back

Diodorus Siculus, Books 34 & 35

    ( fragments covering the period 134 - 105 B.C. )

See table of contents for some information about how this translation has been produced, and key to translations for an explanation of the format.


[1] G   King Antiochus besieged Jerusalem. The Jews withstood the siege for some time; but when all their provisions were used up, they were forced to send ambassadors to him, to seek terms for a truce. Many of his friends urged him to storm the city, and to root out the whole nation of the Jews; for they only of all people hated to mix with any other nations, and treated them all as enemies. They suggested to him that the ancestors of the Jews were driven out of Egypt, as impious and hateful to the gods: 2 for seeing that their bodies were infected with white marks and leprosy, by way of expiation the Egyptians gathered them all together, and expelled them out of their county, as profane and wicked wretches. After they were thus expelled, they settled around Jerusalem, and were afterwards united into one nation, called the nation of the Jews; but their hatred of all other men descended with their blood to their posterity. And therefore they made strange laws, and quite different from other people; they never will eat nor drink with any of other nations, or wish them any prosperity. 3 His friends reminded him that Antiochus surnamed Epiphanes, after subduing the Jews, entered into the temple of God, into which none was allowed to enter by their law except the priest. When he found in there the image of a man with a long beard, carved in stone sitting upon an ass, he took it to be Moses, who built Jerusalem and brought the nation together, and who established by law all their wicked customs and practices, abounding in hatred and enmity to all other men. Antiochus therefore, abhorring their antagonism to all other people, tried his utmost to abolish their laws. 4 To that end he sacrificed a great swine at the image of Moses, and at the altar of God that stood in the outward court, and sprinkled them with the blood of the sacrifice. He commanded likewise that the books, by which they were taught to hate all other nations, should be sprinkled with the broth made of the swine's flesh. And he put out the lamp (called by them immortal) which burns continually in the temple. Lastly he forced the high priest and the other Jews to eat swine's flesh.

When Antiochus' friends had spoken about all these things, they earnestly advised him to root out the whole nation, or at least to abolish their laws, and compel them to change their former manner of living. 5 But the king, being of a generous spirit and mild disposition, received hostages and pardoned the Jews: but he demolished the walls of Jerusalem, and took the tribute that was due.

[2] G   When the affairs of Sicily, after the overthrow of Carthage, had remained successful and prosperous for the space of sixty years, at length war with the slaves broke out for the following reasons. The Sicilians, through the enjoyment of a long peace, grew very rich, and bought up an abundance of slaves; who being driven in droves like so many herds of cattle from the different places where they were bred and brought up, were branded with certain marks burnt on their bodies. 2 Those that were young, they used for shepherds, others for such services as they had occasion. But their masters were very strict and severe with them, and took no care to provide either necessary food or clothing for them, so that most of them were forced to rob and steal, to get these necessities: so that all places were full of slaughters and murders, as if an army of thieves and robbers had been dispersed all over the island. 3 The governors of the provinces, to tell the truth, did what they could to suppress them; but they did not dare punish them, because the masters, who possessed the slaves, were rich and powerful. Therefore every governor was forced to connive at the thefts and rapines that were committed in the province. For many of the landowners were Roman knights, and because they judged the accusations brought against the governors for their conduct in the provinces, they were a terror to the governors themselves.

4 G   The slaves therefore being in this distress, and vilely beaten and scourged beyond all reason, were now resolved not to bear it any longer. Therefore, meeting together from time to time as they had opportunity, they consulted how to free themselves from the yoke of servitude they lay under, until at length they really accomplished what they had previously agreed upon. 5 There was a Syrian, born in the city of Apameia, who was a slave of Antigenes of Enna, and he was a magician and conjuror; he pretended to foretell future events, revealed to him (as he said) by the gods in his dreams, and deceived many by this kind of practice. Then he proceeded further, and not only foretold things to come, revealed to him in dreams, but pretended that he saw the gods when he was awake, and they declared to him what was to come to pass. 6 And though these were tricks that he played, yet by chance many of the things afterwards proved true. The predictions that were not fulfilled were ignored, but those which did come to pass were everywhere applauded, so that he grew more and more celebrated. By some artifice or other, he used to breath flames of fire out of his mouth as from a burning lamp, and so would prophesy as though he had been at that time inspired by Apollo. 7 For he put fire with some combustible matter to feed it, into a nut-shell or some such thing bored through on both sides; then putting it into his mouth and forcing his breath upon it, there would issue out both sparks and flames of fire. Before the revolt of the slaves this man boasted that the Syrian goddess had appeared to him, and told him that he should reign, and this he declared not only to others but often to his own master.

8 G   As this became a common subject of laughter, Antigenes was so taken with the jest and the ridiculous conceit of the man, that he took Eunus (for such was his name) with him to feasts and dinners, and several questions being put to him concerning his future kingdom, he was asked how he would treat each person who was there present at the table. He readily went on with his story, and told them that he would be very kind to his masters and like a conjuror using many monstrous magical terms and expressions, he made all the guests laugh, upon which some of them as a reward gave him large helpings frum the table, and asked him to remember their kindness when he came to be king. 9 But all this jesting at length really did end in his advancement to be king; and all those who at the feasts by way of ridicule had been kind to him, he rewarded in earnest. But the beginning of the revolt was in this manner.

10 G   There was one Damophilus of Enna, a man of great wealth, but of a proud and haughty disposition. This man above all measure was cruel and severe to his slaves; and his wife Megallis strove to exceed her husband in all kind of cruelty and inhumanity towards the slaves. The slaves, who had been so cruelly used, were enraged by this like wild beasts, and plotted together to rise in arms and cut the throats of their masters. To this end they consulted Eunus, and asked him whether the gods would give them success in their designs. He encouraged them and declared that they would prosper in their enterprise. He uttered conjuring words and expressions, as was his usual manner, and told them to be speedy in their execution. 11 Therefore, after they had raised a body of four hundred slaves, at the first opportunity they suddenly armed themselves and broke into the city of Enna, led by their captain Eunus, who used his juggling tricks to breathe fire out of his mouth. Then entering the houses, they made such a great a slaughter, that they did not even spare even the suckling children, 12 but plucked them violently from their mother's breasts and dashed them against the ground. It cannot be expressed how vilely and filthily, for the satisfying of their lusts, they used men's wives in the very presence of their husbands. These villains were joined by a multitude of the slaves who were in the city. They first executed their rage and cruelty upon their own masters, and then fell to murdering others.

