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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


Book VI

The Lacedaemonians aspire to conquer Asia; the command of the Persian fleet given to Conon, I.—Agesilaus is general of the Lacedaemonians; acts of Conon, II.—Battle between Conon and Pisander; the Lacedaemonians defeated, III.—Agesilaus supports the declining fortune of the Lacedaemonians, IV.—Iphicrates and Conon; the Athenians repair their city, V.—Peace proclaimed by the king of Persia throughout Greece; the Lacedaemonians break it, VI.—The Thebans attack the Lacedaemonians; the battle of Mantinea, VII.—Epaminondas, VIII.—State of Greece after his death, IX.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

1 THE more the Lacedaemonians got, the more, according to the nature of mankind, they coveted, and, not satisfied at their strength being doubled by the accession of the Athenian power, they began to aspire to the dominion of all Asia. But the greater part of it was under the government of the Persians; and Dercyllidas, being chosen general to conduct the war against them, and seeing that he would be opposed to two satraps of Artaxerxes, Pharnabazus and Tissaphernes, supported by the strength of powerful nations, resolved to make peace with one of them. As Tissaphernes seemed the fitter of the two for his purpose, being more attentive to business, and better furnished with troops (having with him those of the late prince Cyrus), he was invited to a conference, and induced to lay down his arms on certain conditions. This transaction Pharnabazus made matter of accusation to their common sovereign, acquainting him that “Tissaphernes had not taken arms to repel the Lacedaemonians on their invasion of Asia, but had maintained them at the king’s charge, and bargained with them as to what they should put off doing in the war, and what they should carry into execution, as if every loss did not affect the interest of the one empire in general,” adding that “it was disgraceful that war should not be decided by the sword, but bought off, and that the enemy should be induced to retire, not by arms, but by money.” When by such charges he had irritated the king against Tissaphernes, he advised him to appoint in his place, as commander by sea, Conon the Athenian, who, having left his country on account of his ill success, was living in exile in Cyprus; “for though the power of the Athenians,” he said, “was reduced, their experience at sea was still left them, and that, were a choice to be made from them all, no one could be preferred to Conon.” Pharnabazus was accordingly furnished with five hundred talents, and directed to set Conon over the fleet.

2 When this arrangement was publicly known, the Lacedaemonians, through their ambassadors, requested aid for their efforts by sea from Hercynio,1 king of Egypt, by whom a hunched triremes, and six hundred thousand modii2 of corn, were despatched to them, while from their other allies a great number of forces were also assembled. But for such an army, and against such a leader, an efficient commander was wanting; and when the auxiliaries desired Agesilaus, then king of the Lacedaemonians, for their general, the Lacedaemonians, in consequence of an answer from the oracle at Delphi, were long in doubt whether they should appoint him to the chief command, as it was signified to them that “there would be an end of their power when the kingly authority should be lame;” and Agesilaus was lame of one foot. At last they decided that “it was better for the king to halt in his gait than for the kingdom to halt in its power;” and when they afterwards sent Agesilaus, with a large army into Asia, I cannot easily tell what other two generals were ever so well matched; for the age, valour, conduct, and wisdom of both were nearly equal, as was also the fame of their achievements; and fortune, who had given them equal qualifications, had kept the one from being conquered by the other. Great preparations for war, therefore, were made by both, and great deeds were performed. But a mutiny among his soldiers arose to trouble Conon, in consequence of the king’s officers making it a practice to defraud them of their pay; and they demanded their arrears the more obstinately, as they anticipated that service under so great a general would be very severe. Conon, having long importuned the king by letters to no purpose, went at last to him in person, but was debarred from any interview or conference with him, because he would not do him homage3 after the manner of the Persians. He, however, treated with him through his ministers, and complained that “the wars of the richest king in the world ended in nothing through want of pay; and that he who had an army equal to that of the enemy, was defeated by means of money in which he was their superior, and found inferior to them in that article of power in which he had far the advantage of them.” He also desired that one paymaster might be appointed for his troops, as it was evidently detrimental to commit that office to several. Money for his soldiers was then given him, and he returned to the fleet. Nor did he delay to enter on action; he executed many undertakings with resolution, many with success; he laid waste the enemy’s country, stormed their towns, and bore down everything before him like a hurricane. The Lacedaemonians were so alarmed at his progress, that they resolved on recalling Agesilaus4 from Asia to the support of his country.

