XVII. Thus when he did at length return to Syracuse, he managed theoperation so swiftly and so skilfully that he disembarked his troopsat Thapsus before the enemy were aware of his approach, took Epipolæby surprise, took prisoners three hundred of the force of picked men[Pg 21]who endeavoured to recapture that fort, and routed the Syracusancavalry, which had hitherto been supposed to be invincible. Moreover,what chiefly terrified the Sicilians, and seemed wonderful to allGreeks, was the speed with which he built a wall round Syracuse, acity quite as large as Athens itself, but one which is much moredifficult to invest completely, because of the sea being so near toit, and the rough ground and marshes by which it is surrounded on theland side. Yet he all but succeeded in accomplishing this feat,although he was not in a condition of body to superintend such workspersonally, for he suffered greatly from a disease of the kidneys, towhich we must attribute whatever was left undone by his army. For myown part I feel great admiration for the diligence and skill of thegeneral, and for the bravery of the soldiers, which enabled them togain such successes. The poet Euripides, after their defeat and utteroverthrow wrote this elegy upon them:
XX. About this time Sertorius was much dispirited, because thatdeer of his could nowhere be found; for he was thus deprived of agreat means of cheering the barbarians, who then particularly requiredconsolation. It happened that some men, who were rambling about atnight for other purposes, fell in with the deer and caught it, forthey knew it by the colour. Sertorius hearing of this, promised togive them a large sum of money if they would mention it to nobody;and, concealing the deer for several days, he came forward with ajoyful countenance to the tribunal, and told the barbarian chiefs thatthe deity prognosticated to him in his sleep some great good fortune.He then ascended the tribunal, and transacted business with those whoapplied to him. The deer being let loose by those who had charge of itclose by, and, seeing Sertorius, bounded joyfully up to the tribunal,and, standing by him, placed its head on his knees, and touched hisright hand with its mouth, having been accustomed to do this before.Sertorius cordially returned [Pg 120]the caresses of the animal, and evenshed tears. The spectators were at first surprised; then clappingtheir hands and shouting, they conducted Sertorius to his residence,considering him to be a man superior to other mortals and beloved bythe gods; and they were full of good hopes.
[Pg 215]XIX. Elated by this success, and full of great designs, he hastenedto attack Sertorius himself, in order that Metellus might not sharethe victory. They engaged on the banks of the Sucro, though it wasnear the close of day, both parties fearing the arrival of Metellus,one wishing to fight by himself, and the other wishing to have onlyone opponent. The issue of the battle was doubtful, for one wing wasvictorious on each side; but of the two commanders-in-chief Sertoriusgot the more honour, for he put to flight the enemy who were opposedto him. A man of tall stature, an infantry soldier, attacked Pompeius,who was on horseback; and as they closed and came to a struggle, theblows of the swords fell on the hands of both, but not with the sameeffect; for Pompeius was only wounded, but he cut off the man's hand.Now, as many men rushed upon Pompeius, and the rout had already begun,he escaped, contrary to all expectation, by quitting his horse, whichhad trappings of gold and decorations of great value; for while theenemy were dividing the booty and fighting about it with one another,they were left behind in the pursuit. At daybreak both commandersagain placed their forces in order of battle, with the intention ofsecuring the victory, but when Metellus approached, Sertoriusretreated and his army dispersed. For the fashion of his men was todisperse and again to come together, so that Sertorius often wanderedabout alone, and often appeared again at the head of one hundred andfifty thousand men, like a winter-torrent suddenly swollen. Now, whenPompeius went to meet Metellus after the battle, and they were nearone another, he ordered his lictors to lower their fasces out ofrespect to Metellus as the superior in rank. But Metellus would notallow this, and in all other respects he behaved with consideration toPompeius, not assuming any superiority on the ground of being aconsular and the elder, except that when the two armies encampedtogether the watchword for both armies was given out by Metellus; butthe two armies generally encamped apart. For the enemy used to cut offtheir communications and separate them, being fertile in stratagems,and skilful in showing himself in many quarters in a short time, andin leading from one combat [Pg 216]to another. Finally, by cutting off theirsupplies, plundering the country, and getting the command of the sea,he drove both Pompeius and Metellus from that part of Iberia which wasunder him, and they were compelled to fly to other provinces throughwant of provisions.