13 G   In the mean time Eunus heard that Damophilus and his wife were in an orchard near the city. Therefore he sent some of his rabble there, who brought them back with their hands tied behind their backs, taunting them as they passed along with much ill-treatment; but they declared that they would be kind in every respect to their daughter, because of her pity and compassion towards the slaves, and her readiness always to be helpful to them. This showed that the savage behaviour of the slaves towards others arose, not from their own cruel nature, but from a desire to have revenge for the wrongs they had suffered previously. 14 The men that were sent for Damophilus and Megallis his wife brought them to the city and into the theatre, where all the rebellious rabble was assembled. There Damophilus pleaded earnestly for his life and moved many with what he said. But Hermeias and Zeuxis denounced him with many bitter accusations and called him a cheat and dissembler. Then without waiting to hear the decision of the people concerning him, the one ran him through with a sword and the other cut off his head with an axe.

Then they made Eunus king, not for his valour or skill in warfare, but on account of his extraordinary tricks, and because he was the leader and author of the defection; and his name seemed to portend and to be a good omen, that he would be kind {eunous} to his subjects. 15 When he had therefore been made general, with absolute power to order and dispose of all things as he pleased, an assembly was called, and he put all the prisoners from Enna to death except those that were skilful in making of weapons, whom he fettered and set to work. As for Megallis, he delivered her up to the will of the women slaves, to take their revenge on her as they thought fit. After they had whipped and tormented her, they threw her down a steep precipice. 16 And Eunus himself killed his own master Antigenes and Python. At length, putting a diadem upon his head and graced with all the emblems of royalty, he caused his wife, who was a Syrian from the same city, to be called queen, and chose such as he judged to be most prudent to be his councillors. Amongst these was one Achaeus by name, and an Achaean by birth, a wise man and a good soldier. Within the space of three days he got together above six thousand men, armed with what they could by any way or means lay their hands upon; and he was joined by others, who were all furnished either with axes, hatches, slings, bills, or stakes sharpened and burnt at one end, or with spits. With these he ravaged and made spoil all over the country. At length, after he had been joined by an infinite number of slaves, he grew to such power and boldness as to engage in a war with the Roman generals, and often defeated them in battle, by overpowering them with the number of his men; for he now had with him above ten thousand men.

17 G   In the mean time, a Cilician called Cleon instigated another defection of the slaves, and now all were hoping that this unruly rabble would come to blows one with another, and so Sicily would be rid of them through their mutual slaughters and destruction of each other. But contrary to all men's hopes and expectations, they joined forces together. Cleon followed the commands of Eunus in every respect, and served his prince as general, having five thousand of his own soldiers. Thirty days had now passed since the first beginning of this rebellion: 18 and presently the slaves fought a battle with Lucius Hypsaeus, who had come from Rome and commanded eight thousand Sicilians. In this fight the rebels won the day; they were then twenty thousand in number, and very soon afterwards their army increased to two hundred thousand men. And although they fought against the Romans themselves, yet they often came off as conquerors, and were very seldom defeated.

19 G   When news of this spread abroad, a revolt was started at Rome by one hundred and fifty slaves, who conspired against the government; similarly in Attica by one thousand slaves; and likewise at Delos, and many other places. But the magistrates of the various communities, to prevent the mischief from going further, made a quick response, and promptly fell upon the slaves, and put them all to death. So those that remained and were ready to break out into rebellion, were reduced to more sound and sober thoughts.

20 But in Sicily the disorders increased more and more; for cities were taken, and their inhabitants made slaves, and many armies were routed by the rebels, until such time as Rupilius the Roman general recovered Tauromenium. The besieged had been reduced to such an extremity of famine by a sharp and close siege, that they began to eat their own children, and the men their wives; and at length they butchered one another for food. There Rupilius captured Comanus the brother of Cleon, who was endeavouring to escape out of the city while it was besieged. 21 At last Sarapion, a Syrian, betrayed the citadel, and all the fugitives fell into his hands. Rupilius had them scourged and thrown over a cliff. He marched from there to Enna, and by a long siege reduced it to such straits, that there was no hope left for anyone to escape. After slaying Cleon their general, who had made a sally from the city and fought like a hero, he exposed his body to open view; and soon afterwards the city likewise was betrayed into his hands, which otherwise could never have been taken by force because of the natural strength of the place.

22 As for Eunus, he fled like a coward with (?) six hundred of his guards to the top of certain high cliffs, where those that were with him, foreseeing their inevitable ruin (for Rupilius pursued then closely), cut one another's throats. But Eunus the conjuring king out of fear hid himself in some caves, which he had discovered for that purpose; he was dragged out of there with four others of his gang - his cook, his barber, the man who rubbed him in the bath and the jester at his banquets. 23 Finally he was thrown into prison, and there consumed by lice, and so ended his days at Morgantina by a death worthy of the former wickedness of his life. Rupilius afterwards with a small body of men marched all over Sicily, and presently cleared the country of thieves and robbers.

24 G   This Eunus king of the robbers called himself Antiochus and all his followers Syrians.

24b G   The slaves conspired together to rise in revolt and kill their masters. They approached Eunus, who lived not far away, and asked him whether their plan had the approval of the gods. He began to speak in a strange and inspired manner, and when he heard the purpose of their visit, he made it clear that the gods would grant success to their revolt, if they made no delay and immediately put their plot into action; for fate had assigned Enna to them as their home, which was the citadel of the whole island. When they heard what he said, and perceived that the divinity was supporting them in their venture, their spirits were so aroused to revolt that they made no further delay in implementing their plans. They immediately released some slaves from bonds, and called on others dwelling nearby to join with them. About four hundred of them gathered in a field near Enna, and after making pledges to each other and exchanging vows by night over sacrificial victims, they armed themselves as far as the occasion permitted; but they all put on the strongest of weapons, their angry determination to wipe out their arrogant masters. With Eunus as their leader, and urging each other on, about the middle of the night they fell on the city and slew many of the inhabitants.

