles, Bomilcar, the Carthaginian general, would have gone over to him with his army. 8 For this treachery he was nailed to a cross by the Carthaginians in the middle of the forum, that the place which had formerly been the distinguished scene of his honours might also bear testimony to his punishment. 9 Bomilcar, however, bore the cruelty of his countrymen with such fortitude, that from his cross, as if he had been on a judgment-seat, he inveighed against the injustice of the Carthaginians, 10 upbraiding them sometimes with " having cut off Hanno, on a false charge of aspiring to sovereignty; " sometimes with " having banished the innocent Gisco;" and sometimes with " having secretly condemned his uncle Hamilcar, merely because he wished to make Agathocles their ally rather than their enemy." 11 After uttering these charges with a loud voice, in a numerous assembly of the people, he expired.
[22.8] Agathocles, meanwhile, having overcome all opposition in Africa, left the command of his army to his son Archagathus, and went back to Sicily, thinking that all he had done in Africa was as nothing, if Syracuse was still to be besieged; 2 for after the death of Hamilcar the son of Gisco, a fresh army had been sent thither by the Carthaginians. 3 Immediately on his arrival, all the cities of Sicily, having previously heard of his achievements in Africa, unanimously submitted to him; and being thus enabled to drive the Carthaginians from Sicily, he made himself master of the whole island. 4 Returning afterwards to Africa, he was received by his army in a state of mutiny; for the discharge of their arrears of pay had been deferred by the son till the arrival of his father. 5 Summoning them, therefore, to a general assembly, he proceeded to pacify them with soothing words, saying that " pay was not to be asked of him, but to be taken from the enemy; that they must gain a common victory, and common spoil; 6 and that they must continue to support him for a short time, till what remained of the war was finished, as they were certain that the capture of Carthage would satisfy all their desires." 7 The mutiny being thus allayed, he led the army, after an interval of some days, against the camp of the enemy, but commencing an engagement too rashly, lost the greater part of his force. 8 Retreating to his camp, therefore, and finding the odium of his rash engagement affecting his character, and dreading, at the same time, a revival of the former murmurs at his failure in paying the arrears, he fled from his camp at midnight, attended only by his son Archagathus. 9 When the soldiers heard of his departure, they were in no less consternation than if they had been captured by the enemy, exclaiming that " they had been twice deserted by their leader in the midst of the enemy's country, and that the care of their lives had been abandoned by him by whom not even their burial should have been neglected." 10 As they were going to pursue Agathocles, they were met by some Numidians, and returned to the camp, but not without having seized and brought back Archagathus, who, through mistaking his way in the night, had been separated from his father. 11 Agathocles, with the ships in which he had returned from Sicily, and the men that he had left to guard them, arrived safe at Syracuse; affording a signal instance of dishonourable conduct, 12 a prince deserting his army, and a father abandoning his children. 13 In Africa, meanwhile, after the flight of Agathocles, his soldiers, making a capitulation with the enemy, and putting to death the sons of Agathocles, surrendered themselves to the Carthaginians. 14 Archagathus, when he was going to be killed by Arcesilaus, a former friend of his father, asked him " what he thought Agathocles would do to the children of him by whom he was rendered childless?" Arcesilaus replied, that " he felt no concern, since he knew that his children would certainly survive those of Agathocles." 15 Some time after, the Carthaginians sent new commanders into Sicily, to terminate what remained of the war there, and Agathocles made peace with them on equal terms.
[23.1] Agathocles, sovereign of Sicily, having concluded a peace with the Carthaginians, reduced, by force of arms, a part of the cities which, presuming upon their strength, had thrown off their allegiance to him. 2 Then, as if he were confined within too narrow limits in an island (a part of the dominion of which, even when he first began to rise, he could scarcely have hoped to obtain), he proceeded, after the example of Dionysius, who had subdued many cities of Italy, to cross over into that country. 3 His first enemies there were the Bruttii, who, at that period, seem to have been the bravest and most powerful people of the country, and to have been extremely ready to attack their neighbours; 4 for they had driven the inhabitants of many of the Greek cities from Italy, 5 and had conquered in war the Lucanians their founders, and made peace with them on equal terms; 6 such being the fierceness of their nature, that they had no respect even for those to whom they owed their origin. 7 The Lucanians were accustomed to breed up their children with the same kind of education as the Spartans; 8 for, from their earliest boyhood, they were kept in the wilds among the shepherds, without any slaves to attend them, and even without clothes to wear or to sleep upon, that, from their first years, they might be accustomed to hardiness and spare diet; having no intercourse with the city. 9 Their food was what they took in hunting, and their drink milk or water. Thus were they prepared for the toils of war.
