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Marcus Junianus Justinus
Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus.
translated, with notes, by the Rev. John Selby Watson.
London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Convent Garden (1853).


Table of contents



War of Pyrrhus with the Romans, I.—The Romans refuse aid from Carthage; make peace with Pyrrhus; send an embassy to Ptolemy Philadelphus; Cineas; Pyrrhus retires to Sicily, II.—Account of Tyre; rise of Strato, III.—Dido leaves Tyre, IV.—Founds Carthage; its prosperity, V.—Iarbas; death of Dido; human sacrifices at Carthage, VI.—Disasters of the Carthaginians in Sardinia; mutiny of the army; Malchus; Carthalo, VII.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1 PYRRHUS, king of Epirus, therefore, being solicited by a second embassy from the Tarentines, to which were added the entreaties of the Samnites and Lucanians, who likewise needed assistance against the Romans, was induced to comply, not so much by the prayers of the suitors, as by the hope of making himself master of Italy, and promised to come to them with an army. When his thoughts, indeed, were once directed to that enterprise, the examples of his predecessors began to impel him violently towards it, in order that he might not appear inferior to his uncle Alexander, whom the Tarentines had had for a defender against the Bruttii, or to have less spirit than Alexander the Great, who had subdued the east in so distant an expedition from his native country. Having left his son Ptolemy, therefore, who was but fifteen years old, as guardian of his kingdom, he landed his army in the harbour of Tarentum, taking with him his two younger sons, Alexander and Helenus, as a comfort to him in so long a voyage. The Roman consul, Valerius Laevinus, hearing of his arrival, and hastening to come to battle with him before the forces of his allies were assembled, led forth his army into the field. Nor did the king, although he was inferior in number of forces, hesitate to engage. But as the Romans were getting the advantage, the appearance of the elephants, previously unknown to them, made them at first stand amazed, and afterwards quit the field; and the strange monsters of the Macedonians1 at once conquered the conquerors. The triumph of the enemy, however, was not bloodless; for Pyrrhus himself was severely wounded, and a great number of his soldiers killed; and he had more glory from his victory than pleasure. Many cities of Italy, moved by the result of this battle, surrendered to Pyrrhus; among others also Locri, betraying the Roman garrison, revolted to him. Of the prisoners, Pyrrhus sent hack two hundred to Rome without ransom, that the Romans, after experiencing his valour, might experience also his generosity. Some days after, when the forces of his allies had come up, he fought a second battle with the Romans, of which the event was similar to that of the former.

2 In the meantime, Mago, general of the Carthaginians, being sent to the aid of the Romans with a hundred and twenty ships, went to the senate, saying that “the Carthaginians were much concerned that they should be distressed by war in Italy from a foreign prince; and that for this reason he had been despatched to assist them; that, as they were attacked by a foreign enemy, they might be supported by foreign aid.” The thanks of the senate were given to the Carthaginians, and the succours sent back. But Mago, with the cunning of a Carthaginian, went privately, a few days after, to Pyrrhus, as if to be a peace-maker from the people of Carthage, but in reality to discover the king’s views with regard to Sicily, to which island it was reported that he was sent for; since the Carthaginians had the same reason1 for sending assistance to the Romans, namely that Pyrrhus might be detained by a war with that people in Italy, and prevented from crossing over into Sicily. During the course of these transactions, Fabricius Luscinus, being commissioned by the senate of Rome, had made peace with Pyrrhus. To ratify the treaty, Cineas was sent to Rome by Pyrrhus with valuable presents, but found nobody’s house open for their reception. To this instance of Roman incorruptibility, another, very similar, happened about the same time. Certain ambassadors, who were sent by the senate into Egypt, having refused some costly presents offered them by Ptolemy, and being invited to supper some days after, golden crowns were sent to them, which, from respect to the king, they accepted, but placed them the next day on the king’s statues. Cineas, bringing word that “the treaty with the Romans was broken off by Appius Claudius,” and being asked by Pyrrhus “what sort of city Rome was,” replied that “it appeared to him a city of kings.” Soon after, ambassadors from the Sicilians arrived, to offer Pyrrhus the dominion of the whole island, which was harassed by constant wars with the Carthaginians. Leaving his son Alexander, therefore, at Locri, and securing the cities of his allies with strong garrisons, Pyrrhus transported his army into Sicily.

