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Messene and Rhegium

For misfortunes befell Messene and Rhegium, the cities
The story of the Mamertines at Messene, and the Roman garrison at Rhegium, Dio. Cassius fr.
built on either side of the Strait, peculiar in their nature and alike in their circumstances.

Not long before the period we are now describing some Campanian mercenaries of Agathocles, having for some time cast greedy eyes upon Messene, owing to its beauty and wealth, no sooner got an opportunity than they made a treacherous attempt upon that city.

1. Messene.
They entered the town under guise of friendship, and, having once got possession of it, they drove out some of the citizens and put others to the sword.
Agathocles died, B. C. 289.
This done, they seized promiscuously the wives and children of the dispossessed citizens, each keeping those which fortune had assigned him at the very moment of the lawless deed. All other property and the land they took possession of by a subsequent division and retained.

The speed with which they became masters of a fair territory

2. Rhegium, Livy Ep. 12.
and city found ready imitators of their conduct. The people of Rhegium, when Pyrrhus was crossing to Italy, felt a double anxiety. They were dismayed at the thought of his approach, and at the same time were afraid of the Carthaginians as being masters of the sea.
Pyrrhus in Sicily, B. C. 278-275.
They accordingly asked and obtained a force from Rome to guard and support them. The garrison, four thousand in number, under the command of a Campanian named Decius Jubellius, entered the city, and for a time preserved it, as well as their own faith. But at last, conceiving the idea of imitating the Mamertines, and having at the same time obtained their co-operation, they broke faith with the people of Rhegium, enamoured of the pleasant site of the town and the private wealth of the citizens, and seized the city after having, in imitation of the Mamertines, first driven out some of the people and put others to the sword. Now, though the Romans were much annoyed at this transaction, they could take no active steps, because they were deeply engaged in the wars I have mentioned above. But having got free from them they invested and besieged the troops. They presently took the place and killed the greater number in the assault,—for the men resisted desperately, knowing what must follow,—but took more than three hundred alive.
B. C. 271. C. Quintus Claudus, L. Genucius Clepsina, Coss.
These were sent to Rome, and there the Consuls brought them into the forum, where they were scourged and beheaded according to custom: for they wished as far as they could to vindicate their good faith in the eyes of the allies. The territory and town they at once handed over to the people of Rhegium.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 31-32, commentary, 31.31
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