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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).


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Book XIX

Hasdrubal and Hamilcar, sons of Mago; Hasdrubal dies in Sardinia; war of the Carthaginians in Sicily, I.—The Carthaginians defeated in Sicily; Himilco succeeds Hamilcar; pestilence in the army, II.—Return of Himilco to Carthage; his speech, and death, III.

1 2 3

1 MAGO, the general of the Carthaginians, after having been the first, by regulating their military discipline, to lay the foundations of the Punic power, and after establishing the strength of the state, not less by his skill in the art of war than by his personal prowess, died, leaving behind him two sons, Hasdrubal and Hamilcar, who, pursuing the honourable course of their father, were heirs to his greatness as well as to his name. Under their generalship war was made upon Sardinia; and a contest was also maintained against the Africans, who demanded tribute for many years for the ground on which the city stood. But as the cause of the Africans was the more just, their fortune was likewise superior, and the struggle with them was ended—not by exertions in the field—by the payment of a sum of money. In Sardinia Hasdrubal was severely wounded, and died there, leaving the command to his brother Hamilcar; and not only the mourning throughout his country, but the fact that he had held eleven dictatorships and enjoyed four triumphs,1 rendered his death an object of general notice. The courage of the enemy, too, was raised by it, as if the power of the Carthaginians had expired with their general. The people of Sicily, therefore, applying, in consequence of the perpetual depredations of the Carthaginians, to Leonidas, the brother of the king of Sparta, for aid, a grievous war broke out, which continued, with various success, for a long period.

During the course of these transactions, ambassadors came to Carthage from Darius king of Persia, bringing an edict, by which the Carthaginians were forbidden to offer human sacrifices, and to eat dog’s flesh, and were commanded to burn the bodies of the dead rather than bury them in the earth;2 and requesting, at the same time, assistance against Greece, on which Darius was about to make war.3 The Carthaginians declined giving him aid, on account of their continual wars with their neighbours, but, that they might not appear uncompliant in every thing, willingly submitted to the decree.

2 Hamilcar, meanwhile, was killed in battle in Sicily, leaving three sons, Himilco, Hanno, and Gisco, Hasdrubal also had the same number of sons, Hannibal, Hasdrubal, and Sappho,4 By these the affairs of the Carthaginians were managed at this period. War was made upon the Moors, a contest was maintained with the Numidians, and the Africans were compelled to remit the tribute paid for the building of the city. At length, however, as so numerous a family of commanders was dangerous to the liberty of the state, since they themselves managed and decided every thing, a hundred judges were chosen out of the senate, who were to demand of the generals, when they returned from war, an account of their proceedings, in order that, under this control, they might exercise their command5 in war with a regard to the judicature and laws at home.

In Sicily, Himilco succeeded as general in the room of Hamilcar, but, after fighting several successful battles, both by land and sea, and taking many towns, he suddenly lost his army by the influence of a pestilential constellation.6 When the news of this arrived at Carthage, the country was overwhelmed with grief, and all places rung with lamentations, as if the city had been taken by an enemy; private houses were closed, the temples of the gods were shut, all religious ceremonies were intermitted, and all private business suspended. They all then crowded to the harbour, and inquired of the few that came out of their ships, survivors of the calamity, respecting their relatives. But when, after wavering hope, dread attended with suspense, and uncertain apprehensions of bereavement, the loss of their relatives became known to the unhappy inquirers, the groans of mourners, and the cries and sorrowful lamentations of unhappy mothers, were heard along the whole shore.

3 In this state of things, the bereaved general came out of his ship, ungirt, and in a mean dress like that of a slave, at sight of whom the troops of mourners gathered into one body. He, lifting up his hands to heaven. sometimes bewailed his own lot, sometimes the misfortune of the state, and sometimes complained of “the gods, who had deprived him of such honours obtained in the field, and the glory of so many victories, who, after he had taken so many cities, and had defeated the enemy by land and sea, had destroyed his victorious army, not by war, but by a pestilence. Yet he brought,” he said, “this important consolation to his countrymen, that though the enemy might rejoice at their ill-success, they could assume no glory from it, as they could neither say that those who had died were slain by them, nor that those who had returned had been put to flight. That the plunder which they had taken in their deserted camp was not what they could exhibit as the spoils of a conquered enemy, but what they had seized, as falling to them for want of owners, through the accidental deaths of its possessors. That, as far as the enemy was concerned, they had come off conquerors; as to the pestilence, they were certainly conquered; but that, for himself, he took nothing more to heart than that he could not die among the brave, and was reserved, not to enjoy life, but to be the sport of calamity. However, as he had brought the wretched remains of his army to Carthage, he would follow his fellow soldiers, and prove to his country that he had not prolonged his life to that day because he was desirous to live but that he might not desert by his death, and abandon to the army of the enemy, those whom the horrible disease had spared.” When he had walked, with such lamentations, through the city, and had arrived at the entrance to his own house, he dismissed the crowd that followed him, as if it were the last time that he should speak to them, and then, locking his door and admitting no one, not even his sons, to his presence, he put an end to his life.


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1 He calls a Carthaginian office by a Roman name. Suffetes was the Punic word for their two chief magistrates. As for triumphal processions, the Africans, according to Servius, Aen. iv. 37, were the first people that had them, long before they were introduced at Rome.

2 Mortuorumque corpora cremare potius quam terra obruere, a rege jubebantur.] As the Persians did not burn, but bury, the bodies of the dead, thinking that fire was polluted by corpses, Freinshemius, on Curt. ii. 13, 15, would reject the words a rege jubebantur, and make the infinitives cremare and obruere depend on prohibebantur, which precedes; so that the sense may be, “they were forbidden to burn the dead rather than bury them in the earth;” that is, they were commanded to bury rather than burn them. Whoever thinks this construction harsh, may perhaps be better pleased with the correction of Gronovius, mortuorumque corpora cremare [prohibebantur] quae potius terra obruere a rege jubebantur.—Lemaire. But Gronovius’s construction is not less harsh than that of Freinshemius. Kirchmann, de Fun. Rom. i, 2, would make cremare and obruere change places; an alteration which Berneccerus and Vorstius approve. But perhaps Justin or Trogus merely made a mistake.

3 He was prevented by death, See
ii. 10.

4 A name that does not occur in any other author. It is perhaps corrupt. In one manuscript it was written Sapho, Should we read Psapho? This certainly is a Punic name. See the “Proverbs” of Apostolius and the “Apophthegms” of Arsenius.—Vossius. Vossius’s emendation is approved by Graevius, Scheffer, Faber, and Wetzel.

5 Imperia agitarent.] I read agitarent with Bongarsius, Berneccerus, Vorstius, and Faber, not cogitarent, which is in the oldest editions. The alteration, says Bongarsius, was made by G. Major.

6 Pestilentis sideris.] The disease was thought to have been an infliction from heaven on the Carthaginians, because they had plundered the temples of Ceres and Proserpine. See Diod. Sic. xiv. 70-72.


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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.

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