Life of Flamininus, 1–21

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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1In parallel with Philopoemen we shall put Titus Quintius Flamininus. What his outward appearance was may be seen by those who wish it from the bronze statue of him at Rome. It stands by the side of the great Apollo from Carthage, opposite the Circus,[1] and has upon it an inscription in Greek characters. As to his disposition, he is said to have been quick to show anger as well as to confer favours, though not in like extent. 2For he was gentle in his punishments and not persistent, whereas in his favours he was unremitting, always well disposed towards his beneficiaries as though they were his benefactors, and eager to protect at all times and preserve those who had ever met with kindness at his hands, as though they were his choicest possessions. But since he was covetous of honour and fame, he desired that his noblest and greatest achievements should be the result of his own efforts, and he took more pleasure in those who wanted to receive kindness than in those who were able to bestow it, considering that the former were objects upon which he could exercise his virtue, while the latter were his rivals, so to speak, in the struggle for fame.

3From his earliest years he was trained in the arts of war, since at that time Rome was carrying on many great contests and her young men from the very outset were taught by service as soldiers how to command soldiers. To begin with, then, he served as military tribune in the war against Hannibal under Marcellus the consul. 4Marcellus fell into an ambush and lost his life,[2] but Titus was appointed governor of the country about Tarentum and of Tarentum itself, now captured for the second time. Here he won a good name, no less for his administration of justice than for his conduct in the field. For this reason he was also chosen director-in-chief of the colonists sent out to the two cities of Narnia and Cosa.

2This success more than anything else so exalted his ambition that he ignored the intervening offices which young men generally sought, the offices of tribune, praetor, and aedile, and thought himself worthy at once of a consulship; so he became a candidate for that office, with the eager support of his colonists. But the tribunes Fulvius and Manius opposed his course, and said that it was a monstrous thing for a young man to force his way into the highest office contrary to the laws, before he had been initiated, as it were, into the first rites and mysteries of government. 2The senate, however, referred the matter to the votes of the people, and the people elected him consul[3] along with Sextus Aelius, although he was not yet thirty years old. The lot assigned him to the war with Philip and the Macedonians, and it was a marvellous piece of good fortune for the Romans that he was thus designated for a field of activity where the people did not require a leader relying entirely upon war and violence, but were rather to be won over by persuasion and friendly intercourse. 3For the realm of Macedonia afforded Philip a sufficiently strong force for actual battle, but in a war of long duration his phalanx was dependent for its vigour, its support, its places of refuge, and in a word for its entire effectiveness, upon the states of Greece, and unless these were detached from Philip, the war with him would not be a matter of a single battle. 4Greece, however, had not yet been brought into much contact with the Romans, and now for the first time was drawn into political relations with them. Unless, therefore, the Roman commander had been a man of native goodness who relied upon argument more than upon war, and unless he had been persuasive when he asked an audience and kind when he granted one, ever laying the greatest stress upon what was right and just, Greece would not so easily have been satisfied with a foreign supremacy instead of those to which she had been accustomed. However, this will be made clear in the story of his achievements.

3Titus learned that the generals who had preceded him in this field, first Sulpicius, and then Publius Villius, had invaded Macedonia late in the season, had prosecuted the war slowly, and had wasted time in manoeuvring for position or in long range skirmishes with Philip to secure roads and provisions. 2These men had squandered the year of their consulship at home in the honours and political activities of their office, and afterwards had set out on their campaigns. But Titus did not think it right to imitate them and thus add a year to his term of office, acting as magistrate during one, and as general for a second. On the contrary, he was ambitious to prosecute the war at the same time that he served as consul, and therefore renounced his honours and special privileges in the city, 3and after asking the senate that his brother Lucius might accompany him on his expedition as naval commander, he took with him as the main part of his force those of Scipio’s soldiers who were still in full vigour of body and spirit after conquering Hasdrubal in Spain and Hannibal himself in Africa (they were three thousand in number), and crossed safely into Epirus. He found Publius Villius encamped with his forces over against Philip, who for a long time now had been guarding the narrow passes along the river Apsus. 4Publius was making no progress, owing to the strength of his adversary’s position, and Titus therefore took over his army, sent Publius home, and began an examination of the ground. It has no less natural strength than the Vale of Tempe, but is without the beautiful trees, green woods, agreeable haunts, and pleasant meadows which there abound. 5Great and lofty mountains on either side slope down and form a single very large and deep ravine, and through this the Apsus dashes with a volume and speed which make it the equal of the Peneius. Its water covers all the rest of the ground at the foot of the mountains, but leaves a cut, precipitous and narrow, for a path along past its current; this path would not be easy for an army to traverse at any time, and when guarded, it would be utterly impossible.

4There were some, therefore, who tried to have Titus lead his forces by a roundabout way through Dassaretis towards Lycus, a safe and easy road. But he was afraid that if he went far away from the sea and got into regions that were poorly tilled and barren, while Philip avoided a battle, lack of provisions would compel him to come back again to the sea with his task undone, like the general who had preceded him. He therefore determined to attack with all his might, and force his passage through the heights. 2But Philip was occupying the mountains with his phalanx, and on the flanks of the Romans javelins and arrows came flying from all directions against them. Sharp encounters took place, men were wounded and men fell dead on both sides, and no end of the war was in sight. But at last some herdsmen of the vicinity came to Titus and told him of a roundabout path which the enemy was neglecting to guard; over this they promised to lead his army and bring it, in three days at the farthest, to a position on the heights. 3As surety and voucher for their good faith they brought Charops the son of Machatas, a leading man in Epirus, who was well-disposed to the Romans and was secretly co-operating with them through fear of Philip. In him Titus put confidence, and sent out a military tribune with four thousand foot-soldiers and three hundred horsemen. They were conducted by the herdsmen, who were in bonds. By day they rested under cover of caves or woody places, and they travelled in the night, by the light of the moon, which was at the full.