25 G   About this time there arose so great a mutiny and sedition of the slaves in Sicily, as no age before could ever parallel, in which many cities suffered and were miserably ransacked. Innumerable multitudes of men, women and children fell into most grievous calamities; and the whole island was now upon the point of falling into the hands of the slaves, who set no other bounds to their exorbitant power, than the absolute destruction of their masters.

These things occurred when none in the least expected them; but those who were accustomed to investigate into the roots and causes of all events, concluded that it was not a thing that happened merely by chance. 26 For the inhabitants of this rich island grew arrogant with too much plenty; they fell into luxury and voluptuousness, and then into pride and insolence. For those reasons the cruelty of the masters towards their slaves, and the hatred of the slaves towards their masters raged and increased more and more every day. At length when a suitable opportunity offered itself, this hatred broke forth and many thousands of slaves suddenly, without any warning, joined together to destroy their masters.

And the same thing happened in Asia, almost about the same time. For when Aristonicus without any proper rights sought to gain the kingdom of Asia, all the slaves, by reason of the cruelty of their masters, joined with him, and filled many towns and cities with bloodshed and slaughter.

27 G   In like manner the men who had large possessions in Sicily bought up whole slave markets to till their lands. Some they shackled, others they exhausted with hard labour, and branded and marked every one of them. So great a multitude of slaves overflowed all of Sicily, like a deluge, that the excessive number seemed incredible to all who heard it. The rich men of Sicily rivalled the Italians in pride, greed, and wickedness; for many of the Italians who had great numbers of slaves had driven their shepherds to such a degree of villainy, that they allowed them to rob and steal, rather than provide them with any necessary subsistence. 28 Once this license had been permitted to those men who had strength of body, together with time and leisure, sufficient to enable them readily to execute any outrage, and who had been reduced by lack of subsistence to the extremity of attempting anything to supply their needs; in a short time this lawlessness began to spread.

At first they used to murder travellers upon the highway, when only one or two were together; afterwards they would in groups enter into little villages by night, and pillage poor men's houses, and forcibly carry away whatever they found and kill anyone who opposed them. 29 At length, as they grew everyday more and more audacious, there was neither security in the roads in Sicily for travellers in the night, nor safety in their houses for those who dwelt in the country, but all places were full of rapine, robberies, and murders. And because the shepherds and herdsmen were supplied with weapons, and inured to stay in the open fields through night and day, they every day grew more bold and daring; carrying clubs and lances and long staves, and covered with the skins of wolves and wild boars, they had a most frightful and terrible appearance, almost like they were going to war. 30 Besides, every one had a guard of great mastiff dogs to attend them; and as they guzzled down milk, and glutted themselves with meat, and all other sorts of food, they resembled beasts both in souls and bodies. As a result, the whole island seemed as if it was full of soldiers roving up and down in every place, since all the daring slaves were let loose by their masters to act the part of madmen. 31 It is true indeed that the Roman praetors did what they could to suppress the violence of the slaves, but because they did not dare to punish them, on account of the power and influence of their masters, they were forced to suffer the country to be infested with robberies. For most of their masters were Roman knights, who had judicial authority at Rome, and might act as judges in the cases of the praetors, who were summoned to appear before them on charges relating to their administration of the province; and therefore the magistrates were for good reasons afraid of them.

32 G   The Italians, who had large estates in Sicily, bought many slaves, every one of whom they branded with marks on their cheeks, and oppressed them with hard labour, and yet failed to give them sufficient subsistence.

33 G   Not only in political life should the powerful behave humanely towards those who are of humble condition, but also in private life the right-minded should not be too harsh on their slaves. For as in states arrogant behaviour leads to civil dissension amongst the citizens, so in each private home, such behaviour provokes the slaves against their masters, and gives rise to terrible disorders in the cities. For when those in power act cruelly and wickedly, the character of their subjects is inflamed to reckless action. Those whom fate has placed in a lowly position will gladly yield to their superiors in honour and glory, but if they are denied the kindness which they deserve, they revolt against the men who act like cruel despots.

34 G   There was one Damophilus of Enna, who was wealthy, but very proud and arrogant; this man cultivated a large area of land, had a vast stock of cattle, and imitated the luxury and cruelty of the Italians towards their slaves. He traversed the country up and down, travelling in a coach drawn by stately horses, and guarded by a company of armed slaves; he likewise always carried about with him many beautiful boys, flatterers and parasites. 35 In the city and in the villages he had finely engraved silver vessels, and all sorts of purple carpets of very great value; and he held magnificent feasts and entertainments, rivalling the state and grandeur of a king; in pomp and expense he far surpassed the luxury of the Persians, and his pride and arrogance were excessive. He was uncouth, and brought up without learning, or any liberal education; and having heaped up a great deal of wealth, he abandoned himself to self-indulgent licentiousness. At first this fullness and plenty made him insolent; and at length he was a plague to himself, and the occasion of bringing many miseries and calamities upon his country. 36 For having bought many slaves, he abused them in the highest degree; and those that were free born in their own country, and taken captives in war, he branded on their cheeks with the sharp points of iron pins. Some of these he bound in fetters and put in slave pens; and to others that were ordered to look after the cattle in the fields, he allowed neither clothing nor food sufficient to satisfy nature.

37 G   The barbarity and cruelty of this Damophilus was such, that never a day passed without him scourging his slaves, without the least cause or occasion. And his wife Megallis was as cruel as himself, towards the maid servants, and other slaves that fell into her hands. Therefore his slaves, being provoked by this cruelty of their master and mistress, concluded that nothing could bring them into a worse condition than they already were; [and they suddenly rose up in revolt].

