Front Page Titles (by Subject) COMPARISON OF ALCIBIADES WITH CORIOLANUS. - Plutarch's Lives (Dryden trans.) vol. 2
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COMPARISON OF ALCIBIADES WITH CORIOLANUS. - Plutarch, Plutarch’s Lives (Dryden trans.) vol. 2 
Plutarch’s Lives. The Translation called Dryden’s. Corrected from the Greek and Revised by A.H. Clough, in 5 volumes (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1906).
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COMPARISON OF ALCIBIADES WITH CORIOLANUS.
Having described all their actions that seem to deserve commemoration, their military ones, we may say, incline the balance very decidedly upon neither side. They both, in pretty equal measure, displayed on numerous occasions the daring and courage of the soldier, and the skill and foresight of the general; unless, indeed, the fact that Alcibiades was victorious and successful in many contests both by sea and land, ought to gain him the title of a more complete commander. That so long as they remained and held command in their respective countries, they eminently sustained, and when they were driven into exile, yet more eminently damaged the fortunes of those countries, is common to both. All the sober citizens felt disgust at the petulance, the low flattery, and base seductions which Alcibiades, in his public life, allowed himself to employ with the view of winning the people’s favor; and the ungraciousness, pride, and oligarchical haughtiness which Marcius, on the other hand, displayed in his, were the abhorrence of the Roman populace. Neither of these courses can be called commendable; but a man who ingratiates himself by indulgence and flattery, is hardly so censurable as one who, to avoid the appearance of flattering, insults. To seek power by servility to the people is a disgrace, but to maintain it by terror, violence, and oppression, is not a disgrace only, but an injustice.
Marcius, according to our common conceptions of his character, was undoubtedly simple and straightforward; Alcibiades, unscrupulous as a public man, and false. He is more especially blamed for the dishonorable and treacherous way in which, as Thucydides relates, he imposed upon the Lacedæmonian ambassadors, and disturbed the continuance of the peace. Yet this policy, which engaged the city again in war, nevertheless placed it in a powerful and formidable position, by the accession, which Alcibiades obtained for it, of the alliance of Argos and Mantinea. And Coriolanus also, Dionysius relates, used unfair means to excite war between the Romans and the Volscians, in the false report which he spread about the visitors at the Games; and the motive of this action seems to make it the worse of the two; since it was not done, like the other, out of ordinary political jealousy, strife, and competition. Simply to gratify anger, from which, as Ion says, no one ever yet got any return, he threw whole districts of Italy into confusion, and sacrificed to his passion against his country numerous innocent cities. It is true, indeed, that Alcibiades also, by his resentment, was the occasion of great disasters to his country, but he relented as soon as he found their feelings to be changed; and after he was driven out a second time, so far from taking pleasure in the errors and inadvertencies of their commanders, or being indifferent to the danger they were thus incurring, he did the very thing that Aristides is so highly commended for doing to Themistocles: he came to the generals who were his enemies, and pointed out to them what they ought to do. Coriolanus, on the other hand, first of all attacked the whole body of his countrymen, though only one portion of them had done him any wrong, while the other, the better and nobler portion, had actually suffered, as well as sympathized, with him. And, secondly, by the obduracy with which he resisted numerous embassies and supplications, addressed in propitiation of his single anger and offence, he showed that it had been to destroy and overthrow, not to recover and regain his country, that he had excited bitter and implacable hostilities against it. There is, indeed, one distinction that may be drawn. Alcibiades, it may be said, was not safe among the Spartans, and had the inducements at once of fear and of hatred to lead him again to Athens; whereas Marcius could not honorably have left the Volscians, when they were behaving so well to him: he, in the command of their forces and the enjoyment of their entire confidence, was in a very different position from Alcibiades, whom the Lacedæmonians did not so much wish to adopt into their service, as to use, and then abandon. Driven about from house to house in the city, and from general to general in the camp, the latter had no resort but to place himself in the hands of Tisaphernes; unless, indeed, we are to suppose that his object in courting favor with him was to avert the entire destruction of his native city, whither he wished himself to return.
As regards money, Alcibiades, we are told, was often guilty of procuring it by accepting bribes, and spent it ill in luxury and dissipation. Coriolanus declined to receive it, even when pressed upon him by his commanders as an honor; and one great reason for the odium he incurred with the populace in the discussions about their debts was, that he trampled upon the poor, not for money’s sake, but out of pride and insolence.
Antipater, in a letter written upon the death of Aristotle the philosopher, observes, “Amongst his other gifts he had that of persuasiveness;” and the absence of this in the character of Marcius made all his great actions and noble qualities unacceptable to those whom they benefited: pride, and self-will, the consort, as Plato calls it, of solitude, made him insufferable. With the skill which Alcibiades, on the contrary, possessed to treat every one in the way most agreeable to him, we cannot wonder that all his successes were attended with the most exuberant favor and honor; his very errors, at times, being accompanied by something of grace and felicity. And so, in spite of great and frequent hurt that he had done the city, he was repeatedly appointed to office and command; while Coriolanus stood in vain for a place which his great services had made his due. The one, in spite of the harm he occasioned, could not make himself hated, nor the other, with all the admiration he attracted, succeed in being beloved by his countrymen.
Coriolanus, moreover, it should be said, did not as a general obtain any successes for his country, but only for his enemies against his country. Alcibiades was often of service to Athens, both as a soldier and as a commander. So long as he was personally present, he had the perfect mastery of his political adversaries; calumny only succeeded in his absence. Coriolanus was condemned in person at Rome; and in like manner killed by the Volscians, not indeed with any right or justice, yet not without some pretext occasioned by his own acts; since, after rejecting all conditions of peace in public, in private he yielded to the solicitations of the women, and, without establishing peace, threw up the favorable chances of war. He ought, before retiring, to have obtained the consent of those who had placed their trust in him; if indeed he considered their claims on him to be the strongest. Or, if we say that he did not care about the Volscians, but merely had prosecuted the war, which he now abandoned, for the satisfaction of his own resentment, then the noble thing would have been, not to spare his country for his mother’s sake, but his mother in and with his country; since both his mother and his wife were part and parcel of that endangered country. After harshly repelling public supplications, the entreaties of ambassadors, and the prayers of priests, to concede all as a private favor to his mother was less an honor to her than a dishonor to the city which thus escaped, in spite, it would seem, of its own demerits, through the intercession of a single woman. Such a grace could, indeed, seem merely invidious, ungracious, and unreasonable in the eyes of both parties; he retreated without listening to the persuasions of his opponents, or asking the consent of his friends. The origin of all lay in his unsociable, supercilious, and self-willed disposition, which, in all cases, is offensive to most people; and when combined with a passion for distinction, passes into absolute savageness and mercilessness. Men decline to ask favors of the people, professing not to need any honors from them; and then are indignant if they do not obtain them. Metellus, Aristides, and Epaminondas certainly did not beg favors of the multitude; but that was because they, in real truth, did not value the gifts which a popular body can either confer or refuse; and when they were more than once driven into exile, rejected at elections, and condemned in courts of justice, they showed no resentment at the ill-humor of their fellow-citizens, but were willing and contented to return and be reconciled when the feeling altered and they were wished for. He who least likes courting favor, ought also least to think of resenting neglect: to feel wounded at being refused a distinction can only arise from an overweening appetite to have it.
Alcibiades never professed to deny that it was pleasant to him to be honored, and distasteful to him to be overlooked; and, accordingly, he always tried to place himself upon good terms with all that he met; Coriolanus’s pride forbade him to pay attentions to those who could have promoted his advancement, and yet his love of distinction made him feel hurt and angry when he was disregarded. Such are the faulty parts of his character, which in all other respects was a noble one. For his temperance, continence, and probity, he might claim to be compared with the best and purest of the Greeks; not in any sort or kind with Alcibiades, the least scrupulous and most entirely careless of human beings in all these points.
It was for the sake of others that I first commenced writing biographies; but I find myself proceeding and attaching myself to it for my own; the virtues of these great men serving me as a sort of looking-glass, in which I may see how to adjust and adorn my own life. Indeed, it can be compared to nothing but daily living and associating together; we receive, as it were, in our inquiry, and entertain each successive guest, view
Their stature and their qualities,
and select from their actions all that is noblest and worthiest to know.
Ah, and what greater pleasure could one have?
or, what more effective means to one’s moral improvement? Democritus tells us we ought to pray that of the phantasms appearing in the circumambient air, such may present themselves to us as are propitious, and that we may rather meet with those that are agreeable to our natures and are good, than the evil and unfortunate; which is simply introducing into philosophy a doctrine untrue in itself, and leading to endless superstitions. My method, on the contrary, is, by the study of history, and by the familiarity acquired in writing, to habituate my memory to receive and retain images of the best and worthiest characters. I thus am enabled to free myself from any ignoble, base, or vicious impressions, contracted from the contagion of ill company that I may be unavoidably engaged in, by the remedy of turning my thoughts in a happy and calm temper to view these noble examples. Of this kind are those of Timoleon the Corinthian, and Paulus Æmilius, to write whose lives is my present business; men equally famous, not only for their virtues, but success; insomuch that they have left it doubtful whether they owe their greatest achievements to good fortune, or their own prudence and conduct.
The affairs of the Syracusans, before Timoleon was sent into Sicily, were in this posture: after Dion had driven out Dionysius the tyrant, he was slain by treachery, and those that had assisted him in delivering Syracuse were divided among themselves; and thus the city, by a continual change of governors, and a train of mischiefs that succeeded each other, became almost abandoned; while of the rest of Sicily, part was now utterly depopulated and desolate through long continuance of war, and most of the cities that had been left standing were in the hands of barbarians and soldiers out of employment, that were ready to embrace every turn of government. Such being the state of things, Dionysius takes the opportunity, and in the tenth year of his banishment, by the help of some mercenary troops he had got together, forces out Nysæus, then master of Syracuse, recovers all afresh, and is again settled in his dominion; and as at first he had been strangely deprived of the greatest and most absolute power that ever was, by a very small party, so now in a yet stranger manner, when in exile and of mean condition, he became the sovereign of those who had ejected him. All, therefore, that remained in Syracuse, had to serve under a tyrant, who at the best was of an ungentle nature, and exasperated now to a degree of savageness by the late misfortunes and calamities he had suffered. The better and more distinguished citizens, having timely retired thence to Hicetes, ruler of the Leontines, put themselves under his protection, and chose him for their general in the war; not that he was much preferable to any open and avowed tyrant; but they had no other sanctuary at present, and it gave them some ground of confidence, that he was of a Syracusan family, and had forces able to encounter those of Dionysius.
In the mean time, the Carthaginians appeared before Sicily with a great navy, watching when and where they might make a descent upon the island; and terror at this fleet made the Sicilians incline to send an embassy into Greece to demand succors from the Corinthians, whom they confided in rather than others, not only upon the account of their near kindred, and the great benefits they had often received by trusting them, but because Corinth had ever shown herself attached to freedom and averse from tyranny, and had engaged in many noble wars, not for empire or aggrandizement, but for the sole liberty of the Greeks. But Hicetes, who made it the business of his command not so much to deliver the Syracusans from other tyrants, as to enslave them to himself, had already entered into some secret conferences with those of Carthage, while in public he commended the design of his Syracusan clients, and despatched ambassadors from himself, together with theirs, into Peloponnesus; not that he really desired any relief to come from there, but, in case the Corinthians, as was likely enough, on account of the troubles of Greece and occupation at home, should refuse their assistance, hoping then he should be able with less difficulty to dispose and incline things for the Carthaginian interest, and so make use of these foreign pretenders, as instruments and auxiliaries for himself, either against the Syracusans or Dionysius, as occasion served. This was discovered a while after.
The ambassadors being arrived, and their request known, the Corinthians, who had always a great concern for all their colonies and plantations, but especially for Syracuse, since by good fortune there was nothing to molest them in their own country, where they were enjoying peace and leisure at that time, readily and with one accord passed a vote for their assistance. And when they were deliberating about the choice of a captain for the expedition, and the magistrates were urging the claims of various aspirants for reputation, one of the crowd stood up and named Timoleon, son of Timodemus, who had long absented himself from public business, and had neither any thoughts of, nor the least pretension to, an employment of that nature. Some god or other, it might rather seem, had put it in the man’s heart to mention him; such favor and good-will on the part of Fortune seemed at once to be shown in his election, and to accompany all his following actions, as though it were on purpose to commend his worth, and add grace and ornament to his personal virtues. As regards his parentage, both Timodemus his father, and his mother Demariste, were of high rank in the city; and as for himself, he was noted for his love of his country, and his gentleness of temper, except in his extreme hatred to tyrants and wicked men. His natural abilities for war were so happily tempered, that while a rare prudence might be seen in all the enterprises of his younger years, an equal courage showed itself in the last exploits of his declining age. He had an elder brother, whose name was Timophanes, who was every way unlike him, being indiscreet and rash, and infected by the suggestions of some friends and foreign soldiers, whom he kept always about him, with a passion for absolute power. He seemed to have a certain force and vehemence in all military service, and even to delight in dangers, and thus he took much with the people, and was advanced to the highest charges, as a vigorous and effective warrior; in the obtaining of which offices and promotions, Timoleon much assisted him, helping to conceal or at least to extenuate his errors, embellishing by his praise whatever was commendable in him, and setting off his good qualities to the best advantage.
It happened once in the battle fought by the Corinthians against the forces of Argos and Cleonæ, that Timoleon served among the infantry, when Timophanes, commanding their cavalry, was brought into extreme danger; as his horse being wounded fell forward, and threw him headlong amidst the enemies, while part of his companions dispersed at once in a panic, and the small number that remained, bearing up against a great multitude, had much ado to maintain any resistance. As soon, therefore, as Timoleon was aware of the accident, he ran hastily in to his brother’s rescue, and covering the fallen Timophanes with his buckler, after having received abundance of darts, and several strokes by the sword upon his body and his armor, he at length with much difficulty obliged the enemies to retire, and brought off his brother alive and safe. But when the Corinthians, for fear of losing their city a second time, as they had once before, by admitting their allies, made a decree to maintain four hundred mercenaries for its security, and gave Timophanes the command over them, he, abandoning all regard to honor and equity, at once proceeded to put into execution his plans for making himself absolute, and bringing the place under his own power; and having cut off many principal citizens, uncondemned and without trial, who were most likely to hinder his design, he declared himself tyrant of Corinth; a procedure that infinitely afflicted Timoleon, to whom the wickedness of such a brother appeared to be his own reproach and calamity. He undertook to persuade him by reasoning, that, desisting from that wild and unhappy ambition, he would bethink himself how he should make the Corinthians some amends, and find out an expedient to remedy and correct the evils he had done them. When his single admonition was rejected and contemned by him, he makes a second attempt, taking with him Æschylus his kinsman, brother to the wife of Timophanes, and a certain diviner, that was his friend, whom Theopompus in his history calls Satyrus, but Ephorus and Timæus mention in theirs by the name of Orthagoras. After a few days, then, he returns to his brother with this company, all three of them surrounding and earnestly importuning him upon the same subject, that now at length he would listen to reason, and be of another mind. But when Timophanes began first to laugh at the men’s simplicity, and presently broke out into rage and indignation against them, Timoleon stepped aside from him and stood weeping with his face covered, while the other two, drawing out their swords, despatched him in a moment.
On the rumor of this act being soon scattered about, the better and more generous of the Corinthians highly applauded Timoleon for the hatred of wrong and the greatness of soul that had made him, though of a gentle disposition and full of love and kindness for his family, think the obligations to his country stronger than the ties of consanguinity, and prefer that which is good and just before gain and interest and his own particular advantage. For the same brother, who with so much bravery had been saved by him when he fought valiantly in the cause of Corinth, he had now as nobly sacrificed for enslaving her afterward by a base and treacherous usurpation. But then, on the other side, those that knew not how to live in a democracy, and had been used to make their humble court to the men of power, though they openly professed to rejoice at the death of the tyrant, nevertheless, secretly reviling Timoleon, as one that had committed an impious and abominable act, drove him into melancholy and dejection. And when he came to understand how heavily his mother took it, and that she likewise uttered the saddest complaints and most terrible imprecations against him, he went to satisfy and comfort her as to what had happened; and finding that she would not endure so much as to look upon him, but caused her doors to be shut, that he might have no admission into her presence, with grief at this he grew so disordered in his mind and so disconsolate, that he determined to put an end to his perplexity with his life, by abstaining from all manner of sustenance. But through the care and diligence of his friends, who were very instant with him, and added force to their entreaties, he came to resolve and promise at last, that he would endure living, provided it might be in solitude, and remote from company; so that, quitting all civil transactions and commerce with the world, for a long while after his first retirement he never came into Corinth, but wandered up and down the fields, full of anxious and tormenting thoughts, and spent his time in desert places, at the farthest distance from society and human intercourse. So true it is that the minds of men are easily shaken and carried off from their own sentiments through the casual commendation or reproof of others, unless the judgments that we make, and the purposes we conceive, be confirmed by reason and philosophy, and thus obtain strength and steadiness. An action must not only be just and laudable in its own nature, but it must proceed likewise from solid motives and a lasting principle, that so we may fully and constantly approve the thing, and be perfectly satisfied in what we do; for otherwise, after having put our resolution into practice, we shall out of pure weakness come to be troubled at the performance, when the grace and goodliness, which rendered it before so amiable and pleasing to us, begin to decay and wear out of our fancy; like greedy people, who, seizing on the more delicious morsels of any dish with a keen appetite, are presently disgusted when they grow full, and find themselves oppressed and uneasy now by what they before so greedily desired. For a succeeding dislike spoils the best of actions, and repentance makes that which was never so well done, become base and faulty; whereas the choice that is founded upon knowledge and wise reasoning, does not change by disappointment, or suffer us to repent, though it happen perchance to be less prosperous in the issue. And thus Phocion, of Athens, having always vigorously opposed the measures of Leosthenes, when success appeared to attend them, and he saw his countrymen rejoicing and offering sacrifice in honor of their victory, “I should have been as glad,” said he to them, “that I myself had been the author of what Leosthenes has achieved for you, as I am that I gave you my own counsel against it.” A more vehement reply is recorded to have been made by Aristides the Locrian, one of Plato’s companions, to Dionysius the elder, who demanded one of his daughters in marriage: “I had rather,” said be to him, “see the virgin in her grave, than in the palace of a tyrant.” And when Dionysius, enraged at the affront, made his sons be put to death a while after, and then again insultingly asked, whether he were still in the same mind as to the disposal of his daughters, his answer was, “I cannot but grieve at the cruelty of your deeds, but am not sorry for the freedom of my own words.” Such expressions as these may belong perhaps to a more sublime and accomplished virtue.
