Cassius Dio
Roman History


Fragments of Book XXI


Thereupon the strife with Carthage was again fanned into flame for the third time. For the Carthaginians could not endue being in an inferior position, and contrary to the treaty were gathering allies and getting their fleet ready in preparation for the war with the Numidians. And the Romans, having settled other questions to their satisfaction, did not remain at rest, but sending out Scipio Nasica, they reproached their rivals with this breach of faith and ordered them to disband their armament. When the Carthaginians put the blame upon Masinissa and because of the war with him declined to obey the order, the Romans arranged terms for them with Masinissa and prevailed upon him to retire from a certain territory in their favour. But since they showed themselves no more tractable than before, the Romans waited a short time, and then as soon as they learned that the Carthaginians had been worsted in a great battle by Masinissa, they promptly declared war upon them. The Carthaginians, who were distressed over their defeat, became frightened on learning this, and since other neighbouring tribes were also beginning to attack them, they sent envoys to Rome to secure an alliance. They feigned a readiness to yield to the Romans on all points; for since they did no intend to abide by their agreements, they were all the more ready to promise anything.

When the senate called a meeting to consider the matter, Scipio Nasica advised receiving the Carthaginian embassy and making a truce with them, but Marcus Cato declared that no truce ought to be made nor the declaration of war rescinded. Nevertheless, the senators listened to the entreaties of the envoys, promised to grant them a truce, and demanded hostages for the fulfilment of the conditions. These hostages were sent to Sicily, and Lucius Marcius and Marcus Manilius went thee, took charge of them, and sent them on to Rome, while they themselves made haste to reach Africa. After encamping they summoned the magistrates of Carthage to appear before them. Now upon the arrival of these officials they did not unmask all their demands at once, fearing that if the Carthaginians learned them in season they would enter upon war with their resources undiminished. So at first they demanded and received grain, next the triremes, and after that the engines; and then they required the arms besides. After receiving all these things — for the Carthaginians had a great deal of other equipment hidden away — they at length ordered them to raze their city and to build in its place an unwalled town inland, eighty stades distant from the sea. At that the Carthaginians gave way to tears, bewailed their fate, as if already conquered, and begged the consuls not to compel them to become the assassins of their country. They soon found that they could accomplish nothing and had to face the repeated command either to carry out the order or to accept the hazard of war. Many of them remained there on the Roman side, recognizing them as already the victors; the remainder withdrew, and after killing some of their rulers for not having chosen war in the first place and after murdering such Romans as were discovered within the walls, they addressed themselves to the war.

Planudean Excerpt

Under these circumstances they liberated all the slaves, restored the exiles, chose Hasdrubal once more as leader, and made ready arms, engines, and triremes. With war at their doors and the danger of slavery confronting them, they prepared in the briefest possible time everything that they needed. They spared nothing, but even melted down the statues for the sake of the bronze in them and used the hair of the women for ropes.

The Carthaginians, when war was made upon them by the Romans, constructed weapons and triremes in the briefest possible time. They melted down the statues for the sake of the bronze in them, and took the woodwork of the buildings, private and public alike, for the triremes and the engines, while for ropes they used the hair of the women, which had been shorn off.

The consuls at first, thinking them unarmed, hoped to overcome them speedily and merely prepared ladders, with which they expected to scale the wall at once; but when, upon making an assault, they saw that their enemies were armed and possessed the means for a siege, they devoted themselves to manufacturing engines. The construction of them was fraught with danger, since Hasdrubal set ambuscades for those who were gathering the wood and annoyed them considerably; but in time they were able to assail the city. Now Manilius in his assault from the land side could not injure the Carthaginians at all, but Marcius, while making an attack from the side of the sea over marshy ground, managed to batter down a part of the wall, though he could not get inside. For the Carthaginians not only repulsed those who attempted to force their way in, but at night they made a sortie through the ruins and slew many men and burned up a very large number of engines. Furthermore, Hasdrubal and the cavalry did not allow the Romans to scatter far over the country, and Masinissa lent them no aid. For he had not been invited at the opening of the war, and, though, he had offered at that time to fight the war out with Hasdrubal, they had not permitted him to do so.

