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Appian's History of Rome: The Punic Wars §§106-110


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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Coin of Massinissa, showing an unidentified man and a horse.
Coin of Massinissa, showing an unidentified man and a horse (©!!)
[§106] [148] Having uttered these words, Massinissa he died. He had been a fortunate man in all respects. By divine favor he regained his ancestral kingdom, that had been snatched from him by Syphax and the Carthaginians, and extended it from Mauritania on the ocean through the continent as far as the government of Cyrene. He brought a good deal of land under cultivation where Numidian tribes had lived on herbs for want of agricultural knowledge. He left a large sum of money in his treasury and a well-disciplined army. Of his enemies he took Syphax prisoner with his own hand, and he was a cause of the destruction of Carthage, having left it a prey to the Romans, completely deprived of strength.

He was by nature tall, and very strong to extreme old age, and he participated in battles and could mount a horse without assistance to the day of his death. The strongest testimony to his robust health was, that while many children were born to him and died before him, he never had less than ten living at one time, and when he died, at the age of ninety, he left one only four years old. Such a lifetime and such strength of body had Massinissa, but he died at last.

[Publius Cornelius] Scipio [Aemilianus] made gifts to the sons of his concubines in addition to those they had already received. To each of the legitimate sons he gave treasures and revenues and the title of king. The other things he divided as he judged fitting, according to the dispositions of each. To Micipsa, the oldest, a lover of peace, he assigned the city of Cirta and the royal palace there. Gulussa, a man of warlike parts and the next in age, he made the director of matters relating to peace and war. Mastanabal, the youngest, who was learned in the law, was appointed judge to decide causes between their subjects.

 
[§107] In this way Scipio divided the government and estate of Massinissa among his children, and he brought Gulussa straightway to the aid of the Romans. The latter searched out the hiding places from which [Himilco] Phameas had inflicted such distress upon the Romans, and speedily put an end to his raids.

One wintry day Scipio and Phameas found themselves on the opposite sides of an impassable stream, where neither could do any harm to the other. Scipio, fearing lest there might be an ambuscade farther on, advanced with three companies to reconnoiter. Phameas, observing this movement, advanced with only one companion. Scipio, anticipating that Phameas wanted to say something to him, advanced further with only one.

When they had come near enough to hear each other and were at a sufficient distance from the Carthaginians, Scipio said, "Why do you not look out for your own safety since you cannot do anything for your country?"

The other replied, "What chance is there for my safety when the affairs of Carthage are in such straits and the Romans have suffered so much at my hands?"

"If you have any confidence in my word and influence," said Scipio, "I will promise you safety and pardon from the Romans and their favor besides."

Phameas praised Scipio as the most trustworthy of men, and replied, "I will think of it, and if I find that it can be done I will let you know." Then they separated.

[§108] [Consul Manius] Manilius, being ashamed of the miscarriage of his attack upon Hasdrubal, again advanced to Nepheris, taking rations for fifteen days. When he neared the place he fortified a camp with palisade and ditch as Scipio had advised on the former occasion. But he accomplished nothing and was more ashamed than before, and was again in fear of being attacked by Hasdrubal on his retreat.

While he was in this helpless state a messenger brought a letter from Gulussa's army to Scipio, which he showed to the consul under seal. Breaking the seal, they read as follows: "On such a day I will occupy such a place. Come there with as many men as you please and tell your outposts to receive one who is coming by night."

Such was the content of the letter, which was without signature, but Scipio knew that it was from Phameas. Manilius feared lest Scipio might be drawn into an ambuscade by this very versatile man; nevertheless, when he saw how confident he was, he allowed him to go and authorized him to give Phameas the strongest assurances of safety, but not to make any definite promise of reward, but to tell him that the Romans would do what was fitting.

There was no need of promises, for Phameas, when he came to the rendezvous, said that he trusted in the good faith of Scipio for his safety, and as for favors he would leave all that to the Romans. Having said this he drew up his forces on the following day in battle order, and going forward in conference with his officers as though about some other matters, he said, "If there is any chance of rendering service to our country I am ready to stand by you for that purpose, but in the state of things that exists, I am going to look out for my own safety. I have made terms for myself and for as many of you as I can persuade to join me. You have now the opportunity to consider what is for your advantage."

When he had said this, some of the officers went over to the enemy with their forces to the number of about 2,200 horse. The remainder were held together by Hanno, surnamed the White.

[§109] When Scipio was returning with Phameas the army went out to meet him and welcomed him as in a triumph. Manilius was overjoyed, and as he after this no longer considered his return disgraceful or thought that Hasdrubal would pursue him after such a stroke, he moved away for want of provisions on the seventeenth instead of the fifteenth day of the expedition. They must have three days more of suffering in their return; therefore Scipio, taking Phameas and Gulussa and their horse, together with some of the Italian cavalry, hastened to the plain called Great Barathrum and returned to the army by night laden with a great quantity of spoils and provisions.

Manilius, learning that his successor, [Lucius] Calpurnius Piso [Caesonius], was coming, sent Scipio to Rome with Phameas. The army conducted Scipio to the ship with acclamations and prayed that he might return to Africa as consul, because they thought that he alone could take Carthage, for the opinion had sprung up among them, as by divine inspiration, that only Scipio would take Carthage.

Many of them wrote to this effect to their relatives in Rome. The Senate lauded Scipio and bestowed on Phameas a purple robe with gold clasps, a horse with gold trappings, a complete suit of armor, and 10,000 drachmas of silver money. They also gave him 100 minas of silver plate and a tent completely furnished, and told him that he might expect more if he would cooperate with them to the end of the war. He promised to do so and set sail for the Roman camp in Africa.

[§110] In the early spring Calpurnius Piso, the new consul, arrived, and with him Lucius Mancinus as admiral of the fleet, but they did not attack either the Carthaginians or Hasdrubal. Marching against the neighboring towns they made an attempt on Aspis by land and sea, and were repulsed. Piso took another town nearby and destroyed it, the inhabitants accusing him of attacking them in violation of a treaty. He then moved against Hippagreta, a large city, with walls, citadel, harbor, and dockyards handsomely built by Agathocles, the tyrant of Sicily. Being situated between Carthage and Utica it intercepted the Roman supply ships and was growing rich thereby. Calpurnius thought to punish them and deprive them of their gains at the same time, but he besieged them the whole summer and accomplished nothing. Twice the inhabitants made sallies, with the aid of the Carthaginians, and burned the Roman engines. The consul, being foiled, returned to Utica and went into winter quarters.

Appian   :   Roman History   :   Punic wars   :   part 23
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