3 Since I come to speak of the Carthaginians, a short account shall be given of their origin, tracing back, to some extent, the history of the Tyrians, whose misfortunes were much to be pitied. The nation of the Tyrians was founded by the Phoenicians, who, suffering from an earthquake, and abandoning their country, settled at first near the Syrian lake,3 and afterwards on the coast near the sea, where they built a city, which, from the abundance of fish, they named Sidon, for so the Phoenicians call a fish in their language. Many years after, their city being stormed by the king of the Ascalonians,4 sailing away to the place where Tyre stands they built that city the year before the fall of Troy. Here, harassed for a long time, and in various ways by attacks from the Persians, they resisted, indeed, successfully, but, as their strength was exhausted, they suffered the most cruel treatment from their slaves, who were then extraordinarily numerous. These traitors, having entered into a conspiracy, killed their masters and all the free people of the city, and thus, becoming masters of the place, took possession of the houses of their owners, assumed the government, appropriated wives to themselves, and begot, what they themselves were not, freemen. Out of so many thousands of slaves, there was one who was moved to compassion by the mild disposition of his aged master and the hard fortune of his little son, and looked upon them, not with savage fierceness, but with humanity, affection, and pity. He put them out of the way, therefore, as if they had been killed; and when the slaves came to deliberate about the condition of their government, and had resolved that a king should be elected from their own body, and that he should be preferred. as most acceptable to the gods, who should first see the rising sun, he mentioned the matter to Strato (for that was the name of his master), who was then in concealment. Being instructed by him, and proceeding with the rest, about the middle of the night, to a certain plain, he alone, when they were all looking towards the east, kept his eye directed towards the west. This at first seemed madness to the others. to look in the west for the rising sun; but when day began to advance, and the rising luminary to shine on the highest eminences of the city, he, while all the rest were watching to see the sun itself, was the first to point out to them the sunshine on the loftiest pinnacle of the town. This thought seemed above the wit of a slave; and when they asked him who had put it into his head, he confessed that it was his master. It was then seen how far the abilities of freemen surpass those of slaves, who, though they may be first in viciousness, are not first in wisdom. The old man and his son were therefore spared; and the slaves, thinking that they had been preserved by the interposition of some deity, made Strato king. After his death, the throne descended to his son, and subsequently to his grandsons. This atrocity of these slaves was much noticed, and was a terrible example to the whole world. Alexander the Great, when he was prosecuting his wars, some time after, in the east, having taking the city, crucified, as an avenger of the general safety, and in memory of the former massacre, all those who survived the siege; preserving from injury only the family of Strato, and restoring the throne5 to his descendants; and sending to the island, at the same time, inhabitants that were free-born and guiltless, that, as the race of slaves was extirpated, an entirely new generation might be established in the city.

