), an Aetolian, who held a leading position among his countrymen at the period of the outbreak of the Social War, B. C. 220.
He was a kinsman of Ariston, who at this time held the office of praetor, or general of the Aetolian league, and the latter confided to him the chief conduct of affairs. On this account it was to Scopas that Dorimachus applied for assistance after the ill success of his predatory expedition against Messenia [DORIMACHUS], and although no pretext had been given for involving the Aetolian nation in war, these two chiefs were bold enough to undertake the enterprise on their own account.
In the spring of B. C. 220 accordingly they led an expedition against the Messenians, and not only ravaged the territories of the latter, but when Aratus himself at the head of the Achaean army had come to their support, totally defeated him at Caphyae, and effected their retreat unmolested (Plb. 4.5
This daring outrage having naturally led to a public declaration of war by the Achaeans and their ally Philip king of Macedonia against the Aetolians, the latter chose Scopas for their Strategus during the ensuing year, and entrusted to him the conduct of the war which he had himself brought upon them.
In the spring of 219 he invaded Macedonia with a large force, laid waste the open country of Pieria without opposition, and having made himself master of Dium, not only destroyed the town, but even plundered and burnt the celebrated temple which gave name to the city. Meanwhile, however, he neglected the defence of Aetolia itself, and left it open to Philip to obtain important advantages on the side of Acarnania (Id. 4.27, 62, 5.11).
The next year (218) he was sent by Dorimachus (who had succeeded him in the supreme command) with a mercenary force to the assistance of the Eleans (Id. 5.3), but we have no farther account of his operations in that year, or during the remainder of the Social War. His name does not again occur until the year B. C. 211, when we find him again holding the office of general, and in that capacity presiding in the assembly of the Aetolians, which concluded the alliance with the Roman praetor, M. Valerius Laevinus.
The conquest of Acarnania was the bait held out to allure the Aetolians into this league, and Scopas immediately assembled his forces for the invasion of that country.
But the determined resistance of the Acarnanians themselves, and the advance of Philip to their relief, rendered his efforts abortive.
The next year (B. C. 210) we find him co-operating with Laevinus in the siege of Anticyra, which, after its capture, was given up to the Aetolians (Liv. 26.24
After the close of the war with Philip, we are told that the Aetolians were distracted with civil dissensions, and in order to appease these disorders, and provide some remedy against the burden of debts with which the chief persons in the country were oppressed, Scopas and Dorimachus were appointed to reform the constitution, B. C. 204. They were certainly not well qualified for legislators, and Scopas had only undertaken the charge from motives of personal ambition; on finding himself disappointed in which, he withdrew to Alexandria. Here he was received with the utmost favour by the ministers who ruled during the minority of the young king, Ptolemy V., and appointed to the chief command of the army in Coels-Syria, where lie had to make head against the ambitious designs of Antiochus the Great.
At first he was completely successful, and reduced the whole province of Judaea into subjection to Ptolemy, but was afterwards defeated by Antiochus at Panium, and reduced to shut himself up within the walls of Sidon, where (after an ineffectual attempt by Ptolemy to relieve him) he was ultimately compelled by famine to surrender (Plb. 13.1
,19, 39; J. AJ 12.3.3
; Hieronym. ad Daniel.
11.15, 16). Notwithstanding this ill success he appears to have continued in high favour at the Egyptian court, and m B. C. 200 he was sent to Greece with a large sum of money to raise a mercenary force for the service of Ptolemy, a task which he performed so successfully as to carry back with him to Alexandria a body of above 6000 of the flower of the Aetolian youth (Liv. 31.43
). His confidence in the support of so large a force, united to his own abilities, and the vast wealth which he had accumulated in the service of the Egyptian king, appears to have inflamed his ambition, and led him to conceive the design of seizing by force on the chief administration of the kingdom.
But his projects were discovered before they were ripe for execution, and a force was sent by Aristomenes, the chief minister of Ptolemy, to arrest him. Scopas was taken by surprise, and unable to offer any resistance.
He was at once led before the council of the young king, condemned to death, and executed in prison the next night, B. C. 296.
According to Polybius he had well deserved his fate by the reckless and insatiable rapacity which he had displayed during the whole period of his residence in Egypt. (Plb. 18.36