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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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. . .