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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 IX

Philip besieges Byzantium, I.—His transactions with the Scythians; he defeats them, II.—Robbed of spoil by the Triballi; Defeats the Thebans and Athenians, III.—His treatment of them, IV.—Settles the affairs of Greece, in order to an invasion of Persia, V.—Is killed by Pausanias, with the knowledge, as is supposed, of Olympias and Alexander, VI. VII.—His character, VIII.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

1 WHEN Philip had once come into Greece, allured by the plunder of a few cities, and had formed an opinion, from the spoil of such towns as were of less note, how great must be the riches of all its cities put together, he resolved to make war upon the whole of Greece. Thinking that it would greatly conduce to the promotion of his design, if he could get possession of Byzantium, a noble city and seaport, which would be a station for his forces by land and sea, he proceeded, as it shut its gates against him, to lay close siege to it. This city had been founded by Pausanias, king of Sparta, and held by him for seven years, but afterwards, as the fortune of war varied, it was regarded as at one time belonging to the Athenians, and at another to the Lacedaemonians; and this uncertainty of possession was the cause that, while neither party supported it as its own, it maintained its liberty with the greater determination. Philip, exhausted by the length of the siege, had recourse to piracy for a supply of money, and having captured a hundred and seventy ships, and sold off the cargoes, he was enabled for a while to relieve his craving wants. But that so great an army might not be wasted in the siege of a single city, he marched away with his best troops, and stormed some towns of the Chersonese. He also sent for his son Alexander, who was then eighteen years of age, to join him, and learn the rudiments of war in the camp of his father. He made an expedition, too, into Scythia, to get plunder, that, after the practice of traders, he might make up for the expenses of one war by the profits of another.

2 The king of the Scythians at that time was Atheas, who, being distressed by a war with the Istrians, sought aid from Philip through the people of Apollonia, on the understanding that he would adopt him for his successor on the throne of Scythia. But in the mean time, the king of the Istrians died, and relieved the Scythians both from the fear of war and the want of assistance. Atheas, therefore, sending away the Macedonians, ordered a message to be sent to Philip, that “he had neither sought his aid, nor proposed his adoption;1 for the Scythians needed no protection from the Macedonians, to whom they were superior in the field, nor did he himself want an heir, as he had a son living.” When Philip heard this, he sent ambassadors to Atheas to ask him to defray at least a portion of the expense of the siege,2 that he might not be forced to raise it for want of money; “a request,” he said, “with which he ought the more readily to comply, as, when he sent soldiers to his assistance, he had not even paid their expenses on the march, to say nothing of remuneration for their service.” Atheas, alluding to the rigour of their climate and the barrenness of their soil, which, far from enriching the Scythians with wealth, scarcely afforded them sustenance, replied, that “he had no treasury to satisfy so great a king, and that he thought it less honourable to do little than to refuse altogether; but that the Scythians were to be estimated by their valour and hardiness of body, not by their possessions.” Philip, mocked by this message, broke up the siege of Byzantium, and entered upon a war with the Scythians, first sending ambassadors to lull them into security, by telling Atheas that “while he was besieging Byzantium, he had vowed a statue to Hercules, which he was going to erect at the mouth of the Ister, requesting an unobstructed passage to pay his vow to the god, since he was coming as a friend to the Scythians.” Atheas desired him, “if his object was merely to fulfil his vow, to let the statue be sent to him,” promising that “it should not only be erected, but should remain uninjured,” but refusing “to allow an army to enter his territories,” and adding that, “if he should set up the statue in spite of the Scythians, he would take it down when he was gone, and turn the brass of it into heads for arrows.” With feelings thus irritated on both sides, a battle was fought. Though the Scythians were superior in courage and numbers, they were defeated by the subtlety of Philip. Twenty thousand young men and women were taken, and a vast number of cattle, but no gold or silver. This was the first proof which they had of the poverty of Scythia. Twenty thousand fine mares were sent into Macedonia to raise a breed.

3 But as Philip was returning from Scythia, the Triballi met him, and refused to allow him a passage, unless they received a share of the spoil. Hence arose a dispute, and afterwards a battle, in which Philip received so severe a wound through the thigh, that his horse was killed by it; and while it was generally supposed that he was dead, the booty was lost. Thus the Scythian spoil, as if attended with a curse, had almost proved fatal to the Macedonians.

But as soon as he recovered from his wound, he made war upon the Athenians, of which he had long dissembled his intention. The Thebans espoused their cause, fearing that if the Athenians were conquered, the war, like a fire in the neighbourhood, would spread to them. An alliance being accordingly made between the two cities, which were just before3 at violent enmity with each other, they wearied Greece with embassies, stating that “they thought the common enemy should be repelled by their common strength, for that Philip would not rest, if his first attempts succeeded, until he had subjugated all Greece.” Some of the cities were moved by these arguments, and joined themselves to the Athenians; but the dread of a war induced some to go over to Philip. A battle being brought on,4 though the Athenians were far superior in number of soldiers, they were conquered by the valour of the Macedonians, which was invigorated by constant service in the field. They were not, however, in defeat, unmindful of their ancient valour; for, falling with wounds in front, they all covered the places which they had been charged by their leaders to defend, with their dead bodies. This day put an end to the glorious sovereignty and ancient liberty of all Greece.

