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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 people of Marseilles entreat the Romans in behalf of Phocaea; affairs in Asia, Cappadocia, and Pontus, I.—Of Mithridates, II.—His conquests, III.—His invasion of Paphlagonia; his rupture with the Romans, IV.

1 2 3 4

1 AFTER Aristonicus was taken prisoner, the people of Marseilles sent ambassadors to Rome to intercede for the Phocaeans their friends, whose city and even name the senate had ordered to be destroyed, because, both at that time, and previously in the war against Antiochus, they had taken up arms against the Roman people. The embassy obtained from the senate a pardon for them. Rewards were then bestowed on the princes who had given aid against Aristonicus; to Mithridates1 of Pontus was allotted Greater Phrygia; to the sons of Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia, who had fallen in that war, were assigned Lycaonia and Cilicia; and the Roman people were more faithful to the sons of their ally, than their mother was to her children, since by the one the kingdom of the young princes was increased, by the other they were deprived of life. For Laodice, out of six children, all boys, whom she had by king Ariarathes (fearing that, when some of them were grown up, she would not long enjoy the administration of the kingdom), killed five by poison; but the care of their relatives, rescued from the barbarous hands of their mother one infant, who, after the death of Laodice (for the people killed her for her cruelty), became sole king.

Mithridates also, being cut off by sudden death, left a son, who was likewise named Mithridates, and whose greatness was afterwards such that he surpassed all kings,2 not only of his own but of preceding ages, in glory, and carried on war against the Romans, with various success, for forty-six years, during which, though the most eminent generals, Sulla, Lucullus, and others, and at last, Cnaeus Pompey, overcame him, yet it was only so that he rose greater and more glorious to renew the contest, and was rendered even more formidable by his defeats And he died at last, not from being overpowered by his enemies,3 but by a voluntary death, full of years and on the throne of his ancestors, and leaving his son his heir.

2 The future greatness of this prince even signs from heaven had foretold; for in the year in which he was born, as well as in that in which he began to reign, a comet blazed forth with such splendour, for seventy successive days on each occasion, that the whole sky seemed to be on fire. It covered a fourth part of the firmament4 with its train, and obscured the light of the sun with its effulgence; and in rising and setting it took up the space of four hours.5 During his boyhood his life was attempted by plots on the part of his guardians, who, mounting him on a restive horse, forced him to ride and hurl the javelin; but when these attempts failed, as his management of the horse was superior to his years, they tried to cut him off by poison. He, however, being on his guard against such treachery, frequently took antidotes, and so fortified himself,6 by exquisite preventives, against their malice, that when he was an old man, and wished to die by poison, he was unable. But dreading lest his enemies should effect that by the sword which they could not accomplish by drugs, he pretended a fancy for hunting, in the indulgence of which he never went under a roof, for seven years, either in the city or the country, but rambled through the forests, and passed his nights in various places among the mountains, none knowing where he was. He accustomed himself to escape from the wild beasts, or pursue them, by speed of foot, and by this means, while he avoided the plots laid for him, he inured himself to endure all manner of bodily exertion.

3 When he assumed the government of the kingdom, he turned his thoughts, not so much to the regulation of his dominions, as to the enlargement of them. He in consequence subdued, with extraordinary success, the Scythians, who had previously been invincible, who had cut off Zopyrion, the general of Alexander the Great, with an army of thirty thousand men, who had massacred Cyrus, king of the Persians, with two hundred thousand, and who had routed Philip, king of Macedonia. Having thus increased his forces, he made himself master of Pontus,7 and afterwards of Cappadocia. Fixing his thoughts on the conquest of Asia,8 he went privately, with some of his friends, out of his kingdom, and travelled through the whole of it without the knowledge of any one, making himself acquainted with the situations of the towns and the nature of the country. He next went into Bithynia, and, as if he were already master of Asia, took note of whatever might aid him in attempting the conquest of it. He then returned into his country, when they had begun to suppose that he was dead, and found an infant son born to him, of whom his wife Laodice, who was also his sister, had been delivered in his absence. But amidst the congratulations that he received on his arrival, and on the birth of his, son, he was in danger of being poisoned; for his sister and wife Laodice, believing him dead, had yielded herself to the embraces of his friends, and, as if she could conceal the crime, of which she had been guilty, by a greater, prepared poison for him on his return. Mithridates, however, having notice of her intention from a female servant, avenged the plot upon the heads of its contrivers.

4 When winter came on, he did not spend his time in feasts, but in the field, not in idleness, but in exercise, not among companions in licentiousness, but contending among his equals in age, either in riding, running, or trials of strength. He inured his army also, by daily exercise, to endure fatigue equally with himself; and thus, while he was himself unconquerable, he rendered his army unconquerable likewise. Entering then into an alliance with Nicomedes, he invaded Paphlagonia, and divided it, after it was conquered, among his allies. But when information reached the senate that it was in possession of the two kings, they sent ambassadors to both, desiring that “the country should be restored to its former condition.” Mithridates, thinking himself now a match for the power of the Romans, haughtily replied, that “the kingdom had belonged to his father by inheritance, and that he wondered that a dispute, which had never been raised against his father, should be raised against himself;” and, not at all alarmed by threats, he seized also on Galatia. As for Nicomedes, he replied that “as he could not maintain that he had any right to the country, he would restore it to its legitimate sovereign;” and, altering his son’s name to Pylaemenes, the common name of the Paphlagonian kings, he assigned it to him; and thus, as if he had restored the throne to the royal line, he continued to occupy the country on this frivolous pretext. The ambassadors, when they found themselves thus set at nought, returned to Rome.


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1 Mithridates surnamed Euergetes, father of Mithridates the Great.

2 Justin, or Trogus, seems to prefer him to Alexander the Great.

3 Non vi hostili.] Some copies have victus after hostili; Wetzel omits it.

4 Quartam caeli partem.] That is, forty-five degrees. There was a similar comet, B.C. 372, which Aristotle, Meteor. i. 6, calls a great comet, and which spread its tail over a third part of the sky, i.e. over sixty degrees. Diod. Siculus also, xv. 50, says that its light was like that of the moon.—Wetzel.

5 Quum oriretur occumberetque, quatuor horarum spatium consumebat.] That is, after it touched the horizon, at its rising or setting, four hours elapsed before it wholly appeared or disappeared.

6 Se—stagnavit.] Gronovius and Graevius would read stannavit; but stagnare is used by Vegetius in the sense of securing or fortifying, and Justin has the passive stagnor,
xxxvi. 3.

7 Pontum occupavit.] How Pontus, of which, he was already master?—Wetzel. But from the words bella Pontica, in
xxxviii. 7, it may be conjectured that he had to fight before he secured his throne.

8 Asia Minor.


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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.