Titus Livius.

The History of Rome, Books 27 to 36 online

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the beginning of unjust impositions was always made in the case of
matters of little consequence; unless, indeed, it could be supposed,
that the Persians, when they demanded earth and water from the
Lacedaemonians, stood in need of a scrap of the land or a draught of
the water. The proceedings of the Romans, respecting the two cities,
were meant as a trial of the same sort. The rest of the states, when
they saw that two had shaken off the yoke, would go over to the party
of that nation which professed the patronage of liberty. If freedom
was not actually preferable to servitude, yet the hope of bettering
their circumstances by a change, was more flattering to every one than
any present situation."

18. There was, in the council, an Acarnanian named Alexander, who had
formerly been a friend of Philip, but had lately left him, to follow
the more opulent court of Antiochus. And as being well skilled in
the affairs of Greece, and not unacquainted with the Romans, he was
admitted by the king into such a degree of intimacy, that he shared
even in his secret councils. As if the question to be considered were
not, whether there should be war or not, but where and in what manner
it should be carried on, he affirmed, that "he saw an assured prospect
of victory, provided the king would pass into Europe and choose some
part of Greece for the seat of war. In the first place, the Aetolians,
who lived in the centre of Greece, would be found in arms, ready
to take the lead in the most perilous operations. Then, in the two
extremities of Greece, Nabis, on the side of Peloponnesus, would put
every thing in motion, to recover the city of Argos, and the maritime
cities, from which he had been expelled by the Romans, and pent up
within the walls of Lacedaemon: while, on the side of Macedonia,
Philip would be ready for the field the moment he heard the alarm
sounded. He knew," he said, "his spirit, he knew his temper; he knew
that, (as in the case with wild beasts, confined by bars or chains,)
for a long time past, he had been revolving the fiercest resentments
in his breast. He remembered, also, how often, during the war,
that prince had prayed to all the gods to grant him Antiochus as an
assistant; and, if that prayer were now heard with favour, he would
not hesitate an instant to resume his arms. It was only requisite that
there should be no delay, no procrastination; for success depended
chiefly on securing beforehand commodious posts and proper allies:
besides, Hannibal ought to be sent immediately into Africa, in order
to distract the attention of the Romans."

19. Hannibal was not called to this consultation, having income
suspected by the king, and not having subsequently been held in any
honour, on account of his conferences with Villius, and he had not
since shown him any mark of regard. This affront, at first, he bore
in silence; but afterwards thought it better to take some proper
opportunity to inquire the reason of the king's suddenly withdrawing
his favour, and to clear himself of blame. Without any preface, he
asked the cause of the king's displeasure; and having heard it, said,
"Antiochus, when I was yet an infant, my father, Hamilcar, at a time
when he was offering sacrifice, brought me up to the altars, and made
me take an oath, that I never would be a friend to the Roman people.
Under the obligation of this oath, I carried arms against them for
thirty-six years; this oath, on peace being made, drove me out of my
country, and brought me an exile to your court; and this oath shall
guide me, should you disappoint my hopes, until I traverse every
quarter of the globe, where I can understand that there are resources,
to find out enemies to the Romans. If, therefore, your courtiers have
conceived the idea of ingratiating themselves with you by insinuating
suspicions of me, let them seek some means of advancing their
reputation otherwise than at my expense. I hate, and am hated by, the
Romans. That I speak the truth in this, my father, Hamilcar, and
the gods are witnesses. Whenever, therefore, you shall employ your
thoughts on a plan of waging war with Rome, consider Hannibal as one
of your firmest friends. If circumstances force you to adopt peaceful
measures, on such a subject employ some one else with whom to
deliberate." This discourse not only affected the king much, but even
reconciled him to Hannibal. They departed from the council with the
resolution that the war should be undertaken.

