Orosius, Book 5

      Chapters 1-15 :   146 to 106 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.   

Book 4

[1] L   In the light of the events directly following those I have just related, I realise that some people may be influenced by the fact that Roman victories continued to grow more numerous as the result of the overthrow of many peoples and cities. If they weigh the evidence carefully, however, they will find that more harm than good resulted. For none of these wars against slaves, allies, citizens, or fugitives should be dismissed lightly, since they certainly brought no benefits, but only great disasters. 2 Nevertheless, I shall ignore this fact in order to treat the situation in the light in which these people saw it. I think that they would say: Has there ever been an age happier than this with its continuous triumphs, famous victories, rich prizes of war, imposing processions, and with kings and conquered peoples marching in a long line before the triumphal chariot? 3 I shall answer them briefly and point out that they are pleading for, and that we are talking about, times and events which must be considered not merely from the point of view of one city but by taking the whole world into consideration. It will then appear that whenever Rome conquers and is happy the rest of the world is unhappy and conquered. 4 Should we therefore attach too much importance to this small measure of happiness when it has been obtained at so enormous an expenditure of effort? Granted that these times did bring about some happiness to a particular city, did they not also weigh down the rest of the world with misery and accomplish its ruin? If these times are to be considered happy because the wealth of a single city was increased, why should they not rather be judged as most unhappy in view of the wretched destruction and downfall of mighty realms, of numerous and civilised peoples?

5 Did Carthage perhaps not view the situation differently at that time? Over a period of one hundred and twenty jyears the city alternately dreaded the disasters of war and the terms of peace. At one time deciding to renew war and at another to sue humbly for peace, Carthage was continually exchanging peace for war and war for peace. In the end her wretched citizens throughout the city were driven to desperation and threw themselves into the flames. The whole city became one funeral pyre. The city is now small in size and destitute of walls, and it is part of her unhappy lot to hear of her glorious past.

6 Let Spain present her opinion. For two hundred years Spanish fields were drenched with her own blood. The country was unable either to drive back or to withstand a troublesome enemy that was persistently attacking on every frontier. Towns and country districts everywhere were in ruins. The inhabitants were crushed by the carnage of battle and exhausted by the famines accompanying sieges. Men killed their wives and children, and to end their own sufferings, ran at one another, cut one another's throats, and suffered wretched deaths. What was Spain, then, to think about her own condition?

7 And now let Italy speak. Why should Italy have oppressed, resisted, and placed all sorts of obstacles in the way of her own Romans over a period of four hundred years? She certainly could not have acted in this way had the happiness of the Romans not spelled her own disaster and had she not felt that she was protecting the welfare of all by preventing the Romans from becoming masters of the entire world.

8 I need not now raise the question concerning innumerable peoples of various countries, who, after enjoying long periods of freedom, had been defeated in war, forcibly carried away from their native lands, sold into slavery, and dispersed far and wide. I do not ask what they would have preferred for themselves, what they thought of the Romans, and how they judged the times. 9 I am not mentioning one word about kings of vast wealth, great power, and widespread renown, who, after enjoying a long supremacy, were later captured, chained like slaves, sent under the yoke, led before the triumphal chariot, and slaughtered in prison. To inquire their opinion is as foolish as it is difficult not to pity their misery.

10 Let us question ourselves then, I say, about the way of life which we have chosen and which we are accustomed to live. Our forefathers waged wars, sought peace, and offered tribute; for tribute is the price of peace. 11 We ourselves pay tribute to avoid war and by this means have come to rest at anchor and are remaining in the harbour in which our ancestors finally took refuge in order to escape the storm of evils. Therefore I should like to know whether our times are not happy. Certainty we, who continuously possess what our forefathers finally chose, consider our days happier than those earlier days; 12 for the tumult of wars that exhausted them is unknown to us. We ourselves are also born and raised in a state of peace that they enjoyed only for a brief time after the rule of Caesar and the birth of Christ. The payment which subjection compelled them to make we contribute freely for the common defence. 13 How great is the difference between the present and the past can best be judged by the fact that what Rome once extorted from our people by the sword merely to satisfy her thirst for luxury, she now contributes with us for the maintenance of government. And if anyone asserts that the Romans at that time were much more tolerable enemies to our forefathers than the Goths are now to us, his knowledge and understanding of conditions are quite at variance with the facts.

14 In former days the entire world was ablaze with wars, and each province was governed by its own king, laws, and customs. A feeling of common fellowship was also lacking when different powers were disagreeing with one another. What was it then that could finally draw into one bond of fellowship barbarian tribes which were scattered far and wide and, moreover, separated by differences in religion and ritual? 15 Suppose that in those days a person was driven by the bitterness of his misfortune to utter desperation and that he decided to abandon his own country and to leave in company with the enemy. What strange country, would he, a stranger, approach? What people, usually enemies, would he, an enemy supplicate? In what man, at first meeting, would he place his confidence? He would not be invited because he belonged to the same race, he would not be induced to come because he obeyed the same law, and he would not be made to feel secure because he believed in the same religion. 16 We have plenty of examples to illustrate what happened. Did not Busiris most brutally offer as sacrifices all strangers who had the misfortune to cross his path? Did not the people on the shores of Taurian Diana act most cruelly toward visitors and perform sacred rites that were crueler still? Did not Thrace and its own Polymestor treat guests, who were at the same time their relatives, in a most criminal fashion? Without dallying too long on events of antiquity, I shall merely cite the testimony of Rome with regard to the murder of Pompey and the testimony of Egypt with regard to Ptolemy, his murderer.

[2] L   At the present, however, I feel no apprehension over the outbreak of any disturbance, since I can take refuge anywhere. No matter where I flee, I find my native land, my law, and my religion. 2 Just now Africa has welcomed me with a warmth of spirit that matched the confidence I felt when I came here. At the present time, I say, this Africa has welcomed me to her state of absolute peace, to her own bosom, and to her common law - Africa, concerning whom it was once said and truly said:
  We are debarred the welcome of the beach, 
  They stir up wars and forbid us to set foot even on the land's edge.   { Vergil, Aeneid, i. 540-1 }

Africa of her own free will now opens wide her kindly bosom to receive friends of her own religion and peace, and of her own accord invites those weary ones whom she cherishes.

