a digital library of Latin literature
CSL Home

Keyword Search
     advanced search

Browse by:

Full Corpus:
   All available texts
      (single page)

Secondary Texts

What's New
Contact Us

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



Geographical description of Spain, I.—Manners and customs of the Spaniards; Viriatus, II.— Of Lusitania and Gallaecia, III.—Habis; Geryon, IV.—The Carthaginians in Spain; the country reduced by Augustus into a Roman province, V.

1 2 3 4 5

1 SPAIN, as it forms the boundary of Europe, will also form the conclusion of the present work. This country the ancients first called Iberia, from the river Iberus, and afterwards Hispania, from some person named Hispanus. It lies between Africa and Gaul, and is bounded by the Ocean Strait1 and the Pyrenees. It is less than either of these countries, but more fruitful than either; for it is neither scorched, like Africa, by a burning sun, nor disturbed, like Gaul,2 by incessant winds, but, being situate betwixt both, it is rendered, by moderate heat on the one hand, and genial and seasonable showers on the other, fertile in all kinds of fruits of the earth, so that it supplies abundance of everything, not only for its own inhabitants, but for Italy and the city of Rome. From hence, indeed, comes not only great plenty of corn, but of wine, honey, and oil. Its iron is excellent, and its breed of horses swift. Not only is the produce of the surface to be admired, but the abundant riches of the metals hidden beneath it. There is great plenty, too, of flax and hemp, and certainly no country is more productive of vermilion. The courses of the rivers are not violent and rapid, so as to be hurtful, but gentle, watering the vineyards and the plains; they are also well stocked with fish from the estuaries of the sea, and most of them are rich in gold, which they carry down with their waters.3 It is joined to Gaul by one unbroken ridge of the Pyrenees; on every other side it is surrounded by sea. The shape of the country is almost square, except that it grows narrower towards the Pyrenees, the shores contracting in that quarter. The length of the Pyrenees is six hundred miles. The salubrity of the air is the same through the whole of Spain, for its atmosphere is infected with no unwholesome mists from fens. Besides, there are constant breezes from the sea on every side, by which, as they penetrate the whole country, the exhalations from the earth are dispersed, and the greatest health is secured to the inhabitants.

2 The bodies of the inhabitants are well adapted to endure privation and fatigue; their minds are inured to contempt of death. A strict and parsimonious abstinence prevails among them all. They prefer war to peace; and, if no foreign enemy offers himself, they seek one at home. Many have died under torture, to conceal what has been entrusted to them; so much stronger is their love of honour than of life. The patience of a slave, too, is greatly praised, who, having avenged his master in the war with the Carthaginians, exulted with smiles in the midst of tortures, and defied, with serenity and cheerfulness, the utmost cruelty of his tormentors. The activity of the people is extraordinary; their minds restless. To many, their war-horses and arms are dearer than their blood. There is no sumptuous preparation among them for festival days; nor was it till after the second Punic war that they learned from the Romans to use warm baths.

During so long a course of years they have had no great general besides Viriatus,4 who maintained a struggle against the Romans for ten years with various success; so much more similar are their dispositions to those of wild beasts than of men; and this very leader they followed, not as having been chosen by the judgment of the people, but as being well qualified to take precautions against the enemy, and artful in avoiding danger. His temperance and moderation were such, that though he often defeated armies commanded by consuls, yet, after such achievements, he made no change in the fashion of his dress or arms, or in his diet, but adhered to the same way of life with which he commenced his military career; so that any one of the common soldiers seemed better off than the general himself.