10 Fifty of these people, who, at first, used to plunder the lands of their neighbours, but who, as numbers flocked to join them, increased in strength, and were tempted by hopes of greater booty, disturbed the whole of the neighbouring country; 11 and Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, being wearied with complaints from his allies, had sent six hundred Africans to put a stop to their ravages. 12 But the marauders, having seized a fort which the Africans had built, and which was betrayed into their hands by a woman named Bruttia, proceeded to build a city there for the shepherds, who, at the report of a new settlement, came in numbers to join them; and, from the name of the woman, they called themselves Bruttii. 13 Their first war was with the Lucanians, from whom they sprung. 14 Encouraged by a victory over them, and making peace on equal terms, they subdued the rest of their neighbours by force of arms, and acquired, in a short time, such extraordinary strength, that they were thought formidable even by princes. 15 After some time, Alexander, king of Epirus, coming into Italy with a great army to the aid of the Greek cities, was cut off by them with all his force; 16 and their natural fierceness, increased by this success, was for a long time terrible to all around them. 17 At last Agathocles, being importuned to come over, set sail, with the hope of enlarging his dominions, from Sicily to Italy.
[23.2] At the first news of his arrival, the Bruttii, alarmed at his name, sent ambassadors to solicit alliance and friendship with him. 2 Agathocles, inviting them to an entertainment, that they might not see his army shipped over, and appointing the next day for giving them audience, went off immediately after the banquet in a vessel, and left them in the lurch. 3 But what followed this deceit was unhappy for him; for the violence of a disease which he contracted obliged him a few days after to return to Sicily. 4 Being affected by the distemper through his whole body, and a pestilential humour spreading through all his nerves and joints, he was tormented, as it were, by an intestine war among all his members. 5 As his life was despaired of, a contention arose between his son and grandson, each claiming the right of succession to his power as if he were already dead; and the grandson, after killing the son, got possession of the supreme dignity. 6 Agathocles, therefore, when the pain of his disease and his anxiety of mind were grown intolerable, the one being increased by the severity of the other, resolved on embarking his wife Texena, and two infant sons that he had by her, with all his treasure, and servants, and regal furniture (in which no king at that time was richer), and sending her back to Egypt, from whence he had received her, fearing that they would find the usurper of his power their enemy. 7 His wife, however, long entreated that she might not be separated from her sick husband, that the affliction of her departure might not be added to the atrocities of his grandson, and that she might not be made to appear as cruel in forsaking her husband as he in attacking his grandfather; 8 saying that, " by marrying him, she not only engaged to share his good fortune, but all his fortune ; nor would she unwillingly purchase, with the hazard of her own life, the privilege of receiving her husband's last breath, and of performing, with all the care of conjugal duty and affection, the last offices at his funeral; which, when she was gone, no one would take upon himself to discharge." 9 The little children, at parting, embraced and clung to their father with doleful lamentations; while the wife, who was to see her husband no more, could not desist from kissing him. Nor were the tears of the old man less moving; the children wept for their dying father, the father for his banished children. 10 They bewailed the forlorn condition of their parent, a sick old man; he lamented that his offspring, born to the prospect of a throne, should be left in want. 11 At the same time the whole palace resounded with the cries of those who were witnesses to so cruel a separation. The necessity for departure, however, at length put a stop to their weeping, and the death of the prince followed the leave-taking of his children. 13 During these occurrences, the Carthaginians, learning the state of affairs in Sicily, and thinking that an opportunity was afforded them of securing the whole island, crossed over to it with a great force, and reduced several cities.
[23.3] At this time, too, Pyrrhus was engaged in a war with the Romans, 2 and, being entreated by the Sicilians, as has been said, to come to their assistance, and crossing, in consequence, over to Syracuse, and taking several cities, received the title of king of Sicily as well as of Epirus. 3 Elated by this success, he destined for his son Helenus the kingdom of Sicily, as an inheritance from his grandfather (for he was the son of Agathocles's daughter), and to Alexander that of Italy. 4 He then fought many successful battles with the Carthaginians; 5 but, after a time, ambassadors came to him from his Italian allies, announcing that they could no longer withstand the Romans, and that, unless he gave them assistance, they must submit." 6 Alarmed at this danger from another quarter, and uncertain what to do, or whither first to direct his efforts, he took time, while he was in suspense between the two, for consideration. 7 As the Carthaginians threatened him on one side, and the Romans on the other, it seemed hazardous not to transport a force into Italy, and more hazardous to withdraw troops from Sicily, lest the one should be lost by not receiving assistance, or the other by being deserted. 8 In this conflict of perils, the safer determination seemed to be, to bring the struggle to an end, by exerting his utmost strength in Sicily, and then, after having subdued the Carthaginians, to carry his victorious army into Italy. 9 He therefore fought a battle; but, though he had the advantage, yet, as he quitted Sicily, he seemed to flee as one defeated; 10 and his allies, in consequence, revolted from him, and he lost his dominion in Sicily as speedily and easily as he had obtained it.