3 The width of the East, the vastness of the North, the great stretches of the South, and the large and secure settlements on the great islands, all have the same law and nationality as I, since I come there as a Roman and Christian to Christians and Romans. 4 I do not fear the gods of my host. Neither do I fear that his religion will bring death to me. Nor am I afraid of any place where a native may do whatever he wishes and a stranger may not do whatever is lawful, where my host's law will not be my own. 5 One God, Who established the unity of this realm in the days when He willed Himself to become known, is loved and feared by all. The same laws, which are subject to this one God, hold sway everywhere. Wheresoever I go, stranger though I be, I need harbour no fear of sudden assault as would a man without protection. 6 Among Romans, as I have said, I am a Roman; among Christians, a Christian; among men, a man. The state comes to my aid through its laws, religion through its appeal to the conscience, and nature through its claim of universality.

For a time I enjoy any country as if it were my own, because that native land, which is my real home and the one which I love, is not wholly on this earth. 7 I have lost nothing where I have loved nothing. I have everything when I have with me Him whom I love; especially since He is the same among all. He made me not only known to all but also very near to all. Neither does He forsake me when I am in need, because the earth is His and its fullness, whereof He has ordered all things to be common to all men. 8 The blessings of our age, which our ancestors never had in their entirety, are these: the tranquillity of the present, hope for the future, and possession of a common place of refuge. Our ancestors had to wage incessant wars, because, not feeling free to move as a body and to change their abodes, they continued to remain at home where they had the misfortune to be slaughtered or to be basely enslaved. This will appear clearer and more evident when the actual deeds of our ancestors are unrolled in due order.

[3] L   In the six hundred and sixth year of the City, that is, in the same year that Carthage was destroyed, and in the consulship of Cn. Cornelius Lentulus and L. Mummius {146 B.C.}, the overthrow of Corinth followed the destruction of Carthage. The conflagrations of two of the most powerful cities - pitiable sights - were separated from each other by only a short interval of time and illuminated parts of the world at great distances from each other. 2 The praetor Metellus won two victories over the Achaeans and the Boeotians who had joined them. 3 The first took place at Thermopylae and the second in Phocis. The historian Claudius tells us that twenty thousand fell in the first battle and that seven thousand were killed in the second battle. Valerius Antias confirms the statement that a battle was fought in Achaia and that twenty thousand Achaeans and their leader Diaeus were slain. But although Polybius of Achaia was at that time in Africa with Scipio, he was unable to ignore a disaster suffered by his native land. He claimed that one battle had been fought in Achaea under the leadership of Critolaus, but hastened to add that Diaeus and the army which he had brought with him from Arcadia had been crushed by this same praetor Metellus. 4 Now I have already made some remarks about the variety of opinions expressed by disagreeing historians. Let it suffice to say that these historians have been exposed and branded as liars, because if writers present entirely different accounts of events which they themselves saw as eyewitnesses it indicates very clearly that their opinions of other events are worth very little.

5 After the annihilation of garrisons over all Achaia,  when the praetor Metellus was contemplating the destruction of the defenceless cities, the consul Mummius with a few men suddenly arrived in the camp. After Metellus had been sent away, Mummius stormed Corinth without delay. This city was by far the wealthiest of all cities in the world at that time and for centuries back had been a kind of laboratory for all crafts and craftsmen as well as the common market of Asia and Europe. 6 He cruelly granted even the captives permission to plunder. The whole city was filled with carnage and ablaze with fires which formed a single great flame that shot forth from the circumference of the walls as if from a furnace. When most of the population had been destroyed by fire and sword, the survivors were sold into slavery. A huge quantity of booty was carried away just before the city was burned to the ground, her walls levelled, and the stones in the walls reduced to dust. 7 The presence of a great number of statues and images of all sorts in the burning city was responsible for the formation of a new type of metal consisting of gold, silver, and copper, and representing an alloy of all the metals melted down and dissolved. Hence even to this day, as tradition tells us, this metal has been called Corinthian bronze either because of its origin in Corinth or because it is an imitation of that metal. I might add that people also speak of Corinthian vases.

[4] L   In Spain, during the same consulship, Viriathus, a Lusitanian by birth but a shepherd and robber by calling, infested the roads and devastated the provinces. He also defeated, routed, and subdued armies commanded by Roman praetors and consuls. As a result the Romans became greatly terrified. 2 Then Viriathus encountered the praetor C. Vetilius, as he was passing through and roaming over the broad territories between the Ebro and Tagus, rivers that were large and widely separated from each other. He defeated the army of Vetilius and slaughtered its soldiers almost to a man; the praetor himself barely managed to slip away and escape with a few followers. 3 He also put to flight the praetor C. Plautius, whose power had previously been broken by many battles. Later he encountered a large and well-equipped army which the Romans had dispatched under the command of Claudius Unimammus, whose evident purpose was to wipe out the stain of the earlier disgrace, but who managed only to add to the dishonour; 4 for he lost all the supplies that he had brought with him as well as the strongest division of the Roman army. As trophies, Viriathus displayed robes, fasces, and other Roman insignia  on a mountainside of his own country.

5 In these same days, three hundred Lusitani fought an engagement against a thousand Romans in a mountain valley. Claudius reports that in this battle seventy Lusitani and three hundred and twenty Romans lost their lives. 6 When the victorious Lusitani had scattered and were withdrawing in safety, one of them, a foot soldier, was cut off at some distance from his companions. When Roman cavalrymen suddenly surrounded him, he pierced the horse of one of his assailants with his spear and beheaded the rider with a single blow of his sword. All the others were so terrified that he was able to walk off leisurely and in a contemptuous manner while they looked on.

7 In the consulship of Appius Claudius and Q. Caecilius Metellus {143 B.C.} the former encountered the Salassian Gauls. He met defeat and lost five thousand men, but when the struggle was renewed he killed five thousand of the enemy. He now sought a triumph in accordance with the law that stated that anyone who had destroyed five thousand of the enemy should be granted the privilege of holding a triumph. His request, however, was refused on account of the losses he had previously suffered. Nevertheless, in his desire for glory he stooped to infamy and impudence and celebrated a triumph at his own expense.