3 In Lusitania, near the river Tagus, many authors have said that the mares conceive from the effect of the wind; but such stories have had their origin in the fecundity of the mares, and the vast number of herds of horses, which are so numerous, and of such swiftness, in Gallaecia and Lusitania, that they may be thought, not without reason, to have been the offspring of the wind. As for the Gallaecians, they claim for themselves a Greek origin; for they say that Teucer, after the end of the Trojan war, having incurred the hatred of his father on account of the death of his brother Ajax, and not being admitted into his kingdom, retired to Cyprus, where he built a city called Salamis, from the name of his native land; that, some time after, on hearing a report of his fatherís death, he returned again to his country, but, being hindered from landing by Eurysaces the son of Ajax, he sailed to the coast of Spain, and took possession of those parts where New Carthage now stands, and, passing from thence to Gallaecia, and fixing his abode there, gave name to the nation. A part of the Gallaecians are called Amphilochi. The country produces abundance of brass and lead, as well as of vermilion,5 which has given name to a river near the part in which it is found. It is also very rich in gold, so that they sometimes turn up clods of gold6 with the plough. In the territory of this people there is a sacred mountain, which it is thought impious to open with any tool of iron, but whenever the earth is rent with lightning, an occurrence common in these parts, it is allowable to pick up the gold that may be laid open, as a gift from the deity of the place. The women manage household affairs, and the culture of the ground; the men attend only to arms, and the pursuit of spoil. Their iron is of an extraordinary quality, but their water is more powerful than the iron itself; for the iron, by being tempered in it, becomes keener; nor is any weapon held in esteem among them which has not been dipped either in the Bilbilis or the Chalybs.7 From the latter river those who dwell on its banks are called Chalybes, and are said to surpass the rest of the people in the manufacture of steel.

4 The forests of the Tartesians, in which it is said that the Titans8 waged war against the gods, the Cunetes9 inhabited, whose most ancient king Gargoris, was the first to collect honey. This prince, having a grandson born to him, the offspring of an intrigue on the part of his daughter, tried various means, through shame for her unchastity, to have the child put to death; but he, being preserved by some good fortune, through all calamities, came at last to the throne, from a compassionate feeling for the many perils that he had undergone. First of all he ordered him to be exposed, that he might be starved, and, when he sent some days after to look for his body, he was found nursed by the milk of various wild beasts. When he was brought home, he caused him to be thrown down in a narrow road, along which herds of cattle used to pass; being so cruel that he would rather have his grandchild trampled to pieces, than despatched by an easy death. As he was unhurt also in this case, and required no food, he threw him to hungry dogs, that had been exasperated by want of food for several days, and afterwards to swine, but as he was not only uninjured, but even fed with the teats of some of the swine, he ordered him at last to be cast into the sea. On this occasion, as if, by the manifest interposition of some deity, he had been carried, amidst the raging tide, and flux and reflux of the waters, not on the billows but in a vessel, he was put on shore by the subsiding ocean; and, not long after, a hind came up, and offered the child her teats. By constantly following this nurse, the boy acquired extraordinary swiftness of foot, and long ranged the mountains and woods among herds of deer, with fleetness not inferior to theirs. At last, being caught in a snare, he was presented to the king; and then, from the similitude of his features, and certain marks which had been burnt on his body in his infancy, he was recognized as his grandson. Afterwards, from admiration at his escapes from so many mischances and perils, he was appointed by his grandfather to succeed him on the throne. The name given him was Habis; and, as soon as he became king, he gave such proofs of greatness, that he seemed not to have been delivered in vain, through the power of the gods, from so many exposures to death. He united the barbarous people by laws; he was the first that taught them to break oxen for the plough, and to raise corn from tillage; and he obliged them, instead of food procured from the wilds, to adopt a better diet, perhaps through dislike of what he had eaten in his childhood. The adventures of this prince might seem fabulous, were not the founders of Rome said to have been suckled by a wolf, and Cyrus, king of the Persians, to have been brought up by a dog. By him the people were interdicted from servile duties, and the commonalty were divided among seven cities. After Habis was dead, the sovereignty was retained for many generations by his successors.

