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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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The Aetolians are deprived of their liberty by the Romans; war between the Messenians and Achaeans; death of Philopoemen; defeat of the Messenians, I.—Death of Antiochus; Philip oppresses Greece; the Romans pardon him for the sake of his son Demetrius; Demetrius killed through the artifices of his brother Perseus, II.—Death of Philip; Emigration of the Gauls; the Tectosages, Istrians, Dacians, III.—Prusias, assisted by Hannibal, defeats Eumenes; death of Hannibal, IV.

1 2 3 4

1 THE Aetolians, who had persuaded Antiochus to make war on the Romans, were left, after he was defeated, to oppose them by themselves, unequal in force, and unsupported by assistance. Being soon after, in consequence, subdued, they lost that liberty which they alone, among so many states of Greece, had preserved inviolate against the power of the Athenians and Spartans. This state of things was the more grievous to them, as it was later in befalling them; for they reflected on those times in which they had withstood the mighty power of the Persians by their own strength, and had humbled, in the Delphic war, the violent spirit of the Gauls that was dreaded by Asia and Italy; and these glorious recollections increased their grief at the loss of their liberty.

During the course of these occurrences, a dispute at first, and afterwards a war, arose between the Messenians and Achaeans, to determine which of the two should rule the other. In this struggle Philopoemen, the famous general of the Achaeans, was taken prisoner, not from having been fearful of exposing his life in the field, but from having fallen from his horse in leaping a ditch, as he was rallying his men for the contest, and being overpowered by a host of enemies. The Messenians, whether from fear of his valour, or respect for his dignity, did not venture to kill him as he lay on the ground; but, as if they had ended the war by capturing him, they led him prisoner through their whole city as in triumph, while the people poured forth to meet him, as if it were their own general, and not that of the enemy, that was coming; nor would the Achaeans have more eagerly beheld him victorious than the enemy saw him under defeat. They ordered him accordingly to be led into the theatre, that every one might see him whose capture seemed incredible to every one. Being then conducted to prison, they gave him, from respect for his high character,1 poison to drink, which he received with pleasure, just as if he had been conqueror, first asking “whether Lycortas,” a general of the Achaeans, whom he knew to be next to himself in the art of war, “had got off safe?” Hearing that he had escaped, he observed that “things were not utterly desperate with the Achaeans,” and expired. The war being renewed shortly after, the Messenians were conquered, and made some atonement for putting Philopoemen to death.

2 In Syria, meanwhile, king Antiochus, being burdened, after he was conquered by the Romans, with a heavy tribute under his articles of peace, and being impelled by want of money or stimulated by avarice, brought up his army one night, and made an assault upon the temple of Jupiter in Elymais,2 hoping that he might more excusably commit sacrilege under plea of wanting money to pay his tribute. But the affair becoming known, he was killed by a rising of the people who dwelt about the temple.3

At Rome, as many cities of Greece had sent thither, to complain of injuries received from Philip king of Macedonia, and as a dispute arose in the senate-house between Demetrius, Philip’s son, whom his father had sent to justify him to the senate, and the deputies of the cities, the young prince, confounded at the number of accusations brought forward, suddenly became speechless; when the senate, moved at his modesty, which had been admired by every one when he was a hostage at Rome, suffered the controversy to terminate in his favour. Thus Demetrius, by his modesty, obtained pardon for his father, which was granted, not to the justice of his defence, but from respect for his bashfulness; and this was particularly signified in the decree of the senate, that it might be known that it was not so much the king that was acquitted, as the father that was excused for the sake of the son. The circumstance, however, procured Demetrius no thanks for his embassy at home, but rather odium and detraction; for envy drew upon him hatred from his brother Perseus, and with his father, the cause of the indulgence shown him, as soon as he knew it, become a source of dislike towards him, as he was indignant that the character of his son should have had more weight with the senate than his own authority as a father or his dignity as a king. Perseus, in consequence, observing his father’s chagrin, laid before him, day after day, accusations against Demetrius in his absence, and rendered him first an object of hatred, and afterwards of suspicion, charging him at one time with friendship for the Romans, and at another with treachery to his father. At last he pretended that a plot was laid for his own life by Demetrius, and, to prove the charge, brought forward informers, suborned witnesses, and committed the very crime4 of which he accused his brother. Impelling his father, by these artifices, to put his son to death, he filled the whole palace with mourning.