The grief, however, of Timoleon at what had been done, whether it arose from commiseration of his brother’s fate, or the reverence he bore his mother, so shattered and broke his spirits, that for the space of almost twenty years, he had not offered to concern himself in any honorable or public action. When, therefore, he was pitched upon for a general, and joyfully accepted as such by the suffrages of the people, Teleclides, who was at that time the most powerful and distinguished man in Corinth, began to exhort him that he would act now like a man of worth and gallantry: “For,” said he, “if you do bravely in this service, we shall believe that you delivered us from a tyrant; but if otherwise, that you killed your brother.” While he was yet preparing to set sail, and enlisting soldiers to embark with him, there came letters to the Corinthians from Hicetes, plainly disclosing his revolt and treachery. For his ambassadors were no sooner gone for Corinth, but he openly joined the Carthaginians, negotiating that they might assist him to throw out Dionysius, and become master of Syracuse in his room. And fearing he might be disappointed of his aim, if troops and a commander should come from Corinth before this were effected, he sent a letter of advice thither, in all haste, to prevent their setting out, telling them they need not be at any cost and trouble upon his account, or run the hazard of a Sicilian voyage, especially since the Carthaginians, alliance with whom against Dionysius the slowness of their motions had compelled him to embrace, would dispute their passage, and lay in wait to attack them with a numerous fleet. This letter being publicly read, if any had been cold and indifferent before as to the expedition in hand, the indignation they now conceived against Hicetes so exasperated and inflamed them all, that they willingly contributed to supply Timoleon, and endeavored, with one accord, to hasten his departure.
When the vessels were equipped, and his soldiers every way provided for, the female priests of Prosperpina had a dream or vision, wherein she and her mother Ceres appeared to them in a travelling garb, and were heard to say that they were going to sail with Timoleon into Sicily; whereupon the Corinthians, having built a sacred galley, devoted it to them, and called it the galley of the goddesses. Timoleon went in person to Delphi, where he sacrificed to Apollo, and, descending into the place of prophecy, was surprised with the following marvellous occurrence. A riband with crowns and figures of victory embroidered upon it, slipped off from among the gifts that were there consecrated and hung up in the temple, and fell directly down upon his head; so that Apollo seemed already to crown him with success, and send him thence to conquer and triumph. He put to sea only with seven ships of Corinth, two of Corcyra, and a tenth which was furnished by the Leucadians; and when he was now entered into the deep by night, and carried with a prosperous gale, the heaven seemed all on a sudden to break open, and a bright spreading flame to issue forth from it, and hover over the ship he was in; and, having formed itself into a torch, not unlike those that are used in the mysteries, it began to steer the same course, and run along in their company, guiding them by its light to that quarter of Italy where they designed to go ashore. The soothsayers affirmed, that this apparition agreed with the dream of the holy women, since the goddesses were now visibly joining in the expedition, and sending this light from heaven before them: Sicily being thought sacred to Proserpina, as poets feign that the rape was committed there, and that the island was given her in dowry when she married Pluto.
These early demonstrations of divine favor greatly encouraged his whole army; so that, making all the speed they were able, by a voyage across the open sea, they were soon passing along the coast of Italy. But the tidings that came from Sicily much perplexed Timoleon, and disheartened his soldiers. For Hicetes, having already beaten Dionysius out of the field, and reduced most of the quarters of Syracuse itself, now hemmed him in and besieged him in the citadel and what is called the Island, whither he was fled for his last refuge; while the Carthaginians, by agreement, were to make it their business to hinder Timoleon from landing in any port of Sicily; so that he and his party being driven back, they might with ease and at their own leisure divide the island among themselves. In pursuance of which design, the Carthaginians sent away twenty of their galleys to Rhegium, having aboard them certain ambassadors from Hicetes to Timoleon, who carried instructions suitable to these proceedings, specious amusements and plausible stories, to color and conceal dishonest purposes. They had order to propose and demand that Timoleon himself, if he liked the offer, should come to advise with Hicetes, and partake of all his conquests, but that he might send back his ships and forces to Corinth, since the war was in a manner finished, and the Carthaginians had blocked up the passage, determined to oppose them if they should try to force their way towards the shore. When, therefore, the Corinthians met with these envoys at Rhegium, and received their message, and saw the Phœnician vessels riding at anchor in the bay, they became keenly sensible of the abuse that was put upon them, and felt a general indignation against Hicetes, and great apprehensions for the Siceliots, whom they now plainly perceived to be as it were a prize and recompense to Hicetes on one side for his perfidy, and to the Carthaginians on the other for the sovereign power they secured to him. For it seemed utterly impossible to force and overbear the Carthaginian ships that lay before them and were double their number, as also to vanquish the victorious troops which Hicetes had with him in Syracuse, to take the lead of which very troops they had undertaken their voyage.
The case being thus, Timoleon, after some conference with the envoys of Hicetes and the Carthaginian captains, told them he should readily submit to their proposals (to what purpose would it be to refuse compliance?): he was desirous only, before his return to Corinth, that what had passed between them in private might be solemnly declared before the people of Rhegium, a Greek city, and a common friend to the parties; this, he said, would very much conduce to his own security and discharge; and they likewise would more strictly observe articles of agreement, on behalf of the Syracusans, which they had obliged themselves to in the presence of so many witnesses. The design of all which was, only to divert their attention, while he got an opportunity of slipping away from their fleet: a contrivance that all the principal Rhegians were privy and assisting to, who had a great desire that the affairs of Sicily should fall into Corinthian hands, and dreaded the consequences of having barbarian neighbors. An assembly was therefore called, and the gates shut, that the citizens might have no liberty to turn to other business; and a succession of speakers came forward, addressing the people at great length, to the same effect, without bringing the subject to any conclusion, making way each for another and purposely spinning out the time, till the Corinthian galleys should get clear of the haven; the Carthaginian commanders being detained there without any suspicion, as also Timoleon still remained present, and gave signs as if he were just preparing to make an oration. But upon secret notice that the rest of the galleys were already gone off, and that his alone remained waiting for him, by the help and concealment of those Rhegians that were about the hustings and favored his departure, he made shift to slip away through the crowd, and, running down to the port, set sail with all speed; and having reached his other vessels, they came all safe to Tauromenium in Sicily, whither they had been formerly invited, and where they were now kindly received by Andromachus, then ruler of the city. This man was father of Timæus the historian, and incomparably the best of all those that bore sway in Sicily at that time, governing his citizens according to law and justice, and openly professing an aversion and enmity to all tyrants; upon which account he gave Timoleon leave to muster up his troops there, and to make that city the seat of war, persuading the inhabitants to join their arms with the Corinthian forces, and assist them in the design of delivering Sicily.
But the Carthaginians who were left in Rhegium perceiving, when the assembly was dissolved, that Timoleon had given them the go by, were not a little vexed to see themselves outwitted, much to the amusement of the Rhegians, who could not but smile to find Phœnicians complain of being cheated. However, they despatched a messenger aboard one of their galleys to Tauromenium, who, after much blustering in the insolent barbaric way, and many menaces to Andromachus if he did not forth with send the Corinthians off, stretched out his hand with the inside upward, and then turning it down again, threatened he would handle their city even so, and turn it topsy-turvy in as little time, and with as much ease. Andromachus, laughing at the man’s confidence, made no other reply, but, imitating his gesture, bid him hasten his own departure, unless he had a mind to see that kind of dexterity practised first upon the galley which brought him thither.
Hicetes, informed that Timoleon had made good his passage, was in great fear of what might follow, and sent to desire the Carthaginians that a large number of galleys might be ordered to attend and secure the coast. And now it was that the Syracusans began wholly to despair of safety, seeing the Carthaginians possessed of their haven, Hicetes master of the town, and Dionysius supreme in the citadel; while Timoleon had as yet but a slender hold of Sicily, as it were by the fringe or border of it, in the small city of the Tauromenians, with a feeble hope and a poor company; having but a thousand soldiers at the most, and no more provisions, either of corn or money, than were just necessary for the maintenance and the pay of that inconsiderable number. Nor did the other towns of Sicily confide in him, overpowered as they were with violence and outrage, and embittered against all that should offer to lead armies, by the treacherous conduct chiefly of Callippus, an Athenian, and Pharax, a Lacedæmonian captain, both of whom, after giving out that the design of their coming was to introduce liberty and depose tyrants, so tyrannized themselves, that the reign of former oppressors seemed to be a golden age in comparison, and the Sicilians began to consider those more happy who had expired in servitude, than any that had lived to see such a dismal freedom.
Looking, therefore, for no better usage from the Corinthian general, but imagining that it was only the same old course of things once more, specious pretences and false professions to allure them by fair hopes and kind promises into the obedience of a new master, they all, with one accord, unless it were the people of Adranum, suspected the exhortations, and rejected the overtures that were made them in his name. These were inhabitants of a small city, consecrated to Adranus, a certain god that was in high veneration throughout Sicily, and, as it happened, they were then at variance among themselves, insomuch that one party called in Hicetes and the Carthaginians to assist them, while the other sent proposals to Timoleon. It so fell out that these auxiliaries, striving which should be soonest, both arrived at Adranum about the same time; Hicetes bringing with him at least five thousand fighting men, while all the force Timoleon could make did not exceed twelve hundred. With these he marched out of Tauromenium, which was about three hundred and forty furlongs distant from that city. The first day he moved but slowly, and took up his quarters betimes after a short journey; but the day following he quickened his pace, and, having passed through much difficult ground, towards evening received advice that Hicetes was just approaching Adranum, and pitching his camp before it; upon which intelligence, his captains and other officers caused the vanguard to halt, that the army being refreshed, and having reposed a while, might engage the enemy with better heart. But Timoleon, coming up in haste, desired them not to stop for that reason, but rather use all possible diligence to surprise the enemy, whom probably they would now find in disorder, as having lately ended their march, and being taken up at present in erecting tents and preparing supper; which he had no sooner said, but laying hold of his buckler and putting himself in the front, he led them on as it were to certain victory. The braveness of such a leader made them all follow him with like courage and assurance. They were now within less than thirty furlongs of Adranum, which they quickly traversed, and immediately fell in upon the enemy, who were seized with confusion, and began to retire at their first approaches; one consequence of which was that, amidst so little opposition, and so early and general a flight, there were not many more than three hundred slain, and about twice the number made prisoners. Their camp and baggage, however, was all taken. The fortune of this onset soon induced the Adranitans to unlock their gates, and embrace the interest of Timoleon, to whom they recounted, with a mixture of affright and admiration, how, at the very minute of the encounter, the doors of their temple flew open of their own accord, that the javelin also, which their god held in his hand, was observed to tremble at the point, and that drops of sweat had been seen running down his face: prodigies that not only presaged the victory then obtained, but were an omen, it seems, of all his future exploits, to which this first happy action gave the occasion.
For now the neighboring cities and potentates sent deputies, one upon another, to seek his friendship and make offer of their service. Among the rest, Mamercus, the tyrant of Catana, an experienced warrior and a wealthy prince, made proposals of alliance with him, and, what was of greater importance still, Dionysius himself being now grown desperate, and wellnigh forced to surrender, despising Hicetes who had been thus shamefully baffled, and admiring the valor of Timoleon, found means to advertise him and his Corinthians that he should be content to deliver up himself and the citadel into their hands. Timoleon, gladly embracing this unlooked for advantage, sends away Euclides and Telemachus, two Corinthian captains, with four hundred men, for the seizure and custody of the castle, with directions to enter not all at once, or in open view, that being impracticable so long as the enemy kept guard, but by stealth, and in small companies. And so they took possession of the fortress, and the palace of Dionysius, with all the stores and ammunition he had prepared and laid up to maintain the war. They found a good number of horses, every variety of engines, a multitude of darts, and weapons to arm seventy thousand men (a magazine that had been formed from ancient time), besides two thousand soldiers that were then with him, whom he gave up with the rest for Timoleon’s service. Dionysius himself, putting his treasure aboard, and taking a few friends, sailed away unobserved by Hicetes, and being brought to the camp of Timoleon, there first appeared in the humble dress of a private person, and was shortly after sent to Corinth with a single ship and a small sum of money. Born and educated in the most splendid court and the most absolute monarchy that ever was, which he held and kept up for the space of ten years succeeding his father’s death, he had, after Dion’s expedition, spent twelve other years in a continual agitation of wars and contests, and great variety of fortune, during which time all the mischiefs he had committed in his former reign were more than repaid by the ills he himself then suffered; since he lived to see the deaths of his sons in the prime and vigor of their age, and the rape of his daughters in the flower of their virginity, and the wicked abuse of his sister and his wife, who, after being first exposed to all the lawless insults of the soldiery, was then murdered with her children, and cast into the sea; the particulars of which are more exactly given in the life of Dion.
Upon the news of his landing at Corinth, there was hardly a man in Greece who had not the curiosity to come and view the late formidable tyrant, and say some words to him; part, rejoicing at his disasters, were led thither out of mere spite and hatred, that they might have the pleasure of trampling, as it were, on the ruins of his broken fortune; but others, letting their attention and their sympathy turn rather to the changes and revolutions of his life, could not but see in them a proof of the strength and potency with which divine and unseen causes operate amidst the weakness of human and visible things. For neither art nor nature did in that age produce any thing comparable to this work and wonder of fortune, which showed the very same man, that was not long before supreme monarch of Sicily, loitering about perhaps in the fish-market, or sitting in a perfumer’s shop, drinking the diluted wine of taverns, or squabbling in the street with common women, or pretending to instruct the singing women of the theatre, and seriously disputing with them about the measure and harmony of pieces of music that were performed there. Such behavior on his part was variously criticized. He was thought by many to act thus out of pure compliance with his own natural indolent and vicious inclinations; while finer judges were of opinion, that in all this he was playing a politic part, with a design to be contemned among them, and that the Corinthians might not feel any apprehension or suspicion of his being uneasy under his reverse of fortune, or solicitous to retrieve it; to avoid which dangers, he purposely and against his true nature affected an appearance of folly and want of spirit in his private life and amusements.
However it be, there are sayings and repartees of his left still upon record, which seem to show that he not ignobly accommodated himself to his present circumstances; as may appear in part from the ingenuousness of the avowal he made on coming to Leucadia, which, as well as Syracuse, was a Corinthian colony, where he told the inhabitants, that he found himself not unlike boys who have been in fault, who can talk cheerfully with their brothers, but are ashamed to see their father; so, likewise, he, he said, could gladly reside with them in that island, whereas he felt a certain awe upon his mind, which made him averse to the sight of Corinth, that was a common mother to them both. The thing is further evident from the reply he once made to a stranger in Corinth, who deriding him in a rude and scornful manner about the conferences he used to have with philosophers, whose company had been one of his pleasures while yet a monarch, and demanding, in fine, what he was the better now for all those wise and learned discourses of Plato, “Do you think,” said he, “I have made no profit of his philosophy, when you see me bear my change of fortune as I do?” And when Aristoxenus the musician, and several others, desired to know how Plato offended him, and what had been the ground of his displeasure with him, he made answer, that, of the many evils attaching to the condition of sovereignty, the one greatest infelicity was that none of those who were accounted friends would venture to speak freely, or tell the plain truth; and that by means of such he had been deprived of Plato’s kindness. At another time, when one of those pleasant companions that are desirous to pass for wits, in mockery to Dionysius, as if he were still the tyrant, shook out the folds of his cloak, as he was entering into the room where he was, to show there were no concealed weapons about him, Dionysius, by way of retort, observed, that he would prefer he would do so on leaving the room, as a security that he was carrying nothing off with him. And when Philip of Macedon, at a drinking party, began to speak in banter about the verses and tragedies which his father, Dionysius the elder, had left behind him, and pretended to wonder how he could get any time from his other business to compose such elaborate and ingenious pieces, he replied, very much to the purpose, “It was at those leisurable hours, which such as you and I, and those we call happy men, bestow upon our cups.” Plato had not the opportunity to see Dionysius at Corinth, being already dead before he came thither; but Diogenes of Sinope, at their first meeting in the street there, saluted him with the ambiguous expression, “O Dionysius, how little you deserve your present life!” Upon which Dionysius stopped and replied, “I thank you, Diogenes, for your condolence.” “Condole with you!” replied Diogenes; “do you not suppose that, on the contrary, I am indignant that such a slave as you, who, if you had your due, should have been let alone to grow old, and die in the state of tyranny, as your father did before you, should now enjoy the ease of private persons, and be here to sport and frolic it in our society?” So that when I compare those sad stories of Philistus, touching the daughters of Leptines, where he makes pitiful moan on their behalf, as fallen from all the blessings and advantages of powerful greatness to the miseries of an humble life, they seem to me like the lamentations of a woman who has lost her box of ointment, her purple dresses, and her golden trinkets. Such anecdotes will not, I conceive, be thought either foreign to my purpose of writing Lives, or unprofitable in themselves, by such readers as are not in too much haste, or busied and taken up with other concerns.
