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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).


Table of contents



Early age of Italy, I.—Birth and youth, of Romulus and Remus, II.—Foundation of Rome; of Marseilles, III.—History of Marseilles, IV.—Wars and successes of the Massilians; friendship between, them and the Romans; family of Trogus Pompeius, V.

1 2 3 4 5

1 HAVING narrated the history of the Parthians and other eastern nations, and of almost the whole world, Trogus returns home, as if after a long journey in foreign parts, to relate the rise of the city of Rome, thinking it would be the mark of an ungrateful citizen, if, after he had set forth the acts of other nations, he should be silent concerning his native country alone. He therefore briefly touches on the origin of the Roman empire, so as neither to exceed the bounds of the work that he had proposed, nor to pass unnoticed the origin of a city which is now the mistress of the world.

The first inhabitants of Italy were the Aborigines, whose king, Saturn, is said to have been a man of such extraordinary justice, that no one was a slave in his reign, or had any private property, but all things were common to all, and undivided, as one estate for the use of every one; in memory of which way of life, it has been ordered that at the Saturnalia slaves should everywhere sit down with their masters at the entertainments, the rank of all being made equal. Italy was accordingly called, from the name of that king, Saturnia; and the hill on which he dwelt Saturnius, on which now stands the Capitol, as if Saturn had been dislodged from his seat by Jupiter. After him, third in descent, they say that Faunus was king, in whose time Evander came into Italy from Pallanteum, a city of Arcadia, accompanied with a small band of his countrymen, to whom Faunus kindly gave land, and the mountain which he afterwards called Palatium. At the foot of this mountain he built a temple to the Lycaean god, whom the Greeks call Pan, and the Romans Lupercus,1 the naked statue of the deity being covered with a goat-skin, in which dress the priests now run up and down during the Lupercalia at Rome. This Faunus had a wife named Fatua, who, being constantly filled with a spirit of divination, gave notice, in fits of frenzy as it were, of things to come; and hence, to this day, those who are accustomed to be thus inspired, are said fatuari.2 Of an illicit connection between a daughter of Faunus and Hercules, (who, having killed Geryon about that time, was driving his herds, the prize of his victory, through Italy), was born Latinus, in whose reign Aeneas came from Ilium3 into Italy, after the destruction of Troy by the Greeks, and being immediately received with hostile demonstrations, led out his troops into the field, but being first invited to a conference, raised such admiration of himself in Latinus, that he was both admitted to a share of his throne, and became his son-in-law by a marriage with his daughter Lavinia. After this event, they had to carry on war in concert against Turnus, king of the Rutulians, because he had been disappointed of marrying Lavinia; and in the war both Turnus and Latinus were killed, Aeneas, in consequence, becoming by right of victory master of both nations, built a city which he called Lavinium, from the name of his wife. Some time afterwards, he went to war with Mezentius, king of the Etrurians, and being killed in it, Ascanius his son succeeded him, who, removing from Lavinium, built Alba Longa, which for three hundred years was the metropolis of his kingdom.

2 At length, after many kings had reigned in this city, Numitor and Amulius became joint sovereigns. But Amulius, having deprived Numitor, who was the elder, of his share of the throne, condemned his daughter Rhea to perpetual virginity, that no male offspring of Numitor’s family might arise to claim the crown, palliating the injury by an appearance of honour, so that she might not seem to have been compelled, but to have been chosen one of the vestal virgins. Being shut up, accordingly, in a grove sacred to Mars, she gave birth to two boys, whether the offspring of an illicit connexion with a mortal, or of the god Mars, is uncertain. This affair becoming known, Amulius, whose fears were increased by the birth of twins, ordered the children to be exposed, and threw his niece into prison, of which ill-treatment she died. Fortune, however, having a care for the raising of Rome, threw the children in the way of a she-wolf to be suckled, which, having lost her cubs, and longing to empty her overcharged teats, offered herself as a nurse to the infants. As she made frequent returns to the children, as if they had been her own offspring, Faustulus, a shepherd, observed her proceedings, and, withdrawing them from the beast, brought them up in a rude way of life among his cattle. That they were the sons of Mars, was believed, as on plain proof, either because they were born in the grove of Mars, or because they were nursed by a wolf, which is under the protection of Mars. The names of the boys were Remus and Romulus. As they grew up among the shepherds, daily contests in strength increased their vigour and agility. While they were frequently engaged, with great activity, in preventing robbers from seizing the cattle, it happened that Remus, having been taken by the robbers, was brought before the king,4 as if he had himself been guilty of that which he was endeavouring to prevent in others, and had been accustomed to make depredations on Numitor’s flocks. He was consequently given up to Numitor for punishment. But Numitor,5 who was touched with compassion for the stripling’s youth, was led to suspect that he might be one of his exposed grandchildren, and while the resemblance of his features to those of his daughter, and his age corresponding with the time of the exposure, kept him in suspense, Faustulus unexpectedly came in with Romulus, and the origin of the youths being ascertained from him, a conspiracy was formed, the young men taking up arms to revenge the death of their mother, and Numitor to recover the throne of which he had been deprived.