11 Experiencing no better success in Italy, he returned to Epirus. His fortune, indeed, good and bad, was wonderful for the examples which it gave of both. 12 For as, at first, his good fortune, when his attempts succeeded even beyond his wishes, had procured him empire in Italy and Sicily, and so many victories over the Romans; so now his adverse fortune, overthrowing all that he had raised, as if to afford an illustration of human instability, added to his failure in Sicily the destruction of his fleet at sea, loss of honour in a battle with the Romans, and an ignominious retreat out of Italy.
[23.4] When Pyrrhus had withdrawn from Sicily, Hieron was made governor of it; 2 and such was the prudence he displayed in his office, that, by the unanimous consent of all the cities, he was first made general against the Carthaginians, and soon after king. 3 The fortune of Hieron, in his infancy, had been as it were a presage of his future dignity. 4 He was the son or Hierocles, a man of high rank, whose descent was traced from Gelon an ancient prince of Sicily. 5 His extraction on the mother's side, however, was so mean as to be even dishonourable; 6 for he was the child of a female slave, and was in consequence exposed by his father as a disgrace to his family. 7 But, when he was thus left destitute of human aid, bees for several days fed him with honey, which was heaped round him as he lay. 8 Hence his father, admonished by a communication from the soothsayers, who signified that sovereign power was foreboded to the infant, took him home again, and brought him up most carefully with the hope that he would attain the promised honour. 9 As he was learning his lesson at school, too, among his equals in age, a wolf, that suddenly appeared in the midst of the boys, snatched from him his book. 10 And when he was grown up, and commencing his first campaign, an eagle settled on his shield, and an owl upon his spear; 11 a prodigy which indicated that he would be prudent in counsel, active in the field, and a king. 12 He fought frequently, moreover, with persons that challenged him, and always gained the victory; 13 and he was presented by king Pyrrhus with many military gifts. 14 The handsomeness of his person was remarkable, and his bodily strength wonderful. 15 He was affable in his address, just in his dealings, moderate in command; so that nothing kingly seemed wanting to him but a kingdom.
[24.1] During the course of these proceedings in Sicily, the kings, Ptolemaeus Ceraunus and Antigonus, quarrelling and going to war with one another in Greece, 2 almost all the cities of that country, under the Spartans as leaders, encouraged as it were by the opportunity thus offered to entertain hopes of recovering their liberty, and sending to each other ambassadors by whom leagues might be formed to unite them, broke out into hostilities; 3 and, that they might not seem to commence war with Antigonus, under whose dominion they were, they attacked his allies the Aetolians, 4 making it a pretext for war with them, that they had taken possession of the Cirrhrean plain, which by the unanimous consent of Greece had been dedicated to Apollo. 5 For their general in this war they selected Areus, who, drawing together an army, laid waste the towns and corn-fields lying in the plain, and burnt whatever he was unable to carry off. 6 When the shepherds of the Aetolians beheld this destruction from their mountains, about five hundred of them assembling together, attacked the enemy as they were dispersed, and knew not what was the number of their assailants (for the sudden alarm, and the smoke of the fires, prevented them from ascertaining), and having killed about nine thousand of the depredators, put the rest to flight. 7 And when the Spartans afterwards renewed the war, many of the states refused them their support, thinking that they sought dominion for themselves, and not liberty for Greece.
8 In the meantime the war between the princes that contended for the throne of Macedonia was concluded, for Ptolemaeus, having routed Antigonus and made himself master of the whole country, arranged a peace with Antiochus, and contracted an affinity with Pyrrhus by giving him his daughter in marriage.
