previous next

Character of Hasdrubal

HASDRUBAL, the general of the Carthaginians, was a vain
The siege of Carthage, B. C. 147. Coss. P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus, C. Livius Donsus.
ostentatious person, very far from possessing real strategic ability. There are numerous proofs of his want of judgment. In the first place he appeared in full armour in his interview with Gulussa, king of the Numidians, with a purple dyed robe over his armour fastened by a brooch, and attended by ten bodyguards armed with swords; and in the next place, having advanced in front of these armed attendants to a distance of about twenty feet, he stood behind the trench and palisade and beckoned the king to come to him, whereas it ought to have been quite the other way.
Interview between Hasdrubal and King Gulussa.
However, Gulussa, after the Numidian fashion, being not inclined to stand on ceremony, advanced towards him unattended, and when he got near him asked him "Whom he was afraid of that he had come in full armour?" And on his answering, "The Romans," Gulussa remarked: "Then you should not have trusted yourself to the city, when there was no necessity for your doing so. However, what do you want, and what do you ask me to do?" To which Hasdrubal replied: "I want you to go as our ambassador to the Roman commander, and to undertake for us that we will obey every injunction; only I beg of you both to abstain from harming this wretched city." Then said Gulussa: "Your demand appears to me to be quite childish! Why, my good sir, what you failed to get by your embassies from the Romans, who were then quietly encamped at Utica, and before a blow had been struck,—how can you expect to have granted you now, when you have been completely invested by sea and land, and have almost given up every hope of safety?" To which Hasdrubal replied that "Gulussa was ill informed; for they still had good hopes of their outside allies,"—for he had not yet heard about the Mauretani, and thought that the forces in the country were still unconquered,1 —"nor were they in despair as to their own ultimate safety. And above all, they trusted in the support of the gods, and in what they might expect from them; for they believed that they would not disregard the flagrant violation of treaty from which they were suffering, but would give them many opportunities of securing their safety. Therefore he called on the Roman commander in the name of the gods and of Fortune to spare the city; with the distinct understanding that, if its inhabitants failed to obtain this grace, they would be cut to pieces to the last man sooner than evacuate it." After some more conversation of the same sort, these men separated for the present, having made an appointment to meet again on the third day from that time.


Misery In Carthage

On Gulussa communicating to him what had been said,
Scipio's scorn of the proposal, B. C. 147
Scipio remarked with a laugh: "Oh, then, it was because you intended to make this demand that you displayed that abominable cruelty to our prisoners!2 And you trust in the gods, do you, after violating even the laws of men?" The king went on to remind Scipio that above all things it was necessary to finish the business speedily; for, apart from unforeseen contingencies, the consular elections were now close at hand, and it was only right to have regard to that, lest, if the winter found them just where they were, another Consul would come to supersede him, and without any trouble get all the credit of his labours.
He offers Hasdrubal personal security for delivering the town.
These words induced Scipio to give directions to offer Hasdrubal safety for himself, his wife and children, and ten families of his friends and relations, and permission to take ten talents of his private property and to bring out with him whichever of his slaves he chose. With these concessions therefore Gulussa went to his meeting with Hasdrubal on the third day, who again came forward with great pomp and at a dignified step, clothed in his purple robe and full suit of armour, so as to cast the tyrants of tragedy far into the shade. He was naturally fat, but at that time he had grown extremely corpulent, and had become more than usually red from exposure to the sun, so that he seemed to be living like fat oxen at a fair; and not at all like a man to be in command at a time of such terrible miseries as cannot easily be described in words. When he met the king, and heard the offer of the Consul, he slapped his thigh again and again, and appealing to the gods and Fortune declared that "The day would never come on which Hasdrubal would behold the sun and his native city in flames; for to the nobly-minded one's country and its burning houses were a glorious funeral pile."
The selfish and tyrannical conduct of Hasdrubal.
These expressions force us to feel some admiration for the man and the nobility of his language; but when we come to view his administration of affairs, we cannot fail to be struck by his want of spirit and courage; for at a time when his fellow-citizens were absolutely perishing with famine, he gave banquets and had second courses put on of a costly kind, and by his own excellent physical condition made their misery more conspicuous. For the number of the dying surpassed belief, as well as the number who deserted every day from hunger. However, by fiercely rebuking some, and by executing as well as abusing others, he cowed the common people: and by this means retained, in a country reduced to the lowest depths of misfortune, an authority which a tyrant would scarcely enjoy in a prosperous city.
Comparison between Hasdrubal and Diaeus.
Therefore I think I was justified in saying that two leaders more like each other than those who at that time directed the affairs of Greece and Carthage it would not be easy to find. And this will be rendered manifest when we come to a formal comparison of them. . . .


