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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 XXXI

Commencement of the war between Antiochus and the Romans; Flamininus is commissioned to act against Nabis, I.—Hannibal flees from Carthage, and takes refuge with Antiochus, II.—Nabis is conquered; conduct of the Achaean league; Hannibal’s advice to Antiochus, III.—Antiochus incites the Carthaginians to go to war with the Romans; the Romans make Antiochus suspicious of Hannibal, IV.—Hannibal’s further counsel to Antiochus, V.—Antiochus defeated, VI.—He rejects the conditions of peace offered him by the Romans, VII.—Is defeated again, and accepts them, VIII.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

1 PTOLEMY PHILOPATOR, king of Egypt, being dead, and the youthful age of his son (who, left with the prospect of wielding the sceptre, was a prey even to his own domestics), being held in contempt, Antiochus, king of Syria, resolved to get possession of Egypt. As he attacked Phoenice, accordingly, and several cities, which, though situate in Syria, belonged of right to Egypt,1 the senate despatched ambassadors to him, to warn him “not to molest the dominions of an orphan, who had been recommended to their protection by the last prayers of his dying father.” This embassy being disregarded, another arrived some time after, which, saying nothing on behalf of the orphan, ordered that “the cities, which had fallen to the Roman people by the right of war, should be restored to their former condition.” On his refusal to comply with this mandate, war was declared against him, which he, after lightly undertaking it, prosecuted with ill success. At the same time, the tyrant Nabis had taken possession of several cities2 of Greece. The senate, in consequence, that the Roman forces might not be distracted by two wars at once, sent orders to Flamininus, that “he should, if he thought it expedient, deliver Greece from Nabis, as he had delivered Macedonia from Philip.”3 To this end, his term of command was prolonged. The name of Hannibal, indeed, rendered a war with Antiochus an object of dread; for Hannibal’s enemies, by secret communications to the Romans, accused hint of having entered into a league with Antiochus, saying that “he, who was accustomed to command, and to extravagant military licentiousness, was unable to live patiently under the control of laws; and that, from disgust at the quiet of the city, he was always looking about for occasions for war.” These charges, though false, passed for true with such as were timid.

2 At length the senate, struck with alarm, sent Cnaeus Servilius, in the character of ambassador, into Africa, to watch, the proceedings of Hannibal, giving him secret instructions “to compass his death, if he could, by the agency of his enemies, and deliver the Roman people from the terror of his hated name.” But this circumstance did not long escape the knowledge of Hannibal, a man sagacious in foreseeing and guarding against dangers, and not less thoughtful of adversity, in prosperity than of prosperity in adversity. Having shown himself in public, therefore, during the whole day in the forum of Carthage, before the face of the chief personages and the Roman ambassador, he mounted his horse, on the approach of evening, and galloped off to a farm which he had in the suburbs, near the sea-coast, his attendants, who knew nothing of his intentions, being directed to wait for his return at the gate of the city. He had vessels, with rowers, concealed in an unfrequented inlet on the coast; and he had also a large sum of ready money at his farm, so that, when occasion should require, neither difficulty4 nor want of resources might retard his escape. Selecting the most vigorous of his slaves, therefore, the number of whom a body of Italian prisoners augmented, he went on board a ship, and directed his course towards the dominions of Antiochus. The next day the city looked for their chief, who was then consul,5 in the forum; and when intelligence was brought that he was, gone, they were all in as much trepidation as if the city had been taken, and foreboded that his flight would prove fatal to them; while the Roman ambassador, as if war was already commenced on Italy by Hannibal, returned privately to Rome, carrying the alarming news with him.

3 In Greece, meanwhile, Flamininus, having formed an alliance with several cities, defeated Nabis the tyrant in two successive battles, and left him sadly humbled, with his resources apparently exhausted, in his own dominions. But after liberty was restored to Greece, the garrisons withdrawn from the cities, and the Romans returned to Italy, Nabis, as if tempted afresh by the deserted state of the country, possessed himself of several cities by sudden attacks; when the Achaeans, alarmed at his proceedings, and fearing that the evils in their neighbourhood might reach themselves, determined upon war against him, and appointed to the command in it their strategus Philopoemen, a man of extraordinary energy, and whose merit was so eminent in the contest, that he was thought equal, in public opinion, to the Roman general Flamininus.

