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Digressions in History

Accordingly the most learned of the ancient historians have, as it seems to me, taken intervals of rest in this way: some by digressions on myths and tales, and others by digressions on historical facts,—not confining themselves to Greek history, but introducing disquisitions on points of foreign history as well. As, for instance, when, in the course of a history of Thessaly and the campaigns of Alexander of Pherae, they introduce an account of the attempts of the Lacedaemonians in the Peloponnese; or those made by the Athenians; or actions which took place in Macedonia or Illyria: and then break off into an account of the expedition of Iphicrates into Egypt, and the iniquitous deeds of Clearchus in the Pontus. This will show you that these historians all employ this method; but, whereas they employ it without any system, I do so on a regular system. For these men, after mentioning, for instance, that Bardylis, king of the Illyrians, and Cersobleptes, king of the Thracians, established their dynasties, neither go on continuously with the stories nor return to them after an interval to take them up where they left off, but, treating them like an episode in a poem, they go back to their original subject. But I made a careful division of all the most important countries in the world and the course of their several histories; pursued exactly the same plan in regard to the order of taking the several divisions; and, moreover, arranged the history of each year in the respective countries, carefully keeping to the limits of the time: and the result is that I have made the transition backwards and forwards between my continuous narrative and the continually recurring interruptions easy and obvious to students, so that an attentive reader need never miss anything. . . .

After various operations during the autumn of B. C. 147, the upshot of which was to put the whole of the open country in Roman hands, in the beginning of spring B. C. 146, Scipio delivered his final attack on Carthage, taking first the quarter of the merchants' harbour, then the war harbour, and then the market-place. There only remained the streets leading to the Byrsa and the Byrsa itself. Appian, Pun. 123-126. Livy, Ep. 51.

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