3 Amulius being killed, the throne was restored to Numitor, and the city of Rome was founded by the two young men. A senate was next appointed, consisting of a hundred old men who were called Fathers. Soon after, as the neighbouring people disdained to intermarry with shepherds, the Sabine virgins were seized by force; and the surrounding tribes being brought under their sway, the sovereignty of Italy, and afterwards that of the world, was acquired. In those times kings, instead of diadems, had spears, which the Greeks called sceptres; for the ancients, from the earliest period, worshipped spears as gods,6 and in memory of this superstition spears are still given to the statues of the gods.

In the time of King Tarquin, a company of Phocaeans from Asia, sailing up the Tiber, formed an alliance with the Romans, and proceeding from thence to the inmost part of the gulf of Gaul,7 built the city of Marseilles amidst the Ligurians and the savage Gallic tribes, and performed great exploits there, both in defending themselves against the fierce Gauls, and in attacking, of themselves, those by whom they had previously been molested.

The Phocaeans, compelled by the smallness and infertility of their territory, had applied themselves more to the sea than to the culture of the ground, supporting themselves by fishing, merchandise, and above all by piracy, which in those days was thought an honourable occupation.8 Venturing accordingly to visit the remotest shores of the ocean, they came into the gulf of Gaul and to the mouth of the river Rhone; and, charmed with the pleasantness of the country, and relating, on their return home, what they had seen, they tempted others to go to the same parts. Of the fleet Simos and Protis were the captains, who applied to the king of the Segobrigii, named Nannus, in whose territory they were anxious to build a city, desiring his friendship. On that day, as it happened, the king was engaged in preparing for the nuptials of his daughter Gyptis, whom, after the custom of that people, he intended to give in marriage to a son-in-law to be chosen at the feast. The suitors having been all invited to the wedding, the Grecian strangers were also requested to join the festival. The maiden was then introduced, and being desired by her father to give water to him whom she chose for her husband, she overlooked all the rest, and turning to the Greeks, held out water to Protis, who, from the king’s guest becoming his son-in-law, was presented by his father-in-law with the ground for building a city. Marseilles was accordingly built near the mouth of the river Rhone, in a retired bay, and as it were in a corner of the sea. The Ligurians, jealous of the growing greatness of the city, harassed the Greeks with continual war; but they, repelling their attacks, rose to such a degree of strength, that they conquered their enemies and planted several colonies in the lands which they captured.

4 From the people of Marseilles, therefore, the Gauls learned a more civilized way of life, their former barbarity being laid aside or softened; and by them they were taught to cultivate their lands and to enclose their towns with walls. Then too, they grew accustomed to live according to laws, and not by violence; then they learned to prune the vine and plant the olive; and such a radiance was shed over both men and things, that it was not Greece which seemed to have immigrated into Gaul, but Gaul that seemed to have been transplanted into Greece.

After Nannus, king of the Segobrigii, from whom the ground for building the city had been received, was dead, and his son Comanus had succeeded to the throne, a certain Ligurian told him that “Marseilles would one day be the ruin of the neighbouring people, and that he ought to suppress it in its rise, lest, when it grew stronger, it should overpower him.” To this prediction he added the following fable: “A bitch once asked a shepherd, when she was big with young, for a place to bring forth her puppies; having obtained it, she requested again that she might be allowed to bring them up in the same place; and at last, when her young were grown up, and she could depend upon their support, she claimed possession of the place as her own. In like manner,” he continued, “the people of Marseilles, who are now regarded as your tenants, will one day become masters of your territory.” Moved by these persuasions, the king formed a plan to overthrow Marseilles; in pursuance of which, on the day appointed for the feast of Flora, he sent into the city several stout and able men, who were admitted as friends; an additional number he ordered to be conveyed concealed in wagons, covered over with baskets and boughs of trees; while he himself lay hid among the neighbouring hills, that after the gates had been opened in the night by the men before mentioned, he might come up in time to execute the plot, and might fall upon the city overcome with sleep and the fumes of wine. But a certain woman, a relative of the king, who had an intrigue with a Greek youth, revealed the plot to him, through compassion for his youth and beauty, during their intercourse, and bade him escape from the danger. He however reported the matter to the magistrates, and the treachery being thus made public, all the Ligurians were seized, those concealed being dragged from among their baskets; and when they were all put to death, a plot was formed to surprise the plotter, and seven thousand of the enemy, with the king himself, were slain. Since that time the Massilians, on festal days, have been accustomed to shut their gates, to keep watch, to place sentinels on the walls, to examine strangers, to take all kinds of precaution, and to guard the city as carefully in time of peace as if they were at war. Thus what was wisely instituted, is still observed, not from the necessity of circumstances, but from the habit of acting prudently.

