a digital library of Latin literature
CSL Home

Keyword Search
     advanced search

Browse by:

Full Corpus:
   All available texts
      (single page)

Secondary Texts

What's New
Contact Us

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



Proceedings in Epirus; the Acarnanians request aid from the Romans against the Aetolians, I.—Reply of the Aetolians to the Roman ambassadors, II.—Extinction of the royal race in Epirus; death of Demetrius in Macedonia, and administration of Antigonus Doson, III.—War of Antigonus with Sparta; Cleomenes, king of Sparta, seeks refuge in Egypt, and is killed there; death of Antigonus, IV.

1 2 3 4

1 WHEN Olympias, daughter of Pyrrhus king of Epirus, had lost her husband Alexander, who was also her brother,1 she took upon herself the guardianship of her sons Pyrrhus and Ptolemy, whom she had by him, and the administration of the kingdom; and finding that the Aetolians wanted to take from her a part of Acarnania, which the father of the boys had received as a recompense for assisting them in war,2 she addressed herself to Demetrius king of Macedonia, and gave him her daughter Phthia in marriage (though he was already united to a sister of Antiochus king of Syria), that she might secure by right of relationship the assistance which she could not obtain from his compassion. A marriage was accordingly solemnized, by which Demetrius gained the love of a new wife, and the hatred of his former one; who, as if divorced, went off to her brother Antiochus, and excited him to make war upon her husband.

The Acarnanians also, fearing to trust for support to the Epirots, requested of the Romans assistance against the Italians, and prevailed on the senate to send ambassadors to order the Aetolians “to withdraw their garrisons from the cities of Acarnania, and allow those to be free, who alone, of all the people of Greece, had not contributed aid to the Greeks against the Trojans, the authors of the Roman race.”

2 But the Aetolians listened to the embassy of the Bo-mans with haughtiness, upbraiding them with their fortune against the Carthaginians and Gauls, by whom they had been fearfully slaughtered in so many wars, and saying that “their gates, which the terror of the Punic war had closed,3 should be opened to meet the Carthaginians, before their arms were brought into Greece.” They then desired them to remember “who they were that threatened, and whom they threatened. That the Romans had not been able to defend their city against the Gauls; and, when it was taken, had recovered it,4 not by the sword, but with gold; but that when that people entered Greece, in considerably greater numbers, they themselves had utterly destroyed them, not only without the assistance of any foreign power, but without even calling into action the whole of their own force, and had made that a place for their graves which they had intended for the seat of their cities and empire; while Italy, on the other hand, when the Romans were still trembling at the recent burning of their city, was almost entirely occupied by the Gauls. That they should therefore have expelled the Gauls from Italy before they threatened the Aetolians, and have defended their own possessions before they sought those of others. And what sort of men were the Romans? mere shepherds, who occupied a territory wrested from its lawful owners by robbery; who, when they were unable to procure wives, from the baseness of their origin, seized them by open force; who, moreover, had founded their very city in fratricide, and sprinkled the foundation of their walls with the blood of their king’s brother, But that the Aetolians had always been the chief people of Greece, and, as they surpassed others in dignity, excelled them also in bravery; that they were the only nation who had always despised the Macedonians, even when flourishing in possession of the empire of the world; who had felt no dread of king Philip, and who had spurned the edicts of Alexander the Great, after he had conquered the Persians and Indians, and when all trembled at his name. That they therefore advised the Romans to be content with their present fortune) and not provoke the arms by which they knew that the Gauls had been cut to pieces, and the Macedonians set at nought.” They thus dismissed the Roman embassy, and, that they might not seem to speak more boldly than they acted, laid waste the borders of Epirus and Acarnania.

3 Olympias5 had now given up her dominions to her sons, and Ptolemy had succeeded in the room of his deceased brother Pyrrhus. Ptolemy, as he was marching to meet the enemy with his army in array, was seized with a fit of sickness, and died on his route. Olympias too, afflicted with her double bereavement in the death of her sons, and dragging on a suffering existence, did not long survive her offspring. The young princess Nereis, and her sister Laodamia, being then the only survivors of the royal family, Nereis married Gelo, the son of the king of Sicily;6 and Laodamia, fleeing for refuge to the altar of Diana, was killed in a tumult7 of the populace; a crime which the immortal gods punished by a series of disasters, and almost the total destruction of the people; for after suffering from barrenness and famine, and being harassed by civil discord, they were at length nearly cut off by foreign wars; and Milo, the assassin of Laodamia, becoming mad, and lacerating his flesh,8 sometimes with the sword, sometimes with stones, and at last with his teeth, died the twelfth day afterwards.