4After sending off this detachment, Titus kept his army quiet for two days, except so far as he drew off the enemy’s attention by skirmishes; but when the day came on which the enveloping party were expected to show themselves on the heights, at daybreak he put all his heavy-armed and all his light-armed troops in motion. Dividing his forces into three parts, he himself led his cohorts in column formation up into the narrowest part of the ravine along the stream, pelted with missiles by the Macedonians and engaging at close quarters with those who confronted him at each difficult spot; 5the other divisions, one on either side, strove to keep pace with him, and grappled eagerly with the difficulties presented by the rough ground. Meanwhile the sun rose, and a smoke—not clearly defined, but resembling a mountain mist—lifted itself and came into view from afar. The enemy did not notice it, for it was behind them, where the heights were already occupied, and the Romans were of doubtful mind about it, but as they struggled and laboured on, they let their wishes determine their hopes. 6But when the smoke increased in size and darkened the air, and ascending in great volume was clearly seen to be a fire-signal from their friends, then the Romans below raised shouts of triumph and dashed upon their foes and crowded them together into the roughest places, while the Romans behind the enemy sent down answering shouts from the heights.

5At once, then, the enemy fled precipitately, but not more than two thousand of them fell;[4] for the difficulties of the ground made pursuit impossible. However, the Romans made spoil of their money, tents, and slaves, mastered the pass, and traversed all parts of Epirus, but in such an orderly manner and with so great restraint that, although they were far from their fleet and the sea, and although their monthly rations of grain had not been measured out to them and they could buy little, they nevertheless refrained from plundering the country, which offered abundant booty. 2For Titus had learned that Philip, in passing through Thessaly like a fugitive, was driving the inhabitants from their cities into the mountains, burning down the cities, and allowing his soldiers to plunder the wealth which was too abundant or too heavy to be carried away, thus in a manner ceding the country already to the Romans. Titus was therefore ambitious, and exhorted his soldiers accordingly to spare the country in marching through it, and to treat it as though it had been handed over to them and were their own. 3And indeed the results showed them at once the advantages of this orderly conduct. For as soon as they reached Thessaly the cities came over to them, the Greeks south of Thermopylae were all eagerness and excitement to find Titus, and the Achaeans, renouncing their alliance with Philip, voted to join the Romans in making war upon him. 4The Opuntians, moreover, although the Aetolians, who were at that time fighting most zealously on the side of the Romans, asked permission to take Opus in charge and protect the city, would not grant the request, but sent for Titus and gave themselves with the fullest confidence into his hands.

Now, we are told that Pyrrhus, when for the first time he beheld from a look-out place the army of the Romans in full array, had said that he saw nothing barbaric in the Barbarians’ line of battle;[5] and so those who for the first time met Titus were compelled to speak in a similar strain. 5For they had heard the Macedonians say that a commander of a barbarian host was coming against them, who subdued and enslaved everywhere by force of arms; and then, when they met a man who was young in years, humane in aspect, a Greek in voice and language, and a lover of genuine honour, they were wonderfully charmed, and when they returned to their cities they filled them with kindly feelings towards him and the belief that in him they had a champion of their liberties. 6After this Titus had a meeting with Philip (who seemed disposed to make terms), and proffered him peace and friendship on condition that he allowed the Greeks to be independent and withdraw his garrisons from their cities; but this proffer Philip would not accept. Then at last it became quite clear even to the partisans of Philip that the Romans were come to wage war, not upon the Greeks, but upon the Macedonians in behalf of the Greeks.

6Accordingly, the other parts of Greece came over to the side of Titus without any trouble; but as he was entering Boeotia without hostile demonstrations, the leading men of Thebes came to meet him. They were in sympathy with the Macedonian cause through the efforts of Brachyllas, but welcomed Titus and showed him honour, professing to be on friendly terms with both parties. 2Titus met and greeted them kindly, and then proceeded quietly on his journey, sometimes asking questions for his own information and sometimes discoursing at length, and purposely diverting them until his soldiers should come up from their march. 3Then he led them forward and entered the city along with the Thebans, who were not at all pleased thereat, but hesitated to oppose him, since a goodly number soldiers were in his following. Titus, however, just as though the city were not in his power, came before their assembly and tried to persuade them to side with the Romans, and Attalus the king seconded him in his appeals and exhortations to the Thebans. But Attalus, as it would appear, in his eagerness to play the orator for Titus, went beyond his aged strength, and in the very midst of his speech, being seized with a vertigo or an apoplexy, suddenly fainted and fell, and shortly afterwards was conveyed by his fleet to Asia, where he died. The Boeotians allied themselves with the Romans.