8 During the consulship of L. Caecilius Metellus and Q. Fabius Maximus Servilianus {142 B.C.}, an hermaphrodite, among other prodigies, was seen at Rome. At the order of the haruspices the hermaphrodite was thrown into the sea; but this act of expiation proved of no avail. Immediately so great a pestilence broke out that the insufficient number of undertakers was unable to cope; soon no undertakers at all were left to prepare bodies for burial. The great mansions remained, but they were now empty of all life and filled with the dead; within there were vast inheritances but not a single heir was to be found. 9 It finally became impossible to live in the city or even to approach it, so awful were the odours given off from bodies decaying in houses and on the streets.

10 That expiation which required the cruel death of a human being resulted in the roads being piled high with the dead. In the midst of their miseries the Romans became overcome with shame and finally realised how vile and utterly useless that act had been. For they had performed this expiation to ward off impending disaster; but, as you see, a pestilence immediately followed. After running its course, it subsided in accordance with the decision of an inscrutable Providence without further resort to expiatory sacrifices. 11 If the haruspices, those master craftsmen in the art of deceit, had by chance carried out that expiation - a customary procedure on their part when diseases were abating - they would have indubitably claimed for themselves, their gods, and their rites, the credit for the return to normal conditions. And so that wretched City, whose evil religion did not shrink from sacrilege, was deceived by falsehoods from which it could not free itself.

12 The consul Fabius in the course of his struggle against the Lusitani and Viriathus drove off the enemy and freed the town of Buccia, which Viriathus was besieging. He received in surrender not only this city but also many other strongholds. He then committed a crime that would have been detestable even to the barbarians dwelling in farthest Scythia, not to mention its affront to the Roman sense of honour and moderation. He cut off the hands of five hundred Lusitanian chiefs who had been tempted by his offer of an alliance and had been received in accordance with the law of surrender.

13 Pompeius, the consul of the following year {141 B.C.}, invaded the territories of the Numantines and after suffering a great disaster withdrew. Not only was his entire army almost annihilated, but also many nobles serving with him were slain.

14 Viriathus, however, after defeating Roman generals and armies over a period of fourteen years, was finally killed, a victim of an act of treachery. In this instance alone the Romans acted as men toward Viriathus in that they judged his assassins undeserving of a reward.

15 Not only now but also frequently in the past I have found myself able to interweave in my story those extremely complicated wars of the East, which rarely ever either begin or end without crimes. But the crimes of the Romans, with whom we are now concerned, are so monstrous that we may justly scorn those of other peoples.

16 In the days of which we are writing, Mithridates, the sixth king of the Parthians in line from Arsaces, conquered the prefect Demetrius. Now victorious, he attacked the city of Babylon and invaded all her territories. He next subdued all the tribes that dwelt in the country between the Hydaspes and Indus rivers and extended his bloody rule even to India. 17 He fought Demetrius a second time, defeated, and captured him. Whereupon a certain Diodotus and his son Alexander usurped the throne of Demetrius and took over the name of his dynasty. 18 But Diodotus did not wish to share the throne with his son who had participated in all the dangers involved in winning the crown. Therefore he later had him put to death.

19 During the consulship of M. Aemilius Lepidus and C. Hostilius Mancinus {137 B.C.}, various prodigies appeared. The consuls, so far as they were able, offered expiation according to the usual custom. But chance events did not always come opportunely to the aid of the haruspices, those weavers of lies and observers of events. 20 For the consul Mancinus, after taking over the command of the army from Popillius at Numantia, met with constant reverses on the field of battle. He was reduced to such desperate straits that he was forced to make a most disgraceful treaty with the Numantines. 21 Although Pompeius had also but a short time before concluded an equally dishonourable treaty with these same Numantines, the Senate ordered the treaty to be abrogated and handed Mancinus over to the Numantines. They stripped him of his clothes, tied his hands behind his back, and exposed him to public view before the Numantine gates, where he remained far into the night. Deserted by his own people and rejected by the enemy, he furnished a spectacle that caused friend and foe alike to weep.

[5] L   Grief compels me to cry out at this point. Why, O Romans, do you undeservedly ascribe to yourselves those great attributes of justice, good faith, courage, and mercy? Learn the true nature of these virtues from the Numantines. 2 Was a display of courage required? The Numantines conquered by fighting. Was good faith demanded? Trusting others to act as they themselves would have acted, the Numantines concluded a treaty and set free those whom they might have killed. 3 Was justice to be put to the test? The very silence of the Senate bore witness to that justice when these same Numantines through their own envoys kept demanding either an inviolable peace or else, according to the agreement made, the return of all those whom they had released alive. 4 Was it evident that the spirit of mercy needed examination? The Numantines have given evidence enough by granting life to a hostile army and by not punishing Mancinus. 5 Ought Mancinus, I ask, to have been surrendered? It was he who saved his defeated army from impending slaughter by shielding them under the cover of a peace treaty and it was he who preserved for better times the imperilled forces of his fatherland. 6 If the treaty concluded did not meet with approval, why was the army set free by this pledge, or, when the army came back, why was it received? When the return of the army was demanded, why was it not sent back? Or if any possible arrangement for saving the army met with approval, why was Mancinus, who concluded this treaty, alone surrendered ?

7 Somewhat earlier, Varro, in order to precipitate a conflict, had overcome the reluctance of his colleague Paulus and forced him to take action. Varro rushed forward his own army which thus far had been afraid to risk battle and at Cannae - notorious for that famous Roman disaster - drew up his luckless troops, not to fight a battle but to expose them to death. He lost more than forty thousand Roman soldiers solely because of his own impatience, a trait upon which Hannibal had long relied to achieve victory for himself. 8 After the death of his colleague Paulus (and what a man he was!) Varro finally had the impudence to return practically alone to the City. There he earned the reward of his self-assurance. 9 He was publicly thanked by the Senate for not despairing of the Republic, which, however, he himself had brought to dire straits.