The consuls, both in view of what had occurred and because their fleet had been damaged by its stay in the lake, raised the siege. Marcius endeavoured to accomplish something by sea or at least to injure the coast region, but not meeting with any success, he sailed for home, then turned back and subdued Aegimurus; and Manilius started for the interior, but upon sustaining injuries at the hands of Himilco, commander of the Carthaginian cavalry, who was also called Phameas, he returned to Carthage. There, while the forces of Hasdrubal on the outside troubled him, the people in the city harassed him by sorties both night and day. In fact, the Carthaginians showed their contempt by advancing as far as the Roman camp, the, being for the most part unarmed, they lost a number of me and were shut up in their fortifications again. Manilius was particularly anxious to engage in combat with Hasdrubal, thinking that if he could vanquish him he should find it easier to wage war upon the others. And, in fact, he did have an encounter with him: he followed Hasdrubal to a small fort whither the latter was retiring, and before he knew it got into a rugged defile and there suffered a terrible reverse.


This man Scipio Africanus excelled in planning out at leisure the requisite course, but excelled also in discovering the immediate need on the spur of the moment, and was able to employ either method on the proper occasion. The duties that lay before him he examined boldly, but performed them as if with timidity. Hence, by his fearless and deliberate examination of matters he understood exactly the proper thing to do, and would accomplish it safely as a result of the thought he gave to the element of uncertainty. Accordingly, if he was even brought face to face with some crisis that admitted of no deliberation, such as is wont to happen in the contradictions of warfare and the turns of fortune, not even then did he miss the proper course. For, thanks to his habit of never trusting recklessly to luck for anything, he was not unprepared for the assault of a sudden emergency, but through his incessant activity was able to meet even the unexpected as if he had long foreseen it. As a result he showed himself exceedingly bold in matters where he felt he was right, and like exceedingly venturesome where he felt bold; for in physique he was as powerful as the best of the soldiers. This led to one of his most remarkable characteristics: he would devise the most advantageous plans as if he were going to direct others, and at the time of action would execute them as if they had been ordered by others. Besides not swerving from the ordinary paths of rectitude, he kept faith scrupulously not only with the citizens and his associates, but even with foreigners and the bitterest enemies; and this brought many individuals as well as many cities to his side. He never acted or even spoke without due consideration, nor through anger or fear, but through the certainty of his calculations was ready for all occasions; he took sufficiently into account the instability of human plans, and yet regarded nothing as impossible, but deliberated every matter beforehand in the light of its real nature. Thus he perceived very easily the right course to follow even before there was any necessity, and pursued it with firmness. Because of this, as well as because of his moderation and amiability, he alone of men, or at least more than others, escaped the envy of his peers, as well as of everyone else. For he chosen to make himself the equal of his inferiors, not better than his equals, and inferior to greater men, and so passed beyond the reach of jealousy, which is the one thing that injures the noblest men.

In fact, his entire force would have been destroyed, had he not found a most valuable helper in Scipio, the descendant of Africanus, who excelled in apprehending and devising beforehand most advantageous plans, and excelled also in executing them. For he was powerful in physique; and he was amiable and moderate, as a result of which he escaped envy. For he chosen of make himself the equal of his inferiors, not better than his equals (he was serving as tribune), and inferior to greater men.

Manilius not only reported what Scipio had done but also sent a letter to the people of Rome concealing nothing, but including among other matters an account of the conduct of Masinissa and Phameas. This was as follows.

Masinissa on his death-bed was at a loss to know how he should disposed of his kingdom, owing to the number of his sons and the variety of their family ties on their mothers' side. Therefore he sent for Scipio to advise him, and the consul let Scipio go. But Masinissa died before Scipio arrived, after having given his ring to his son Micipsa and delivered and committed all the other interests pertaining to his kingdom to Scipio, as soon as the latter should arrive. Now Scipio, being aware of the dispositions of Masinissa's sons, assigned the kingdom to no one of them singly; but since there were three most distinguished, the eldest Micipsa, the youngest Gulussa, between them Mastanabal, he appointed these to have charge of affairs, though with distinct functions. To the eldest, who was versed in business and fond of wealth, he entrusted the management of the finances; to the second son, who possessed the judicial temperament, he granted the right to decide disputes; and to Gulussa, who was of a warlike disposition, he delivered the troops. To their brothers, who were numerous, he assigned certain cities and districts. And taking Gulussa along with him, he brought him to the consul.