38 G   Some naked slaves once went to Damophilus of Enna and complained that they did not have clothes; but he did not listen to their complaints. "What then," he said to them, "do the travellers in the countryside walk naked along the roads, so that you can not take the clothes off them?" He then attached them to pillars, beat them cruelly, and haughtily dismissed them.

39 G   In Sicily Damophilus had a young daughter of a very gentle and courteous disposition, who made it her business to relieve and heal those slaves that had been abused and scourged by her parents, and to bring sustenance to those who were shackled; so that she was wonderfully beloved by all the slaves. In remembrance of her former kindness, they all had pity on her, and were so far from offering any violence or injury to the young maid, that every one of them made it their business to preserve her chastity unviolated; and chose the most suitable men from their own company, of whom Hermeias was the most eager, to conduct her to Catana to some of her family.

40 G   The rebel slaves, venting their fury against the entire household of their masters, committed many terrible outrages. This revenge was not a mark of their cruel disposition, but the outcome of the unfair treatment that they had experienced, which made them turn angrily to punishing those who had wronged them in the past.

Nature itself teaches slaves to give a just response of gratitude or revenge.

41 G   After Eunus was declared king, he put many rich citizens to death, and spared only those who had commended him for his prophecies at their feasts, to which his master {Antigenes} used to bring him as a jest; those likewise that had been so kind as to give him some of their food, he preserved; so that the strange turn of fortune was truly astonishing, that a kindness shown to such a poor and humble person should result in a great favour, when it was most needed.

42 G   Achaeus, an advisor to King Antiochus {Eunus}, disapproving the actions of fugitive slaves, censured their excesses, and predicted that they would soon be punished. But Eunus, far from being angry at this frankness, and putting Achaeus to death, gave him instead the house of his masters, and appointed him his advisor.

43 G   About the same time another rebellion of the slaves broke out. Cleon, a Cilician from near Mount Taurus, who was inured to robberies from a boy and had been appointed to look after the horses in their pastures in Sicily, used to attack travellers on the highways and committed various heinous murders. This man, hearing of the good fortune of Eunus and his followers, persuaded some of the neighbouring slaves to join with him in a sudden revolt. They overran the city of Agrigentum and all the neighbouring country round about.

44 G   Their pressing needs and lack of provisions forced the rebel slaves to risk everything, because they had no opportunity to follow a better course.

45 G   It did not need a revelation from god to understand how easy it was to capture the city. It was obvious, even to the simplest observer, that since the walls were in disrepair due to the long time of peace, and many of the garrison had been killed, the city could not hold out for long against a siege.

46 G   Eunus, keeping his army out of the range of weapons, shouted insults at the Romans, saying that it was not his men, but the Romans who were runaways from danger. He put on mimes for those inside, in which the slaves depicted how they had revolted from their own masters, mocking their masters' arrogance and the excessive cruelty that led to their overthrow.

47 G   Although some men may be convinced that the gods are not concerned about the extraordinary misfortunes that afflict men, yet it is beneficial to the community for the fear of the gods to be instilled in the hearts of the masses. Few men act justly solely as a result of their own virtue; the majority of men will be stopped from crime only because of the punishments inflicted by the laws and the retribution of the gods.

48 G   The common people, far from feeling pity for the immense misfortunes that were suffered by the Sicilians, on the contrary were delighted because they were jealous of the inequality that existed in wealth and living conditions. This jealousy, which used to cause them grief, was now turned to joy, because they saw that those who once enjoyed a brilliant fortune had now fallen into the most miserable condition. But the cruellest thing was that, although the rebels, as a sensible precaution, did not burn their houses, or destroy their property and crops, and indeed wholly avoided harming any of the men engaged in agriculture; yet the populace, using the runaway slaves as a pretext, but in reality motivated by jealousy against the rich, ran out into the countryside, and not only looted the properties but also set fire to the rural dwellings.

[3] G   In Asia, Attalus {III} as soon as he came to the throne, began to manage affairs in a way quite different from all the former kings; for they by their clemency and kindness to their subjects, reigned prosperously and happily themselves, and were a blessing to the kingdom; but this prince being of a cruel and bloody disposition, oppressed his subjects with many slaughters, and grievous calamities. Since he suspected that the most powerful of his father's friends were plotting against him, he resolved to rid himself of them. To that end he picked out some of the most brutal and rapacious ruffians from among his barbarian mercenary soldiers, and hid them in certain chambers in the palace; then he sent for those of his friends and kindred whom he most suspected, and when they appeared, he had all their throats cut by these bloody executioners of his cruelty, and he promptly ordered their wives and children to be put to death in the same manner.

The rest of his father's friends that either had command in his army, or were governors of cities, he either caused to be treacherously assassinated; or seizing them, murdered them and their families together. Therefore he was hated not only by his subjects, but by all the neighbouring nations; and all within his dominions endeavoured as much as they could to bring about a revolution and change of government.

[4] G   Most of the barbarian prisoners either committed suicide or killed each other while they were being transported, because they were unwilling to bear the disgrace of slavery. A young man, still immature, who was accompanying his three sisters, slaughtered them in their sleep. He was arrested before he had time to kill himself, and was asked why he had murdered his sisters. He said that he had killed them because they had nothing worth living for; then, by refusing all food, he killed himself through starvation.

2 G   The same prisoners, when they arrived at the borders of their country, fell down and kissed the ground, moaning and filling the folds of their clothes with dust, so that the whole army was touched with pity. Each of the soldiers felt a divine awe when he saw the emotions of his fellow humans, and observed that even the most savage barbarians, when fate separates them from the bond of their homeland, do not forget their love for the land that reared them.

[5] G   Tiberius Gracchus was the son of the Tiberius who had twice been consul, a man very famous for both his military and his political achievements. He was also, through his mother, the grandchild of that Publius Scipio who conquered Hannibal and the Carthaginians. As well as being nobly born on both sides, he excelled all his contemporaries in judgement and power of speech, and indeed in all manner of learning, so that he was not afraid to debate freely with the powerful men who opposed him.

