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Historical library 23 (fragments)

Diodorus Siculus

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Historical library 23.1
Sicily is the noblest of all islands, since it can contribute greatly to the growth of an empire. Hanno, the son of Hannibal, went to Sicily, and having gathered his forces at Lilybaeum, advanced to Solus; his land force he left encamped near the city, while he himself went on to Acragas and fortified its citadel, after having persuaded the citizens, who were already friendly to the Carthaginians, to become their allies. Upon his return to his own encampment, envoys came to him from Hiero to discuss their common interest; for they had formed an alliance to make war on the Romans unless these should quit Sicily with all speed. When both had brought their armies to Messana, Hiero pitched camp on the Chalcidian Mount, while the Carthaginians encamped with their land army at a place called Eunes, and with their naval force seized the headland called Pelorias; and they kept Messana under continuous siege. When the Roman people learned this, they sent one of the consuls, Appius Claudius by name, with a strong force, who went straightway to Rhegium. He dispatched envoys to Hiero and the Carthaginians to discuss the raising of the siege. He kept promising in addition .?.?. but to state publicly that he would not proceed against Hiero with war. Hiero replied that the Mamertines, who had laid waste Camarina and Gela and had seized Messana in so impious a manner, were besieged with just cause, and that the Romans, harping as they did on the word fides, certainly ought not to protect assassins who had shown the greatest contempt for good faith; but if, on behalf of men so utterly godless, they should enter upon a war of such magnitude, it would be clear to all mankind that they were using pity for the imperilled as a cloak for their own advantage, and that in reality they coveted Sicily.

Historical library 23.2
The Phoenicians and Romans fought a naval battle; afterwards, in consideration of the magnitude of the war that lay before them, they sent envoys to the consul to discuss terms of friendship. There was much discussion, and both sides engaged in acrimonious debate: the Phoenicians said that they marvelled how the Romans could venture to cross over into Sicily, inasmuch as the Carthaginians had control of the seas; for it was obvious to all that if they did not maintain friendly relations, the Romans would not dare even to wash their hands in the sea. The Romans, for their part, advised the Carthaginians not to teach them to meddle with maritime affairs, since the Romans, so they asserted, were pupils who always outstripped their masters. For example, in ancient times, when they were using rectangular shields, the Etruscans, who fought with round shields of bronze and in phalanx formation, impelled them to adopt similar arms and were in consequence defeated. Then again, when other peoples6 were using shields such as the Romans now use, and were fighting by maniples, they had imitated both and had overcome those who introduced the excellent models. From the Greeks they had learned siegecraft and the use of engines of war for demolishing walls, and had then forced the cities of their teachers to do their bidding. So now, should the Carthaginians compel them to learn naval warfare, they would soon see that the pupils had become superior to their teachers. At first the Romans had rectangular shields for war, but later, when they saw that the Etruscans had bronze shields, they copied them and thus conquered the Etruscans.

Historical library 23.3
After the consul had crossed over to Messana, Hiero, thinking that the Carthaginians had treacherously permitted the crossing, fled to Syracuse. The Carthaginians, however, engaged in battle but were defeated, and the consul then laid siege to Echetla, but after the loss of many soldiers withdrew to Messana.

Historical library 23.4
Both consuls went to Sicily, and laying siege to the city of Hadranum took it by storm. Then, while they were besieging the city of Centuripa and were encamped by the Brazen Gates, envoys arrived, first from the people of Halaesa; then, as fear fell upon the other cities as well, they too sent ambassadors to treat for peace and to deliver their cities to the Romans. These cities numbered sixty-seven. The Romans, after adding the forces of these cities to their own, advanced upon Syracuse, intending to besiege Hiero. But Hiero, perceiving the discontent of the Syracusans, sent envoys to the consuls to discuss a settlement, and inasmuch as the Romans were eager to have as their foe the Carthaginians alone, they readily consented and concluded a fifteen-year peace; the Romans received one hundred and fifty thousand drachmas; Hiero, on condition of returning the captives of war, was to continue as ruler of the Syracusans and of the cities subject to him, Acrae, Leontini, Megara, Helorum, Neetum, and Tauromenium. While these things were taking place Hannibal arrived with a naval force at Xiphonia, intending to bring aid to the king, but when he learned what had been done, he departed. Though the Romans kept Macella and the village of Hadranon under siege for many days, they went away without having accomplished their purpose.