Now at the beginning of spring they made a campaign against the allies of the Carthaginians and brought many of them to terms forcibly, while inducing many others to capitulate; in this work Scipio was especially active.


Dio, Book XXI. "Phameas, despairing of the Carthaginian cause."

And when Phameas, despairing of Carthaginian success, inclined to the Roman side and held a conference with Scipio, then they all set out against Hasdrubal.

For several days they assailed his fortress, but as supplies again failed them they retired in good order. During the siege Phameas had attacked them and made a show of fighting, but in the progress of the action he had deserted together with some of the cavalry. Then Manilius went to Utica and remained quiet, while Scipio took Phameas back to Rome, where he himself received commendation and Phameas was honoured to the extent of being allowed to sit with the senate in the senate-house.

It was at this time, too, that the episode occurred in which Prusias figured. This monarch, being old and of an irritable disposition, became possessed by a fear that the Bithynians would expel him from his kingdom, choosing in his stead his son Nicomedes. So he sent him to Rome on some pretext, with orders to make that his home. But since he plotted against his son even during his sojourn in Rome and strove to kill him, some Bithynians visited Rome, took Nicomedes away secretly, and conveyed him to Bithynia; and after slaying his father they appointed him king. This act irritated the Romans, but not to the point of war.

A certain Andriscus, who was a native of Adramyttium and resembled Perseus in appearance, caused a large part of Macedonia of revolt by pretending to be his son and calling himself Philip. First he went to Macedonia and tried to stir up that country, but as no one would yield him allegiance, he betook himself to Demetrius in Syria to obtain from him the aid which relationship might afford. But Demetrius arrested him and sent him to Rome, where he met with general contempt, both because he stood convicted of not being the son of Perseus and because he had no other qualities worthy of mention. On being released he gathered a band of revolutionists, drew after him a number of cities, and finally, assuming the kingly garb and mustering an army, he reached Thrace. There he added to his army several of the independent states as well as several of the princes who disliked the Romans, invaded and occupied Macedonia, and setting out for Thessaly won over no small part of that country.

The Romans at first scorned Andriscus, and then they sent Scipio Nasica to settle matters there in some peaceable manner. On reaching Greece and ascertaining what had occurred, he sent a letter to the Romans explaining the situation; then after collecting troops from the allies there he devoted himself to the business in hand and advanced as far as Macedonia. The people of Rome, when informed of the doings of Andriscus, sent an army along with Publius Juventius, a praetor. Juventius had just reached the vicinity of Macedonia when Andriscus gave battle, killed the praetor, and would have annihilated his entire force had they not withdrawn by night. Next he invaded Thessaly, harried a great many parts of it, and was ranging Thracian interests on his side. Consequently the people of Rome once more dispatched a praetor, Quintus Caecilius Metellus, with a strong body of troops. He proceeded to Macedonia and received the assistance of the fleet of Attalus. Andriscus in consequence became anxious about the coast districts, and so did not venture to advance farther, but moved up to a point slightly beyond Pydna. There he had the best of it in a cavalry encounter, but out of fear of the infantry turned back. He was so elated that he divided his army into two sections, with one of which he remained on the watch where he was, while he sent the other to ravage Thessaly, Metellus, contemptuous of the forces confronting him, joined battle, and after overpowering those with whom he first came into conflict he very easily won over the others also; for they readily admitted to him the error of their ways. Andriscus fled to Thrace and after assembling a force gave battle to Metellus as the latter was advancing on his way. His vanguard, however, was routed, whereupon his allied force was scattered; and Andriscus himself was betrayed by Byzes, a Thracian prince, and punished.

