From Loeb translation by H. White

51. Lucullus, being greedy of fame and needing money, because he was in straitened circumstances, invaded the territory of the Vaccaei, another Celtiberian tribe, neighbours of the Arevaci, although he had no warrant from the Senate, nor had they ever attacked the Romans, or offended Lucullus himself. Crossing the river Tagus he came to the city of Cauca, and pitched his camp near it. The citizens asked him what he had come for, and what occasion there was for war, and when he replied that he had come to aid the Carpetani, whom the Vaccaei had maltreated, they retired for the time inside their walls, but sallied out and fell upon his wood-cutters and foragers, killing many and pursuing the remainder to the camp. There was also a pitched battle, in which the Caucaei, who resembled light-armed troops, had the advantage for a long time, until they had expended all their darts. Then they fled, not being accustomed to withstand an onset, and while jostling each other at the gates about 3000 of them were slain.

52. The next day the elders of the city came out wearing crowns on their heads and bearing olive -branches, and again asked Lucullus what they should do to establish friendly relations. He replied that they must give hostages and 100 talents of silver and place their cavalry at his disposal. When all these demands had been complied with, he asked that a Roman garrison should be admitted to the city. When the Caucaei assented to this also, he brought in 2000 soldiers carefully chosen, to whom he had given orders that when they were admitted they should occupy the walls. When this was done Lucullus introduced the rest of his army and ordered them at the sound of the trumpet to kill all the adult males of the Caucaei. The latter, invoking the gods who preside over promises and oaths and upbraiding the perfidy of the Romans, were cruelly slain, only a few out of 20,000 escaping by leaping down the sheer walls at the gates. Lucullus sacked the city and brought infamy upon the Roman name. The rest of the barbarians, collecting together from the fields, took refuge among inaccessible rocks or in the most strongly fortified towns, carrying away what they could and burning what they were obliged to leave, so that Lucullus should not find any plunder.

53. The latter, having traversed a long stretch of deserted country, came to a city called Intercatia where more than 20,000 foot and 2000 horse had taken refuge together. Lucullus very foolishly invited them to enter into a treaty. They reproached him with the slaughter of the Caucaei and asked him whether he invited them to the same kind of a pledge that he had given to that people. He, like all guilty souls, being angry with his accusers instead of with himself, laid waste their fields. Then he drew a line of siege around the city, threw up several mounds, and repeatedly set his forces in order of battle to provoke a fight. The enemy did not as yet respond, but fought with projectiles only. There was a certain barbarian distinguished by his splendid armour, who frequently rode into the space between the armies and challenged the Romans to single combat, and when nobody accepted the challenge he jeered at them, executed a triumphal dance, and went back. ~ After he had done this several times, Scipio, who was still a youth, felt very much aggrieved, and springing forward accepted the challenge. Fortunately he won the victory, although he was small, and his opponent big.


58. He was succeeded in the command by Marcus Atilius, who made an incursion among the Lusitanians and killed about 700 of them and took their largest city, called Oxthracae. This so terrified the neighbouring tribes that they all made terms of surrender. Among these were some of the Vettones, a nation adjoining the Lusitanians. But when he went away into winter quarters they all forthwith revolted and besieged some of the Roman subjects; Servius Galba, the successor of Atilius, hastened to relieve them. Having marched 500 stades in one day and night, he came in sight of the Lusitanians and sent his tired army into battle instantly. Fortunately he broke the enemy's ranks, but he imprudently followed the fugitives, the pursuit being feeble and disorderly on account of the fatigue of his men. When the barbarians saw them scattered, and by turns stopping to rest, they rallied and fell upon them and killed about 7000. Galba, with the cavalry he had about him, fled to the city of Carmone. There he recovered the fugitives and, having collected allies to the number of 20,000, he moved to the territory of the Cunei and wintered at Conistorgis.

