Translated by Rev. J.S.Watson (1853). See key to translations for an explanation of the format.
← Previous books (22-24)
[25.1] L After peace was made between the two kings, Antigonus and Antiochus, a new enemy suddenly started up against Antigonus as he was returning to Macedonia. 2 The Gauls, who had been left behind by their general Brennus, when he marched into Greece, to defend the borders of their country, armed fifteen thousand foot and three thousand horse (that they alone might not seem idle), 3 and having routed the forces of the Getae and Triballi, and preparing to invade Macedonia, sent ambassadors to Antigonus to offer him peace if he would pay for it, and to play the part of spies, at the same time, in his camp. 4 Antigonus, with royal munificence, invited them to a banquet, and entertained them with a sumptuous display of luxuries. 5 But the Gauls were so struck with the vast quantity of gold and silver set before them, and so tempted with the richness of such a spoil, that they returned more inclined to war than they had come. 6 The king had also ordered his elephants to be shown them, as monsters unknown to those barbarians, and his ships laden with stores to be displayed; 7 little thinking that he was thus exciting the cupidity of those to seize his treasures, whom he sought to strike with terror by the ostentation of his strength. 8 The ambassadors, returning to their countrymen, and exaggerating every thing excessively, set forth at once the wealth and unsuspiciousness of the king; 9 saying that "his camp was filled with gold and silver, but secured neither by rampart nor trench, and that the Macedonians, as if they had sufficient protection in their wealth, neglected all military duties, 10 apparently thinking that, as they had plenty of gold, they had no use for steel."
[25.2] L By this statement, the desires of a covetous people were sufficiently stimulated to take possession of such spoil. 2 The example of Belgius, too, had its influence with them, who, a little before, had cut to pieces the army of the Macedonians and their king. 3 Being all of one mind, therefore, they attacked the king's camp by night; but he, foreseeing the storm that threatened him, had given notice to his soldiers to remove all their baggage, and to conceal themselves noiselessly in a neighbouring wood; and the camp was only saved because it was deserted. 4 The Gauls, when they found it destitute not only of defenders, but of sentinels, suspecting that there was not a flight, but some stratagem on the part of the enemy, were for some time afraid to enter the gates. 5 At last, leaving the defences entire and untouched, and more like men come to explore than to plunder, they took possession of the camp; 6 and then, carrying off what they found, they directed their course towards the coast. Here, as they were incautiously plundering the vessels, and fearing no attack, they were cut down by the sailors, and a part of the army that had fled thither with their wives and children; 7 and such was the slaughter among them that the report of this victory procured Antigonus peace, not only from the Gauls, but from his other barbarous neighbours.
8 The nation of the Gauls, however, was at that time so prolific, that they filled all Asia as with one swarm. 9 The kings of the east then carried on no wars without a mercenary army of Gauls; nor, if they were driven from their thrones, did they seek protection with any other people than the Gauls. 10 Such indeed was the terror of the Gallic name, and the unvaried good fortune of their arms, that princes thought they could neither maintain their power in security, nor recover it if lost, without the assistance of Gallic valour. 11 Hence, being called by the king of Bithynia to his aid, and having gained him the victory over his enemies, they shared his kingdom with him, and called their part of it Gallograecia.
[25.3] L During these transactions in Asia, Pyrrhus, having been defeated by the Carthaginians in a sea fight on the coast of Sicily, sent ambassadors to Antigonus king of Macedonia, to ask for a supply of troops, 2 saying that, "unless he sent him some, he should be obliged to return to his kingdom, and to seek that enlargement of his dominions from him, which he had wished to gain from the Romans." 3 The ambassadors bringing word that his request was refused, he pretended to be suddenly obliged to depart, but concealed his reasons for doing so. 4 Meanwhile he directed his allies to prepare for war, and committed the citadel of Tarentum to the guardianship of his son Helenus and his friend Milon. 5 Returning to Epirus, he immediately invaded Macedonia; Antigonus met him with an army, but was defeated in battle, and put to flight. 6 Pyrrhus then allowed the Macedonians to surrender on terms; and as if, by the acquisition of Macedonia, he had made up for his loss of Sicily and Italy, he sent for his son and his friend, whom he had left at Tarentum. 7 Antigonus, divesting himself at once of all the marks of royalty, repaired with a few horsemen, that attended him in his flight, to Thessalonica, there to watch what would follow on the loss of his throne, and to renew the war with a hired army of Gauls. 8 But being utterly defeated, a second time, by Ptolemaeus the son of Pyrrhus, he fled with only seven followers, and no longer indulged hopes of recovering his kingdom, but sought only hiding places for safety and solitary ways for flight.
[25.4] L Pyrrhus, being raised to such a height of royal power, and not content with what had once been the object of his wishes, began to contemplate the subjugation of Greece and Asia. 2 He had no greater delight in ruling than in warfare; nor was any power able to withstand him, wheresoever he directed his attack. 3 But irresistible as he was deemed in conquering kingdoms, he also easily lost those which he subdued and acquired, so much better did he manage to gain dominion than to keep it.