7Philip now sent an embassy to Rome, and Titus therefore dispatched thither his own representatives, who were to induce the senate to vote him an extension of command in case the war continued, or, if it did not, the power to make peace. For he was covetous of honour, and was greatly afraid that he would be robbed of his glory if another general were sent to carry on the war. 2His friends managed matters so successfully for him that Philip failed to get what he wanted and the command in the war was continued to Titus. On receiving the decree of the senate, he was lifted up in his hopes and at once hastened into Thessaly to prosecute the war against Philip. He had over twenty-six thousand soldiers, of whom six thousand infantry and four hundred cavalry were furnished by the Aetolians.[6] Philip’s army also was of about the same size.[7]

3The two armies advanced against each other until they came into the neighbourhood of Scotussa, and there they proposed to decide the issue by battle.[8] Their mutual proximity did not inspire them with fear, as might have been expected; on the contrary, they were filled with ardour and ambition. For the Romans hoped to conquer the Macedonians, whose reputation for prowess and strength Alexander had raised to a very high pitch among them; and the Macedonians, who considered the Romans superior to the Persians, hoped, in case they prevailed over them, to prove Philip a more brilliant commander than Alexander. 4Accordingly, Titus exhorted his soldiers to show themselves brave men and full of spirit, assured that they were going to contend against the bravest of antagonists in that fairest of all theatres, Greece; and Philip, too, began a speech of exhortation to his soldiers, as is the custom before a battle. But, either by chance or from ignorance due to an inopportune haste, he had ascended for this purpose a lofty mound outside his camp, beneath which many men lay buried in a common grave, and a dreadful dejection fell upon his listeners in view of the omen, so that he was deeply troubled and refrained from battle that day.

8Towards morning on the following day, after a mild and damp night, the clouds turned to mist, the whole plain was filled with profound darkness, a dense air came down from the heights into the space between the two camps, and as soon as day advanced all the ground was hidden from view. The parties sent out on either side for purposes of ambush and reconnaissance encountered one another in a very short time and went to fighting near what are called the Cynoscephalae, or Dog’s Heads. These are the sharp tops of hills lying close together alongside one another, and got their name from a resemblance in their shape. 2As was natural on a field so difficult, there were alternations of flight and pursuit, each party sending out aid from their camps to those who from time to time were getting the worst of it and retreating, until at last, when the air cleared up and they could see what was going on, they engaged with all their forces.[9]

With his right wing, then, Philip had the advantage, since from higher ground he threw his entire phalanx upon the Romans, who could not withstand the weight of its interlocked shields and the sharpness of its projecting pikes; 3but his left wing was broken up and scattered along the hills, and Titus, despairing of his defeated wing, rode swiftly along to the other, and with it fell upon the Macedonians. These were unable to hold their phalanx together and maintain the depth of its formation (which was the main source of their strength), being prevented by the roughness and irregularity of the ground, while for fighting man to man they had armour which was too cumbersome and heavy. 4For the phalanx is like an animal of invincible strength as long as it is one body and can keep its shields locked together in a single formation; but when it has been broken up into its parts, each of its fighting men loses also his individual force, as well because of the manner in which he is armed as because his strength lies in the mutual support of the parts of the whole body rather than in himself. This wing of the Macedonians being routed, some of the Romans pursued the fugitives, while others dashed out upon the flank of the enemy who were still fighting and cut them down, so that very soon their victorious wing also faced about, threw away their weapons, and fled. 5The result was that no fewer than eight thousand Macedonians were slain, and five thousand were taken prisoners. Philip, however, got safely away, and for this the Aetolians were to blame, who fell to sacking and plundering the enemy’s camp while the Romans were still pursuing, so that when the Romans came back to it they found nothing there.

9This, to begin with, gave rise to mutual quarrels and recriminations; but afterwards the Aetolians vexed Titus more and more by ascribing the victory to themselves and prepossessing the minds of the Greeks with the fame of it, so that they were mentioned first in the writings and songs of poets and historians who celebrated the event. 2Of these the one most in vogue was the following epigram in elegiac verses:—

“Unwept and without graves are we, O traveller, who on this ridge of Thessaly lie dead, in number thirty thousand, subdued by the sword of the Aetolians, and of the Latins whom Titus led from spacious Italy, Emathia’s great bane. And the bold spirit that Philip had displayed was gone; it showed itself more agile than swift deer.”

3This poem was composed by Alcaeus in mockery of Philip, and its author exaggerated the number of the slain; however, being recited in many places and by many persons, it gave more annoyance to Titus than to Philip. For Philip simply made fun of Alcaeus with an answering elegiac distich:—

“Leafless and without bark, O traveller, on this ridge

A cross is planted for Alcaeus, and it towers in the sun”;

4but Titus was ambitious to stand well with the Greeks, and such things irritated him beyond measure. For this reason he conducted the rest of his business by himself, and made very little account of the Aetolians. They on their part were displeased at this, and when Titus received an embassy from the Macedonian king with proposals for an agreement, they went round to the other cities vociferously charging him with selling peace to Philip, when it was in his power to eradicate the war entirely and destroy a power by which the Greek world had first been enslaved. 5While the Aetolians were making these charges and trying to make trouble among the Roman allies, Philip himself removed all grounds for suspicion by coming to terms and putting himself and his realm in the hands of Titus and the Romans. And in this manner Titus[10] put an end to the war; he returned to Philip his kingdom of Macedonia, but ordained that he should keep aloof from Greece, exacted from him an indemnity of a thousand talents, took away all his ships except ten, and taking one of his sons, Demetrius, to serve as hostage, sent him off to Rome, thus providing in the best manner for the present and anticipating the future.

6For Hannibal the African, a most inveterate enemy of Rome and an exile from his native country, had already at that time[11] come to the court of King Antiochus, and was trying to incite him to further achievements while fortune gave his power successful course. Antiochus himself also, in consequence of the magnitude of his achievements, by which he had won the title of Great, was already fixing his eyes on universal dominion, and had a particular hostility to the Romans. 7Therefore, had not Titus, in view of all this, made favourable terms of peace, and had the war with Antiochus in Greece found the war with Philip still in progress there, and had a common cause brought these two greatest and most powerful kings of the time into alliance against Rome, that city would have undergone fresh struggles and dangers not inferior to those which marked her war with Hannibal. 8But as it was, by interposing an opportune peace between the two wars, and by cutting short the existing war before the threatening war began, Titus took away the last hope from Philip, and the first from Antiochus.