59. Lucullus, who had made war on the Vaccaei without authority, was then wintering in Turditania. When he discovered that the Lusitanians were making incursions in his neighbourhood, he sent out his best lieutenants and slew about 4000 of them. He killed about 1500 others while they were crossing the straits near Gades. The remainder took refuge on a hill, and he drew a line of circumvallation around it and captured an immense number of them. Then he invaded Lusitania and gradually devastated it. Galba did the same on the other side. When some of their ambassadors came to him desiring to renew the very treaty which they had made with Atilius, his predecessor in the command, and then transgressed, he received them favourably, and made a truce and pretended even to sympathise with them because they had been compelled by poverty to rob, make war, and break treaties. "For," said he, "poorness of soil and penury force you to do these things. But I will give my poor friends good land, and settle them in a fertile country, in three divisions."

60. Beguiled by these promises they left their own habitations and came together at the place appointed by Galba. He divided them into three parts and, showing to each division a certain plain, he commanded them to remain in this open country until he should come and assign them their places. When he came to the first division, he told them as friends to lay down their arms. When they had done so, he surrounded them with a ditch and sent in soldiers with swords who slew them all, lamenting and invoking the names of the gods and the pledges which they had received. In like manner he hastened to the second and third divisions and destroyed them while they were still ignorant of the fate of the first. Thus he avenged treachery with treachery, imitating barbarians in a way unworthy of a Roman. A few escaped, among them Viriathus, who not long afterward became the leader of the Lusitanians and killed many Romans and performed great exploits. But these things happened at a later time, and I shall not relate them now. Galba, being even more greedy than Lucullus, distributed a little of the plunder to the army and a little to his friends, but kept the rest himself, although he was already one of the richest of the Romans. But not even in time of peace, they say, did he abstain from lying and perjury in order to get gain. Although generally hated and called to account for his rascalities, he escaped punishment by means of his wealth.

61. Not long afterward those who had escaped the villainy of Lucullus and Galba, having collected together to the number of 10,000, overran Turditania. Gaius Vetilius marched against them, bringing a new army from Rome and taking also the soldiers already in Spain, so that he had in all about 10,000 men. He fell upon their foragers, killed many of them, and forced the rest into a place where, if they stayed, they were in danger of famine, and if they came out, of falling into the hands of the Romans. So difficult was the position in which they were placed. They therefore sent messengers to Vetilius with olive-branches, asking land for a dwelling-place and agreeing from that time on to obey the Romans in all things. He promised to give them the land and an agreement was being made to that effect when Viriathus, who had escaped the perfidy of Galba and was then among them, reminded them of the bad faith of the Romans, and how often the latter had set upon them in violation of oaths, and how this whole army was composed of men who had escaped from the perjuries of Galba and Lucullus. If they would obey him, he said, they should not fail of an escape from the place.

62. Excited by the new hopes with which he inspired them, they chose him as their leader. He drew them all up in line of battle as though he intended to fight, but gave them orders that when he should mount his horse they should scatter in every direction and make their way as best they could by different routes to the city of Tribola and there wait for him. He chose 1000 only whom he commanded to stay with him. These arrangements having been made, they all fled as soon as Viriathus mounted his horse. Vetilius was afraid to pursue those who had scattered in so many different directions, but turning towards Viriathus, who was standing there and apparently waiting a chance to attack, joined battle with him. Viriathus, having very swift horses, harassed the Romans by attacking, then retreating, again standing still and again attacking, and thus consumed the whole of that day and the next dashing around on the same field. As soon as he conjectured that the others had made good their escape, he hastened away in the night by devious paths and arrived at Tribola with his nimble steeds, the Romans not being able to follow him at an equal pace by reason of the weight of their armour, their ignorance of the roads, and the inferiority of their horses. Thus did Viriathus, in an unexpected way, rescue his army from a desperate situation. This feat, coming to the knowledge of the various tribes of that vicinity, brought him fame, and many reinforcements from different quarters and enabled him to wage war against the Romans for eight years.

63. It is my intention here to relate this war with Viriathus, which was very harassing and difficult to the Romans, and to postpone any other events which happened in Spain at the same time.


