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Orosius, Book 4

      Chapters 14-23 :   218 to 146 B.C.  

Adapted from the translation by I.W. Raymond (1936). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each chapter.   


Previous chapters (1-13)

[14] L   In the five hundred and thirty-fourth year after the founding of the City, Hannibal, the Carthaginian commander, first attacked Saguntum, a flourishing city of Spain and a friend of the Roman people. He then laid siege to the city, which endured the tortures of hunger and bore heroically all sufferings, whether deserved or undeserved, in view of the promise its inhabitants had made to the Romans. In the eighth month he finally destroyed it. 2 Acting in a way absolutely contrary to law he also refused an audience to the accredited ambassadors of Rome. 3 As a result of his hatred of the Roman people which he had most solemnly sworn before the altar in the presence of his father Hamilcar when he was nine years old - though in other matters he was the most faithless of men - he crossed the Pyrenees in the consulship of P. Cornelius Scipio and P. Sempronius Longus {218 B.C.}, and by the sword opened a path through the fierce Gallic tribes. After a nine-day journey from the Pyrenees, he came to the Alps. 4 There he defeated the Gallic hillsmen who strove to prevent his ascent and by employing fire and iron he cut a pass through the rocks that blocked his way. He was delayed for four days, but finally by a supreme effort he reached the plains on the fifth day. 5 At that time they say that Hannibal's army did not exceed one hundred thousand infantry and twenty thousand cavalry.

6 The consul Scipio was the first to meet Hannibal. They joined battle at the Ticinus. Scipio himself was severely wounded but he escaped impending death by the help of his son, who was still wearing the toga praetexta and who later bore the cognomen of Africanus. In that battle almost the whole Roman army was cut to pieces. 7 Another battle was fought by the same consul at the river Trebia. Again the Romans were defeated and suffered as great losses as before. When the consul Sempronius learned of the fate of his colleague, he returned from Sicily with his army. In like manner he engaged in battle at the same river, lost his army, and was himself almost the sole survivor. Hannibal was also wounded in this battle. 8 Later in the spring, when Hannibal's army was crossing over into Etruria and was high in the Apennines, it was overtaken by a storm, shut in fast, and so weighted down by the snow that it could not move. For two continuous days both he and his army remained numb from the cold. A great number of men, many beasts of burden, and almost all the elephants died there from exposure to the wintry blasts. 9 But the other Scipio, the brother of the consul Scipio, waged many battles in Spain at this time and succeeded in defeating and capturing Mago, the leader of the Carthaginians.

[15] L   At this time the Romans were also terrified by dreadful prodigies. To give some examples: the sun's disk seemed to be contracted and at Arpi parmae were seen in the sky; the sun also seemed to be fighting with the moon; at Capena two moons arose in the daytime; in Sardinia two shields sweated blood; in the territory of the Faliscans the sky seemed to be rent apart, as it were, by a great fissure; at Antium,when men were harvesting, bloody ears of corn fell into their baskets.

2 Hannibal, knowing that the consul Flaminius {217 B.C.} was alone in his camp, moved forward in the spring and took the more direct road, even though it was marshy. By this manoeuvre he planned to surprise and overthrow him when he was off his guard. The Sarnus happened at that time to have overflowed its banks far and wide and had left its bordering fields in ruin. Concerning this a poet has said:

and the plains which Sarnus waters.   { Vergil, Aeneid, vii. 738 }

3 Hannibal, advancing with his army into this country, lost a large part of his allies and beasts of burden, particularly when the mists, which rose from the swamps, cut off his view. Hannibal himself, seated aloft on the sole surviving elephant, barely managed to avoid the hardships of the march; but as a result of the severe cold, lack of sleep, and the strain of the work, he lost the sight of one of his eyes which had long been diseased.

4 When Hannibal was in the vicinity of the camp of the consul Flaminius, he laid waste the surrounding country in order to provoke him to fight. 5 A battle took place at Lake Trasimene. There the Roman army had the misfortune to be tricked by a stratagem of Hannibal and was completely cut to pieces. The consul himself perished. In that battle it is reported that twenty-five thousand Romans were slain and six thousand captured. Of Hannibal's army, only two thousand fell. 6 This battle at Lake Trasimene was especially notable, not only because of the great disaster suffered by the Romans, but also because the combatants in the tension and heat of the battle were completely unaware of a terrible earthquake. This assumed so violent proportions that, according to reports, it destroyed cities, moved mountains, tore rocks asunder, and forced rivers back in their courses. 7 The battle of Cannae followed the disaster of Trasimene. During the intervening period, however, Fabius Maximus, the dictator, slowed down the attack of Hannibal by his policy of delaying action.