10And now the ten commissioners, who had been sent to Titus by the senate, advised him to give the rest of the Greeks their freedom, but to retain Corinth, Chalcis, and Demetrias under garrisons, as a safeguard against Antiochus. Thereupon the Aetolians stirred up the cities with the most vociferous denunciations, ordering Titus to strike off the shackles of Greece (for that is what Philip was wont to call these three cities), 2and asking the Greeks whether they were glad to have a fetter now which was smoother than the one they had worn before, but heavier; and whether they admired Titus as a benefactor because he had unshackled the foot of Greece and put a collar round her neck. Titus was troubled and distressed at this, and by labouring with the commission finally persuaded it to free these cities also from their garrisons, in order that his gift to the Greeks might be whole and entire.

3Accordingly, at the Isthmian games, where a great throng of people were sitting in the stadium and watching the athletic contests (since, indeed, after many years Greece had at last ceased from wars waged in hopes of freedom, and was now holding festival in time of assured peace), the trumpet signalled a general silence, 4and the herald, coming forward into the midst of the spectators, made proclamation that the Roman senate and Titus Quintius Flamininus proconsular general, having conquered King Philip and the Macedonians, restored to freedom, without garrisons and without imposts, and to the enjoyment of their ancient laws, the Corinthians, the Locrians, the Phocians, the Euboeans, the Achaeans of Phthiotis, the Magnesians, the Thessalians, and the Perrhaebians. At first, then, the proclamation was by no means generally or distinctly heard, but there was a confused and tumultuous movement in the stadium of people who wondered what had been said, and asked one another questions about it, and called out to have the proclamation made again; 5but when silence had been restored, and the herald in tones that were louder than before and reached the ears of all, had recited the proclamation, a shout of joy arose, so incredibly loud that it reached the sea. The whole audience rose to their feet, and no heed was paid to the contending athletes, but all were eager to spring forward and greet and hail the saviour and champion of Greece.

6And that which is often said of the volume and power of the human voice was then apparent to the eye. For ravens which chanced to be flying overhead fell down into the stadium. The cause of this was the rupture of the air; for when the voice is borne aloft loud and strong, the air is rent asunder by it and will not support flying creatures, but lets them fall, as if they were over a vacuum, unless, indeed, they are transfixed by a sort of blow, as of a weapon, and fall down dead.[12] It is possible, too, that in such cases there is a whirling motion of the air, which becomes like a waterspout at sea with a refluent flow of the surges caused by their very volume.

11Be that as it may, had not Titus, now that the spectacle was given up, at once foreseen the rush and press of the throng and taken himself away, it would seem that he could hardly have survived the concourse of so many people about him at once and from all sides. But when they were tired of shouting about his tent, and night was already come, then, with greetings and embraces for any friends and fellow citizens whom they saw, they betook themselves to banqueting and carousing with one another. 2And here, their pleasure naturally increasing, they were moved to reason and discourse about Greece, saying that although she had waged many wars for the sake of her freedom, she had not yet obtained a more secure or more delightful exercise of it than now, when others had striven in her behalf, and she herself, almost without a drop of blood or a pang of grief, had borne away the fairest and most enviable of prizes. Verily, they would say, valour and wisdom are rare things among men, but the rarest of all blessings is the just man. 3For men like Agesilaüs, or Lysander, or Nicias, or Alcibiades could indeed conduct wars well, and understood how to be victorious commanders in battles by land and sea, but they would not use their successes so as to win legitimate favour and promote the right. Indeed, if one excepts the action at Marathon, the sea-fight at Salamis, Plataea, Thermopylae, and the achievements of Cimon at the Eurymedon and about Cyprus, Greece has fought all her battles to bring servitude upon herself, and every one of her trophies stands as a memorial of her own calamity and disgrace, since she owed her overthrow chiefly to the baseness and contentiousness of her leaders. 4Whereas men of another race, who were thought to have only slight sparks and insignificant traces of a common remote ancestry, from whom it was astonishing that any helpful word or purpose should be vouchsafed to Greece—these men underwent the greatest perils and hardships in order to rescue Greece and set her free from cruel despots and tyrants.

12So ran the thoughts of the Greeks; and the acts of Titus were consonant with his proclamations. For at once he sent Lentulus to Asia to set Bargylia free, and Stertinius to Thrace to deliver the cities and islands there from Philip’s garrisons. Moreover, Publius Villius sailed to have a conference with Antiochus concerning the freedom of the Greeks who were under his sway. 2Titus himself also paid a visit to Chalcis, and then sailed from there to Magnesia, removing their garrisons and restoring to the peoples their constitutions. He was also appointed master of ceremonies for the Nemeian games at Argos, where he conducted the festival in the best possible manner, and once more publicly proclaimed freedom to the Greeks. 3Then he visited the different cities, establishing among them law and order, abundant justice, concord, and mutual friendliness. He quieted their factions and restored their exiles, and plumed himself on his persuading and reconciling the Greeks more than on his conquest of the Macedonians, so that their freedom presently seemed to them the least of his benefactions.

