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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 XX

Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, makes an expedition to Magna Graecia; Greek origin of many people of Italy, I.—Of Metapontum; Crotona; Locri, II.—War between Crotona and Locri, III.—Pythagoras at Crotona; his death, IV.—Dionysius attacks Crotona; embassy of the Gauls to him; settlements of the Gauls in Italy; Dionysius recalled to Sicily; his death, V.

1 2 3 4 5

1 DIONYSIUS, after expelling the Carthaginians from Sicily, and making himself master of the whole island, thinking that peace might be dangerous to his power, and idleness in so great an army fatal to it, transported his forces into Italy; with a wish, at the same time, that the strength of his soldiers might be invigorated by constant employment, and his dominions enlarged. His first contest was with the Greeks, who occupied the nearest parts of the coast on the Italian sea; and, having conquered them, he attacked their neighbours, looking upon all of Grecian origin who were inhabitants of Italy, as his enemies; and these settlers had then spread, not merely through a part of Italy, but through almost the whole of it. Many Italian cities, indeed, after so long a lapse of time, still exhibit some traces of Greek manners; for the Etrurians, who occupy the shore of the Tuscan sea, came from Lydia; and Troy, after it was taken and overthrown, sent thither the Veneti (whom we see on the coast of the Adriatic), under the leadership of Antenor. Adria, too, which is near the Illyrian sea, and which gave name also to the Adriatic, is a Greek city; and Diomede, being driven by shipwreck, after the destruction of Troy, into those parts, built Arpi. Pisae, likewise, in Liguria, had Grecian founders; and Tarquinii, in Etruria, as well as Spina in Umbria, has its origin from the Thessalians; Perusia was founded by the Achaeans. Need I mention Caere?1 Or the people of Latium, who were settled by Aeneas? Are not the Falisci, are not Nola and Abella, colonies of the Chalcidians? What is all the country of Campania? What are the Bruttii2 and Sabines? What are the Samnites?3 What are the Tarentines,4 whom we understand to have come from Lacedaemon, and to have been called Spurii? The city of Thurii they say that Philoctetes built; and his monument is seen there to this day, as well as the arrows of Hercules, on which the fate of Troy depended, laid up in the temple of Apollo.

2 The people of Metapontum, too, show in their temple of Minerva, the iron tools with which Epeus, by whom their city was founded, built the Trojan horse. Hence all that part of Italy was called Greater Greece.5 But soon after they were settled, the Metapontines, joining with the Sybarites and Crotonians, formed a design to drive the rest of the Greeks from Italy. Capturing, in the first place, the city Siris, they slew, as they were storming it, fifty young men that were embracing the statue of Minerva, and the priest of the goddess dressed in his robes, between the very altars, Suffering, on this account, from pestilence and civil discord, the Crotonians, first of all, consulted the oracle at Delphi, and answer was made to them, that “there would be an end of their troubles, if they appeased the offended deity of Minerva, and the manes of the slain.” After they had begun, accordingly, to make statues of proper size for the young men, and especially for Minerva, the Metapontines, learning what the oracle was, and thinking it expedient to anticipate them in pacifying the manes of the goddess, erected to the young men smaller images of stone, and propitiated the goddess with offerings of bread.6 The plague was thus ended in both places, one people showing their zeal by their magnificence, and the other by their expedition. After they had recovered their health, the Crotonians were not long disposed to be quiet; and being indignant that, at the siege of Siris, assistance had been sent against them by the Locrians, they made war on that people. The Locrians, seized with alarm, had recourse to the Spartans, begging their assistance with humble entreaties. But the Spartans, disliking so distant an expedition, told them “to ask assistance from Castor and Pollux.” This answer, from a city in alliance with them, the deputies did not despise, but going into the nearest temple, and offering sacrifice, they implored aid from those gods. The signs from the victims appearing favourable, and their request, as they supposed, being granted, they were no less rejoiced than if they were to carry the gods with them; and, spreading couches for them in the vessel, and setting out with happy omens, they brought their countrymen comfort though not assistance.

3 This affair becoming known, the Crotonians themselves also sent deputies to the oracle at Delphi, asking the way to victory and a prosperous termination of the war. The answer given was, that “the enemies must be conquered by vows, before they could be conquered by arms.” They accordingly vowed the tenth of the spoil to Apollo, but the Locrians, getting information of this vow, and the god’s answer, vowed a ninth part, keeping the matter however secret, that they might not be outdone in vows. When they came into the field, therefore, and a hundred and twenty thousand Crotonians stood in arms against them, the Locrians, contemplating the smallness of their own force (for they had only fifteen thousand men), and abandoning all hope of victory, devoted themselves to certain death; and such courage, arising out of despair, was felt by each, that they thought they would be as conquerors, if they did not fall without avenging themselves. But while they sought only to die with honour, they had the good fortune to gain the victory; nor was there any other cause of their success but their desperation. While the Locrians were fighting, an eagle constantly attended on their army, and continued flying about them till they were conquerors. On the wings, also, were seen two young men fighting in armour different from that of the rest, of an extraordinary stature, on white horses and in scarlet cloaks; nor were they visible longer than the battle lasted. The incredible swiftness of the report of the battle made this wonderful appearance more remarkable; for on the same day on which it was fought in Italy, the victory was published at Corinth, Athens, and Lacedaemon.