10 At a later date Mancinus did his very best to save the army which, in the fortunes of war, had been surrounded. Nevertheless this same Senate condemned him to be surrendered to the enemy. 11 I know, O Romans, that you disapproved in the case of Varro, but you yielded to the emergency. You made the present decision in the case of Mancinus and again cited the pretext of an emergency. Thus your actions from the very beginning have been such that no citizen could consistently have any regard for so ungrateful a people nor could an enemy place any trust in those proven to be so untrustworthy.

12 In the meantime Brutus in Further Spain crushed sixty thousand Gallaeci who had come to the assistance of the Lusitani. He was victorious only after a desperate and difficult battle, despite the fact that he had surrounded them unawares. According to report, fifty thousand of them were slain in that battle, six thousand were captured, and only a small number escaped by flight. 13 In Nearer Spain the proconsul Lepidus, against the Senate's orders, stubbornly tried to subdue the Vaccaei, a harmless and submissive tribe. But he paid the penalty for his effrontery and stubbornness, for shortly afterward he suffered a severe defeat: no less than six thousand Romans met a just death in this unjust war; the rest, having stripped their camp and thrown away their arms, escaped.

14 This disaster of Lepidus was not one whit less disgraceful than that suffered under Mancinus. Let the Romans themselves, overcome by constant disasters and defeated time and again - to say nothing of the Spaniards who were beaten and worn out by so many battles - now ascribe, if they can, happiness to this period. 15 In order not to make it a matter of reproach by revealing the number of the Roman praetors and of their lieutenant-generals, consuls, legions, and armies that were lost, I simply repeat: what kind of madness, arising from fear, was it that so weakened the Roman soldier that he could no longer stand firm nor steel his courage for further trials of warfare, but took to his heels as soon as he caught a glimpse of a Spaniard, his special enemy, and practically considered himself defeated before the enemy was even sighted? 16 From what I have said it is clear that both sides judged their times wretched, since the Spaniards, though quite able to conquer, were loath to relinquish the pleasures of their idle life and to engage in foreign wars, whereas the Romans suffered more disgraceful defeats the more outrageously they encroached upon the peace of a foreign power.

[6] L   During the consulship of Servius Fulvius Flaccus and Q. Calpurnius Piso {135 B.C.}, a maid servant at Rome gave birth to a boy who had four feet, four eyes, as many ears, that is, double the number that an ordinary human being has. 2 About this time Mount Etna in Sicily erupted and poured forth vast streams of fiery lava, which, like torrents, rushed precipitously down the slopes. The flames consumed everything nearby, while glowing ashes, which gave off a dense vapor as they flew far and wide through the air, scorched more distant places. This type of prodigy, ever native to Sicily, is wont not so much to portend as to bring misfortune.

In the territory of Bononia wheat sprouted forth on trees. 3 In Sicily a slave war arose which was particularly severe and bitterly fought on account of the large number of slaves participating, the amount of their equipment, and the imposing strength of their forces. 4 Roman praetors were completely routed and even the consuls were terrified, for at that time seventy thousand slaves, according to report, were in the army of the conspirators. This number did not include slaves from the city of Messana, which kept its slaves peaceful by treating them with kindness. 5 In another respect, also, Sicily was rather unfortunate. As an island Sicily never had a law adapted to her own conditions. Therefore she fell under the control of tyrants at one time and at another of slaves. The evil rule of the former resulted in slavery, whereas the perversity and presumption of the latter effected an interchange of liberty and slavery between the classes. Sicily was in an especially unfavourable position since she was surrounded by the sea and therefore able only with the greatest difficulty to purge herself of intestine evils. 6 To her ruin, Sicily sustained a viperous growth that was strengthened by her own lust and destined to live on after her death. In such a situation, the trouble caused by a slave rebellion is more violent than other disturbances just as they occur more rarely. For a crowd of free men is motivated by an urge toward their country's welfare whereas a slave mob desires the country's ruin.

[7] L   During the six hundred and twentieth year of the City, the disgrace of the treaty concluded at Numantia added to the shame which the Roman brow already carried. This disgrace was almost greater than that involved in the treaty formerly made at Caudine Forks. Scipio Africanus was now unanimously elected consul by the tribes {134 B.C.} and dispatched with an army to storm Numantia. 2 This was the farthest city of the Celtiberi and was situated in Hither Spain on a high point of Gallaecia not far from the lands of the Vaccaei and Cantabri. 3 For a period of fourteen years Numantia, with only four thousand troops, not only had held her own against forty thousand of the Romans but even defeated and forced them to conclude humiliating treaties. 4 Therefore, when Scipio Africanus entered Spain, he did not immediately engage the enemy, thinking that he might overthrow them when they were off their guard. He knew that this race of men never allowed their bodies and minds to become so relaxed in times of leisure that the state of their training was not, even then, superior to the preparations of others. On the contrary, he confined his own army to its camp for some time and drilled his soldiers as if they were in a training school. 5 Even though Scipio passed part of the summer and the whole winter without attempting even one battle, he gained very little advantage from his diligence. 6 In fact, when an opportunity for battle presented itself, the Roman army was overwhelmed by the attack of the Numantines, and it fled. After the consul had checked its flight by upbraiding his soldiers with reproaches and threats, the army rallied, turned against its pursuers, and compelled them to flee. It is difficult at this point to relate the truth of this affair. The Romans both put the Numantines to flight and witnessed it while they themselves fled. 7 Hence although Scipio had rejoiced and boasted that this victory had exceeded his expectations, nevertheless he openly acknowledged that it would have been rash to continue this particular battle. 8 Thinking, however, that he ought to take further advantage of his unexpected success, he closely besieged the city itself, surrounding it with a trench ten feet wide and twenty feet deep. 9 By means of numerous towers he then set about to fortify the rampart, which had been constructed with stakes, so that, if the enemy should sally forth and make an attack upon him, he might at once carry on the struggle not as a besieger against the besieged, but vice versa, that is, as the besieged against the besieger.