3 After Demetrius was killed, and his rival removed. Perseus grew not only more careless in his behaviour towards his father, but even more insolent, conducting himself, not as heir to the crown, but as king. Philip, offended at his manner, became every day more concerned for the death of Demetrius, and began at length to suspect that he had been deceived by treachery, and put to the torture all the witnesses and informers. Having, by this means, come to the knowledge of the deception, he was not less afflicted at the dishonesty of Perseus than at the execution of the innocent Demetrius, whom he would have avenged, had he not been prevented by death; for shortly after he died of a disease contracted by mental anxiety, leaving great preparations for a war with the Romans, of which Perseus afterwards made use. He had induced the Scordiscan Gauls to join him, and would have had a desperate struggle with the Romans, had not death carried him off.

The Gauls, after their disastrous attack upon Delphi, in which they had felt the power of the divinity more than that of the enemy, and had lost their leader Brennus, had fled, like exiles, partly into Asia, and partly into Thrace, and then returned, by the same way by which they had come, into their own country. Of these, a certain number settled at the conflux of the Danube and Save, and took the name of Scordisci. The Tectosagi, on returning to their old settlements about Toulouse, were seized with a pestilential distemper, and did not recover from it, until, being warned by the admonitions of their soothsayers, they threw the gold and silver, which they had got in war and sacrilege, into the lake of Toulouse; all which treasure, a hundred and ten thousand pounds of silver, and fifteen hundred thousand pounds of gold, Caepio, the Roman consul, a long time after, carried away with him. But this sacrilegious act subsequently proved a cause of rain to Caepio and his army. The rising of the Cimbrian war, too, seemed to pursue the Romans as if to avenge the removal of that devoted treasure. Of these Tectosagi, no small number, attracted by the charms of plunder, repaired to Illyricum, and, after spoiling the Istrians, settled in Pannonia.

The Istrians, it is reported, derive their origin from those Colchians who were sent by king Aeetes in pursuit of the Argonauts, that had carried off his daughter,5 who, after they had sailed from the Pontus Euxinus into the Ister, and had proceeded far up the channel of the river Save, pursuing the track of the Argonauts, conveyed their vessels upon their shoulders over the tops of the mountains, as far as the shores of the Adriatic sea, knowing that the Argonauts must have done the same before them, because of the size of their ship.6 These Colchians, not overtaking the Argonauts, who had sailed off, remained, whether from fear of their king or from weariness of so long a voyage, near Aquileia, and were called Istrians from the name of the river up which they sailed out of the sea.

The Dacians are descendants of the Getae. This people having fought unsuccessfully, under their king Oroles, against the Bastarnae, were compelled by his order, as a punishment for their cowardice, to put their heads, when they were going to sleep, in the place of their feet,7 and to perform those offices for their wives which used previously to be done for themselves. Nor were these regulations altered, until they had effaced, by new exertions in the field, the disgrace which they had incurred in the previous war.

4 Perseus, having succeeded to the throne of his father Philip, applied to all these nations to join him in a war against the Romans. In the meanwhile a war broke out between king Prusias, to whom Hannibal had fled when peace was granted Antiochus by the Romans, and Eumenes; a war which Prusias was the first to begin, having broken his treaty with Eumenes through confidence in Hannibal.