In another part of Spain, which consists of islands,10 the supreme power was in the hands of Geryon. Here there is such abundance of food for cattle, that unless the feeding of the animals were occasionally interrupted, they would burst. Hence the herds of Geryon, which in those days were accounted the only species of wealth, were so renowned, that they tempted Hercules out of Asia by the greatness of such a prize. Geryon himself, too, they say, was not a man with three bodies, as is told in fables, but that there were three brothers living in such unanimity, that they seemed all actuated by one soul; and that they did not attack Hercules of their own accord, but, seeing their herds driven off, endeavoured to recover what they had lost by force of arms.

5 After the rule of kings was at an end, the Carthaginians were the first that made themselves masters of the country; for when the Gaditani, according to directions which they received in a dream, had removed the sacred things of Hercules from Tyre, whence also the Carthaginians had their origin, into Spain, and had built a city there, the neighbouring people of the country, being jealous of the rise of this new city, and in consequence attacking the Gaditani in war, the Carthaginians sent them succour as being their kindred. The expedition being successful, they both secured the Gaditani from injury, and added the greatest part of the province to their own dominions. Subsequently, too, the success of their first attempt encouraging them, they sent their general Hamilcar, with a large army, to take possession of the whole country, who, having performed great exploits, but pursuing his fortune too rashly, was drawn into an ambush and killed. In his stead was sent his son-in-law Hasdrubal, who was also killed by the slave of a certain Spaniard, to avenge the unjust death of his master. Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar, succeeded him, a greater general than either of them; for, surpassing the achievements of both, he subdued the whole of Spain, and then, making war upon the Romans, he harassed Italy for sixteen years with various calamities, during which the Romans, sending the Scipios into Spain, first drove the Carthaginians out of the province, and afterwards carried on terrible wars with the Spaniards themselves. Nor would the Spaniards submit to the yoke, even after their country was over-run, until Caesar Augustus, having subdued the rest of the world, turned his victorious arms against them, and reduced this barbarous and savage people, brought by the influence of laws to a more civilized way of life, into the form of a province.


Table of contents


1 Oceani freto.] The Fretum Gaditanum, Strait of Gibraltar.

2 Not all Gaul, but only the coasts of it.—Wetzel.

3 In paludibus.] Berneccerus, Vorstius, Graevius, and Faber, are unanimous in preferring in balucibus, which is a correction of Salmasius ad Solin. p. 277. Hispani quod minutum est (aurum), balucem vocant. Plin. H. N. xxxiii. 21. But Wetzel retains the old reading paludibus, and I cannot but think him right; for the preposition in seems to require that word rather than the other. It may be doubted, indeed, whether in balucibus vehunt can be regarded as Latin. For in balucibus substitute in minutis particulis: would Justin, or any other Latin author, have said amnes aurum in minutis particulis vehunt? I think not. In minutas particulas friatum, disruptum, discerptum would be more likely forms of expression.

4 See Flor. ii. 17; Vell. Pat. ii. 1, 90; Aurel. Vict. 71; Did. Sic. xxxiii. fragm. 3, 11, 22.

5 Minio ] Hence the name of the river Minho.

6 Glebas aureas.] Pliny makes the same statement, H. N. xxxiii. 21.

7 Isaac Vossius in his notes to Catullus says that the Chalybs is a river between the Ana and the Tagus, which is called by Ptolemy and Martianus Kali/pous or Ka/lipos. I think him right.—Graevius.

8 Tradition places the Titans in Thessaly, not in Spain.—Wetzel.

9 They dwelt about Cape Cuneus, now C. St. Vincent, in Portugal. The word is a correction of Isaac Vossiusís, for the old reading Curetes, who were a people of Crete.

10 Quae ex insulis constat.] Wetzel thinks that Justin supposed Geryon to have lived in the Balearic isles. How then did Hercules drive off his herds? The whole story of Geryon is in a great degree fabulous, and Justin was wrong in imagining that any part of Spain consisted of islands.


Table of contents


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.