4 Having led his army into the Peloponnesus, he was met by embassies from the Athenians, Achaeans, and Messenians; 5 and all Greece, indeed, struck with admiration at his name, and at the glory of his achievements against the Romans and Carthaginians, was eagerly looking for his arrival. 6 His first contest was with the Spartans, in which, being resisted with greater spirit by the women than by the men, he lost his son Ptolemaeus and the flower of his army; 7 for, when he proceeded to attack the city, such a number of women assembled to defend their birth-place, that he retreated, overcome not more by bravery on their part than by shame on his own.
8 As for his son Ptolemaeus, he is said to have been so brave and enterprising that he took the city of Corcyra with only sixty men. In a naval engagement, too, he is reported to have leaped from a boat, with seven men, into a fifty-oared galley, and to have taken and kept possession of it. 9 At the attack on Sparta he rode into the very middle of the city, and was there slain in a crowd that gathered around him. 10 When his body was carried to his father, he exclaimed, it is said, "that he had not been killed as soon as he had feared, or his own rashness deserved."
[25.5] L Pyrrhus, on being repulsed by the Spartans, marched to Argos, where, while he was endeavouring to capture Antigonus, who was shut up in the city, and was fighting furiously among the thickest of the assailants, he was struck with a stone from the walls, and killed. 2 His head was carried to Antigonus, who, using his victory with moderation, sent back his son Helenus, who surrendered to him with several Epirots, into his own country , and gave him the bones of his father, not having yet received the rites of burial, to carry home with him.
3 It is pretty generally stated by authors, that no king, either of that or the former age, was to be compared to Pyrrhus; and that there has seldom been seen, either among princes, or other illustrious men, a man of more upright life or of stricter justice; 4 and that he had such knowledge of the military art, that though he fought against such great princes as Lysimachus, Demetrius, and Antigonus, he was never conquered. 5 In his wars too with the Illyrians, Sicilians, Romans, and Carthaginians, he never came off inferior, but generally victorious; 6 and he rendered his country, which was before but mean and obscure, renowned throughout the world by the fame of his exploits and the glory of his name.
[26.1] L After the death of Pyrrhus, there were great warlike commotions, not only in Macedonia, but in Asia and Greece; 2 for the Peloponnesians were betrayed into the power of Antigonus; 3 and while partly concern, partly exultation, prevailed variously among the inhabitants, as any city had either expected aid from Pyrrhus or conceived apprehensions of him, they either entered into alliance with Antigonus, or, impelled by mutual animosity, plunged into hostilities with one another. 4 Amidst these tumults in the disturbed provinces, the sovereignty over the city of the Epeans was usurped by an eminent man named Aristotimus; 5 and when many of the leading persons had been slain by him, and more driven into banishment, and the Aetolians sent ambassadors to ask him "to give up the wives and children of the exiles," he at first refused, 6 but afterwards, as if relenting, he gave all the married women leave to go to their husbands, and fixed a day for their departure. 7 They, as being about to spend their lives in banishment with their husbands, were going to carry all their most valuable property with them; but, when they assembled at one of the gates of the city, intending to go forth in a body, they were despoiled of all that they had, and confined in the public prison, the infants having been first killed in the arms of their mothers, and the young women carried off for violation. 8 The people being all amazed at such cruel tyranny, Hellanicus, the chief of them, an old man and without children, and consequently having no fear either for life or offspring, assembled the most faithful of his friends in his house, and encouraged them to attempt the delivery of their country. 9 But as they hesitated to remove a public evil at their own private risk, and demanded time for deliberation, Hellanicus, calling for his attendants, ordered the doors to be locked, and a message to be carried to the tyrant, requesting him "to send officers to seize a band of conspirators in Hellanicus's house;" and he told all of them, with reproaches, that "since he could not be the deliverer of his country, he would at least take revenge for the abandonment of its cause." 10 Being thus placed between two perils, they chose the more honourable course, and conspired to kill the tyrant; and thus Aristotimus was cut off in the fifth month after he had usurped the government.
[26.2] L In the meantime Antigonus, being harassed with wars, of varied aspect, from the Spartans and King Ptolemaeus, and perceiving that a new enemy, an army from Gallograecia, was coming upon him, left a few troops as a semblance of a camp, to amuse his other assailants, and proceeded with all the rest of his force against the Gauls; 2 who, becoming aware of his approach, as they were preparing for battle, sacrificed victims to take presages for the event; and as, from the entrails, great slaughter and destruction of them all was portended, they were moved, not to fear, but to fury, and thinking that the anger of the gods might be appeased by the slaughter of their kindred, butchered their wives and children, commencing hostilities with the murder of their own people; 3 for such rage had possessed their savage breasts, that they did not spare even that tender age which an enemy would have spared, but made deadly war on their own children and their children's mothers, in defence of whom wars are wont to be undertaken. 4 As if, therefore, they had purchased life and victory by their barbarity, they rushed, stained as they were with the fresh blood of their relatives, into the field of battle, but with success no better than their auspices: 5 for, as they were fighting, the furies, the avengers of murder, overwhelmed them sooner than the enemy, and the ghosts of the slain rising up before their eyes, they were all cut off with utter destruction. 6 Such was the havoc among them, that the gods seemed to have conspired with men to annihilate an army of murderers.