20. At Rome, people in their conversations anticipated, indeed,
Antiochus as an enemy, but they had hitherto prepared nothing for such
a war but their expectations. Italy was decreed the province of both
the consuls, who received directions to settle between themselves, or
draw lots, which of them should preside at the elections of the
year; and it was ordered, that he who should be disengaged from that
business, should hold himself in readiness, in case there should be
occasion, to lead the legions any where out of that country. To the
said consul, permission was given to levy two new legions, and twenty
thousand foot, and nine hundred horse, among the allies and Latin
confederates. To the other consul were decreed the two legions which
had been commanded by Lucius Cornelius, consul of the preceding year;
and from the same army, a body of allies and Latins, amounting to
fifteen thousand foot and five hundred horse. Quintus Minucius was
continued in command, with the forces which he then had in Liguria; as
a supplement to which, four thousand Roman foot and five hundred horse
were ordered to be enlisted, and five thousand foot and two hundred
and fifty horse to be demanded from the allies. The duty of departing
from Italy, whithersoever the senate should order, fell to Cneius
Domitius; Gaul, and the holding the elections, to Lucius Quinctius.
The praetors then cast lots for their provinces: to Marcus Fulvius
Centumalus fell the city jurisdiction; to Lucius Scribonius Libo,
the foreign; Lucius Valerius Tappus obtained Sicily; Quintus Salonius
Sarra, Sardinia; Marcus Baebius Tamphilus, Hither Spain; and Marcus
Atilius Serranus, Farther Spain. But the provinces of the two last
were changed, first by a decree of the senate, which was afterwards
confirmed by an order of the people. The fleet and Macedonia were
assigned to Atilius; Bruttium to Baebius. Flaminius and Fulvius were
continued in command in both the Hither and Farther Spain. To Baebius
Tamphilus, for the business of Bruttium, were decreed the two legions
which had served in the city the year before; and he was ordered to
demand from the allies, for the same service, fifteen thousand foot
and five hundred horse. Atilius was ordered to build thirty ships of
five banks of oars: to bring out, from the docks, any old ones that
were fit for service, and to raise seamen. An order was also given to
the consul, to supply him with two thousand of the allied and Latin
footmen, and a thousand Roman. The destination of these two praetors,
and their two armaments, one on land and the other on sea, was
declared to be intended against Nabis, who was now carrying on open
hostilities against the allies of the Roman people. But it was thought
proper to wait the return of the ambassadors sent to Antiochus, and
the senate ordered the consul Cneius Domitius not to leave the city
until they arrived.

21. The praetors, Fulvius and Scribonius, whose province was the
administration of justice at Rome, were charged to provide a hundred
quinqueremes, besides the fleet which Atilius was to command. Before
the consul and praetors set out for their provinces, a supplication
was performed on account of some prodigies. A report was brought from
Picenum, that a goat had produced six kids at a birth. It was said
that a boy was born at Arretium who had but one hand; that, at
Amiternum, a shower of earth fell; a gate and wall at Formiae were
struck by lightning; and, what was more alarming than all, an ox,
belonging to the consul, Cneius Domitius, spoke these words, - "Rome,
take care of thyself." To expiate the other prodigies, a supplication
was performed; the ox was ordered by the aruspices to be carefully
preserved and fed. The Tiber, pouring into the city with more
destructive violence than last year, swept away two bridges, and
many buildings, particularly about the Flumentan gate. A huge rock,
loosened from its seat, either by the rains, or by an earthquake so
slight that no other effect of it was perceived, tumbled down from the
Capitol into the Jugarian street, and buried many people under it.
In the country, many parts of which were overflowed, much cattle
was carried away, and a great destruction of farm houses took place.
Previous to the arrival of the consul, Lucius Quinctius, in his
province Quintus Minucius fought a pitched battle with the Ligurians,
in the territory of Pisae, slew nine thousand of the enemy, and
putting the rest to flight, drove them within their works, which were
assaulted and defended in an obstinate contest until night came on.
During the night, the Ligurians stole away unobserved; and, at the
first dawn, the Romans took possession of their deserted camp, where
the quantity of booty found was the less, because the enemy frequently
sent home the spoil taken in the country. Minucius, after this,
allowed them no respite. From the territory of Pisae he marched into
that of the Ligurians, and, with fire and sword, utterly destroyed
their forts and towns, where the Roman soldiers were abundantly
enriched with the spoils of Etruria which the ravagers had sent home.

