SPAIN, the eastern and southern parts of which were, since the 2d Punic
war, governed by the Romans under a kind of military occupation without
being reduced to the form of regular provinces, was always in a disturbed
state, partly from sudden uprisings of various tribes against the Roman
authority, and partly from numerous bodies of banditti, who seized strongholds or fortified towns and carried on their depredations from these
centres. Hence it had been the policy of the Roman praetors and consuls
to insist on the demolition of fortresses and city walls, as we learn from
the accounts of Cato in B.C. 195 and others. In B.C. 177 Tiberius
Sempronius Gracchus had inflicted a severe defeat upon the Celtiberians, and
had made a settlement of the country, which for a few years produced
comparative quiet and content. But in B.C. 154 an outbreak of the
Lusitani led to a considerable disaster to the Roman army under Lucius
Mummius; and when the consul Q. Fulvius Nobilior arrived in B.C. 153, he
found that the war had accordingly spread to the Celtiberian tribes, the
Belli and Titthi, who attempted to build the walls of Segeda. On
Nobilior ordering them to desist, in accordance with Gracchan settlement,
most of them obeyed after some resistance, but some of them fled to the
Arevacae (near the sources of the Douro and Tagus); and this powerful
tribe, after defeating the Roman army, entrenched themselves in Numantia,
under the walls of which Nobilior sustained further losses. He was superseded in B.C. 152 by Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who, partly by strategy,
and partly by administrative skill and conciliation, restored the Roman
fortunes to a better position. The Belli and Titthi became allies of
Rome, and the Arevacae at least thought it worth while to ask for a truce
to enable them to send envoys to Rome to arrange peace.—Appian,
The "Fiery War"
The war between the Romans and Celtiberians was
B.C. 153-151. The war with the Celtiberian Arevacae conducted by Q. Fulvius Nobilior and M. Claudius Marcellus.
called the "fiery war;" for it was of a peculiarly fierce kind and remarkable for the frequency of its battles. The wars in Greece and
Asia were as a rule settled by one battle, or in
rare cases by two; and the battles themselves
were decided by the result of the first charge
and shock of the two armies. But in this war
things were quite different. As a rule the battles were
only stopped by the fall of night; the men neither lost heart
nor would yield to bodily fatigue; but returned again and
again with fresh resolution to renew the combat. The whole
war, and its series of pitched battles, was at length interrupted
for a time by the winter. One therefore could hardly conceive a war more nearly answering to our notion of a "fiery
war" than this. . . .
The Celtiberian Wars
The Celtiberians, after making a truce with the consul
M. Claudius Marcellus winters at Cordova, B. C. 152-151.
M. Claudius Marcellus, had sent ambassadors to Rome who remained there quietly
waiting for the answer of the Senate. Meanwhile M. Claudius went on an expedition
against the Lusitani, took Nercobrica by assault, and then
went into winter quarters at Corduba.
Of the ambassadors
who came to Rome the Senate admitted those
from the Belli and Titthi, who were on the side
of Rome, to enter the city; but ordered those
from the Arevacae to lodge on the other side of the Tiber, as
being at war with Rome, until such time as the Senate should
have decided the whole question. When the time for the
interview was come,1
introduced the envoys from
their allies first.
Speech of the Belli and Titthi.
Barbarians as they were, they
made a set speech, and endeavoured to explain
clearly the causes of all the dissension prevailing in their country: pointing out that "Unless those who had
broken out into war were reduced to tranquillity and punished
as they deserved, the very moment the Roman legions left
Iberia, they would inflict punishment upon the Belli and
Titthi as traitors; and that if they escaped unpunished for their
first act of hostility, they would make all the tribes in Iberia
ripe for an outbreak from the belief that they were capable of
coping with Rome. They begged, therefore, that the legions
should remain in Iberia, and that each year a consul should
to protect the allies of Rome and punish the
depredations of the Arevacae; or, if they wished to withdraw
the legions, they should first take signal vengeance for the outbreak of this tribe, that no one might venture to do the like
again." Such, or to this effect, was the speech of the envoys
of the Belli and Titthi who were in alliance with Rome. The
envoys of the hostile tribe were then introduced.
forward the Arevacae assumed a feigned tone
of submission and humility in the language of
their answer, without being, as was evident, at all yielding in their
hearts or acknowledging themselves beaten. On the contrary,
they continually hinted at the uncertainty of fortune; and
speaking of the battles that had taken place as undecided, they
conveyed the impression that they had had the best of the
contest in them all.
demand the settlement of Tiberius Gracchus, B. C. 177.
The upshot of their speech was this:
"If they must submit to some definite mulct for
their error, they were ready to do so: but, when
that was completed, they demanded that things
should revert to the position fixed by their
treaty made with the Senate in the time of
The Senate's Instructions to Marcellus
The Senators having thus heard both sides called
The Senate refer both the deputations to Marcellus,
in the legates from Marcellus; and when
they saw that they also were inclined to a
pacification, and that Marcellus was more
inclined to favour the enemy than the allied tribes, they
answered the Arevacae that Marcellus would declare in Iberia
to both parties the decision of the Senate. However, they
were convinced in their own minds that their true interests
were such as the envoys of the allied tribes suggested, and
that the Arevacae were still inclined to haughty independence, and that their own commander was afraid of them:
they therefore gave secret instructions to the
legates of Marcellus to carry on the war with
spirit, and as the honour of the country demanded.
but secretly determine to go on with the war and to supersede Marcellus.
