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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVI Chapter 21: An ovation for Marcellus.[211 BC]
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At the close of the same summer, Marcus Marcellus arriving at the city from his province of Sicily, an audience of the senate was given him by Gaius Calpurnius, the praetor, in the temple of Bellona. Here, after discoursing on the services he had performed, and complaining in gentle terms, not on his own account more than that of his soldiers, that after having completely reduced the province, he had not been allowed to bring home his army, he requested that he might be allowed to enter the city in triumph; this he did not obtain. A long debate took place on the question, whether it was less consistent to deny a triumph on his return to him, in whose name, when absent, a supplication had been decreed and honours paid to the immortal gods, for successes obtained under his conduct; or, when they had ordered him to deliver over his army to a successor, which would not have been decreed unless there were still war in the province, to allow him to triumph, as if the war had been terminated, when the army, the evidence of the triumph being deserved or undeserved, were absent. As a middle course between the two opinions, it was resolved that he should enter the city in ovation. The plebeian tribunes, by direction of the senate, proposed to the people, that Marcus Marcellus should be invested with command during the day on which he should enter the city in ovation. The day before he entered the city he triumphed on the Alban mount; after which he entered the city in ovation, having a great quantity of spoils carried before him, together with a model of the capture of Syracuse. The catapultas and ballistas, and every other instrument of war were carried; likewise the rich ornaments laid up by its kings during a long continuance of peace; a quantity of wrought silver and brass, and other articles, with precious garments, and a number of celebrated statues, with which Syracuse had been adorned in such a manner as to rank among the chief Grecian cities in that respect. Eight elephants were also led as an emblem of victory over the Carthaginians. Sosis, the Syracusan, and Mericus, the Spaniard, who preceded him with golden crowns, formed not the least interesting part of the spectacle; under the guidance of one of whom the Romans had entered Syracuse by night, while the other had betrayed to them the island and the garrison in it. To both of them the freedom of the city was given, and five hundred acres of land each. Sosis was to have his portion in the Syracusan territory, out of the lands which had belonged either to the kings or the enemies of the Roman people, together with a house at Syracuse, which had belonged to any one of those persons who had been punished according to the laws of war. Mericus and the Spaniards who had come over with him were ordered to have a city and lands assigned to them in Sicily, which had belonged to some of those who had revolted from the Romans. It was given in charge to Marcus Cornelius to assign them the city and lands wherever he thought proper. In the same country, four hundred acres of land were decreed to Belligenes, by whose means Mericus had been persuaded to come over. After the departure of Marcellus from Sicily, a Carthaginian fleet landed eight thousand infantry and three thousand Numidian cavalry. To these the Murgantian territories revolted; Hybla, Macella, and certain other towns of less note followed their defection. The Numidians also, headed by Mutines, ranging without restraint through the whole of Sicily, ravaged with fire the lands of the allies of the Romans. In addition to these unfortunate circumstances, the Roman soldiers, incensed partly because they had not been taken from the province with their general, and partly because they had been forbidden to winter in towns, discharged their duties negligently, and wanted a a leader more than inclination for a mutiny. Amid these difficulties Marcus Cornelius, the praetor, sometimes by soothing, at other times by reproving them, pacified the minds of the soldiers; and reduced to obedience all the states which had revolted; out of which he gave Murgantia to those Spaniards who were entitled to a city and land, in conformity with the decree of the senate. |
Event: Actions in Sicily in 211 BC
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Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Triumph:The highest honour to a general: clad like Jupiter he drove in a chariot drawn by four white horses. Before him walked the prisoners taken in the war, and the spoils of the captured cities, and in later times pictures of the conquered territories were carried before the general's chariot. He was followed by his troops, who sung songs, often extempore effusions, in honour of their commander.
Ovation:In the ovation the general entered the City on foot, in later times on horseback, clothed in a simple toga praetexta, and often unattended by his soldiers. In the "triumph" the general sacrificed a bull to Jupiter on the Capitol; in the "ovation" a sheep was substituted. Hence its name ovis (= sheep).
Balista:Large military engine to throw missiles.