[16] L   In the five hundred and fortieth year of the City, the consuls L. Aemilius Paulus and P. Terentius Varro {216 B.C.} were sent against Hannibal. They had the ill fortune through the impatience of Varro to lose at Cannae, a village of Apulia, almost the entire resources upon which Rome had based her hope. 2 In that battle forty-four thousand Romans were killed, although a great part of Hannibal's army also lost their lives. In no other battle of the Punic War were the Romans so close to annihilation, 3 for in that battle the consul Aemilius Paulus perished, twenty men of consular and praetorian rank were killed, and thirty senators were either captured or killed; three hundred nobles, forty thousand infantry, and thirty-five hundred cavalry also lost their lives. The consul Varro fled to Venusia with five hundred cavalry. 4 Without doubt that would have been the last day of the Roman state had Hannibal after his victory hastened to reach Rome at once. 5 He sent to Carthage, as proof of his victory, three modii of gold rings that he had pulled from the hands of the slain Roman knights and senators.

6 So desperate was the plight of the remaining Romans that the senators thought it necessary to consider a plan of abandoning Italy and seeking new homes. This plan would have been confirmed on the motion of Caecilius Metellus, had not Cornelius Scipio, then military tribune and the same man who was later called Africanus, prevented him with drawn sword and forced him instead to swear to maintain the defence of his country. 7 The Romans, daring to breathe again, and emerging, as it were, from death to the hope of life, chose Decimus Junius dictator. He made a levy of those above seventeen years of age and gathered fifteen legions of immature and untrained soldiery. 8 With a promise of freedom he then induced slaves of proven strength and purpose to take the military oath. Some of these slaves volunteered, but others, when urgently needed, were bought with public money. The arms that were lacking were taken from the temples, and private wealth poured into the impoverished public treasury. The equestrian order as well as the frightened plebeians forgot their own interests and planned for the common welfare. 9 The dictator Junius, resuming an ancient practice of the days of Rome's misery, in order to reinforce the army, decreed that all men subject to punishment for crime or debt should be promised immunity and turned over to the military service - opening for them, as it were, a haven of refuge. Their number amounted to six thousand. 10 Campania, or rather all Italy, in utter despair of restoring Rome to her former position, finally went over to Hannibal's side. 11 After this, the praetor L. Postumius, who was sent to wage war against the Gauls, was destroyed with his army.

12 In the consulship of Sempronius Gracchus and Q. Fabius Maximus, Claudius Marcellus {215 B.C.}, the ex-praetor who had been chosen proconsul, routed the army of Hannibal in a battle.He was the first man, after the great disasters to the Republic, to offer hope that Hannibal could be defeated. 13 In Spain, moreover, the Scipios crushed the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal in a hard-fought battle as he was preparing his army for an invasion of Italy, causing him to lose thirty-five thousand by death or capture. 14 The Romans now bribed some Celtiberian soldiers to leave the enemy and to join them. This was the first occasion when Romans allowed foreign troops to be in their camp. 15 The proconsul Sempronius Gracchus was led into ambush by a Lucanian, his host, and slain. Of his own accord the centurion 16 Centenius Paenula asked for the command of the war against Hannibal; but he, together with the eight thousand troops that he had led to the line of battle, was slain by the Carthaginian leader. 17 Following him, the praetor Cn. Fulvius was defeated by Hannibal and, after losing his army, barely escaped with his life.

18 I am ashamed to recall these things. Of what am I to speak first, the depravity of the Romans or their wretchedness? Nay more truly of their depraved wretchedness or of their wretched depravity? 19 Who would believe that in those days, when the public treasury of the Romans was soliciting trifling contributions from private citizens there was not a single soldier in camp who was not either a boy, a slave, a criminal, or a debtor, that even then the number was insufficient, that the senate in the curia seemed composed almost wholly of new members, and finally that, in the face of all their losses and defeats, despair so overwhelmed them that a plan of abandoning Italy was submitted? 20 And who would believe that at this time when, as we have said, they could not wage even one war at home, they undertook three more wars across the seas: one in Macedonia against Philip, the very powerful king of Macedonia; another in Spain against Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal; a third in Sardinia against the Sardinians and the other Hasdrubal, the Carthaginian general. Besides these wars, they undertook a fourth against Hannibal, who was pressing them hard in Italy. 21 And yet a display of courage, bred of desperation, led to better fortune in every case; for in all these wars it was desperation that made them fight, and fighting that made them victorious. From this it is clearly evident that the times then were not more peaceful for the pursuits of leisure than they are at present, but that the men were braver as a result of their miseries.