Hannibal, when the Romans, among other articles of peace, demanded from Antiochus that he should be surrendered to them, received notice of this demand from the king, and, taking to flight, went off to Crete. Here, when he had long led a quiet life, but found himself envied for his great wealth, he deposited some urns, filled with lead, in the temple of Diana, as if thus to secure his treasure. The city,8 in consequence, being no longer concerned about him, as they supposed that they had his wealth in pledge, he betook himself to Prusias, putting his gold into some statues which he carried with him, lest his riches, if seen, should endanger his life. Prusias being subsequently defeated in a battle by land, and transferring the war to the sea, Hannibal, by a new stratagem, was the cause of procuring him a victory; for he ordered serpents of every kind to be enclosed in earthen pots, and to be thrown, in the hottest of the engagement, into the enemy’s ships. This seemed at first ridiculous to the Pontic soldiers,9 that the enemy should fight with earthen pots, as if they could not fight with the sword.10 But when the ships began to be filled with serpents, and they were thus involved in double peril, they yielded the victory to the enemy.

When the news of these transactions was brought to Rome, ambassadors were despatched by the senate to require the two kings to make peace, and demand the surrender of Hannibal. But Hannibal, learning their object, took poison, and frustrated their embassy by his death.

This year was rendered remarkable by the deaths of the three greatest generals then in the world, Hannibal, Philopoemen, and Scipio Africanus. Of these three it is certain that Hannibal, even at the time when Italy trembled at him, thundering in the war with Rome, and when, after his return to Carthage, he held the chief command there, never reclined at his meals, or indulged himself with more than one pint11 of wine at a time; and that he preserved such continence among so many female captives, that one would be disposed to deny that he was born in Africa. Such, too, was his prudence in command, that though he had to rule armies of different nations, he was never annoyed by any conspiracy among his troops, or betrayed by their want of faith, though his enemies had often attempted to expose him to both.


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1 Verecundia magnitudinis ejus.] They did not make him die the death of a slave or malefactor, but allowed him a mode of dying suitable to his rank.

2 Elymaei Jovis. ] Or rather Belus, who had a temple in Elymais full of gold, silver, and valuable offerings, as is said by Diod. Sic. xxix. fragm. 15. A different account of this king’s death is given in Aurel. Vict.
liv. 5, and 1 Maccab. c. vi.—Wetzel.

2 Concursu insularium.] A temple, as a building standing by itself, might be called insula; the people who dwelt in and about it insulares. Insularium is a conjecture of Isaac Vossius; the previous reading was incolarum.

4 He accused his brother of intending to be a fratricide; he himself became a fratricide by causing his father to put his brother to death.

5 Argonautas raptoresque filiae.] Four of the old editions have raptoremque, i. e. Jason—Wetzel.

6 Propter magnitudinem navis.] Bongarsius thinks that navis is to be understood in the sense of navigationis; but this is absurd. We must simply understand that the river Save would not admit a ship of that size, and that they were consequently obliged to take it on their shoulders and carry it to the shores of the Adriatic. The story is well known.—Vossius. As to the carrying of the Argo on the shoulders of her crew, see Apoll. Rhod. iv. 1383, seqq. Scheffer would read navigationis instead of navis.

7 Similar military punishments, rather ignominious than painful, are noticed in Diod. Sic. xii. 16; Plutarch. Ages. c. 51; Liv. xxvii. 15 Tacit. xiii. 36; Suet. Aug. c. 24; Val Max. xi. 7, 9, and 15; Frontin. iv. 1; Plato, Legg. ix. sub init.Berneccerus.

8 Civitate.] That is, the city of Gortyn in which he resided. See Corn. Nep. Life of Hannibal.

9 Ponticis.] Rather Pergamenis, says Wetzel, Eumenes being king of Pergamus.

10 Qui ferro nequeant is the reading of all the editions, but it should surely be quasi ferro nequeant.

11 Sextario ] The sextarius was nearly a pint, being the sixth part of the congius, which was equal to 5.9471 pints.


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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.