But if the misfortune of Dionysius appear strange and extraordinary, we shall have no less reason to wonder at the good fortune of Timoleon, who, within fifty days after his landing in Sicily, both recovered the citadel of Syracuse, and sent Dionysius an exile into Peloponnesus. This lucky beginning so animated the Corinthians, that they ordered him a supply of two thousand foot and two hundred horse, who, reaching Thurii, intended to cross over thence into Sicily; but finding the whole sea beset with Carthaginian ships, which made their passage impracticable, they were constrained to stop there, and watch their opportunity: which time, however, was employed in a noble action. For the Thurians, going out to war against their Bruttian enemies, left their city in charge with these Corinthian strangers, who defended it as carefully as if it had been their own country, and faithfully resigned it up again.
Hicetes, in the interim, continued still to besiege the castle of Syracuse, and hindered all provisions from coming in by sea to relieve the Corinthians that were in it. He had engaged also, and despatched towards Adranum, two unknown foreigners to assassinate Timoleon, who at no time kept any standing guard about his person, and was then altogether secure, diverting himself, without any apprehension, among the citizens of the place, it being a festival in honor of their gods. The two men that were sent, having casually heard that Timoleon was about to sacrifice, came directly into the temple with poniards under their cloaks, and pressing in among the crowd, by little and little got up close to the altar; but, as they were just looking for a sign from each other to begin the attempt, a third person struck one of them over the head with a sword, upon whose sudden fall, neither he that gave the blow, nor the partisan of him that received it, kept their stations any longer; but the one, making way with his bloody sword, put no stop to his flight, till he gained the top of a certain lofty precipice, while the other, laying hold of the altar, besought Timoleon to spare his life, and he would reveal to him the whole conspiracy. His pardon being granted, he confessed that both himself and his dead companion were sent thither purposely to slay him. While this discovery was made, he that killed the other conspirator had been fetched down from his sanctuary of the rock, loudly and often protesting, as he came along, that there was no injustice in the fact, as he had only taken righteous vengeance for his father’s blood, whom this man had murdered before in the city of Leontini; the truth of which was attested by several there present, who could not choose but wonder too at the strange dexterity of fortune’s operations, the facility with which she makes one event the spring and motion to something wholly different, uniting every scattered accident and lose particular and remote action, and interweaving them together to serve her purposes; so that things that in themselves seem to have no connection or interdependence whatsoever, become in her hands, so to say, the end and the beginning of each other. The Corinthians, satisfied as to the innocence of this seasonable feat, honored and rewarded the author with a present of ten pounds in their money,* since he had, as it were, lent the use of his just resentment to the tutelar genius that seemed to be protecting Timoleon, and had not preëxpended this anger, so long ago conceived, but had reserved and deferred, under fortune’s guidance, for his preservation, the revenge of a private quarrel.
But this fortunate escape had effects and consequences beyond the present, as it inspired the highest hopes and future expectations of Timoleon, making people reverence and protect him as a sacred person sent by heaven to avenge and redeem Sicily. Hicetes, having missed his aim in this enterprise, and perceiving, also, that many went off and sided with Timoleon, began to chide himself for his foolish modesty, that, when so considerable a force of the Carthaginians lay ready to be commanded by him, he had employed them hitherto by degrees and in small numbers, introducing their reinforcements by stealth and clandestinely, as if he had been ashamed of the action. Therefore, now laying aside his former nicety, he calls in Mago, their admiral, with his whole navy, who presently set sail, and seized upon the port with a formidable fleet of at least a hundred and fifty vessels, landing there sixty thousand foot, which were all lodged within the city of Syracuse; so that, in all men’s opinion, the time anciently talked of and long expected, wherein Sicily should be subjugated by barbarians, was now come to its fatal period. For in all their preceding wars and many desperate conflicts with Sicily, the Carthaginians had never been able, before this, to take Syracuse; whereas Hicetes now receiving them, and putting the city into their hands, you might see it become now as it were a camp of barbarians. By this means, the Corinthian soldiers that kept the castle found themselves brought into great danger and hardship; as, besides that their provision grew scarce, and they began to be in want, because the havens were strictly guarded and blocked up, the enemy exercised them still with skirmishes and combats about their walls, and they were not only obliged to be continually in arms, but to divide and prepare themselves for assaults and encounters of every kind, and to repel every variety of the means of offence employed by a besieging army.
Timoleon made shift to relieve them in these straits, sending corn from Catana by small fishing-boats and little skiffs, which commonly gained a passage through the Carthaginian galleys in times of storm, stealing up when the blockading ships were driven apart and dispersed by the stress of weather; which Mago and Hicetes observing, they agreed to fall upon Catana, from whence these supplies were brought in to the besieged, and accordingly put off from Syracuse, taking with them the best soldiers in their whole army. Upon this, Neon the Corinthian, who was captain of those that kept the citadel, taking notice that the enemies who stayed there behind were very negligent and careless in keeping guard, made a sudden sally upon them as they lay scattered, and, killing some and putting others to flight, he took and possessed himself of that quarter which they call Acradina, and was thought to be the strongest and most impregnable part of Syracuse, a city made up and compacted, as it were, of several towns put together. Having thus stored himself with corn and money, he did not abandon the place, nor retire again into the castle, but fortifying the precincts of Acradina, and joining it by works to the citadel, he undertook the defence of both. Mago and Hicetes were now come near to Catana, when a horseman, despatched from Syracuse, brought them tidings that Acradina was taken; upon which they returned, in all haste, with great disorder and confusion, having neither been able to reduce the city they went against, nor to preserve that they were masters of.
These successes, indeed, were such as might leave foresight and courage a pretence still of disputing it with fortune, which contributed most to the result. But the next following event can scarcely be ascribed to any thing but pure felicity. The Corinthian soldiers who stayed at Thurii, partly for fear of the Carthaginian galleys which lay in wait for them under the command of Hanno, and partly because of tempestuous weather which had lasted for many days, and rendered the sea dangerous, took a resolution to march by land over the Bruttian territories, and, what with persuasion and force together, made good their passage through those barbarians to the city of Rhegium, the sea being still rough and raging as before. But Hanno, not expecting the Corinthians would venture out, and supposing it would be useless to wait there any longer, bethought himself, as he imagined, of a most ingenious and clever stratagem apt to delude and ensnare the enemy; in pursuance of which he commanded the seamen to crown themselves with garlands, and, adorning his galleys with bucklers both of the Greek and Carthaginian make, he sailed away for Syracuse in this triumphant equipage, and using all his oars as he passed under the castle with much shouting and laughter, cried out, on purpose to dishearten the besieged, that he was come from vanquishing and taking the Corinthian succors, which he fell upon at sea as they were passing over into Sicily. While he was thus trifling and playing his tricks before Syracuse, the Corinthians, now come as far as Rhegium, observing the coast clear, and that the wind was laid as it were by miracle, to afford them in all appearance a quiet and smooth passage, went immediately aboard on such little barks and fishing-boats as were then at hand, and got over to Sicily with such complete safety and in such an extraordinary calm, that they drew their horses by the reins, swimming along by them as the vessels went across.
When they were all landed, Timoleon came to receive them, and by their means at once obtained possession of Messena, from whence he marched in good order to Syracuse, trusting more to his late prosperous achievements than his present strength, as the whole army he had then with him did not exceed the number of four thousand; Mago, however, was troubled and fearful at the first notice of his coming, and grew more apprehensive and jealous still upon the following occasion. The marshes about Syracuse, that receive a great deal of fresh water, as well from springs as from lakes and rivers discharging themselves into the sea, breed abundance of eels, which may be always taken there in great quantities by any that will fish for them. The mercenary soldiers that served on both sides, were wont to follow the sport together at their vacant hours, and upon any cessation of arms; who, being all Greeks, and having no cause of private enmity to each other, as they would venture bravely in fight, so in times of truce used to meet and converse amicably together. And at this present time, while engaged about this common business of fishing, they fell into talk together; and some expressing their admiration of the neighboring sea, and others telling how much they were taken with the convenience and commodiousness of the buildings and public works, one of the Corinthian party took occasion to demand of the others: “And is it possible that you who are Grecians born, should be so forward to reduce a city of this greatness, and enjoying so many rare advantages, into the state of barbarism; and lend your assistance to plant Carthaginians, that are the worst and bloodiest of men, so much the nearer to us? whereas you should rather wish there were many more Sicilies to lie between them and Greece. Have you so little sense as to believe, that they come hither with an army, from the Pillars of Hercules and the Atlantic Sea, to hazard themselves for the establishment of Hicetes? who, if he had had the consideration which becomes a general, would never have thrown out his ancestors and founders to bring in the enemies of his country in the room of them, when he might have enjoyed all suitable honor and command, with consent of Timoleon and the rest of Corinth.” The Greeks that were in pay with Hicetes, noising these discourses about their camp, gave Mago some ground to suspect, as indeed he had long sought for a pretence to be gone, that there was treachery contrived against him; so that, although Hicetes entreated him to tarry, and made it appear how much stronger they were than the enemy, yet, conceiving they came far more short of Timoleon in respect of courage and fortune, than they surpassed him in number, he presently went aboard, and set sail for Africa, letting Sicily escape out of his hands with dishonor to himself, and for such uncertain causes, that no human reason could give an account of his departure.
The day after he went away, Timoleon came up before the city, in array for a battle. But when he and his company heard of this sudden flight, and saw the docks all empty, they could not forbear laughing at the cowardice of Mago, and in mockery caused proclamation to be made through the city, that a reward would be given to any one who could bring them tidings whither the Carthaginian fleet had conveyed itself from them. However, Hicetes resolving to fight it out alone, and not quitting his hold of the city, but sticking close to the quarters he was in possession of, places that were well fortified and not easy to be attacked, Timoleon divided his forces into three parts, and fell himself upon the side where the river Anapus ran, which was most strong and difficult of access; and he commanded those that were led by Isias, a Corinthian captain, to make their assault from the post of Acradina, while Dinarchus and Demaretus, that brought him the last supply from Corinth, were, with a third division, to attempt the quarter called Epipolæ. A considerable impression being made from every side at once, the soldiers of Hicetes were beaten off and put to flight; and this, — that the city came to be taken by storm, and fall suddenly into their hands, upon the defeat and rout of the enemy, — we must in all justice ascribe to the valor of the assailants, and the wise conduct of their general; but that not so much as a man of the Corinthians was either slain or wounded in the action, this the good fortune of Timoleon seems to challenge for her own work, as though, in a sort of rivalry with his own personal exertions, she made it her aim to exceed and obscure his actions by her favors, that those who heard him commended for his noble deeds might rather admire the happiness, than the merit of them. For the fame of what was done not only passed through all Sicily, and filled Italy with wonder, but even Greece itself, after a few days, came to ring with the greatness of his exploit; insomuch that those of Corinth, who had as yet no certainty that their auxiliaries were landed on the island, had tidings brought them at the same time that they were safe and were conquerors. In so prosperous a course did affairs run, and such was the speed and celerity of execution with which fortune, as with a new ornament, set off the native lustres of the performance.
Timoleon, being master of the citadel, avoided the error which Dion had been guilty of. He spared not the place for the beauty and sumptuousness of its fabric, and, keeping clear of those suspicions which occasioned first the unpopularity and afterwards the fall of Dion, made a public crier give notice, that all the Syracusans who were willing to have a hand in the work, should bring pick-axes and mattocks, and other instruments, and help him to demolish the fortifications of the tyrants. When they all came up with one accord, looking upon that order and that day as the surest foundation of their liberty, they not only pulled down the castle, but overturned the palaces and monuments adjoining, and whatever else might preserve any memory of former tyrants. Having soon levelled and cleared the place, he there presently erected courts for administration of justice, gratifying the citizens by this means, and building popular government on the fall and ruin of tyranny. But since he had recovered a city destitute of inhabitants, some of them dead in civil wars and insurrections, and others being fled to escape tyrants, so that through solitude and want of people the great market-place of Syracuse was overgrown with such quantity of rank herbage that it became a pasture for their horses, the grooms lying along in the grass as they fed by them; while also other towns, very few excepted, were become full of stags and wild boars, so that those who had nothing else to do went frequently a hunting, and found game in the suburbs and about the walls; and not one of those who had possessed themselves of castles, or made garrisons in the country, could be persuaded to quit their present abode, or would accept an invitation to return back into the city, so much did they all dread and abhor the very name of assemblies and forms of government and public speaking, that had produced the greater part of those usurpers who had successively assumed a dominion over them, — Timoleon, therefore, with the Syracusans that remained, considering this vast desolation, and how little hope there was to have it otherwise supplied, thought good to write to the Corinthians, requesting that they would send a colony out of Greece to repeople Syracuse. For else the land about it would lie unimproved; and besides this, they expected to be involved in a greater war from Africa, having news brought them that Mago had killed himself, and that the Carthaginians, out of rage for his ill conduct in the late expedition, had caused his body to be nailed upon a cross, and that they were raising a mighty force, with design to make their descent upon Sicily the next summer.
These letters from Timoleon being delivered at Corinth, and the ambassadors of Syracuse beseeching them at the same time, that they would take upon them the care of their poor city, and once again become the founders of it, the Corinthians were not tempted by any feeling of cupidity to lay hold of the advantage. Nor did they seize and appropriate the city to themselves, but going about first to the games that are kept as sacred in Greece, and to the most numerously attended religious assemblages, they made publication by heralds, that the Corinthians, having destroyed the usurpation at Syracuse and driven out the tyrant, did thereby invite the Syracusan exiles, and any other Siceliots, to return and inhabit the city, with full enjoyment of freedom under their own laws, the land being divided among them in just and equal proportions. And after this, sending messengers into Asia and the several islands where they understood that most of the scattered fugitives were then residing, they bade them all repair to Corinth, engaging that the Corinthians would afford them vessels and commanders, and a safe convoy, at their own charges, to Syracuse. Such generous proposals, being thus spread about, gained them the just and honorable recompense of general praise and benediction, for delivering the country from oppressors, and saving it from barbarians, and restoring it at length to the rightful owners of the place. These, when they were assembled at Corinth, and found how insufficient their company was, besought the Corinthians that they might have a supplement of other persons, as well out of their city as the rest of Greece, to go with them as joint-colonists; and so raising themselves to the number of ten thousand, they sailed together to Syracuse. By this time great multitudes, also, from Italy and Sicily, had flocked in to Timoleon, so that, as Athanis reports, their entire body amounted now to sixty thousand men. Among these he divided the whole territory, and sold the houses for a thousand talents; by which method, he both left it in the power of the old Syracusans to redeem their own, and made it a means also for raising a stock for the community, which had been so much impoverished of late, and was so unable to defray other expenses, and especially those of a war, that they exposed their very statues to sale, a regular process being observed, and sentence of auction passed upon each of them by majority of votes, as if they had been so many criminals taking their trial: in the course of which it is said that while condemnation was pronounced upon all other statues, that of the ancient usurper Gelo was exempted, out of admiration and honor and for the sake of the victory he gained over the Carthaginian forces at the river Himera.
Syracuse being thus happily revived, and replenished again by the general concourse of inhabitants from all parts, Timoleon was desirous now to rescue other cities from the like bondage, and wholly and once for all to extirpate arbitrary government out of Sicily. And for this purpose, marching into the territories of those that used it, he compelled Hicetes first to renounce the Carthaginian interest, and, demolishing the fortresses which were held by him, to live henceforth among the Leontinians as a private person. Leptines, also, the tyrant of Apollonia and divers other little towns, after some resistance made, seeing the danger he was in of being taken by force, surrendered himself; upon which Timoleon spared his life, and sent him away to Corinth, counting it a glorious thing that the mother city should expose to the view of other Greeks these Sicilian tyrants, living now in an exiled and a low condition. After this he returned to Syracuse, that he might have leisure to attend to the establishment of the new constitution, and assist Cephalus and Dionysius, who were sent from Corinth to make laws, in determining the most important points of it. In the meanwhile, desirous that his hired soldiers should not want action, but might rather enrich themselves by some plunder from the enemy, he despatched Dinarchus and Demaretus with a portion of them into the part of the island belonging to the Carthaginians, where they obliged several cities to revolt from the barbarians, and not only lived in great abundance themselves, but raised money from their spoil to carry on the war.
Meantime, the Carthaginians landed at the promontory of Lilybæum, bringing with them an army of seventy thousand men on board two hundred galleys, besides a thousand other vessels laden with engines of battery, chariots, corn, and other military stores, as if they did not intend to manage the war by piecemeal and in parts as heretofore, but to drive the Greeks altogether and at once out of all Sicily. And indeed it was a force sufficient to overpower the Siceliots, even though they had been at perfect union among themselves, and had never been enfeebled by intestine quarrels. Hearing that part of their subject territory was suffering devastation, they forthwith made toward the Corinthians with great fury, having Asdrubal and Hamilcar for their generals; the report of whose numbers and strength coming suddenly to Syracuse, the citizens were so terrified, that hardly three thousand, among so many myriads of them, had the courage to take up arms and join Timoleon. The foreigners, serving for pay, were not above four thousand in all, and about a thousand of these grew faint-hearted by the way, and forsook Timoleon in his march towards the enemy, looking on him as frantic and distracted, destitute of the sense which might have been expected from his time of life, thus to venture out against an army of seventy thousand men, with no more than five thousand foot and a thousand horse; and, when he should have kept those forces to defend the city, choosing rather to remove them eight days’ journey from Syracuse, so that if they were beaten from the field, they would have no retreat, nor any burial if they fell upon it. Timoleon, however, reckoned it some kind of advantage, that these had thus discovered themselves before the battle, and, encouraging the rest, led them with all speed to the river Crimesus, where it was told him the Carthaginians were drawn together.
As he was marching up an ascent, from the top of which they expected to have a view of the army and of the strength of the enemy, there met him by chance a train of mules loaded with parsley; which his soldiers conceived to be an ominous occurrence or ill-boding token, because this is the herb with which we not unfrequently adorn the sepulchres of the dead; and there is a proverb derived from the custom, used of one who is Page 139 dangerously sick, that he has need of nothing but parsley. So, to ease their minds, and free them from any superstitious thoughts or forebodings of evil, Timoleon halted, and concluded an address, suitable to the occasion, by saying, that a garland of triumph was here luckily brought them, and had fallen into their hands of its own accord, as an anticipation of victory: the same with which the Corinthians crown the victors in the Isthmian games, accounting chaplets of parsley the sacred wreath proper to their country; parsley being at that time still the emblem of victory at the Isthmian, as it is now at the Nemean sports; and it is not so very long ago that the pine first began to be used in its place.