10 Numantia, situated on an eminence not far from the Durius River, was surrounded by a wall three miles in circumference. Nevertheless there are some who assert that the city was without walls and that its area was very small. 11 The latter opinion is credible for this reason: although the Numantines enclosed the large space mentioned in order to take care of the feeding and protection of their flocks and also to provide satisfactory means for the cultivation of the land when hard pressed in war, they themselves occupied a small citadel fortified by its natural position. Otherwise so large an area would have seemed not to protect the city's inhabitants but rather to betray its small population.

12 The Numantines were shut in for a long time and became completely exhausted by hunger. They then offered to surrender on the condition that they obtain reasonably satisfactory terms. They also repeatedly begged for an opportunity to engage in a regular battle, so that they might die like men. 13 Finally they all suddenly burst forth from two gates. They had just drunk their fill not of wine - this place was not favourable to viticulture - but of a juice made from wheat. This drink is skilfully concocted, and it is called caella because it is heated. 14 The potency of the moistened fruit bud is first intensified by heat. The bud is then dried, ground to powder, and mixed with a mild juice. When this ferments, it becomes sour and when consumed produces that feeling of warmth characteristic of drunkenness. They drank this potion after their long fast and as soon as it took effect presented themselves for battle.

15 The struggle raged long and fiercely and even jeopardised the safety of the Romans. Had they not been under the command of Scipio, the Romans would have proved by fleeing that they were fighting against the Numantines. When the bravest of their men had been killed, the Numantines withdrew from battle, but they returned to their city with ordered ranks and not as fugitives. They were unwilling to receive the bodies of the slain offered for burial. 16 With their last hope gone and only death awaiting them, they became desperate and set fire to their besieged city. Each died either by sword, by poison, or by fire. 17 So the Romans gained absolutely nothing from their victory except their own security; for when Numantia had been overthrown, they did not consider that they had defeated the Numantines but that they had escaped from them. 18 The fetters of the victor held not a single Numantine, so that Rome saw no sufficient reason for granting Scipio a triumph. The Numantines were so poor that they had no gold or silver that could have survived the fire, which had consumed their weapons and their clothing.

[8] L   While these events were taking place at Numantia, the seditions stirred up by the Gracchi were agitating Rome. After the destruction of Numantia, Scipio entered into peace treaties with other Spanish tribes. Once he consulted a certain Thyresus, a Celtic chieftain, and asked him how it happened that the Numantine state had remained so long unconquered and how later it came to be overthrown. Thyresus replied: "When harmony reigned the state was unconquerable, but once lack of harmony began to prevail the state was destroyed." 2 The Romans took this statement as a warning applying to themselves, for presently they received news that seditions were throwing the whole City into discord. Indeed once Carthage and Numantia were destroyed, that useful spirit of cooperation, the consequence of their foresight, perished among the Romans, and a disastrous spirit of contention, the natural outgrowth of their ambition, sprang up.

3 T. Gracchus, the tribune of the plebs, became angry at the nobility because he was charged with being one of the authors of the Numantine treaty. He decided that the land which heretofore had been held privately should now be divided for the benefit of the people. He took away the imperium from Octavius, a tribune of the plebs, who was opposing him, and made Minucius the latter's successor. These acts angered the Senate and made the people arrogant. 4 At this time it chanced that on his deathbed, Attalus, the son of Eumenes, had provided in his will that the Roman people should fall heir to the rule of the province of Asia. Gracchus, seeking to win the favour of the people by bribery, put through a law stipulating that the money obtained from Attalus should be distributed among the people. When Nasica opposed this measure, Pompeius promised that he would also bring charges against Gracchus, as soon as the latter had left his magistracy.

[9] L   When Gracchus was striving to remain a tribune of the plebs for the following year and was stirring up riots among the people on election day, the nobles became greatly incensed. On the order of Nasica they wielded pieces of wood torn from the benches and put the plebeians to flight. 2 As Gracchus, his cloak torn off, fled along the steps that were above the Calpurnian Arch, he was struck by one of these pieces and fell to the ground. When he rose to his feet, another blow of a cudgel smashed his skull and killed him. 3 In that riot two hundred were killed and their bodies were thrown into the Tiber. The unburied corpse of Gracchus vanished.

4 In addition, the contagion of the Slave War that had arisen in Sicily infected many provinces far and wide. At Minturnae, the Romans crucified five hundred slaves, and at Sinuessa, Q. Metellus and Cn. Servilius Caepio overwhelmed about four thousand slaves. 5 In the mines of the Athenians, the praetor Heraclitus broke up a slave uprising of like character. At Delos, citizens, anticipating the movement, crushed the slaves when they arose in another rebellion. These riots, if I may so express myself, represented but additional sparks which, set ablaze by that trouble in Sicily, leaped forth and started all these different fires. 6 For in Sicily the consul Piso {133 B.C.}, who succeeded the consul Fulvius, took the town of Mamertium and killed eight thousand fugitives; those whom he was able to capture he had fastened to the gibbet. 7 Rupilius, who had succeeded Piso as consul {132 B.C.}, stormed and recaptured Tauromenium and Henna, the strongest places of refuge held by the fugitive slaves. More than twenty thousand slaves, according to report, were slaughtered at that time.

8 Of such a war as this the cause is pitiable and the issues hopelessly involved. For undoubtedly the masters would have had to die had they not met the insolence of the slaves with steel. Nevertheless if one takes into account the unfortunate losses of battle and the still more unfortunate gains of victory, the conquerors lost in proportion to the number of the conquered who perished.

[10] L   In the six hundred and twenty-second year of the City, P. Licinius Crassus, consul {131 B.C.} and pontifex maximus, was dispatched with a well-equipped army against Aristonicus, the brother of Attalus. Aristonicus had invaded the province of Asia, which had been left as a legacy to the Romans. 2 The consul was also supported by the powerful kings, Nicomedes of Bithynia, Mithridates of Pontus and Armenia, Ariarathes of Cappadocia and Pylaemenes of Paphlagonia, all of whom contributed great forces. Nevertheless, Crassus was defeated in a pitched battle, 3 and his army was compelled to flee after suffering heavy losses. When the consul himself was surrounded by the enemy and was about to be captured, he thrust the whip, which he had used on his horse, into the eye of a Thracian. The barbarian, smarting from the pain and burning with rage, stabbed him through the side with a sword. Thus Crassus escaped both dishonour and slavery by meeting death in the way he had chosen to die.

