Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

us.” What could be more wonderful, what more extraordinary, than this ? For as if Rome, raised on her own hills, had taken a view of the battle, the people were clapping their hands in the city, as is the case at a show of gladiators, at the very moment when the Cimbri were falling in the field.

[blocks in formation]

After the Macedonians were subdued, the Thracians, please the gods?, rebelled; a people who had themselves been tributary to the Macedonians, and who, not satisfied with making inroads into the neighbouring provinces of Thessaly and Dalmatia, advanced as far as the Adriatic. Being content with this as a boundary, nature apparently stopping their progress, they hurled their weapons into the waves. No cruelty, however, during the whole course of their march, had been left unexercised by their fury upon such as they took prisoners; they offered human blood to the gods; they drank from men's skulls ; they made death, from fire and sword?, more ignominious by every kind of insult; and they even forced by tortures infants from their mothers' wombs.

Of all the Thracians the most savage were the Scordisci ; and to their strength was added cunning. Their situation among woods and mountains agreed with their temper. An army, accordingly, which Cato commanded, was not only routed or put to flight by them, but, what resembled a prodigy, entirely cut off. Didius, however, drove them back, as they were straggling and dispersed in unrestrained de vastation of the country, into their own Thrace. Drusus repelled them further, and hindered them from crossing the Danube. Minucius made havoc of them all along the banks of the Hebrus, though he lost many of his men when the river, which deceived them with its ice, was attempted by his cavalry. Piso passed over Rhodope and Caucasus. Curio went as far as Dacia, but was afraid to penetrate the darkness of its forests. Appius advanced to the Sarmatians, Lucullus to the Tanais, the boundary of those nations, and to the lake Mæotis. Nor were these most savage of enemies subdued by any other treatment than such as they exercised on others; for cruelties by fire and sword were inflicted on all that were taken prisoners. But nothing seemed more horrid to these barbarians than that they should be left with their hands cut off, and be obliged to live and survive their sufferings.

Gruter and Freinshemius expressly say that the words are to be taken, and adduce a passage or two from Suetonius in which feliciter is joined with a dative. But these datives in Suetonius are, as Duker observes in his note, datives of the person; and both he and Scheffer doubt whether a dative of the thing, such as victoriæ, can properly be used with feliciter. Duker therefore proposes to take victoriæ Cimbricæ as a genitive with rumor, and to let feliciter stand by itself, as in Phæd., v., 1,4: Feliciter, subclamant. In this sense I have given the passage in the translation.

i Ch. IV. Please the gods] Si diis placet. A contemptuous expression, similar to our phrase God wot, as“ Peter, God wot, thought to do it."

2 Death, from fire and sword] Mortem tam igni quàm fumo is the common reading. I have adopted Wasse's conjecture, ferro. Duker, indeed, endeavours to support fumo by references to Cicero, Verr., 1., 17, where a man is described as tortured by fumigation, and to Vulcat. Gall., iv., with the notes of Casaubon and Salmasius. But there would be no need to say that the Thracians added insult to death by smoke, a death sufficiently insulting in itself.

3 Forced by tortures, &c.] Extorquere tormentis. Tormenta accipio funes circa ventrem tensos et ligatos. Tormento tensior, Priap. Carm., v. Vide ibi Scalig. Colv. et Scip. Gentil. ad Apul. Apol. non longè à princ. Quanquam etiam aliis modis compresso ventre partus extorqueri potest.” Duker.

CHAP. V. THE MITHRIDATIC WAR. The Pontic nations lie to the north, along the sea on the left?, and have their name from the Pontus. Of these people and countries the most ancient king was Æetes. After him reigned Artabazes, who was sprung from one of the seven Persians. Then came Mithridates, the mightiest of all kings; for though four years were sufficient to defeat Pyrr. hus, and seventeen to conquer Hannibal, this monarch held out for forty years, till, being subdued in three great wars, he was, by the good fortune of Sylla, the bravery of Lucullus, and the greatness of Pompey, entirely brought to nothing.

As a pretext for war, he alleged to Cassius, our ambassador, that "his borders were wasted by Nicomedes, king of Bithynia.” Moved, however, by a spirit of ambition, he burned with a desire to grasp all Asia, and, if he could, all Europe. Our vices gave him hope and confidence; for while we were distracted by civil wars, the opportunity of attacking

Ch. V. Along the sea on the left] In mare sinistrum. The Pontus Euxinus, which lies on the left of those sailing from Italy into Asia Minor,

а

us tempted him ; and Marius, Sylla, and Sertorius showed him from a distance that the side of the empire was exposed. In the midst, therefore, of these sufferings and disturbances of the commonwealth, the tempest of the Pontic war, as if seizing its opportunity, suddenly descended, as from the extreme heights of the north, upon a people wearied and preoccupied. Its first irruption at once snatched Bithynia from us.

Asia was next seized with similar terror, and our cities and people without delay revolted to the king. He himself was active and urgent, and exercised cruelty as if he thought it a virtue. For what could be more atrocious than one of his edicts, ordering all citizens of Rome that were in Asia to be put to death? Then, indeed, homes, temples, and altars, and all obligations, human and divine, were violated.

This terror in Asia opened to the king also a passage into Europe. Accordingly, Archelaus and Neoptolemus, two of his generals, being despatched thither, the Cyclades, Delos, Eubea, (and all the islands except Rhodes, which adhered to us more firmly than ever,) with Athens, the very glory of Greece, were seized by his troops. The dread of the king even affected Italy and the city of Rome itself. Lucius Sylla, therefore, a man excellent in war, hastened to oppose him, and repelled, as with a push of the hand, the enemy who was advancing with equal impetuosity. Athens, a city

. which was the mother of corn, he first compelled, by siege and famine, to eat (who would believe it?) the flesh of human beings; and then, having undermined the harbour of the Piræeus, with its six walls and more!, and having reduced. the most ungrateful of men', as he himself called them, he yet 1 With its sis walls and more] Sex quoque et amplius muris.