5 Subsequently they had great wars with the Ligurians and Gauls, which increased the fame of their city, and rendered the valour of the Greeks, by their manifold victories, renowned among their neighbours. The forces of the Carthaginians,9 too, in a war which rose between them about the capture of some fishing boats, they often routed, and granted them peace under defeat; with the Spaniards they made an alliance; with the Romans they faithfully observed the league concluded almost at the foundation of the city, and effectively supported their allies, in all their wars, with auxiliary troops. Such conduct both increased their confidence in their own strength, and secured them peace from their enemies. But after a time, when Marseilles was at the height of distinction, as well for the fame of its exploits as for the abundance of its wealth and its reputation for strength, the neighbouring people, on a sudden, conspired to destroy the very name of Marseilles, as they would have united to put out a fire that threatened them all. Catumandus, one of their petty princes, was unanimously chosen general, who, when he was besieging the enemy’s city with a vast army of select troops, was frightened in his sleep by the vision of a stern-looking woman, who told him that she was a goddess, and of his own accord made peace with the Massilians. Having then asked permission to enter their city and pay adoration to their gods, and having gone into the temple of Minerva, and observed in the portico the statue of the goddess whom he had seen in his sleep, he suddenly exclaimed “that it was she who had frightened him in the night; that it was she who had ordered him to raise the siege;” then, congratulating the Massilians that they were under the care, as he perceived, of the immortal gods, and offering a neck-lace of gold to the goddess, he made a league with them for ever.

After peace was thus obtained, and security established, some deputies from Marseilles, as they were returning from Delphi, whither they had been sent to carry presents to Apollo, heard that the city of Rome had been taken and burned by the Gauls. This calamity, when the news of it was brought home to them, the Massilians lamented with a public mourning, and contributed gold and silver, both public and private, to make up the sum to be given to the Gauls, from whom they knew that peace was bought. For this service an exemption from taxes was decreed them, a place in the theatre assigned them among the senators, and a league made with them upon equal terms.

At the end of this book Trogus relates that his ancestors had their origin from the Vocontii; that his grandfather, Trogus Pompeius, received the right of citizenship from Cnaeus Pompey in the Sertorian war; that his uncle led a troop of cavalry under the same Pompey in the war with Mithridates; and that his father served under Caius Caesar, and had the charge of his correspondence, of receiving embassies10 and of his ring.11


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1 Lupercus, whose priests were called Luperci, was an ancient rural deity of Italy; in after times he was considered identical with Pan. See Dr. Smith’s Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Ant.

2 There is scarcely any other instance of the word in this sense. Its general signification is to be foolish or silly.

3 By Ilium Justin seems to mean the region of which Troy was the capital, generally called Troas.

4 He was first carried off by the robbers, and then taken prisoner by the king’s officers among the robbers.

5 Sed Numitor, &c ] The commentators have not observed that this sentence is corrupt; Numitor has no verb.

6 Spears were never worshipped as gods, or certainly not by the Greeks; they were, indeed, an insigne of the gods, as being kings, a name by which they are frequently mentioned among the poets. But this observation of Justin is abrupt and out of place; nor is the case different with what follows, for what a leap is it from Romulus to the Phocaeans, who did not become friends to the Romans till two hundred years after his time!—Wetzel.

7 Galliae sinus.] The gulf of Lyons.

8 Gloriae habebatur.] See Thucyd. i. 5; Hom. Od. iii. 73.

9 Thucyd. i. 13: “The Phocaeans, who founded Marseilles, conquered the Carthaginians in a sea-fight.” See also Herod. i. 166.

10 Legationum—curam.] To receive embassies, and introduce them to the emperor, was the duty, under the later emperors, sometimes of the magister officiorum, or master of ceremonies, sometimes of the magister epistolarum, or secretary, as the author of the Notitia utriusque Imperii has observed. Among the Persians this duty devolved upon a chiliarch or military officer, who was next in rank to the king, as appears from Corn. Nep. Vit. Conon., and Aelian. V. H. i. 21. In Egypt Josephus speaks of Nicanor having been appointed by Ptolemy to receive ambassadors, Antiq. xii. 2.—Berneccerus.

11 Annuli.] The same office which Maecenas and Agrippa held under Augustus, and Mucianus under Vespasian, as appears from Dion. Cass. and his epitomiser. See Kirchmann de Annulis, c. 6.—Berneccerus.


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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.