4 The Tyrians, being thus settled under the auspices of Alexander, quickly grew powerful by frugality and industry. Before the massacre of the masters by the slaves, when they abounded in wealth and population, they sent a portion of their youth into Africa, and founded Utica. Meanwhile their king died at Tyre, appointing his son Pygmalion and his daughter Elissa, a maiden of extraordinary beauty, his heirs. But the people gave the throne to Pygmalion, who was quite a boy. Elissa married Acerbas,6 her uncle, who was priest of Hercules, a dignity next to that of the king. Acerbas had great but concealed riches, having laid up his gold, for fear of the king, not in his house, but in the earth; a fact of which, though people had no certain knowledge of it, report was not silent. Pygmalion, excited by the account, and forgetful of the laws of humanity, murdered his uncle, who was also his brother-in-law, without the least regard to natural affection. Elissa long entertained a hatred to her brother for his crime, but at last, dissembling her detestation, and assuming mild looks for the time, she secretly contrived a mode of flight, admitting into her confidence some of the leading men of the city, in whom she saw that there was a similar hatred of the king, and an equal desire to escape. She then addressed her brother in such a way as to deceive him; pretending that “she had a desire to remove to his house, in order that the home of her husband might no longer revive in her, when she was desirous to forget him, the oppressive recollection of her sorrows, and that the sad remembrances of him might no more present themselves to her eyes.” To these words of his sister, Pygmalion was no unwilling listener, thinking that with her the gold of Acerbas would come to him. But Elissa put the attendants, who were sent by the king to assist in her removal, on board some vessels in the early part of the evening, and sailing out into the deep made them throw some loads of sand, put up in sacks, as if it was money, into the sea. Then, with tears and mournful ejaculations, she invoked Acerbas, entreating that “he would favourably receive his wealth which he had left behind him, and accept that as an offering to his shade, which he had found to be the cause of his death.” Next she addressed the attendants, and said that “death had long been desired by her, but as for them, cruel torments and a direful end awaited them, for having disappointed the tyrant’s avarice of those treasures, in the hopes of obtaining which he had committed fratricide.“ Having thus struck terror into them all, she took them with her as companions of her flight. Some bodies of senators, too, who were ready against that night, came to join her, and having offered a sacrifice to Hercules, whose priest Acerbas had been, proceeded to seek a settlement in exile.

5 Their first landing place was the isle of Cyprus, where the priest of Jupiter, with his wife and children, offered himself to Elissa, at the instigation of the gods, as her companion and the sharer of her fortunes, stipulating for the perpetual honour of the priesthood for himself and his descendants. The stipulation was received as a manifest omen of good fortune. It was a custom among the Cyprians to send their daughters, on stated days before their marriage, to the sea-shore, to prostitute themselves, and thus procure money for their marriage portions, and to pay, at the same time, offerings to Venus for the preservation of their chastity in time to come. Of these Elissa ordered about eighty to be seized and taken on board, that her men might have wives, and her city a population. During the course of these transactions, Pygmalion, having heard of his sister’s flight, and preparing to pursue her with unfeeling hostility, was scarcely induced by the prayers of his mother and the menaces of the gods to remain quiet; the inspired augurs warning him that “he would not escape with impunity, if he interrupted the founding of a city that was to become the most prosperous in the world.” By this means some respite was given to the fugitives; and Elissa, arriving in a gulf of Africa, attached the inhabitants of the coast, who rejoiced at the arrival of foreigners, and the opportunity of bartering commodities with them, to her interest. Having then bargained for a piece of ground, as much as could be covered7 with an ox-hide, where she might refresh her companions, wearied with their long voyage, until she could conveniently resume her progress, she directed the hide to be cut into the thinnest possible strips, and thus acquired a greater portion of ground than she had apparently demanded; whence the place had afterwards the name of Byrsa. The people of the neighbourhood subsequently gathering about her, bringing, in hopes of gain, many articles to the strangers for sale, and gradually fixing their abodes there, some resemblance of a city arose from the concourse. Ambassadors from the people of Utica, too, brought them presents as relatives, and exhorted them “to build a city where they had chanced to obtain a settlement.” An inclination to detain the strangers was felt also by the Africans; and, accordingly, with the consent of all, Carthage was founded, an annual tribute being fixed for the ground which it was to occupy. At the commencement of digging the foundations an ox’s head was found, which was an omen that the city would be wealthy, indeed, but laborious and always enslaved. It was therefore removed to another place, where the head of a horse was found, which, indicating that the people would be warlike and powerful, portended an auspicious site. In a short time, as the surrounding people came together at the report, the inhabitants became numerous, and the city itself extensive.

