Eutropius, Short History 3

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] The Punic War being now ended, after having been protracted though three and twenty years, the Romans, who were now distinguished by transcendent glory, sent ambassadors to Ptolemy, king of Egypt, with offers of assistance; for Antiochus, king of Syria, had made war upon him.note He returned thanks to the Romans, but declined their aid, the struggle being now over. About the same time. Hiero, the most powerful king of Sicily, visited Rome to witness the games, and distributed two hundred thousand modii of wheat among the people.

[2] In the consulship of Lucius Cornelius Lentulus and Fulvius Flaccus,note in whose time Hiero came to Rome, war was carried on, within the limits of Italy, against the Ligurians, and a triumph obtained over them. The Carthaginians, too, at the same time, attempted to renew the war, soliciting the Sardinians, who, by an article of the peace, were bound to submit to the Romans, to rebel. A deputation, however, of the Carthaginians came to Rome, and obtained peace.

[3] Under the consulate of Titus Manlius Torquatus and Caius Attilius Bulbus,note a triumph was obtained over the Sardinians; and, peace being concluded on all sides, the Romans had now no war on their hands, a circumstance which had happened to them but once before since the building of the city, in the reign of Numa Pompilius.note

[4] Lucius Postumius Albinus and Cnaeus Fulvius Centumalus, when consuls,note conducted a war against the Illyrians; and, having taken many of their towns, reduced their kings to a surrender, and it was then for the first time that a triumph was celebrated over the Illyrians.

[5] When Lucius Aemilius was consul,note a vast force of the Gauls crossed the Alps; but all Italy united in favor of the Romans; and it is recorded by Fabius the historian, who was present in that war, that there were eight hundred thousand men ready for the contest. Affairs, however, were brought to a successful termination by the consul alone; forty thousand of the enemy were killed,note and a triumph decreed to Aemilius.

[6] A few years after,note a battle was fought with the Gauls within the borders of Italy, and an end put to the war, in the consulship of Marcus Claudius Marcellus and Cnaeus Cornelius Scipio. Marcellus took the field with a small body of horse, and slew the king of the Gauls, Viridomarus, with his own hand. Afterwards, in conjunction with his colleague, he cut to pieces a numerous army of the Gauls, stormed Milan, and carried off a vast booty to Rome. Marcellus, at his triumph, bore the spoils of the Gaul, fixed upon a pole on his shoulders.

[7] In the consulate of Marcus Minucius Rufus and Publius Cornelius,note war was made upon the Istrians, because they had plundered some ships of the Romans, which were bringing a supply of corn, and they were entirely subdued.

In the same year the Second Punic War was commenced against the Romans by Hannibal, general of the Carthaginians, who, in the twentieth year of his age, proceeded to besiege Saguntum, a city of Spain, in alliance with the Romans, having assembled for that purpose an army of fifty thousand foot and twenty thousand horse. The Romans warned him, by deputies sent for the purpose, to desist from hostilities, but he refused them audience. The Romans sent also to Carthage, requiring that orders should be sent to Hannibal, not to make war on the allies of the Roman people; but the reply made by the Carthaginians promised no compliance. The Saguntines in the meantime, worn out with famine, were taken by Hannibal, and put to death with the utmost cruelty.

[8] Publius Cornelius Scipio then went with an army into Spain, and Tiberius Sempronius into Sicily. War was declared against the Carthaginians.

Hannibal, leaving his brother Hasdrubal in Spain, passed the Pyrenees, and made a way over the Alps, which, in that part, were previously impassable. He is said to have brought into Italy eighty thousand foot, twenty thousand horse, and thirty-seven elephants. Numbers of the Ligurians and Gauls joined him on his march. Sempronius Gracchus, hearing of Hannibal's arrival in Italy, conveyed over his army from Sicily to Ariminum.

[9] The first to meet Hannibal was Publius Cornelius Scipio; a battle being commenced, and his troops put to flight, he retired wounded into his camp. Sempronius Gracchus also came to an engagement with him near the river Trebia, and he too was defeated. Numbers in Italy submitted to Hannibal; who, marching from thence into Tuscany, encountered the consul Flaminius. Flaminius himself he cut off; and twenty-five thousand of the Romans were slain; the rest saved themselves by flight.

Quintus Fabius Maximus was afterwards sent by the Romans to oppose Hannibal. This general, by avoiding an engagement, checked his impetuosity; and soon after, finding a favorable opportunity, defeated him.