7 In consequence of the result of this battle, Ptolemaeus and the Spartans, avoiding the victorious army of the enemy, retreated to safer ground; 8 and Antigonus, when he heard of their departure, turned his arms against the Athenians, while the ardour of his men was yet fresh from their recent victory. 9 But during the time that he was thus engaged, Alexander, king of Epirus, longing to avenge the death of his father Pyrrhus, laid waste the frontiers of Macedonia. 10 Antigonus returned from Greece to give him battle, but being deserted by his men, who went over to the enemy, he lost both the throne of Macedonia and his army. 11 His son Demetrius, however, though but a boy, collecting an army in the absence of his father, not only recovered Macedonia, which had been lost, but drove Alexander from the throne of Epirus. 12 Such was the fickleness of the soldiers, or the mutability of fortune, that kings were seen one day in the character of sovereigns, and the next in that of exiles.
[26.3] L Alexander, after fleeing, on his expulsion, to the Acarnanians, was restored to his throne, with not less eagerness on the part of the Epirots than exertion on the part of his allies. 2 About the same time died Magas, king of Cyrene, who, before he fell sick, had betrothed his only daughter Berenice to his brother Ptolemaeus's son, in order to end all disputes with him. 3 But after the death of the king, Arsinoe, the mother of the girl, resolving to break off a marriage which had been contracted against her will, sent for Demetrius, the brother of King Antigonus, from Macedonia, to marry the damsel, and occupy the throne of Cyrene. 4 Nor did Demetrius delay to comply with her wishes. But having speedily arrived, by the aid of a favourable wind, at Cyrene, he began, from the very first, through presuming on his handsome person (with which he had already made too much impression on his mother-in-law), to conduct himself haughtily and overbearingly both to the royal family and the army. He also transferred his desire to please from the daughter to the mother; 5 a fact which was first suspected by the damsel, and at last drew odium upon him from the people and the army. 6 The affections of all, therefore, being set on the son of Ptolemaeus, a conspiracy was formed against Demetrius, and assassins were sent to kill him, when he was gone to bed with his mother-in-law. 7 Arsinoe, hearing the voice of her daughter, standing at the door, and desiring them "to spare her mother," covered her paramour a while with her own person. 8 He was however slain, and Berenice, by his death, both took revenge for the licentiousness of her mother, without violation of her duty to her, and, in choosing a husband, followed the judgment of her father.
[27.1] L On the death of Antiochus, king of Syria, his son Seleucus, succeeding in his stead, commenced his reign with murder in his own family, his mother Laodice, who ought to have restrained him, encouraging him to it. 2 He put to death his step-mother Berenice, the sister of Ptolemaeus, king of Egypt, together with his little brother, her son. 3 By perpetrating this cruelty, he both incurred the stain of infamy, and involved himself in a war with Ptolemaeus. 4 As for Berenice, when she heard that assassins were sent to despatch her, she shut herself up in Daphne; 5 and it being reported throughout the cities of Asia, that she and her little son were besieged there, they all, commiserating her undeserved misfortunes from their recollection of the high character of her father and her ancestors; sent her assistance. 6 Her brother Ptolemaeus, too, alarmed at the danger of his sister, left his kingdom, and hastened to her support with all his forces. 7 But Berenice, before succour could arrive, was surprised by treachery, as she could not be taken by force, and killed. 8 The deed was regarded by every one as an atrocity; and all the cities, in consequence, which had revolted (after having equipped a vast fleet), being suddenly alarmed at this instance of cruelty, and wishing to take revenge for her whom they had meant to defend, gave themselves up to Ptolemaeus, 9 who, if he had not been recalled to Egypt by disturbances at home, would have made himself master of all Seleucus's dominions. 10 Such hatred did an unnatural crime bring upon Seleucus; or so much good feeling did the death of a sister, dishonourably killed, excite in behalf of Ptolemaeus!
[27.2] L After the departure of Ptolemaeus, Seleucus, having prepared a great fleet against the cities that had revolted, lost it in a storm that suddenly arose, as if the gods themselves had taken vengeance on him for his murder; 2 nor did fortune leave him anything, of all his mighty armament, except his body and life, and a few companions amid the wreck. 3 It was indeed a lamentable occurrence, and yet such as Seleucus might have desired; for the cities, which from hatred to him had gone over to Ptolemaeus, being moved, by a sudden change in their feelings, to compassionate his loss at sea (as if, in the judgment of the gods, satisfaction had been made them), put themselves again under his government. 4 Rejoiced at his misfortune, therefore, and enriched by his loss, he made war upon Ptolemaeus, as being now a match for him in strength; 5 but as though he had been born only for a sport to fortune, and had received the power of a king only to lose it, he was defeated in a battle, and fled in trepidation to Antioch, not much better attended than after his shipwreck. 6 From this place he despatched a letter to his brother Antiochus, in which he implored his aid, and offered him that part of Asia within Mount Taurus, as a recompense for his services. 7 But Antiochus, though he was but fourteen years old, yet, being greedy of dominion beyond his years, caught at the opportunity, not with the kindly feeling with which it was offered, but, like a robber, desiring to take the whole kingdom from his brother, assumed, boy as he was, a manly and unprincipled audacity. 8 Hence he was called Hierax, because, in taking away the possessions of others, he conducted himself, not like a man, but like a bird of prey.