4Xenocrates the philosopher, as the story runs, was once being haled away to prison by the tax-collectors for not having paid the alien’s tax, but was rescued out of their hands by Lycurgus the orator, who also visited the officials with punishment for their impudence. Xenocrates afterwards met the sons of Lycurgus, and said: “My boys, I am making a noble return to your father for his kindness towards me; for all the world is praising him for what he did.” In the case of Titus and the Romans, however, gratitude for their benefactions to the Greeks brought them, not merely praises, but also confidence among all men and power, and justly too. 5For men not only received the officers appointed by them, but actually sent for them and invited them and put themselves in their hands. And this was true not only of peoples and cities, nay, even kings who had been wronged by other kings fled for refuge into the hands of Roman officials, so that in a short time—and perhaps there was also divine guidance in this—everything became subject to them. But Titus himself took most pride in his liberation of Greece. 6For in dedicating at Delphi some silver bucklers and his own long shield, he provided them with this inscription:—

“O ye sons of Zeus, whose joy is in swift horsemanship, O ye Tyndaridae, princes of Sparta, Titus, a descendant of Aeneas, has brought you a most excellent gift, he who for the sons of the Greeks wrought freedom.”

7He also dedicated a golden wreath to Apollo, and it bore this inscription:—

“This will fitly lie on thine ambrosial locks, O son of Leto, this wreath with sheen of gold; it is the gift of the great leader of the children of Aeneas. Therefore, O Far-darter, bestow upon the god-like Titus the glory due to his prowess.”

8It follows, then, that the city of Corinth has twice now been the scene of the same benefaction to the Greeks; for it was in Corinth that Titus at this time, and at Corinth that Nero again in our own times—in both cases at the Isthmian games—made the Greeks free and self-governing, Titus by voice of herald, but Nero in a public address which he delivered in person, on a tribunal in the market-place amidst the multitude. This, however, came at a later time.[13]

13Titus now began a most honourable and righteous war, the war against Nabis, that most pernicious and lawless tyrant of Sparta, but in the end he disappointed the hopes of Greece. For though it was in his power to capture the tyrant, he refused to do so, and made peace with him, thus leaving Sparta to the fate of an unworthy servitude. He was led to this step either by his fear that a protraction of the war would bring another general from Rome to succeed him and rob him of his glory, or by his jealous displeasure at the honours paid to Philopoemen. 2For in all other matters Philopoemen was a most capable man among the Greeks, and in that war particularly he displayed astonishing deeds of ability and daring, so that he was extolled by the Achaeans as much as Titus, and equally honoured in their theatres. This annoyed Titus, who thought it out of keeping that a man of Arcadia, who had held command in small border wars, should receive just as much admiration from the Achaeans as a Roman consul, who was waging war in behalf of Greece.[14] 3However, Titus himself had this to say in defence of his course, namely, that he put an end to the war when he saw that the destruction of the tyrant would involve the rest of the Spartans also in serious disaster.[15]

The Achaeans voted Titus many honours, none of which seemed commensurate with his benefactions except one gift, and this caused him as much satisfaction as all the rest put together. 4And this was the gift: The Romans who were unhappily taken prisoners in the war with Hannibal had been sold about hither and thither, and were serving as slaves. In Greece there were as many as twelve hundred of them. The change in their lot made them pitiful objects always, but then even more than ever, naturally, when they fell in with sons, or brothers, or familiar friends, as the case might be, slaves with freemen and captives with victors. 5These men Titus would not take away from their owners, although he was distressed at their condition, but the Achaeans ransomed them all at five minas[16] the man, collected them together, and made a present of them to Titus just as he was about to embark, so that he sailed for home with a glad heart; his noble deeds had brought him a noble recompense, and one befitting a great man who loved his fellow citizens. 6This appears to have furnished his triumph with its most glorious feature. For these men shaved their heads and wore felt caps, as it is customary for slaves to do when they are set free, and in this habit followed the triumphal car of Titus.

14But a more beautiful show was made by the spoils of war which were displayed in the procession—Greek helmets and Macedonian bucklers and pikes. Besides, the amount of money exhibited was large. Tuditanus records that there were carried in the procession three thousand seven hundred and thirteen pounds of gold bullion, forty-three thousand two hundred and seventy pounds of silver, 2and fourteen thousand five hundred and fourteen gold coins bearing Philip’s effigy.[17] And apart from this money Philip owed his fine of a thousand talents.[18] This fine, however, the Romans were afterwards persuaded to remit to Philip, and this was chiefly due to the efforts of Titus; they also made Philip their ally, and sent back his son whom they held as hostage.

15Presently, however, Antiochus crossed into Greece[19] with many ships and a large army, and began to stir the cities into faction and revolt. The Aetolians made common cause with him, a people which had long been most inimically disposed towards the Romans, and they suggested to him, as a pretext that would account for the war, that he should offer the Greeks their freedom. The Greeks did not want to be set free, for they were free already; 2but for lack of a more appropriate ground for his action the Aetolians taught Antiochus to make use of that fairest of all names. The Romans, greatly alarmed by reports of defection among the Greeks and of the power of Antiochus, sent out Manius Acillius as consular general for the war, but made Titus his lieutenant to please the Greeks. The mere sight of him confirmed some of these in their loyalty to Rome, while to others, who were beginning to be infected with disloyalty, he administered a timely medicine, as it were, in the shape of good will towards himself, and thus checked their malady and prevented them from going wrong. 3A few, however, escaped his influence, having been already won over beforehand and totally corrupted by the Aetolians, but even these, in spite of his vexation and anger, were spared by him after the battle. For Antiochus was defeated at Thermopylae[20] and put to flight, and at once sailed back to Asia; while Manius the consul went against some of the Aetolians himself and besieged them, leaving others to King Philip to destroy. 4And so it came about that the Dolopians and Magnesians here, the Athamanians and Aperantians there, were harried and plundered by the Macedonians, while Manius himself, after sacking Heracleia, was engaged in the siege of Naupactus, which the Aetolians held. Then Titus, out of pity for the Greeks, sailed across from Peloponnesus to the consul. At first he chided Manius because, although the victory was his own, he was permitting Philip to carry off the prizes of the war, and to gratify his anger was wasting time in the siege of a single city, while the Macedonians were subduing many nations and kingdoms. 5Then, when the besieged citizens caught sight of him from their walls and called aloud upon him and stretched out their hands to him imploringly, he turned away, burst into tears, and left the place, without saying anything more at the time; afterwards, however, he had an interview with Manius, put an end to his wrath, and induced him to grant the Aetolians a truce, and time in which to send an embassy to Rome with a plea for moderate terms.