Consummation of the Misfortunes of Greece

My thirty-eighth book embraces the consummation of the misfortunes of Greece. For
The ill-luck which occasioned the fall of Greece.
though Greece as a whole, as well as separate parts of it, has on several occasions sustained grave disasters, yet to none of her previous defeats could the word "misfortune" be more properly applied, than to those which have befallen her in our time. For it is not only that the sufferings of Greece excite compassion: stronger still is the conviction, which a knowledge of the truth of the several occurrences must bring, that in all she undertook she was supremely unfortunate.
The fall of Greece was even more lamentable than that of Carthage.
At any rate, though the disaster of Carthage is looked upon as of the severest kind, yet one cannot but regard that of Greece as not less, and in some respects even more so. For the Carthaginians at any rate left something for posterity to say on their behalf; but the mistakes of the Greeks were so glaring that they made it impossible for those who wished to support them to do so. Besides, the destruction of the Carthaginians was immediate and total, so that they had no feeling afterwards of their disasters: but the Greeks, with their misfortunes ever before their eyes, handed down to their children's children the loss of all that once was theirs. And in proportion as we regard those who live in pain as more pitiable than those who lose their lives at the moment of their misfortunes, in that proportion must the disasters of the Greeks be regarded as more pitiable than those of the Carthaginians,—unless a man thinks nothing of dignity and honour, and gives his opinion from a regard only to material advantage. To prove the truth of what I say, one has only to remember and compare the misfortunes in Greece reputed to be the heaviest with what I have just now mentioned.


Previous Disasters

Now, the greatest alarm that fortune ever brought upon
Comparison between the fall of Greece under the Romans with the Persian invasion, B.C. 480.
the Greeks was when Xerxes invaded Europe: for at that time all were exposed to danger though an extremely small number actually suffered disaster. The greatest sufferers were the Athenians: for, with a prudent foresight of what was coming, they abandoned their country with their wives and children. That crisis then caused them damage; for the Barbarians took Athens and laid it waste with savage violence: but it brought them no shame or disgrace. On the contrary, they gained the highest glory in the eyes of all the world for having regarded everything as of less importance, in comparison with taking their share in the same fortune as the other Greeks. Accordingly, in consequence of their exalted conduct, they not only immediately recovered their own city and territory, but soon afterwards disputed the supremacy in Greece with the Lacedaemonians.
The defeat of the Athenians at Aegospotami, B. C. 405.
Subsequently, indeed, they were beaten by the Spartans in war, and forced to submit to the destruction of their own city walls: but even this one might assert to be a reproach to the Lacedaemonians, for having used the power put into their hands with excessive severity, rather than to the Athenians.
of the Spartans at Leuctra, B. C. 371.
Then the Spartans once more, being beaten by the Thebans, lost the supremacy in Greece, and after that defeat were deprived of their outside rule and reduced to the frontiers of Laconia. But what disgrace was there in having retired, while disputing for the most honourable objects, to the limits of their ancestral dominion? Therefore, these events we may speak of as failures, but not as misfortunes in any sense.
The destruction of Mantinea, B. C. 362,
The Mantineans again were forced to leave their city, being divided out and scattered into separate villages by the Lacedaemonians; but for this all the world blamed the folly, not of the Mantineans, but of the Lacedaemonians.
and of Thebes, B. C. 335.
The Thebans, indeed, besides the loss of their army, saw their country depopulated at the time when Alexander, having resolved on the invasion of Asia, conceived that by making an example of Thebes he should establish a terror that would act as a check upon the Greeks, while his attention was distracted upon other affairs: but at that time all the world pitied the Thebans as having been treated with injustice and harshness, and no one was found to justify this proceeding of Alexander.


