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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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War between the Thebans and Phocians, I.—The Thebans bring Philip against the Phocians; the Athenians take precautions for their defence, II.—Philip harasses Greece, takes possession of Cappadocia, destroys Olynthus; his acts in Thrace, III.—He deceives the Athenians, Boeotians, Thessalians, and Phocians, IV.—Oppresses the Phocians and other Greeks, V.—His machinations to strengthen his power, VI.

1 2 3 4 5 6

1 THE states of Greece, while each sought to gain the sovereignty of the country for itself, lost it as a body. Striving intemperately to ruin one another, they did not perceive, till they were oppressed by another power, that what each lost was a common loss to all; for Philip, king of Macedonia, looking, as from a watch-tower, for an opportunity to attack their liberties, and fomenting their contentions by assisting the weaker, obliged victors and vanquished alike to submit to his royal yoke. The Thebans were the cause and origin of this calamity, who, obtaining power, and having no steadiness of mind to bear prosperity, insolently accused the Lacedaemonians and Phocians, when they had conquered them in the field, before the common council of Greece,1 as if they had not been sufficiently punished by the slaughters and depredations that they had suffered. It was laid to the charge of the Lacedaemonians, that they had seized the citadel of Thebes during a time of truce, and to that of the Phocians, that they had laid waste Boeotia, as if the Thebans themselves, after their conduct in the field, had left themselves any ground for resorting to law. But as the cause was conducted according to the will of the more powerful, the Phocians were sentenced to pay such a fine as it was impossible for them to raise, and in consequence, despoiled of their lands, children, and wives, and reduced to desperation, they seized, under the leadership of one Philomelus, on the temple of Apollo at Delphi, as if they were enraged at the god. Being hence enriched with gold and treasure, and hiring mercenary troops, they made war upon the Thebans. This proceeding of the Phocians, though all expressed detestation at the sacrilege, brought more odium upon the Thebans, by whom they had been reduced to such necessity, than on the Phocians themselves; and aid was in consequence despatched to them both by the Athenians and Lacedaemonians. In the first engagement, Philomelus drove the Thebans from their camp; but in the next he was killed, fighting in front among the thickest of the enemy, and paid the penalty of his sacrilege by the effusion of his impious blood. Onomarchus was made general in his stead.

2 To oppose Onomarchus, the Thebans and Thessalians chose as general, not one of their own people, lest they should not be able to endure his rule if he should conquer, but Philip, king of Macedonia, voluntarily submitting to that power from a foreigner which they dreaded in the hands of their own countrymen. Philip, as if he were the avenger of the sacrilege, not the defender of the Thebans, ordered all his soldiers to assume crowns of laurel, and proceeded to battle as if under the leadership of the god. The Phocians, seeing these ensigns of the deity, and frighted with the consciousness of guilt, threw down their arms and fled, receiving punishment for their violation of religion by the bloodshed and slaughter that they suffered. This affair brought incredibly great glory to Philip in the opinion of all people, who called him “the avenger of the god, and the defender of religion,” and said that “he alone had arisen to require satisfaction for what ought to have been punished by the combined force of the world, and was consequently worthy to be ranked next to the gods, as by him the majesty of the gods had been vindicated.”

The Athenians, hearing the result of the conflict, and fearing that Philip would march into Greece, took possession of the straits of Thermopylae, as they had done on the invasion of the Persians, but by no means with like spirit, or in a similar cause; for then they fought in behalf of the liberty of Greece, now, in behalf of public sacrilege;2 then to defend the temples of the gods from the ravages of an enemy, now, to defend the plunderers of temples against the avengers of their guilt, acting as advocates of a crime of which it was dishonourable to them that others should have been the punishers, and utterly unmindful that, in their dangers, they had often bad recourse to this deity as a counsellor; that, under his guidance, they had entered on so many wars with success, had founded so many cities auspiciously, and had acquired so extensive a dominion by sea and land: and that they had never done any thing, either of a public or private nature, without the sanction of his authority. Strange that a people of such ability, improved by every kind of learning, and formed by the most excellent laws and institutions, should have brought such guilt upon themselves as to leave nothing with which they could afterwards justly upbraid barbarians.

3 Nor did Philip distinguish himself by more honourable conduct towards his allies; for, as if he was afraid of being surpassed by his opponents in the guilt of sacrilege, he seized and plundered, like an enemy, cities of which he had just before been captain, which had fought under his auspices, and which had congratulated him and themselves on their victories; he sold the wives and children of the inhabitants for slaves; he spared neither the temples of the gods, nor other sacred structures, nor the tutelar gods, public or private, before whom he had recently presented himself a guest; so that he seemed not so much to avenge sacrilege as to seek a license for committing it.

In the next place, as if he had done every thing well, he crossed over into Chalcidice,3 where, conducting his wars with equal perfidy,4 and treacherously capturing or killing the neighbouring princes, he united the whole of the province to the kingdom of Macedonia. Afterwards, to throw a veil over his character for dishonesty, for which he was now deemed remarkable above other men, he sent persons through the kingdoms and the richest of the cities, to spread a report that king Philip was ready to contract, at a vast sum, for the re-building of the walls, temples, and sacred edifices, in the several towns, and to invite contractors by public criers; but when those who were willing to undertake these works went to Macedonia, they found themselves put off with various excuses, and, from dread of the king’s power, returned quietly to their homes. Soon after he fell upon the Olynthians, because, after the death of one of his brothers, they had, from pity, afforded a refuge to two others, whom, being the sons of his step-mother Philip would gladly have cut off, as pretenders to a share in the throne. For this reason he destroyed an ancient and noble city, consigning his brothers to the death long before destined for them, and delighting himself at the same time with a vast quantity of booty, and the gratification of his fratricidal inclinations. Next, as if every thing that he meditated was lawful for him to do, he seized upon the gold mines in Thessaly, and the silver ones in Thrace, and, to leave no law or right unviolated, proceeded to engage in piracy. While such was his conduct, it happened that two brothers, princes of Thrace, chose him as arbitrator in their disputes, not, indeed, from respect for his justice, but because each dreaded that he would unite his strength to that of the other. Philip, in accordance with his practice and disposition, came unexpectedly upon the brothers with an army in full array, not apparently to try a cause, but to fight a battle, and spoiled them both of their dominions, not like a judge, but with the perfidy and baseness of a robber.