9 Ptolemaeus Euergetes, in the meantime, learning that Antiochus was coming to the aid of Seleucus, and not wishing to have to contend with two enemies at once, made peace with Seleucus for ten years. 10 But the peace that was granted Seleucus by his enemy, was broken by his own brother, who, having hired an army of Gauls, brought hostilities instead of succour, and showed himself, though he had been implored for aid, an enemy instead of a brother. 11 In the battle that followed Antiochus was victor, indeed, through the prowess of the Gauls; but they, thinking that Seleucus had fallen on the field, began to turn their arms against Antiochus himself, in the hope of ravaging Asia with greater freedom, if they destroyed the whole royal family. 12 Antiochus, seeing their design, purchased peace from them, as from robbers, with a sum of money, and formed an alliance with his own mercenaries.
[27.3] L Meanwhile Eumenes, king of Bithynia, when the brothers were divided and exhausted by civil war, attacked both the victorious Antiochus and the Gauls, as if he intended to take possession of Asia while it was left without a master. 2 Nor did he find any difficulty in overthrowing them, as they were weakened by their previous conflicts, and he himself was fresh and vigorous. 3 At that period, indeed, every war was intended for the reduction of Asia; whoever was stronger than his neighbours was ready to seize on Asia for his prey. 4 The brothers, Seleucus and Antiochus, went to war for the sovereignty of Asia; Ptolemaeus, king of Egypt, under pretext of avenging his sister, was eager to secure Asia. 5 On the one side Eumenes of Bithynia, on the other the Gauls (an army of mercenaries always ready to support the weaker), laid waste Asia, while no one, among so many robbers, was found to be its protector.
6 When Antiochus was overthrown, and Eumenes had possessed himself of the greater part of the country, the two brothers, though the prize for which they had fought was lost, could not even then come to an agreement, but, leaving their foreign enemies unmolested, continued the war for the destruction of each other. 7 Antiochus, being again defeated, and exhausted with a flight of many days' continuance, arrived at last at the palace of Artamenes, his father-in-law, king of Cappadocia. 8 Being kindly received by him at first, but learning, after some days, that treacherous designs were forming against him, he sought safety by again taking to flight. 9 When he was thus a fugitive, and found nowhere a place of security, he betook himself to his enemy Ptolemaeus, whose faith he thought more to be trusted than that of his brother, whether he reflected on what he would have done to his brother, or what he had deserved from him. 10 But Ptolemaeus, not more friendly to him when he came to surrender, than when he had been an open foe, ordered that he should be kept in the closest confinement. 11 From hence however he escaped, eluding his keepers by the aid of a courtesan, with whom he had been familiar, and was slain in his flight by some robbers. 12 Seleucus too, about the same time, lost his kingdom, and was killed by a fall from his horse. Thus these two brothers, as if brothers also in fate, both became exiles; and both, after losing their dominions, died a death merited by their crimes.
[28.1] L When Olympias, daughter of Pyrrhus king of Epirus, had lost her husband Alexander, who was also her brother, she took upon herself the guardianship of her sons Pyrrhus and Ptolemaeus, whom she had by him, and the administration of the kingdom; and finding that the Aetolians wanted to take from her a part of Acarnania, which the father of the boys had received as a recompense for assisting them in war, she addressed herself to Demetrius king of Macedonia, 2 and gave him her daughter Phthia in marriage (though he was already united to a sister of Antiochus king of Syria), that she might secure by right of relationship the assistance which she could not obtain from his compassion. 3 A marriage was accordingly solemnized, by which Demetrius gained the love of a new wife, and the hatred of his former one; 4 who, as if divorced, went off to her brother Antiochus, and excited him to make war upon her husband.
5 The Acarnanians also, fearing to trust for support to the Epirots, requested of the Romans assistance against the Aetolians, and prevailed on the senate to send ambassadors 6 to order the Aetolians "to withdraw their garrisons from the cities of Acarnania, and allow those to be free, who alone, of all the people of Greece, had not contributed aid to the Greeks against the Trojans, the authors of the Roman race."