16But the hardest toils and struggles fell to Titus when he interceded with Manius in behalf of the Chalcidians. They had incurred the consul’s wrath because of the marriage which Antiochus had made in their city after the war had already begun, a marriage which was not only unseasonable, but unsuitable for the king’s years, since he was an elderly man and had fallen in love with a girl (the girl was a daughter of Cleoptolemus, and is said to have been most beautiful among maidens).[21] 2This marriage induced the Chalcidians to take the king’s side most zealously and allow their city to be his base of operations for the war. Antiochus, therefore, fleeing with all speed after the battle at Thermopylae, came to Chalcis, and taking with him his girl-wife, his treasure, and his friends, sailed back to Asia; but Manius immediately marched against Chalcis in a rage. He was accompanied, however, by Titus, who tried to mollify and intercede with him and at last won him over and calmed him down by entreaties addressed both to him and the other Romans in authority.

3Having been thus saved by Titus, the Chalcidians dedicated to him the largest and most beautiful of the votive offerings in their city, and on them such inscriptions as these are still to be seen: “This gymnasium is dedicated by the people to Titus and Heracles,” and again in another place, “This Delphinium is dedicated by the people to Titus and Apollo.” 4Moreover, even down to our own day a priest of Titus is duly elected and appointed, and after sacrifice and libations in his honour, a set hymn of praise to him is sung: it is too long to be quoted entire, and so I will give only the closing words of the song:

“And the Roman faith we revere, which we have solemnly vowed to cherish; sing, then, ye maidens, to great Zeus, to Rome, to Titus, and to the Roman faith: hail, Paean Apollo! hail, Titus our saviour!”

17He also received from the rest of the Greeks fitting honours, and these were made sincere by the astonishing good will which his equitable nature called forth. For even if the conduct of affairs or the spirit of rivalry brought him into collision with any of them, as, for instance, with Philopoemen, and again with Diophanes the general of the Achaeans, his resentment was not heavy, nor did it carry him into violent acts, but when it had vented itself in the outspoken language of free public debate, there was an end of it. 2However, he was never bitter, although many imputed hastiness and levity to his nature, and in general he was a most agreeable companion and able to say a graceful thing with force. For instance, when he was trying to dissuade the Achaeans from appropriating the island of Zacynthos, he said it would be dangerous for them, like a tortoise, to stick their head out of its Peloponnesian shell.[22] Again, when he held his first conference with Philip concerning a truce and peace, and Philip remarked that Titus had come with many attendants while he himself had come alone, Titus answered, “Yes, thou hast made thyself alone by slaying thy friends and kindred.”[23] 3Again, when Deinocrates the Messenian, who had taken too much wine at a drinking-party in Rome, and after putting on a woman’s robe had executed a dance, on the following day asked Titus to assist him in his plan to separate Messene from the Achaean league, Titus said he would consider the matter; “But I am amazed,” said he, “that when thou hast matters of so great moment in hand, thou canst dance and sing at a drinking-party.”[24] 4And once more, when an embassy from Antiochus was recounting to the Achaeans the vast multitude of the king’s forces and enumerating them all by their various appellations, Titus said that once, when he was dining with a friend, he criticised the multitude of meats that were served, wondering where he had obtained so varied a supply; whereupon his host told him they were all swine’s flesh, and differed only in the way they were cooked and dressed. 5“And so in your case,” said he, “men of Achaia, do not be astonished when you hear of the Spear-bearers and Lance-bearers and Foot-companions in the army of Antiochus; for they are all Syrians and differ only in the way they are armed.”[25]

18After his achievements in Greece and the war with Antiochus, Titus was appointed censor.[26] This is the highest office at Rome, and in a manner the culmination of a political career. Titus had as colleague in this office a son of the Marcellus[27] who had been five times consul, and the two censors ejected from the senate four men of lesser note, and received into citizenship all who offered themselves for enrolment, provided they were born of free parents. To this step they were forced by the tribune Terentius Culeo, who wanted to spite the nobility and so persuaded the people to vote the measure.

2The two men of his time who were most notable and had the greatest influence in the city, Scipio Africanus and Marcus Cato, were at variance with one another. Of these, Titus appointed Scipio to be Dean of the Senate,[28] believing him to be its best and foremost man; but with Cato he came into hostile relations, owing to the following unfortunate circumstances. Titus had a brother, Lucius, who was unlike him in all other ways, and especially in his shameful addiction to pleasure and his utter contempt of decency. 3This brother had as companion a young boy whom he loved, and took him about and kept him always in his train, whether he was commanding an army or administering a province. At some drinking party, then, this boy was playing the coquet with Lucius, and said he loved him so ardently that he had come away from a show of gladiators in order to be with him, although he had never in all his life seen a man killed; and he had done so, he said, because he cared more for his lover’s pleasure than for his own. Lucius was delighted at this, and said: “Don’t worry about that! I will give thee thy heart’s desire.” 4Then ordering a man who had been condemned to death to be brought forth from his prison, and sending for a lictor, he commanded him to strike off the man’s head there in the banquet-hall. Valerius Antias, however, says it was not a lover, but a mistress whom Lucius thus sought to gratify.[29] And Livy says that in a speech of Cato himself it is written that a Gaulish deserter had come to the door with his wife and children, and that Lucius admitted him into the banquet-hall and slew him with his own hand to gratify his lover. 5This feature, however, was probably introduced by Cato to strengthen the force of his denunciation; for that it was not a deserter, but a prisoner, who was put to death, and one who had been condemned to die, is the testimony of many others, and especially of Cicero the orator in his treatise “On Old Age,” where he puts the story in the mouth of Cato himself.[30]