Timoleon, therefore, having thus bespoke his soldiers, took part of the parsley, and with it made himself a chaplet first, his captains and their companies all following the example of their leader. The soothsayers then, observing also two eagles on the wing towards them, one of which bore a snake struck through with her talons, and the other, as she flew, uttered a loud cry indicating boldness and assurance, at once showed them to the soldiers, who with one consent fell to supplicate the gods, and call them in to their assistance. It was now about the beginning of summer, and conclusion of the month called Thargelion, not far from the solstice; and the river sending up a thick mist, all the adjacent plain was at first darkened with the fog, so that for a while they could discern nothing from the enemy’s camp; only a confused buzz and undistinguished mixture of voices came up to the hill from the distant motions and clamors of so vast a multitude. When the Corinthians had mounted, and stood on the top, and had laid down their bucklers to take breath and repose themselves, the sun coming round and drawing up the vapors from below, the gross foggy air that was now gathered and condensed above formed in a cloud upon the mountains; and, all the under places being clear and open, the river Crimesus appeared to them again, and they could descry the enemies passing over it, first with their formidable four horse chariots of war, and then ten thousand footmen bearing white shields, whom they guessed to be all Carthaginians, from the splendor of their arms, and the slowness and order of their march. And when now the troops of various other nations, flowing in behind them, began to throng for passage in a tumultuous and unruly manner, Timoleon, perceiving that the river gave them opportunity to single off whatever number of their enemies they had a mind to engage at once, and bidding his soldiers observe how their forces were divided into two separate bodies by the intervention of the stream, some being already over, and others still to ford it, gave Demaretus command to fall in upon the Carthaginians with his horse, and disturb their ranks before they should be drawn up into form of battle; and coming down into the plain himself, forming his right and left wing of other Sicilians, intermingling only a few strangers in each, he placed the natives of Syracuse in the middle, with the stoutest mercenaries he had about his own person; and, waiting a little to observe the action of his horse, when he saw they were not only hindered from grappling with the Carthaginians by the armed chariots that ran to and fro before the army, but forced continually to wheel about to escape having their ranks broken, and so to repeat their charges anew, he took his buckler in his hand, and crying out to the foot that they should follow him with courage and confidence, he seemed to speak with a more than human accent, and a voice stronger than ordinary; whether it were that he naturally raised it so high in the vehemence and ardor of his mind to assault the enemy, or else, as many then thought, some god or other spoke with him. When his soldiers quickly gave an echo to it, and besought him to lead them on without any further delay, he made a sign to the horse, that they should draw off from the front where the chariots were, and pass sidewards to attack their enemies in the flank; then, making his vanguard firm by joining man to man and buckler to buckler, he caused the trumpet to sound, and so bore in upon the Carthaginians.
They, for their part, stoutly received and sustained his first onset; and having their bodies armed with breastplates of iron, and helmets of brass on their heads, besides great bucklers to cover and secure them, they could easily repel the charge of the Greek spears. But when the business came to a decision by the sword, where mastery depends no less upon art than strength, all on a sudden from the mountain tops violent peals of thunder and vivid flashes of lightning broke out; following upon which the darkness, that had been hovering about the higher grounds and the crests of the hills, descending to the place of battle and bringing a tempest of rain and of wind and hail along with it, was driven upon the Greeks behind, and fell only at their backs, but discharged itself in the very faces of the barbarians, the rain beating on them, and the lightning dazzling them without cessation; annoyances that in many ways distressed at any rate the inexperienced, who had not been used to such hardships, and, in particular, the claps of thunder, and the noise of the rain and hail beating on their arms, kept them from hearing the commands of their officers. Besides which, the very mud also was a great hinderance to the Carthaginians, who were not lightly equipped, but, as I said before, loaded with heavy armor; and then their shirts underneath getting drenched, the foldings about the bosom filled with water, grew unwieldy and cumbersome to them as they fought, and made it easy for the Greeks to throw them down, and, when they were once down, impossible for them, under that weight, to disengage themselves and rise again with weapons in their hand. The river Crimesus, too, swollen partly by the rain, and partly by the stoppage of its course with the numbers that were passing through, overflowed its banks; and the level ground by the side of it, being so situated as to have a number of small ravines and hollows of the hill-side descending upon it, was now filled with rivulets and currents that had no certain channel, in which the Carthaginians stumbled and rolled about, and found themselves in great difficulty. So that, in fine, the storm bearing still upon them, and the Greeks having cut in pieces four hundred men of their first ranks, the whole body of their army began to fly. Great numbers were overtaken in the plain, and put to the sword there; and many of them, as they were making their way back through the river, falling foul upon others that were yet coming over, were borne away and overwhelmed by the waters; but the major part, attempting to get up the hills and so make their escape, were intercepted and destroyed by the light-armed troops. It is said, that of ten thousand who lay dead after the fight, three thousand, at least, were Carthaginian citizens; a heavy loss and great grief to their countrymen; those that fell being men inferior to none among them as to birth, wealth, or reputation. Nor do their records mention that so many native Carthaginians were ever cut off before in any one battle; as they usually employed Africans, Spaniards, and Numidians in their wars, so that if they chanced to be defeated, it was still at the cost and damage of other nations.
The Greeks easily discovered of what condition and account the slain were, by the richness of their spoils; for when they came to collect the booty, there was little reckoning made either of brass or iron, so abundant were better metals, and so common were silver and gold. Passing over the river, they became masters of their camp and carriages. As for captives, a great many of them were stolen away, and sold privately by the soldiers, but about five thousand were brought in and delivered up for the benefit of the public; two hundred of their chariots of war were also taken. The tent of Timoleon then presented a most glorious and magnificent appearance, being heaped up and hung round with every variety of spoils and military ornaments, among which there were a thousand breastplates of rare workmanship and beauty, and bucklers to the number of ten thousand. The victors being but few to strip so many that were vanquished, and having such valuable booty to occupy them, it was the third day after the fight before they could erect and finish the trophy of their conquest. Timoleon sent tidings of his victory to Corinth, with the best and goodliest arms he had taken as a proof of it; that he thus might render his country an object of emulation to the whole world, when, of all the cities of Greece, men should there alone behold the chief temples adorned, not with Grecian spoils, nor offerings obtained by the bloodshed and plunder of their own countrymen and kindred, and attended, therefore, with sad and unhappy remembrances, but with such as had been stripped from barbarians and enemies to their nation, with the noblest titles inscribed upon them, titles telling of the justice as well as fortitude of the conquerors; namely, that the people of Corinth, and Timoleon their general, having redeemed the Greeks of Sicily from Carthaginian bondage, made oblation of these to the gods, in grateful acknowledgment of their favor.
Having done this, he left his hired soldiers in the enemy’s country, to drive and carry away all they could throughout the subject-territory of Carthage, and so marched with the rest of his army to Syracuse, where he issued an edict for banishing the thousand mercenaries who had basely deserted him before the battle, and obliged them to quit the city before sunset. They, sailing into Italy, lost their lives there by the hands of the Bruttians, in spite of a public assurance of safety previously given them; thus receiving, from the divine power, a just reward of their own treachery. Mamercus, however, the tyrant of Catana, and Hicetes, after all, either envying Timoleon the glory of his exploits, or fearing him as one that would keep no agreement, nor have any peace with tyrants, made a league with the Carthaginians, and pressed them much to send a new army and commander into Sicily, unless they would be content to hazard all, and to be wholly ejected out of that island. And in consequence of this, Gisco was despatched with a navy of seventy sail. He took numerous Greek mercenaries also into pay, that being the first time they had ever been enlisted for the Carthaginian service; but then it seems the Carthaginians began to admire them, as the most irresistible soldiers of all mankind. Uniting their forces in the territory of Messena, they cut off four hundred of Timoleon’s paid soldiers, and within the dependencies of Carthage, at a place called Hieræ, destroyed, by an ambuscade, the whole body of mercenaries that served under Euthymus the Leucadian; which accidents, however, made the good fortune of Timoleon accounted all the more remarkable, as these were the men that, with Philomelus of Phocis and Onomarchus, had forcibly broken into the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and were partakers with them in the sacrilege; so that, being hated and shunned by all, as persons under a curse, they were constrained to wander about in Peloponnesus; when, for want of others, Timoleon was glad to take them into service in his expedition for Sicily, where they were successful in whatever enterprise they attempted under his conduct. But now, when all the important dangers were past, on his sending them out for the relief and defence of his party in several places, they perished and were destroyed at a distance from him, not all together, but in small parties; and the vengeance which was destined for them, so accommodating itself to the good fortune which guarded Timoleon as not to allow any harm or prejudice for good men to arise from the punishment of the wicked, the benevolence and kindness which the gods had for Timoleon was thus as distinctly recognized in his disasters as in his successes.
What most annoyed the Syracusans was their being insulted and mocked by the tyrants; as, for example, by Mamercus, who valued himself much upon his gift for writing poems and tragedies, and took occasion, when coming to present the gods with the bucklers of the hired soldiers whom he had killed, to make a boast of his victory in an insulting elegiac inscription:
After this, while Timoleon marched to Calauria, Hicetes made an inroad into the borders of Syracuse, where he met with considerable booty, and having done much mischief and havoc, returned back by Calauria itself, in contempt of Timoleon, and the slender force he had then with him. He, suffering Hicetes to pass forward, pursued him with his horsemen and light infantry, which Hicetes perceiving, crossed the river Damyrias, and then stood in a posture to receive him; the difficulty of the passage, and the height and steepness of the bank on each side, giving advantage enough to make him confident. A strange contention and dispute, meantime, among the officers of Timoleon, a little retarded the conflict; no one of them was willing to let another pass over Page 146 before him to engage the enemy; each man claiming it as a right, to venture first and begin the onset; so that their fording was likely to be tumultuous and without order, a mere general struggle which should be the foremost. Timoleon, therefore, desiring to decide the quarrel by lot, took a ring from each of the pretenders, which he cast into his own cloak, and, after he had shaken all together, the first he drew out had, by good fortune, the figure of a trophy engraved as a seal upon it; at the sight of which the young captains all shouted for joy, and, without waiting any longer to see how chance would determine it for the rest, took every man his way through the river with all the speed they could make, and fell to blows with the enemies, who were not able to bear up against the violence of their attack, but fled in haste and left their arms behind them all alike, and a thousand dead upon the place.
Not long after, Timoleon, marching up to the city of the Leontines, took Hicetes alive, and his son Eupolemus, and Euthymus, the commander of his horse, who were bound and brought to him by their own soldiers. Hicetes and the stripling his son were then executed as tyrants and traitors; and Euthymus, though a brave man, and one of singular courage, could obtain no mercy, because he was charged with contemptuous language in disparagement of the Corinthians when they first sent their forces into Sicily: it is said that he told the Leontini in a speech, that the news did not sound terrible, nor was any great danger to be feared because of
Corinthian women coming out of doors.
So true is it that men are usually more stung and galled by reproachful words than hostile actions; and they bear an affront with less patience than an injury: to do harm and mischief by deeds is counted pardonable from enemies, as nothing less can be expected in a state of war; whereas virulent and contumelious words appear to be the expression of needless hatred, and to proceed from an excess of rancor.
When Timoleon came back to Syracuse, the citizens brought the wives and daughters of Hicetes and his son to a public trial, and condemned and put them to death. This seems to be the least pleasing action of Timoleon’s life; since if he had interposed, the unhappy women would have been spared. He would appear to have disregarded the thing, and to have given them up to the citizens, who were eager to take vengeance for the wrongs done to Dion, who expelled Dionysius; since it was this very Hicetes, who took Arete the wife, and Aristomache the sister of Dion, with a son that had not yet passed his childhood, and threw them all together into the sea alive, as related in the life of Dion.
After this, he moved towards Catana against Mamercus, who gave him battle near the river Abolus,* and was overthrown and put to flight, losing above two thousand men, a considerable part of whom were the Phœnician troops sent by Gisco to his assistance. After this defeat, the Carthaginians sued for peace; which was granted on the conditions that they should confine themselves to the country within the river Lycus,† that those of the inhabitants who wished to remove to the Syracusan territories should be allowed to depart with their whole families and fortunes, and, lastly, that Carthage should renounce all engagements to the tyrants. Mamercus, now forsaken and despairing of success, took ship for Italy with the design of bringing in the Lucanians against Timoleon and the people of Syracuse; but the men in his galleys turning back and landing again and delivering up Catana to Timoleon, thus obliged him to fly for his own safety to Messena, where Hippo was tyrant. Timoleon, however, coming up against them, and besieging the city both by sea and land, Hippo, fearful of the event, endeavored to slip away in a vessel; which the people of Messena surprised as it was putting off, and seizing on his person, and bringing all their children from school into the theatre, to witness the glorious spectacle of a tyrant punished, they first publicly scourged and then put him to death. Mamercus made surrender of himself to Timoleon, with the proviso, that he should be tried at Syracuse, and Timoleon should take no part in his accusation. Thither he was brought accordingly, and presenting himself to plead before the people, he essayed to pronounce an oration he had long before composed in his own defence; but finding himself interrupted by noise and clamors, and observing from their aspect and demeanor that the assembly was inexorable, he threw off his upper garment, and running across the theatre as hard as he could, dashed his head against one of the stones under the seats with intention to have killed himself; but he had not the fortune to perish, as he designed, but was taken up alive, and suffered the death of a robber.
Thus did Timoleon cut the nerves of tyranny, and put a period to their wars; and, whereas, at his first entering upon Sicily, the island was as it were become wild again, and was hateful to the very natives on account of the evils and miseries they suffered there, he so civilized and restored it, and rendered it so desirable to all men, that even strangers now came by sea to inhabit those towns and places which their own citizens had formerly forsaken and left desolate. Agrigentum and Gela, two famous cities that had been ruined and laid waste by the Carthaginians after the Attic war, were then peopled again, the one by Megellus and Pheristus from Ela, the Page 149 other by Gorgus, from the island of Ceos, partly with new settlers, partly with the old inhabitants whom they collected again from various parts; to all of whom Timoleon not only afforded a secure and peaceable abode after so obstinate a war, but was further so zealous in assisting and providing for them that he was honored among them as their founder. Similar feelings also possessed to such a degree all the rest of the Sicilians, that there was no proposal for peace, nor reformation of laws, nor assignation of land, nor reconstitution of government, which they could think well of, unless he lent his aid as a chief architect, to finish and adorn the work, and superadd some touches from his own hand, which might render it pleasing both to God and man.
Although Greece had in his time produced several persons of extraordinary worth, and much renowned for their achievements, such as Timotheus and Agesilaus and Pelopidas and (Timoleon’s chief model) Epaminondas, yet the lustre of their best actions was obscured by a degree of violence and labor, insomuch that some of them were matter of blame and of repentance; whereas there is not any one act of Timoleon’s, setting aside the necessity he was placed under in reference to his brother, to which, as Timæus observes, we may not fitly apply that exclamation of Sophocles: —
For as the poetry of Antimachus, and the painting of Dionysius, the artists of Colophon, though full of force and vigor, yet appeared to be strained and elaborate in comparison with the pictures of Nicomachus and the verses of Homer, which, besides their general strength and beauty, have the peculiar charm of seeming to have been executed with perfect ease and readiness; so the expeditions and acts of Epaminondas or Agesilaus, that were full of toil and effort, when compared with the easy and natural as well as noble and glorious achievements of Timoleon, compel our fair and unbiassed judgment to pronounce the latter not indeed the effect of fortune, but the success of fortunate merit. Though he himself indeed ascribed that success to the sole favor of fortune; and both in the letters which he wrote to his friends at Corinth, and in the speeches he made to the people of Syracuse, he would say, that he was thankful unto God, who, designing to save Sicily, was pleased to honor him with the name and title of the deliverance he vouchsafed it. And having built a chapel in his house, he there sacrificed to Good Hap,* as a deity that had favored him, and devoted the house itself to the Sacred Genius; it being a house which the Syracusans had selected for him, as a special reward and monument of his brave exploits, granting him together with it the most agreeable and beautiful piece of land in the whole country, where he kept his residence for the most part, and enjoyed a private life with his wife and children, who came to him from Corinth. For he returned thither no more, unwilling to be concerned in the broils and tumults of Greece, or to expose himself to public envy (the fatal mischief which great commanders continually run into, from the insatiable appetite for honors and authority); but wisely chose to spend the remainder of his days in Sicily, and there partake of the blessings he himself had procured, the greatest of which was, to behold so many cities flourish, and so many thousands of people live happy through his means.
As, however, not only, as Simonides says, “On every lark must grow a crest,”* but also in every democracy there must spring up a false accuser, so was it at Syracuse: two of their popular spokesmen, Laphystius and Demænetus by name, fell to slander Timoleon. The former of whom requiring him to put in sureties that he would answer to an indictment that would be brought against him, Timoleon would not suffer the citizens, who were incensed at this demand, to oppose it or hinder the proceeding, since he of his own accord had been, he said, at all that trouble, and run so many dangerous risks for this very end and purpose, that every one who wished to try matters by law should freely have recourse to it. And when Demænetus, in a full audience of the people, laid several things to his charge which had been done while he was general, he made no other reply to him, but only said he was much indebted to the gods for granting the request he had so often made them, namely, that he might live to see the Syracusans enjoy that liberty of speech which they now seemed to be masters of.