[28.2] L But the Aetolians listened to the embassy of the Romans with haughtiness, upbraiding them with their fortune against the Carthaginians and Gauls, by whom they had been fearfully slaughtered in so many wars, 2 and saying that "their gates, which the terror of the Punic war had closed, should be opened to meet the Carthaginians, before their arms were brought into Greece." 3 They then desired them to remember, who they were that threatened, and whom they threatened. 4 That the Romans had not been able to defend their city against the Gauls; and, when it was taken, had recovered it, not by the sword, but with gold; 5 but that when that people entered Greece, in considerably greater numbers, they themselves had utterly destroyed them, not only without the assistance of any foreign power, but without even calling into action the whole of their own force, and had made that a place for their graves which they had intended for the seat of their cities and empire; 6 while Italy, on the other hand, when the Romans were still trembling at the recent burning of their city, was almost entirely occupied by the Gauls. 7 That they should therefore have expelled the Gauls from Italy before they threatened the Aetolians, and have defended their own possessions before they sought those of others. And what sort of men were the Romans? 8 mere shepherds, who occupied a territory wrested from its lawful owners by robbery ; 9 who, when they were unable to procure wives, from the baseness of their origin, seized them by open force; 10 who, moreover, had founded their very city in fratricide, and sprinkled the foundation of their walls with the blood of their king's brother. 11 But that the Aetolians had always been the chief people of Greece, and, as they surpassed others in dignity, excelled them also in bravery; 12 that they were the only nation who had always despised the Macedonians, even when flourishing in possession of the empire of the world; who had felt no dread of king Philippus, and who had spurned the edicts of Alexander the Great, after he had conquered the Persians and Indians, and when all trembled at his name. 13 That they therefore advised the Romans to be content with their present fortune, and not provoke the arms by which they knew that the Gauls had been cut to pieces, and the Macedonians set at nought." 14 They thus dismissed the Roman embassy, and, that they might not seem to speak more boldly than they acted, laid waste the borders of Epirus and Acarnania.
[28.3] L Olympias had now given up her dominions to her sons, and Ptolemaeus had succeeded in the room of his deceased brother Pyrrhus. 2 Ptolemaeus, as he was marching to meet the enemy with his army in array, was seized with a fit of sickness, and died on his route. 3 Olympias too, afflicted with her double bereavement in the death of her sons, and dragging on a suffering existence, did not long survive her offspring. 4 The young princess Nereis, and her sister Laodamia, being then the only survivors of the royal family, 5 Nereis married Gelon, the son of the king of Sicily; and Laodamia, fleeing for refuge to the altar of Diana, was killed in a tumult of the populace; 6 a crime which the immortal gods punished by a series of disasters, and almost the total destruction of the people; 7 for after suffering from barrenness and famine, and being harassed by civil discord, they were at length nearly cut off by foreign wars; 8 and Milon, the assassin of Laodamia, becoming mad, and lacerating his flesh, sometimes with the sword, sometimes with stones, and at last with his teeth, died the twelfth day afterwards.
9 While these things were occurring in Epirus, king Demetrius in Macedonia died, leaving a son named Philippus, quite a child; 10 and Antigonus, being appointed his guardian, and marrying his mother, did his utmost to get himself made king. 11 But some time after, being besieged in the palace by an alarming insurrection of the Macedonians, he walked forth publicly unattended by his guards, 12 and throwing his diadem and purple robe among the mob, bade them "give those to somebody else, who either knew not how to rule them, or whom they knew how to obey; 13 for that he had found regal authority enviable, not for its pleasures, but for its toils and dangers." 14 He then mentioned his own services; "how he had punished the defection of their allies; how he had put down the Dardanians and Thessalians, when they were in exultation at the death of king Demetrius; how he had not only maintained the honour of the Macedonians, but added to it. 15 Yet, if they were displeased at such services, he was ready to resign the government, and to return what they had conferred upon him; and they themselves might look out for a prince whom they could govern." 16 The people, overcome with shame, bade him resume the regal authority; but he refused to do so till the leaders of the insurrection were delivered up to punishment.
[28.4] L After this occurrence he made war upon the Spartans, who were the only people that, during the wars of Philippus and Alexander, had set at nought the power of the Macedonians, and those arms which were dreaded by every other nation. 2 Between these two most remarkable peoples war was prosecuted with the greatest vigour on both sides, the one fighting to support the old glory of the Macedonians, and the other, not only to secure their hitherto unviolated liberty, but even their lives. 3 The Lacedaemonians being worsted, not only the men, but their wives and children, endured their adverse fortune with magnanimity. 4 As no man had shrunk from exposing his life in the field, so no woman wept for her lost husband; the old men extolled the honourable deaths of their sons, and the sons rejoiced over their fathers that were slain in battle; and all who survived lamented their lot, in not having died for the liberty of their country. 5 All received the wounded with open doors, dressed their wounds, and recruited them in their exhaustion. 6 In this condition of affairs, there was no noise or hurry in the city, and everyone lamented the public suffering more than his own private troubles. 7 In the course of these proceedings, king Cleomenes returned, with his whole body wet, after the great slaughter that he had made among the enemy, with his own blood and that of his adversaries, 8 and, entering the city, did not rest himself on the ground, or call for meat or drink, or even relieve himself from the weight of his armour, 9 but leaning against a wall, and finding that only four thousand men survived the battle, exhorted them "to reserve themselves for the better times that would come to their country." 10 He then set out with his wife and children to Egypt to Ptolemaeus, by whom he was honourably received, and lived a long time in the highest esteem with that monarch. 11 After the decease of Ptolemaeus, he was put to death, with all his family, by Ptolemaeus's son.