While these things were occurring in Epirus, king Demetrius in Macedonia died, leaving a son named Philip, quite a child; and Antigonus, being appointed his guardian, and marrying his mother, did his utmost9 to get himself made king. But some time after, being besieged in the palace by an alarming insurrection of the Macedonians, he walked forth publicly unattended by his guards, and throwing his diadem and purple robe among the mob, bade them “give those to somebody else, who either knew not how to rule them,10 or whom they knew how to obey; for that he had found regal authority enviable,11 not for its pleasures, but for its toils and dangers.” He then mentioned his own services; “how he had punished the defection of their allies; how he had put down the Dardanians and Thessalians, when they were in exultation at the death of king Demetrius; how he had not only maintained the honour of the Macedonians, but added to it. Yet, if they were displeased at such services, he was ready to resign the government, and to return what they had conferred upon him; and they themselves might look out for a prince whom they could govern.” The people, overcome with shame, bade him resume the regal authority; but he refused to do so till the leaders of the insurrection were delivered up to punishment.

4 After this occurrence he made war upon the Spartans, who were the only people that, during the wars of Philip and Alexander, had set at nought the power of the Macedonians, and those arms which were dreaded by every other nation. Between these two most remarkable peoples war was prosecuted with the greatest vigour on both sides, the one fighting to support the old glory of the Macedonians, and the other, not only to secure their hitherto unviolated liberty, but even their lives. The Lacedaemonians being worsted, not only the men, but their wives and children, endured their adverse fortune with magnanimity. As no man had shrunk from exposing his life in the field, so no woman wept for her lost husband; the old men extolled the honourable deaths of their sons, and the sons rejoiced over their fathers that were slain in battle; and all who survived lamented their lot, in not having died for the liberty of their country. All received the wounded with open doors, dressed their wounds, and recruited them in their exhaustion. In this condition of affairs, there was no noise or hurry in the city, and every one lamented the public suffering more than his own private troubles. In the course of these proceedings, king Cleomenes returned, with his whole body wet, after the great slaughter that he had made among the enemy, with his own blood and that of his adversaries, and, entering the city, did not rest himself on the ground, or call for meat or drink, or even relieve himself from the weight of his armour, but leaning against a wall, and finding that only four thousand men survived the battle, exhorted them “to reserve themselves for the better times that would come to their country.” He then set out with his wife and children to Egypt to Ptolemy, by whom he was honourably received, and lived a long time in the highest esteem with that monarch. After the decease of Ptolemy, he was put to death, with all his family, by Ptolemy’s son.

Antigonus, when the Spartans were thus reduced, pitying the distress of so famous a city, prohibited his soldiers from plundering it, and granted pardon to all who survived, observing that “he had engaged in war, not with the Spartans, but with Cleomenes, with whose flight all his resentment was terminated; nor would it be less glory to him, if Sparta should be recorded to have been saved by him by whom alone it had been taken; and that he accordingly spared the ground and buildings of the city, scarcely any inhabitants being left for him to spare.” Not long afterwards Antigonus died, and left the throne to his ward Philip, who was then fourteen years old.


Table of contents


1 Compare
xviii. 1; xxvi. 2. His death is not mentioned before.

2 In portionem belli.] He had become an ally to the Aetolians when they were carrying on some war.—Wetzel.

3 Quas clauserit metus Punici belli.] The author seems to have been thinking of the second Punic war, which Hannibal commenced, A.U.C. 534, and ended in 551. If so, he inadvertently makes the Acarnanians, before A.U.C. 522, speak of matters which did not take place till more than twelve years afterwards.—Wetzel.

4 The text, in all the editions, stands thus: Captamque non ferro defendisse, sed auro redemisse. As captam urbem defendere is nonsense, I have, in accordance with the judgment of Scheffer, omitted the word defendisse in the translation.

5 See note at the commencement of this book.

6 Hiero, who reigned from B.C. 263 to 214. Gelo died three years before his father. Liv. xxiii. 30.—Wetzel.

7 The cause of this disturbance does not appear.

8 Visceribus.] “Viscera” signifies all that is under the skin. “Viscera sunt quicquid inter ossa et cutem est.” Servius ad Virg. Aen., vii. 253; Lucret. i. 836.

9 Laborabat.] And succeeded.

10 Qui aut imperare illis nesciat.] That is, whom they might rule (as he says at the end of his speech), if the reading be correct. But some of the old editions have sciat, which Vorstius adopted. Scheffer would read qui aut imperare illis, aut cui parere ipsi sciant “sciat” being understood after “imperare.”

11 That is if it were to be envied at all.


Table of contents


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.