Livy, Periochae 26-30

Titus Livius or Livy (59 BCE - 17 CE): Roman historian, author of the authorized version of the history of the Roman republic.

A large part of Livy's History of Rome since the Foundation is now lost, but fortunately we have an excerpt, called the Periochae, which helps us reconstruct the general scope. This translation was made by Jona Lendering.


From Book 26

[26.1] [211 BCE] Hannibal built his camp at the third milestone from Rome, near the Anio.

[26.2] He personally came up to the Porta Capena [=Collina] with two thousand cavalry, to inspect the city's lie. 

[26.3] And when for three days the battle lines on both sides had been ready, a tempest broke off the engagement; when Hannibal had returned to his camp, tranquility returned.

[26.4] Capua was captured by consuls Quintus Fulvius and Appius Claudius.

[26.5] The Campanian leaders killed themselves with poison.

[26.6] When the Campanian senators had been tied to the stakes to be decapitated, consul Quintus Fulvius received a letter from the Senate, in which he was ordered to be merciful, but he kept it in the fold [of his toga], and before he had read it, he had already ordered that the law was to be applied, and the executions had already taken place.

[26.7] When at the elections the people were asked who wanted the Spanish command and nobody dared to accept it, Publius [Cornelius] Scipio (the son of the Publius who had fallen in Hispania), announced that he would go; and having been sent by the people's vote and general agreement, he captured New Carthage, and although he was only twenty-four, he appeared to be a son of a god, because from the moment he had accepted the toga, he was every day in the [temple of Jupiter on the] Capitol, and often, a serpent had been seen in the bed room of his mother.

[26.8] Itnote also contains accounts of the events on Sicily, [210] a treaty of friendship with the Aetolians, and war against the Acarnanians and king Philip of Macedonia.

From Book 27

[27.1] Near Herdonea, proconsul Gnaeus Fulvius was defeated with his army by Hannibal.

[27.2] Consul [Marcus] Claudius Marcellus fought with more success against the same opponent at Numistro.

[27.3] Hannibal retreated under cover of the night.

[27.4] Marcellus pursued him, and inflicted damage upon the retreating army, until Hannibal engaged.

[27.5] In the first battle, Hannibal was superior, but Marcellus in the second.

[27.6] [209] Benefiting from treachery, consul Fabius Maximus the Elder recovered Tarentum.

[27.7] [208] When consuls [Marcus] Claudius Marcellus and Titus Quinctius Crispinus, on a reconnaissance mission, had advanced from their camp, they were surrounded by Hannibal in an ambush.

[27.8] Marcellus was killed, Crispinus escaped.

[27.9] The censors celebrated the lustrum ceremony.

[27.10] 137,108 citizens were registered. From this number, it is clear how many members of the Roman people unfavorable Fortune had carried away in so many defeats.

[27.11] [209] In Hispania, near Baecula, Scipio engaged and defeated Hasdrubal and Hamilcar.

[27.12] Among those who had been captured was an extraordinary beautiful boy of regal birth, who was sent to his uncle Massinissa, with other presents.

[27.13] [207] Hasdrubal, who crossed the Alps with a new army to join Hannibal, was defeated with fifty-six thousand men, and five thousand four hundred were captured, under the command of consul Marcus Livius, but no less by consul Claudius Nero, who, when he opposed Hannibal, left his camp in such fashion that he deceived his enemy, set out with an elite force, and overpowered Hasdrubal.

[27.14] Itnote also contains an account of the successful wars of Publius [Cornelius] Scipio in Hispania and praetor Publius Sulpicius against Philip [V of Macedonia] and the Achaeans.

From Book 28

[28.1] [207 BCE] Itnote tells about successes against the Carthaginians in Hispania by Silanus, deputy of Scipio, and Scipio's brother Lucius; and by proconsul Sulpicius and king Attalus [I Soter] of Asia, his ally, against king Philip of Macedonia, on behalf of the Aetolians.

[28.2] When a triumph was decreed for consuls Marcus Livius and Claudius Nero, Livius, in whose province that battle was won, rode in a chariot with four horses, and Nero, who had come to the province of his colleague to help him win the victory, followed him on horseback; but in this fashion, he received more glory and respect, because he had done more in the  war than his colleague.

[28.3] The fire in the temple of Vesta went out due to the neglect by one of the Virgins, who did not keep watch over it; she was scourged.

[28.4] [206] After completely shutting out the enemies and occupying the whole of Hispania, Publius [Cornelius] Scipio recovered the province an finally defeated the Carthaginians in the fourteenth year of the war, and in the fifth after his arrival. From Tarraco, he crossed to Africa and concluded a treaty with Syphax, king of the Massylians.note

[28.5] Hasdrubal, the son of Gesco, dined with him on the same bed.

[28.6] In New Carthage, Scipio organized a gladiatorial contest to commemorate his father and uncle. But no gladiators took part: the fighters were men who descended into the arena to honor their commander or accept a challenge. Two princes, brothers, contested the possession of a kingdom.

[28.7] When the town of Gisia was besieged, the citizens killed their children and wives on a pyre they had constructed, and threw themselves into the fire.

[28.8] A rebellion broke out in a part of the army while Scipio himself was ill; when he recovered, he suppressed it and forced the [remaining] Spanish nations into surrender.