4 Upon hearing of the death of Crassus and of the slaughter of the Roman army, the consul Perperna, who had succeeded Crassus {130 B.C.}, speedily marched over into Asia and surprised Aristonicus who was resting after his recent victory. Perperna annihilated his army and forced him to flee. 5 Next he besieged the city of Stratoniceia to which Aristonicus had fled for refuge. He compelled the latter, now emaciated from hunger, to surrender. The consul was later taken ill at Pergamum and died. Aristonicus, by order of the Senate, was strangled in a prison at Rome.

6 In the same year, the miserable life of Ptolemy, the king of the Alexandrians, was brought to an end still more wretched. He first seduced his own sister, then married her, and finally divorced her - the last act being more disgraceful than the marriage. 7 He next took to wife his own stepdaughter, that is, the daughter of his sister and wife. He put to death his own son, who was born of his sister, and also killed one of his brother's sons. Because of these acts of incest and parricide he was detested by the Alexandrians who drove him from the kingdom.

8 During those same years, Antiochus, not content with Babylon, Ecbatana, and the whole Median Empire, engaged in battle with the Parthian king, Phraates, and was defeated. Though Antiochus apparently had only a hundred thousand soldiers in his own army, he carried along with him two hundred thousand servants and camp followers, among whom were prostitutes and actors. Therefore he and his entire army fell an easy prey to the Parthian troops and all perished.

9 I have no hesitation in saying that one of the worst disgraces that can be charged to the Romans occurred in the consulship of C. Sempronius Tuditanus and M. Acilius {129 B.C.}. On the day before his death P. Scipio Africanus learned that he would be accused in court by evil and ungrateful men notwithstanding the efforts he had made in behalf of his country. He therefore testified before an assembly that his life was in danger. Early the next day he was found dead in his own bedroom. I make special mention of this because Africanus enjoyed so great a reputation in the City for strength and moderation that people readily believed that had he lived there could have been no war against the allies nor any civil war. 10 It was a common saying that Africanus was treacherously murdered by his wife Sempronia, a sister of the Gracchi. They said this, I believe, so that a family already steeped in crime and fated to bring ruin on its own country might have, in the midst of the wicked seditions raised by its men, a reputation even more monstrous because of the crimes committed by its women.

11 In the consulship of M. Aemilius and L. Orestes {126 B.C.}, Etna was shaken by a severe tremor and poured forth masses of glowing lava. Again, on another day, on the island of Lipara and around its adjacent waters, the volcano boiled over to such an extent that it dissolved rocks already burned, scorched the planks of ships after first causing the binding wax to liquify, and boiled alive fish swimming near the surface. It also suffocated human beings who by constantly breathing hot air burned their vital organs. Only those who were able to withdraw to some distance escaped death.

[11] L   In the consulship of M. Plautius Hypsaeus and M. Fulvius Flaccus {125 B.C.}, Africa had only just become peaceful and free from the ravages of war when a horrible and unusual catastrophe overtook her. 2 Huge numbers of locusts swarmed over the whole land. They not only completely destroyed all hope of any crops by consuming all the plants and part of their roots and the leaves of the trees along with the tender shoots of their branches, but even gnawed away the bitter bark and dry wood. The locusts were then swept away by the wind and driven together into dense masses. After being carried through the air for a long time they finally were drowned in the African Sea. 3 The great waves deposited enormous heaps of them along wide stretches of the shore where the decaying and putrefying masses gave out a stench foul beyond belief and very infectious. The plague that followed was so severe that it affected all living creatures. Everywhere the putrefying bodies of the birds, domestic animals, and wild beasts destroyed by the contaminated atmosphere increased the virulence of the pestilence. 4 Indeed the human toll taken by the plague was so frightful that my whole body trembles as I refer to it. In Numidia, where King Micipsa was ruling at that time, it is recorded that eight hundred thousand men perished, while along the maritime coast closely adjacent to Carthage and to Utica more than two hundred thousand lost their lives. In the city of Utica itself, thirty thousand soldiers who were stationed there to protect all Africa were killed and wiped off the face of the earth. 5  This disaster came so suddenly and with so great violence that at Utica in a single day and through one gate alone more than fifteen hundred bodies of young men and women were said to have been carried out for burial.

6 Nevertheless, as a result of the favour and kindness of Almighty God, by whose mercy and in whose trust I speak of these matters, I should say this. Although locusts in our times have appeared unexpectedly now and then - and this has happened in various places - for the most part they have been endurable even though they did some harm. But never has there been a plague of locusts like this. So long as these locusts were alive they were utterly unbearable, but when they were dead they became even more so. For while they were still alive, everything seemed about to perish, but once they were destroyed, as even more creatures died, they wished that the locusts had not perished.

[12] L   In the six hundred and twenty-seventh year of the City, during the consulship of L. Caecilius Metellus and Q. Titius Flamininus {123 B.C.}, the city of Carthage in Africa, which had been destroyed twenty-two years earlier, was now ordered to be restored. But before the city was rebuilt and settled by families of Roman citizens brought there to live, an extraordinary prodigy occurred. 2 Surveyors sent to determine the boundaries of the territory belonging to the city of Carthage discovered that the posts erected to mark the boundaries had been torn up, bitten, and gnawed to pieces by wolves during the night. The Romans then were for some time in doubt whether the restoration of Carthage would be advantageous to the peace of Rome.