[10] In the five hundred and fortieth year from the foundation of the city,note Lucius Aemilius and Publius Terentius Varro were sent against Hannibal, and took the place of Fabius, who forewarned both the consuls, that they could conquer Hannibal, who was a bold and energetic leader, only by declining a pitched battle with him. But an engagement being brought on, through the impetuosity of the consul Varro, in opposition to his colleague, near a village called Cannae, in Apulia, both the consuls were defeated by Hannibal. In this battle three thousand of the Africans fell, and a great part of Hannibal's army were wounded. The Romans, however, never received so severe a blow at any period of the Punic wars; for the consul Aemilius Paulus was killed; twenty officers of consular and praetorian rank, thirty senators, and three hundred others of noble descent, were taken or slain, as well as forty thousand foot-soldiers, and three thousand five hundred horse.

During all these calamities, however, not one of the Romans deigned to speak of peace. A number of slaves were set free and made soldiers, a measure never before adopted.

[11] After this battle, several cities of Italy, which had been subject to the Romans, went over to Hannibal. Hannibal made proposals to the Romans concerning the redemption of the prisoners, but the Senate replied, that "such citizens as would suffer themselves to be taken with arms in their hands were of no value to them." Hannibal then put them all to death with various tortures, and sent three modii of gold rings to Carthage, which he had taken from the fingers of Roman knights, senators, and soldiers.

In the meantime, Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, who had remained in Spain with a numerous army, in order to reduce all that country under the dominion of the Africans, was defeated there by the two Scipios, the Roman generals, and lost thirty-five thousand men in the battle; of these ten thousand were made prisoners, and twenty-five thousand slain. Upon this, twelve thousand foot, four thousand horse, and twenty elephants were sent to him by the Carthaginians to reinforce his army.

[12] In the fourth year after Hannibal's arrival in Italy,note Marcus Claudius Marcellus, one of the consuls, engaged him with success at Nola, a city of Campania. But Hannibal possessed himself of several of the Roman cities in Apulia, Calabria, and the country of the Bruttii.

About this time also Philip, king of Macedonia, sent ambassadors to him, offering him assistance against the Romans, on condition that, when he had subdued them, he, in turn, should receive assistance from Hannibal against the Greeks. But Philip's ambassadors being taken, and the affair thus discovered, the Romans ordered Marcus Valerius Laevinus to proceed to Macedonia, and Titus Manlius, as proconsul, into Sardinia; for that island also, at the solicitation of Hannibal, had revolted from the Romans. 

[13] Thus war was carried on at the same time in four different places; in Italy, against Hannibal; in Spain, against Hasdrubal his brother; in Macedonia, against Philip; in Sardinia, against the Sardinians and another Hasdrubal, also a Carthaginian. Hasdrubal was taken alive by Titus Manlius, the proconsul sent into Sardinia; twelve thousand of his men were slain, fifteen hundred made prisoners, and Sardinia brought under subjection to the Romans. Manlius, being thus successful, brought Hasdrubal and his other prisoners to Rome. In the meantime, Philip also was defeated by Laevinus in Macedonia, and Hasdrubal and Mago, a third brother of Hannibal, by the Scipios in Spain.

[14] In the tenth year after Hannibal's arrival in Italy, in the consulship of Publius Sulpicius and Cnaeus Fulvius,note Hannibal advanced within four miles of Rome, and his cavalry rode up to the very gates; but soon after, through fear of the consuls, who were coming upon him with an army, he withdrew into Campania.

In Spain, the two Scipios, who had been victorious for many years, were killed by his brother Hasdrubal; the army however remained in full strength, for the generals had been ensnared rather by accident than the valor of the enemy.

About this time, also, a great part of Sicily, which the Africans had begun to appropriate, was recovered by the consul Marcellus, and vast spoil brought to Rome from the celebrated city of Syracuse.

In Macedonia, Laevinus made an alliance with Philip, and several of the Greek states, as well as with Attalus, king of Asia; and proceeding afterwards to Sicily, took Hanno, a general of the Carthaginians, at the city of Agrigentum, together with the town itself, and sent him with other noble prisoners to Rome. Forty cities he obliged to surrender; twenty-six he carried by storm. Thus all Sicily being recovered, and Macedonia humbled, he returned with great glory to Rome.

In Italy, Hannibal, attacking Cnaeus Fulvius, one of the consuls, by surprise, cut him off, together with eight thousand of his men.

[15] In the meantime, Publius Cornelius Scipio, a man almost the very first of all the Romans, both in his own and succeeding ages, son of that Publius Scipio who had carried on the war there before, was despatched, at the age of twenty-four, into Spain, where, after the death of the two Scipios, no Roman general was now left. He took Carthage, in Spain,note in which the Africans kept all their gold, and silver, and warlike stores; he took also a number of hostages, whom the Carthaginians had received from the Spaniards, as well as Mago, the brother of Hannibal, whom he sent with others to Rome.