22. About this time, the ambassadors, who had been sent to the kings,
returned to Rome. As they brought no information of such a nature
as called for any immediate declaration of war, (except against the
Lacedaemonian tyrant, whom the Achaean ambassadors also represented as
invading the sea-coast of Laconia, in breach of treaty,) Atilius, the
praetor, was sent with the fleet to Greece, for the protection of the
allies. It was resolved, that, as there was nothing to be apprehended
from Antiochus at present, both the consuls should go to their
provinces; and, accordingly, Domitius marched into the country of the
Boians, by the shorter road, through Ariminum, and Quinctius through
Liguria. The two armies of the consuls, proceeding by these different
routes, spread devastation wide over the enemy's country. In
consequence of which, first a few of their horsemen, with their
commanders, then their whole senate, and at last all who possessed
either property or dignity, to the number of one thousand five
hundred, came over and joined the consuls. In both Spains, likewise,
success attended the Roman arms during this year. For, in one, Caius
Flaminius, after a siege, took Litabrum, a strong and opulent city,
and made prisoner Corribilo, a powerful chieftain; and, in the other,
Marcus Fulvius, the proconsul, fought two successful battles, with
two armies of the enemy. He captured Vescelia and Holo, two towns
belonging to the Spaniards, with many of their forts, and others
spontaneously revolted to him. Then, advancing into the territory of
Oretum, and having, there also, taken two cities, Noliba and Cusibis,
he proceeded to the river Tagus. Here stood Toletum, a small city,
but strong from its situation. While he was besieging this place,
a numerous army of Vectonians came to relieve the Toletans, but
he overthrew them in a general engagement, and having defeated the
Vectonians, took Toletum by means of his works.

23. At this juncture the wars in which they were actually engaged,
caused not so great anxiety in the minds of the senate, as the
expectation of one with Antiochus, which had not yet commenced. For
although, through their ambassadors, they had, from time to time,
made careful inquiries into every particular, yet rumours, rashly
propagated without authentic foundation, intermixed many falsehoods
with the truth. Among the rest, a report was spread, that Antiochus
intended, as soon as he should come into Aetolia, to send a fleet
immediately into Sicily. The senate, therefore, though they had
already despatched the praetor, Atilius, with a squadron to Greece,
yet, considering that not only a military force, but also the
influence of reputation, would be necessary towards securing the
attachment of the allies, they sent into Greece, in quality of
ambassadors, Titus Quinctius, Caius Octavius, Cneius Servilius, and
Publius Villius; at the same time ordering, in their decree, that
Marcus Baebius should lead forward his legions from Bruttium to
Tarentum and Brundusium, so that, if occasion required, he might
transport them thence into Macedonia. They also ordered, that Marcus
Fulvius, the praetor, should send a fleet of thirty ships to protect
the coast of Sicily; and that, whoever had the direction of that
fleet, should be invested with supreme authority. To this commission
was appointed Lucius Oppius Salinator, who had been plebeian aedile
the year before. They likewise determined, that the same praetor
should write to his colleague, Lucius Valerius, that "there was reason
to apprehend that the ships of king Antiochus would pass over from
Aetolia to Sicily; for which reason the senate judged it proper, that,
in addition to the army which he then had, he should enlist tumultuary
soldiers, to the number of twelve thousand foot and four hundred
horse, with which he might be able to defend that coast of his
province which lay next to Greece." This enlistment the praetor
carried on, not only from Sicily, but from the circumjacent islands;
and strengthened all the towns on the coast which lay opposite to
Greece with garrisons. To the rumours already current, the arrival of
Attalus, the brother of Eumenes, added confirmation, for he brought
intelligence that king Antiochus had crossed the Hellespont with
his army, and that the Aetolians were putting themselves into such a
posture, that by the time of his arrival they would be in arms.
Thanks were given to Eumenes, in his absence, and to Attalus, who
was present; and there were decreed to him free lodgings and every
accommodation; that he should be presented with two horses, two suits
of horsemen's armour, vases of silver to a hundred pounds' weight, and
of gold to twenty pounds.