68. Then at length Viriathus, being in want of provisions, and his army much reduced, burnt his camp in the night and returned to Lusitania. Servilianus did not overtake him, but fell upon the country of Baeturia and plundered five towns which had sided with Viriathus. After this he marched against the Cunei and thence to Lusitania once more against Viriathus. While he was on the march, two captains of robbers, Curius and Apuleius, with 10,000 men, attacked the Romans, threw them into confusion, and captured their booty. Curius was killed in the fight, and Servilianus not long afterward recovered the booty and took the towns of Escadia, Gemella, and Obolcola, which had been garrisoned by Viriathus. Others he plundered and still others he spared. Having captured about 10,000 prisoners, he beheaded 500 of them and sold the rest as slaves. Having received the surrender of a captain of robbers named Connoba, he spared him alone, but cut off the hands of all of his men.

69. While following Viriathus, he invested Erisana, one of his towns. Viriathus entered the town by night, and at daybreak fell upon those who were working in the trenches, compelling them to throw away their spades and run. In like manner he defeated the rest of the army, which was drawn up in order of battle by Servilianus, pursued it and drove the Romans against some cliffs, from whence there was no chance of escape. Viriathus was not arrogant in the hour of victory, but considering this a favourable opportunity of bringing the war to an end by a conspicuous act of generosity, he made an agreement with them, which was ratified by the Roman people. Viriathus was declared to be a friend of the Roman nation, and it was decreed that all of his followers should have the land which they then occupied. Thus the Viriathic war, which had been so extremely tedious to the Romans, seemed to have been brought to an end by this act of generosity.

70. The peace, however, did not last, even for a short time, for Caepio, brother of the Servilianus who had concluded it, being his successor in the command, complained of the treaty, and wrote home that it was most unworthy of the dignity of the Roman people. The Senate at first authorized him to annoy Viriathus according to his own discretion, provided it were done secretly, and, when he made further agitations and continually sent letters, it decided to break off the treaty and again declare open war against Viriathus. When war was definitely declared, Caepio took the town of Arsa, which Viriathus abandoned, and overtook Viriathus himself (who fled and destroyed everything in his path) in Carpetania, the Roman forces being much stronger than his. Viriathus, therefore, deeming it unwise to engage in battle, on account of the smallness of his army, ordered the greater part of it to retreat through a hidden defile, while he drew up the remainder on a hill as though he intended to fight. When he judged that those who had been sent before had reached a place of safety, he darted after them with such disregard of the enemy and such swiftness that his pursuers did not know whither he had gone. Caepio turned against the Vettones and the Callaici and wasted their fields.

71. Emulating the example of Viriathus, many other guerilla bands made incursions into Lusitania and ravaged it. Sextus Junius Brutus, who was sent against them, despaired of following them through the extensive country, bounded by the navigable rivers Tagus, Lethe, Durius, and Baetis, because he considered it extremely difficult to overtake them while they moved swiftly from place to place as free-booters do and yet disgraceful to fail in doing so, while it was no very glorious task even if he should conquer them. He therefore turned against their towns, thinking that thus he should take vengeance on them and at the same time secure a quantity of plunder for his army, and that the robbers would scatter, each to his own place, when their homes were threatened. With this design, he began destroying everything that came in his way, the women fighting and perishing in company with the men and dying without a cry. Some, however, of the inhabitants fled to the mountains with what they could carry, and to these, when they asked pardon, Brutus granted it, portioning out their goods.

72. He then crossed the river Durius, carrying war far and wide and demanding many hostages from those who surrendered, until he came to the river Lethe, being the first of the Romans to think of crossing that stream. Passing over this, he advanced to another river called the Nimis, where he attacked the Bracari because they had plundered his provision train. They are a very warlike people and among them too the women bore arms with the men, who died with a will, not a man of them showing his back or uttering a cry. Of the women who were captured, some killed themselves, others slew their children also with their own hands, considering death preferable to captivity. There were some towns that surrendered to Brutus at the time, but soon afterwards revolted. These he reduced to subjection again.