Hannibal, arriving about the same time at the court of Antiochus, was received by him as a gift from the gods; and such ardour, in consequence of his coming, was added to the courage of the king, that he thought less of the mode of conducting the war, than of the prizes of victory. But Hannibal, to whom the spirit of Rome was well known, said that the Romans could not be subdued any where but in Italy. To accomplish their overthrow, he asked for himself a hundred ships, ten thousand foot, and a thousand cavalry, promising that “with this force he would revive in Italy no less a war than he had formerly carried on there, and would secure to the king, remaining quiet in Asia, either a triumph over the Romans, or equitable conditions of peace. To the Spaniards,” he added, “who were burning with ardour for war, nothing was wanting but a leader; that Italy was better known to him now than in past times; and that Carthage would not rest in peace, but join him as an ally without delay.”

4 As this counsel pleased the king, one of the attendants of Hannibal was despatched to Carthage, to encourage the Carthaginians, already forward enough of themselves, to take up arms, acquainting them that “Hannibal would support them with an army,” and saying that “nothing was wanting, on the side of the Carthaginians, but resolution, as Asia would supply both troops and money for the enterprise.” When this announcement arrived at Carthage, the messenger was seized by Hannibal’s enemies, and being asked, when he was brought before the senate, “to whom he was sent,” he replied, with Punic subtlety, that “he was sent to the whole senate, as this was not the concern of a few individuals only, but of the entire people.” As they spent several days in deliberating, whether they should send him to Rome to clear them from guilt as a nation, he, in the meanwhile, went secretly on board his vessel, and returned to Hannibal. As soon as this was discovered, the Carthaginians sent intelligence of the matter to Rome by an ambassador. The Romans also sent ambassadors to Antiochus, who, under colour of delivering a message, were to watch the preparations of the king, and either to soften Hannibal’s feelings towards the Romans, or, by frequent association with him, to render him suspected and unpopular with Antiochus. The ambassadors, accordingly, meeting with Antiochus at Ephesus, made their communication from the senate, and, while they waited for an answer, were every day constantly visiting Hannibal, and observing that, “he had withdrawn from his country under needless apprehension, as the Romans would with the greatest honour observe a peace which was made not so much with his government as with himself; and that they knew he had made war upon the Romans, less from hatred to them, than from love to his country (to which every honourable man owed life itself), since the reasons for going to war were public ones between the nations, and not private ones between the generals.” They then extolled his exploits; and he, pleased with their conversation, talked frequently and readily with them, not being aware that by his familiarity with the Romans, he was incurring the dislike of the king; for Antiochus, supposing that by such frequent intercourse a good understanding had been effected between him and the Romans, communicated nothing to him as he had been used to do, and began to detest him, when he had excluded him from his councils, as an enemy and a traitor to him. This distrust ruined the mighty preparations for war, the skill of a leader being wanting to conduct it. The communication from the senate was, that . “Antiochus should confine himself within the limits of Asia, lest he should lay on them the necessity of invading that country.” Slighting this message, he resolved not to wait for war, but to commence it.