Timoleon, therefore, having by confession of all done the greatest and the noblest things of any Greek of his age, and alone distinguished himself in those actions to which their orators and philosophers, in their harangues and panegyrics at their solemn national assemblies, used to exhort and incite the Greeks, and being withdrawn beforehand by happy fortune, unspotted and without blood, from the calamities of civil war, in which ancient Greece was soon after involved; having also given full proof, as of his sage conduct and manly courage to the barbarians and tyrants, so of his justice and gentleness to the Greeks, and his friends in general; having raised, too, the greater part of those trophies he won in battle, without any tears shed or any mourning worn by the citizens either of Syracuse or Corinth, and within less than eight years’ space delivered Sicily from its inveterate grievances and intestine distempers, and given it up free to the native inhabitants, began, as he was now growing old, to find his eyes fail, and awhile after became perfectly blind. Not that he had done any thing himself which might occasion this defect, or was deprived of his sight by any outrage of fortune; it seems rather to have been some inbred and hereditary weakness that was founded in natural causes, which by length of time came to discover itself. For it is said, that several of his kindred and family were subject to the like gradual decay, and lost all use of their eyes, as he did, in their declining years. Athanis the historian tells us, that even during the war against Hippo and Mamercus, while he was in his camp at Mylæ, there appeared a white speck within his eye, from whence all could foresee the deprivation that was coming on him; this, however, did not hinder him then from continuing the siege, and prosecuting the war, till he got both the tyrants into his power; but upon his coming back to Syracuse, he presently resigned the authority of sole commander, and besought the citizens to excuse him from any further service, since things were already brought to so fair an issue. Nor is it so much to be wondered, that he himself should bear the misfortune without any marks of trouble; but the respect and gratitude which the Syracusans showed him when he was entirely blind, may justly deserve our admiration. They used to go themselves to visit him in troops, and brought all the strangers that travelled through their country to his house and manor, that they also might have the pleasure to see their noble benefactor; making it the great matter of their joy and exultation, that when, after so many brave and happy exploits, he might have returned with triumph into Greece, he should disregard all the glorious preparations that were there made to receive him, and choose rather to stay here and end his days among them. Of the various things decreed and done in honor of Timoleon, I consider one most signal testimony to have been the vote which they passed, that, whenever they should be at war with any foreign nation, they should make use of none but a Corinthian general. The method, also, of their proceeding in council, was a noble demonstration of the same deference for his person. For, determining matters of less consequence themselves, they always called him to advise in the more difficult cases, and such as were of greater moment. He was, on these occasions, carried through the market-place in a litter, and brought in, sitting, into the theatre, where the people with one voice saluted him by his name; and then, after returning the courtesy, and pausing for a time, till the noise of their gratulations and blessings began to cease, he heard the business in debate, and delivered his opinion. This being confirmed by a general suffrage, his servants went back with the litter through the midst of the assembly, the people waiting on him out with acclamations and applauses, and then returning to consider other public matters, which they could despatch in his absence. Being thus cherished in his old age, with all the respect and tenderness due to a common father, he was seized with a very slight indisposition, which however was sufficient, with the aid of time, to put a period to his life. There was an allotment then of certain days given, within the space of which the Syracusans were to provide whatever should be necessary for his burial, and all the neighboring country people and strangers were to make their appearance in a body; so that the funeral pomp was set out with great splendor and magnificence in all other respects, and the bier, decked with ornaments and trophies, was borne by a select body of young men over that ground where the palace and castle of Dionysius stood, before they were demolished by Timoleon. There attended on the solemnity several thousands of men and women, all crowned with flowers, and arrayed in fresh and clean attire, which made it look like the procession of a public festival; while the language of all, and their tears mingling with their praise and benediction of the dead Timoleon, manifestly showed that it was not any superficial honor, or commanded homage, which they paid him, but the testimony of a just sorrow for his death, and the expression of true affection. The bier at length being placed upon the pile of wood that was kindled to consume his corpse, Demetrius, one of their loudest criers, proceeded to read a proclamation to the following purpose: “The people of Syracuse has made a special decree to inter Timoleon, the son of Timodemus, the Corinthian, at the common expense of two hundred minas, and to honor his memory forever, by the establishment of annual prizes to be competed for in music, and horseraces, and all sorts of bodily exercise; and this, because he suppressed the tyrants, overthrew the barbarians, replenished the principal cities, that were desolate, with new inhabitants, and then restored the Sicilian Greeks to the privilege of living by their own laws.” Besides this, they made a tomb for him in the market-place, which they afterwards built round with colonnades, and attached to it places of exercise for the young men, and gave it the name of the Timoleonteum. And keeping to that form and order of civil policy and observing those laws and constitutions which he left them, they lived themselves a long time in great prosperity.
Almost all historians agree that the Æmilii were one of the ancient and patrician houses in Rome; and those authors who affirm that king Numa was pupil to Pythagoras, tell us that the first who gave the name to his posterity was Mamercus, the son of Pythagoras, who, for his grace and address in speaking, was called Æmilius. Most of this race that have risen through their merit to reputation, also enjoyed good fortune; and even the misfortune of Lucius Paulus at the battle of Cannæ, gave testimony to his wisdom and valor. For, not being able to persuade his colleague not to hazard the battle, he, though against his judgment, joined with him in the contest, but was no companion in his flight: on the contrary, when he that was so resolute to engage deserted him in the midst of danger, he kept the field, and died fighting. This Æmilius had a daughter named Æmilia, who was married to Scipio the Great, and a son Paulus, who is the subject of my present history.
In his early manhood, which fell at a time when Rome was flourishing with illustrious characters, he was distinguished for not attaching himself to the studies usual with the young men of mark of that age, nor treading the same paths to fame. For he did not practise oratory with a view to pleading causes, nor would he stoop to salute, embrace, and entertain the vulgar, which were the usual insinuating arts by which many grew popular. Not that he was incapable of either, but he chose to purchase a much more lasting glory by his valor, justice, and integrity, and in these virtues he soon outstripped all his equals.
The first honorable office he aspired to was that of ædile, which he carried against twelve competitors of such merit, that all of them in process of time were consuls. Being afterwards chosen into the number of priests called augurs, appointed amongst the Romans to observe and register divinations made by the flight of birds or prodigies in the air, he so carefully studied the ancient customs of his country, and so thoroughly understood the religion of his ancestors, that this office, which was before only esteemed a title of honor and merely upon that account sought after, by his means rose to the rank of one of the highest arts, and gave a confirmation to the correctness of the definition which some philosophers have given of religion, that it is the science of worshipping the gods. When he performed any part of his duty, he did it with great skill and utmost care, making it, when he was engaged in it, his only business, not omitting any one ceremony, or adding the least circumstance, but always insisting, with his companions of the same order, even on points that might seem inconsiderable, and urging upon them, that though they might think the deity was easily pacified, and ready to forgive faults of inadvertency, yet any such laxity was a very dangerous thing for a commonwealth to allow: because no man ever began the disturbance of his country’s peace by a notorious breach of its laws; and those who are careless in trifles, give a precedent for remissness in important duties. Nor was he less severe, in requiring and observing the ancient Roman discipline in military affairs; not endeavoring, when he had the command, to ingratiate himself with his soldiers by popular flattery, though this custom prevailed at that time amongst many, who, by favor and gentleness to those that were under them in their first employment, sought to be promoted to a second; but, by instructing them in the laws of military discipline with the same care and exactness a priest would use in teaching ceremonies and dreadful mysteries, and by severity to such as transgressed and contemned those laws, he maintained his country in its former greatness, esteeming victory over enemies itself but as an accessory to the proper training and disciplining of the citizens.
Whilst the Romans were engaged in war with Antiochus the Great, against whom their most experienced commanders were employed, there arose another war in the west, and they were all up in arms in Spain. Thither they sent Æmilius, in the quality of prætor, not with six axes, which number other prætors were accustomed to have carried before them, but with twelve; so that in his prætorship he was honored with the dignity of a consul. He twice overcame the barbarians in battle, thirty thousand of whom were slain: successes chiefly to be ascribed to the wisdom and conduct of the commander, who by his great skill in choosing the advantage of the ground, and making the onset at the passage of a river, gave his soldiers an easy victory. Having made himself master of two hundred and fifty cities, whose inhabitants voluntarily yielded, and bound themselves by oath to fidelity, he left the province in peace, and returned to Rome, not enriching himself a drachma by the war. And, indeed, in general, he was but remiss in making money; though he always lived freely and generously on what he had, which was so far from being excessive, that after his death there was but barely enough left to answer his wife’s dowry.
His first wife was Papiria, the daughter of Maso, who had formerly been consul. With her he lived a considerable time in wedlock, and then divorced her, though she had made him the father of noble children; being mother of the renowned Scipio, and Fabius Maximus. The reason of this separation has not come to our knowledge; but there seems to be a truth conveyed in the account of another Roman’s being divorced from his wife, which may be applicable here. This person being highly blamed by his friends, who demanded, Was she not chaste? was she not fair? was she not fruitful? holding out his shoe, asked them, Whether it was not new? and well made? Yet, added he, none of you can tell where it pinches me. Certain it is, that great and open faults have often led to no separation; while mere petty repeated annoyances, arising from unpleasantness or incongruity of character, have been the occasion of such estrangement as to make it impossible for man and wife to live together with any content.
Æmilius, having thus put away Papiria, married a second wife, by whom he had two sons, whom he brought up in his own house, transferring the two former into the greatest and most noble families of Rome. The elder was adopted into the house of Fabius Maximus, who was five times consul; the younger, by the son of Scipio Africanus, his cousin-german, and was by him named Scipio.
Of the daughters of Æmilius, one was married to the son of Cato, the other to Ælius Tubero, a most worthy man, and the one Roman who best succeeded in combining liberal habits with poverty. For there were sixteen near relations, all of them of the family of the Ælii, possessed of but one farm, which sufficed them all, whilst one small house, or rather cottage, contained them, their numerous offspring, and their wives; amongst whom was the daughter of our Æmilius, who, although her father had been twice consul. and had twice triumphed, was not ashamed of her husband’s poverty, but proud of his virtue that kept him poor. Far otherwise it is with the brothers and relations of this age, who, unless whole tracts of land, or at least walls and rivers, part their inheritances, and keep them at a distance, never cease from mutual quarrels. History suggests a variety of good counsel of this sort, by the way, to those who desire to learn and improve.
To proceed: Æmilius, being chosen consul, waged war with the Ligurians, or Ligustines, a people near the Alps. They were a bold and warlike nation, and their neighborhood to the Romans had begun to give them skill in the arts of war. They occupy the further parts of Italy ending under the Alps, and those parts of the Alps themselves which are washed by the Tuscan sea and face towards Africa, mingled there with Gauls and Iberians of the coast. Besides, at that time they had turned their thoughts to the sea, and sailing as far as the Pillars of Hercules in light vessels fitted for that purpose, robbed and destroyed all that trafficked in those parts. They, with an army of forty thousand, waited the coming of Æmilius, who brought with him not above eight thousand, so that the enemy was five to one when they engaged; yet he vanquished and put them to flight, forcing them to retire into their walled towns, and in this condition offered them fair conditions of accommodation; it being the policy of the Romans not utterly to destroy the Ligurians, because they were a sort of guard and bulwark against the frequent attempts of the Gauls to overrun Italy. Trusting wholly therefore to Æmilius, they delivered up their towns and shipping into his hands. He, at the utmost, razed only the fortifications, and delivered their towns to them again, but took away all their shipping with him, leaving them no vessels bigger than those of three oars, and set at liberty great numbers of prisoners they had taken both by sea and land, strangers as well as Romans. These were the acts most worthy of remark in his first consulship.
Afterwards he frequently intimated his desire of being a second time consul, and was once candidate; but, meeting with a repulse and being passed by, he gave up all thought of it, and devoted himself to his duties as augur, and to the education of his children, whom he not only brought up, as he himself had been, in the Roman and ancient discipline, but also with unusual zeal in that of Greece. To this purpose he not only procured masters to teach them grammar, logic, and rhetoric, but had for them also preceptors in modelling and drawing, managers of horses and dogs, and instructors in field sports, all from Greece. And, if he was not hindered by public affairs, he himself would be with them at their studies, and see them perform their exercises, being the most affectionate father in Rome.
This was the time, in public matters, when the Romans were engaged in war with Perseus, king of the Macedonians, and great complaints were made of their commanders, who, either through their want of skill or courage, were conducting matters so shamefully, that they did less hurt to the enemy than they received from him. They that not long before had forced Antiochus the Great to quit the rest of Asia, to retire beyond Mount Taurus, and confine himself to Syria, glad to buy his peace with fifteen thousand talents; they that not long since had vanquished king Philip in Thessaly, and freed the Greeks from the Macedonian yoke; nay, had overcome Hannibal himself, who far surpassed all kings in daring and power, — thought it scorn that Perseus should think himself an enemy fit to match the Romans, and to be able to wage war with them so long on equal terms, with the remainder only of his father’s routed forces; not being aware that Philip after his defeat had greatly improved both the strength and discipline of the Macedonian army. To make which appear, I shall briefly recount the story from the beginning.
Antigonus, the most powerful amongst the captains and successors of Alexander, having obtained for himself and his posterity the title of king, had a son named Demetrius, father to Antigonus, called Gonatas, and he had a son Demetrius, who, reigning some short time, died and left a young son called Philip. The chief men of Macedon, fearing great confusion might arise in his minority, called in Antigonus, cousin-german to the late king, and married him to the widow, the mother of Philip. At first they only styled him regent and general, but, when they found by experience that he governed the kingdom with moderation and to general advantage, gave him the title of king. This was he that was surnamed Doson,* as if he was a great promiser, and a bad performer. To him succeeded Philip, who in his youth gave great hopes of equalling the best of kings, and that he one day would restore Macedon to its former state and dignity, and prove himself the one man able to check the power of the Romans, now rising and extending over the whole world. But, being vanquished in a pitched battle by Titus Flamininus near Scotussa, his resolution failed, and he yielded himself and all that he had to the mercy of the Romans, well contented that he could escape with paying a small tribute. Yet afterwards, recollecting himself, he bore it with great impatience, and thought he lived rather like a slave that was pleased with ease, than a man of sense and courage, whilst he held his kingdom at the pleasure of his conquerors; which made him turn his whole mind to war, and prepare himself with as much cunning and privacy as possible. To this end, he left his cities on the high roads and sea-coast ungarrisoned, and almost desolate, that they might seem inconsiderable; in the mean time, collecting large forces up the country, and furnishing his inland posts, strong holds, and towns, with arms, money, and men fit for service, he thus provided himself for war, and yet kept his preparations close. He had in his armory arms for thirty thousand men; in granaries in places of strength, eight millions of bushels of corn, and as much ready money as would defray the charge of maintaining ten thousand mercenary soldiers for ten years in defence of the country. But before he could put these things into motion, and carry his designs into effect, he died for grief and anguish of mind, being sensible he had put his innocent son Demetrius to death, upon the calumnies of one that was far more guilty. Perseus, his son that survived, inherited his hatred to the Romans as well as his kingdom, but was incompetent to carry out his designs, through want of courage, and the viciousness of a character in which, among faults and diseases of various sorts, covetousness bore the chief place. There is a statement also of his not being true born; that the wife of king Philip took him from his mother Gnathænion (a woman of Argos, that earned her living as a seamstress), as soon as he was born, and passed him upon her husband as her own. And this might be the chief cause of his contriving the death of Demetrius; as he might well fear, that so long as there was a lawful successor in the family, there was no security that his spurious birth might not be revealed.
Notwithstanding all this, and though his spirit was so mean, and temper so sordid, yet, trusting to the strength of his resources, he engaged in a war with the Romans, and for a long time maintained it; repulsing and even vanquishing some generals of consular dignity, and some great armies and fleets. He routed Publius Licinius, who was the first that invaded Macedonia, in a cavalry battle, slew twenty-five hundred practised soldiers, and took six hundred prisoners; and, surprising their fleet as they rode at anchor before Oreus, he took twenty ships of burden with all their lading, sunk the rest that were freighted with corn, and, besides this, made himself master of four galleys with five banks of oars. He fought a second battle with Hostilius, a consular officer, as he was making his way into the country at Elimiæ, and forced him to retreat; and, when he afterwards by stealth designed an invasion through Thessaly, challenged him to fight, which the other feared to accept. Nay more, to show his contempt of the Romans, and that he wanted employment, as a war by the by, he made an expedition against the Dardanians, in which he slew ten thousand of those barbarian people, and brought a great spoil away. He privately, moreover, solicited the Gauls (also called Basternæ), a warlike nation, and famous for horsemen, dwelling near the Danube; and incited the Illyrians, by the means of Genthius their king, to join with him in the war. It was also reported, that the barbarians, allured by promise of rewards, were to make an irruption into Italy, through the lower Gaul by the shore of the Adriatic Sea.
The Romans, being advertised of these things, thought it necessary no longer to choose their commanders by favor or solicitation, but of their own motion to select a general of wisdom and capacity for the management of great affairs. And such was Paulus Æmilius, advanced in years, being nearly threescore, yet vigorous in his own person, and rich in valiant sons and sons-in-law, besides a great number of influential relations and friends, all of whom joined in urging him to yield to the desires of the people, who called him to the consulship. He at first manifested some shyness of the people, and withdrew himself from their importunity, professing reluctance to hold office; but, when they daily came to his doors, urging him to come forth to the place of election, and pressing him with noise and clamor, he acceded to their request. When he appeared amongst the candidates, it did not look as if it were to sue for the consulship, but to bring victory and success, that he came down into the Campus; they all received him there with such hopes and such gladness, unanimously choosing him a second time consul; nor would they suffer the lots to be cast, as was usual, to determine which province should fall to his share, but immediately decreed him the command of the Macedonian war. It is told, that when he had been proclaimed general against Perseus, and was honorably accompanied home by great numbers of people, he found his daughter Tertia, a very little girl, weeping, and taking her to him asked her why she was crying. She, catching him about the neck and kissing him, said, “O father, do you not know that Perseus is dead?” meaning a little dog of that name that was brought up in the house with her; to which Æmilius replied, “Good fortune, my daughter; I embrace the omen.” This Cicero, the orator relates in his book on divination.