[6] G   The people flocked to Rome, like rivers flowing into the all-receptive ocean. They were determined to support their own cause, with the law as their leader and ally. Their defender {Gracchus} was a magistrate who was untouched by corruption or fear; he had decided to undergo every toil and danger until the last breath of his life, in order to acquire land for the people . . . 2 He {Octavius?} had around him, not an ill-organised mob, but the strongest and most prosperous part of the people. Therefore the power of both sides was evenly balanced, and victory was long uncertain, swinging first one way, then the other. Many thousands of men had gathered together, and they supported their side with violence. The assemblies of these people had the appearance of stormy waves on the sea.

[7] G   After he was deprived of his office, Octavius did not want to admit that he was a private individual, but he did not dare to act as tribune, and so he kept quiet. Yet at the time when Gracchus proposed a decree to dismiss Octavius from his position as magistrate, Octavius could have proposed a similar decree depriving Gracchus of his position as tribune. For if the two decrees had been legally adopted, both would have returned to private life; or else they would have kept their powers, if the hostile proposals had been deemed unlawful.

2 Heading relentlessly to his doom, Gracchus soon obtained his deserved punishment. Scipio seized a club that was close to hand, because anger can often overcome obstacles . . .

3 When news of the death of Gracchus reached the army, Scipio Africanus exclaimed: "So may all those perish who attempt such crimes" {Homer, Od_1'47).

[8] G   The Syrian slaves cut off the hands of those they took prisoners, not at the wrists, but hands and arms together.

[9] G   Those {slaves} who ate the sacred fish endured great suffering. For the divinity, as if making a clear example of them for others, left all these madmen to die without help. So they received both a just punishment from the gods, and severe censure from writers of history.

[10] G   The senate, dreading the anger of the gods, consulted the Sibylline books, and sent ambassadors into Sicily, who visited the altars dedicated to Aetnaean Zeus throughout the whole island, and offered solemn sacrifices to him. The ambassadors enclosed tbe altars within walls, to exclude all except those of the several cities who, according to the customs of their own country, used to offer sacrifices to him.

[11] G   Gorgus of Morgantina, surnamed Cambalus, was one of the chief men of wealth and authority in the city. Going out to hunt and encountering a band of robbers, he took to his heels to escape back to the city. He happened to be met by his father, also called Gorgus, who was on horseback. The father forthwith leaped off his horse, and told his son to mount the horse, and make away with all speed into the city. But the son was not willing to put his own preservation above that of his father, nor could the father bear to cause the death of his son by avoiding the danger himself. And so while they were with tears entreating one another, and competing in pious affection, with the love of the father rivalling the love of the son, they were overtaken by the thieves, and both killed on the spot.

[12] G   Zibelmius the son of Diēgylis followed his father's steps in cruelty. Enraged at what the Thracians had done to Diēgylis , he proceeded to such a degree of implacable severity and height of wickedness, that he put to death all that had displeased him, with their whole families; and for the most slight and frivolous reasons he cut some in pieces limb from limb, crucified others, and sawed several asunder. He also killed little children before their parent's faces, and infants at their mother's breasts, and having cut them in pieces, dished up their members as curiosities for their kindred to feast upon, reviving as it were those ancient banquets of Tereus and Thyestes. At length the Thracians seized upon his person; but it was scarce possible to punish him according to his deserts. For how could one body suffer the punishment justly due for the cruelties and injuries committed against a whole nation? However, to the utmost of their power they repaid him with all the insults, and extremity of torture upon his body, that they could invent.

[13] G   Attalus, the first king of that name, consulted the oracle on some matter. The Pythia replied spontaneously in these words: "Courage, O bull-horned one, you will have regal honours, and the son of your son will have them too, but your great-grandsons will not."

[14] G   Ptolemaeus Physcon, when he saw that his sister Cleopatra was so great an enemy to him, and could not revenge himself otherwise upon her, contrived a most abominable piece of villainy for that purpose. For, imitating the cruelty of Medeia, he murdered her son, begotten by himself, in Cyprus; the son was called Memphites, and was still a young boy. Not content with this, he committed a far more wicked act: for cutting up the child's limbs, he put them in a chest and delivered them to one of his guards to be conveyed to Alexandria. He commanded that in the night before Cleopatra's birthday, which was then near at hand, the chest should be set down at the palace gates. When this was done and the circumstances became known, Cleopatra was distraught, and all the people were in a great rage against Ptolemaeus.

[15] G   The warm spring heat had begun to melt the snow; the crops, after the long cold of winter, were showing their first buds; and men were going to the work of agriculture; when Arsaces, to probe the enemy, sent envoys to negotiate peace. Antiochus replied that he would grant peace on these conditions: that his brother Demetrius was freed from captivity and released, that Arsaces evacuated the territory which he had occupied, and that, content with his ancestral realm, he paid tribute to Antiochus. Provoked by the harshness of this response, Arsaces marched against Antiochus.

[16] G   The friends of Antiochus urged him not to engage in combat against the Parthians, who were so superior in numbers; for they could retreat to the nearby mountains, where the difficult ground would protect them from the danger of the enemy cavalry. Antiochus paid no heed to this advice, saying it was shameful that the victors should fear the audacity of those they had already conquered. So he urged his friends to face the dangers and boldly withstand the attack of the barbarians.

[17] G  When the death of Antiochus became known at Antioch, the whole city mourned, and every house was full of wailing, especially from women, who bemoaned this great loss. Three hundred thousand men had been lost, including those who did not serve in the ranks. Every family had some loss to grieve: among the women, some had to mourn the death of a brother, others that of a husband or a son; and many girls and boys, left as orphans, lamented that they were bereaved of their fathers. Eventually time, the best healer of grief, put an end to their laments.