Historical library 23.5
The Segestans, though at first subject to the Carthaginians, turned to the Romans. The Halicyaeans acted in a similar fashion; but Ilarus and Tyrittus and Ascelus they took only after a siege. The Tyndarians, seeing themselves deserted, were alarmed and desired to surrender their city, too. But the Phoenicians, becoming suspicious of their intentions, took their leading men as hostages to Lilybaeum, and carried off their grain, wine, and the rest of their provisions.

Historical library 23.6
Philemon11 the comic poet wrote ninety-seven plays and lived ninety-nine years.

Historical library 23.7
Those who with the Romans were engaged in the siege of Acragas, digging trenches and constructing palisades, numbered one hundred thousand. After prolonged resistance the Phoenicians finally yielded the city of Acragas to the Romans.

Historical library 23.8
During the siege of Acragas, Hanno the Elder transported from Libya to Sicily a large army, fifty thousand infantry, six thousand cavalry, and sixty elephants. Philinus of Acragas,12 the historian, has recorded this. Be that as it may, Hanno marched out from Lilybaeum with all his troops and had reached Heracleia when certain men arrived and declared that they would betray Herbessus13 to him. Hanno fought two battles, in which he lost three thousand infantry, two hundred cavalry, and had four thousand men taken prisoner; eight elephants were killed and thirty-three disabled by wounds. Entella too was a city. Hanno adopted a clever plan and by a single stratagem destroyed both the malcontents and the public foe.

Historical library 23.9
After a siege of six months they became masters of Acragas in the manner described and carried off all the slaves, to the number of more than twenty-five thousand. But the Romans also suffered losses, thirty thousand infantry and fifteen hundred?(?) cavalry. The Carthaginians stripped Hanno of his civic rights, fined him six thousand pieces of gold, and in his stead sent Hamilcar to Sicily as commander. The Romans laid siege to Mytistratus and constructed many siege engines, but seven months later, having lost many men, they went away empty-handed. Hamilcar encountered the Romans at Thermae, and having engaged them in battle, was victorious and slew six thousand men, very nearly the whole army. The fort of Mazarin also was taken by the Romans and the people enslaved. Hamilcar the Carthaginian, with the aid of traitors, got possession of Camarina for the second time, and a few days later made himself master of Enna in the same way. Having fortified Drepanum and set up a city, he removed thither the Erycinians and demolished Eryx except for the area about the temple. The Romans, having put Mytistratus under siege for the third time, captured it, razed the city to the ground, and sold the surviving inhabitants as spoils of war. They then advanced to Camarina and he19 encamped beside it, but was unable to take it; but later, having sent to Hiero for engines of war, he captured the city, and sold into slavery most of the inhabitants. Immediately thereafter, with the help of traitors, he captured Enna too; of the garrison some were slain, others got away safely to their allies. Then he advanced to Sittana20 and took it by assault. Then, having established a garrison there, as in the other cities, he went on to Camicus, a fortress belonging to Acragas. This place too he took by treachery, and stationed a garrison there. By this time Herbessus, also, had been abandoned. Still the river Halycus .?.?. for others also .?.?. farthest.