One Alexander also had declared himself to be a son of Perseus, and collecting a band of warriors, had occupied the country round about the river which is called the Mestus: but now he took to flight, and Metellus pursued him as far as Dardania.

The Romans sent out Piso, the consul, against the Carthaginians. Piso did not try conclusions with Carthage and Hasdrubal, but devoted himself to the coast cities. He was repulsed from Apsis Clupea, but captured and razed Neapolis; and in his expedition against the town of Hippo he merely used up time without accomplishing anything. So the Carthaginians took heart both on his account and because some allies had joined them. Learning this, the Romans in the army and city alike had recourse to Scipio and created him consul, notwithstanding his age did not entitle him to hold the office.

What age, pray, has been fixed as the time for beginning to think sensibly,— assuming one has ceased to be a boy? What number of years has been determined upon as necessary for beginning to do the fitting thing? Is it not true that all who enjoy an excellent nature and good fortune both think and do in all things what is right from the very beginning, whereas those who at this age of their life have little sense will never grow more prudent later, even with the lapse of many years? A man may continue to improve upon his former condition as he advances in age, but no fool will ever turn out wise nor any simpleton sensible.

Do not, however, discourage the young men through the idea that they are disqualified from performing any services. On the contrary, you ought to urge them to practise zealously the performance of all the duties that belong to them, and to look for both honours and offices even before they reach old age. For by this course you will render their elders better, too — first, by confronting them with many competitors, and next by making it clear that you are going to establish, not length of years, but innate excellence as the test in conferring honours, and particularly positions of command, upon any citizens.

But his own deeds and the prowess of his father, Paulus, and of his grandfather, Africanus, inspired them all with the firm hope that through him they might vanquish their enemies and utterly destroy Carthage.

While Scipio was proceeding to Africa, Mancinus in sailing past Carthage noticed a place called Megalia which was inside the city wall on an abrupt cliff and extended down to the sea; the place was a long distance away from the rest of the town and had but few guards because of the natural strength of its position. So Mancinus suddenly applied ladders to it from the ships and ascended. When he had already got up there, some of the Carthaginians hastily gathered, but they were unable to repulse him. He then sent to Piso an account of his exploit and a request for assistance. Piso, however, being far in the interior, was of no aid to Mancinus; but Scipio chanced to come along at night just after the receipt of the news and rendered prompt aid. For the Carthaginians would have either captured or destroyed Mancinus, if they had not seen Scipio's vessels sailing past; then they grew discouraged, but would not fall back. So Scipio sent them some captives to tell them that he was at hand; and upon learning this they no longer stood their ground, the retired and fortified with trenches and palisades the cross-wall in front of the houses, meanwhile sending for Hasdrubal. Scipio now left Mancinus to guard Megalia and set out himself to join Piso and the troops, so as to have their support in his operations. He quickly returned with the lightest-armed troops and found that Hasdrubal had entered Carthage and was attacking Mancinus fiercely. The arrival of Scipio put an end to the attack. When Piso too had now arrived, Scipio commanded him to encamp outside the wall opposite certain gates, and he sent other soldiers round to a little gate a long distance away from the main force, with orders as to what they must do. Then he himself about midnight took the strongest part of the army, got inside the wall, under the guidance of deserters, and hurrying round to a point inside the little gate, he hacked the bar in two, let in the men who were on the watch outside, and destroyed the guards. He then hastened to the gate opposite which Piso had his station, routing the intervening guards, who were only a few in each place, so that Hasdrubal by the time he found out what had happened saw that nearly the whole force of the Romans was inside. For a time, indeed, the Carthaginians withstood them; then they abandoned the remainder of the city and fled for refuge to Cotho and the Byrsa. Next Hasdrubal killed all the Roman captives, in order that the Carthaginians, in despair of pardon, might resist with greater zeal. He also made way with many of the natives on the charge that they were betraying their own cause. Scipio surrounded them with a palisade and walled them in, yet it was some time before he captured them. For their walls were strong, and the men inside, being many in number and confined in a small space, made a vigorous resistance. They were well off for food, too; for Bithias, taking advantage of wind and tide, whenever a heavy gale blew, would send merchantmen into the harbour to them from the mainland opposite the city. To overcome this opposition Scipio conceived and executed a remarkable undertaking, namely, the filling up of the narrow entrance to the harbour. The work was difficult and toilsome, but was nevertheless brought to completion, thanks to the great number of men employed. The Carthaginians, to be sure, undertook to check them, and many battles took place during the course of the work, but they were unable to prevent the filling of the channel.