24. As one messenger after another brought intelligence that the war
was on the point of breaking out, it was judged expedient that consuls
should be elected as soon as possible. Wherefore the senate passed a
decree, that the praetor, Marcus Fulvius, should instantly despatch
a letter to the consul, informing him, that it was the will of the
senate that he should leave the command of the province and army to
his lieutenant-generals, and return to Rome; and that, when on the
road, he should send on before him an edict appointing the assemblies
for the election of consuls. The consul complied with the letter; and
having sent forward the edict, arrived at Rome. There was, this
year also, a warm competition, three patricians suing for one
place: Publius Cornelius Scipio, son to Cneius, who had suffered a
disappointment the year before, Lucius Cornelius Scipio, and Cneius
Manlius Vulso. The consulship was conferred on Publius Scipio, that it
might appear that the honour had only been delayed, and not refused to
a person of such character. The plebeian colleague, joined with him,
was Manius Acilius Glabrio. Next day were created praetors, Lucius
Aemilius Paulus, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Marcus Junius Brutus, Aulus
Cornelius Mammula, Caius Livius, and Lucius Oppius; the two last,
both of them, surnamed Salinator. This was the same Oppius who
had conducted the fleet of thirty ships to Sicily. While the new
magistrates were settling the distribution of their provinces, orders
were despatched to Marcus Baebius to pass over, with all his forces,
from Brundusium to Epirus, and to keep the army stationed near
Apollonia; and Marcus Fulvius, city praetor, was commissioned to build
fifty new quinqueremes.

25. Such were the precautions taken by the Roman people to guard
against every attempt of Antiochus. At this time, Nabis did not
procrastinate hostilities, but, with his utmost force, carried on the
siege of Gythium; and, being incensed against the Achaeans, for having
sent succours to the besieged, he ravaged their lands. The Achaeans
would not venture to engage in war, until their ambassadors should
come back from Rome, and acquaint them with the sentiments of the
senate: but as soon as these returned, they summoned a council at
Sicyon, and also sent deputies to Titus Quinctius to ask his advice.
In the council, all the members were inclined to vote for an immediate
declaration of war; but a letter from Titus Quinctius, in which he
recommended waiting for the Roman praetor and fleet, caused some
hesitation. While some of the principal members persisted in their
first opinion, and others argued that they ought to follow the counsel
of the person to whom they of themselves had applied for advice,
the generality waited to hear the sentiments of Philopoemen. He was
praetor of Achaia at the time, and surpassed all his contemporaries
both in wisdom and influence. He first observed, that "it was a wise
rule, established among the Achaeans, that their praetor, when he
proposed a question concerning war, should not himself declare an
opinion:" and then he desired them to "fix their determination among
themselves as soon as possible;" assuring them, that "their praetor
would faithfully and carefully carry their decrees into execution;
and would use his best endeavours, that, as far as depended on human
prudence, they should not repent either of peace or war." These words
had more influence in inciting them to war, than if, by openly arguing
in favour of it, he had betrayed an eager desire for the management
of it. War was therefore unanimously resolved on: the time and mode
of conducting it were left to the praetor without restriction.
Philopoemen's own judgment, indeed, besides it being the opinion of
Quinctius, pointed it out as best to wait for the Roman fleet, which
might succour Gythium by sea; but fearing that the business would not
endure delay, and that not only Gythium, but the party which had been
sent to protect the city, would fall into the hands of the enemy, he
drew out the ships of the Achaeans.

26. The tyrant also, with the view of cutting off any supplies that
might be brought to the besieged by sea, had fitted out a small
squadron, consisting of only three ships of war, with some barks
and cutters, as his former fleet had been given up to the Romans,
according to the treaty. In order to try the activity of these
vessels, as they were then new, and, at the same time, to have every
thing in fit condition for a battle, he put out to sea every day, and
exercised both the rowers and marines in mock-fights; for he thought
that all his hopes of succeeding in the siege depended on the
circumstance of his cutting off all supplies by sea. The praetor of
the Achaeans, in respect of skill for conducting operations on land,
was equal to any of the most celebrated commanders both in capacity
and experience, yet with naval affairs he was quite unacquainted.
Being an inhabitant of Arcadia, an inland country, he was ignorant
even of all foreign affairs, excepting that he had once served in
Crete as commander of a body of auxiliaries. There was an old ship of
four banks of oars, which had been taken eighty years before, as it
was conveying Nicaea, the wife of Craterus, from Naupactum to Corinth.
Led by the reputation of this ship, for it had formerly been reckoned
a very famous vessel when in the king's fleet, he ordered it, though
now quite rotten, and falling asunder through age, to be brought out
from Aegium. The fleet sailed with this ship at its head, Tiso of
Patrae, the commander, being on board it, when the ships of the
Lacedaemonians from Gythium came within view. At the first shock,
against a new and firm vessel, that old one, which before admitted the
water through every joint, was shattered to pieces, and the whole crew
were made prisoners. On the loss of the commander's ship, the rest of
the fleet fled as fast as each could by means of its oars. Philopoemen
himself made his escape in a light advice-boat, nor did he stop his
flight until he arrived at Patrae. This untoward event did not in the
least damp the spirit of a man so well versed in military affairs, and
who had experienced so many vicissitudes of fortune. On the contrary,
as he had failed of success in the naval line, in which he had no
experience, he even conceived, thence, the greater hopes of succeeding
in another, wherein he had acquired knowledge; and he affirmed, that
he would quickly put an end to the tyrant's rejoicing.