Historical library 23.10
Hannibal, the general of the Carthaginians, having been defeated in a naval battle, and fearing that because of the defeat he might be punished by the senate, made use of the following artifice. He dispatched one of his friends to Carthage, and gave him such orders as seemed to him expedient. This man sailed home to the city, and when he had been brought before the senate said that Hannibal had ordered him to ask if it be the council's bidding that, with a fleet of two hundred ships, he should engage in battle the Roman fleet of one hundred and twenty ships. With shouts of approval they urged him to give battle. "Very well," he said, "that is just why Hannibal did fight ? and we have been beaten. But since you commanded it, he is relieved of the blame." Hannibal, then, knowing that his fellow citizens were wont to persecute their generals after the event, thus forestalled the accusations that were in the offing. Since in the previous battles they had been accused of being responsible for the losses incurred, they were eager to retrieve their damaged reputation by means of this naval engagement.

Historical library 23.11
No one is so shattered in spirit by defeat as are the Carthaginians. They could, for example, easily have destroyed the naval force of the enemy as they were putting in to land, but did not even attempt to repel them. For while the Romans, with thirty ships, were approaching the shore and were neither in battle array nor in compact formation because of the violence of the wind, it would have been possible without any danger to capture the vessels, men and all. And certainly if they had gone down into the plain, and had engaged in battle on even terms and put into action every part of their army, they would easily have prevailed over the enemy. Instead, since they were intent on one thing only, the security afforded by the hill, and since they let slip some of their advantages through excessive caution and failed to recognize others because of their inexperience, they suffered a crushing defeat.

Historical library 23.12
Since the Carthaginians were in a state of great despondency, the senate sent three of their most eminent citizens as ambassadors to Atilius, to discuss terms of peace. Of these, Hanno, the son of Hamilcar, was the man held in highest esteem, and after he had said what was appropriate to the occasion, he urged the consul to treat them with moderation and in manner worthy of Rome. Atilius, however, since he was elated by his success and took no account of the vicissitudes of human fortune, dictated terms of such scope and nature that the peace framed by him was no better than slavery.25 Seeing the ambassadors were displeased at these terms, he said that on the contrary they should be grateful, for this reason, that inasmuch as they were unable to offer resistance either on land or sea in defence of their freedom, they should accept as a gift whatever concessions he might make. But when Hanno and his companions continued to voice their opinions frankly to him, he threatened them insolently and ordered them to depart as quickly as possible, remarking that brave men ought either to conquer or to submit to those whose power is greater. Now in so acting the consul both failed to observe the custom of his country and to guard against divine retribution, and in a short time he met with the punishment that his arrogance deserved.

Historical library 23.13
Now all men are more apt to be mindful of divinity in times of misfortune, and though often, in the midst of victories and success, they scorn the gods as myths and fabrications, yet in defeat they quickly revert to their natural piety. So, in particular, the Carthaginians, because of the greatness of the fears that now hung over them, sought out the sacrifices that had been omitted for many years, and multiplied the honours paid to the gods.

Historical library 23.14
Xanthippus, the Spartan, kept advising the generals to advance against the enemy. He did this, he said, not so that by urging and spurring them on he might himself remain out of danger, but that they might know that he was confident of their ready victory if they would do so. As for himself, he added, he would lead the attack and would display his valour at the foremost point of danger. During the battle Xanthippus, the Spartan, rode up and down, turning back any foot-soldiers who had taken flight. But when someone remarked that it was easy for one on horseback to urge others into danger, he at once jumped down from his horse, handed it over to a servant, and going about on foot, begged his men not to bring defeat and destruction upon the whole army.