4 Philip’s joy for this victory was artfully concealed. He abstained from offering the usual sacrifices5 on that day; he did not smile at table, or mingle any diversions with the entertainment; he had no chaplets or perfumes; and, as far as was in his power, he so managed his conquest that none might think of him as a conqueror. He desired that he should not be called king, but general of Greece; and conducted himself with such prudence, between his own secret joy on the one hand and the grief of the enemy on the other, that he neither appeared to his own subjects to rejoice, nor to the vanquished to insult them. To the Athenians, whom he had found to be his bitterest enemies, he both sent back their prisoners without ransom, and gave up the bodies of the slain for burial; exhorting them to convey the relics of their dead to the sepulchres of their ancestors. He also sent Alexander his son with his friend Antipater to Athens, to establish peace and friendship with them. The Thebans, however, he compelled to purchase their prisoners, as well as the liberty of burying their dead. Some of the chief men of their city, too, he put to death; others he banished, seizing upon the property of them all. Afterwards, he reinstated in their country those that had been unjustly banished, of whom he made three hundred judges and governors of the city, before whom when the most eminent citizens were arraigned on this very charge, that of having banished them unjustly, they had such spirit that they all acknowledged their participation in the fact, and affirmed that it was better with the state when they were condemned than when they were restored. A wonderful instance of courage! They passed sentence, as far as they could, on those who had the disposal of them for life or death, and set at nought the pardon which their enemies could give them; and, as they could not avenge themselves6 by deeds, theymanifested their boldness of spirit by words.

5 War being at an end in Greece, Philip directed deputies from all the states to be summoned to Corinth, to settle the condition of affairs. Here he fixed terms of peace for the whole of Greece, according to the merits of each city; and chose from them all a council, to form a senate as it were for the country. But the Lacedaemonians, standing alone, showed contempt alike for the terms and the king; regarding the state of things, which had not been agreed upon by the cities themselves, but forced upon them by a conqueror, as a state, not of peace, but of slavery. The number of troops to be furnished by each state was then determined, whether the king, in case of being attacked, was to be supported by their united force, or whether war was to be made on any other power under him as their general. In all these preparations for war it was not to be doubted that the kingdom of Persia was the object in view. The sum of the force was two hundred thousand infantry and fifteen thousand cavalry. Exclusive of this number there was also the army of Macedonia, and the adjacent barbarians of the conquered nations.

In the beginning of the next spring, he sent forward three of his generals into that part of Asia which was under the power of the Persians, Parmenio, Amyntas, and Attalus, whose sister he had recently married, having divorced Olympias, the mother of Alexander, on suspicion of adultery.

6 In the meantime, while the troops were assembling from Greece, he celebrated the marriage of his daughter Cleopatra with Alexander, whom he had made king of Epirus. The day was remarkable for the pomp displayed on it, suitable to the magnificence of the two princes, him that gave his daughter in marriage, and him that married her. Magnificent games were also celebrated, and as Philip was going to view them, unattended by his guards, walking between the two Alexanders, his son and son-in-law, Pausanias, a noble Macedonian youth, without being suspected by anyone, posting himself in a narrow passage, killed him as he was going through it, and caused a day appointed for joy to be overclouded with mourning for a death. Pausanias, in the early part of his youth, had suffered gross violence at the hands of Attalus, to the indignity of which was added this further affront, that Attalus had exposed him, after bringing him to a banquet and making him drunk, not only to insults from himself, but also to those of the company, as if he had been a common object for ill-treatment, and rendered him the laughing-stock of those of his own age. Being impatient under this ignominy, Pausanias had often made complaints to Philip, but being put off with various excuses, not unattended with ridicule, and seeing his adversary also honoured with a general’s commission, he turned his rage against Philip himself, and inflicted on him, as an unjust judge, that revenge which he could not inflict on him as an adversary.7