[17] L   In the five hundred and forty-third year of the City, Claudius Marcellus took Syracuse, the richest city in Sicily. He barely succeeded in this and then only after a second assault. His earlier attempt to besiege this city had failed, for he had been driven back by machines of remarkable ingenuity made by Archimedes of Syracuse. 2 In the tenth year after his arrival in Italy and during the consulship of Cn. Fulvius and P. Sulpicius {211 B.C.}, Hannibal moved his army from Campania, and as he proceeded through the territory of the Sidicini and Suessani by way of the Via Latina to the Anio River, he slaughtered great numbers of the people. He encamped three miles from the City and terrified all the inhabitants beyond belief. 3 The Senate and the people became panic stricken and were unable to perform their several duties. The women, frantic with anxiety, ran along the fortifications, brought stones to the walls, and excelled all others in eagerness to fight in defence of the walls. 4 Hannibal himself with his light-armed cavalry then advanced in hostile array to the Colline Gate and drew up his entire forces in battle line. The consuls and the proconsul Fulvius did accept the challenge to battle. 5 But just as both battle lines stood ready within plain sight of Rome, which was destined to be the prize of the victor, a hailstorm suddenly burst forth from the clouds with so terrific force that the disorganised lines barely managed to save their arms and reach their camps in safety. 6 Fair weather returned and the troops again took their positions in battle line. A still more violent storm then arose. This inspired an even greater fear and curbed the presumption of mortal men, forcing the terror stricken armies to flee back to their tents. 7 At that time Hannibal was overcome by religious awe. He is reported to have said that on the one occasion he did not desire to take Rome, but that on the other he did not have the power.

8 Let the defamers of the true God answer me at this point. Did Roman bravery or did Divine compassion prevent Hannibal from seizing and overthrowing Rome? Or perhaps those left unharmed are loath to confess that Hannibal became terrified in the hour of victory and proved it by retreating. 9 If it is clear that this Divine protection came from Heaven in the form of rain but that it only rained at the opportune and necessary moment through the intervention of Christ, who is the true God, I think then that this fact is sufficiently well established and cannot be denied. 10 This truth is now completely proved by a further demonstration of His power. During a period of distressing drought, they prayed continuously for rain. In turn the Gentiles and the Christians prayed, but the desired rain fell, as they themselves testified, only on the day when it was agreed that Christ should be the object of their prayers and that Christians should pray. 11 It is therefore beyond dispute that it was the intercession of this same true God, who is Jesus Christ, who governs according to the dictates of His ineffable judgment, that in those days saved the city of Rome, so that it might accept the faith in the future and yet now be partially punished for its unbelief.

12 In Spain, however, both Scipios were killed by Hasdrubal's brother. In Campania, Q. Fulvius, the proconsul, captured Capua. The leaders of the Campanians committed suicide by taking poison and Fulvius put to death the entire senate of Capua despite the order of the Roman senate to spare them. 13 After the death of the Scipios in Spain, action was delayed because everyone was terror stricken. At this juncture, Scipio, though still a young man, volunteered his services. In the meantime the scarcity of money in the public treasury had become a source of shame. 14 On the proposals of Claudius Marcellus and Valerius Laevinus who were consuls at that time {210 B.C.}, all the senators openly brought gold and silver coins to the quaestors at the treasury. Nothing except individual rings and bullae  remained for themselves and for their sons, and for their daughters and wives they left only a single ounce of gold and not more than a single pound of silver.

[18] L   Scipio, when twenty-four years old, was chosen with the rank of proconsul for the command in Spain. He crossed the Pyrenees with his mind bent upon avenging his father and uncle especially. On the first assault he captured New Carthage, where the Carthaginians had much money from tax payments, strong defences, and great stores of gold and silver. There Scipio also captured Mago, the brother of Hannibal, and sent him with others to Rome. 2 The consul Laevinus, returning from Macedonia, took the Sicilian city of Agrigentum by storm and there made a prisoner of Hanno, the African commander. He also accepted the surrender of forty cities and took twenty-six by storm. 3 In Italy, Hannibal killed the proconsul Gnaeus Fulvius, and also eleven tribunes and seventeen thousand soldiers. 4 The consul Marcellus fought with Hannibal continuously for three days. On the first day the battle was drawn and on the following the consul was defeated; but on the third he was victorious and killed eight thousand of the enemy, forcing Hannibal himself and other survivors to flee to their own camp. 5 The consul Fabius Maximus {209 B.C.} stormed Tarentum a second time and captured the city, which had withdrawn from its alliance with Rome. On that occasion he destroyed huge numbers of Hannibal's army and also killed their general Carthalo. He sold thirty thousand of the captives and remitted the proceeds of the sale to the state treasury.