6 When the power of the Carthaginians, from success in their proceedings, had risen to some height, Hiarbas, king of the Maxitani,8 desiring an interview with ten of the chief men of Carthage, demanded Elissa in marriage, denouncing war in case of a refusal. The deputies, fearing to report this message to the queen, acted towards her with Carthaginian artifice, saying that “the king asked for some person to teach him and his Africans a more civilized way of life, but who could be found that would leave his relations and go to barbarians and people that were living like wild beasts?” Being then reproached by the queen, “in case they refused a hard life for the benefit of their country, to which, should circumstances require, their life itself was due,” they disclosed the king’s message, saying that “she herself, if she wished her city to be secure, must do what she required of others.” Being caught by this subtlety, she at last said (after calling for a long time with many tears and mournful lamentations on the name of her husband Acerbas), that “she would go whither the fate of her city called her.” Taking three months for the accomplishment of her resolution, and having raised a funeral pile at the extremity of the city, she sacrificed many victims, as if she would appease the shade of her husband, and make her offerings to him before her marriage; and then, taking a sword, she ascended the pile, and, looking towards the people, said, that “she would go to her husband as they had desired her,” and put an end to her life with the sword. As long as Carthage remained unconquered, she was worshipped as a goddess. This city was founded seventy-two years9 before Rome; but while the bravery of its inhabitants made it famous in war, it was internally disturbed with various troubles, arising from civil differences. Being afflicted, among other calamities, with a pestilence, they adopted a cruel religious ceremony, an execrable abomination, as a remedy for it; for they immolated human beings as victims, and brought children (whose age excites pity even in enemies) to the altars, entreating favour of the gods by shedding the blood of those for whose life the gods are generally wont to be entreated.

7 In consequence of the gods, therefore, being rendered adverse by such atrocities, after they had long fought unsuccessfully in Sicily, and had transferred the war into Sardinia, they were defeated in a great battle with the loss of the greater part of their army; a disaster for which they sentenced their general Malchus,10 under whose conduct they had both conquered a part of Sicily and achieved great exploits against the Africans, to remain in exile with the portion of his army that survived. The soldiers, indignant at this sentence, sent deputies to Carthage, to beg, in the first place, permission for them to return, and pardon for their ill success in the field; and, in the second place, to announce that “what they could not obtain by entreaty, they would obtain by force of arms.” The prayers and threats of the deputies being alike slighted, the troops, after some days, went on board ship, and came under arms to the city, when they called gods and men to witness that “they were not come to overthrow, but to recover their country; and that they would show their countrymen that it was not valour, but fortune, that had failed them in the preceding war.” By stopping the supplies, and besieging the city, they reduced the Carthaginians to the greatest despair. At this time Cartalo, the son of Malchus the exiled general, returning by his father’s camp from Tyre (whither he had been sent by the Carthaginians, to carry the tenth of the plunder of Sicily, which his father had taken, to Hercules), and being desired by his father to wait on him, replied that “he would discharge his religious duties to the public,11 before those of merely private obligation.” His father, though he was indignant at his conduct, was nevertheless afraid to obstruct him in the performance of his religious offices. Some days after, Cartalo, having obtained leave of absence from the people, and returning to his father, presented himself before all the people, dressed in the purple and fillets of his sacerdotal dignity, when his father took him aside, and said, “Hast thou dared, most unnatural wretch, to appear before so many of thy miserable countrymen, thus arrayed in purple and gold, and to enter, with all the marks of peaceful prosperity about thee, and exulting as it were in triumph, into this sad and mournful camp? Couldst thou display thyself nowhere else to thy fellow creatures? Was no place fitter for it than where the misery of thy father, and the distress of his unhappy banishment, were to be seen? I have to add too, that when thou wast summoned a short time ago, tho proudly despisedst, I do not say thy father, but certainly the general of thy countrymen. And what else dost thou exhibit in that purple and those crowns, but the titles of my victories? Since thou, therefore, acknowledgest nothing in thy father but the name of an exile, I also will assume the character, not of a father, but of a general, and will make such an example of thee, that no one may hereafter dare to sport with the miseries and sorrows of a parent.” He accordingly ordered him to be nailed, in all his finery, on a high cross within view of the city. A few days after he took Carthage, and assembling the people, complained of the injustice of his banishment, pleaded necessity as his excuse for making war upon them, and added that “being content with his victory, and the punishment of the authors of their country’s misery,12 he granted a free pardon for his unjust banishment to all the rest.” Having accordingly put ten senators to death, he left the city to the government of its laws. But being accused himself, shortly after, of aspiring to be king, he paid the penalty of his twofold cruelty to his son arid his country. He was succeeded, as commander-in-chief, by Mago, by whose exertions the power of Carthage, the extent of its territories, and its military glory, was much increased.


