Home Introduction Persons Geogr. Sources Events Mijn blog(Nederlands)
Religion Subjects Images Queries Links Contact Do not fly Iberia
This is a non-commercial site. Any revenues from Google ads are used to improve the site.

Custom Search
Quote of the day: Civilis, however, was naturally politic
Display Latin text
History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 27: Speech of Scipio to the soldiers[206 BC]
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
After the usher had obtained silence he made the following speech: "I never supposed that I should want words in which to address my army, not that I ever trained myself to speak rather than to act, but that having lived a camp life from boyhood I have learnt to understand the soldier's character. As to what I am to say to you now, words and ideas alike fail me; I do not even know by what title I am to address you. Am I to call you Roman citizens you who have revolted against your country? Can I call you soldiers when you have renounced the authority and auspices of your general, and broken the solemn obligations of your military oath? Your appearance, your features, your dress, your demeanour I recognise as those of my fellow-countrymen, but I see that your actions, your language, your designs, your spirit and temper are those of your country's foes. What difference is there between your hopes and aims and those of the Ilergetes and the Lacetanians? And yet they chose men of kingly rank, Mandonius and Indibilis, to lead them in their madness, whilst you delegated the auspices and the supreme command to Atrius, an Umbrian, and Albius, a man from Cales. Do tell me, soldiers, that you did not all join in that or approve of its being done. I will gladly believe that only a few were guilty of such insensate folly, if you assure me that this is so. For the crime is of such a nature that had it involved the whole army it could only have been expiated by a frightful sacrifice. "It is painful for me to speak thus, opening up, as it were, wounds, but unless they are handled and probed they cannot be healed. After the expulsion of the Carthaginians from Spain I did not believe that there were anywhere people who wished me dead, such had been my conduct towards friends and enemies alike. And yet, alas so greatly was I mistaken that even in my own army the report of my death was not only credited but eagerly looked for. I would not for a moment wish to lay this to the charge of you all, for if I thought that the whole of my army wished for my death, I would die here before your eyes. My life would have no attraction for me if it were hateful to my fellow-countrymen and my soldiers. But every multitude is like the sea which left to itself is naturally motionless, till winds and gales excite it. So it is with calm and storms amongst you, the cause and origin of your madness is to be found in your ringleaders, who infected you with their frenzy. For you do not seem even now to be aware to what lengths of folly you have gone or what criminal recklessness you have been guilty of towards me, towards your country, your parents and your children, towards the gods who were witnesses of your military oath, towards the auspices under which your served, towards the traditions of the army and the discipline of our ancestors, towards the majesty inherent in supreme authority. About myself I prefer to be silent; you may have lent a thoughtless rather than a willing ear to the report of my death; I may be a man whose rule might be naturally expected to prove irksome to his army. But your country what has it deserved of you that you should make common cause with Mandonius and Indibilis for its betrayal? What have the Roman people done that you should deprive the tribunes whom they elected of their authority, and bestow it on private individuals? And not content with having such men for tribunes you, a Roman army, have transferred the fasces of your commander to men who never possessed a single slave to be at their command! The head-quarters tent was occupied by an Albius and an Atrius; at their doors the trumpet sounded; to them you went for orders; they were seated on Publius Scipio's tribunal; the lictor was in attendance and cleared the way before them; in front of them the axes and fasces were borne! When there is a shower of stones, or buildings are struck by lightning, or animals produce monstrous offspring, you consider these things as portents. We have here a portent which no victims, no intercessions can expiate but the blood of those who have dared such an awful crime.

Actions in Spain in 206 BC

Event: Actions in Spain in 206 BC