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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 XXV

The Gauls, who had been left behind by Brennus, proceed to attack Antigonus Gonnatas, I.— Massacre of the Gauls; their valour; Gallograecia, II. — Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, expels Antigonus from Macedonia, III.— Pyrrhus goes to war with the Spartans, IV.— Is killed at Argos; his character, V.

1 2 3 4 5

1 AFTER peace was made between the two kings, Antigonus and Antiochus, a new enemy suddenly started up against Antigonus as he was returning to Macedonia. The Gauls, who had been left behind by their general Brennus, when he marched into Greece, to defend the borders of their country, armed fifteen thousand foot and three thousand horse (that they alone might not seem idle), and having routed the forces of the Getae and Triballi, and preparing to invade Macedonia, sent ambassadors to Antigonus to offer him peace if he would pay for it, and to play the part of spies, at the same time, in his camp. Antigonus, with royal munificence, invited them to a banquet, and entertained them with a sumptuous display of luxuries. But the Gauls were so struck with the vast quantity of gold and silver set before them, and so tempted with the richness of such a spoil, that they returned more inclined to war than they had come. The king had also ordered his elephants to be shown them, as monsters unknown to those barbarians, and his ships laden with stores to be displayed; little thinking that he was thus exciting the cupidity of those to seize his treasures, whom he sought to strike with terror by the ostentation of his strength. The ambassadors, returning to their countrymen, and exaggerating every thing excessively, set forth at once the wealth and unsuspiciousness of the king; saying that “his camp was filled with gold and silver, but secured neither by rampart nor trench, and that the Macedonians, as if they had sufficient protection in their wealth, neglected all military duties, apparently thinking that, as they had plenty of gold, they had no use for steel.”

2 By this statement, the desires of a covetous people were sufficiently stimulated to take possession of such spoil. The example of Belgius, too, had its influence with them, who, a little before, had cut to pieces the army of the Macedonians and their king. Being all of one mind, therefore, they attacked the king’s camp by night; but he, foreseeing the storm that threatened him, had given notice to his soldiers to remove all their baggage, and to conceal themselves noiselessly in a neighbouring wood; and the camp was only saved because it was deserted. The Gauls, when they found it destitute not only of defenders, but of sentinels, suspecting that there was not a flight, but some stratagem on the part of the enemy, were for some time afraid to enter the gates. At last, leaving the defences entire and untouched, and more like men come to explore than to plunder, they took possession of the camp; and then, carrying off what they found, they directed their course towards the coast. Here, as they were incautiously plundering the vessels, and fearing no attack, they were cut down by the sailors, and a part of the army that had fled thither with their wives and children; and such was the slaughter among them that the report of this victory procured Antigonus peace, not only from the Gauls, but from his other barbarous neighbours.

The nation of the Gauls, however, was at that time so prolific, that they filled all Asia as with one swarm. The kings of the east then carried on no wars without a mercenary army of Gauls; nor, if they were driven from their thrones, did they seek protection with any other people than the Gauls. Such indeed was the terror of the Gallic name, and the unvaried good fortune of their arms, that princes thought they could neither maintain their power in security, nor recover it if lost, without the assistance of Gallic valour. Hence, being called by the king of Bithynia to his aid, and having gained him the victory over his enemies, they shared his kingdom with him, and called their part of it Gallograecia.

3 During these transactions in Asia, Pyrrhus, having been defeated by the Carthaginians in a sea-fight on the coast of Sicily, sent ambassadors to Antigonus king of Macedonia, to ask for a supply of troops, saying that, “unless he sent him some, he should be obliged to return to his kingdom, and to seek that enlargement of his dominions from him,1 which he had wished to gain from the Romans.” The ambassadors bringing word that his request was refused, he pretended to be suddenly obliged to depart, but concealed his reasons for doing so. Meanwhile he directed his allies to prepare for war, and committed the citadel of Tarentum to the guardianship of his son Helenus and his friend Milo. Returning to Epirus, he immediately invaded Macedonia; Antigonus met him with an army, but was defeated in battle, and put to flight. Pyrrhus then allowed the Macedonians to surrender on terms; and as if, by the acquisition of Macedonia, he had made up for his loss of Sicily and Italy, he sent for his son and his friend, whom he had left at Tarentum. Antigonus, divesting himself at once of all the marks of royalty, repaired with a few horsemen, that attended him in his flight, to Thessalonica, there to watch what would follow on the loss of his throne, and to renew the war with a hired army of Gauls. But being utterly defeated, a second time, by Ptolemy the son of Pyrrhus, he fled with only seven followers, and no longer indulged hopes of recovering his kingdom, but sought only hiding places for safety and solitary ways for flight.

4 Pyrrhus, being raised to such a height of royal power, and not content with what had once been the object of his wishes, began to contemplate the subjugation of Greece and Asia. He had no greater delight in ruling than in warfare; nor was any power able to withstand him, wheresoever he directed his attack. But irresistible as he was deemed in conquering kingdoms, he also easily lost those which he subdued and acquired, so much better did he manage to gain dominion than to keep it.

Having led his army into the Peloponnesus,2 he was met by embassies from the Athenians, Achaeans, and Messenians; and all Greece, indeed, struck with admiration at his name, and at the glory of his achievements against the Romans and Carthaginians, was eagerly looking for his arrival. His first contest was with the Spartans, in which, being resisted with greater spirit by the women than by the men, he lost his son Ptolemy and the flower of his army; for, when he proceeded to attack the city, such a number of women assembled to defend their birth-place, that he retreated, overcome not more by bravery on their part than by shame on his own.

As for his son Ptolemy, he is said to have been so brave and enterprising that he took the city of Corcyra3 with only sixty men. In a naval engagement, too, he is reported to have leaped from a boat, with seven men, into a fifty-oared galley, and to have taken and kept possession of it. At the attack on Sparta he rode into the very middle of the city, and was there slain in a crowd that gathered around him. When his body was carried to his father, he exclaimed, it is said, “that he had not been killed so soon as he had feared, or his own rashness deserved.”

5 Pyrrhus, on being repulsed by the Spartans, marched to Argos, where, while he was endeavouring to capture Antigonus, who was shut up in the city, and was fighting furiously among the thickest of the assailants, he was struck with a stone from the walls, and killed. His head was carried to Antigonus, who, using his victory with moderation, sent back his son Helenus, who surrendered to him with several Epirots, into his own country, and gave him the bones of his father, not having yet received the rites of burial, to carry home with him.

It is pretty generally stated by authors, that no king, either of that or the former age, was to be compared to Pyrrhus; and that there has seldom been seen, either among princes, or other illustrious men, a man of more upright life or of stricter justice; and that he had such knowledge of the military art, that though he fought against such great princes as Lysimachus, Demetrius, and Antigonus, he was never conquered. In his wars too with the Illyrians, Sicilians, Romans, and Carthaginians, he never came off inferior, but generally victorious; and he rendered his country, which was before but mean and obscure, renowned throughout the world by the fame of his exploits and the glory of his name.


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1 De ipso.] He signified that if Antigonus did not send him succour he should be obliged to return home, and that he would then make war on Antigonus, with a view to that enlargement of his dominions which he had wished to make at the cost of the Romans.—Lemaire.

2 Cherroneson.] The old reading was Cherroneso, which was considered as a dative, and is still retained in some modern editions. J. F. Gronovius altered it to Cherroneson, the preposition in being understood.

3 The chief town of the island of Corcyra. See Pausanias in Att. c. ii. 6, where the attack on this island is mentioned.


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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.