XX. Pompeius having spent most of his own property and applied it tothe purposes of the war, demanded money of the senate, and said thathe would come to Italy with his army if they did not send it.Lucullus, who was then consul, being at variance with Pompeius, andintriguing to get the command in the Mithridatic war for himself,bestirred himself to get money sent for fear of letting Pompeius havea reason for leaving Sertorius, and attacking Mithridates, which hewished to do, for Mithridates was considered to be an opponent whom itwould be an honour to oppose and easy to vanquish. In the meantime,Sertorius was assassinated by his friends, of whom Perpenna wasthe chief leader, and he attempted to do what Sertorius had done,having indeed the same troops and means, but not equal judgment forthe management of them. Now Pompeius immediately advanced againstPerpenna, and perceiving that he was floundering in his affairs, hesent down ten cohorts into the plain, as a bait, and gave them ordersto disperse as if they were flying. When Perpenna had attacked thecohorts, and was engaged in the pursuit, Pompeius appeared in fullforce, and joining battle, gave the enemy a complete defeat. Most ofthe officers fell in the battle; but Perpenna was brought to Pompeius,who ordered him to be put to death, in which he did not show anyingratitude, nor that he had forgotten what had happened in Sicily, assome say, but he displayed great prudence and a judgment that wasadvantageous to the commonweal. For Perpenna, who had got possessionof the writings of Sertorins, offered to produce letters from the mostpowerful men in Rome, who being [Pg 217]desirous to disturb the presentsettlement and to change the constitution, invited Sertorius to Italy.Now Pompeius, apprehending that this might give rise to greater warsthan those which were just ended, put Perpenna to death, and burnt theletters without even reading them.
XXV. The power of the pirates extended over the whole of our seaat once in a measure, so that it could not be navigated and was closedagainst all trade. It was this which mainly induced the Romans, whowere hard pressed for provisions and were expecting great scarcity, tosend out Pompeius to clear the sea of the pirates. Gabinius, oneof the friends of Pompeius, drew up a law which gave Pompeius, not anaval command, but palpably sole dominion and power over all menwithout any responsibility. For the law gave him authority over thesea within the columns of Hercules and all the main land to thedistance of four hundred stadia from the sea. There were not manyplaces within the Roman dominions which lay beyond those limits, butthe chief nations and the most powerful of the kings were comprisedwithin them. Besides this, Pompeius was empowered to choose fifteenlegati from the Senate who should command in particular parts, to takefrom the treasuries and from the Publicani as much money as hepleased, and two hundred ships, with full authority [Pg 224]as to the numberand levying of the armed force and of the rowers for the vessels. Whenthese provisions of the law were read, the people received them withexceeding great satisfaction, but the chief of the Senate and the mostpowerful citizens considered that this unlimited and indefinite powerwas indeed too great to be an object of envy, but was a matter foralarm. Accordingly with the exception of Cæsar they opposed the law;but Cæsar spoke in favour of it, though indeed he cared very littlefor Pompeius, but from the beginning it was his plan to insinuatehimself into the popular favour and to gain over the people. But therest vehemently assailed Pompeius. One of the consuls who had observedto him that if he emulated Romulus he would not escape the end ofRomulus, was near being killed by the people. When Catulus cameforward to speak against the law, the people out of respect weresilent for some time; but after he had spoken at length withhonourable mention of Pompeius and without any invidious remark, andthen advised the people to spare him and not to expose such a man torepeated dangers and wars, \"What other man,\" he continued, \"will youhave, if you lose him\" when with one accord all the people replied,\"Yourself.\" Now as Catulus could produce no effect, he retired fromthe Rostra; when Roscius came forward, nobody listened, but hemade signs with his fingers that they should not appoint Pompeius tothe sole command, but should give him a colleague. At this it is saidthat the people being irritated sent forth such a shout, that acrow which was flying over the Forum was stunned and fell downinto the crowd. Whence it appears, that birds which fall, do nottumble into a great vacuum in the air caused by its rending andseparation, but that they are struck by the blow of the voice, which,when it is carried along with great mass and strength, causes anagitation and a wave in the air. 153554b96e