3 In that same year, Gaius Gracchus, the brother of that famous Gracchus who had previously been killed in a civil riot, was aided in his election to the office of tribune of the plebs by an uprising of the people. This brought great harm to the Republic. 4 For Gracchus continuously incited the Roman people to bitter dissension by his largesses and immoderate promises, especially those made in the interests of the agrarian law in behalf of which his brother, Tiberius Gracchus, had met his death. Finally, however, he withdrew from the tribunate. 5 As the tribune of the plebs, he was succeeded by Minucius, who proceeded to tear up most of his statutes and to repeal the greater part of his laws. C. Gracchus, accompanied by Fulvius Flaccus and surrounded by a huge crowd, then went up to the Capitol where an assembly was in session. A great tumult arose there. The killing of a certain herald by the partisans of Gracchus was a summons to battle. 6 Flaccus, escorted by his two sons who were armed and also accompanied by Gracchus who was wearing a toga and concealing a dagger under his left arm, sent a herald ahead to offer the slaves their freedom. When they did not accept his offer, he seized the temple of Diana as a citadel.

7 As a counter move, D. Brutus, a man of consular rank, rushed down the Publician Hill and made a spirited attack upon him, but Flaccus fought most stubbornly for a long time. Gracchus, meanwhile, withdrew to the Temple of Minerva and planned to fall on his sword but was restrained by the intervention of Laetorius. The battle raged a long time, the issue ever hanging in the balance. Finally, however, the bowmen dispatched by Opimius scattered the crowd which was engaged in hand-to-hand fighting. 8 The two Flacci, father and son, fled through the Temple of Luna, leaped down into a private house, and barricaded the doors. Their pursuers tore down the walls made of wickerwork and stabbed them both to death.

When his friends had fought a long time and many of them had laid down their lives in his behalf, Gracchus barely managed to reach the Sublician Bridge, where, in order to avoid being captured alive, he offered his neck to his slave. 9 The head of Gracchus, which had been cut off, was brought to the consul; his body was sent to his mother Cornelia who lived in the town of Misenum. This Cornelia, the daughter of the greater Africanus, had withdrawn to Misenum, as I have said, upon the death of her elder son. The property of Gracchus was confiscated and the young Flaccus was put to death in prison, while two hundred and fifty of the faction of Gracchus, according to report, were slain on the Aventine Hill. 10 The consul Opimius was as cruel in the judicial investigations as he had been brave in battle. He executed more than three thousand men, most of whom, having been denied even a chance to defend themselves, were killed in spite of their innocence.

[13] L   In those same days, Metellus overran and subdued the Balearic Islands. By slaughtering a great many of the inhabitants, he suppressed a dangerous outbreak of piracy that had arisen at this time among the people. 2 The proconsul Gnaeus Domitius also defeated the Allobrogian Gauls in a severe battle near the town of Vindalium. The principal reason for his victory was the terror that the strange appearance of the elephants aroused in the horses of the enemy and in the enemy themselves, causing them to flee in every direction. Twenty thousand of the Allobroges, according to report, lost their lives there and three thousand were captured.

3 At this same time an eruption of Mount Etna took place. It was more violent than usual. Fiery torrents overflowed and spread far and wide. The city of Catana and its territory were overwhelmed to so great an extent that the roofs of the houses, scorched and weighed down by the hot cinders, crumbled in ruins to the ground. For the sake of relieving the suffering that this disaster had brought to the people of Catana, the Senate released them from the obligation of paying any tribute for ten years.

[14] L   In the six hundred and twenty-eighth year of the City, the consul Fabius {121 B.C.} encountered Bituitus, king of the Arverni, a people of the Gallic state. At this time the king was making extensive preparations for war. The army of the consul was so small that Bituitus boasted that the small number of the Romans would scarcely suffice to feed the dogs that were with his army. 2 Realising that the one bridge over the river Rhone was too small for him to lead his troops across, Bituitus had another constructed by chaining together small boats over which he spread boards and fastened them down. 3 A battle was begun which raged long and fiercely, finally ending in the defeat and rout of the Gauls. For the Gauls, while each man was thinking of his own safety, thoughtlessly allowed too great a concentration of their columns and in their haste to cross broke the chains binding the bridge. Boats and men immediately sank. 4 Of the one hundred and eighty thousand soldiers reported in the army of Bituitus, one hundred and fifty thousand were slain or drowned.

5 The consul Q. Marcius {118 B.C.} made war upon a tribe of Gauls living at the foot of the - 1+Alps. When they saw themselves surrounded by the Roman troops and realised that they would be an unequal match for them in battle, they killed their wives and children and then threw themselves into blazing fires. 6 Those whom the Romans had made captive before they had had any opportunity of taking their own lives later did away with themselves, some by the sword, some by hanging, and others by starvation. Not one survived, not even one small boy who, in his love for life, might have been willing to endure the state of slavery.

[15] L   In the six hundred and thirty-fifth year of the City, during the consulship of P. Scipio Nasica and L. Calpurnius Bestia {111 B.C.}, the senate, acting with the consent of the Roman people, declared war on Jugurtha, the king of the Numidians.

2 But I myself shall touch but briefly on Jugurtha and then only to mention him in order to follow an orderly arrangement in my narrative. Owing to the excellent work of historians, people are generally sufficiently well informed not only of his fickle and insufferable character but also of the exploits which he carried out with a treachery that matched his great energy.

3 When Jugurtha, the adopted son of the Numidian king Micipsa, was made co-heir with the king's natural children, he first put to death Hiempsal, one of the heirs and then after defeating Adherbal, the other heir, drove him from Africa. 4 By offering a bribe of money, he then corrupted the consul Calpurnius, who had been dispatched against him, and persuaded the consul to agree to most disgraceful conditions of peace. 5 Moreover, when Jugurtha came to Rome, he bribed or tried to corrupt everybody with money, and thus involved all in sedition and dissension. When he was on the point of leaving, he branded Rome with these shameful words, which well describe the City: "O city for sale, and doomed to perish, if it can only find a buyer!" 

6 The following year Jugurtha overwhelmed A. Postumius in battle at the city of Calama. The Roman general had been placed in command of an army of forty thousand soldiers by his brother, the consul Postumius {110 B.C.} , and was very eager to seize this city because it was the repository of the royal treasury. Jugurtha, after defeating him, exacted a most humiliating treaty. Then he added to his own kingdom almost all the African territories that were trying to free themselves from the Roman rule. 7 Later, however, he was checked by the integrity and military ability of the consul Metellus {109 B.C.}, who defeated him in two battles. With his own eyes he now saw his Numidia ravaged and himself powerless to defend it. Forced by Metellus to surrender, Jugurtha gave three hundred hostages, promised that he would turn over to him grain and other supplies, and handed over more than three thousand deserters. 8 He failed, however, to live up to the terms of the treaty and continued his unwarranted attacks until he was finally overcome by the Roman forces and the astuteness of Marius, who was just as clever as Jugurtha himself. Marius gave an excellent example of this trait when he outwitted the enemy and captured the city of Capsa, which, they say, was founded by the Phoenician Hercules and which now was filled with royal treasure.

