Appian, The Wars on the Islands 1

Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165): one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians, author of a Roman History in twenty-four books.

Although only Appian's books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of the other books, devoted to Rome's foreign wars, have also come down to us. The parts on the Third Punic War, the wars in Iberia, the Illyrian Wars, and the Mithridatic Wars are very important historical sources.

Because these texts have to be reconstructed from several medieval manuscripts, not all editions of Appian's account of Rome's foreign wars are numbered in the same way. On these pages, the separate units of a book are counted strictly chronologically.

The translation was made by Horace White; notes by Jona Lendering.

A diplomatic initiative during the First Punic War

[1] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] Both Romans and Carthaginians were destitute of money;note and the Romans could no longer build ships, being exhausted by taxes, yet they levied foot soldiers and sent them to Africa and Sicily from year to year, while the Carthaginians sent an embassy to Ptolemy,note the son of Ptolemy the son of Lagus, king of Egypt, seeking to borrow 2000 talents. He was on terms of friendship with both Romans and Carthaginians, and he sought to bring about peace between them. As he was not able to accomplish this, he said: "It behooves one to assist friends against enemies, but not against friends."

End of the First Punic War

[2] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] When the Carthaginians had met with two disasters on land at the same time,note and two at sea where they had considered themselves much the superior, and were already short of money, ships, and men, they sought an armistice from Lutatiusnote and having obtained it sent an embassy to Rome to negotiate a treaty on certain limited conditions.

With their own embassy they sent Atilius Regulus,note, the consul who was their prisoner, to urge his countrymen to agree to the terms. When he came into the senate chamber, clad as a prisoner in Punic garments, and the Carthaginian ambassadors had retired, he exposed to the Senate the desperate state of Carthaginian affairs, and advised that either the war should be prosecuted vigorously, or that more satisfactory conditions of peace should be insisted on.note For this reason, after he had returned voluntarily to Carthage, the Carthaginians put him to death by enclosing him in a standing posture in a box the planks of which were stuck full of iron spikes so that he could not possibly lie down. Nevertheless peace was made on conditions more satisfactory to the Romans.

[3] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] The conditions were these: All Roman prisoners and deserters held by the Carthaginians were to be delivered up; Sicily and the small neighboring islands to be surrendered to the Romans; the Carthaginians not to initiate any war against Syracuse or its ruler, Hiero, nor to recruit mercenaries in any part of Italy; the Carthaginians to pay the Romans a war indemnity of 2000 Euboean talents in twenty years, in yearly installments payable at Rome. (The Euboean talent is equal to 7000 Alexandrine drachmas.)

So ended the first war between the Romans and the Carthaginians for the possession of Sicily, having lasted twenty-four years, in which the Romans lost 700 ships and the Carthaginians 500. In this way the chief part of Sicily (all of it that had been held by the Carthaginians) passed into the possession of the Romans. The latter levied tribute on the Sicilians, and apportioned certain naval charges among their towns, and sent a praetor each year to govern them. On the other hand Hiero, the ruler of Syracuse, who had cooperated with them in this war, was declared to be their friend and ally.

The Mercenary War

[4] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] When this war was ended,note the Gallic mercenaries demanded of the Carthaginians the pay still due to them for their service in Sicily, together with the presents that Hamilcar had promised to give them. The African soldiers, although they were Carthaginian subjects, demanded the same things, on account of their service in Sicily, and this they did the more arrogantly as they saw that the Carthaginians were weakened and humbled; they were angry also on account of the killing of 3,000 of their own number whom the Carthaginians had crucified for deserting to the Romans.

When the Carthaginians refused the demands of both Gauls and Africans, they joined together and seized the city of Tunis, and also Utica, the largest city in Africa after Carthage. Starting thence they detached the rest of Africa, and brought over to their side some Numidians, and received into their ranks a vast number of fugitive slaves, and pillaged the Carthaginian possessions in every direction.

Being pressed by enemies on all sides the Carthaginians appealed to the Romans for aid against the Africans. The Romans did not send them a military force, but allowed them to draw supplies from Italy and Sicily, and to recruit mercenaries in Italy for this war only. They also sent deputies to Africa to arrange peace if they could, but they returned without accomplishing anything. The Carthaginians prosecuted the war vigorously.

Incidents during the Second Punic War

[5] [From the Peiresc manuscript] Hippocrates and Epicydes, two brothers, were generals of the Syracusans.note They had been for a long time incensed against the Romans, and when they could not stir up their fellow-countrymen to war, they went over to the Leontines, who had some differences with the Syracusans. They accused their own countrymen of renewing a separate league with the Romans, although Hiero had made one to include the whole of Sicily. The Leontines were much stirred up by this. The Syracusans made proclamation that if anybody would bring them the head of Hippocrates or of Epicydes, they would give him its weight in gold. But the Leontines chose Hippocrates as their general.

[6] [From the Peiresc manuscript] The Sicilians, who had been for a long time embittered against the Roman general [Marcus Claudius] Marcellus, on account of his severity, were still more excited against him because he had gained entrance to Syracuse by treachery. For this reason they joined themselves to Hippocrates, and took an oath together that none of them would make peace without the others, and sent him supplies and an army of 20,000 foot and 5,000 horse.

[7] [From the Peiresc manuscript] Marcellus was in such bad odor that nobody would trust him except under oath, for which reason, when the Tauromenians gave themselves up to him, he made an agreement and confirmed it with an oath, that he would not station any guard in their city nor require the inhabitants to serve as soldiers.