12 Antigonus, when the Spartans were thus reduced, pitying the distress of so famous a city, prohibited his soldiers from plundering it, and granted pardon to all who survived, 13 observing that "he had engaged in war, not with the Spartans, but with Cleomenes, with whose flight all his resentment was terminated; 14 nor would it be less glory to him, if Sparta should be recorded to have been saved by him by whom alone it had been taken; 15 and that he accordingly spared the ground and buildings of the city, scarcely any inhabitants being left for him to spare." 16 Not long afterwards Antigonus died, and left the throne to his ward Philippus, who was then fourteen years old.
[29.1] L About this time almost all the kingdoms of the world underwent alterations, in consequence of a succession of new princes. 2 In Macedonia, Philippus, on the death of Antigonus his guardian, who was also his father-in-law, assumed the government at the age of fourteen. 3 In Asia, after Seleucus was killed, Antiochus, though still in his minority, was made king. 4 In Cappadocia, the father of Ariarathes, yet a boy, had resigned the sovereignty to him. 5 Of Egypt Ptolemaeus had made himself master, after putting to death his father and mother; from which crime he had afterwards the surname of Philopator. 6 As for the Spartans, they had elected Lycurgus in the room of Cleomenes. 7 And that no changes might be wanting at that period, Hannibal, at a very early age, was appointed general of the Carthaginians, not for want of older men, but because of his hatred to the Romans, with which they knew that he had been imbued from his boyhood; the mischief that he did, however, was not so pernicious to the Romans as to Africa itself. 8 In these youthful rulers, although they had no directors of maturer years, yet, as each was anxious to tread in the steps of his predecessors, great talent and ability appeared. 9 Ptolemaeus was the only exception, who, reckless as he had been in the attainment of power, was equally remiss in the administration of it. 10 As to Philippus, the Dardanians, and all the neighbouring people, who cherished, as it were, an immortal hatred to the kings of the Macedonians, were perpetually molesting him in contempt of his youth. 11 He, on the other hand, after repulsing his enemies, was not content with having defended his own dominions, but manifested the greatest eagerness to make war upon the Aetolians.
[29.2] L While he was meditating this enterprise, Demetrius king of the Illyrians, who had lately been conquered by Aemilius Paulus, the Roman consul, applied to him with earnest entreaties for aid, 2 and complaints of the injustice of the Romans, "who," he said, "not content within the limits of Italy, but grasping, with presumptuous hopes, at the empire of the whole world, made war upon all kings. 3 Thus, aspiring to the dominion of Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain, and finally to that of all Africa, they had engaged in a war with the Carthaginians and Hannibal; 4 and that hostilities had been directed against himself too, for no other reason than that he appeared to lie near Italy, as if it were unlawful for any king to be on the borders of their empire. 5 And that Philippus also himself must take warning by his case, since the nearer and more valuable his kingdom, the more determined enemies would he find the Romans to be." 6 In addition, he said, that "he would give up his kingdom, which the Romans had seized, to Philippus himself, as he should be better pleased to see his ally, rather than his enemies, in possession of his dominions." 7 With such representations as these, he prevailed upon Philippus to lay aside his designs on the Aetolians, and to make war upon the Romans; Philippus supposing that there would be the less difficulty in the undertaking, as he had heard that they had already been beaten by Hannibal at the lake Trasimenus. 8 Not to be distracted, therefore, with more than one war at the same time, he concluded a peace with the Aetolians, not as if intending to carry war elsewhere, but as if he wished to promote the tranquillity of Greece, "which," he asserted, "had never been in greater danger, 9 as the new empires of the Carthaginians and Romans were rising in the west, who forbore from attacking Greece and Asia only till they should decide their dispute for the sovereignty by the sword, when the superior power of the two would immediately invade the east.
[29.3] L "He contemplated therefore," he said, "that cloud of cruel and sanguinary war which was rising in Italy; he contemplated the storm roaring and thundering from the west, which, to whatever parts of the world the tempest of victory might carry it, would pollute everything with a vast shower of blood. 2 That Greece had frequently felt great disturbances at one time from the wars of the Persians, at another from those of the Gauls, at another from those of the Macedonians, but that they would think all those to have been but trifling, if the force, which was now collecting in Italy, should once pour itself forth from that country. 3 He saw what cruel and bloody conflicts those two powers were maintaining with each other, with all the strength of their forces, and all the abilities of their generals; and that such fury could not end with the destruction of one party only, without ruin to the neighbouring people. 4 That the cruel resolutions of the conquerors, it was true, were less to be dreaded by Macedonia than by Greece; for Macedonia was both more remote, and better able to defend itself; 5 but he knew that those who contended with such spirit would not be content with Greece as a limit to their conquests, and that he himself should have to fear a conflict with the party that should get the advantage." 6 Concluding, on this pretext, the war with the Aetolians, and thinking of nothing else but the contest of the Carthaginians and Romans, he carefully weighed the strength of each. 7 But neither did the Romans, with the Carthaginians and Hannibal on their necks, appear free from apprehension of Macedonia; 8 indeed, both the ancient valour of the Macedonians, their glory in having conquered the east, and the character of Philippus, who was fired with the ambition of rivalling Alexander, and whom they knew to be active and eager for the field, gave them sufficient cause for alarm.