Unjust Misfortune Distinguished from Self-Inflicted Loss

Accordingly after a short time they obtained assistance, and once more inhabited their country in security. For the compassion of foreigners is no small benefit to those who are unjustly dispossessed; since we often see that, with the change of feeling among the many, Fortune also changes; and even the conquerors themselves repent, and make good the disasters of those who have fallen under undeserved misfortunes.
The tyranny of the later kings of Macedonia.
Once more, at certain periods the Chalcidians and Corinthians and some other cities, owing to the advantages of their situation, were attacked by the kings of Macedonia, and had garrisons imposed on them: but when they were thus enslaved all the world were eager to do their best to liberate them, and loathed their enslavers and regarded them continually as their enemies. But above all, up to this time it was generally single states that were depopulated, and in single states that reverses were met with, in some cases while disputing for supremacy and empire, and in others from the treacherous attacks of despots and kings: so that, so far from their losses bringing them any reproach, they escaped even the name of misfortune.
But the last fall of Greece was embittered by the fact that it came from the folly of the Greeks themselves
For we must look on all those who meet with incalculable disasters whether private or public as the victims of losses, and those only to be "unfortunate," to whom events through their own folly bring dishonour. Instances of this last are the Peloponnesians, Boeotians, Phocians, . . . and Locrians, some of the dwellers on the Ionian gulf, and next to these the Macedonians, . . . who all as a rule did not merely suffer loss, but were "unfortunate," with a misfortune of the gravest kind and for which they were themselves open to reproach: for they displayed at once want of good faith and want of courage, brought upon themselves a series of disgraces, lost all that could bring them honour, . . . and voluntarily admitted into their towns the Roman fasces and axes.
rather than of their leaders.
They were in the utmost panic, in fact, owing to the extravagance of their own wrongful acts, if one ought to call them their own; for I should rather say that the peoples as such were entirely ignorant, and were beguiled from the path of right: but that the men who acted wrongly were the authors of this delusion.


Rome and the Achaean League

In regard to these men, it should not be a matter of surprise if we leave for a while the ordinary method and spirit of our narrative to give a clearer and more elaborate exposition of their character. I am aware that some may be found, regarding it as their first duty to cast a veil over the errors of the Greeks, to accuse us of writing in a spirit of malevolence. But for myself, I conceive that with right-minded persons a man will never be regarded as a true friend who shrinks from and is afraid of plain speech, nor indeed as a good citizen who abandons the truth because of the offence he will give to certain persons at the time. But a writer of public history above all deserves no indulgence whatever, who regards anything of superior importance to truth. For in proportion' as written history reaches larger numbers, and survives for longer time, than words spoken to suit an occasion, both the writer ought to be still more particular about truth, and his readers ought to admit his authority only so far as he adheres to this principle. At the actual hour of danger it is only right that Greeks should help Greeks in every possible way, by protecting them, veiling their errors or deprecating the wrath of the sovereign people,—and this I genuinely did for my part at the actual time: but it is also right, in regard to the record of events to be transmitted to posterity, to leave them unmixed with any falsehood: so that readers should not be merely gratified for the moment by a pleasant tale, but should receive in their souls a lesson which will prevent a repetition of similar errors in the future. Enough, however, on this subject. . . .