6 In Italy, the following year, the consul Claudius Marcellus {208 B.C.} was slain and his army destroyed by Hannibal. 7 In Spain, however, Scipio defeated the Carthaginian leader Hasdrubal and sacked his camp. In addition Scipio reduced to subjection eighty cities. Some of these cities surrendered while others were taken in battle. He sold the Carthaginians into slavery, but let the Spaniards go without ransom. 8 Meanwhile Hannibal lured both consuls, Marcellus and Crispinus, into ambush and killed them.

9 In the consulship of Claudius Nero and M. Livius Salinator {207 B.C.}, Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, made his way from Spain through the Gallic provinces to Italy. He had been ordered by the Carthaginians to join his forces to his brother's and was bringing with him great bodies of Spanish and Gallic auxiliaries. But when it was reported to the consuls that he had already descended from the Alps by a forced march, the Roman army, anticipating his plans, killed him and destroyed his whole army. Hannibal knew nothing of this disaster. 10 The issue of the battle was long in doubt because the elephants proved very troublesome to the Roman battle line. In the Roman army there were soldiers called velites, so termed from their practice of flying to and fro. 11 This mode of warfare had been developed a short time before. Young men, chosen for their agility, would take weapons and mount horses, seating themselves behind the cavalrymen; as soon as they came in contact with the enemy, after leaping from the horses, they would immediately become real infantrymen and fall upon the enemy; the cavalry, who had brought them, would fight in another part of the battle field. 12 These velites, then, drove back the elephants, and when these beasts got out of the control of their own masters, they finally killed them by driving artificer's knives through their ears. This method of killing elephants, when need arose, was first discovered by this same general Hasdrubal.

13 The Metaurus River, where Hasdrubal was overwhelmed, proved as disastrous to the Carthaginians as Lake Trasimene, the city of Cesena in Picenum, and that famous village of Cannae had been to the Romans. 14 Fifty-eight thousand of Hasdrubal's army were slaughtered there and five thousand four hundred were captured. Among the latter were found four thousand Roman citizens who were repatriated. This was a source of consolation to the victorious consuls, for they themselves had lost eight hundred of their own army. 15 Hasdrubal's head was thrown out in the sight of Hannibal's camp. When Hannibal saw his brother's head, he at once knew that the Carthaginians had met disaster and he himself took refuge among the Bruttians. These events took place thirteen years after his arrival in Italy. 16 Following this period of violence and of war, peace between Hannibal and the Romans seems to have prevailed for a whole year, because there was fever and disease in the camps and a very severe pestilence was taking its toll from both armies.

17 In the meantime, Scipio had reduced all Spain from the Pyrenees to the Ocean to the status of a province. He now returned to Rome and was elected consul along with Licinius Crassus {205 B.C.}. He then crossed to Africa, killed the Punic general Hanno, the son of Hamilcar, and scattered his army, slaughtering part and capturing the remainder. Eleven thousand Carthaginians fell in that battle. 18 Meanwhile the consul Sempronius {204 B.C.} met Hannibal, was defeated, and fled back to Rome. In Africa, Scipio attacked the winter quarters of the Carthaginians and also those of the Numidians, both of which were not far from Utica. In the early hours of the night he set these quarters on fire. 19 The Carthaginians, in their alarm, imagined that the fire had started by accident and ran out to extinguish it. Therefore the Romans, who were armed, easily conquered them. In the two camps forty thousand men met death either by fire or by sword and five thousand were captured. The leaders themselves, in a pitiful condition from their burns, barely escaped. 20 Hasdrubal, the commander, came to Carthage as a fugitive. Then Syphax and Hasdrubal recruited a great army and at once engaged in a second battle with Scipio. They were defeated and fled. 21 Laelius and Masinissa captured Syphax as he was fleeing. The rest of the great army took refuge in Cirta, which, after being stormed, surrendered to Masinissa, who led Syphax, bound in chains, to Scipio. The latter handed him over for safe conduct to Laelius, together with huge spoils and many captives.

[19] L   Hannibal was ordered to return to Africa to give assistance to the worn-out Carthaginians. After killing all soldiers of Italian stock who were unwilling to accompany him, he abandoned Italy, shedding tears as he departed. As the African coast drew near, one of the sailors was ordered to climb a mast and from that vantage point to observe what land they were approaching. He answered that he saw in the distance a ruined sepulchre. Hannibal regarded this report as an ill omen, changed his course, and disembarked his forces at the town of Leptis.

