Eutropius, Short History 2

Eutropius (c.320-c.390?): Roman historian, author of a very popular Short History of the Roman Empire.

The translation of Eutropius' Short History offered here is by John Selby Watson and was published in 1886. The text was found at The notes were added by Jona Lendering.

[1] In the three hundred and sixty-fifth year after the foundation of the city,note and the first after its capture by the Gauls, the form of government was changed; and, instead of two consuls, military tribunes, invested with consular power, were created. From this time the power of Rome began to increase; for that very year Camillus reduced the state of the Volsci, which had persisted to make war for seventy years; also the cities of the Aequi and Sutrini; and, overthrowing their armies, took possession of them all; and thus enjoyed three triumphs at the same time.

[2] Titus Quintius Cincinnatus, also, having pursued the Praenestini, who had advanced in a hostile manner to the very gates of Rome, defeated them on the river Allia, annexing eight cities that were under their dominion to the Roman Empire; and, attacking Praeneste itself, forced it to surrender; all which acts were accomplished by him in the space of twenty days; and a triumph was decreed him.

[3] But the office of military tribunes did not last long; for, after a short time, it was enacted that no more should be created; and four years passed in the state in such a manner that none of the superior magistrates were appointed. The military tribunes, however, were re-instated in their office with consular authority, and continued for three years, when consuls were again elected.

[4] In the consulship of Lucius Genucius and Quintus Servilius, Camillus died, and honor next to that of Romulus was paid him.note

[5] Titus Quintius was sent out as dictator against the Gauls, who had marched into Italy; and had encamped about four miles from the city, on the other side of the river Anio, Titus Manlius, one of the noblest of the senators, encountering a Gaul who had challenged him to single combat, slew him; and, having taken from his neck a chain of gold, and put it on his own, secured the appellation of Torquatus to himself and his posterity for ever. The Gauls were repulsed, and soon afterwards entirely defeated by Caius Sulpicius the dictator.

Shortly after, the Tuscans were defeated by Caius Marcius, and eight thousand of them were taken prisoners and led in triumph.

[6] A census was again taken; and as the Latins, who had been subdued by the Romans, refused to furnish troops, recruits were levied from among the Romans only, and ten legions were raised, making sixty thousand fighting men, or upwards; so great was the power of the Romans in war, while their territory was as yet but small.

These troops having marched out against the Gauls, under the conduct of Lucius Furius Camillus, one of the Gauls challenged the most valiant among the Romans to single combat; when Marcus Valerius, a tribune of the soldiers, came forward to accept the challenge; and, as he advanced in full armour, a crow settled upon his right shoulder. Afterwards, too, when he commenced the encounter with the Gaul, the same crow, with his wings and talons, furiously assailed the Gaul's eyes, so that he was not able to see before him, and thus, being slain by the tribune Valerius, he gave him not only a victory, but a name; for he was afterwards called Corvus.note For the same service also, at the age of three and twenty, he was made consul.

[7] The Latins, who had refused to furnish troops, proceeded also to demand of the Romans, that one of the consuls should be elected from their own people, the other from the Romans; this demand having been rejected, war was commenced against them, and they were overcome in a great battle; and a triumph was celebrated on account of their defeat. Statues were erected to the consuls in the Rostra, for their service in gaining this victory.

[8] The Romans had now begun to be powerful; for a war was carried on by them against the Samnites, who hold a middle situation between Picenum, Campania, and Apulia, at the distance of nearly a hundred and thirty miles from the city. Lucius Papirius Cursor went to conduct that war with the rank of dictator, and, on returning to Rome, gave orders to Quintus Fabius Maximus, his master of the horse, whom he left in charge of the army, not to fight during his absence. He, however, seeing a favorable opportunity, commenced an engagement with great success, and utterly defeated the Samnites; he was accordingly condemned to death by the dictator, for fighting contrary to his orders, but was saved by the powerful interposition of the soldiers and people, so great a tumult having been excited against Papirius, that he was almost slain.

[9] The Samnites subsequently, in the consulate of Titus Veturius and Spurius Postumius, defeated the Romans with signal ignominy, and compelled them to pass under the yoke.note The peace, however, which had been concluded with them through mere necessity, was broken by the Senate and people. After this the Samnites were defeated by Lucius Papirius the consul, and seven thousand of them made to pass under the yoke. Papirius was granted a triumph over the Samnites. About the same time Appius Claudius the censor brought the Claudian water into the city, and made the Appian way.