In the autumn of B. C. 150 the corrupt Menalchidas of Sparta was succeeded as Achaean Strategus by Diaeus, who, to cover his share in the corruption of Menalchidas, induced the league to act in the matter of some disputed claim of Sparta in a manner contrary to the decisions of the Roman Senate. The Spartans wished to appeal again to Rome; whereupon the Achaeans passed a law forbidding separate cities to make such appeals, which were to be only made by the league. The Lacedaemonians took up arms: and Diaeus professing that the league was not at war with Sparta, but with certain factious citizens of that city, named four of its chief men who were to be banished. They fled to Rome, where the Senate ordered their restoration. Embassies went from Achaia and from Sparta to Rome to state their respective cases; and on their return gave false reports,—Diaeus assuring the Achaeans that the Senate had ordered the Spartans to obey the league; Menalchidas telling the Spartans that the Romans had released them from all connexion with the league. War then again broke out (B.C. 148). Metellus, who was in Macedonia on the business of the Pseudo-Philip, sent legates to the Achaeans forbidding them to bear arms against Sparta, and announcing the speedy arrival of commissioners from Rome to settle the dispute. But the Achaean levies were already mustered under the Strategus Damocritus, and the Lacedaemonians seem to have almost compelled them to fight. The Spartans were beaten with considerable loss: and on Damocritus preventing a pursuit and a capture of Sparta, the Achaeans regarded him as traitor and fined him fifty talents. He was succeeded in his office of Strategus by Diaeus (autumn B.C. 148 - B. C. 147) who promised Metellus to await the arrival of the commissioners from Rome. But the Spartans now assumed their freedom from the league and elected a Strategus of their own, Menalchidas; who provoked a renewal of the war by taking the tow of Iasos on the Laconian frontier. In despair of resisting the attack of the Achaeans, and disowned by his fellow-citizens, he took poison. The Roman commissioners arrived, led by L. Aurelius Orestes, in B.C. 147, and summoning the magistrates of the Achaean towns and the Strategus Diaeus before them at Corinth, announced the decision of the Senate—separating Lacedaemon, Corinth, Argos, Heraclea near Aete, and Orchomenus in Arcadia from the Achaean league, as not being united by blood, and only being subsequent additions. The magistrates, without answering, hastily summoned the league congress. The people, on hearing the Roman decision, pillaged the houses of the Lacedaemonian residents in Corinth, and savagely attacked all who were or who looked like Spartans. The Roman envoys endeavoured to restrain the popular fury. But they were somewhat roughly handled themselves; and the people could not be persuaded to release the Spartans whom they had arrested: though they let all others go, and sent an embassy to Rome, which, however, meeting the former embassy on its return, and learning the hopelessness of support in Rome, returned home. It is this outbreak which is referred to in the next fragment. See Pausanias, vii. 12-14; Livy, Ep. 51.


New Commissioners Sent to Achaia

When the commissioners with L. Aurelius Orestes
On the report of L. Aurelius Orestes of the disturbance at Corinth, B.C. 147, the Senate send a fresh commission to warn the Achaeans.
arrived in Rome from the Peloponnese, they reported what had taken place, and declared that they had a narrow escape of actually losing their lives. They made the most of the occurrence and put the worst interpretation upon it; for they represented the violence which had been offered them as not the result of a sudden outbreak, but of a deliberate intention on the part of the Achaeans to inflict a signal insult upon them. The Senate was therefore more angry than it had ever been, and at once appointed Sextus Julius Caesar and other envoys with instructions to rebuke and upbraid the Achaeans for what had occurred, yet in terms of moderation, but to exhort them "not to listen to evil councillors, not to allow themselves to be betrayed into hostility with Rome, but even yet to make amends for their acts of folly by inflicting punishment on the authors of the crime." This was a clear proof that the Senate gave its instructions to Aurelius and his colleagues, not with the view of dismembering the league, but with the object of restraining the obstinacy and hostility of the Achaeans by terrifying and overawing them. Some people accordingly imagined that the Romans were acting hypocritically, because the Carthaginian war was still unfinished; but this was not the case. The fact is, that they had long regarded the Achaean league with favour, believing it to be the most trustworthy of all the Greek governments; and though now they were resolved to give it an alarm, because it had become too lofty in its pretensions, yet they were by no means minded to go to war or to have a serious quarrel with the Achaeans. . . .