So, when the mouth of the harbour had been filled, the Carthaginians we terribly oppressed by the scarcity of food; and some of them deserted, while others held out and died, and still others ate the dead bodies. Hence Hasdrubal, in discouragement, sent envoys to Scipio with regard to a truce, and would have obtained immunity, had he not desired to secure both safety and freedom for all the rest as well. After he had failed for this reason to accomplish his purpose, he confined his wife in the citadel because she had made overtures to Scipio looking to the safety of herself and her children; and in other respects he grew bolder in his conduct of affairs as a result of despair. He, therefore, and some others, mastered by frenzy, fought both night and day, sometimes losing and sometimes winning; and they devised engines to oppose the Roman engines. Moreover, Bithias, who held a strong fortress and scoured wide stretches of the mainland, was helping the Carthaginians and injuring the Romans. Hence Scipio also divided his army, assigning one half of it to invest Carthage, while he sent the other half against Bithias, placing at the head of it his lieutenant, Gaius Laelius. He himself went back and forth from one division to the other on visits of inspection. Finally the fortress was taken, and the siege of Carthage was once more conducted by the whole army.

The Carthaginians, despairing, consequently, of being any longer able to save both walls, betook themselves to the enclosure of the Byrsa, since it was better fortified, at the same time transferring thither all the objects that they could. Then at night they burned the dockyard and most of the other structures, in order to deprive the enemy of any benefit from them. When the Romans became aware of their action, they occupied the harbour and hastened against the Byrsa. After occupying the houses on each side of it, some of the besiegers walked along on top of the roofs by successively stepping to those adjacent, and others by digging through the walls pushed onward below until they reached the very citadel. When they had got thus far, the Carthaginians offered no further opposition, but sued for peace — all except Hasdrubal. He, together with the deserters, to whom Scipio would grant no truce, crowded into the temple of Aesculapius along with his wife and children; and there he defended himself against the assailants until the deserters set fire to the temple and climbed to the roof to await the last extremity of the flames. Then, vanquished, he came to Scipio holding the suppliant branch. His wife witnessed his entreaties, and after calling him by name and reproaching him for securing safety for himself, when he had not allowed her to obtain terms, threw her children into the fire and then cast herself in.

Thus Scipio took Carthage; and he sent to the senate the following message: "Carthage is taken. What are our orders now?" When these words had been read, they took counsel as to what should be done. Cato expressed the opinion that they ought to raze the city and blot out the Carthaginians, whereas Scipio Nasica still advised sparing the Carthaginians. And thereupon the senate became involved in a great dispute and contention, until some one declared that for the Romans' own sake, if for no other reason, it member considered necessary to spare them. With this nation for antagonists they would be sure to practise valour instead of turning aside to pleasures and luxury; whereas, if those who were able to compel them to practise warlike pursuits should be removed from the scene, they might deteriorate from want of practice, through a lack of worthy competitors. As a result of the discussion all became unanimous in favour of destroying Carthage, since they felt sure that its inhabitants would never remain entirely at peace. The whole city was therefore utterly blotted out of existence, and it was decreed that for any person to settle upon its site should be an accursed act. The majority of the men captured were thrown into prison and there perished, and some few were sold. But the by foremost men together with the hostages and Hasdrubal and Bithias spent their lives in different parts of Italy in honourable confinement. Scipio secured both glory and honour and was called Africanus, not after his grandfather, but because of his own achievements.