3 In the meantime Pisander, who had been left governor of his country by Agesilaus at his departure, fitted out a powerful fleet with the utmost exertion, determining to try the fortune of war. Conon, too, on the other hand, being then to encounter the enemy’s army for the first time, put his troops in order with the greatest care. The emulation between the generals in the contest was not greater than that between the soldiers. Conon himself, in his character of leader, did not so much regard the interest of the Persians as the honour of his own country; and as, when the strength of the Athenians was reduced, he had occasioned the utter loss of their power, so he had a desire to be accounted its restorer, as well as to reinstate himself in his country by a victory from which he had been exiled through being defeated; and this the more remarkably as he was not to fight with the aid of the Athenians themselves, but with that of a foreign state; he was going to contend at the risk of the king, but to conquer to the advantage of his country, acquiring glory by means dissimilar from those by which the former generals of Athens had obtained it, for they had defended their country by defeating the Persians, but he would re-establish his country by making the Persians victorious. Pisander too, from his relationship to Agesilaus,5 was also an emulator of his virtues, and endeavoured not to fall short of his exploits and the brilliancy of his renown, and not to overthrow, by the misconduct of a moment, a power which had been gained by so many wars through so many ages. The anxiety of all the soldiers and sailors was similar, being not so much concerned6 that they might not lose the power which they had got, as that the Athenians might not recover their former eminence. But the more spirited was the struggle, the more honourable was the victory of Conon. The Lacedaemonians were routed and put to flight; the garrison of the enemy was withdrawn from Athens; the people were restored to their rights, and their bondage was at an end; and several cities were reduced to their former state of obedience.

4 To the Athenians this event was the beginning of their restoration to power; to the Lacedaemonians it was the termination of their authority; for, as if they had lost their spirit with their pre-eminence, they began to be regarded with contempt by their neighbours. The first people that made war upon them, with the aid of the Athenians, were the Thebans; a state which, by the abilities of its general, Epaminondas, was raised from the most humble condition to the hope of governing Greece. A battle was fought between the two powers by land, with the same fortune on the part of the Lacedaemonians as they had experienced against Conon by sea. In this encounter Lysander, under whose conduct the Athenians had been defeated by the Lacedaemonians, was killed. Pausanias also, the other general of the Lacedaemonians, went into exile in consequence of being accused of treachery.

The Thebans, on gaining the victory, led their whole force against Lacedaemon, expecting that it would be easy to reduce the city, as the Spartans were deserted by all their allies. The Lacedaemonians, dreading the event, sent for their king Agesilaus out of Asia, where he was performing great exploits, to defend his country; for since Lysander was slain, they had no confidence in any other general; but, as he was tardy in coming, they raised an army, and proceeded to meet the enemy. Having been once conquered, however, they had neither spirit nor strength to meet those who had recently vanquished them. They were accordingly routed in the very first onset. But Agesilaus came up just when the forces of his countrymen were overthrown; and, having renewed the contest, he, with his fresh troops, invigorated by long service, snatched the victory from the enemy without difficulty, but was himself severely wounded.

5 The Athenians, receiving intelligence of this event, and fearing that if the Lacedaemonians obtained another victory, they should be reduced to their former state of bondage, assembled an army, and ordered that it should be conducted to the aid of the Boeotians by Iphicrates, a young man only twenty years of age, but of great abilities. The conduct of this youth was above his years, and greatly to be admired; nor had the Athenians ever before him, among so many and so great leaders, a captain of greater promise, or of talents that sooner came to maturity; and he had not only the qualifications of a general, but also those of an orator.

Conon, having heard of the return of Agesilaus, came also himself from Asia to ravage the country of the Lacedaemonians; who, while the terrors of war raged around them, were shut up within their walls, and reduced to the depths of despair. After wasting the enemy’s territories, Conan proceeded to Athens, where he was received with great joy on the part of his countrymen; but he felt more sorrow at the state of his native city, which had been burnt and laid in ruins by the Lacedaemonians, than joy at his return to it after so long an absence. He accordingly repaired what had been burnt, and rebuilt what had been demolished, from the price of the spoil which he had taken, and with the help of the Persian troops. Such was the fate of Athens, that having been first burnt by the Persians, it was restored by their labour; and having been afterwards wasted by the Lacedaemonians, it was re-adorned from their spoils; and, the state of things being reversed, it had now for allies those whom it then had for enemies, and those for enemies with whom it had been joined in the closest bonds of alliance.

6 During the course of these proceedings, Artaxerxes, king of the Persians, sent deputies into Greece, with injunctions, “that they should all lay down their arms,” and assurances “that he would treat as enemies those who should act otherwise.” He restored to the cities their liberty and all that belonged to them; a course which he did not adopt from concern for the troubles of the Greeks, and for their incessant and deadly enmities displayed in the field, but from unwillingness that, while he was engaged in a war with Egypt (which he had undertaken because the Egyptians had sent aid to the Spartans against his satraps), his troops should be obliged to stay in Greece. The Greeks, exhausted with so much fighting, eagerly obeyed his mandate.

This year was not only remarkable for a peace being suddenly made throughout Greece, but for the taking of the city of Rome at the same time by the Gauls.

But the Lacedaemonians, watching an opportunity of surprising the unguarded, and observing that the Arcadians were absent from their country, stormed one of their fortresses, and, having taken possession of it, placed a garrison in it. The Arcadians in consequence, arming and equipping a body of troops, and calling the Thebans to their assistance, demanded in open war the restitution of what they had lost. In the battle which followed, Archidamus, general of the Lacedaemonians, was wounded, and, seeing his men cut down and apparently defeated, sent a herald to ask the bodies of the slain for burial; this being a sign among the Greeks that the victory is yielded. The Thebans, satisfied with this acknowledgment, made the signal for giving quarter.