4 During the course of these transactions, ambassadors came to him from the Athenians to ask for peace. Having listened to their request, he despatched ambassadors to Athens with terms, and a peace was concluded there to the advantage of both parties. Embassies came to him also from other states of Greece, not from inclination for peace, but for fear of war; for the Thessalians and Boeotians, with reviving wrath, entreated that he would prove himself the leader of Greece, as he had professed to be, against the Phocians; such being the hatred with which they were inflamed towards that people, that they chose rather to perish themselves, than not to destroy them, and to submit to the known cruelty of Philip, rather than spare their enemies. On the other hand, ambassadors from the Phocians (the Lacedaemonians and Athenians joining with them) endeavoured to avert the war, forbearance from which they had thrice before purchased from Philip. It was a shameful and miserable sight, to behold Greece, even then the most distinguished country in the world for power and dignity, a country that had constantly been the conqueror of kings and nations, and was still mistress of many cities, waiting at a foreign court to ask or deprecate war; that the champions of the world should place all their hopes on assistance from another, and should be reduced, by their discords and civil feuds, to such a condition as to flatter a power which had lately been a humble portion of their dependencies; and that the Thebans and Lacedaemonians should especially do this, who were formerly rivals for sovereignty, but now for the favour of a sovereign. Philip, to show his importance, assumed an air of disdain for these great cities, and deliberated to which of the two he should vouchsafe his favour. Having heard both embassies privately, he promised to the one security from war, binding them by an oath to reveal his answer to nobody; to the other he engaged himself to come and bring them assistance. He charged them both neither to prepare for war, nor to fear it. Different replies being thus given to each, he seized, while they were all free from apprehension, on the pass of Thermopylae.

5 The Phocians in consequence, finding themselves overreached by the cunning of Philip, were the first, in great trepidation, to take arms. But there was no time to make due preparation for war, or to collect auxiliaries, and Philip, unless a surrender should be made, threatened their destruction. Overcome, accordingly, by necessity, they submitted, stipulating only for their lives. But this stipulation wag just as faithfully observed by Philip as his promises had been respecting the war which they had deprecated. They were every where put to the sword, or made prisoners; children were not left to their parents, nor wives to their husbands, nor the statues of the gods in the temples. The sole comfort of the wretched people was, that as Philip had defrauded his allies of their share of the spoil, they saw none of their property in the hands of their enemies.

On his return to his kingdom, as shepherds drive their flocks sometimes into winter, sometimes into summer pastures, so he transplanted people and cities hither and thither, according to his caprice, as places appeared to him proper to be peopled or left desolate. The aspect of things was every where wretched, like that of a country ravaged by an enemy. There was not, indeed, that terror of a foe, or hurrying of troops through the cities, or seizure of property and prisoners, which are seen during a hostile invasion; but there prevailed a sorrow and sadness not expressed in words, the people fearing that even their very tears would be thought signs of discontent. Their grief was augmented by the very concealment of it, sinking the deeper the less they were permitted to utter it. At one time they contemplated the sepulchres of their ancestors at another their old household gods, at another the homes in which they had been born, and in which they had had families; lamenting sometimes their own fate, that they had lived to that day, and sometimes that of their children, that they were not born after it.

6 Some people he planted upon the frontiers of his kingdom to oppose his enemies; others he settled at the extremities of it. Some, whom he had taken prisoners in war, he distributed among certain cities to fill up the number of inhabitants; and thus, out of various tribes and nations, he formed one kingdom and people. When he had settled and put in order the affairs of Macedonia, be reduced the Dardanians and others of his neighbours, who were overreached by his treacherous dealings. Nor did he keep his bands even from his own relations; for he resolved on expelling Arrybas, king of Epirus, who was nearly related to his wife Olympias, out of his kingdom; and he invited Alexander, a step-son of Arrybas, and brother of his wife Olympias (a youth of remarkable beauty), into Macedonia, in his sister’s name, and engaged him, after earnestly tempting him with hopes of his father’s throne, and pretending violent love for him, in a criminal intercourse, thinking to find greater submission from him, whether through shame on account of his guilt, or through obligation for a kingdom conferred upon him. When he as twenty years of age, accordingly, he took the kingdom from Arrybas, and gave it to the youth, acting a base part towards both, for he disregarded the claims of consanguinity in him from whom he took the kingdom, and corrupted him to whom he gave it before he made him a king.


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1 The Amphictyonic council.

2 Pro sacrilegio publico.] This is not just. The Athenians did not fight in defence of sacrilege, but merely look the side of the Phocians to stop Philip’s progress into Greece.

3 Wetzel retains Cappadociam, the old reading, in his text, though he condemns it in his note, observing that it is well known Philip never went to Cappadocia. Gronovius suggested Chalcidice, and Tanaquil Faber approved it.

4 Pari perfidia.] Justin, or Trogus, represents Philip’s character, through all this account of his wars, in far too unfavourable a light.


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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.