9 Jugurtha finally despaired of his own affairs and resources and made an alliance with Bocchus, the king of the Moors. Greatly strengthened by the cavalry contingents of the latter, he harassed the army of Marius with frequent raids. 10 Finally at Cirta, an ancient city and the capital of Masinissa, he encountered the Romans, who were preparing an assault upon that city. He drew up his forces in battle array against a cavalry force numbering sixty thousand. 11 No battle was ever more turbulent or more harrowing to Roman soldiers. A cloud of dust, raised by the galloping and snorting of the horses as they circled about in the attack, veiled the heavens, shut out the daylight, and brought on darkness; so great a shower of missiles poured down upon the Romans that no part of the body was safe. Moreover, the density of the atmosphere prevented them from seeing any distance ahead, while their great numbers, as they crowded together, made manoeuvres for defending themselves difficult to execute. 12 The Moorish and Numidian cavalry did not have to exert themselves much to carry out a well-timed javelin attack designed to break up the ranks of their opponents who were ideally placed. They kept on discharging their javelins freely in their confident assurance that the missiles must of necessity strike their mark. Driven into one space, the Roman infantrymen were pressed closely against one another.

Night afforded the Romans a temporary relief from their perilous situation, 13 but the next day the same conditions of battle and of danger prevailed. It was useless for a soldier to rush against the enemy with drawn sword, for he would be driven back by javelins hurled from a distance; the infantrymen could not flee, since the cavalry, which had completely hemmed them in, could swiftly overtake them. 14 When the third day came and there was no help from any source, the dread appearance of death presented itself on all sides. Finally the consul Marius offered a means of escape by undertaking a brave and desperate move. His entire army in battle formation rushed forth simultaneously from valley and open plain, and offered battle everywhere at the same time. 15 The enemy, again circling around them, not only cut to pieces the flanks of the line but also kept overwhelming the centre with javelins that reached their mark though hurled from a distance; and what is more, the heat of the sun, unbearable thirst, and the presence of death all around them exhausted the disorganised Romans and reduced them to a state of complete despair. 16 At this point a storm of wind and rain was sent from Heaven against the Africans. This kind of assistance, which familiar to the Romans, brought unexpected deliverance. The sudden downpour cooled the thirsty and heated Romans and gave them drink, but so far as the Numidians were concerned, it made slippery the shafts of their javelins, which they were accustomed to hurl with their hands without using thongs. Thus their javelins became useless. 17 The shields, too, which they usually carried and which were made from stretched and toughened elephant hide, though easy to handle and offering adequate protection, were of such a nature that they absorbed rain like a sponge. This added weight rendered them unmanageable and quite useless in affording protection, since they could not be manipulated with ease. When the Moors and Numidians had thus been unexpectedly thrown into confusion and rendered helpless, Bocchus and Jugurtha took flight. 18 Later, however, these same kings threw ninety thousand soldiers into a final struggle. When the Romans conquered them, their forces, it is said, were slaughtered almost to the last man. Bocchus despaired of any hope of further success in war and sued for peace. As the price of peace he turned over Jugurtha to Sulla who brought him to Marius. 19 Jugurtha, who had been captured by deceit, was now weighed down by chains and driven with his two sons before the chariot in a triumph. Shortly afterward he was strangled to death in prison.

20 In those same days an ominous and sad prodigy was seen. As L. Helvius, a Roman knight, accompanied by his wife and daughter, was returning from Rome to Apulia, he was overtaken by a storm. When he saw that his daughter was terrified, he abandoned the carriages and took to horse in order to reach the nearest shelter more quickly. As soon as his maiden daughter began to ride in the centre of the cavalcade, 21 she was knocked senseless by a bolt of lightning. Despite the fact that all her clothes were stripped from her body without being torn, that the bands at her breast and feet were loosened, and that her necklaces and bracelets were broken, her body remained unharmed except that it lay shamefully exposed with her tongue protruding a little. The horse that she had been riding lay lifeless some distance away. Its loosened trappings, reins, and harness were widely scattered.

22 Shortly thereafter, L. Veturius, a Roman knight, secretly defiled Aemilia, a Vestal Virgin. This same Aemilia also led into temptation and corrupted two other Vestal Virgins, whom she had induced to enter into sexual relations with the companions of her own seducer. When a slave disclosed the affair, they all suffered punishment.

23 In these days of the Jugurthine War, the consul L. Cassius {107 B.C.}, who was in Gaul, pursued the Tigurini as far as the Ocean. When he was on his way back, he was surrounded and slain in an ambush laid by the enemy. 24 Lucius Piso, a man of consular rank and at the same time the legate of the consul Cassius, was also killed. The other legate, C. Publius, in accordance with the terms of a most disgraceful treaty, was handed over to the Tigurini together with hostages and a half share of all their property. This was done in order to save the surviving part of the army, which had fled for refuge to the camp. On returning to Rome, Publius was summoned to trial by the tribune of the plebs Caelius on the charge that he had given hostages to the Tigurini. Consequently he had to flee into exile. 25 The proconsul Caepio captured a city of the Gauls, Tolosa by name, and carried away from the Temple of Apollo one hundred thousand pounds of gold and one hundred and ten thousand pounds of silver. He then sent this treasure under guard to Massilia, a city friendly to the Roman people. But the men whom he had commissioned to guard and transport it were secretly slain, as some bear witness, and Caepio is said then to have criminally appropriated all the treasure. On account of his action an investigation, far reaching in scope, was later held at Rome.

following chapters (16-24)

Attalus' home page   |   22.12.20   |   Any comments?