73. One of the towns that often submitted and as often rebelled and gave him trouble was Talabriga. When Brutus moved against it, the inhabitants, as usual, begged pardon and offered to surrender at discretion. He first demanded of them all the deserters, the prisoners, and the arms they had, and hostages in addition, and then he ordered them to vacate the town with their wives and children. When they had obeyed this order as well, he surrounded them with his army and made a speech to them, telling them how often they had revolted and renewed the war against him. Having inspired them with fear and with the belief that he was about to inflict some terrible punishment on them, he let the matter end in reproaches. Having deprived them of their horses, provisions, public money, and other general resources, he gave them back their town to dwell in, contrary to their expectation. Having accomplished these results, Brutus returned to Rome. I have united these events with the history of Viriathus, because they were undertaken by other guerilla bands at the same time and in emulation of him.

74. Viriathus sent his most trusted friends, Audax, Ditalco, and Minurus, to Caepio to negotiate terms of peace. The latter bribed them by large gifts and promises to assassinate Viriathus, which they did in this way. Viriathus, on account of his excessive cares and labours, slept but little, and for the most apart took rest in his armour so that when aroused he might be at once prepared for every emergency. For this reason it was permitted to his friends to visit him by night. Taking advantage of this custom, those who were associated with Audax watched their opportunity and entered his tent on the pretext of business, just as he had fallen asleep, and killed him by stabbing him in the throat, which was the only part of his body not protected by armour. The blow was so sure that nobody discovered what had been done, and the murderers escaped to Caepio and asked for the rest of their pay. For the present he gave them permission to enjoy safely what they had already received; as for their demands, he referred them to Rome. When daylight came, the attendants of Viriathus and the remainder of the army thought he was still resting and wondered at his unusually long repose until some of them discovered that he was lying dead in his armour. Straightway there was wailing and lamentation throughout the camp, all of them mourning for him and fearing for their own safety, thinking what dangers they were in, and of what a general they had been bereft. And what pained them most of all was that they could not find the perpetrators of the crime.

75. They arrayed the body of Viriathus in splendid garments and burned it on a lofty funeral pile. Many sacrifices were offered for him. The infantry and cavalry ran in troops around him in armour, singing his praises, in barbarian fashion. And they all sat round the pyre until the fire had gone out. When the obsequies were ended, they had gladiatorial contests at his tomb. So great was the longing which Viriathus left behind him: a man who, for a barbarian, had the highest qualities of a commander and was always foremost in facing danger and most exact in dividing the spoils. He never consented to take the lion's share, although always asked to do so, and even the share which he did receive he divided among the bravest. Thus it came about (a most difficult task and one never achieved easily by any commander) that in the eight years of this war, in an army composed of various tribes, there never was any sedition, and the soldiers were always obedient and ready for danger.


79. Pompeius, having met with so many misfortunes, marched away with his senatorial council to the towns to spend the rest of the winter, expecting a successor to come early in the spring. Fearing lest he should be called to account, he made overtures to the Numantines secretly for the purpose of bringing the war to an end. The Numantines on their side, being exhausted by the slaughter of many of their bravest men, by the loss of their crops, by want of food, and by the length of the war, which had been protracted beyond expectation, also sent legates to Pompeius. He publicly advised them to surrender at discretion, saying that he knew of no other terms worthy of the Roman people, but privately he promised them what he would do. When they agreed and surrendered unconditionally, he demanded and received from them hostages, together with the prisoners and deserters. He also demanded thirty talents of silver, a part of which they paid down while he agreed to wait for the rest. His successor, Marcus Popillius Laena, had arrived when they brought the last installment. Pompeius, being no longer under any apprehension concerning the war, since his successor was present, and knowing that he had made a disgraceful peace and without authority from Rome, began to deny that he had come to any understanding with the Numantines. They proved the contrary by witnesses who had been present at the transaction, senators, and his own prefects of horse and military tribunes. Popillius sent them to Rome to carry on the controversy with Pompeius there. The case was brought before the Senate, and the Numantines and Pompeius contested it there. The Senate decided to continue the war. Thereupon Popillius attacked the Lusones who were neighbours of the Numantines, but having accomplished nothing (for his successor in office, Hostilius Mancinus, arrived) he returned to Rome.