Historical library 23.15
We consider it to be a proper part of history not to pass over without comment the policy, whether good or bad, of men in positions of leadership. For by the denunciation of their errors others who are drifting into a like mistake may be set straight, while by the praise of noble behaviour the minds of many are prompted to right action. Could anyone, in all justice, fail to censure the folly and arrogance of Atilius? By his inability to bear adroitly the heavy burden, as it were, of success, he robbed himself of the highest renown and involved his country in serious disasters. Though he could have made peace on terms advantageous to Rome, as well as humiliating and utterly shameful to Carthage, and could in addition have won for himself among all mankind enduring remembrance for clemency and humanity, he took no account of these things, but dealt so arrogantly with the defeated in their misfortunes and dictated terms so harsh that the gods were roused to just anger and the defeated enemy were driven by his excessive severity to turn and resist. In consequence there now occurred, thanks to him, so great a turn of the tide that the Carthaginians, who in consternation at their defeat had previously despaired of safety, now veered round and in an access of courage cut to pieces the army of their enemies, while Rome was altogether dealt so disastrous a blow that those who were reputed to be foremost in all the world in infantry warfare no longer ventured to engage the foe in battle at the first opportunity. In consequence the war turned out to be the longest on record, and the conflict resolved itself into a series of naval battles, in which the Romans and their allies lost a multitude of ships and no fewer than one hundred thousand men, including those who perished by shipwreck; as for the amount of money expended, it was as great as one might expect in view of the cost of manning a navy consisting of so many ships and of carrying on the war for fifteen years after this time. But indeed the man who was the cause of all this gained as his reward no small portion of the disaster. In exchange for the esteem he already enjoyed he received dishonour and disgrace many times as great, and by his personal misfortunes he taught other men to observe moderation in the exercise of power; worst of all, since he had already deprived himself of the possibility of forgiveness and of the pity that is accorded to the fallen, he was forced to endure the insolence and arrogance of those whose ill-fortune he had treated with such disdain. Xanthippus, on the other hand, by his personal excellence not only rescued the Carthaginians from their desperate situation but reversed the course of the whole war. For he utterly humbled those whose might was altogether superior, while by the magnitude of his success he enabled those who by reason of their defeat were expecting destruction to look with scorn upon their enemies. As a result, when the fame of these achievements was spread abroad throughout almost all the world, all men marvelled, not without reason, at his ability; for its seemed incredible that by the addition of a single man to the Carthaginians so great a change in the whole situation had resulted that those who just now had been shut in and besieged should turn about and lay siege to their opponents, and that those whose bravery had given them the upper hand on land and sea should have taken refuge in a small city and be awaiting capture. Yet it is not at all surprising that the native intelligence and the practical experience of a general overcame seemingly insuperable difficulties. For intelligence makes all things accessible and possible, and in all matters skill overcomes brute force..... 1After the Romans crossed over to Libya with a large army commanded by the consul Atilius, they were at first victorious over the Carthaginians, and captured many cities and forts and cut to pieces a large army. Later, however, after a Spartan general, Xanthippus, a mercenary soldier, had come from Greece, the Carthaginians defeated the Romans by main force and cut to pieces a large army. Thereafter there were naval battles and the Romans lost many ships and men, so that the number of those who perished was one hundred thousand. Just as the body is the servant of the soul, so great armies respond to the intelligent control of their leaders. With an eye to what was expedient the senate, prevailing over all difficulties?.?.?.

Historical library 23.16
Learn the fate that befell Marcus Regulus, the Roman general, after his capture by the Sicels. They cut off his eyelids with a knife and left his eyes open. Then, having penned him in a very small and narrow hut, they goaded to madness a wild elephant, and incited it to draw him down under itself and mangle him. Thus the great general, as though driven by an avenging fury, breathed his last and died a most wretched death. Xanthippus the Spartan also died at the hands of the Sicels. For round about Lilybaeum, a city of the Sicels, there was the clash of war between Romans and Sicels, war that had continued for twenty-four years. The Sicels, having suffered defeat in battle many times, offered to put their city in subjection to the Romans. The Romans, however, would not listen even to this offer but ordered the Sicels to go forth empty-handed. Xanthippus the Spartan, who had come from Sparta with a hundred soldiers (or alone, or with fifty soldiers, according to various authorities), approached the Sicels while they were yet hemmed in, and after conversing with them at length through an interpreter finally gave them courage to oppose their enemies. He clashed in battle with the Romans and with the aid of the Sicels cut to pieces their whole army. Yet for his good service he received a recompense worthy of and appropriate to that perverse people, since the foul wretches set him in a leaking ship and sank him beneath the swirling waters of the Adriatic, in their envy of the hero and of his nobility. Diodorus the Sicel records this story and that of Regulus.