4 After this event the Crotonians ceased to exercise their valour, or to care for distinction in the field. They hated the arms which they had unsuccessfully taken up, and would have abandoned their former way of life for one of luxury, had not Pythagoras arisen among them. This philosopher was born at Samos, the son of Demaratus, a rich merchant, and after being greatly advanced in wisdom, went first to Egypt, and afterwards to Babylon, to learn the motions of the stars and study the origin of the universe, and acquired very great knowledge. Returning from thence, he went to Crete and Lacedaemon, to instruct himself in the laws of Minos and Lycurgus, which at that time were in high repute. Furnished with all these attainments, he came to Crotona, and, by his influence, recalled the people, when they were giving themselves up to luxury, to the observance of frugality. He used daily to recommend virtue, and to enumerate the ill effects of luxury, and the misfortunes of states that had been ruined by its pestilential influence; and he thus produced in the people such a love of temperance, that it was at length thought incredible that any of them should be extravagant. He frequently gave instruction to the women apart from the men, and to the children apart from their parents. He impressed on the female sex the observance of chastity, and submission to their husbands; on the rising generation, modesty and devotion to learning. Through his whole course of instruction he exhorted all to love temperance, as the mother of every virtue; and he produced such an effect upon them by the constancy of his lectures, that the women laid aside their vestments embroidered with gold, and other ornaments and distinctions, as instruments of luxury, and, bringing them into the temple of Juno, consecrated them to the goddess, declaring that modesty, and not fine apparel, was the true adornment of their sex. How much he gained upon the yoking men, his victory over the stubborn minds of the women may serve to indicate. Three hundred of the young men, however, being united by an oath of fraternity, and living apart from the other citizens, drew the attention of the city upon them, as if they met for some secret conspiracy; and the people, when they were all collected in one building, proceeded to burn them in it. In the tumult about sixty lost their lives; the rest went into exile.

Pythagoras, after living twenty years at Crotona, removed to Metapontum, where he died; and such was the admiration of the people for his character, that they made a temple of his house, and worshipped him as a god.

5 Dionysius the tyrant, who, we have said, had transported an army from Sicily into Italy, and made war upon the Greeks there, proceeded, after taking Locri by storm, to attack the Crotonians, who, in consequence of their losses in the former war, were scarcely recovering their strength in a long peace. With their small force, however, they resisted the great army of Dionysius more valiantly than they had before, with so many thousands, resisted the smaller number of the Locrians. So much spirit has weakness in withstanding insolent power; and so much more sure, at times, is an unexpected than an expected victory. But as Dionysius was prosecuting the war, ambassadors from the Gauls, who had burned Rome some months before,7 came to him to desire an alliance and friendship with him; observing that “their country lay in the midst of his enemies, and could be of great service to him, either by supporting him in the field, or by annoying his enemies in the rear when they were engaged with him.” The embassy was well received by Dionysius, who, having made an alliance with them, and being reinforced with assistance from Gaul, renewed the war as it were afresh.

The causes of the Gauls’ coming into Italy, in quest of new settlements, were civil discords and perpetual contentions at home; and when, from impatience of those feuds, they had sought refuge in Italy, they expelled the Tuscans from their country, and founded Milan,8 Como, Brescia, Verona, Bergamo, Trent, and Vicenza. The Tuscans, too, when they were driven from their old settlements, betook themselves, under a captain named Rhaetus, towards the Alps, where they founded the nation of Rhaetia, so named from their leader.

An invasion of Sicily by the Carthaginians obliged Dionysius to return thither; for that people, having recruited their army, had resumed the war, which they had broken off in consequence of the plague, with increased spirit. The leader in the expedition was Hanno the Carthaginian, whose enemy Juniatus, the most powerful of the Carthaginians at that time, having, from hatred to him, given friendly notice to Dionysius, in a letter written in Greek, of the approach of the army and the inactivity of its leader, was found, through the letter being intercepted, guilty of treason; and a decree of the senate was made, “that no Carthaginian should thenceforward study the Greek literature or language, so that no one might be able to speak with the enemy, or write to him, without an interpreter.” Not long after, Dionysius, whom a little before neither Sicily nor Italy could hold, being reduced and weakened by continual wars, was at last killed by a conspiracy among his own subjects.


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1 It is said by Strabo to have been settled by the Pelasgi.

2 They are said to have sprung from the Lucanians,
xxiii. 1, and on the coast of Lucania were many Greek towns.

3 I know not why he intimates that either of these peoples were of Greek origin. Strabo regards the Sabines as autochthones of Italy.

4 See
iii. 4.

5 Major Graecia, or more commonly Magna Graecia, Great Greece.

6Panificiis.] We might, with Ostertagius, read pannificiis (cloths or garments), which were more appropriate to Minerva.—Wetzel.

7 Ante menses.] As a number seems to be wanting, Scheffer would read ante menses sex, taking the last word from Florus, i. 13. Vossius would read ante mensem. But the longer period seems the more eligible.

8 I have given the modern names. The ancient were Mediolanum, Comum, Brixia, Verona, Bergomum, Tridentum, Vicentia.


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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.