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Appian's History of Rome: The Punic Wars §§66-70


Legionary standard (of XXX Ulpia Traiana reenactment group). Photo Jona Lendering.
Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165) is the author of a Roman History and one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians. Although only his books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of other books have also come down to us. His account of the Punic Wars, which deals with the wars in Africa, is fortunately among these better preserved parts.

The translation was made by Horace White; footnotes and additions in green by Jona Lendering.


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  [§66] The form of the triumph (which the Romans continue to employ) was as follows: All who were in the procession wore crowns. Trumpeters led the advance and wagons laden with spoils. Towers were borne along representing the captured cities, and pictures showing the exploits of the war; then gold and silver coin and bullion, and whatever else they had captured of that kind; then came the crowns that had been given to the general as a reward for his bravery by cities, by allies, or by the army itself. White oxen came next, and after them elephants and the captive Carthaginian and Numidian chiefs. Lictors clad in purple tunics preceded the general; also a chorus of musicians and pipers, in imitation of an Etruscan procession, wearing belts and golden crowns, and they march evenly with song and dance. They call themselves Lydi because, as I think, the Etruscans were a Lydian colony.[1] One of these, in the middle of the procession, wearing a purple cloak and golden bracelets and necklace, caused laughter by making various gesticulations, as though he were insulting the enemy.

Next came a lot of incense bearers, and after them the general himself on a chariot embellished with various designs, wearing a crown of gold and precious stones, and dressed, according to the fashion of the country, in a purple toga embroidered with golden stars. He bore a scepter of ivory, and a laurel branch, which is always the Roman symbol of victory.

Riding in the same chariot with him were boys and girls, and on horses on either side of him young men, his own relatives. Then followed those who had served him in the war as secretaries, aids, and armor-bearers. After these came the army arranged in companies and cohorts, all of them crowned and carrying laurel branches, the bravest of them bearing their military prizes. They praised some of their captains, derided others, and reproached others; for in a triumph everybody is free, and is allowed to say what he pleases. When [Publius Cornelius] Scipio arrived at the Capitol the procession came to an end, and he entertained his friends at a banquet in the temple.

[§67] Thus the second war between the Romans and the Carthaginians, which began in Spain and terminated in Africa with the aforesaid treaty, came to an end. This was about the 144th Olympiad according to the Greek reckoning. Presently Massinissa, being incensed against the Carthaginians and relying on the friendship of the Romans, seized a considerable part of the territory belonging to the former on the ground that it had once belonged to himself.

[195] The Carthaginians appealed to the Romans to bring Massinissa to terms. The Romans accordingly sent arbitrators, but told them to favor Massinissa as much as they could. Thus Massinissa appropriated a part of the Carthaginian territory and made a treaty with them which lasted about fifty years, during which Carthage, blessed with peace, advanced greatly in population and wealth by reason of the fertility of her soil and the profits of her commerce.

[§68] [193] By and by (as frequently happens in periods of prosperity) factions arose [in Carthage]. There was a Roman party, a democratic party, and a party which favored Massinissa as king. Each had leaders of eminence in position and in bravery. Hanno the Great was the leader of the pro-Roman faction; Hannibal, surnamed the Starling, was the chief of those who favored Massinissa; and Hamilcar, surnamed the Samnite, and Carthalo, of the democrats.

[c.180] The latter party, watching their opportunity while the Romans were at war with the Celtiberians, and Massinissa was marching to the aid of his son, who was surrounded by other Spanish forces, persuaded Carthalo (the commander of auxiliaries and in discharge of that office going about the country) to attack the subjects of Massinissa, whose tents were on disputed territory. Accordingly he slew some of them, carried off booty, and incited the rural Africans against the Numidians. Many other hostile acts took place on both sides, until the Romans again sent envoys to restore peace, telling them as before to help Massinissa secretly. They artfully confirmed Massinissa in the possession of what he had taken before, in this way. They would neither say anything nor listen to anything, so that Massinissa might not be worsted in the controversy, but they passed between the two litigants with outstretched hands, and this was their way of commanding both to keep the peace.

[173] Not long afterward Massinissa raised a dispute about the land known as the "big fields" and the country belonging to fifty towns, which is called Tysca. Again the Carthaginians had recourse to the Romans. Again the latter promised to send envoys to arbitrate the matter, but they delayed until it seemed probable that the Carthaginian interests would be utterly ruined.

[§69] [157] At length they sent the envoys, and among others [Marcus Porcius] Cato. These went to the disputed territory and they asked that both parties should submit all their differences to them. Massinissa, who was grabbing more than his share and who had confidence in the Romans, consented. The Carthaginians hesitated, because their former experience had led them to fear that they should not receive justice. They said therefore that it was of no use to have a new dispute and a correction of the treaty made with [Publius Cornelius] Scipio, they only complained about transgressions of the treaty. As the envoys would not consent to arbitrate on the controversy in parts, they returned home.

But they carefully observed the country; they saw how diligently it was cultivated, and what great estates it possessed. They entered the city and saw how greatly it had increased in wealth and population since its overthrow by Scipio not long before. When they returned to Rome they declared that Carthage was to them an object of apprehension rather than of jealousy, the city being so ill affected, so near them, and growing so rapidly. Cato especially said that even the liberty of Rome would never be secure until Carthage was destroyed.

When the Senate learned these things it resolved upon war but waited for a pretext, and meanwhile concealed the intention. It is said that Cato, from that time, continually expressed the opinion in the Senate that Carthage must be destroyed. [Publius Cornelius] Scipio Nasica held the contrary opinion that Carthage ought to be spared so that the Roman discipline, which was already relaxing, might be preserved through fear of her.

[§70] [152] The democratic faction in Carthage sent the leaders of the party favoring Massinissa into banishment, to the number of about forty, and confirmed it by a vote and an oath that they should never be taken back, and that the question of taking them back should never be discussed. The banished took refuge with Massinissa and urged him to declare war. He, nothing loath, sent his two sons, Gulussa and Micipsa, to Carthage to demand that those who had been expelled on his account should be taken back.

When they came to the city gates the boëtharch warned them off, fearing lest the relatives of the exiles should prevail with the multitude by their tears. When Gulussa was returning Hamilcar the Samnite set upon him, killed some of his attendants, and thoroughly frightened him. Thereupon Massinissa, making this an excuse, laid siege to the town of Oroscopa, which he desired to possess contrary to the treaty.

[150] The Carthaginians with 25,000 foot and 400 city horse under Hasdrubal, their boëtharch, marched against Massinissa. At their approach, Asasis and Suba, Massinissa's lieutenants, on account of some difference with his sons, deserted with 6,000 horse. Encouraged by this accession, Hasdrubal moved his forces nearer to the king and in some skirmishes gained the advantage. But Massinissa by stratagem retired little by little as if in flight, until he had drawn him into a great desert surrounded by hills and crags, and destitute of provisions. Then turning about he pitched his camp in the open plain. Hasdrubal drew up among the hills as being a stronger position.

Appian   :   Roman History   :   Punic wars   :   part 15
Note 1:
A common idea in Antiquity, for the first time expressed by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus.
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