[29.4] L Philippus, as soon as he heard that the Romans had been defeated by the Carthaginians in a second battle, openly declared himself their enemy, and began to build ships for transporting an army into Italy. 2 He then sent a deputy to Hannibal with a letter, with the view of forming an alliance with him. 3 This deputy was taken prisoner, and brought before the senate, but released unharmed; not from respect to the king, but that one who appeared still undetermined might not be rendered a decided enemy. 4 But afterwards, when news was brought to the Romans that Philippus was preparing to transport troops into Italy, they despatched the praetor Laevinus, with a well appointed fleet, to hinder him from crossing.
5 Laevinus, sailing over to Greece, prevailed on the Aetolians, by making them numerous promises, to take up arms against Philippus, who, on his side, solicited the Achaeans to go to war with the Romans. 6 Meanwhile the Dardanians began to ravage the country of Macedonia, and, carrying off twenty thousand prisoners, recalled Philippus from his war with the Romans to defend his own territories. 7 At the same time the praetor Laevinus, having made an alliance with king Attalus, proceeded to lay waste Greece; of which the several states, dismayed at such calamities, importuned Philippus with embassies for succour; 8 while the princes of the Illyrians, sticking close to his side, demanded, with constant solicitations, the performance of his promises to them. In addition, the p1undered Macedonians called on him for vengeance. 9 Beset by such and so many difficulties, he was in doubt to what he should first turn his attention; but he promised them an to send them assistance shortly; not that he was able to do what he promised, but in order to keep them, by feeding them with hopes, in the bond of alliance with him. 10 His first expedition, however, was against the Dardanians, who, watching for his absence, were ready to fall on Macedonia with a still heavier force. 11 He made peace, too, with the Romans, who were well content to put off war with Macedonia for a time. He laid a plot, moreover, for the life of Philopoemen, strategus of the Achaeans, who, he understood, was soliciting some of his allies to join the Romans; but Philopoemen, having discovered and escaped the plot, induced the Achaeans, by the influence which he had with them, to abandon Philippus's cause.
[30.1] L While Philippus was intent on great exploits in Macedonia, the conduct of Ptolemaeus in Egypt was of an opposite character; 2 for having got the throne by parricide, and added the murder of his brother to that of both his parents, he resigned himself, as if all had gone happily with him, to the attractions of luxury; and the whole court had followed the manners of their king. 3 Not only his personal friends, and chief officers, but the whole of the army had laid aside military exercises, and grown corrupt and enervated in idleness.
4 Antiochus, king of Syria, when he heard of this state of things, and while the old animosity between the two kingdoms incited him, captured many cities belonging to Ptolemaeus by a sudden attack, and carried his arms into Egypt itself. 5 Ptolemaeus was accordingly in consternation, and endeavoured to retard Antiochus, by sending embassies, until he could get troops in readiness. 6 Having then hired a large army in Greece, he fought a battle with good success, and would have driven Antiochus from his throne, if he had supported his fortune with suitable spirit. 7 But, content with recovering the cities that he had lost, and making peace, he eagerly seized the opportunity of sinking again into sloth, and, returning to his former licentious habits, he put to death his wife Eurydice, who was also his sister, and gave himself up to the caresses of a mistress named Agathocleia; 8 and thus, forgetful of all the greatness of his name and dignity, he passed his nights in wantonness, and his days in the pleasures of the table. 9 As ministrations to his luxury, timbrels and tabors were introduced; and the king, no longer a mere spectator, but a leader of the revels, produced music from stringed instruments himself. 10 Such were at first the secret and latent pests of a tottering court.
[30.2] L Licentiousness subsequently increasing, the audacity of his mistress could no longer be confined within the walls of the palace; 2 for the daily debaucheries of the king, which he shared with her brother Agathocles, a corrupt youth of captivating beauty, rendered her still more shameless. 3 To all this was added, too, the influence of their mother Oenanthe, who, by the charms of her two children, kept the monarch quite enthralled. 4 Not content with enslaving the king, they made themselves rulers of the kingdom; they showed themselves in public places, received salutations, and were followed by a train of attendants. 5 Agathocles, attaching himself closely to the king's side, assumed the administration of the state; women disposed of offices, governments, and commissions; nor had anyone less power in the kingdom than the king himself. 6 In the midst of this state of things the king died, leaving a son, five years old, by his sister Eurydice; but his death, while the women were seizing on the royal treasures, and endeavouring, by forming a confederacy with some desperate characters, to get the government into their own hands, was for a long time kept secret. 7 But the truth becoming known, Agathocles was killed by a rising of the people, and the women nailed on crosses to avenge the death of Eurydice.