[24.2] Having thus freed himself from the fear of foreign enemies, he turned his impious and unprincipled mind to the perpetration of wickedness at home, and contrived a plot against his sister Arsinoe, to deprive her sons of life, and herself of the possession of the city of Cassandreia. 2 His first stratagem was to pretend love to his sister, and to seek her hand in marriage, for he was unable to come at his sister's sons, whose throne he had usurped, otherwise than by counterfeiting affection for their mother. 3 But the criminal intentions of Ptolemaeus were understood by his sister. 4 As she expressed distrust of him, therefore, he assured her that " he wished to share the kingdom with her children, against whom he had not taken arms because he wished to wrest the kingdom from them, but that he might have it in his power to present them with a portion of it. 5 She might therefore send a person to receive an oath from him, in whose presence he would bind himself, before the gods of their country, by whatever execrations she pleased." 6 Arsinoe, not knowing what to do, was afraid that if she sent any one, she would be deceived by a false oath, and that, if she did not send, she would provoke her brother's fury and cruelty. 7 Fearing, therefore, less for herself than her children, whom she thought she might protect by the marriage, she sent Dion, one of her friends, to him. 8 Ptolemaeus, after conducting him into the most sacred temple of Jupiter, held in high veneration from of old among the Macedonians, took hold of the altar, and, touching the images and couches of the gods, 9 vowed, with unheard-of and most solemn imprecations, that " he sought a marriage with his sister in true sincerity, and that he would give her the title of Queen, nor would, to her dishonour, have any other wife, or any other children than her sons." 10 Arsinoe, being thus filled with hope, and relieved from apprehensions, held a conference with her brother in person, and as his looks and flattering glances promised no less sincerity than his oath, she agreed to marry him, though her son Lysimachus exclaimed that " there was treachery at the bottom."
[24.3] The nuptials were celebrated with great magnificence and general rejoicings. 2 Ptolemaeus, before the assembled army, placed a diadem on his sister's head, and saluted her with the title of Queen. 3 Arsinoe, overjoyed at the name, as having regained what she had lost by the death of Lysimachus her former husband, invited Ptolemaeus to her city Cassandreia; to get possession of which city the plot was laid. 4 Going thither before her husband, she appointed a festival in the city against his arrival, ordering the houses, temples, and all other places, to be magnificently decorated, altars and victims to be everywhere kept in readiness, 5 and her sons, Lysimachus who was sixteen years old, and Philippus three years younger, both remarkable for their comeliness, to go to meet him with crowns on their heads. 6 Ptolemaeus, to conceal his treachery, caressing them with eagerness, and beyond the warmth of real affection, persisted for a long time in kissing them. 7 But as soon as he arrived at the gate, he ordered the citadel to be seized, and the boys to be slain. They, fleeing to their mother, were slain upon her lap, as she was embracing them; 8 while Arsinoe exclaimed, " What monstrous clime had she committed, either in marrying or since her marriage ?" She several times offered herself to the assassins in the room of her children, and, embracing them, covered their bodies with her own, endeavouring to receive the wounds intended for them. 9 At last, deprived even of the dead bodies of her sons, she was dragged out of the city, with her garments torn and her hair dishevelled, and with only two attendants, and went to live in exile in Samothrace; sorrowing the more, that she was not allowed to die with her children. 10 But the crimes of Ptolemaeus were not unpunished; for soon after (the immortal gods inflicting vengeance on him for so many perjuries, and such cruel murders), he was driven from his throne and taken prisoner by the Gauls, and lost his life, as he had merited, by the sword.
[24.4] The Gauls, when the land that had produced them was unable, from their excessive increase of population, to contain them, sent out three hundred thousand men, as a sacred spring, to seek new settlements. 2 Of these adventurers part settled in Italy, and took and burnt the city of Rome; 3 and part penetrated into the remotest parts of Illyricum under the direction of a flight of birds (for the Gauls are skilled in augury beyond other nations) making their way amidst great slaughter of the barbarous tribes, and fixed their abode in Pannonia. 4 They were a savage, bold, and warlike nation, and were the first after Hercules (to whom that undertaking procured great admiration for his valour, and a belief in his immortality), to pass the unconquered heights of the Alps, and places uninhabitable from excess of cold. 5 After having subdued the Pannonians, they carried on various wars with their neighbours for many years. 6 Success encouraging them, they betook themselves, in separate bands, some to Greece, and some to Macedonia, laying waste all before them with the sword. 7 Such indeed was the terror of the Gallic name, that even kings, before they were attacked, purchased peace from them with large sums of money. 8 Ptolemaeus alone, the king of Macedonia, heard of the approach of the Gauls without alarm, and, hurried on by the madness that distracted him for his unnatural crimes, went out to meet them with a few undisciplined troops, as if wars could be dispatched with as little difficulty as murders. 9 An embassy from the Dardanians, offering him twenty thousand armed men, for his assistance, he spurned, adding insulting language, and saying that "the Macedonians were in a sad condition if, after having subdued the whole east without assistance, they now required aid from the Dardanians to defend their country; 10 and that he had for soldiers the sons of those who had served under Alexander the Great, and had been victorious throughout the world." 11 This answer being repeated to the Dardanian prince, he observed that " the famous kingdom of Macedonia would soon fall a sacrifice to the rashness of a raw youth."