Historical library 23.17
Philistus was an historian.

Historical library 23.18
The Romans crossed over to Libya and engaged the Carthaginian fleet in battle; having been victorious and having captured twenty-four Carthaginian vessels, they took on board the Roman survivors of the battle on land, but while sailing across to Sicily ran into danger near Camarina and lost three hundred and forty warships, as well as cavalry transports and other vessels to the number of three hundred; bodies of men and beasts and pieces of wreckage lay strewn from Camarina as far as Pachynus. Hiero received the survivors hospitably, and having refreshed them with clothing, food, and other essentials, brought them safely to Messana. After the shipwreck of the Romans, Carthalo the Carthaginian laid siege to Acragas, captured and burned the city, and tore down its walls. The surviving inhabitants took refuge in the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus. The Romans constructed another fleet after the shipwreck, and proceeding to Cephaloedium with two hundred and fifty ships got possession of that place by treason. They went on to Drepana and put it under siege, but when Carthalo came to its aid they were driven off and went to Panormus. There they moored their ships in the harbour close to the walls, and after disembarking their men, invested the city with a palisade and a trench; for since the countryside is heavily wooded right up to the city gates, the earthworks and trenches were made to extend from sea to sea. Thereupon the Romans by making constant assaults and by employing engines of war broke down the city wall, and having gained possession of the outer city slew many; the rest fled for refuge to the old city, and sending envoys to the consuls asked for assurances that their lives would be spared. An agreement was made that those who paid two minas apiece should go free, and the Romans then took over the city; at this price fourteen thousand persons were brought under the agreement upon payment of the money, and were released. All the others, to the number of thirteen thousand, as well as the household goods, were sold by the Romans as booty. The inhabitants of Iaetia expelled their Punic garrison and handed over the city to the Romans. The people of Solus, Petra, Enattaros, and Tyndaris acted in like fashion. The consuls, having stationed a garrison in Panormus, then withdrew to Messana.

Historical library 23.19
In the following year the Romans again sailed to Libya, but being prevented by the Carthaginians from mooring their ships they turned about and went to Panormus. Having set sail thence for Rome they were overtaken by a storm and again suffered shipwreck, and lost one hundred and fifty warships and all their transports and booty besides. .?.?. The keeper of the gate at Thermae, having gone without the walls for the needs of nature, was captured by the Roman army; he sent word to the commander that if he would release him he would open the city gate for him during the night. The commander released him and having fixed a time sent a thousand men at night. They arrived and he opened the gate at the appointed time. The leaders, men of note, entered and ordered the gate-keeper to bolt the gate and to allow no one else to enter, since they wished to carry off the wealth of the city themselves. All of these men were cut down and suffered the death that their greed deserved.

Historical library 23.20
On another occasion the Romans got possession of both Thermae and Lipara. Though the Romans also laid siege, with forty thousand men and a thousand cavalry, to the fortress of Herct?, they did not prevail against it.

Historical library 23.21
Hasdrubal, the general of the Carthaginians, being berated by his own people for not fighting, marched with his whole army through the rough country about Selinus and arrived in Panormus. And when he had brought his men across the river, which lies near by, he encamped near the city walls, but ordered neither palisade nor trench because he thought it did not matter. On this occasion again the merchants brought in a great quantity of wine; the Celts became drunk, and were in complete disorder and shouting noisily when the consul Caecilius36 attacked them in force. He won a victory over them and captured sixty elephants, which he sent to Rome. And the Romans were struck with wonder.

Historical library 23.22
Hamilcar the Carthaginian, surnamed Barca, and Hannibal his son were by common consent considered the greatest generals of the Carthaginians, greater not only than their predecessors but than those of later ages as well, and by their personal achievements they very greatly increased the power of their native land.