19In view of this, when Cato became censor[31] and was purging the senate of its unworthy members, he expelled from it Lucius Flamininus, although he was a man of consular dignity, and although his brother Titus was thought to be involved in his disgrace. Therefore the two brothers came before the people in lowly garb and bathed in tears, and made what seemed a reasonable request of their fellow citizens, namely, that Cato should state the reasons which had led him to visit a noble house with a disgrace so great. 2Without any hesitation, then, Cato came forward, and standing with his colleague before Titus, asked him if he knew about the banquet. Titus said he did not, whereupon Cato related the incident and formally challenged Lucius to say whether any part of the story told was not true. But Lucius was dumb, and the people therefore saw that he had been justly disgraced, and gave Cato a splendid escort away from the rostra. 3Titus, however, was so affected by the misfortune of his brother that he leagued himself with those who had long hated Cato, and after getting the upper hand in the senate, revoked and annulled all the public rentals and leases and contracts which Cato had made, besides bringing many heavy indictments against him.[32] That he acted the part of a good man or a good citizen I cannot affirm, in thus cherishing an incurable hatred against a lawful magistrate and a most excellent citizen on account of a man who, though a kinsman, was nevertheless unworthy and had suffered only what he deserved. 4However, as the Roman people was once enjoying a spectacle in the theatre, and the senate, according to custom, had seats of honour in the foremost rows, Lucius was seen sitting somewhere in the rear among the poor and lowly, and excited men’s pity. The multitude could not bear the sight, but kept shouting to him to change his place, until he did change his place, and was received among their own number by the men of consular rank.

20Now, the native ambition of Titus, as long as it had sufficient material to gratify it in the wars which I have mentioned, met with praise, as, for instance, when he served a second time as military tribune after having been consul, though there was no necessity for it; but after he had ceased to hold office and was well on in years, he met the rather with censure, because, although the portion of life which still remained to him did not admit of great activity, he was unable to restrain his passion for glory and his youthful ardour. 2For by some such fierce impulse, as it would seem, he was led to his treatment of Hannibal, which made him odious to most people. Hannibal had secretly fled from his native Carthage and spent some time at the court of Antiochus; but when Antiochus, after the battle in Phrygia,[33] had gladly accepted terms of peace, Hannibal took to flight once more, and after many wanderings, finally settled down at the court of Prusias in Bithynia. No one at Rome was ignorant of this, but all ignored him on account of his weakness and old age, regarding him as a castaway of Fortune. 3Titus, however, who had been sent by the senate as ambassador to the court of Prusias on some other business,[34] and saw that Hannibal was staying there, was incensed that he should be alive, and although Prusias made many fervent intercessions in behalf of a man who was a suppliant and a familiar friend, would not relent. There was an ancient oracle, as it would appear, concerning Hannibal’s death, and it ran as follows:—

“Libyssan earth shall cover the form of Hannibal.”

Hannibal thought this referred to Libya and a burial at Carthage, and believed that he would end his days there; 4but there is a sandy tract in Bithynia on the sea-shore, and on its border a large village called Libyssa. Near this village Hannibal was living. But he had always distrusted the weakness of Prusias and feared the Romans, and therefore even before this time his house had been provided with seven underground exits leading from his own chamber. These ran in different directions beneath the surface of the ground, but all had secret issues far away. 5Accordingly, when he now heard of the behest of Titus, he set out to make his escape by way of the underground passages, but encountered guards of the king, and therefore determined to take his own life. Some say that he wound his cloak about his neck and then ordered a servant to plant his knee in the small of his back, pull the rope towards him with all his might until it was twisted tight, and so to choke and kill him; some, too, say that he drank bull’s blood in imitation of Themistocles[35] and Midas; 6but Livy says[36] that he had poison which he ordered to be mixed, and took the cup with these words: “Let us now at last put an end to the great anxiety of the Romans, who have thought it too long and hard a task to wait for the death of a hated old man. Nevertheless, Titus will not bear away an enviable victory, nor one worthy of his forefathers, who sent secret information to Pyrrhus, when he was at war with them and a victor over them, of the poisoning that was going to be attempted.”[37]

21Such are the accounts of the death of Hannibal. When the story of it was brought to the senate, many of them thought the conduct of Titus odious, officious, and cruel; for he had killed Hannibal when he was like a bird permitted to live a tame and harmless life because too old to fly and without a tail, and there had been no necessity for his doing this, but he did it to win fame, that his name might be associated with the death of Hannibal. 2Men also pointed to the clemency and magnanimity of Scipio Africanus and admired it all the more, since after defeating a Hannibal who had not been conquered before and was filling Africa with fear, he neither drove him from the country nor demanded his surrender by his fellow citizens, nay, he actually gave him a kindly greeting when he held conference with him before the battle, and after the battle, in making terms of peace, he did not insult or trample upon the fortunes of his foe.[38] 3Moreover, we are told that the two men met again at Ephesus, and in the first place, that when, as they were walking about together, Hannibal took the side which more properly belonged to Scipio as the superior, Scipio suffered it and walked about without paying any heed to it; and again, that when they fell to discussing generals and Hannibal declared Alexander to have been the mightiest of generals, and next to him Pyrrhus, and third himself, Scipio asked with a quiet smile, “And what wouldst thou have said if I had not conquered thee?” 4To which Hannibal replied, “In that case, Scipio, I should not have counted myself third, but first of generals.”[39]