[24.5] The Gauls, under the command of Belgius, sent deputies to Ptolemaeus to sound the disposition of the Macedonians, offering him peace if he liked to purchase it; 2 but Ptolemaeus boasted to his courtiers that the Gauls sued for peace from fear of war. 3 Nor was his manner less vaunting before the ambassadors than before his own adherents, saying that " he would grant peace only on condition that they would give their chiefs as hostages, and deliver up their arms; for he would put no trust in them until they were disarmed." 4 The deputies bringing back this answer, the Gauls laughed, and exclaimed throughout their camp, that " he would soon see whether they had offered peace from regard for themselves or for him." 5 Some days after a battle was fought, and the Macedonians were defeated and cut to pieces. 6 Ptolemaeus, after receiving several wounds, was taken, and his head, cut off and stuck on a lance, was carried round the whole army to strike terror into the enemy. 7 Flight saved a few of the Macedonians; the rest were either taken or slain.
8 When the news of this event was spread through all Macedonia, the gates of the city were shut, and all places filled with mourning. 9 Sometimes they lamented their bereavement, from the loss of their children; sometimes they were seized with dread, lest their cities should be destroyed; and at other times they called on the names of their kings, Alexander and Philippus, as deities, to protect them; 10 saying that " under them they were not only secure, but conquerors of the world;" 11 and begging that "they would guard their country, whose fame they had raised to heaven by the glory of their exploits, and give assistance to the afflicted, whom the insanity and rashness of Ptolemaeus had ruined." 12 While all were thus in despair, Sosthenes, one of the Macedonian chiefs, thinking that nothing would be effected by prayers, assembled such as were of age for war, repulsed the Gauls in the midst of their exultation at their victory, and saved Macedonia from devastation. 13 For these great services, he, though of humble extraction, was chosen before many nobles that aspired to the throne of Macedonia. 14 But though he was saluted as king by the army, he made the soldiers take an oath to him, not as king, but as general.
[24.6] In the meantime Brennus, under whose command a part of the Gauls had made an irruption into Greece, having heard of the success of their countrymen, who, under the leadership of Belgius, had defeated the Macedonians, and being indignant that so rich a booty, consisting of the spoils of the east, had been so lightly abandoned, assembled an army of a hundred and fifty thousand foot and fifteen thousand horse, and suddenly invaded Macedonia. 2 As he was laying waste the fields and villages, Sosthenes met him with his army of Macedonians in full array, but being few in number, and in some consternation, they were easily overcome by the more numerous and powerful Gauls; 3 and the defeated Macedonians retiring within the walls of their cities, the victorious Brennus, meeting with no opposition, ravaged the lands throughout the whole of Macedonia. 4 Soon after, as if the spoils of mortals were too mean for him, he turned his thoughts to the temples of the immortal gods, saying, with a profane jest, that " the gods, being rich, ought to be liberal to men." 5 He suddenly, therefore, directed his march towards Delphi, regarding plunder more than religion, and caring for gold more than for the wrath of the deities, " who," he said, " stood in no need of riches, as being accustomed rather to bestow them on mortals."
6 The temple of Apollo at Delphi is situated on Mount Parnassus, on a rock steep on all sides. A concourse of people, who, collecting from the parts around, through veneration for the majesty of the god, settled on the rock, formed a city there. 7 Thus, not walls, but precipices, not defences formed by the hand, but by nature, protect the temple and the city; so that it is utterly uncertain whether the strength of the place, or the influence of the deity residing in it, attracts more admiration. 8 The central part of the rock falls back in the shape of an amphitheatre; and, in consequence, if ever shouts are raised, or if the noise of trumpets is mingled with them, the sound, from the rocks echoing and re-echoing to one another, is heard many times repeated, and louder than it was made at first. This effect, on those who are ignorant of its cause, and are struck with wonder at it, produces a greater awe of the power of the god. 9 In the winding of the rock, about half way up the hill, there is a small plain, and in it a deep fissure in the ground, which is open for giving oracles; for a cold exhalation, driven upwards by some force, as it were by a wind, produces in the minds of the priestesses a certain madness, and compels them, filled with the influence of the god, to give answers to such as consult them. 10 Hence many rich presents of kings and nations are to be seen there, which, by their magnificence, testify the grateful feelings of those that have paid their vows, and their belief in the oracles given by the deity.