It was the custom for such as were chosen consuls, from a stage designed for such purposes, to address the people, and return them thanks for their favor. Æmilius, therefore, having gathered an assembly, spoke and said, that he sued for the first consulship, because he himself stood in need of such honor; but for the second, because they wanted a general; upon which account he thought there was no thanks due: if they judged they could manage the war by any other to more advantage, he would willingly yield up his charge; but, if they confided in him, they were not to make themselves his colleagues in his office, or raise reports, and criticise his actions, but, without talking, supply him with means and assistance necessary to the carrying on of the war; for, if they proposed to command their own commander, they would render this expedition more ridiculous than the former. By this speech he inspired great reverence for him amongst the citizens, and great expectations of future success; all were well pleased, that they had passed by such as sought to be preferred by flattery, and fixed upon a commander endued with wisdom and courage to tell them the truth. So entirely did the people of Rome, that they might rule, and become masters of the world, yield obedience and service to reason and superior virtue.
That Æmilius, setting forward to the war, by a prosperous voyage and successful journey, arrived with speed and safety at his camp, I attribute to good fortune; but, when I see how the war under his command was brought to a happy issue, partly by his own daring boldness, partly by his good counsel, partly by the ready administration of his friends, partly by his presence of mind and skill to embrace the most proper advice in the extremity of danger, I cannot ascribe any of his remarkable and famous actions (as I can those of other commanders) to his so much celebrated good fortune; unless you will say that the covetousness of Perseus was the good fortune of Æmilius. The truth is, Perseus’ fear of spending his money was the destruction and utter ruin of all those splendid and great preparations with which the Macedonians were in high hopes to carry on the war with success. For there came at his request ten thousand horsemen of the Basternæ, and as many foot, who were to keep pace with them, and supply their places in case of failure; all of them professed soldiers, men skilled neither in tilling of land, nor in navigation of ships, nor able to get their livings by grazing, but whose only business and single art and trade it was to fight and conquer all that resisted them. When these came into the district of Mædica, and encamped and mixed with the king’s soldiers, being men of great stature, admirable at their exercises, great boasters, and loud in their threats against their enemies, they gave new courage to the Macedonians, who were ready to think the Romans would not be able to confront them, but would be struck with terror at their looks and motions, they were so strange and so formidable to behold. When Perseus had thus encouraged his men, and elevated them with these great hopes, as soon as a thousand gold pieces were demanded for each captain, he was so amazed and beside himself at the vastness of the amount, that out of mere stinginess he drew back and let himself lose their assistance, as if he had been some steward, not the enemy of the Romans, and would have to give an exact account of the expenses of the war, to those with whom he waged it. Nay, when he had his foes as tutors, to instruct him what he had to do, who, besides their other preparations, had a hundred thousand men drawn together and in readiness for their service; yet he that was to engage against so considerable a force, and in a war that was maintaining such numbers as this, nevertheless doled out his money, and put seals on his bags, and was as fearful of touching it, as if it had belonged to some one else. And all this was done by one, not descended from Lydians or Phœnicians, but who could pretend to some share of the virtues of Alexander and Philip, whom he was allied to by birth; men who conquered the world by judging that empire was to be purchased by money, not money by empire. Certainly it became a proverb, that not Philip, but his gold took the cities of Greece. And Alexander, when he undertook his expedition against the Indians, and found his Macedonians encumbered, and appear to march heavily with their Persian spoils, first set fire to his own carriages, and thence persuaded the rest to imitate his example, that thus freed they might proceed to the war without hindrance. Whereas Perseus, abounding in wealth, would not preserve himself, his children, and his kingdom, at the expense of a small part of his treasure; but chose rather to be carried away with numbers of his subjects with the name of the wealthy captive, and show the Romans what great riches he had husbanded and preserved for them. For he not only played false with the Gauls, and sent them away, but also, after alluring Genthius, king of the Illyrians, by the hopes of three hundred talents, to assist him in the war, he caused the money to be counted out in the presence of his messengers, and to be sealed up. Upon which Genthius, thinking himself possessed of what he desired, committed a wicked and shameful act: he seized and imprisoned the ambassadors sent to him from the Romans. Whence Perseus, concluding that there was now no need of money to make Genthius an enemy to the Romans, but that he had given a lasting earnest of his enmity, and by his flagrant injustice sufficiently involved himself in the war, defrauded the unfortunate king of his three hundred talents, and without any concern beheld him, his wife, and children, in a short time after, carried out of their kingdom, as from their nest, by Lucius Anicius, who was sent against him with an army.
Æmilius, coming against such an adversary, made light indeed of him, but admired his preparation and power. For he had four thousand horse, and not much fewer than forty thousand full-armed foot of the phalanx; and planting himself along the seaside, at the foot of Mount Olympus, in ground with no access on any side, and on all sides fortified with fences and bulwarks of wood, remained in great security, thinking by delay and expense to weary out Æmilius. But he, in the mean time, busy in thought, weighed all counsels and all means of attack, and perceiving his soldiers, from their former want of discipline, to be impatient of delay, and ready on all occasions to teach their general his duty, rebuked them, and bade them not meddle with what was not their concern, but only take care that they and their arms were in readiness, and to use their swords like Romans when their commander should think fit to employ them. Further he ordered, that the sentinels by night should watch without javelins, that thus they might be more careful and surer to resist sleep, having no arms to defend themselves against any attacks of an enemy.
What most annoyed the army was the want of water; for only a little, and that foul, flowed out, or rather came by drops from a spring adjoining the sea; but Æmilius, considering that he was at the foot of the high and woody mountain Olympus, and conjecturing by the flourishing growth of the trees that there were springs that had their course under ground, dug a great many holes and wells along the foot of the mountain, which were presently filled with pure water escaping from its confinement into the vacuum they afforded. Although there are some, indeed, who deny that there are reservoirs of water lying ready provided out of sight, in the places from whence springs flow, and that when they appear, they merely issue and run out; on the contrary they say, they are then formed and come into existence for the first time, by the liquefaction of the surrounding matter; and that this change is caused by density and cold, when the moist vapor, by being closely pressed together, becomes fluid. As women’s breasts are not like vessels full of milk always prepared and ready to flow from them; but their nourishment being changed in their breasts, is there made milk, and from thence is pressed out. In like manner, places of the earth that are cold and full of springs, do not contain any hidden waters or receptacles which are capable, as from a source always ready and furnished, of supplying all the brooks and deep rivers; but by compressing and condensing the vapors and air, they turn them into that substance. And thus places that are dug open flow by that pressure, and afford the more water (as the breasts of women do milk by their being sucked), the vapor thus moistening and becoming fluid; whereas ground that remains idle and undug is not capable of producing any water, whilst it wants that motion which is the cause of liquefaction. But those that assert this opinion, give occasion to the doubtful to argue, that on the same ground there should be no blood in living creatures, but that it must be formed by the wound, some sort of spirit or flesh being changed into a liquid and flowing matter. Moreover, they are refuted by the fact that men who dig mines, either in sieges or for metals, meet with rivers, which are not collected by little and little (as must necessarily be, if they had their being at the very instant the earth was opened), but break out at once with violence; and upon the cutting through a rock, there often gush out great quantities of water, which then as suddenly cease. But of this enough.
Æmilius lay still for some days, and it is said, that there were never two great armies so nigh, that enjoyed so much quiet. When he had tried and considered all things, he was informed that there was yet one passage left unguarded, through Perrhæbia by the temple of Apollo and the Rock.* Gathering, therefore, more hope from the place being left defenceless than fear from the roughness and difficulty of the passage, he proposed it for consultation. Amongst those that were present at the council, Scipio, surnamed Nasica, son-in-law to Scipio Africanus, who afterwards was so powerful in the senatehouse, was the first that offered himself to command those that should be sent to encompass the enemy. Next to him, Fabius Maximus, eldest son of Æmilius, although yet very young, offered himself with great zeal. Æmilius, rejoicing, gave them, not so many as Polybius states, but, as Nasica himself tells us in a brief letter which he wrote to one of the kings with an account of the expedition, three thousand Italians that were not Romans, and his left wing consisting of five thousand. Taking with him, besides these, one hundred and twenty horsemen, and two hundred Thracians and Cretans intermixed that Harpalus had sent, he began his journey towards the sea, and encamped near the temple of Hercules, as if he designed to embark, and so to sail round and environ the enemy. But when the soldiers had supped and it was dark, he made the captains acquainted with his real intentions, and marching all night in the opposite direction, away from the sea, till he came under the temple of Apollo, there rested his army. At this place Mount Olympus rises in height more than ten furlongs,* as appears by the epigram made by the man that measured it:
It is allowed, say the geometricians, that no mountain in height or sea in depth exceeds ten furlongs, and yet it seems probable that Xenagoras did not take his admeasurement carelessly, but according to the rules of art, and with instruments for the purpose. Here it was that Nasica passed the night.
A Cretan deserter, who fled to the enemy during the march, discovered to Perseus the design which the Romans had to encompass him: for he, seeing that Æmilius lay still, had not suspected any such attempt. He was startled at the news, yet did not put his army in motion, but sent ten thousand mercenary soldiers and two thousand Macedonians, under command of Milo, with order to hasten and possess themselves of the passes. Polybius relates that the Romans found these men asleep when they attacked them; but Nasica says there was a sharp and severe conflict on the top of the mountain, that he himself encountered a mercenary Thracian, pierced him through with his javelin, and slew him; and that the enemy being forced to retreat, Milo stripped to his coat and fled shamefully without his armor, while he followed without danger, and conveyed the whole army down into the country.
After this event, Perseus, now grown fearful, and fallen from his hopes, removed his camp in all haste; he was under the necessity either to stop before Pydna, and there run the hazard of a battle, or disperse his army into cities, and there expect the event of the war, which, having once made its way into his country, could not be driven out without great slaughter and bloodshed. But Perseus, being told by his friends that he was much superior in number, and that men fighting in the defence of their wives and children must needs feel all the more courage, especially when all was done in the sight of their king, who himself was engaged in equal danger, was thus again encouraged; and, pitching his camp, prepared himself to fight, viewed the country, and gave out the commands, as if he designed to set upon the Romans as soon as they approached. The place was a field fit for the action of a phalanx, which requires smooth standing and even ground, and also had divers little hills, one joining another, fit for the motions whether in retreat or advance of light troops and skirmishers. Through the middle ran the rivers Æson and Leucus, which, though not very deep, it being the latter end of summer, yet were likely enough to give the Romans some trouble.
As soon as Æmilius had rejoined Nasica, he advanced in battle array against the enemy; but when he found how they were drawn up, and the number of their forces, he regarded them with admiration and surprise, and halted, considering within himself. The young commanders, eager to fight, riding along by his side, pressed him not to delay, and most of all Nasica, flushed with his late success on Olympus. To whom Æmilius answered with a smile: “So would I do, were I of your age; but many victories have taught me the ways in which men are defeated, and forbid me to engage soldiers weary with a long march, against an army drawn up and prepared for battle.”
Then he gave command that the front of his army, and such as were in sight of the enemy, should form as if ready to engage, and those in the rear should cast up the trenches and fortify the camp; so that the hindmost in succession wheeling off by degrees and withdrawing, their whole order was insensibly broken up, and the army encamped without noise or trouble.
When it was night, and, supper being over, all were turning to sleep and rest, on a sudden the moon, which was then at full and high in the heavens, grew dark, and by degrees losing her light, passed through various colors, and at length was totally eclipsed. The Romans, according to their custom, clattering brass pans and lifting up firebrands and torches into the air, invoked the return of her light; the Macedonians behaved far otherwise: terror and amazement seized their whole army, and a rumor crept by degrees into their camp that this eclipse portended even that of their king. Æmilius was no novice in these things, nor was ignorant of the nature of the seeming irregularities of eclipses, — that in a certain revolution of time, the moon in her course enters the shadow of the earth and is there obscured, till, passing the region of darkness, she is again enlightened by the sun. Yet being a devout man, a religious observer of sacrifices and the art of divination, as soon as he perceived the moon beginning to regain her former lustre, he offered up to her eleven heifers. At the break of day he sacrificed as many as twenty in succession to Hercules, without any token that his offering was accepted; but at the one and twentieth, the signs promised victory to defenders. He then vowed a hecatomb and solemn sports to Hercules, and commanded his captains to make ready for battle, staying only till the sun should decline and come round to the west, lest, being in their faces in the morning, it should dazzle the eyes of his soldiers. Thus he whiled away the time in his tent, which was open towards the plain where his enemies were encamped.
When it grew towards evening, some tell us, Æmilius himself used a stratagem to induce the enemy to begin the fight; that he turned loose a horse without a bridle, and sent some of the Romans to catch him, upon whose following the beast, the battle began. Others relate that the Thracians, under the command of one Alexander, set upon the Roman beasts of burden that were bringing forage to the camp; that to oppose these, a party of seven hundred Ligurians were immediately detached and that, relief coming still from both armies, the main bodies at last engaged. Æmilius, like a wise pilot, foreseeing by the present waves and motion of the armies, the greatness of the following storm, came out of his tent, went through the legions, and encouraged his soldiers. Nasica, in the mean time, who had ridden out to the akirmishers, saw the whole force of the enemy on the point of engaging. First marched the Thracians, who, he himself tells us, inspired him with most terror; they were of great stature, with bright and glittering shields and black frocks under them, their legs armed with greaves, and they brandished, as they moved, straight and heavily-ironed spears over their right shoulders. Next the Thracians marched the mercenary soldiers, armed after different fashions; with these the Pæonians were mingled. These were succeeded by a third division, of picked men, native Macedonians, the choicest for courage and strength, in the prime of life, gleaming with gilt armor and scarlet coats. As these were taking their places they were followed from the camp by the troops in phalanx called the Brazen Shields, so that the whole plain seemed alive with the flashing of steel and the glistening of brass; and the hills also with their shouts, as they cheered each other on. In this order they marched, and with such boldness and speed, that those that were first slain died at but two furlongs distance from the Roman camp.
The battle being begun, Æmilius came in and found that the foremost of the Macedonians had already fixed the ends of their spears into the shields of his Romans, so that it was impossible to come near them with their swords. When he saw this, and observed that the rest of the Macedonians took the targets that hung on their left shoulders, and brought them round before them, and all at once stooped their pikes against their enemies’ shields, and considered the great strength of this wall of shields, and the formidable appearance of a front thus bristling with arms, he was seized with amazement and alarm: nothing he had ever seen before had been equal to it; and in after times he frequently used to speak both of the sight and of his own sensations. These, however, he dissembled, and rode through his army without either breastplate or helmet, with a serene and cheerful countenance.
On the contrary, as Polybius relates, no sooner was the battle begun, but the Macedonian king basely withdrew to the city Pydna, under a pretence of sacrificing to Hercules: a God that is not wont to regard the faint offerings of cowards, or to fulfil unsanctioned vows. For truly it can hardly be a thing that heaven would sanction, that he that never shoots should carry away the prize; he triumph that slinks from the battle; he that takes no pains meet with success, or the wicked man prosper. But to Æmilius’s petitions the god listened; he prayed for victory with his sword in his hand, and fought while entreating divine assistance.
A certain Posidonius, who has at some length written a history of Perseus, and professes to have lived at the time, and to have been himself engaged in these events, denies that Perseus left the field either through fear or pretence of sacrificing, but that, the very day before the fight, he received a kick from a horse on his thigh; that though very much disabled, and dissuaded by all his friends, he commanded one of his riding-horses to be brought, and entered the field unarmed; that amongst an infinite number of darts that flew about on all sides, one of iron lighted on him, and though not with the point, yet by a glance struck him with such force on his left side, that it tore his clothes and so bruised his flesh that the mark remained a long time after. This is what Posidonius says in defence of Perseus.
The Romans not being able to make a breach in the phalanx, one Salius, a commander of the Pelignians, snatched the ensign of his company and threw it amongst the enemies; on seeing which, the Pelignians (as amongst the Italians it is always thought the greatest breach of honor to abandon a standard) rushed with great violence towards the place, where the conflict grew very fierce, and the slaughter terrible on both sides. For these endeavored to cut the spears asunder with their swords, or to beat them back with their shields, or put them by with their hands; and, on the other side, the Macedonians held their long sarissas in both hands, and pierced those that came in their way quite through their armor, no shield or corslet being able to resist the force of that weapon. The Pelignians and Marrucinians were thrown headlong to the ground, having without consideration, with mere animal fury, rushed upon a certain death. Their first ranks being slain, those that were behind were forced to give back; it cannot be said they fled, but they retreated towards Mount Olocrus. When Æmilius saw this, Posidonius relates, he rent his clothes, some of his men being ready to fly, and the rest not willing to engage with a phalanx into which they could not hope to make any entrance, — a sort of palisade, as it were, impregnable and unapproachable, with its close array of long spears everywhere meeting the assailant. Nevertheless, the unequalness of the ground would not permit a widely extended front to be so exactly drawn up as to have their shields everywhere joined; and Æmilius perceived that there were a great many interstices and breaches in the Macedonian phalanx; as it usually happens in all great armies, according to the different efforts of the combatants, who in one part press forward with eagerness, and in another are forced to fall back. Taking, therefore, this occasion, with all speed he broke up his men into their cohorts, and gave them order to fall into the intervals and openings of the enemy’s body, and not to make one general attack upon them all, but to engage, as they were divided, in several partial battles. These commands Æmilius gave to his captains, and they to their soldiers; and no sooner had they entered the spaces and separated their enemies, but they charged them, some on their sides where they were naked and exposed, and others, making a circuit, behind; and thus destroyed the force of the phalanx, which consisted in common action and close union. And now, come to fight man to man, or in small parties, the Macedonians smote in vain upon firm and long shields with their little swords, whilst their slight bucklers were not able to sustain the weight and force of the Roman swords, which pierced through all their armor to their bodies; they turned, in fine, and fled.
