Translated by John Dryden
Almost all agree that the Aemilii were one of the ancient
and patrician houses in
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 valour, justice, and integrity, and in these virtues he soon oustripped all his equals.
The first honourable office he aspired to was that of aedile, 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 honour and merely upon that account sought after, by this 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 endeavouring, 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 favour 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
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.
Aemilius, 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 the most
noble families of
Of the daughters of Aemilius, one was married to the son of Cato, the other to Aelius 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 Aelii, 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 Aemilius, 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: Aemilius, being chosen consul, waged war with
the Ligurians, or Ligustines, a people near the
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
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 Flaminius 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 though
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 meantime, collecting large forces up the country, and
furnishing his inland posts, strongholds, 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 armoury 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
griefs 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, Gnathaenion (a woman of
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 practiced soldiers, and took six
hundred prisoners; and surprising their fleet as they rode at anchor before
Orens 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 Elimiae, 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 to 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 Basternae), a warlike
nation and famous for horsemen, dwelling near the
The Romans, being advertised of these things, thought it necessary no longer to choose their commanders by favour 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 Aemilius, 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 clamour, 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 honourably 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 Aemilius 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 favour. Aemilius, therefore, having gathered an assembly, spoke and
said that he sued for the first consulship, because he himself stood in need of
such honour; 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 criticize 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
That Aemilius, 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 Aemilius. 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 Basternae, 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 living 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 Maedica, 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 Phoenicians, 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
Aemilius, 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 Aemilius. But he, in the meantime, 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 Aemilius, 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 underground, 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 vapour, 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 vapours 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 vapour thus moistening and becoming fluid; whereas ground that remains idle and undug is not capable of producing any water, whilst it wants the 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.
Aemilius 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 Perrhaebia by the
"The summit of
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 deserted, who fled to the enemy during the march,
discovered to Perseus the design which the Romans had to encompass him: for he,
seeing that Aemilius 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
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 Aeson 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 Aemilius 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
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 colours, and at length was totally eclipsed. The Romans, according to their custom, clattering brass pans and lifting up fire-brands 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 rumour crept by degrees into their camp that this eclipse portended even that of their king. Aemilius 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, Aemilius 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. Aemilius, 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 meantime, who had ridden out to the skirmishers, 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 Paeonians 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 armour 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, Aemilius 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 aftertimes 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 Aemilius'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 honour 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 endeavoured 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 armour, 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
The conflict was obstinate. And here Marcus, the son of Cato, and son-in-law of Aemilius, whilst he showed all possible courage, let fall his sword. Being a young man carefully brought up and disciplined, and, 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 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 Aemilius'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
As for Perseus, from Pydna he fled to
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 Aemilius, 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 rumour 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 rose at the entrance of the theatre that
Aemilius 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 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
But to proceed. Cnaeus Octavius,
who was joined in command with Aemilius, came to an anchor with his fleet under
When this was done, he put his army into garrisons, to
refresh themselves, and went himself to visit
Having thus settled everything well, taking his leave of the Greeks, and exhorting the Macedonians, that, mindful of the liberty they had received from the Romans, they should endeavour 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 Aemilius had done this- an action perfectly contrary to
his gentle and mild nature- he went down to Oricus, where he embarked his army
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 Aemilius 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 ere long become altogether ungovernable and violent, were they now permitted to deprive Aemilius 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 Aemilius 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 rumour 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 honour, and yourselves of joy, as if you feared to behold the greatness of his warlike 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 homekeeping 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 valour 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 Aemilius; 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 armour 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 armour 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 Aemilius 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's table. Next to these came Perseus's chariot, in which his armour 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 Aemilius 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 Aemilius, in honour 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 hands 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 Aemilius'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 whom fortune has given an equal share of good and evil.
Aemilius 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.
Aemilius, however, reasoning justly that courage and resolution was not merely to resist armour 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 anything 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 anything 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 favourable 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 space of fifteen days, put an honourable 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 labour, 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 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 success 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, Aemilius, is deprived of his." This was the generous and magnanimous oration Aemilius 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 favour 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 be 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 ascribed to Aemilius's conquest of
Whilst he was thus busy about many and weighty affairs he
fell sick of a disease, which at first seemed hazardous; and although after a
while 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 meanwhile, 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