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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 Romans make war on the Achaeans, I.—Defeat of the Achaeans; Corinth demolished; affairs in Egypt; Ptolemy Philometor requests aid from Rome, II.—Embassy from the Romans to Antiochus Epiphanes; his death; he is succeeded by his brother Demetrius Soter, III.—Prusias, king of Bithynia, killed by his son Nicomedes, IV.

1 2 3 4

1 THE Carthaginians and Macedonians being subdued, and the power of the Aetolians weakened by the captivity of their leading men, the Achaeans were the only people of all Greece who seemed to the Romans, at that time, to be too powerful; not, indeed, from any extraordinary strength existing in any individual city, but because of a confederacy maintained among all the cities. For the Achaeans, though distributed through several towns, like so many different members, yet formed but one body and had but one government, and warded off danger from any single city by the united strength of all. To the Romans, therefore, as they were seeking a pretext for war, fortune opportunely presented the complaints of the Spartans, whose lands the Achaeans, in consequence of hatred subsisting between the two people, had laid waste. Answer was accordingly made by the senate to the Spartans, that “they would send commissioners into Greece, to examine into the affairs of their allies, and to prevent further injury;” but secret directions were at the same time given the commissioners, that “they should dissolve the confederacy among the Achaeans, and make each city independent of the rest, that they might thus the more easily be reduced to obedience, while, if any cities were obstinate, they might be humbled by force.” The commissioners, in consequence, having summoned the chief men of the cities to meet them at Corinth, read to them the decree of the senate, and signified what their intentions were; declaring it “expedient for all, that each city should have its own independent laws and government.” When this communication was known throughout the city, the people being thrown as it were into a fury, massacred all the foreigners that were there, and would have laid violent hands on the Roman commissioners themselves, had they not fled away in haste as soon as they found a disturbance rising.

2 When the news of these occurrences reached Rome, the senate at once decreed war against the Achaeans, giving the conduct of it to the consul Mummius, who, conveying over his army with the utmost expedition, and actively providing himself with all necessaries, proceeded to offer the enemy battle. As for the Achaeans, as if they had undertaken a matter of no difficulty in going to war with the Romans, every thing was neglected and out of order amongst them. Thinking of plunder, too, and not of fighting, they brought vehicles to carry away the spoils of the enemy, and stationed their wives and children on the hills to view the engagement. But when the battle commenced, they were cut to pieces before the eyes of their kindred, and afforded them only a dismal spectacle and sad remembrances of grief. Their wives and children, also, were changed from spectators into prisoners, and became the prey of the enemy. The city of Corinth itself was razed to the ground, and the inhabitants sold for slaves, that, by such an example, a dread of insurrection might be thrown on other cities.

During these transactions, Antiochus, king of Syria, made war upon Ptolemy1 king of Egypt, his elder sister’s son, a prince naturally inactive, and so weakened by daily luxurious indulgence, that he not only neglected the duties of his royal station, but even, through excessive gluttony, had lost all human feeling. Being expelled from his throne, he fled to Alexandria to his younger brother Ptolemy,2 and, having shared the kingdom with him, they jointly sent ambassadors to the Roman senate, imploring assistance, and the protection of their alliance; and their solicitations prevailed with the senate.

3 Accordingly Popilius was despatched, in the character of ambassador, to Antiochus, to desire him “to refrain from invading Egypt, or, if he had already entered it, to quit it without delay.” Having found him in Egypt, and the king having offered to kiss him (for Antiochus, when he was a hostage3 at Rome, had been friendly with Popilius among others), Popilius said that “private friendship must be set aside, when the commands of his country stood in the way,” and having produced and delivered to him the decree of the senate, but observing that he hesitated, and referred the consideration of it to his friends, he drew a circle round him with a staff which he carried in his hand, so large that it also enclosed his friends, and desired him “to decide on the spot, and not to go out of that ring, till he had given an answer to the senate whether he would have peace or war with Rome.” This firmness so daunted the king’s spirit, that he replied that "he would obey the senate.”

Antiochus, on returning to his kingdom, died, leaving a son quite a boy. Guardians being assigned him by the people, his uncle4 Demetrius, who was a hostage at Rome, and who had heard of the death of his brother, went to the senate, and said that “he had come to Rome as a hostage while his brother was alive, but that now he was dead, he did not know for whom he was a hostage. It was therefore reasonable,” he added, “that he should be released to claim the throne, which, as he had conceded it to his elder brother by the law of nations, now of right belonged to himself, as he was superior to the orphan in age.” But finding that he was not released by the senate (their private opinion being that the throne would be better in the hands of the young prince than in his), he left the city on pretence of going to hunt, and secretly took ship at Ostia,5 with such as attended him in his flight. On arriving in Syria, he was favourably received by the whole people, and the orphan being put to death, the throne was resigned to him by the guardians.

4 About the same time, Prusias, king of Bithynia, conceived a resolution to kill his son Nicomedes, with a desire to benefit his younger children by a second marriage, whom he had sent to Rome. But the design was betrayed to the young prince by those who had undertaken the execution of it, and who exhorted him, since he had become an object of his father’s cruelty, “to anticipate his schemes, and turn the villainy on the head of its contriver.” Nor was it difficult to prevail upon him; and when, being sent for, he had come6 into his father’s dominions, he was immediately selected as king. Prusias, deprived of his throne by his son, and reduced to a private station, was forsaken even by his slaves. While he lived in retirement, he was killed by his son, with no less guilt than that with which he himself had ordered his son to be put to death.


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1 Ptolemy Philometor, who reigned from B.C. 180 to 145 (see Diod. Sic. xxx. 15), being the son and successor of Ptolemy Epiphanes, who married the daughter of Antiochus the Great, sister to the Antiochus mentioned in the text.—Wetzel.

2 Ptolemy Physcon, who became master of Cyrene and Libya in the year B.C. 157, Diod. Sic. xxxi. 26. He succeeded his brother at his death, B.C. 135, and reigned twenty-seven years.—Wetzel.

3 He had been sent to Rome as a hostage by his father Antiochus the Great, and afterwards by his brother Seleucus IV.—Wetzel.

4 He was not his uncle but his cousin, being the son of Seleucus IV., the brother of Antiochus Epiphanes.—Bongarsius.

5 Ostia or Hostia at the mouth of the Tiber.

6 From the expression “he had come,” venerat, it appears that he had previously fled out of the kingdom, though Justin does not mention his flight.


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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.