2 While his army was resting, Hannibal proceeded at once to Carthage and there sought a conference with Scipio. On meeting, the two famous generals regarded each other for a long time in wonder and mutual admiration. After they had failed to negotiate peace, they engaged once more in battle. 3 This battle, arranged in advance carefully and with great skill by the commanders, was waged by large masses of troops, and ended with a great display of' spirit on the part of the soldiers. The Romans were victorious. Eighty elephants were captured or killed and twenty thousand five hundred Carthaginians lost their lives. After vainly trying every possible expedient both before and during the conflict, Hannibal with a few men, that is, with only four horsemen, slipped away amid the din of battle and took refuge in Hadrumentum. 4 Later he returned to Carthage, which he had left as a small boy with his father thirty-six years earlier. He persuaded the senate, which was then in session, that their only hope was to make peace.

5 In the consulship of C. Cornelius Lentulus and P. Aelius Paetus {201 B.C.}, through the good offices of Scipio, the Romans granted peace to the Carthaginians by the vote of the senate and of the people. They sailed more than five hundred of their ships out to sea and burned them in sight of the city. 6 Scipio, who now bore the cognomen of Africanus, entered the city in a triumph. Terentius, one of the noble Carthaginian captives and later a comic poet, wore the pilleus - which was a symbol of the liberty granted him - and followed the chariot of the conqueror.

[20] L   In the five hundred and forty-sixth year after the founding of the City, the Second Punic War, which had been waged for seventeen years, came to an end. The Macedonian War followed immediately. Quintius Flamininus was chosen consul {198 B.C.}. After he had defeated the Macedonians in many severe battles, he granted peace to Philip. 2 He then fought against the Lacedaemonians. After defeating their leader Nabis,he led before his chariot Demetrius, the son of Philip, and Armenes, the son of Nabis, who were the noblest of the hostages. 3 The Roman captives, who had been sold throughout Greece by Hannibal, were all restored to freedom and followed the chariot of the conqueror with their heads shaven as a sign of their new liberty. 4 At the same time the Insubres, the Boii, and the Cenomani united their forces under the leadership of the Punic Hamilcar, who had remained in Italy. After laying waste Cremona and Placentia, they were overcome by the praetor L. Furius in a very hard-fought battle. 5 Later the proconsul Flamininus vanquished King Philip in battle  and also the Thracians, Macedonians, and Illyrians, besides many other tribes that had come to their assistance. 6 The Macedonians were defeated and lost their camp. According to Polybius, eight thousand Macedonian soldiers were slain on that day and five thousand were captured. Valerius says that forty thousand were slaughtered; but Claudius tells us that the number was thirty-two thousand.

7 This inconsistency of the historians is certainly an evidence of falsehood. But flattery is surely the cause of their misrepresentation, since they eagerly heap praises upon the victor and extol the virtue of their own country for the edification of present and future generations. Otherwise, if the number had not been investigated, it never would have been spoken of at all. 8 But if it is glorious for a commander and a country to have destroyed so many of the enemy, how much more joyful is it for a country and how much happier for a commander if they have lost none or very few of their men. 9 The intent to deceive becomes absolutely plain, because with like shamelessness they lied by exaggerating the number of the enemy dead while they either minimised the losses suffered among their own allies or kept them entirely secret.

10 Shortly after this battle, Sempronius Tuditanus was crushed in a battle in Hither Spain. He was killed and the entire Roman army was destroyed. 11 The consul Marcellus {196 B.C.} was defeated by the Boii in Etruria and lost a great part of his army. The other consul Furius, however, later brought assistance to him and together they ravaged the entire Boii nation with fire and sword, almost annihilating this people.

12 In the consulship of L. Valerius Flaccus and M. Porcius Cato {195 B.C.}, Antiochus, the king of Syria, prepared for war against the Roman people and crossed from Asia into Europe. 13 At that time also, the Senate ordered Hannibal to be brought to Rome, because rumours were circulating among the Romans that he was stirring up war. Hannibal secretly set out from Africa and went to Antiochus. He met the latter tarrying at Ephesus and urged him to begin war immediately. 14 At that time, too, the law, that no woman should have more than a half ounce of gold, or should wear a coloured garment or use a carriage anywhere in the City, which had been proposed by Oppius, a tribune of the plebs, was repealed after being in force for twenty years.