66 What sic walls were those,” says Grævius, “that were overthrown by Sylla ? From the records of antiquity it does not appear that the Piræeus had any other than the two long walls.” He therefore conjectures that these six walls must have been merely walls erected for the occasion, one behind the other, as successive defences against the besiegers; a conjecture which he supports by a reference to Appian's account of the siege. Duker agrees with Grævius. Bede, indeed, on the Acts of the Apostles, and Orosius, vi., 2, speak of the Piræeus as being fortified with a sevenfold wall, (septemplici muro,) but they seem merely to have been misled by this passage of Florus.

2 Most ungrateful of men] Ingratissimos hominum. As having banished or ill-treated most of their benefactors and great men, Theseus, Solon, Miltiades, Cimon, Demosthenes, 8c.

[ocr errors]

spared them for the honour of their deceased ancestors, and for the sake of their religion and fame. Having next driven the king's garrisons from Eubea and Bæotia, he dispersed the whole of his forces in one battle at Chæronea, and in a second at Orchomenus; and shortly after, crossing over into Asia, he overthrew the monarch himself, when the war would have been brought to a conclusion, had he not been desirous to triumph over Mithridates rather speedily than completely

The following, however, was the condition in which Sylla placed Asia. A treaty was made with the people of Pontus. He recovered Bithynia for? king Nicomedes, and Cappadocia for Ariobarzanes. Asia thus became ours again, as it had begun to be. But Mithridates was only repulsed: This state of things, accordingly, did not humble the people of Pontus, but incensed them. For the king, being caught, as it were, with the hope of possessing Asia and Europe, now sought to recover both by right of war, not as belonging to others, but because he had before lost them.

As fires, therefore, which have not been completely extinguished, burst forth into greater flames, so Mithridates, with an increased number of forces, and indeed with the whole strength of his kingdom, descended again upon Asia, by sea, by land, and along the rivers. Cyzicus, a noble city, adorns the shore of Asia with its citadel, walls, harbour, and towers. This city, as if it had been another Rome, he assailed with

1 Rather speedily than completely] Cito quàm verè. “Florus has here fallen into an error, for Sylla did not triumph over Mithridates till some years afterwards, at the conclusion of the civil war. Nor did he make peace with Mithridates from desire of a triumph, but that he might be at liberty to turn his arms against the faction of Marius, which was then domineering in Italy." Duker.

2 He recovered Bithynia for, &c.] In all the editions the passage stands thus: Recepit Bithyniam à rege Nicomede, ab Ariobarzane Cappadociam. This, as all the commentators observe, is evidently corrupt. I have followed the emendation proposed by Salmasius: Recepit Bithyniam regi Nicomedi, Ariobarzani Cappadociam. Lipsius conjectured, Recipit Bithyniam à Rege Nicomedes, Ariobarzanes Cappadociam.

3 Asia and Europe] Grævius and Madame Dacier wished to expunge Europa from the text, but Duker desires to preserve as Mithridates, in the preceding part of the war, had had a view to a portion of Europe as well as to all Asia. But as alienam and raptam follow in the singular, the expunction seems justifiable.

a

[ocr errors]

his whole warlike force; but a messenger, who, (surprising to relate,) seated on a stuffed skin, and steering his course with his feet, had made his way through the middle of the enemy's ships, (appearing, to those who saw him from a distance, to be some kind of sea-monster,) gave the citizens courage to make resistance, by assuring them that Lucullus was approaching. Soon after, distress reverting upon the king, and famine, from the long continuance of the siege, and pestilence, as a sequel to the famine, pressing grievously upon him, Lucullus surprised him as he was endeavouring to retreat, and slew so great a portion of his army, that the rivers Granicus and Æsapus were reddened with blood. The crafty king, well acquainted with Roman avarice, ordered the baggage and money to be scattered about by his troops as they fled, as a means of retarding the course of the pursuers.

Nor was his retreat by sea more fortunate than that by land; for a tempest, in the Pontus Euxinus, falling on a fleet of above a hundred ships, laden with warlike stores, shattered it with so miserable a havoc, that its fate presented the appearance of the sequel to a sea-fight, as ir Lucullus, by some compact with the waves and storms, had delivered the king to the winds to conquer.

The whole strength of his mighty kingdom was now greatly impaired; but his spirit rose with his misfortunes. Turning, therefore, to the neighbouring nations, he involved in his destruction almost the whole of the east and north. The Iberians, Caspians, Albanians, and the people of both Greater and Lesser Armenia, were solicited to join him ; and Fortune, by every means in her power, sought glory, and name, and titles, for her favourite Pompey, who, seeing Asia excited with new commotions, and one king rising after another, thought that he ought not to delay till the strength of the nations should be united, but, having speedily made a bridge of boats, was the first of all before him to

pass

the 1 First of all before him] Omnium ante se primus.

A mode of expression common among the Greeks, as in Xen. Sympos., c. viii., 40: iepot penéστατος δοκέις ειναι των προγεγενημένων, “You seem the greatest ornament to the priesthood of all that were before you." So Milton, Par. L., iv., 323:

Adam, the goodliest man of men since born

His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve. Other examples might be found in abundance.

« ZurückWeiter »