The Commissioners Arrive in Achaia

As Sextus Julius Caesar and his colleagues were on their
Arrival of Sextus Julius and the commissioners in Achaia.
way from Rome to the Peloponnese, they were met by Thearidas and the other envoys, sent by the Achaeans to make their excuse and give the Senate an explanation of the intemperate acts committed in regard to Aurelius Orestes. But Sextus Julius persuaded them to turn back to Achaia, on the ground that he and his colleagues were coming with full instructions to communicate with the Achaeans on all these points. When Sextus arrived in the Peloponnese, and in a conference with the Achaeans in Aegium spoke with great kindness, he made no mention of the injurious treatment of the legates, and scarcely demanded any defence at all, but took a more lenient view of what had happened than even the Achaeans themselves; and dwelt chiefly on the subject of exhorting them not to carry their error any further, in regard either to the Romans or the Lacedaemonians.
Conference at Aegium. The envoys are conciliatory.
Thereupon the more sober-minded party received the speech with satisfaction, and were strongly moved to obey the suggestions, because they were conscious of the gravity of what they had been doing, and had before their eyes what happened to opponents of Rome; but the majority, though they had not a word to say against the justice of the injunctions of Sextus Julius, and were quite silent, yet remained deeply tainted with disaffection.
Action of Diaeus and Critolaus and their party.
And Diaeus and Critolaus, and all who shared their sentiments,—and they consisted of all the greatest rascals in every city, men at war with the gods, and pests of the community, carefully selected,—took, as the proverb has it, with the left hand what the Romans gave with the right, and went utterly and entirely wrong in their calculations. For they supposed that the Romans, owing to the troubles in Libya and Iberia, feared a war with the Achaeans and would submit to anything and say anything. Thinking, therefore, that the hour was their own, they answered the Roman envoys politely that "They would, nevertheless, send Thearidas and his colleagues to the Senate; while they would themselves accompany the legates to Tegea, and there in consultation with the Lacedaemonians would provide for some settlement of the war that would meet the views of both parties." With this answer they subsequently induced the unhappy nation to follow the senseless course to which they had long before made up their mind. And this result was only what might have been expected from the inexperience and corruption of the prevailing party.


Foolish Policy In Achaia

But the finishing stroke to this ruinous policy was given
Conference at Tegea. Critolaus
in the following manner. When Sextus and his colleagues arrived at Tegea, and invited the attendance of the Lacedaemonians, in order to arrange terms between them and the Achaeans, both as to the satisfaction to be given for previous complaints and for putting a stop to the war, until the Romans should send commissioners to review the whole question, Critolaus and his party, having held a conference, decided that all the rest should avoid the meeting, and that Critolaus should go alone to Tegea.
contrives to avoid a settlement
When Sextus and his fellow-commissioners therefore had almost given them up, Critolaus arrived; and when the meeting with the Lacedaemonians took place, he would settle nothing,—alleging that he had no authority to make any arrangement without the consent of the people at large; but that he would bring the matter before the Achaeans at their next congress, which must be held six months from that time. Sextus and his fellow-commissioners, therefore, convinced of the ill disposition of Critolaus, and much annoyed at his conduct, dismissed the Lacedaemonians to their own country, and themselves returned to Italy with strong views as to the folly and infatuation of Critolaus.

After their departure Critolaus spent the winter in visiting

Winter of B. C. 147-146. Critolaus propagates his anti-Roman views.;
the cities and holding assemblies in them, on the pretext that he wished to inform them what he had said to the Lacedaemonians at Tegea, but in reality to denounce the Romans and to put an evil interpretation on everything they said; by which means he inspired the common people in the various cities with feelings of hostility and hatred for them.
and suspends cash payments.
At the same time he sent round orders to the magistrates not to exact money from debtors, nor to receive prisoners arrested for debt, and to cause loans on pledge to be held over until the war was decided. By this kind of appeal to the interests of the vulgar everything he said was received with confidence; and the common people were ready to obey any order he gave, being incapable of taking thought for the future, but caught by the bait of immediate indulgence and relief.