The conflict was obstinate. And here Marcus, the son of Cato, and son-in-law of Æmilius, whilst he showed all possible courage, let fall his sword. Being a young man, carefully brought up and disciplined, and, as son of so renowned a father, bound to give proof of more than ordinary virtue, he thought his life but a burden, should he live and permit his enemies to enjoy this spoil. He hurried hither and thither, and wherever he espied a friend or companion, declared his misfortune, and begged their assistance; a considerable number of brave men being thus collected, with one accord they made their way through their fellows after their leader, and fell upon the enemy; whom, after a sharp conflict, many wounds, and much slaughter, they repulsed, possessed the place that was now deserted and free, and set themselves to search for the sword, which at last they found covered with a great heap of arms and dead bodies. Overjoyed with this success, they raised the song of triumph, and with more eagerness than ever, charged the foes that yet remained firm and unbroken. In the end, three thousand of the chosen men, who kept their ground and fought valiantly to the last, were all cut in pieces, while the slaughter of such as fled was also very great. The plain and the lower part of the hills were filled with dead bodies, and the water of the river Leucus, which the Romans did not pass till the next day after the battle, was then mingled with blood. For it is said there fell more than twenty-five thousand of the enemy; of the Romans, as Posidonius relates, a hundred; as Nasica, only fourscore. This battle, though so great, was very quickly decided, it being three in the afternoon when they first engaged, and not four when the enemy was vanquished; the rest of the day was spent in the pursuit of the fugitives, whom they followed about thirteen or fourteen miles, so that it was far in the night when they returned.
All the others were met by their servants with torches, and brought back with joy and great triumph to their tents, which were set out with lights, and decked with wreaths of ivy and laurel. But the general himself was in great grief. Of the two sons that served under him in the war, the youngest was missing, whom he held most dear, and whose courage and good qualities he perceived much to excel those of his brothers. Bold and eager for distinction, and still a mere child in age, he concluded that he had perished, whilst for want of experience he had engaged himself too far amongst his enemies. His sorrow and fears became known to the army; the soldiers, quitting their suppers, ran about with lights, some to Æmilius’s tent, some out of the trenches, to seek him amongst such as were slain in the first onset. There was nothing but grief in the camp, and the plain was filled with the cries of men calling out for Scipio; for, from his very youth, he was an object of admiration; endowed above any of his equals with the good qualities requisite either for command or counsel. At length, when it was late, and they almost despaired, he returned from the pursuit with only two or three of his companions, all covered with the fresh blood of his enemies, having been, like some dog of noble breed, carried away by the pleasure, greater than he could control, of his first victory. This was that Scipio that afterwards destroyed Carthage and Numantia, and was, without dispute, the first of the Romans in merit, and had the greatest authority amongst them. Thus Fortune, deferring her displeasure and jealousy of such great success to some other time, let Æmilius at present enjoy this victory, without any detraction or diminution.
As for Perseus, from Pydna he fled to Pella with his cavalry, which was as yet almost entire. But when the foot came up with them, and, upbraiding them as cowards and traitors, tried to pull them off their horses, and fell to blows, Perseus, fearing the tumult, forsook the common road, and, lest he should be known, pulled off his purple, and carried it before him, and took his crown in his hand, and, that he might the better converse with his friends, alighted from his horse and led him. Of those that were about him, one stopped, pretending to tie his shoe that was loose, another to water his horse, a third to drink himself; and thus lagging behind, by degrees left him, they having not so much reason to fear their enemies, as his cruelty; for he, disordered by his misfortune, sought to clear himself by laying the cause of the overthrow upon everybody else. He arrived at Pella in the night, where Euctus and Eudæus, two of his treasurers, came to him, and, what with their reflecting on his former faults, and their free and ill-timed admonitions and counsels, so exasperated him, that he killed them both, stabbing them with his own dagger. After this, nobody stuck to him but Evander the Cretan, Archedemus the Ætolian, and Neon the Bœotian. Of the common soldiers there followed him only those from Crete, not out of any good-will, but because they were as constant to his riches as the bees to their hive. For he carried a great treasure with him, out of which he had suffered them to take cups, bowls, and other vessels of silver and gold, to the value of fifty talents. But when he was come to Amphipolis, and afterwards to Galepsus, and his fears were a little abated, he relapsed into his old and constitutional disease of covetousness, and lamented to his friends that he had, through inadvertency, allowed some gold plate which had belonged to Alexander the Great to go into the hands of the Cretans, and besought those that had it, with tears in his eyes, to exchange with him again for money. Those that understood him thoroughly knew very well he only played the Cretan with the Cretans, but those that believed him, and restored what they had, were cheated; as he not only did not pay the money, but by craft got thirty talents more of his friends into his hands (which in a short time after fell to the enemy), and with them sailed to Samothrace, and there fled to the temple of Castor and Pollux for refuge.
The Macedonians were always accounted great lovers of their kings, but now, as if their chief prop was broken, they all gave way together, and submitted to Æmilius, and in two days made him master of their whole country. This seems to confirm the opinion which ascribes whatever he did to good fortune. The omen, also, that happened at Amphipolis, has a supernatural character. When he was sacrificing there, and the holy rites were just begun, on a sudden, lightning fell upon the altar, set the wood on fire, and completed the immolation of the sacrifice. The most signal manifestation, however, of preternatural agency appears in the story of the rumor of his success. For on the fourth day after Perseus was vanquished at Pydna, whilst the people at Rome were seeing the horse-races, a report suddenly arose at the entrance of the theatre that Æmilius had defeated Perseus in a great battle, and was reducing all Macedonia under his power; and from thence it spread amongst the people, and created general joy, with shoutings and acclamations Page 181 for that whole day through the city. But when no certain author was found of the news, and every one alike had taken it at random, it was abandoned for the present, and thought no more of, until, a few days after, certain intelligence came, and then the first was looked upon as no less than a miracle, having, under an appearance of fiction, contained what was real and true. It is reported, also, that the news of the battle fought in Italy, near the river Sagra, was conveyed into Peloponnesus the same day, and of that at Mycale against the Medes, to Platæa. When the Romans had defeated the Tarquins, who were combined with the Latins, a little after, there were seen at Rome two tall and comely men, who professed to bring the news from the camp. They were conjectured to be Castor and Pollux. The first man that spoke to them in the forum, near the fountain where they were cooling their horses, which were all of a foam, expressed surprise at the report of the victory, when, it is said, they smiled, and gently touched his beard with their hands, the hair of which from being black was, on the spot, changed to yellow. This gave credit to what they said, and fixed the name of Ahenobarbus, or Brazen-beard, on the man. And a thing which happened in our own time will make all these credible. For when Antonius rebelled against Domitian, and Rome was in consternation, expecting great wars from the quarter of Germany, all on a sudden, and nobody knows upon what account, the people spontaneously gave out a rumor of victory, and the news ran current through the city, that Antonius himself was slain, his whole army destroyed, and not so much as a part of it escaped; nay, this belief was so strong and positive, that many of the magistrates offered up sacrifice. But when, at length, the author was sought for, and none was to be found, it vanished by degrees, every one shifting it off from himself to another, and, at last, was lost in the numberless crowd, as in a vast ocean, and, having no solid ground to support its credit, was, in a short time, not so much as named in the city. Nevertheless, when Domitian marched out with his forces to the war, he met with messengers and letters that gave him a relation of the victory; and the rumor, it was found, had come the very day it was gained, though the distance between the places was more than twenty-five hundred miles. The truth of this no man of our time is ignorant of.
But to proceed. Cnæus Octavius, who was joined in command with Æmilius, came to an anchor with his fleet under Samothrace, where, out of respect to the gods, he permitted Perseus to enjoy the benefit of refuge, but took care that he should not escape by sea. Notwithstanding, Perseus secretly persuaded Oroandes of Crete, master of a small vessel, to convey him and his treasure away. He, however, playing the true Cretan, took in the treasure, and bade him come, in the night, with his children and most necessary attendants, to the port by the temple of Ceres; but, as soon as it was evening, set sail without him. It had been sad enough for Perseus to be forced to let down himself, his wife and children, through a narrow window by a wall, — people altogether unaccustomed to hardship and flying; but that which drew a far sadder sigh from his heart was, when he was told by a man, as he wandered on the shore, that he had seen Oroandes under sail in the main sea; it being now about daybreak. So, there being no hopes left of escaping, he fled back again to the wall, which he and his wife recovered, though they were seen by the Romans, before they could reach them. His children he himself had delivered into the hands of Ion, one that had been his favorite, but now proved his betrayer, and was the chief cause that forced him (beasts themselves will do so when their young ones are taken) to come and yield himself up to those that had them in their power. His greatest confidence was in Nasica, and it was for him he called, but he not being there, he bewailed his misfortune, and, seeing there was no possible remedy, surrendered himself to Octavius. And here, in particular, he made it manifest that he was possessed with a vice more sordid than covetousness itself, namely, the fondness of life; by which he deprived himself even of pity, the only thing that fortune never takes away from the most wretched. He desired to be brought to Æmilius, who arose from his seat, and accompanied with his friends went to receive him, with tears in his eyes, as a great man fallen by the anger of the gods and his own ill fortune; when Perseus — the most shameful of sights — threw himself at his feet, embraced his knees, and uttered unmanly cries and petitions, such as Æmilius was not able to bear, nor would vouchsafe to hear: but looking on him with a sad and angry countenance he said, “Why, unhappy man, do you thus take pains to exonerate fortune of your heaviest charge against her, by conduct that will make it seem that you are not unjustly in calamity, and that it is not your present condition, but your former happiness, that was more than your deserts? And why depreciate also my victory, and make my conquests insignificant, by proving yourself a coward, and a foe beneath a Roman? Distressed valor challenges great respect, even from enemies; but cowardice, though never so successful, from the Romans has always met with scorn.” Yet for all this he took him up, gave him his hand, and delivered him into the custody of Tubero. Meantime, he himself carried his sons, his sons-in-law, and others of chief rank, especially of the younger sort, back with him into his tent, where for a long time he sat down without speaking one word, insomuch that they all wondered at him. At last, he began to discourse of fortune and human affairs. “Is it meet,” said he, “for him that knows he is but man, in his greatest prosperity to pride himself, and be exalted at the conquest of a city, nation, or kingdom, and not rather well to weigh this change of fortune, in which all warriors may see an example of their common frailty, and learn a lesson that there is nothing durable or constant? For what time can men select to think themselves secure, when that of victory itself forces us more than any to dread our own fortune? and a very little consideration on the law of things, and how all are hurried round, and each man’s station changed, will introduce sadness in the midst of the greatest joy. Or can you, when you see before your eyes the succession of Alexander himself, who arrived at the height of power and ruled the greatest empire, in the short space of an hour trodden under foot, — when you behold a king, that was but even now surrounded with so numerous an army, receiving nourishment to support his life from the hands of his conquerors, — can you, I say, believe there is any certainty in what we now possess, whilst there is such a thing as chance? No, young men, cast off that vain pride and empty boast of victory; sit down with humility, looking always for what is yet to come, and the possible future reverses which the divine displeasure may eventually make the end of our present happiness.” It is said that Æmilius, having spoken much more to the same purpose, dismissed the young men properly humbled, and with their vain-glory and insolence thoroughly chastened and curbed by his address.
When this was done, he put his army into garrisons, to refresh themselves, and went himself to visit Greece, and to spend a short time in relaxations equally honorable and humane. For, as he passed, he eased the people’s grievances, reformed their governments, and bestowed gifts upon them; to some, corn, — to others, oil out of the king’s storehouses, in which, they report, there were such vast quantities laid up, that receivers and petitioners were lacking before they could be exhausted. In Delphi he found a great square pillar of white marble, designed for the pedestal of king Perseus’ golden statue, on which he commanded his own to be placed, alleging that it was but just that the conquered should give place to the conquerors. In Olympia he is said to have uttered the saying everybody has heard, that Phidias had carved Homer’s Jupiter. When the ten commissioners arrived from Rome, he delivered up again to the Macedonians their cities and country, granting them to live at liberty, and according to their own laws, only paying the Romans the tribute of a hundred talents, double which sum they had been wont to pay to their kings. Then he celebrated all manner of shows and games, and sacrifices to the gods, and made great entertainments and feasts; the charge of all which he liberally defrayed out of the king’s treasury; and showed that he understood the ordering and placing of his guests, and how every man should be received, answerably to their rank and quality, with such nice exactness, that the Greeks were full of wonder, finding the care of these matters of pleasure did not escape him, and that though involved in such important business, he could observe correctness in these trifles. Nor was it least gratifying to him, that, amidst all the magnificent and splendid preparations, he himself was always the most grateful sight, and greatest pleasure to those he entertained. And he told those that seemed to wonder at his diligence, that there was the same spirit shown in marshalling a banquet as an army; in rendering the one formidable to the enemy, the other acceptable to the guests. Nor did men less praise his liberality, and the greatness of his soul, than his other virtues; for he would not so much as see those great quantities of silver and gold, which were heaped together out of the king’s palaces, but delivered them to the quæstors, to be put into the public treasury. He only permitted his own sons, who were great lovers of learning, to take the king’s books; and when he distributed rewards due to extraordinary valor, he gave his son-in-law, Ælius Tubero, a bowl that weighed five pounds. This is that Tubero we have already mentioned, who was one of sixteen relations that lived together, and were all maintained out of one little farm; and it is said, that this was the first plate that ever entered the house of the Ælii, brought thither as an honor and reward of virtue; before this time, neither they nor their wives ever made use either of silver or gold.
Having thus settled every thing well, taking his leave of the Greeks, and exhorting the Macedonians, that, mindful of the liberty they had received from the Romans, they should endeavor to maintain it by their obedience to the laws, and concord amongst themselves, he departed for Epirus, having orders from the senate, to give the soldiers that followed him in the war against Perseus the pillage of the cities of that country. That he might set upon them all at once by surprise and unawares, he summoned ten of the principal men out of each, whom he commanded, on such an appointed day, to bring all the gold and silver they had either in their private houses or temples; and, with every one of these, as if it were for this very purpose, and under a pretence of searching for and receiving the gold, he sent a centurion and a guard of soldiers; who, the set day being come, rose all at once, and at the very self-same time fell upon them, and proceeded to ransack the cities; so that in one hour a hundred and fifty thousand persons were made slaves, and threescore and ten cities sacked. Yet what was given to each soldier, out of so vast a destruction and utter ruin, amounted to no more than eleven drachmas; so that men could only shudder at the issue of a war, where the wealth of a whole nation, thus divided, turned to so little advantage and profit to each particular man.
When Æmilius had done this, — an action perfectly contrary to his gentle and mild nature, — he went down to Oricus, where he embarked his army for Italy. He sailed up the river Tiber in the king’s galley, that had sixteen banks of oars, and was richly adorned with captured arms and with cloths of purple and scarlet; so that, the vessel rowing slowly against the stream, the Romans that crowded on the shore to meet him had a foretaste of his following triumph. But the soldiers, who had cast a covetous eye on the treasures of Perseus, when they did not obtain as much as they thought they deserved, were secretly enraged and angry with Æmilius for this, but openly complained that he had been a severe and tyrannical commander over them; nor were they ready to show their desire of his triumph. When Servius Galba, who was Æmilius’s enemy, though he commanded as tribune under him, understood this, he had the boldness plainly to affirm that a triumph was not to be allowed him; and sowed various calumnies amongst the soldiers, which yet further increased their ill-will. Nay more, he desired the tribunes of the people, because the four hours that were remaining of the day could not suffice for the accusation, to let him put it off till another. But when the tribunes commanded him to speak then, if he had any thing to say, he began a long oration, filled with all manner of reproaches, in which he spent the remaining part of the time, and the tribunes, when it was dark, dismissed the assembly. The soldiers, growing more vehement on this, thronged all to Galba, and entering into a conspiracy, early in the morning beset the capitol, where the tribunes had appointed the following assembly to be held.
As soon as it was day, it was put to the vote, and the first tribe was proceeding to refuse the triumph; and the news spread amongst the people and to the senate. The people were indeed much grieved that Æmilius should meet with such ignominy; but this was only in words, which had no effect. The chief of the senate exclaimed against it as a base action, and excited one another to repress the boldness and insolence of the soldiers, which would erelong become altogether ungovernable and violent, were they now permitted to deprive Æmilius of his triumph. Forcing a passage through the crowd, they came up in great numbers, and desired the tribunes to defer polling, till they had spoken what they had to say to the people. All things thus suspended, and silence being made, Marcus Servilius stood up, a man of consular dignity, and who had killed twenty-three of his enemies that had challenged him in single combat. “It is now more than ever,” said he, “clear to my mind how great a commander our Æmilius Paulus is, when I see he was able to perform such famous and great exploits with an army so full of sedition and baseness; nor can I sufficiently wonder, that a people that seemed to glory in the triumphs over Illyrians and Ligurians, should now through envy refuse to see the Macedonian king led alive, and all the glory of Philip and Alexander in captivity to the Roman power. For is it not a strange thing for you, who, upon a slight rumor of victory that came by chance into the city, did offer sacrifices and put up your requests unto the gods that you might see the report verified, now, when the general is returned with an undoubted conquest, to defraud the gods of honor, and yourselves of joy, as if you feared to behold the greatness of his war-like deed, or were resolved to spare your enemy? And of the two, much better were it to put a stop to the triumph, out of pity to him, than out of envy to your general; yet to such a height of power is malice arrived amongst you, that a man without one scar to show on his skin, that is smooth and sleek with ease and home-keeping habits, will undertake to define the office and duties of a general before us, who with our own wounds have been taught how to judge of the valor or the cowardice of commanders.” And, at the same time, putting aside his garment, he showed an infinite number of scars upon his breast, and, turning about, he exposed some parts of his person which it is usual to conceal; and, addressing Galba, said: “You deride me for these, in which I glory before my fellow-citizens, for it is in their service, in which I have ridden night and day, that I received them; but go collect the votes, whilst I follow after, and note the base and ungrateful, and such as choose rather to be flattered and courted than commanded by their general.” It is said, this speech so stopped the soldiers’ mouths, and altered their minds, that all the tribes decreed a triumph for Æmilius; which was performed after this manner.