At this time also Corinth was destroyed. The chief men of the Greeks had been deported to Italy by Aemilius Paulus, whereupon their countrymen at first through embassies kept asking for the return of the men, and when their request was not granted, some of the exiles, in despair of ever returning to their homes, made away with themselves. The Greeks were greatly distressed at this and made it a matter of public lamentation, besides showing anger toward any persons dwelling among them who favoured the Roman cause; yet they displayed no open signs of hostility until they got back the survivors among their hostages. Then those who had been wronged and those who had obtained a hold upon the goods of others fell into strife with one another and went to war.


The Achaeans began the quarrel, accusing the Lacedaemonians, with whom they were at variance, of having been the cause of their misfortunes; in this they were especially encouraged by Diaeus, the general. And although the Romans repeatedly sent mediators to them, they paid no heed; in fact they came very near slaying the envoys whom the Romans next sent to them. The ostensible mission of these envoys was to insist that the cities which had belonged to Philip, including Corinth,— in other respects a flourishing city and in addition the leader in the congress,— should not take part in that body; yet in reality it was their desire to disrupt the Greek alliance in some manner, so that the members might be weaker. When the envoys had made their escape by flight from Acrocorinth, where they had been, the Greeks sent an embassy to Rome to offer explanations for what had occurred. It was not against Rome's representatives, they claimed, but against the Lacedaemonians who were with them that the attack had been made. The Romans, still occupied as they were the war against the Carthaginians, and not as yet in firm control of the Macedonian situation, did not refute their plea, but sent out men, and promised them pardon in case they would refrain from further disturbances. Yet these men were not given a hearing by the congress, but were put off until the next meeting, which was to occur six months later.

The Achaeans began the quarrel, accusing the Lacedaemonians of being the cause of their misfortunes.

And although the Romans sent mediators to them, they paid no heed, but rather set their faces toward war, appointing Critolaus as their leader. Metellus was consequently afraid that they might lay hands also on Macedonia, since they had already appeared in Thessaly; and so he went to meet them and routed them.

At the fall of Critolaus the Greek world was split asunder. Some of them inclined to peace and laid down their weapons, whereas others committed their interests to Diaeus and continued their strife. On learning this the people at Rome sent against them Mummius, who relieved Metellus and himself took charge of the war. When part of his army sustained a slight reverse through an ambuscade and Diaeus pursued the fugitives up to their own camp, Mummius sallied forth against him, routed him, and followed to the Achaean entrenchments. Diaeus now gathered a larger force and undertook to give battle to them, but, as the Romans did not come out against them, he conceived a contempt for them and advanced into the valley lying between the camps. Mummius, seeing this, secretly sent horsemen to assail them on the flank. After these had attacked and thrown the enemy into confusion, he brought up the phalanx in front and caused considerable slaughter. Thereupon Diaeus killed himself in despair, and of the survivors of the battle the Corinthians were scattered over the country, while the rest fled to their homes. Hence the Corinthians within the wall, believing that all their citizens had been lost, abandoned the city, and it was empty of men when Mummius took it. After that he won over without trouble both the people and the rest of the Greeks. He now took possession of their arms, all the offerings that were consecrated in their temples, the statues, paintings, and whatever other ornaments they had; and as soon as his father and some other men were sent out to arrange terms for the vanquished, he caused the walls of some of the cities to be torn down and declared them all to be free and independent except the Corinthians. As for Corinth, he sold the inhabitants, confiscated the land, and demolished the walls and all the buildings, out of fear that some states might again unite with it as the largest city. To prevent any of them from remaining concealed and any of the other Greeks from being sold as Corinthians he assembled all those present before disclosing his purpose, and after causing his soldiers to surround them in such a way as not to attract notice, he proclaimed the freedom of all except the Corinthians and the enslavement of these; then, instructing them all to lay hold of those standing beside them he was able to make an accurate distinction between them.

Thus was Corinth overthrown. The rest of the Greek world suffered momentarily from massacres and levies of money, but afterward came to enjoy such immunity and prosperity that they used to say that if they had not been captured promptly, they could not have been saved.

So this end simultaneously befell Carthage and Corinth, those ancient cities; but at a much later date they received colonies of Romans, became again flourishing, and regained their original position.