7 It is even believed that he was instigated to the act by Olympias, Alexander’s mother, and that Alexander himself was not ignorant that his father was to be killed; as Olympias had felt no less resentment at her divorce, and the preferment of Cleopatra to herself, than Pausanias had felt at the insults which he had received. As for Alexander, it is said that he feared his brother by his step-mother as a rival for the throne; and hence it happened that he had previously quarrelled at a banquet, first with Attalus, and afterwards with his father himself, insomuch that Philip pursued him even with his drawn sword, and was hardly prevented from killing him by the entreaties of his friends. Alexander had in consequence retired with his mother into Epirus, to take refuge with his uncle, and from thence to the king of the Illyrians, and was with difficulty reconciled to his father when he recalled him, and not easily induced by the prayers of his relations to return. Olympias, too, was instigating her brother, the king of Epirus, to go to war with Philip, and would have prevailed upon him to do so, had not Philip, by giving him his daughter in marriage, disarmed him as a son-in-law. With these provocations to resentment, both of them are thought to have encouraged Pausanias, when complaining of his insults being left unpunished, to so atrocious a deed. Olympias, it is certain, had horses prepared for the escape of the assassin; and, when she heard that the king was dead, hastening to the funeral under the appearance of respect, she put a crown of gold, the same night that she arrived, on the head of Pausanias,8 as he was hanging on a cross; an act which no one but she would have dared to do, as long as the son of Philip was alive. A few days after, she burnt the body of the assassin, when it had been taken down, upon the remains of her husband, and made him a tomb in the same place; she also provided that yearly sacrifices should be performed to his manes, possessing the people with a superstitious notion for the purpose. Next she forced Cleopatra, for whose sake she had been divorced from Philip, to hang herself, having first killed her daughter in her lap, and enjoyed the sight of her suffering this vengeance, to which she had hastened by procuring the death of her husband.9 Last of all she consecrated the sword, with which the king had been killed, to Apollo, under the name of Myrtale,10 which was Olympias’s own name when a child. And all these things were done so publicly, that she seems to have been afraid lest it should not be evident enough that the deed was promoted by her.

8 Philip died at the age of forty-seven, after having reigned twenty-five years. He had, by a dancing girl of Larissa, a son named Aridaeus, who reigned after Alexander. He had also many others by several wives,11 as is not unusual with princes, some of whom died a natural death, and others by the sword. As a king, he was more inclined to display in war, than in entertainments; and his greatest riches were means for military operations. He was better at getting wealth than keeping it, and, in consequence, was always poor amidst his daily spoliations. Clemency and perfidy were equally valued by him; and no road to victory was, in his opinion, dishonourable. He was equally pleasing and treacherous in his address, promising more than he could perform. He was well qualified either for serious conversation or for jesting. He maintained friendships more with a view to interest than good faith. It was a common practice with him to pretend kindness where he hated, and to counterfeit dislike where he loved; to sow dissension among friends, and try to gain favour from both sides. With such a disposition, his eloquence was very great, his language full of point and studied effect; so that neither did his facility fall short of his art, nor his invention of his facility, nor his art of his invention.

To Philip succeeded his son Alexander, a prince greater than his father, both in his virtues and his vices. Each of the two had a different mode of conquering; the one prosecuted his wars with open force, the other with subtlety; the one delighted in deceiving his enemies, the other in boldly repulsing them. The one was more prudent in council, the other more noble in feeling. The father would dissemble his resentment, and often subdue it; when the son was provoked, there was neither delay nor bounds to his vengeance. They were both too fond of wine, but the ill effects of their intoxication were totally different; the father would rush from a banquet to face the enemy, cope with him, and rashly expose himself to dangers; the son vented his rage, not upon his enemies, but his friends. A battle often sent away Philip wounded; Alexander often left a banquet12 stained with the blood of his companions. The one wished to reign with his friends, the other to reign over them. The one preferred to be loved, the other to be feared. To literature both gave equal attention. The father had more cunning, the son more honour. Philip was more staid in his words, Alexander in his actions. The son felt readier and nobler impulses to spare the conquered; the father showed no mercy even to his allies. The father was more inclined to frugality, the son to luxury. By the same course by which the father laid the foundations of the empire of the world, the son consummated the glory of conquering the whole world.


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1 Meaning that he had given no such commission to the people of Apollonia, who must therefore have taken it upon themselves both to mention the adoption, as well as to request the auxiliary troops.

2 Of Byzantium.

3 Paullo ante.] In the Phocian war. See
viii. 1, 8.—Wetzel.

4 At Chaeronea in Boeotia, the leaders opposed to Philip being Chares and Lysicles. See Diodor. xvi. 85.—Wetzel.

5 Solita sacra.] For having obtained a victory.

6 Wetzel’s text has, et quam rebus nequeunt ulcisci, verbis usurpant libertatem. I follow Gronovius, who reads quoniam instead of quam. Faber would retain quam and omit ulcisci. Wetzel’s reading cannot be right; nor does he himself attempt to explain or justify it, but remarks only how it may be corrected.

7 He could not call Philip to account in single combat.

8 He had been apprehended, as he was making his escape, by Perdiccas, and killed. Diod. Sic. xvi. 94.

9 Parricidio.] See note on Sall. Cat. c. 14.

10 Sub nomine Myrtales.] Putting an inscription on it, “Myrtale (dedicates this) to Apollo.”

11 Ex variis matrimoniis.

12 Convivio frequenter excessit.] “As in the cases of Clitus, Parmenio, Philotas.”—Wetzel. But of these only Clitus was killed at a banquet; frequenter is an absurd exaggeration.


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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.