The Samnites, renewing the war, defeated Quintus Fabius Maximus, with the slaughter of three thousand of his troops; but afterwards, with his father, Fabius Maximus, being appointed his lieutenant, he both defeated the Samnites, and took several of their towns.

Subsequently, Publius Cornelius Rufinus and Manius Curius Dentatus, the two consuls, being sent against the Samnites, reduced their strength in some considerable battles.note Thus they brought the war with the Samnites to an end; a war which had lasted for forty-nine years. Nor was there any enemy in Italy that put the valor of the Romans more to the test.

[2.10] After an interval of a few years, the forces of the Gauls united with the Tuscans and Samnites against the Romans; but, as they were marching to Rome, were cut off by the consul Cnaeus Cornelius Dolabella.

[11] War was at the same time proclaimed against the Tarentines (who are still a people at the extremity of Italy), because they had offered violence to some Roman ambassadors. These people asked aid against the Romans of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, who derived his origin from the family of Achilles. He soon after passed over into Italy, and it was then that the Romans fought for the first time with an enemy from beyond sea. The consul Publius Valerius Laevinus was sent against him; who, having seized some spies of Pyrrhus, ordered them to be led through the camp, and the whole army to be exhibited to them, and then to be dismissed, that they might tell Pyrrhus whatever was going on among the Romans.

An engagement taking place soon after, Pyrrhus, when on the point of fleeing, got the victory by means of his elephants, at the sight of which the Romans, to whom they were strange, were greatly terrified; but night put an end to the battle. Laevinus however fled during the night. Pyrrhus took a thousand eight hundred Romans prisoners, and treated them with the greatest honor; the slain he buried. On observing those lying dead, with their wounds in front, and with stern countenances, he is said to have lifted up his hands to heaven, exclaiming that "he might himself have been master of the whole world, if such soldiers had fallen to his lot."

[12] Pyrrhus afterwards, having united to him the Samnites, the Lucanians, and the Bruttii, proceeded towards Rome. He laid all waste with fire and sword, depopulated Campania, and advanced to Praeneste, eighteen miles from Rome. Soon after, through fear of an army which was pursuing him with a consul at its head, he fell back upon Campania. Ambassadors, who were sent to treat with Pyrrhus respecting the ransom of the captives, were honorably entertained by him; and he sent the captives back to Rome without payment.

Fabricius, one of the Roman ambassadors, he admired so much, that, finding he was poor, he endeavored to draw him over to his side with the promise of a fourth part of his kingdom, but he was repulsed with disdain by Fabricius. Pyrrhus, therefore, being struck with admiration at the character of the Romans, sent an eminent man. Cineas by name, as ambassador, to ask for peace on reasonable terms, provided that he might retain possession of that part of Italy, of which he had already become master in the war.

[13] Such terms of peace were not satisfactory, and an answer was returned by the Senate to Pyrrhus, that "he could have no peace with the Romans, unless he retired from Italy." The Romans then ordered that all the prisoners whom Pyrrhus had sent back should be considered infamous because they had suffered themselves to be taken with arms in their hands; and not to be restored to their former rank, until they had each produced the spoils of two slain enemies. Thus the ambassador of Pyrrhus returned; and, when Pyrrhus asked him "what kind of a place he had found Rome to be," Cineas replied, that "he had seen a country of kings, for that all there were such, as Pyrrhus alone was thought to be in Epirus and the rest of Greece."

The consuls Publius Sulpicius and Decius Mus were sent out as generals against Pyrrhus.  A battle being commenced, Pyrrhus was wounded, his elephants killed, twenty thousand of the enemy slain, and of the Romans only five thousand. Pyrrhus was forced to retire to Tarentum.

[14] After the lapse of a year, Fabricius was sent out against Pyrrhus, the same who, when he was before among the ambassadors, could not be won with a promise of the fourth part of his kingdom. As Fabricius and the king had their camps near to each other, the physician of Pyrrhus came to Fabricius by night, offering to despatch Pyrrhus by poison, if he would promise him some remuneration; upon which Fabricius ordered that he should be taken back in chains to his master, and that information should be given to Pyrrhus of the proposals which the physician had made against his life. The king, struck with admiration of his conduct, is reported to have exclaimed on the occasion, "That excellent Fabricius is a man who can less easily be diverted from the path of honor, than the sun from its course." Pyrrhus then departed for Sicily. Fabricius, after defeating the Samnites and Lucanians, obtained a triumph.