2 G   Athenaeus, Antiochus' general, soon met with a just reward for the wrongs he had committed when he put the army in quarters. After being the first to flee, forsaking Antiochus in the heat of battle, he came to some of the villages which he had mistreated when he used them for winter quarters. They all shut their gates on him, and refused to help him with either food or drink, so that he wandered up and down the country, till at length he died from starvation.

[18] G   Arsaces, king of the Parthians, after defeating Antiochus expected to invade Syria and easily make himself master of the country, but he was not able to make this expedition, since fate had placed him in grave danger and many perils. I believe, indeed, that the deity never gives unalloyed happiness, but adds some ills to it as if on purpose; and in the same way the deity will add some blessings to follow misfortune. And in this case fortune was true to its usual character; as if weary of bestowing continual success, it brought about such a reversal in the course of the whole war, that those who were previously successful were in the end brought low.

[19] G   Arsaces, king of the Parthians, was angry against the Seleuceians and could not forgive them for the cruel punishment they had inflicted on his general Enius. The Seleuceians therefore sent envoys to him, to beg forgiveness for what had happened. When the envoys requested an answer, Arsaces led them to where Pitthides sat, blinded and lying on the ground; he ordered them to report to the Seleuceians that they should all suffer the same fate. Terror-stricken by this, they forgot their previous woes out of fear of the dangers that now threatened, because new misfortunes always tend to obscure men's past calamities.

[20] G   When Hegelochus, the general of Ptolemaeus Physcon, was sent against Marsyas the Alexandrian general, he took him prisoner and destroyed all his army. Marsyas was brought before the king, and everyone expected that he would immediately be put to a cruel death; but instead Ptolemaeus pardoned him. For now he began to repent of his former cruelties, and endeavoured to regain the people's love and favour by acts of clemency.

[21] G   Euhemerus, king of Parthia, born in Hyrcania, exceeded all known tyrants in cruelty, and omitted no sorts of torments he could invent. He enslaved many of the Babylonians, upon slight pretexts, along with their whole families, and sent them into Media to be sold as booty. He also burnt to the ground the market-place, and some of the temples in Babylon; and destroyed the best part of the city.

[22] G   Alexander surnamed Zabinas, when the distinguished officers Antipater, Clonius, and Aeropus revolted from him, besieged and captured Laodiceia, which they had occupied. However, he generously spared them all. For he was of a mild and gentle disposition, and pleasing temper, and of a wonderful affability towards his associates and those he met; and therefore he was greatly loved by the mass of his subjects.

[23] G   When Sextius had captured the city of the Gauls, and was selling the inhabitants as slaves, one Crato who was led in chains with the rest, came up to the consul, as he sat upon the tribunal, and told him he had always been a friend to the Romans, and for that reason had received many injuries, and had suffered many beatings from his fellow citizens. Sextius immediately released him from his bonds, along with all his family, and restored all his possessions; and for his good will to the Romans, gave him power to set free nine hundred of the citizens, such as he himself thought fit. For the consul was more generous and bountiful to Crato than he expected, so that the Gauls could easily see how exactly just the Romans were, both in their punishments and in their rewards.

[24] G   The people showed favour to him {Gracchus}, not only when he took up office, but when he was a candidate, and even before then. Upon his return from Sardinia, the people went out to meet him, and his landing from the boat was greeted with blessings and applause. Such was the extreme affection that people had for him.

[25] G   Gracchus in his speeches to the people urged them to overthrow the aristocracy and establish a democratic government; and after winning the favour of all classes, he had them not only as supporters, but even as instigators of his bold objectives. For every citizen, lured by the hope that the proposed laws would be in his own interests, was ready to risk any danger to ensure that they were adopted. By taking control of the courts away from the senators and setting up the knights as judges, Gracchus gave the lower classes power over the nobles, and by breaking the harmony that existed previously between the senate and the knights, he made the populace a serious rival to both those classes. By setting all the classes at variance, he built up personal power for himself; and by using funds from the public treasury for shameful and inopportune expenses, which however bought him favour with others, he made himself the centre of everyone's attention. By leaving the provinces open to the greed and rapacity of the tax-farmers, he made their subjects rightly resentful of Roman rule; and by reducing the traditional severity of military discipline through his laws, as a favour to the soldiers, he introduced insubordination and anarchy into the state. Contempt for their leaders causes men to disobey the laws, and finally leads to fatal disorders and the overthrow of the state.

2 G   Gracchus had reached such a degree of power and arrogance, that he released Octavius, even though the people had voted to send him into exile. He told the people that he did this as a favour to his mother, who had interceded with him.

[26] G   When Popilius was sent into exile, the people accompanied him with weeping as he left the city; for the people knew that the sentence of exile was unjust, and that by accepting bribes against Popilius they had lost the ability to speak out openly against wickedness.

[27] G   Seventeen tribes voted against the law, which was approved by an equal number of tribes; when the votes of the eighteenth tribe were counted, there was a majority of one vote in favour of approval. While the judgment of the people was so finely balanced, Gracchus was terribly alarmed, as if his life was in danger; but when he heard that he had won by a margin of just one vote, he cried out in elation, "The sword is hanging over the heads of our enemies, and for the rest, we will be pleased with whatever fortune will grant us."

[28] G   Alexander, who had no confidence in the multitude, in regard to both their inexperience of warfare, and also their habitual inconstancy and craving for change, did not venture upon a pitched battle. Having got together as much money as he could out of the royal treasuries, and pillaged the temples, he resolved to slip away by night towards Greece. But he was detected while he was attempting, with the help of some of his barbarians, to plunder the temple of Zeus; and he and his accomplices almost suffered the instant punishment that they deserved. However he managed to escape with a few followers, and headed towards Seleuceia. The Seleuceians, who had heard about the sacrilege he had committed, shut their gates against him; so having failed in this attempt also, he hurried along the sea coast towards Posideium.

2 G   Alexander, after looting the temple, fled to Posideium. He seemed to be pursued by an invisible demon, which tracked his steps and constantly worked to ensnare him in the punishment that he so richly deserved. In fact, two days after his sacrilege, he was arrested and taken to the camp of Antiochus. Such is the inescapable power of avenging justice, which pursues those guilty of brazen impiety; for punishment relentlessly hunts down the wicked, bringing swift revenge. Once king and head of an army of forty thousand men, now he was led shackled and exposed to the insults and revenge of his enemies.