7 After the lapse of a few days, while neither side was offering any hostility, and while, as the Lacedaemonians were engaged in other contentions with their neighbours, a truce was observed as it were by tacit consent, the Thebans, under the leadership of Epaminondas, conceived hopes of seizing the city of Sparta: They accordingly proceeded thither secretly, in the early part of the night, but failed to take the inhabitants by surprise; for the old men, and others of an age unfit for war, observing the approach of the enemy, met them in arms at the very entrance of the gates; and not more than a hundred men, enfeebled with years, offered battle to fifteen thousand. So much spirit and vigour does the sight of our country and homes inspire; and so much more confidence is afforded by the presence, than by the remembrance of them; for when they considered where and for what they took their stand, they resolved either to conquer or die. A few old men, in consequence, held out against an army, which, shortly before, the flower of their troops were unable to withstand. In this battle two generals of the enemy were killed, when, on intelligence being received that Agesilaus was approaching, the Thebans retreated. But there was no long cessation of hostilities; for the Spartan youth, incited by the heroism and glorious deeds of the old men, could not be prevented from promptly engaging in the field. Just as victory inclined to the Thebans, Epaminondas, while he was discharging the duty, not only of a general, but of a gallant soldier, was severely wounded. When this was known, fear fell upon one side from deep concern, and amaze on the other from excess of joy; and both parties, as if by mutual agreement, retired from the field.

8 A few days after, Epaminondas died, and with him fell the spirit of the Theban state. For as, when you break off the point of a dart, you take from the rest of the steel the power of wounding, so when that general of the Thebans (who was, as it were, the point of their weapon7) was taken off, the strength of their government was so debilitated, that they seemed not so much to have lost him as to have all died with him. They neither carried on any memorable war before he became their leader, nor were they afterwards remarkable for their successes, but for their defeats; so that it is certain that with him the glory of his country both rose and fell. Whether he was more estimable as a man or a general is undecided; for he never sought power for himself, but for his country, and was so far from coveting money, that he did not leave sufficient to pay for his funeral. Nor was he more desirous of distinction than of wealth; for all the appointments that he held were conferred on him against his will, and he filled his posts in such a manner that he seemed to add lustre to his honours rather than to receive it from them. His application to learning, and his knowledge of philosophy, were such, that it seemed wonderful how a man bred up in literature could have so excellent a knowledge of war. The manner of his death, too, was not at variance with his course of life; for when he was carried back half dead into the camp, and had recovered his breath and voice, he asked only this question of those that stood about him, “whether the enemy had taken his shield from him when he fell?” Hearing that it was saved, he kissed it, when it was brought to him, as the sharer of his toils and glory. He afterwards inquired which side had gained the victory, and hearing that the Thebans had got it, observed, “It is well,” and so, as it were congratulating his country, expired.

9 With his death the spirit of the Athenians also declined. For after he whom they were wont to emulate was gone, they sank into sloth and effeminacy, and spent the public income, not, as formerly, upon fleets and armies, but upon festivals, and the celebration of games; frequenting the theatres for the sake of eminent actors and poets, visiting the stage oftener than the camp, and praising men rather for being good versifiers than good generals.8 It was then that the public revenues, from which soldiers and sailors used to be maintained, were distributed9 among the people of the city. By which means it came to pass, that during the absence of exertion on the part of the Greeks, the name of the Macedonians, previously mean and obscure, rose into notice; and Philip, who had been kept three years as a hostage at Thebes, and had been imbued with the virtues of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, imposed the power of Macedonia, like a yoke of bondage, upon the necks of Greece and Asia.


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1 Called Psammitichus by Diodorus Siculus, xiv. 35.—Wetzel.

2 The modius was not quite half a peck. Its exact content was 1 gall. 7.8576 pints. See Fragments of the Hist. of Sallust; Bohn’s Class. Library, Sallust p. 234.

3 Adorare.] See C. Nepos, Life of Conon, c. 9.

4 Justin is here in error; for it was not the proceedings of Conon in Asia, but the war raised by the Corinthians, Athenians, and Argives in Europe, that caused the recal of Agesilaus, as indeed Justin himself says,
c. 4, med.—Wetzel.

5 Pro conjunctione Agesilai.] He was Agesilaus’s wife’s brother. See Xen. Hell. iii. 4, 29.

6 The text stands thus: Quos major sollicitudo cruciabat, non tam ne ipsi quaesitas opes amitterent, quam ne pristinas Athenienses reciperent. Some alteration is necessary, as Berneccerus remarks, unless, as Vorstius improbably supposes, major may be taken for magna.

7 Velut mucrone teli.] Faber and Lemaire think these words spurious.

8 Versificatoresque meliores, quam duces laudantes.] An obscure mode of expression; but it seems to be equivalent to laudantes magis bonos versificatores quam bonos duces.

9 This was not first done at the period of which Justin is speaking, but had previously been done by Pericles, to whom Aristophanes attributes it in more than one passage.—Wetzel.


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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.

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