5 It is said, that after the king had frequently held councils concerning the war, from which Hannibal was excluded, he at length desired that he should be called in, not that he might act in any respect according to his advice, but that he might not appear entirely to disregard him; and that, when all the rest had been asked their opinions, he in conclusion inquired his. Hannibal, understanding what Antiochus’s feelings were, observed that “he was aware he was asked to attend, not because the king wished for his advice, but to make up the full number of votes; yet, from his hatred towards the Romans, and regard for the king, with whom alone a secure retreat was left him in his exile, he would explain the method in which the war should be conducted.” Then, requesting indulgence for the freedom with which he was going to speak, he said, that “he approved none of the present suggestions or proceedings; nor did he like Greece as a seat of the war, when Italy was a far more advantageous field for it; for the Romans could not be conquered but by their own arms, nor Italy subdued but by the resources of Italy; since that people differed from others, and their mode of warfare from that of other nations. In other wars, it was of the greatest importance to have been the first to take advantage of any ground or opportunity, to have ravaged the lands, or to have captured towns, but that, with the Romans, whether you took their cities, or defeated them, you would still have to struggle with the enemy even when vanquished and fallen. If any one should attack them in Italy, therefore, he might conquer them with their own strength,6 their own resources, their own arms, as he himself had done; but if any one left Italy to them, which was the fountain-head, as it were, of their power, he would act just as absurdly, as a man who should attempt, not to exhaust rivers at their sources, but to alter their channels or dry them up when great floods of water had collected in them. He had entertained this,” he said, “as his private opinion, and had readily offered his advice to that effect; and that he repeated it now, in the presence of his friends, that they might all understand the way to go to war with the Romans, who, though invincible abroad, might be reduced at home; for they might be deprived of their city sooner than of their empire, and of Italy sooner than of their provinces; since they had lost their city to the Gauls, and been almost crushed by him; nor was he ever defeated till he had quitted their country, but that, when he returned to Carthage, the fortune of the war was immediately changed with the seat of it.”

6 The king’s courtiers were all opposed to this advice, not regarding the advantages of the plan, but fearing that Hannibal, if his counsel were approved, would gain the first place in the king’s favour. As for Antiochus, he did not so much dislike the scheme as the proposer of it, in the apprehension that whatever glory resulted from its success would be given to Hannibal, and not to himself. All proceedings were therefore rendered ineffectual by the various flatteries of those who sought to please the king; nothing was conducted with judgment or reason. Antiochus himself, resigning himself to luxury during the winter, was every day engaged in celebrating some new marriage.7 Acilius the Roman consul, on the other hand, who had been appointed to command in this war, provided forces, arms, and every thing necessary for the contest, with the utmost activity: he animated the confederate cities, and drew to his interest such as were undecided. Nor was the result of the conflict at variance with the preparations of each party for it; for, in the first engagement, when the king saw his men giving ground, he did not support those who were in distress, but put himself at the head of those that fled, and left his rich camp a prey to the conquerors. But having reached Asia in his flight, while the Romans were busied about the spoil, he began to repent of having neglected Hannibal’s counsel, and, taking that general again into his friendship, conducted every thing according to his directions. In the mean time intelligence was brought that Aemilius,8 the Roman general, was approaching with eighty ships of war, having been despatched by the senate to carry on the war by sea. This news gave him hopes of retrieving his fortune; and accordingly he resolved to fight a battle by sea before any of the cities in alliance with him could revolt to the enemy, hoping that the defeat which he had suffered in Greece might be compensated by a new victory. The fleet was therefore entrusted to Hannibal, and a battle was fought; but neither were the Asiatic soldiers a match for the Romans, nor their vessels equal to the beaked ships of the enemy. The loss, however, was rendered less than if would otherwise have been, by the able management of the general. The report of the victory had not yet reached Rome,9 and therefore the city was in suspense about the consuls to be chosen.

7 But to oppose Hannibal, what fitter leader could be appointed than the brother of Africanus, since it was the business of the Scipios to conquer the Carthaginians? Lucius Scipio was therefore made consul, and his brother Africanus appointed to be his lieutenant-general, to let Antiochus see that he had not more confidence in the conquered Hannibal than the Romans in the victorious Scipio. As the Scipios were transporting their army into Asia, news reached them that the war, both by land and sea, was almost at an end; as Antiochus had been defeated in a battle by land, and Hannibal in a battle by sea. As soon as they arrived, Antiochus sent ambassadors to them, desiring peace, and having with them, as an offering to Africanus individually, the son of that general, whom the king had captured as he was crossing in a small boat. But Africanus replied, “that private favours were distinct from public concerns; that the obligations of a father, and the claims of one’s country, were things entirely different; claims which were to be preferred not only to children, but even to life itself. That he, however, thankfully accepted the kindness, and would make a return to the king’s generosity at his own individual expense; but as to what related to war and peace, nothing could be allowed to private favour, or cut off from the interests of his country.” He had never, indeed, either treated about the ransom of his son, or allowed the senate to treat about it, but, as became his dignity, said that “he would recover his son by force of arms.” The terms of peace were then specified to the ambassadors: “that the king should give up Asia to the Romans; that he should confine himself to his kingdom of Syria; that he should give up all his ships, with the prisoners and deserters, and repay the Romans all the expenses of the war.” These terms being repeated to Antiochus, he said that “he was not yet so utterly reduced, as that he should suffer himself to be despoiled of his dominions; and that such proposals were provocations to war, not invitations to peace.”