27. Nabis, being both elated by this adventure, and entertaining a
confident hope that he had not now any danger to apprehend from the
sea, resolved to shut up the passages on the land also, by parties
stationed in proper posts. With this view, he drew off a third part of
his forces from the siege of Gythium, and encamped them at Pleiae, a
place which commands both Leucae and Acriae, on the road by which the
enemy's army seemed likely to advance. While his quarters were here,
and very few of his men had tents, (the generality of them having
formed huts of reeds interwoven, and which they covered with leaves
of trees, to serve merely as a shelter,) Philopoemen, before he came
within sight, resolved to surprise him by an attack of such a kind
as he did not expect. He drew together some small ships in a remote
creek, on the coast of the territory of Argos, and embarked on board
them a body of light-armed soldiers, mostly targeteers, furnished with
slings, javelins, and other light kinds of weapons. He then coasted
along the shore, until he came to a promontory near Nabis's post. Here
he landed; and made his way, by night, through paths with which he was
well acquainted, to Pleiae, and while the sentinels were fast asleep,
as being in no immediate apprehension, he set fire to the huts in
every part of the camp. Great numbers perished in the flames before
they could discover the enemy's arrival, and those who did discover
it could give no assistance; so that nearly the whole was destroyed by
fire and sword. From both these means of destruction, however, a very
small number made their escape, and fled to the principal camp before
Gythium. The enemy having been thus smitten with disaster, Philopoemen
forthwith led on his forces to ravage the district of Tripolis, a part
of the Lacedaemonian territory, lying next to the frontiers of the
Megalopolitans, and carrying off thence a vast number of men and
cattle, withdrew before the tyrant could send a force from Gythium to
protect the country. He then collected his whole force at Tegea, to
which place he summoned a council of the Achaeans and their allies;
at which were present, also deputies from the Epirots and Acarnanians.
Here it was resolved, that as the minds of his men were now
sufficiently recovered from the shame of the disgrace suffered at
sea, and those of the enemy dispirited, he should march directly to
Lacedaemon; for he considered that by this measure alone could the
enemy be drawn off from the siege of Gythium. On entering the enemy's
country, he encamped the first day at Caryae; and, on that very day,
Gythium was taken. Ignorant of that event, Philopoemen advanced to the
Barbosthenes, a mountain ten miles from Lacedaemon. On the other side,
Nabis, after taking possession of Gythium, set out, at the head of a
body of light troops, marched hastily by Lacedaemon, and seized on a
place called the Camp of Pyrrhus, which post he did not doubt that
the Achaeans intended to occupy. From thence he proceeded to meet the
enemy. From the length of their train in consequence of the narrowness
of the road, they spread over a space of almost five miles. The line
was closed by the cavalry and the greatest part of the auxiliaries,
because Philopoemen expected that the tyrant would attack him in
the rear with his mercenary troops, in whom he placed his principal
confidence. Two unforeseen circumstances at once filled him with
uneasiness: one, the post at which he aimed being pre-occupied; the
other, the enemy having met him in front, where, as the road lay
through very uneven ground, he did not see how the battalions could
advance without the support of the light troops.

28. Philopoemen was possessed of an admirable degree of skill and
experience, in conducting a march, and choosing his station; having
made these points his principal study, not only in times of war, but



Online LibraryTitus LiviusThe History of Rome, Books 27 to 36 → online text (page 48 of 56)