15 In the second consulship of P. Scipio Africanus and T. Sempronius Longus {194 B.C.}, the Romans slew ten thousand Gauls at Milan. In a later battle eleven thousand Gauls were slain, but only five thousand Romans lost their lives. 16 The praetor Publius Digitius lost almost his entire army in Hither Spain. The praetor M. Fulvius defeated the Celtiberi together with neighbouring peoples and captured their king. 17 Minucius was drawn into a situation of extreme peril by the Ligurians. He was surrounded by enemy ambuscades and barely managed to escape as a result of the activity of the Numidian cavalry. 18 Scipio Africanus with other ambassadors was sent to Antiochus and had a private talk with Hannibal. 19 Peace negotiations failed, however, and Scipio parted from Antiochus. In both Spains, the praetors Flaminius and Fulvius waged wars that brought terror and destruction to each people.

20 During the consulship of P. Cornelius Scipio and M. Acilius Glabrio {191 B.C.}, Antiochus seized the passes of Thermopylae, the fortification of which, in view of the uncertain issue of battle, gave him a greater measure of safety. Nevertheless, when battle began, he was overcome by the consul Glabrio and was barely able to escape with a few men from the battlefield and to reach Ephesus. 21 Antiochus is said to have had sixty thousand troops; of these forty thousand were slain and more than five thousand, according to the report, were captured. Scipio, the other consul, engaged in war with the Boii nation and slew twenty thousand of the enemy in battle.

22 The following year Scipio Africanus and his ally Eumenes, the son of Attalus, engaged in a naval battle against Hannibal, who was then in command of the fleet of Antiochus. Hannibal was defeated, put to flight, and lost his entire army. Antiochus therefore sued for peace. Of his own free will he sent back the son of Africanus, whom he had taken prisoner. It is uncertain whether this son of Africanus was captured while he was scouting or while he was fighting in battle. 23 In Further Spain the proconsul L. Aemilius perished after his whole army had been slaughtered by the Lusitani. 24 L. Baebius, who had set out for Spain, was surrounded by the Ligurians; he and his entire army were destroyed. Since it was certain that not even a messenger had survived this battle, the Massilians took it upon themselves to inform Rome of the disaster.

25 The consul Fulvius {189 B.C.} travelled from Greece to Gallograecia, which is now Galatia, and came to Mount Olympus,on which all the Gallo-Greeks with their wives and children had taken refuge. There they fought a very bitter battle. The Romans suffered serious losses from arrows, leaden balls, rocks, and other missiles sent from the higher ground. Finally, however, they forced their way through to meet the enemy. It is reported that forty thousand Gallo-Greeks lost their lives in that battle. 2 p6 The consul Marcius {186 B.C.} set out against the Ligurians, was defeated, and lost four thousand troops; had he not quickly fled back to his camp after his defeat, he would have met the same fate as that which overtook Baebius a short time before when he was slaughtered by these same enemies.

27 In the consulship of M. Claudius Marcellus and Q. Fabius Labeo {183 B.C.}, King Philip, who had put to death the ambassadors of the Roman people, was pardoned after his son Demetrius, whom he had sent as his envoy, had pleaded most humbly in his behalf. 28 Despite this service, Philip almost at once poisoned and killed him on the pretext that he had acted as a friend of the Romans and had been a traitor to his own father. Another son aided the father in the murder of his brother who, poor wretch, suspected nothing evil from either of them.

29 In the same year Scipio Africanus, long an exile from his ungrateful city, died of disease in the town of Amiternum. At this time also Hannibal committed suicide at the court of Prusias, the king of Bithynia; he took poison when the Romans demanded his surrender. Philopoemen, the king of the Achaeans, was captured and executed by the Messenians. 30 Near Sicily, the island of Vulcan, which had not been visible before, suddenly, to everyone's astonishment, emerged from the sea and it remains there even to this day. 31 In a great battle in Hither Spain the praetor Q. Fulvius Flaccus routed twenty-three thousand men and took captive four thousand, 32 while in Further Spain Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus forced into surrender one hundred and five towns that had been weakened and shattered by war. 33 During the same summer, L. Postumius killed forty thousand of the enemy in battle in Hither Spain, and in the same region the praetor Gracchus in a second campaign stormed and captured two hundred towns.

34 In the consulship of Lepidus and Mucius {175 B.C.}, a very savage people, the Basternae, met destruction in this way. They followed the advice of Perseus, son of Philip, and were also attracted by the prospect of booty and the possibility of crossing the Ister River without encountering the enemy. For at that time the Danube, which is also called the Ister, happened to be covered with solid ice and hence could easily be crossed on foot. 35 A vast number of men recklessly crossed with their horses, advancing all together in one great column. Under the enormous weight and the impact of those moving over it, the icy, frozen surface gave way and cracked. The ice, which had so long supported the entire column, finally crumbled in midstream and broke up into small pieces. These pieces of ice, passing over them and preventing them from reaching the surface, caused them to drown. Thus, out of the entire number only a few, badly cut up, managed to reach the shore.