The rejoicing at Rome on this intelligence was very great. Scipio restored the Spanish hostages to their parents; and in consequence almost all the Spaniards unanimously joined him. Soon after, he put to flight Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, and took a great quantity of spoil.

[16] In Italy, meanwhile, Quintus Fabius Maximus, one of the consuls, recovered Tarentum, where a great body of Hannibal's troops were quartered, and cut off there also Carthalo, one of Hannibal's generals; twenty-five thousand of the prisoners he sold for slaves; the spoil he divided among the soldiers; and the money arising from the sale of the prisoners, he paid into the public treasury. At this time, several of the Roman cities, which had gone over to Hannibal, submitted themselves again to Fabius Maximus.

In the following year Scipio performed extraordinary exploits in Spain, and, by his own exertions and those of his brother Lucius Scipio, recovered seventy cities.

In Italy, however, the war went on unsuccessfully, for Claudius Marcellus the consul was cut off by Hannibal.

[17] In the third year after Scipio's departure for Spain, he again greatly distinguished himself. A king of Spain, whom he had conquered in a great battle, he received into alliance; and was the first that refrained from demanding hostages of a vanquished enemy.

[18] Hannibal, having no hope that Spain could be held longer against Scipio, summoned from it Hasdrubal his brother, with all his troops, to join him in Italy. Hasdrubal, pursuing the same route by which Hannibal had gone, fell into an ambush laid for him by the consuls Appius Claudius Nero and Marcus Livius Salinator, near Sena, a city of Picenum, but fell fighting valiantly; his numerous forces were either taken or put to the sword; and a great quantity of gold and silver carried off to Rome.note

Hannibal now began to despair of the issue of the war, and an accession of courage was felt by the Romans. They, therefore, also recalled Publius Cornelius Scipio out of Spain; who arrived at Rome with great glory.

[19] In the consulate of Quintus Caecilius and Lucius Valerius, all the cities in the territory of the Bruttii, which were in the possession of Hannibal, surrendered to the Romans.note

[20] In the fourteenth year after Hannibal's invasion of Italy, Scipio, who had achieved such successes in Spain, was created consul, and sent into Africa; a man in whom there was thought to be something divine, so that he was even imagined to hold converse with the gods. He encountered Hanno, the general of the Carthaginians in Africa, and destroyed his army. In a second battle he took his camp, with four thousand five hundred of his soldiers, eleven thousand being killed. Syphax, king of Numidia, who had joined the Africans, he took prisoner, and became master of his camp. Syphax himself, with the noblest of the Numidians, and a vast quantity of spoil, was sent by Scipio to Rome; on the news of which event, almost all Italy forsook Hannibal, who was desired by the Carthaginians to return to Africa, which Scipio was now laying waste.

[21] Thus, in the seventeenth year after his arrival, Italy was delivered from Hannibal, and he is said to have quitted it with tears. Ambassadors from the Carthaginians applied to Scipio for peace, by whom they were sent to the Senate, a truce of forty-five days being allowed for their journey to and from Rome; thirty thousand pounds of silver were accepted from them. The Senate directed that a peace should be concluded with the Carthaginians at the discretion of Scipio. Scipio granted it on these conditions: "that they should retain, no more than thirty ships, that they should pay to the Romans five hundred thousand pounds of silver, and restore all the prisoners and deserters."

[22] Hannibal in the meantime landing in Africa, the treaty was interrupted. Many hostilities were committed by the Carthaginians; yet when their ambassadors, as they were returning from Rome, were made prisoners by some Roman troops, they were by Scipio's orders set at liberty. Hannibal too, being defeated by Scipio in several battles, expressed also himself a desire for peace. A conference being held, peace was offered on the same terms as before, only a hundred thousand pounds of silver were added to the former five hundred thousand, on account of their late perfidy. The terms were, unsatisfactory to the Carthaginians, and they ordered Hannibal to continue the war.

The war was carried by Scipio, and Massinissa, another king of the Numidians, who had made an alliance with Scipio, to the very walls of Carthage. Hannibal sent three spies into Scipio's camp, who were captured, and Scipio ordered them to be led round the camp, the whole army to be shown them, and themselves to be entertained and dismissed, that they might report to Hannibal all that they had seen among the Romans.

[23] In the meantime preparations were made by both generals for a battle, such as scarce ever occurred in any age, since they were the ablest commanders that ever led forces into the field.note Scipio came off victorious, having almost captured Hannibal himself, who escaped at first with several horse, then with twenty, and at last with only four.

There were found in Hannibal's camp twenty thousand pounds of silver, and eight hundred of gold, with plenty of stores. After this battle, peace was concluded with the Carthaginians. Scipio returned to Rome, and triumphed with the greatest glory, receiving from that period the appellation of Africanus. Thus the Second Punic War was brought to an end in the nineteenth year after it began.