The people erected scaffolds in the Forum, in the circuses, as they call their buildings for horse-races, and in all other parts of the city where they could best behold the show. The spectators were clad in white garments; all the temples were open, and full of garlands and perfumes; the ways were cleared and kept open by numerous officers, who drove back all who crowded into or ran across the main avenue. This triumph lasted three days. On the first, which was scarcely long enough for the sight, were to be seen the statues, pictures, and colossal images, which were taken from the enemy, drawn upon two hundred and fifty chariots. On the second, was carried in a great many wagons the finest and richest armor of the Macedonians, both of brass and steel, all newly polished and glittering; the pieces of which were piled up and arranged purposely with the greatest art, so as to seem to be tumbled in heaps carelessly and by chance; helmets were thrown upon shields, coats of mail upon greaves; Cretan targets, and Thracian bucklers and quivers of arrows lay huddled amongst horses’ bits, and through these there appeared the points of naked swords, intermixed with long Macedonian sarissas. All these arms were fastened together with just so much looseness that they struck against one another as they were drawn along, and made a harsh and alarming noise, so that, even as spoils of a conquered enemy, they could not be beheld without dread. After these wagons loaded with armor, there followed three thousand men who carried the silver that was coined, in seven hundred and fifty vessels, each of which weighed three talents, and was carried by four men. Others brought silver bowls and goblets and cups, all disposed in such order as to make the best show, and all curious as well for their size as the solidity of their embossed work.
On the third day, early in the morning, first came the trumpeters, who did not sound as they were wont in a procession or solemn entry, but such a charge as the Romans use when they encourage the soldiers to fight Next followed young men wearing frocks with ornamented borders, who led to the sacrifice a hundred and twenty stalled oxen, with their horns gilded, and their heads adorned with ribbons and garlands; and with these were boys that carried basins for libation, of silver and gold. After this was brought the gold coin, which was divided into vessels that weighed three talents, like those that contained the silver; they were in number seventy-seven. These were followed by those that brought the consecrated bowl which Æmilius had caused to be made, that weighed ten talents, and was set with precious stones. Then were exposed to view the cups of Antigonus and Seleucus, and those of the Thericlean* make, and all the gold plate that was used at Perseus’ table. Next to these came Perseus’ chariot, in which his armor was placed, and on that his diadem. And, after a little intermission, the king’s children were led captives, and with them a train of their attendants, masters, and teachers, all shedding tears, and stretching out hands to the spectators, and making the children themselves also beg and entreat their compassion. There were two sons and a daughter, whose tender age made them but little sensible of the greatness of their misery, which very insensibility of their condition rendered it the more deplorable; insomuch that Perseus himself was scarcely regarded as he went along, whilst pity fixed the eyes of the Romans upon the infants; and many of them could not forbear tears, and all beheld the sight with a mixture of sorrow and pleasure, until the children were passed.
After his children and their attendants came Perseus himself, clad all in black, and wearing the boots of his country; and looking like one altogether stunned and deprived of reason, through the greatness of his misfortunes. Next followed a great company of his friends and familiars, whose countenances were disfigured with grief, and who let the spectators see, by their tears and their continual looking upon Perseus, that it was his fortune they so much lamented, and that they were regardless of their own. Perseus sent to Æmilius to entreat that he might not be led in pomp, but be left out of the triumph; who, deriding, as was but just, his cowardice and fondness of life, sent him this answer, that as for that, it had been before, and was now, in his own power; giving him to understand that the disgrace could be avoided by death; which the faint-hearted man not having the spirit for, and made effeminate by I know not what hopes, allowed himself to appear as a part of his own spoils. After these were carried four hundred crowns, all made of gold, sent from the cities by their respective deputations to Æmilius, in honor of his victory. Then he himself came, seated on a chariot magnificently adorned (a man well worthy to be looked at, even without these ensigns of power), dressed in a robe of purple, interwoven with gold, and holding a laurel branch in his right hand. All the army, in like manner, with boughs of laurel in their hands, divided into their bands and companies, followed the chariot of their commander; some singing verses, according to the usual custom, mingled with raillery; others, songs of triumph, and the praise of Æmilius’s deeds; who, indeed, was admired and accounted happy by all men, and unenvied by every one that was good; except so far as it seems the province of some god to lessen that happiness which is too great and inordinate, and so to mingle the affairs of human life that no one should be entirely free and exempt from calamities; but, as we read in Homer,* that those should think themselves truly blessed to whom fortune has given an equal share of good and evil.
Æmilius had four sons, of whom Scipio and Fabius, as is already related, were adopted into other families; the other two, whom he had by a second wife, and who were yet but young, he brought up in his own house. One of these died at fourteen years of age, five days before his father’s triumph; the other at twelve, three days after: so that there was no Roman without a deep sense of his suffering, and who did not shudder at the cruelty of fortune, that had not scrupled to bring so much sorrow into a house replenished with happiness, rejoicing, and sacrifices, and to intermingle tears and laments with songs of victory and triumph.
Æmilius, however, reasoning justly that courage and resolution was not merely to resist armor and spears, but all the shocks of ill fortune, so met and so adapted himself to these mingled and contrasting circumstances, as to outbalance the evil with the good, and his private concerns with those of the public; and thus did not allow any thing either to take away from the grandeur, or sully the dignity of his victory. For as soon as he had buried the first of his sons, (as we have already said,) he triumphed; and the second dying almost as soon as his triumph was over, he gathered together an assembly of the people, and made an oration to them, not like a man that stood in need of comfort from others, but one that undertook to support his fellow-citizens in their grief for the sufferings he himself underwent.
“I,” he said, “who never yet feared any thing that was human, have, amongst such as were divine, always had a dread of fortune as faithless and inconstant; and, for the very reason that in this war she had been as a favorable gale in all my affairs, I still expected some change and reflux of things. In one day I passed the Ionian sea, and reached Corcyra from Brundisium; thence in five more I sacrificed at Delphi, and in other five days came to my forces in Macedonia, where, after I had finished the usual sacrifices for the purifying of the army, I entered on my duties, and, in the space of fifteen days, put an honorable period to the war. Still retaining a jealousy of fortune, even from the smooth current of my affairs, and seeing myself secure and free from the danger of any enemy, I chiefly dreaded the change of the goddess at sea, whilst conveying home my victorious army, vast spoils, and a captive king. Nay, indeed, after I was returned to you safe, and saw the city full of joy, congratulating, and sacrifices, yet still I distrusted, well knowing that fortune never conferred any great benefits that were unmixed and unattended with probabilities of reverse. Nor could my mind, that was still as it were in labor, and always foreseeing something to befall this city, free itself from this fear, until this great misfortune befell me in my own family, and till, in the midst of those days set apart for triumph, I carried two of the best of sons, my only destined successors, one after another to their funerals. Now, therefore, I am myself safe from danger, at least as to what was my greatest care; and I trust and am verily persuaded, that for the time to come Fortune will prove constant and harmless unto you; since she has sufficiently wreaked her jealousy at our great successes on me and mine, and has made the conqueror as marked an example of human instability as the captive whom he led in triumph, with this only difference, that Perseus, though conquered, does yet enjoy his children, while the conqueror, Æmilius, is deprived of his.” This was the generous and magnanimous oration Æmilius is said to have spoken to the people, from a heart truly sincere and free from all artifice.
Although he very much pitied the condition of Perseus, and studied to befriend him in what he was able, yet he could procure no other favor, than his removal from the common prison, the Carcer, into a more cleanly and humane place of security, where, whilst he was guarded, it is said, he starved himself to death. Others state his death to have been of the strangest and most unusual character: that the soldiers who were his guard, having conceived a spite and hatred against him for some reason, and finding no other way to grieve and afflict him, kept him from sleep, took pains to disturb him when he was disposed to rest, and found out contrivances to keep him continually awake, by which means at length he was utterly worn out, and expired. Two of his children, also, died soon after him; the third, who was named Alexander, they say proved an exquisite artist in turning and graving small figures, and learned so perfectly to speak and write the Roman language, that he became clerk to the magistrates, and behaved himself in his office with great skill and conduct.
They ascribe to Æmilius’s conquest of Macedonia, this most acceptable benefit to the people, that he brought so vast a quantity of money into the public treasury, that they never paid any taxes, until Hirtius and Pansa were consuls, which was in the first war between Antony and Cæsar. This also was peculiar and remarkable in Æmilius, that though he was extremely beloved and honored by the people, yet he always sided with the nobles; nor would he either say or do any thing to ingratiate himself with the multitude, but constantly adhered to the nobility, in all political matters, which in after-times was cast in Scipio Africanus’s teeth by Appius; these two being in their time the most considerable men in the city, and standing in competition for the office of censor. The one had on his side the nobles and the senate, to which party the Appii were always attached; the other, although his own interest was great, yet made use of the favor and love of the people. When, therefore, Appius saw Scipio come to the market-place, surrounded with men of mean rank, and such as were but newly made free, yet were very fit to manage a debate, to gather together the rabble, and to carry whatsoever they designed by importunity and noise, crying out with a loud voice: “Groan now,” said he, “O Æmilius Paulus, if you have knowledge in your grave of what is done above, that your son aspires to be censor, by the help of Æmilius, the common crier, and Licinius Philonicus.” Scipio always had the good-will of the people, because he was constantly heaping favors on them; but Æmilius, although he still took part with the nobles, yet was as much the people’s favorite as those who most sought popularity and used every art to obtain it. This they made manifest, when, amongst other dignities, they thought him worthy of the office of censor, a trust accounted most sacred and of great authority, as well in other things, as in the strict examination into men’s lives. For the censors had power to expel a senator, and enrol whom they judged most fit in his room, and to disgrace such young men as lived licentiously, by taking away their horses. Besides this, they were to value and assess each man’s estate, and register the number of the people. There were numbered by Æmilius, 337,452 men. He declared Marcus Æmilius Lepidus first senator, who had already four times held that honor, and he removed from their office three of the senators of the least note. The same moderation he and his fellow censor, Marcius Philippus, used at the muster of the knights.
Whilst he was thus busy about many and weighty affairs, he fell sick of a disease, which at first seemed hazardous; and although after awhile it proved without danger, yet was troublesome and difficult to be cured: so that by the advice of his physicians he sailed to Velia, in South Italy, and there dwelt a long time near the sea, where he enjoyed all possible quietness. The Romans, in the mean while, longed for his return, and oftentimes by their expressions in the theatres, gave public testimony of their great desire and impatience to see him. When, therefore, the time drew nigh that a solemn sacrifice was of necessity to be offered, and he found, as he thought, his body strong enough, he came back again to Rome, and there performed the holy rites with the rest of the priests, the people in the mean time crowding about him, and congratulating his return. The next day he sacrificed again to the gods for his recovery; and, having finished the sacrifice, returned to his house and sat down to dinner, when, all on a sudden and when no change was expected, he fell into a fit of delirium, and, being quite deprived of his senses, the third day after ended a life, in which he had wanted no manner of thing which is thought to conduce to happiness. Nay, his very funeral pomp had something in it remarkable and to be admired, and his virtue was graced with the most solemn and happy rites at his burial; consisting, not in gold and ivory, or in the usual sumptuousness and splendor of such preparations, but in the good-will, honor, and love, not only of his fellow-citizens, but of his enemies themselves. For as many Spaniards, Ligurians, and Macedonians, as happened to be present at the solemnity, that were young and of vigorous bodies, took up the bier and carried it; whilst the more aged followed, calling Æmilius the benefactor and preserver of their countries. For not only at the time of his conquest had he acted to all with kindness and clemency, but, through the whole course of his life, he continued to do them good and look after their concerns, as if they had been his familiars and relations. They report, that the whole of his estate scarce amounted to three hundred and seventy thousand drachmas; to which he left his two sons coheirs; but Scipio, who was the youngest, being adopted into the more wealthy family of Africanus, gave it all to his brother. Such are said to have been the life and manners of Æmilius.
COMPARISON OF TIMOLEON WITH ÆMILIUS PAULUS.
Such being the story of these two great men’s lives, without doubt in the comparison very little difference will be found between them. They made war with two powerful enemies: the one against the Macedonians, and the other with the Carthaginians; and the success was in both cases glorious. One conquered Macedon from the seventh succeeding their of Antigonus; the other freed Sicily from usurping tyrants, and restored the island to its former liberty. Unless, indeed, it be made a point on Æmilius’s side, that he engaged with Perseus when his forces were entire, and composed of men that had often successfully fought with the Romans; whereas, Timoleon found Dionysius in a despairing condition, his affairs being reduced to the last extremity: or, on the contrary, it be urged in favor of Timoleon, that he vanquished several tyrants, and a powerful Carthaginian army, with an inconsiderable number of men gathered together from all parts, not with such an army as Æmilius had, of well disciplined soldiers, experienced in war, and accustomed to obey; but with such as through the hopes of gain resorted to him, unskilled in fighting and ungovernable. And when actions are equally glorious, and the means to compass them unequal, the greatest esteem is certainly due to that general who conquers with the smaller power.
Both have the reputation of having behaved themselves with an uncorrupted integrity, in all the affairs they managed: but Æmilius had the advantage of being, from his infancy, by the laws and customs of his country, brought up to the proper management of public affairs, which Timoleon brought himself to by his own efforts. And this is plain; for at that time all the Romans were uniformly orderly and obedient, respectful to the laws and to their fellow-citizens: whereas it is remarkable, that not one of the Greek generals commanding in Sicily, could keep himself uncorrupted, except Dion, and of him many entertained a jealousy that he would establish a monarchy there, after the Lacedæmonian manner. Timæus writes, that the Syracusans sent even Gylippus home dishonorably, and with a reputation lost by the unsatiable covetousness he displayed when he commanded the army. And numerous historians tell us of the wicked and perfidious acts committed by Pharax the Spartan, and Callippus the Athenian, with the view of making themselves kings of Sicily. Yet what were these men, and what strength had they, to entertain such a thought? The first of them was a follower of Dionysius, when he was expelled from Syracuse, and the other a hired captain of foot under Dion, and came into Sicily with him. But Timoleon at the request and prayers of the Syracusans, was sent to be their general, and had no need to seek for power, but had a perfect title, founded on their own offers, to hold it; and yet no sooner had he freed Sicily from her oppressors, but he willingly surrendered it.
It is truly worthy our admiration in Æmilius, that, though he conquered so great and so rich a realm as that of Macedon, yet he would not touch, nor see any of the money, nor did he advantage himself one farthing by it, though he was very generous of his own to others. I would not intend any reflection on Timoleon, for accepting of a house and handsome estate in the country, which the Syracusans presented him with; there is no dishonor in accepting; but yet there is greater glory in a refusal, and the supremest virtue is shown in not wanting what it might fairly take. And as that body is, without doubt, the most strong and healthful, which can the easiest support extreme cold and excessive heat in the change of seasons, and that the most firm and collected mind which is not puffed up with prosperity, nor dejected with adversity; so the virtue of Æmilius was eminently seen in his countenance and behavior continuing as noble and lofty upon the loss of two dear sons, as when he achieved his greatest victories and triumphs. But Timoleon, after he had justly punished his brother, a truly heroic action, let his reason yield to a causeless sorrow, and, humiliated with grief and remorse, forbore for twenty years to appear in any public place, or meddle with any affairs of the commonwealth. It is truly very commendable to abhor and shun the doing any base action; but to stand in fear of every kind of censure or disrepute, may argue a gentle and open-hearted, but not an heroic temper.
PELOPIDAS AND MARCELLUS
[* ]Ten Minas.
[* ]Or Alabus.
[† ]Or Halycus.
[* ]Automatia in Greek; almost equivalent to Spontaneousness; his successes had come as it were of themselves. The Sacred Genius, or Dæmon, like the genius or dæmon of Socrates. His instinctive, and apparently unreasoning decisions, had been attended with such happy results as to make him unavoidably refer them to something out of himself, to some preternatural guidance.
[* ]Literally, “On every Corydallus.” This is itself the distinctive name of the crested, or tufted lark.
[* ]Pythium and Petra, if the words be taken as proper names.
[* ]The Greek furlong, or stadium, containing 600 Greek feet, or 606¾ English; about nine to the English mile.
[* ]Thericles, according to the more probable supposition, was a Corinthian potter; the first maker of a particular kind of cup, which long continued to bear his name.
[* ]“Grief is useless; cease to lament,” says Achilles to Priam, his suppliant for the body of Hector. “For thus have the gods appointed for mortal men; that they should live in vexation, while they themselves are untroubled. Two vessels are set upon the threshold of Zeus, of the gifts that he dispenses; one of evil things, the other of good; he who receives from both at the hand of thundering Zeus, he meets at one time with evil, and at another with good; he who receives from only one, is a miserable wretch.”
Page 139 . — The pine, sacred to Neptune, was the original Isthmian garland; then came parsley in its place, and then, not long before Plutarch’s time, the pine was returned to again. There is a whole chapter in the Symposiaca (V., 3) devoted to a conversation on this subject. At a dinner at Corinth, given by Lucanius the priest, in the time of the games, the question is started, why the pine is used? One of the company, a pretender to learning, shows by numerous quotations that in old times it was parsley. Lucanius, when he has finished, quietly points out by other citations that originally it was pine, and that parsley came in at a later time.
Page 146 . —
are the words with which Medea first enters the stage and addresses the chorus in Euripides’s tragedy.
Page 149 . — The lines from Sophocles are a fragment of a lost play. (Dindorf, 710).
Life of Æmilius Paulus, page 181 . The battle fought in Italy (rather, by the Italian Greeks), near the river Sagra, or Sagras, is that mentioned by Justin (XX., 3), Cicero (de Natura Deorum, II., 2), and Strabo (VI., 10), in which the Locrians gave a great defeat to the Crotoniats; it took place in early history, some time before the Persian wars.