80. Mancinus had frequent encounters with the Numantines in which he was worsted, and finally, after great loss, took refuge in his camp. On a false rumour that the Cantabri and Vaccaei were coming to the aid of the Numantines, he became alarmed, extinguished his fires, and spent the whole night in darkness, fleeing to a desert place where Nobilior once had his camp. Being shut up in this place at daybreak without preparation or fortification and surrounded by Numantines, who threatened all with death unless he made peace, he agreed to do so on terms of equality between the Romans and Numantines. To this agreement he bound himself by an oath. But when these things were known at Rome there was great indignation at this most ignominious treaty, and the other consul, Aemilius Lepidus, was sent to Spain, Mancinus being called home to stand trial. Numantine ambassadors followed him thither; but Aemilius, becoming tired of idleness while he too awaited the decision from Rome (for some men took the command, not for the advantage of the city, but for glory, or gain, or the honour of a triumph), falsely accused the Vaccaei of supplying the Numantines with provisions during the war. Accordingly he ravaged their country and laid siege to their principal city, Pallantia, which had in no way violated the treaty, and he persuaded Brutus, his kinsman by marriage, who had been sent to Farther Spain (as I have before related), to join him in this undertaking.

81. Here they were overtaken by Cinna and Caecilius, messengers from Rome, who said that the Senate was at a loss to know why, after so many disasters had befallen them in Spain, Aemilius should be seeking a new war, and they placed in his hands a decree warning him not to attack the Vaccaei. But he, having actually begun the war, thought that the Senate was ignorant of that, and of the fact that Brutus was co-operating with him, and that the Vaccaei had aided the Numantines with provisions, money, and men. Further, he considered that to abandon the war would in itself be dangerous, and would practically involve the breaking away of all Spain, if the Spaniards despised the Romans for cowards. He therefore sent Cinna's party home without having accomplished their errand and wrote almost in the above words to the Senate. After this he began to construct engines and to collect provisions in a place which he fortified. While he was thus engaged, Flaccus, who had been sent out on a foraging expedition, found himself in an ambuscade, but adroitly spread a rumour among his men that Aemilius had captured Pallantia. The soldiers raised a shout of victory. The barbarians, hearing it and thinking that the report was true, withdrew. In this way Flaccus rescued his convoy from danger.

82. The siege of Pallantia being long protracted, the food supply of the Romans failed and they began to suffer from hunger. All their animals perished and many of the men died of want. The generals, Aemilius and Brutus, kept heart for a long time, but being compelled to yield at last, they gave an order suddenly one night, about the last watch, to retreat. The tribunes and centurions ran hither and thither to hasten the movement, so as to get them all away before daylight. Such was the confusion that they left behind everything, and even the sick and wounded, who clung to them and besought them not to abandon them. Their retreat was disorderly and confused and much like a flight, the Pallantines hanging on their flanks and rear and doing great damage from early dawn till evening. When night came, the Romans, hungry and exhausted, threw themselves on the ground in groups, wherever they were, and the Pallantines, moved by some divine interposition, went back to their own country. And this was what happened to Aemilius.

83. When these things were known at Rome, Aemilius was deprived of his command and consulship, and when he returned to Rome as a private citizen he was fined besides. The dispute before the Senate between Mancinus and the Numantine ambassadors was still going on. The latter exhibited the treaty they had made with Mancinus; he, on the other hand, put the responsibility for the treaty on Pompeius, his predecessor in the command, who he said had handed over to him a lazy and ill-provided army, owing to which Pompeius himself had often been beaten and so had made a similar treaty with the Numantines. Consequently the war had been waged under bad omens, for it had been decreed by the Romans in violation of these agreements. The senators were equally incensed against both, but Pompeius escaped on the ground that he had been tried for this offence long before. They decided, however, to deliver Mancinus to the Numantines for making a disgraceful treaty without their authorization. In this they followed the example of their fathers, who once delivered to the Samnites twenty generals who had made a similar treaty without authority. Mancinus was taken to Spain by Furius, and delivered naked to the Numantines, but they refused to receive him.