8 Preparations for a contest were in consequence made on both sides; and when the Romans, having entered Asia, had reached Troy, mutual gratulations took place between the Trojans and the Romans; the Trojans observing that “Aeneas, and the other leaders that accompanied him, had gone forth from them;” the Romans telling them that “they were their children;” and such joy was among them all as is wont to be between parents and children met after a long separation. The Trojans were delighted that their descendants, after having conquered the west and Africa, were now laying claim to Asia as their hereditary domain, remarking that “the ruin of Troy had been an event to be desired, since it was so happily to revive again.” On the other hand, an insatiable longing to gaze on their ancient home, the birth-place of their ancestors, and the temples and images of the gods, had taken possession of the Romans.

As the Romans were coming from Troy, king Eumenes met them with some auxiliary troops; and soon after a battle was fought with Antiochus; in which one of the Roman legions, on the right wing, being beaten back, and fleeing to their camp with more disgrace than danger, Marcus Aemilius, a military tribune, who had been left to defend the camp, ordered his men to arm themselves, and advance without the rampart, and to threaten the fugitives with their swords drawn, saying that “they should be put to death unless they returned to the field, and should find their own camp more hostile to them than that of the enemy.” The legion, alarmed at such peril on both sides, returned to the battle, their fellow soldiers, who had stopped their flight, accompanying them, and, making great havoc among the enemy, were the first cause of the victory. Fifty thousand of the enemy were slain, and eleven thousand taken prisoners. Antiochus suing for peace, nothing was added to the former articles, Africanus observing that “the spirit of the Romans was never broken if they were defeated, and, if they were victorious, they were not rendered tyrannical by success.” The cities that were taken they divided among their allies, deeming that glory was more desirable for the Romans10 than dominions merely for pleasure; and that the honour of victory was worthy of being attached to the Roman name, but that the luxuries of wealth might be left to their adherents.

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1 Phoenicen, caeterasque Syriae quidem, &c.] By Phoenice is meant the country of Phoenicia; by the other cities, cities in Coelesyria, which bordered on Phoenicia.

2 Multas civitates.] Argos only is specified in the accounts of Nabis. See Plutarch, Lives of Flamininus and Philopoemen; Liv. xxxii. 40.

3 See
xxx. 4.

4 All the texts have facultas. Graevius and Vorstius think that we should read difficultas. Scheffer is of opinion that facultas may stand, in the sense of want of opportunity, but this does not suit well with the inopia which follows.

5 Consulem.] He was one of the suffetes, the two chief magistrates of Carthage. See Corn. Nep, Life of Hannibal, c. 7.

6 Suis opibus.] That is, with the strength and resources of the country.

7 Novis quotidie nuptiis deditus erat.] An exaggeration. He had, however, married his daughter Cleopatra to Ptolemy Epiphanes, Liv. xxxv. 13; he gave another daughter to Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia, and was going to give a third to Eumenes, king of Pergamus, but he refused her. See Diod. Sic. xxix. 3.—Wetzel.

8 Lucius Aemilius Regillus, praetor, B.C. 191 (Liv. xxxvii. 26, 30; xxxvi, 45); the battle was fought between Myconnesus and the promontory of Corycus, and Aemilius triumphed for the victory in the following year; but Antiochus appointed Polyxenides, not Hannibal, to command against him. See Liv. xxxvii. 26; Florus, ii. 8.—Wetzel. Livy mentions Polyxenides only; Florus both Polyxenides and Hannibal.

9 Justin seems here to have abridged his author too much.

10 Wetzel’s text has Romani; but Romanis, the conjecture of Graevius, is much more to the purpose.


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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.

FORUM ROMANUM