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1 As having been sent to Pyrrhus by Ptolemy Ceraunus, king of Macedonia,
xvii. 2.

2 Nam Romanis eadem causa mittendi auxilii Carthaginiensibus fuit, &c.] Berneccerus and Vorstius think that this passage requires correction. Scheffer supposes that some words are lost, as there is nothing to which eadem can be referred.

3 Assyrium stagnum.] Assyrium for Syrium.—Glareanus. He means the lake of Gennesaret.—Bongarsius: with whom Berneccerus and Faber agree.

4 Ascaloniorum.] Inhabitants of Ascalon, between Azotus and Gaza.

5 It does not appear how they were deprived of it.

6 Called by Virgil Sichaeus. Servius thinks that the real name was Sicharbas, which Faber would insert in Justin’s text.

7 Tegi posset.] Justin misapplies this word. A better account is given by Appian, de Bell. Pun. init: *O(/SON BU/RSA TAU/ROU PERILA/BH|: and Livy says, Quantum loci bovis tergo amplecti potuerint. Virgil also, Aen. i. 372: Taurino quantum possent circumdare tergo.—Berneccerus. Scheffer thinks that we should read cingi.

8 Four old editions have Mauritani; two manuscripts MauriWetzel.

9 There is a strange variety of opinions among authors as to the time when this city was founded. Some make it thirty years prior to the Trojan war, as Philistas in Eusebius, or fifty, as Appian, both of whom deny that Dido was the founder of it; some say that it was founded after Troy was taken, but before the building of Rome; but do not agree as to the number of years. Vell. Paterculus, i. 6, makes it fifty-six years older than Rome; Livy, Epit. li., says that it stood seven hundred years, and was destroyed A.U.C. 607; a calculation which makes it ninety-three years older than Rome.—Lemaire. See also Bongarsius and Berneccerus.

10 Wetzel has the name Maleus in his text, but favours Malchus, a conjecture of Is. Vossius, in his note.

11 Publicae religionis officia.] The public payment of his vows for his safe return.—Wetzel.

12 Auctoribus miserorum civium is the reading of all the texts, but cannot be right. Faber conjectures auctoribus miseriarum civilium, which I have adopted. Vorstius proposed miseriae civium; and Vossius observes that “doctissimus Peyraredus” read misertum civium, which Vossius himself approved, but which certainly cannot be adopted unless further changes are made in the context.


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The English translation of Justin's Epitome was entered by David Camden (2003) from Watson's 1853 edition. This text is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed for private and educational use, provided this original notice is kept intact. Any commercial use of this text, including print-publication and inclusion in subscription-based archives, is prohibited.

The Latin text and French translation, along with the secondary material written in French, are copyright © Marie-Pierre Arnaud-Lindet 2003, and are NOT in the public domain.

This material may only be used for private and educational use and provided that its copyright status is properly cited. Any modification, remote loading, publication, reproduction on another site, diffusion on the internet, or commercial use of these texts is strictly prohibited without the prior agreement of the author.