36 In the consulship of P. Licinius Crassus and C. Cassius Longinus {171 B.C.}, the Macedonian War was waged. This war must rightly be classed among the really important ones. Those who aided the Romans were as follows: first, all of Italy; then, Ptolemy the king of Egypt; and finally, Ariarathes of Cappadocia, Eumenes of Asia, and Masinissa of Numidia. Perseus and the Macedonians had as allies the Thracians and their king Cotys, and the Illyrians united under their king Gentlus.

37 When the consul Crassus was approaching, Perseus advanced to meet him and engaged him in battle. The Romans suffered a miserable defeat and fled. In a later battle both sides met with almost equal losses and they then retired to winter quarters. 38 Having conquered the Roman army in many battles, Perseus went over into Illyricum, where he attacked and captured Sulcanum, a town defended by a Roman garrison. Some members of the large Roman garrison he killed, others he sold into slavery, and the rest he took with him to Macedonia.

39 Later the consul L. Aemilius Paulus {168 B.C.} fought and conquered Perseus in a battle in which the consul's forces killed twenty thousand of the enemy's infantry. The king, who escaped with his cavalry, was soon captured and with his sons was led in triumph before the chariot. Subsequently he died in a prison at Alba. 40 The younger son of Perseus, on account of his dire poverty, learned the art of working brass in Rome and later died there. For the sake of brevity I have omitted the most of the wars which many peoples in different places fought with varying results.

[21] L   In the six hundredth year of the City, in the consulship of L. Licinius Lucullus and A. Postumius Albinus {151 B.C.}, the Celtiberi greatly terrified all the Romans. Not one Roman, either tribune or legate, dared to go into Spain. P. Scipio, who later was to be called Africanus, volunteered his services for the Spanish campaign, although he had already been chosen by lot for the Macedonian command. 2 He then set out for Spain and overthrew many tribes. Taking the part of a soldier more often than that of a general, he met and killed in single combat a barbarian who had challenged him. 3 The praetor Sergius Galba, however, was defeated by the Lusitani in a great battle, and after the loss of his entire army he himself barely managed to slip away and escape. 4 This same year the censors decided to build a stone theatre in the city. Scipio Nasica made an impressive speech opposing its construction at that time; he maintained that this measure would foster wantonness and laziness and would be most harmful to a warlike people. He therefore moved that the senate should not only order the sale of everything prepared for the theatre but should even prohibit the tiers of seats for the games from being put into place.

5 Today our people consider whatever runs counter to the satisfaction of their lusts to be a misfortune. As a result they feel weaker, and even admit that they are weaker, than their enemies. Let them understand, then, that they should blame the theatres and not the times. 6 Neither should they blaspheme the true God who has ever forbidden these unlawful pleasures. Rather let them detest their own gods or demons who have required these pleasures. Indeed these gods have given sufficiently clear evidence of their malignity by demanding this kind of a sacrifice, since they fed on the corrupt nature of men no less than on the spilt blood of cattle. 7 Surely in former days there was no lack of enemies, famines, diseases, and prodigies; on the contrary there were a great number. But there were no theatres in which - however difficult it may be to believe - virtues were slaughtered like victims on the altar of voluptuousness. 8 It is true that at one time the Carthaginians thought it right to sacrifice human beings, but they soon discarded this belief which they had so wickedly conceived. The Romans, however, demanded that men should apply themselves to their own destruction. 9 It has happened, it is happening. People love it and cry aloud that it should continue. Those who perhaps might be offended by the sacrificing of cattle from their herds rejoice at the slaughter of the virtue of their own hearts. Nay, let those who think that the Christians ought to be reproached rather be ashamed in the presence of Nasica. And let them not complain to us about enemies who have ever been with them, but to Nasica about the theatre which he prevented from being built.

10 In Spain, the praetor Sergius Galba accepted the voluntary surrender of the Lusitani who were living on the nearer side of the Tagus River. Later he committed a crime by putting them to death. Although he had pretended that he would act in their interest, he surrounded them with troops and destroyed them while they were unarmed and off their guard. This treachery on the part of the Romans was later the source of the greatest disturbance throughout all Spain.