[28.9] He also concluded a treaty of friendship with king Massinissa of the Numidians, who promised him help when he should cross to Africa, and he also made friends with the people of Gades after the departure of Mago, who had been ordered to go to Italy. Scipio returned to Rome and was made consul.

[28.10] [205] He asked permission to go to Africa, but Quintus Fabius Maximus opposed this, and Scipio therefore received Sicily and permission to go to Africa if he thought this was for the benefit of the state.

[28.11] Hamilcar's son Mago spent the winter on the smaller Balearic island, and crossed to Italy. 

From Book 29

[29.1] Gaius Laelius, sent by Scipio from Sicily to Africa, brought back enormous booty and gave Scipio Massinissa's messages, in which he complained that he had not yet sent his army to Africa.

[29.2] When Indebilis provoked a war in Hispania, it ended with a Roman victory; he himself was killed in action, and Mandonius was handed over by his relatives when the Romans asked for it.

[29.3] Mago, who was at Albingaunum in Liguria, received many soldiers and money to hire auxiliaries, and was ordered to join Hannibal.

[29.4] Scipio crossed from Sicily to Bruttium and recaptured Locri by putting its Carthaginian garrison to flight and routing Hannibal.

[29.5] A peace treaty was concluded with Philip [V of Macedonia].

[29.6] [204] In accordance with an oracle found in the Sibylline books, which stated that a foreign invader would be expelled if the Idaean Mothernote had been brought to Rome, the Idaean Mother was brought to Rome from the Phrygian town Pessinus.

[29.7] She was given to the Romans by king Attalus [I Soter] of Asia.

[29.8] According to the natives, the Mother of the gods was a stone.

[29.9] Because the oracle had ordered that the deity had to be received and consecrated by the best man, she was received by Publius [Cornelius] Scipio Nasica (son of the Gnaeus who had perished in Hispania), who was judged by the Senate to be the best man, although he was young and had not even reached the quaestorship.

[29.10] The Locrians sent envoys to Rome to complain about the shocking behavior of Pleminius, who had confiscated the money of Prosepina, and had outraged their children and wives.

[29.11] In chains, he was sent to Rome, where he died in jail.

[29.12] When a false rumor concerning proconsul Publius [Cornelius] Scipio, who was on Sicily, circulated in the city, concerning his life in luxury, the Senate sent envoys to investigate the truth of the rumor; Scipio was cleared of the accusation and with the Senate's permission, he crossed to Africa.

[29.13] Syphax, who had married a daughter of Hasdrubal, son of Gesco, renounced his friendship with Scipio.

[29.14] King Massinissa of the Massylians, who had fought for the Carthaginians in Hispania, had been excluded from the kingship when he lost his father Gala.

[29.15] He had repeatedly tried to regain it by war, but had in several battles been defeated by king Syphax of Numidia, and had lost everything. As an exile he and two hundred cavalry joined Scipio, and with his help, Scipio defeated Hanno, the son of Hamilcar, together with many soldiers, right at the beginning of the war.

[29.16] When Hasdrubal, Syphax, and hundred thousand men approached, Scipio was forced to raise the siege of Utica, and settle in a winter camp.

[29.17] Consul Sempronius successfully fought against Hannibal in the country of Croton.

[29.18] There was a remarkable quarrel between the two censors Marcus Livius and Claudius Nero.

[29.19] Because on the one hand, Claudius took away the [public] horse from his colleague because he had once been condemned and had been exiled by the people, and on the other hand Livius did the same to Claudius, because he had spoken falsely about him and had been insincere when they had been reconciled.

[29.20] He also registered all districts (except for one) as tax payers of the lowest order, because they had once condemned him, although he had been innocent and they had later made him consul and censor.

[29.21] The censors celebrated the lustrum ceremony.

[29.22] 214,000 citizens were registered. 

From Book 30

[30.1] [203] In Africa, Scipio, aided by Massinissa, defeated the Carthaginians, the aforementioned king Syphax of Numidia, and Hasdrubal in several engagements, and captured two camps. Forty thousand people were killed by fire and fight.

[30.2] Syphax was captured by Gaius Laelius and Massinissa.

[30.3] Massinissa immediately fell in love with Sophoniba, the capive wife of Syphax and daughter of Hasdrubal, married her and had her as his wife; he was rebuked by Scipio, sent her poison, she drank it, and died.

[30.4] Because of Scipio's many victories, the desperate Carthaginians recalled Hannibal to protect the state.

[30.5] [202] In the sixteenth year of his invasion of Italy, he withdrew, crossed to Africa and tried to organize a peace conference with Scipio, and when they could not agree about the peace conditions, he was defeated in battle.

[30.6] When the Carthaginians sued for peace, it was granted.

[30.7] When Gesco tried to dissuade the people from the peace, Hannibal pulled him down with his hand, apologized for his behavior, and argued for peace.

[30.8] Massinissa was given back his kingdom.

[30.9] [201] After he had returned to the city, Scipio celebrated a very large and distinguished triumph, followed by the senator Quintus Terentius Culleo, who wore a liberty cap

[30.10] It is unclear whether Scipio received the surname Africanus from his popularity with the soldiers or from the fickle favor of the people,

[30.11] but he certainly was the first commander to receive a surname derived from the conquered nation.

[30.12] In the country of the Insubres, Mago was wounded in a war against the Romans, was recalled to Africa by envoys, but died from his wound during the return voyage.