Such conduct on the part of Scipio most people admired, and they blamed Titus for having laid violent hands on one whom another had slain. But some there were who praised what he had done and thought that Hannibal, as long as he was alive, was a consuming fire which needed only to be fanned; 5for when he was in his prime, they said, it was not his body nor his arm that had been formidable to the Romans, but his ability and experience coupled with his ingrained bitterness and hostility, and from these naught is subtracted by old age, but the natural characteristics remain unchanged: whereas fortune does not remain the same, but changes sides, and summons with hope to fresh undertakings those whom hatred makes perpetual foes. 6And subsequent events were perhaps still more a justification of Titus; for Aristonicus, the son of a harpist’s daughter, used his reputed connexion with Eumenes to fill all Asia with wars and rebellions,[40] and Mithridates, notwithstanding his defeats by Sulla and Fimbria and his great losses in armies and generals,[41]rose once more to be a formidable antagonist of Lucullus by land and sea.[42]

7However, not even Hannibal was reduced to a lower level than Caius Marius. For Hannibal had a king as his friend, and his days as usual were occupied with ships and horses and the care of soldiers; whereas Marius in his misfortunes was a laughing-stock to the Romans as he wandered about and begged his way in Africa, though after a little while he was in Rome with his axes at their necks and his rods at their backs, and they were humbly begging his mercy. So true is it that nothing in the present is either small or great in view of what may happen in the future, but change, like life, can only end with death. 8For this reason some say that Titus did not take this step on his own account, but that he was sent as ambassador with Lucius Scipio, and their embassy had no other object than the death of Hannibal.

We do not find that Titus was active after this, either as statesman or soldier, and his end was a peaceful one. It is therefore time to think of our comparison.

« About This Work | Plut. Flam. 1–21 (end) | About This Work »


  • [1] The Circus Flamininus is meant, which was erected in 221 B.C. by the censor Flamininus Nepos.

  • [2] In 208 B.C. Cf. the Marcellus, xxviii. f.

  • [3] In 198 B.C.

  • [4] So Livy, xxxii. 12.

  • [5] Cf. the Pyrrhus, xvi. 5.

  • [6] Cf. Livy, xxxiii. 1 f.

  • [7] So Livy, xxxiii. 4.

  • [8] On the same battlefield Pelopidas had been defeated and slain by Alexander of Pherae, in 364 B.C. Cf. the Pelopidas, xxxii.

  • [9] For a fuller description of the battle, cf. Livy, xxxiii. 7-10 (Polybius, xviii. 20-27).

  • [10] Rather, the ten commissioners sent from Rome to settle the affairs of Greece (chapter x. 1). Cf. Livy, xxxiii. 30 (Polybius xviii. 44).

  • [11] In 196 B.C., according to Nepos, Hannibal, vii. 6. According to Livy (xxxiii. 47), it was in the following year.

  • [12] Cf. the Pompey, xxv. 7.

  • [13] In 67 A.D.

  • [14] Cf. the Philopoemen, xv. 1-3.

  • [15] Titus offered this defence of his course to the congress of Greek states at Corinth (Livy, xxxiv. 48 f.).

  • [16] The mina was one sixtieth part of a talent, or one hundred drachmas.

  • [17] These "Philips" were nearly equivalent to sovereigns. Cf. Livy's description of the triumph (xxxiv. 52).

  • [18] Cf. chapter ix. 5.

  • [19] In the autumn of 192 B.C.

  • [20] In 191 B.C. For a description of the battle, cf. Livy, xxxvi. 14-21.

  • [21] Cf. the Philopoemen, xvii. 1.

  • [22] Cf. Livy, xxxvi. 32; Plutarch, Morals, p. 197b.

  • [23] Cf. Morals, p. 197a (Polybius xviii. 7).

  • [24] Cf. the Philopoemen, xviii. ff. (Polybius, xxiii. 5).

  • [25] Cf. Morals, p. 197c (Livy, xxxv. 49).

  • [26] In 189 B.C.

  • [27] Cf. chapter i. 3.

  • [28] Cf. the Tiberius Gracchus, iv. 1; Cato the Elder, xvii. 1.

  • [29] Cf. Livy, xxxix. 43.

  • [30] Cf. Cato the Elder, xvii. 1-4; Livy, xxxix. 42.

  • [31] In 184 B.C.

  • [32] Cf. Cato the Elder, xix. 2; Livy, xxxix. 44.

  • [33] The battle at Magnesia, in Lydia, 191 B.C. Under the terms of peace, Antiochus was to deliver Hannibal to the Romans. Cf. Livy, xxxvii. 45.

  • [34] According to Livy (xxxix. 51), Hannibal's presence in Bithynia was part of Rome's complaint against Prusias.

  • [35] Cf. the Themistocles, xxxi. 5.

  • [36] Livy, xxxix. 51.

  • [37] Cf. the Pyrrhus, xxi. 1-3.

  • [38] Cf. Livy, xxx. 29 ff.

  • [39] Cf. Livy, xxxv. 14.

  • [40] In 131-130 B.C.

  • [41] In 88-84 B.C.

  • [42] In 74-67 B.C. The argument is that if so great dangers to Rome were latent in Asia, the presence of Hannibal there was a menace.

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