[22] L   The Third Punic War began six hundred and two years after the founding of the City in the consulship of L. Censorinus and M. Manilius {149 B.C.}. The Senate voted that Carthage must be destroyed. The consuls and Scipio, who was then tribune of the soldiers, then proceeded to Africa and reached the camp of the elder Africanus near Utica. 2 There they summoned the Carthaginians and ordered them to surrender both their arms and ships without delay. The quantity of arms hastily surrendered was easily great enough to arm all Africa. 3 But after the Carthaginians had surrendered their arms, they were ordered to abandon the city and to withdraw inland ten miles from the sea. Grief brought them to despair. Resolving either to defend the city or to be buried with her in her fall, they chose two Hasdrubals as their leaders. 4 Then they set about to manufacture arms, using gold and silver to supplement the scarce supply of bronze and iron. The consuls decided to attack Carthage, the situation of which is said to have been somewhat as follows: 5 the city was surrounded by a wall nearly twenty-two miles long and was almost entirely enclosed by the sea except for a neck of land. This extended for three miles and had a wall thirty feet wide constructed of hewn rock forty cubits in height. 6 The citadel, the name of which was Byrsa, was a little more than two miles long (in circumference). On one side, a continuous wall, connecting the city with Byrsa, towered above the Pool Sea. This was so named because a projecting strip of land formed a breakwater and thus made its waters calm.

7 Although the consuls by means of machines had shattered and demolished a considerable part of the wall, nevertheless they were defeated and driven back by the Carthaginians. Scipio, however, drove the enemy behind their walls and came to the rescue of those who were fleeing. Censorinus returned to the City. Manilius passed by Carthage and directed his forces against Hasdrubal. 8 In the meantime Masinissa died, and Scipio divided the Numidian kingdom among Masinissa's three sons. When Scipio had returned to the vicinity of Carthage, Manilius stormed and plundered the city of Tezaga, slaying twelve thousand Africans and capturing six thousand. Hasdrubal, the Punic general and the grandson of Masinissa, was suspected of treachery. His own countrymen wielded pieces torn from the benches in the Senate House and beat him to death. 9 At the same time the praetor Juventius fought an engagement with Pseudo-Philippus in Macedonia. He was slain and the entire Roman army suffered very heavy losses.

[23] L   In the six hundred and sixth year of the city, that is, in the fiftieth year after the Second Punic War, in the consulship of Cn. Cornelius Lentulus and L. Mummius {146 B.C.}, P. Scipio,the consul of the year before, tempted fortune for the last time in an effort to destroy Carthage. He advanced to Gothon, 2 where he fought a battle lasting six days and six nights. Utter despair forced the Carthaginians to surrender. They begged that the survivors of the disastrous battle might at least be permitted to become slaves. 3 First a line of women came down  - a wretched enough sight - and following them a still more miserable looking body of men. Tradition says that there were twenty-five thousand women and thirty thousand men. 4 Hasdrubal, the king, voluntarily surrendered himself. The Roman deserters, who had taken possession of the temple of Aesculapius, now of their own accord hurled themselves down from the walls and were burned to death. The wife of Hasdrubal, acting as would a man in grief and a woman in rage, threw herself and her two sons into the middle of the fire. Thus the last queen of Carthage came to her end by the same death as that which in ages past had claimed the first queen. 5 The city burned for seventeen consecutive days, furnishing the conquerors with a pitiable spectacle to illustrate the fickleness of human fortune. 6 Thus Carthage was destroyed and her entire stone wall reduced to dust seven hundred years after her foundation. 7 With the exception of a few leading men, every one of the captives was sold into slavery. The Third Punic War now came to an end in the fourth year after it had begun.

8 In regard to the Third Punic War it has never appeared to me, a very diligent but not brilliant inquirer, that Carthage was so far guilty of causing the war that her destruction was justly decreed. And I am especially moved by the fact that there would have been no need for deliberation, if, as in previous wars, an obvious cause and resentment had inflamed the Romans against a rising power. 9 But there was deliberation. While some of the Romans proposed that Carthage be destroyed to insure the permanent safety of Rome, there were others who, with a view to the permanent schooling of Roman courage - a task they always imposed upon themselves through suspicion of a rival city - held that Carthage should be left to herself intact, lest Roman energy, always trained in war, should relax through peace and leisure into listless indolence. Consequently I find the cause, not in unfair aggression on the part of Carthage, but in the loss of steadfastness and morale among the Romans. 10 Such being the case, why do they charge to Christian times the dullness and rust with which they themselves are outwardly stolid and inwardly corroded? Moreover, some six hundred years ago the Romans lost, as their men of wisdom and caution had predicted, that great whetstone of their brilliance and keenness - Carthage.

11 So I shall close this book, lest by rubbing too violently, I may remove their rustiness for the moment, but fail to stimulate the keen judgment that is needed, and therefore encounter unnecessary harshness. Yet I should have no fear of open and harsh attack, if I could discover a hope of creating that keen judgment within.

Book 5


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