8 After the king's decease, and when the infamy of the kingdom was expiated, as it were, by the punishment of the courtezans, the people of Alexandria sent ambassadors to the Romans, requesting them "to take on themselves the guardianship of the orphan, and to defend the kingdom of Egypt, which, they said, Philippus and Antiochus had already portioned out between them by a treaty made for the purpose."
[30.3] L This embassy was acceptable to the Romans, who were seeking a pretence for making war upon Philippus, for having formed designs against them in the time of the Punic war. 2 To this feeling was added the circumstance, that, since the Carthaginians and Hannibal were conquered, there was no one of whose arms they had a greater dread, considering what a commotion Pyrrhus, with but a small force, had excited in Italy, and what exploits the Macedonians had achieved in the east. 3 Ambassadors were accordingly despatched to warn Philippus and Antiochus "to make no attempt upon Egypt." 4 Marcus Lepidus was also sent into Egypt, to govern the orphan's kingdom in the character of guardian. 5 During the course of these proceedings, embassies from king Attalus, and from the Rhodians, arrived at Rome, to complain of injuries that they had suffered from Philippus. These representations removed from the minds of the senate all hesitation about going to war with Macedonia; 6 and forthwith, under pretence of taking the part of their allies, war was declared against Philippus, and some legions, with one of the consuls, were sent off to Macedonia. 7 Not long after, too, the whole of Greece, stimulated by confidence in the Romans, and the hope of recovering their ancient liberty, to rise against Philippus, made war upon him; and thus, being assailed on every side, he was compelled to beg for peace. 8 But when the terms of it were set forth by the Romans, both Attalus and the Rhodians, as well as the Achaeans and Aetolians, began to demand that the places belonging to them should be restored. 9 Philippus, on the other hand, allowed that "he might be induced to submit to the Romans, but that it was intolerable that the Greeks, who had been subdued by his ancestors Philippus and Alexander, and brought under the yoke of the Macedonian empire, should dictate articles of peace to him, as if they were conquerors; and that they ought to give an account of their conduct in their state of slavery, before they sought to recover their liberty." 10 At last, on his request, a truce was allowed for two months, that the peace, on which they could not come to terms in Macedonia, might be obtained from the senate at Rome.
[30.4] L In the same year a concussion of the earth happened between the islands Thera and Therasia, in the midst of the sea at an equal distance from either shore, 2 where, to the astonishment of those that were sailing past, an island rose suddenly from the deep, the water being at the same time hot. 3 In Asia too, on the same day, the same earthquake shattered Rhodes, and many other cities, with a terrible ruin; some it swallowed up entire. 4 As all men were alarmed at this prodigy, the soothsayers predicted that "the rising power of the Romans would swallow up the ancient empire of the Greeks and Macedonians."
5 In the meantime, Philippus, as his terms of peace were rejected by the senate, prevailed on the tyrant Nabis to join him in prosecuting the war. 6 Having then led out his army into the field, he began to encourage his men, while the enemy stood in array on the opposite side, by saying that "the Persians, Bactrians, and Indians, and all Asia to the utmost boundaries of the east, had been subdued by the Macedonians; 7 and that this war was more bravely to be maintained than those which had preceded it, in proportion as liberty was more precious than empire." 8 Flamininus, too, the Roman consul, animated his men to battle by representing what had lately been achieved by the Romans, observing that "Carthage and Sicily on one side, and Italy and Spain on the other, had been thoroughly reduced by Roman valour; 9 and that Hannibal, by whose expulsion from Italy they had become masters of Africa, a third part of the world, was not to be thought inferior to Alexander the Great. 10 Nor were the Macedonians to be estimated by their ancient reputation, but by their present power; 11 for that the Romans were not waging war with Alexander the Great, whom they had heard called invincible, or with his army, which had conquered all the east, 12 but with Philippus, a youth of immature years, who could scarcely defend the frontiers of his dominions against his neighbours, and with those Macedonians who were not long ago a prey to the Dardanians. 13 That they might recount the achievements of their forefathers, but that he could relate those of his own soldiers ; 14 since Hannibal and the Carthaginians, and almost all the west, had not been conquered by any other army, but by those very troops which he had with him in the field." 15 The soldiers on both sides, roused by these exhortations, rushed to the encounter, the one army exulting in their conquest of the east, the other in that of the west; the one carrying to the battle the ancient and fading glory of their ancestors, the other the flower of valour fresh from recent exertions. 16 But the fortune of Rome was superior to that of the Macedonians; 17 and Philippus, exhausted by his efforts in war, and suing for peace from Flamininus, the consul, was allowed to retain indeed the name of king; but, being deprived of all the cities of Greece, as being parts of his dominion beyond the bounds of its ancient territory, he preserved only Macedonia. 18 The Aetolians, however, were displeased, because Macedonia was not taken from the king at their suggestion, and given to themselves as a reward for their service in the war, and sent ambassadors to Antiochus, to induce him, by flattering his greatness, to engage in a war with the Romans, in the hope of securing the alliance of all Greece.
Following books (31-36) →
Attalus' home page | 27.02.14 | Any comments?