[24.7] Brennus, when he came within sight of the temple, deliberated for some time, whether he should at once make an attempt upon it, or should allow his soldiers, wearied with their march, a night to refresh themselves. 2 The captains of the Aenianians and Thessalians, who had joined him for a share in the booty, advised that " no delay should be made," while the enemy were unprovided for defence, and the alarm at their coming still fresh; 3 that in the interval of a night, the courage of the enemy would perhaps revive, and assistance come to them; and that the approaches, which were now open, might be blocked up." 4 But the common soldiers, when, after a long endurance of scarcity, they found a country abounding with wine and other provisions, had dispersed themselves over the fields, rejoicing as much at the plenty as if they had gained a victory, 5 and leaving their standards deserted, wandered about to seize on everything like conquerors. This conduct gave some respite to the Delphians. 6 At the first report that the Gauls were approaching, the countrypeople are said to have been prohibited by the oracle from carrying away their corn and wine from their houses. 7 The salutariness of this prohibition was not understood, until, through this abundance of wine and other provisions being thrown in the way of the Gauls, as a stop to their progress, reinforcements from their neighbours had time to collect. 8 The Delphians, accordingly, supported by the strength of their allies, secured their city before the Gauls, who clung to the wine-skins, on which they had seized, could be recalled to their standards. 9 Brennus had sixty-five thousand infantry, selected from his whole army; of the Delphians there were not more than four thousand ; 10 in utter contempt of whom, Brennus, to rouse the courage of his men, pointed to the vast quantity of spoil before them, declaring that the statues, and four-horse chariots, of which a great number were visible at a distance, were made of solid gold, and would prove greater prices when they came to be weighed than they were in appearance.
[24.8] The Gauls, animated by these assertions, and disordered, at the same time, with the wine which they had drunk the day before, rushed to battle without any fear of danger. 2 The Delphians, on the other hand, placing more confidence in the god than in their own strength, resisted the enemy with contempt, and, from the top of the hill, repelled the Gauls as they climbed up, partly with pieces of rock, and partly with their weapons. 3 Amidst this contest between the two, the priests of all the temples, as well as the priestesses themselves, with their hair loose, and with their decorations and fillets, rushed, trembling and frantic, into the front ranks of the combatants, 4 exclaiming that " the god was come; that they had seen him leap down into his temple through the opening roof; 5 that, while they were all humbly imploring aid of the deity, a youth of extraordinary beauty, far above that of mortals, and two armed virgins, coming from the neighbouring temples of Diana and Minerva, met them; 6 that they had not only perceived them with their eyes, but had heard also the sound of a bow and the rattling of arms;" 7 and they therefore conjured them with the strongest entreaties, " not to delay, when the gods were leading them on, to spread slaughter among the enemy, and to share the victory with the powers of heaven." 8 Incited by these exhortations, they all rushed eagerly to the field of battle, 9 where they themselves also soon perceived the presence of the divinity; for a part of the mountain, broken off by an earthquake, overwhelmed a host of the Gauls and some of the densest bodies of the enemy were scattered abroad, not without wounds, and fell to the earth. 10 A tempest then followed, which destroyed, with hail and cold, those that were suffering from bodily injuries. 11 The general Brennus himself, unable to endure the pain of his wounds, ended his life with hi, dagger. 12 The other general, after punishing the advisers of the war, made off from Greece with all expedition, accompanied with ten thousand wounded men. 13 But neither was fortune more favourable to those who fled; for in their terror, they passed no night under shelter, and no day without hardship and danger; 14 and continual rains, snow congealed by the frost, famine, fatigue, and, what was the greatest evil, the constant want of sleep, consumed the wretched remains of the unfortunate army. 15 The nations and people too, through whom they marched, pursued their stragglers, if to spoil them. 16 Hence it happened that, of so great an army which, little before, presuming on its strength, contended even against the gods, not a man was left to be a memorial of its destruction.
Go to following books (25-30)
Attalus' home page | 02.05.13 | Any comments?