Riotous Scene at Corinth

When Quintus Caecilius Metellus heard in Macedonia
Fresh legates are sent from Macedonia to Achaia in the winter of B. C. 147-146.
of the commotion and disturbance going on in the Peloponnese, he despatched thither his legates Gneaus Papirius and the younger Popilius Laenas, along with Aulus Gabinius and Gaius Fannius; who, happening to arrive when the congress was assembled at Corinth, were introduced to the assembly, and delivered a long and conciliatory speech, much in the spirit of that of Sextus Julius, exerting themselves with great zeal to prevent the Achaeans from proceeding to an open breach with Rome, either on the pretext of their grievance against the Lacedaemonians, or from any feeling of anger against the Romans themselves. But the assembled people would not hear them; insulting words were loudly uttered against the envoys, and in the midst of a storm of yells and tumult they were driven from the assembly.
Riotous scene at Corinth.
The fact was that such a crowd of workmen and artisans had been got together as had never been collected before; for all the cities were in a state of drivelling folly, and above all the Corinthians en masse; and there were only a very few who heartily approved of the words of the envoys.

Critolaus, conceiving that he had attained his purpose, in

Critolaus makes no secret of his hostility to Rome.
the midst of an audience as excited and mad as himself began attacking the magistrates, abusing all who were opposed to him, and openly defying the Roman envoys, saying that he was desirous of being a friend of the Romans, but had no taste for them as his masters. And, finally, he tried to incite the people by saying that, if they quitted themselves like men, they would have no lack of allies; but, if they betrayed womanish fears, they would not want for masters. By many other such words to the same effect, conceived in the spirit of a charlatan and huckster, he roused and excited the populace. He attempted also to make it plan that he was not acting at random in these proceedings, but that some of the kings and republics were engaged in the same policy as himself.


Violent Policy of Critolaus

And when some of the Gerusia wished to check him,
Critolaus carries his point, and induces the Achaeans to pro-
and restrain him from the use of such expressions, he ordered the soldiers surrounding him to retire, and stood up fronting his opponents, and bade any one of them come up to him, come near him, or venture to touch his chlamys. And, finally, he said that "He had restrained himself now for a long time; but would endure it no longer, and must speak his mind.
claim war against the Lacedaemonians.
The people to fear were not Lacedaemonians or Romans, but the traitors among themselves who co-operated with their foes: for there were some who cared more for Romans and Lacedaemonians than for their own country." He added, as a confirmation of his words, that Evagoras of Aegium and Stratius of Tritaea betrayed to Gnaeus Papirius and his fellow-commissioners all the secret proceedings in the meetings of the magistrates. And when Stratius acknowledged that he had had interviews with those men, and should do so again, as they were friends and allies, but asserted that he had told them nothing of what was said in the meetings of the magistrates, some few believed him, but the majority accepted the accusation as true. And so Critolaus, having inflamed the people by his accusations against these men, induced the Achaeans once more to decree a war which was nominally against the Lacedaemonians, but in effect was against the Romans; and he got another decree added, which was a violation of the constitution, namely, that whomsoever they should elect as Strategi should have absolute power in carrying on the war. He thus got for himself something like a despotism.

Having carried these measures, he began intriguing to

The Roman envoys retire from Corinth.
bring on an outbreak and cause an attack upon the Roman envoys. He had no pretext for doing this; but adopted a course which, of all possible courses, offends most flagrantly against the laws of gods and man. The envoys, however, separated; Gnaeus Papirius went to Athens and thence to Sparta to watch the turn of events; Aulus Gabinius went to Naupactus; and the other two remained at Athens, waiting for the arrival of Caecilius Metellus. This was the state of things in the Peloponnese. . .

1 The task of subduing the country in B. C. 147 was entrusted to the proconsul Culpurnius Piso, while Scipio was engaged in completing the investment of Carthage. Appian, Pun. 113-126.

2 After the capture of Megara, the suburban district of Carthage, by Scipio, Hasdrubal withdrew into the Byrsa, got made commander-in-chief, and bringing all Roman prisoners to the battlements, put them to death with the most ghastly tortures. Appian, Pun. 118.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
147 BC (6)
148 BC (2)
480 BC (1)
405 BC (1)
371 BC (1)
362 BC (1)
335 BC (1)
150 BC (1)
hide References (1 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: