Ancient texts


Second Illyrian war

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220-219 bc

Demetrius again
Demetrius the man the Romans had left in charge of the Illyrian cities, now set out to conquer and plunder the cities under Roman protection. Everybody in the ancient wold was expecting a war between Rome and Carthago; everybody including the Romans senate was expectation a Roman army to depart for Saguntum. But now, Saguntum hadn't been attacked yet, the senate decided to send her troops to Illyria first. In the expected long war with Carthago it would be nice if Rome's flanks were covered.

Two consuls for Illyria?
Rome sent the 2 consuls: M. Livius (Salinator) and L. Aemilius Paullus. Polybius mentions as little as possible about the actions of Livius Salinator. In this way it seems the if only the heroics of L. Aemilius Paullus mattered. Knowing Aemilius Paullus was the ancestor of his friend P.Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus, clarifies Polybius attitude in this matter. Publius Aemilius Paullus had been adopted by P.Cornelius Scipio Africanus (major), the other gens Polybius liked to favor.

Wounded Greek warrior
Wounded Greek warrior
reconstruction part of a group from the temple of Aegina
Glyptotheek München (GE)

The retreat to Faros
As soon as Demetrius learned of the Roman attack he reinforced Dimale and retreated with a considerable force to the city of Faros on the island with the same name. The consuls decided to attack Dimale first in the hope the other cities would surrender after the strongest of them had fallen. The were right: in 7 days the city was conquered. Soon after the other cities started to surrender except of course Faros.

A well defended city
Faros was well defended and could hold out a siege for a long time. Consuls didn't like sieges. Often a siege meant the triumph went to his successor. Aemilius (or maybe Livius) thought up a stratagem to lure Demetrius' troops out of the city.

During the night the major part of the Roman forces were landed at a remote landing spot on the island. They moved silently and unnoticed to the city. At daylight the other small part of the Romans landed in plain view. Now it looked like the Romans could easily be defeated, Demetrius had the gates opened and attacked the landing party. Now the other party attacked Demetrius in the back and took the city.

By now the siege of Saguntum had ended with a Carthaginian victory and the war season was over.

The spoils
After their return to Roma, M.Livius was tried by the people because they meant he had divided the spoils in a dishonest manner. After his conviction, which felt was dishonest, he retreated for years from public life. But in 208 bc he would be made consul once more.

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