The consuls Manius Curius Dentatus and Cornelius Lentulus were next sent against Pyrrhus; and Curius came to an engagement with him, cut off his army, drove him back to Tarentum, and took his camp. On that day were slain twenty-three thousand of the enemy. Curius Dentatus triumphed in his consulate. He was the first that brought elephants to Rome, in number, four. Pyrrhus also soon after quitted Tarentum, and was killed at Argos, a city of Greece.

[15] In the consulship of Caius Fabricius Licinus and Caius Claudius Canina, in the four hundred and sixty-first year from the foundation of the city,note ambassadors from Alexandria, despatched by Ptolemy, arrived at Rome, and obtained from the Romans the friendship which they solicited.

[16] In the consulate of Quintus Ogulnius and Caius Fabius Pictor,note the Picenians commenced a war, and were conquered by the succeeding consuls Publius Sempronius and Appius Claudius,note and a triumph was celebrated over them. Two cities were founded by the Romans, Ariminum in Gaul, and Beneventum in Samnium.

[17] When Marcus Attilius Regulus and Lucius Junius Libo were consuls, war was declared against the Sallentines in Apulia; and the Brundusians and their city were taken, and a triumph granted on their subjugation.note

[18] In the four hundred and seventy-seventh year of the city, although the Roman name had now become famous, yet their arms had not been carried out of Italy. That it might be ascertained, therefore, what the forces of the Romans were, a census was taken. On this occasion the number of citizens was found to be two hundred and ninety-two thousand, three hundred and thirty-four, although from the founding of the city wars had never ceased.

It was then that the first war was undertaken against the Africans, in the consulate of Appius Claudius and Quintus Fulvius.note A battle was fought with them in Sicily; and Appius Claudius obtained a triumph for a victory over the Africans and Hiero king of Sicily.

[19] In the year following, Valerius Marcusnote and Otacilius being consuls, great deeds were achieved by the Romans in Sicily. The Tauromenitani, Catanians, and fifty cities more, were received into alliance. In the third year the war against Hiero in Sicily was brought to an end. He, with all the Syracusan nobility, prevailed upon the Romans to grant them peace, paying down two hundred talents of silver. The Africans were defeated in Sicily, and a triumph over them granted at Rome a second time.

[20] In the fifth year of the Punic War, which was carried on against the Africans, the Romans first fought by sea, in the consulate of Caius Duilius and Cnaeus Cornelius Asina,note having provided themselves with vessels armed with beaks, which they term Liburnian galleys. The consul Cornelius fell a victim to treachery. Duilius, joining battle, defeated the commander of the Carthaginians, took thirty-one of their ships, sunk fourteen, took seven thousand of the enemy prisoners, and slew three thousand; nor was there ever a victory more gratifying to the Romans, for they were now not only invincible by land, but eminently powerful at sea.

In the consulship of Caius Aquilius Florus and Lucius Scipio,note Scipio laid waste Corsica and Sardinia, carried away several thousand captives from thence, and obtained a triumph.

[21] When Lucius Manlius Vulso and Marcus Attilius Regulus were consuls,note war was carried over into Africa against Hamilcar the general of the Carthaginians. A naval engagement was fought, and the Carthaginian utterly defeated, for he retired with the loss of sixty four of his ships. The Romans lost only twenty-two; and, having then crossed over into Africa, they compelled Clupea, the first city at which they arrived in Africa, to surrender.

The consuls then advanced as far as Carthage; and, having laid waste many places, Manlius returned victorious to Rome, and brought with him twenty-seven thousand prisoners. Attilius Regulus remained in Africa. He drew up his army against the Africans; and, fighting at the same time against three Carthaginian generals, came off victorious, killed eighteen thousand of the enemy, took five thousand prisoners, with eighteen elephants, and received seventy-four cities into alliance. The vanquished Carthaginians then sued to the Romans for peace, which Regulus refusing to grant, except upon the hardest conditions, the Africans sought aid from the Lacedaemonians, and, under a leader named Xanthippus, who had been sent them by the Lacedaemonians, Regulus, the Roman general, was overthrown with a desperate slaughter; for two thousand men only escaped of all the Roman army; five hundred, with their commander Regulus, were taken prisoners, thirty thousand slain, and Regulus himself thrown into prison.