But when they had thus determined
on a continuance of the war, feeling no confidence in Marcellus, they determined first of all to send a
commander to relieve him in Iberia, as the
new consuls Aulus Postumius and Lucius
Licinius Lucullus had just taken up their
Licinius Lucullus, Aulus Postumius Albinus.
They then entered with spirit and
vigour on their preparations, because they
believed that the Iberian question would be decided by the
result of this campaign: if these enemies were beaten, they
assumed that all others would accept the orders of Rome;
but that, if the Arevacae proved able to ward off the punishment that threatened them, not only would their spirits be
again raised, but those of all the other Iberian tribes besides.
Scipio Volunteers For Spain
The more determined however the Senate was to carry on
The terror of the Celtiberians at Rome made men use every pretext for avoiding service in the army.
the war, the greater became their embarrassment.
For the report brought to Rome by Q. Fulvius
Nobilior, the commander in Iberia in the previous year (B. C. 153), and those who had served
under him, of the perpetual recurrence of the
pitched battles, the number of the fallen, and
the valour of the Celtiberians, combined with the notorious
fact that Marcellus shrank in terror from the war, caused such
a panic in the minds of the new levies as the old men declared
had never happened before. To such an extent did the panic
go, that sufficient men were not found to come forward for the
office of military tribune, and these posts were consequently
not entirely filled up; whereas heretofore a larger number
than were wanted had been wont to volunteer for the duty:
nor would the men nominated by the Consuls as legati
accompany the commanders consent to serve; and, worst of
all, the young men tried to avoid the levies, and put forward
such excuses as were disgraceful for them to allege, and
beneath the investigation of the Consuls, and yet impossible
Scipio volunteers to act as legatus or tribune.
But at length, in this embarrassment of the Senate
and magistrates, when they were wondering what was to be
the end of this shameless conduct of the young
men, for they could call it nothing else, Publius
Cornelius Scipio Africanus, who, though still a
young man, had been one of those to advise the war, and
who, though he had already acquired a reputation for high
principle and pure morality, had not been known for his
personal courage, seeing the Senate was in a difficulty, stood
up and bade them send him to Iberia, either as military
tribune or legatus, for he was ready to serve in either capacity.
"Though, as far as I am concerned," he said, "my mission
to Macedonia would be safer and more appropriate"—for it
happened that at that time Scipio was personally and by name invited by the Macedonians to come and settle the disputes which
were raging among them—"yet the needs of my own country
are the more pressing of the two, and imperatively summon
to Iberia all who have a genuine love of honour."
This offer shames others into doing the same.
was unexpected by all, both from the youth of
Scipio and his general character for caution,
and consequently he became exceedingly popular on the spot, and still more so on subsequent days. For
those who had before shrunk from the danger of the service,
now, from dislike of the sorry figure they made in comparison
with him, began volunteering to serve. Some offered to go as
to the generals, and others in groups and clubs entered
their names on the muster rolls. . . .
Lucius Lucinius Lucullus, consul for B. C. 151, is sent to
Spain, Scipio Aemilianus acting as his legatus. They found that
the Arevacae had already submitted to Marcellus; but being in
want of money Lucullus was determined not to be deprived of a
campaign. He therefore attacked the next tribe, the Vaccaei,
who lived on the other side of the Tagus, nominally on the pretext of their having injured the Carpetani. The war which
followed was marked by signal acts of cruelty and treachery on
the part of Lucullus, as on that of the praetor Servius Sulpicius
Galba among the Lusitani. Appian, Hisp. 49-55.
Scipio's Spanish Campaign
In Scipio's mind there rose a contest of feelings, and
Incidents in Scipio's Spanish campaign.
a hesitation as to whether he ought to meet
the barbarian and fight him in single combat.3
. . .
Scipio's horse was much distressed by the blow, but
did not come down entirely, and accordingly Scipio managed
to light on his feet. . . .
Cato was consulted by Scipio, at the request of Polybius,
on behalf of the Achaeans; and when the debate in the
Senate, between the party who wished to grant it and the
party that opposed it, was protracted to a considerable length,
Cato stood up and said: "As though we had
nothing else to do, we sit here the whole day
debating whether some old Greek dotards should
be buried by Italian or Achaean undertakers!" Their restoration being voted, Polybius and his friends, after a few days'
interval, were for appearing before the Senate again, with a
petition that the exiles should enjoy the same honours in
Achaia as they had before.
Restoration of the Achaean detenus, B. C. 151.
Cato, however, remarked with a
smile that Polybius, like another Odysseus, wanted to go a
second time into the cave of the Cyclops, because he had
forgotten his cap and belt. . . .