3 G   When Alexander, king of Syria, was put in chains and led through the camp, it seemed incredible, not only to those who heard about it, but even to those who saw it themselves; for the unexpectedness of the event almost overcame the evidence of their senses. After they had convinced themselves by watching that it was really true, they all went away from the sight in amazement. Some in frequent exclamations of approval praised the power of destiny; others remarked in various ways on the fickleness of fate, the reversals in human fortunes, and the speed of transformations; they observed how changeable life can be, far beyond anyone's expectations.

[28a] G   Gracchus opposed them with many supporters; but as his situation became steadily worse, and he met with unexpected failure, he fell into a depression and a manic mood. He gathered his fellow conspirators at his own house, and after consulting with Flaccus, he decided that it was necessary to overcome his opponents by force, and to use violence against the magistrates and the senate. Therefore he urged them all to carry swords under their togas, and to follow him, awaiting his orders. While Opimius was deliberating on the Capitol about a suitable course of action, Gracchus rushed there with his disaffected followers; but when he found that the temple had already been occupied and that a crowd of nobles had gathered there, he went away to the portico behind the temple, in a despondent and tormented mood. An acquaintance of his called Quintus fell at his knees, while he was raging in this way, and begged him not to take any violent or desperate action against his fatherland. But Gracchus, who was already starting to behave like a tyrant, threw him face down onto the ground, and ordered his followers to slay him, making this the start of their revenge against their enemies. The consul was shocked, and he informed the senate about the murder and the intended attack on them.

[29] G   After Gracchus had been killed by his own slave, Lucius Vitellius, who had been one of his friends, was the first to come across his body; and was so far from being troubled at his death, that he cut off his head, and carried it to his own house, thereby giving a remarkable instance of his cruelty and covetousness. For when the consul {Opimius} by proclamation promised to reward anyone that should bring him the head {of Gracchus}, with its weight in gold, Vitellius bored a hole in the neck, and drawing out the brain, poured in molten lead in its place. Then he brought the head to Opimius, and returned with the promised reward; but he was hated by everyone for the rest of his life, because he had betrayed his friend. The Flacci were likewise put to death.

{At this point, two pages of the collection "De Sententiis" are almost illegible, and therefore only a few words or phrases survive from the following fragments.}

[30] G   Flaccus . . . this lawlessness . . .

[30a] G   The (?) Scordisci took a large amount of booty and thereby persuaded many others to adopt the same policy, as if robbing others' property and ravaging by force . . . was conduct befitting brave men. They thought that strong men are merely confirming the law of nature when they seize the property of weaker men.

[30b] G   The Scordisci later, by blocking (?) the way through, showed that even the power of the Roman rested not in their own strength, but in the weakness of others.

[30c] G   Although intelligence may seem to be master of everything, it is surpassed by one thing alone: fortune. [Plans that are conceived] by an astute and clever mind can be unexpectedly ruined by capricious fortune. On the other hand, plans that have been discarded in folly . . . can succeed, contrary to everyone's expectations. As a result, men who are favoured by fortune can enjoy continual success in almost every enterprise; but those who are opposed by fortune are thwarted every time in each of their ventures, and these men can be seen . . .

[31] G   In Libya the two kings drew up their armies one against another, and Jugurtha routed the Numidians in a battle, slaying many of them. His brother Adherbal after fleeing to Cirta, where he was shut in and besieged, sent envoys to Rome to entreat the Romans not to abandon a king, who was their friend and ally, in grave danger. The senate forthwith sent messengers to Numidia with orders that the siege should be raised. When Jugurtha disregarded this message, the Romans sent more envoys vested with greater authority; but they achieved as little as the previous envoys. At length Jugurtha, digging a trench around the city, forced it into surrender through starvation. Then he most unnaturally slew his own brother, as he was going out of the city with his children and abdicating from his kingdom. Adherbal begged him only to spare his life, but Jugurtha disregarded both the affection due to family, and the respect due to suppliants. He also tortured and killed all the Italians who had fought alongside his brother.

[32] G   Jugurtha, the king of the Numidians, marvelled at the courage of the Romans and praised their virtues. He said to his own friends that with such men he could . . . through the whole of Africa . . .

[32a] G   When news arrived of the death of (?) Cassius and his army . . . the city was filled with much uproar and wailing; for many children were orphaned . . . and not a few brothers . . .

[33] G   Publius Scipio Nasica, the consul, was a man renowned for both his virtue and his nobleness of birth; for he was descended from the same family as Africanus, Asiaticus and Hispanus; of whom the first conquered Africa, the second Asia, and the third Spain; and each of them earned their surname through their achievements. In addition to the glory attached to the whole family, his father and his grandfather had been the most eminent men of the city; for both of them were leaders of the senate - the first to express their opinions in all debates - up to the time of their deaths. His grandfather upon one occasion was judged by the senate the best man of all the Roman citizens. 2 For it was found written in the Sibylline oracles that the Romans should build a temple in honour of the great mother of the gods {Magna Mater}, and should bring her sacred images from Pessinus in Asia; and that all the people should go out of the city to meet them; and that the best man should lead the men, and the best woman be at the head of the women, when they received the images of the goddess. The senate performed all that was prescribed in the oracles; they judged Publius Nasica to be the best man, and Valeria the best woman.