[22] In the consulship of Marcus Aemilius Paullus and Servius Fulvius Nobilior,note both the Roman consuls set sail for Africa, with a fleet of three hundred ships. They first overcame the Africans in a sea-fight; Aemilius the consul sunk a hundred and four of the enemy's ships, took thirty, with the soldiers in them, killed or took prisoners fifteen thousand of the enemy, and enriched his own army with much plunder; and Africa would then have been subdued, but that so great a famine took place that the army could not continue there any longer. The consuls, as they were returning with their victorious fleet, suffered shipwreck on the coast of Sicily, and so violent was the storm, that out of four hundred and sixty-four ships, eighty could scarcely be saved; nor was so great a tempest at sea ever heard of at any period. The Romans, notwithstanding, soon refitted two hundred ships, nor was their spirit at all broken by their loss.

[23] Cnaeus Servilius Caepio and Caius Sempronius Blaesus, when consuls,note set out for Africa with two hundred and sixty ships, and took several cities. As they were returning with a great booty, they suffered shipwreck; and, as these successive calamities annoyed the Romans, the Senate in consequence decreed that wars by sea should be given up, and that only sixty ships should be kept for the defence of Italy.

[24] In the consulship of Lucius Caecilius Metellus and Caius Furius Pacilus,note Metellus defeated a general of the Africans in Sicily, who came against him with a hundred and thirty elephants and a numerous army, slew twenty thousand of the enemy, took six and twenty elephants, collected the rest, which were dispersed, with the aid of the Numidians whom he had to assist him, and brought them to Rome in a vast procession, filling all the roads with elephants, to the number of a hundred and thirty.

After these misfortunes, the Carthaginians entreated Regulus, the Roman general whom they had taken, to go to Rome, procure them peace from the Romans, and effect an exchange of prisoners.

[25] Regulus, on arriving at Rome, and being conducted into the Senate, would do nothing in the character of a Roman, declaring that, "from the day when he fell into the hands of the Africans, he had ceased to be a Roman." For this reason he both repelled his wife from embracing him, and gave his advice to the Romans, that "peace should not be made with the Carthaginians; for that they, dispirited by so many losses, had no hope left; and that, with respect to himself, he was not of such importance, that so many thousand captives should be restored on his account alone, old as he was, and for the sake of the few Romans who had been taken prisoners."

He accordingly carried his point, for no one would listen to the Carthaginians, when they applied for peace. He himself returned to Carthage, telling the Romans, when they offered to detain him at Rome, that he would not stay in a city, in which, after living in captivity among the Africans, it was impossible for him to retain the dignity of an honorable citizen. Returning therefore to Africa, he was put to death with torture of every description.

[26] When Publius Claudius Pulcher and Caius Junius were consuls,note Claudius fought in opposition to the auspices and was defeated by the Carthaginians; for, out of two hundred and twenty ships, he escaped with only thirty; ninety, together with their men, were taken, the rest sunk, and twenty thousand men made prisoners. The other consul also lost his fleet by shipwreck, but was able to save his troops, as the shore was close at hand.

[27] In the consulate of Caius Lutatius Catulus and Aulus Postumius Albinus, in the twenty-third year of the Punic War,note the conduct of the war against the Africans was committed to Catulus. He set sail for Sicily with three hundred ships. The Africans fitted out four hundred against him. Lutatius Catulus embarked in an infirm state of health, having been wounded in a previous battle. An encounter took place opposite Lilybaeum, a city of Sicily, with the greatest valor on the part of the Romans, for seventy-three of the Carthaginian ships were taken, and a hundred and twenty-five sunk; thirty-two thousand of the enemy were made prisoners, and thirteen thousand slain; and a vast sum in gold and silver fell into the hands of the Romans. Of the Roman fleet twelve ships were sunk The battle was fought on the 10th of March.

The Carthaginians immediately sued for peace, and peace was granted them. The Roman prisoners who were in the hands of the Carthaginians were restored; the Carthaginians also requested permission to redeem such of the Africans as the Romans kept in captivity. The Senate decided that those who were state prisoners should be restored without ransom; but that those who were in the hands of private persons should return to Carthage on the payment of a sum to their owners; and that such payment should be made from the public treasury, rather than by the Carthaginians.

[28] Quintus Lutatius and Aulius Manlius,note being created consuls, made war upon the Falisci, formerly a powerful people of Italy, which war the consuls in conjunction brought to a termination within six days after they took the field; fifteen thousand of the enemy were slain, and peace was granted to the rest, but half their land was taken from them.