3 G   He was not only eminent for his piety towards the gods, but also a good statesman, who expressed his views intelligently. For Marcus Cato, who was given the name Demosthenes, whenever he delivered his opinion in the senate always repeated that Carthage must be destroyed, even if the senate was debating some other, unrelated matter; but Publius Nasica was ever of the opposite opinion, that Carthage should be preserved, 4 Both of these opinions seemed to the senate to be worthy of consideration; but the most acute thinkers amongst them preferred the opinion of Nasica. For they conceived that the power and grandeur of the Romans should be judged, not by comparison with the feebleness of others, but rather by their superiority over even the strongest states. 5 Besides, while Carthage stood, the fear of that city would force the Romans to remain in peace and concord among themselves, and they would govern their subjects with more moderation and clemency; these are the things which usually strengthen and enlarge empires. But if the rival city {Carthage} was destroyed, what could they expect but civil wars amongst the Romans themselves, and hatred of their leadership amongst the allies, who would suffer from the greed and insolence of the Roman magistrates.

6 G   All of this accordingly happened to the Romans after the destruction of Carthage. For turbulent demagogues, redistribution of land, grievous revolts of allies, continual and destructive civil wars, and all the other misfortunes which Publius Scipio foretold, came to pass. His son Nasica afterwards, when he was well advanced in years, acted as leader of the senate and with his own hands killed Tiberius Gracchus, who was aiming at tyrannical power. 7 This caused uproar amongst the common people, who were provoked to rage against those responsible for the death of Gracchus. The tribunes of the people, bringing all the senators one by one to the rostra, asked them who had killed him; every one of them, fearing violence from the people, denied the facts, and gave vague answers. But when it came to Nasica, he admitted that he had killed him with his own hand; and further declared, that the ambition of Gracchus to seize absolute power had not been obvious to others, but it was very well known to him and the senate. Whereupon the people, though they were much troubled at what had happened, yet were moved by the boldness and authority of the man; and so they refrained from further action. 8 This Scipio Nasica likewise, the son of the former Nasica, who died in this year, maintained an incorruptible character throughout his life; he took part in public affairs, and showed himself to be a philosopher, not only in words, but genuinely in the way he lived; so that he inherited a reputation for virtue in keeping with his ancestors.

[34] G   Antiochus Cyzicenus, as soon as he gained possession of the kingdom, applied himself to drinking and luxury, and behaviour altogether unbecoming for a king. For being extremely addicted to mimes, stage players and all kinds of conjurers, he learned their arts with great eagerness; he applied himself also to puppet-playing, and moving models of living creatures, five cubits high, which were covered over with gold and silver, and other contrivances of that sort. But he did not own any helepoleis or other siege engines, the possession of which would have brought him great renown, as well as being of practical use. Moreover, he was much addicted to inappropriate hunting, and often would steal out secretly by night, with a servant or two, to hunt boars, lions and leopards; so that many times he was in danger of his life by rashly encountering these wild beasts.

[35] G   Micipsa, son of Masinissa king of Numidia, had many children; but above them all he loved Adherbal his eldest, and Hiempsal and Micipsa. Micipsa was the most cultivated of all the kings of Numidia, and summoned the most learned of the Greeks to join him. He spent his time with them in improving himself in all sorts of learning, especially in philosophy; and he maintained his kingdom, together with his study of philosophy, until his old age.

[35a] G   Another Jugurtha {Massiva?}, a member of the royal family, came to Rome and made a rival claim to be king of Numidia. Since he was gaining an extremely good reputation, Jugurtha hired some murderers and secretly killed him; after this, without anyone preventing him, he returned to his kingdom.

[36] G   Contoniatus, the chieftain of Iontora in Gaul, was eminent for his prudence and skill in warfare. He was a friend and an ally of the Romans; for he had previously spent some time in Rome, and so shared in their virtue and liberal education. It was with the help of the Romans that he had gained power in Gaul.

[37] G   . . . of Carbo and Silanus. After so many men had been killed, some were crying for sons or brothers; others, orphaned by the death of their fathers, lamented the loss of their parents and the desolation of Italy; and a very large number of women, deprived of their husbands, were turned into poor widows. But the senate, enduring this misfortune with great magnanimity, put an end to so much wailing and crying; although they had suffered greatly from the disaster, they preferred to conceal the grief.

[38] G   Caius Marius, one of the counsellors and legates, was slighted by the proconsul, as being one of the humblest amongst them. The rest who were of eminent birth, and great reputation, were honoured and respected by the proconsul. But as for Marius, who was said to have been a tax-farmer, and had struggled to get into the lowest rank amongst the magistrates, Metellus paid no attention to him. Though in truth, all the rest loved their ease and avoided the unpleasantness of fighting; but Marius, having been often employed as leader of dangerous operations during the wars, seemed (?) to welcome this lack of respect. By applying himself to the tasks that he was given, he became a most expert soldier; 2 and because he was naturally of a warlike spirit, and faced danger without flinching, in a short time he acheived a great reputation for bravery. His fairness and generosity towards the soldiers, and his affable conduct in all his meetings with those who were under his command, gained the affection of all the soldiers. In return for his kindness, they fought more courageously, when they were under his command, so as to increase the honour and reputation of their general; but if any other at any time happened to be sent to command them, the soldiers would deliberately fight more weakly at the very height of the battle. As a result, the Romans were often defeated, when one of the others commanded the army; but when Marius was general, they were always victorious.

[39] G   Bocchus, king of Libya, having sharply rebuked those who had persuaded him to make war upon the Romans, sent envoys to Marius. He begged pardon for his past offences, and since he desired to enter into an alliance, made many promises to provide assistance to the Romans in future. Marius ordered him to send a deputation to the senate, to treat of these matters; and accordingly the king sent envoys to Rome. The senate replied to them that Bocchus would in every respect be received into grace and favour, if he won the support of Marius. Realising that Marius was anxious to take Jugurtha the king as prisoner, Bocchus sent for Jugurtha, as if he wished to discuss some business of concern to them both. Then he seized him, and delivered him bound to Lucius Sulla the quaestor, who had been sent out for that purpose; and so, by the downfall of Jugurtha, he bought his own safety, and escaped punishment from the Romans.

[39a] G   When the elder Ptolemaeus was shut up in the city of Seleuceia, one of his friends formed a plot against him. Ptolemaeus captured the plotter and punished him; but after that, he no longer had complete trust in his friends.

Book 36


Attalus' home page   |   20.02.14   |   Any comments?