Roman Conquests From The Fall Of Carthage To The Times Of The Gracchi

Although the Roman domination now extended in some form or other over most

of the countries around the Mediterranean, still several States remained

to be subdued, in the East and in the West.

The subjugation of Spain first deserves attention, commenced before the

close of the third Punic war, and which I have omitted to notice for the

sake of clearness of connection.

After the
annibalic war, we have seen how Rome planted her armies in

Spain, and added two provinces to her empire. But the various tribes were

far from being subdued, and Spain was inhabited by different races.

This great peninsula, bounded on the north by the ocean

Cantabricus, now called the Bay of Biscay, and the Pyrenees, on the east

and south by the Mediterranean, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, was

called Iberia, by the Greeks, from the river Iberus, or Ebro. The term

Hispania was derived from the Phoenicians, who planted colonies on the

southern shores. The Carthaginians invaded it next, and founded several

cities, the chief of which was New Carthage. At the end of the second

Punic war, it was wrested from them by the Romans, who divided it into two

provinces, Citerior and Ulterior. In the time of Augustus, Ulterior Spain

was divided into two provinces, called Lusitania and Baetica, while the

Citerior province, by far the larger, occupying the whole northern country

from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, was called Tanagona. It included

three-fifths of the peninsula, or about one hundred and seven thousand

three hundred square miles. It embraced the modern provinces of Catalonia,

Aragon, Navarre, Biscay, Asturias, Galicia, Northern Leon, old and new

Castile, Murcia, and Valentia, and a part of Portugal. Baetica nearly

corresponded with Andalusia, and embraced Granada, Jaen, Cordova, Seville,

and half of Spanish Estremadura. Lusitania corresponds nearly with


The Tanaconneusis was inhabited by numerous tribes, and the chief

ancient cities were Barcelona, Tanagona the metropolis, Pampeluna, Oporto,

Numantia, Saguntum, Saragossa, and Cartagena. In Baetica were Cordova,

Castile, Gades, and Seville. In Lusitania were Olisipo (Lisbon), and


Among the inhabitants of these various provinces were Iberians,

Celts, Phoenicians, and Hellenes. In the year 154 B.C., the Lusitanians,

under a chieftain called Punicus, invaded the Roman territory which the

elder Scipio had conquered, and defeated two Roman governors. The Romans

then sent a consular army, under Q. Fulvius Nobilior, which was ultimately

defeated by the Lusitanians under Caesarus. This success kindled the flames

of war far and near, and the Celtiberians joined in the warfare against

the Roman invaders. Again the Romans were defeated with heavy loss. The

Senate then sent considerable re-enforcements, under Claudius Marcellus,

who soon changed the aspect of affairs. The nation of the Arevacae

surrendered to the Romans--a people living on the branches of the Darius,

near Numantia--and their western neighbors, the Vaccaei, were also subdued,

and barbarously dealt with. On the outbreak of the third Punic war the

affairs of Spain were left to the ordinary governors, and a new

insurrection of the Lusitanians took place. Viriathus, a Spanish

chieftain, signally defeated the Romans, and was recognized as king of all

the Lusitanians. He was distinguished, not only for bravery, but for

temperance and art, and was a sort of Homeric hero, whose name and

exploits were sounded throughout the peninsula. He gained great victories

over the Roman generals, and destroyed their armies. General after general

was successively defeated. For five years this gallant Spaniard kept the

whole Roman power at bay, and he was only destroyed by treachery.

While the Lusitanians at the South were thus prevailing over the

Roman armies on the bunks of the Tagus, another war broke out in the North

among the Celtiberian natives. Against these people Quintus Caecilius

Metellus, the consul, was sent. He showed great ability, and in two years

reduced the whole northern province, except the two cities of Termantia

and Numantia. These cities, wearied at last with war, agreed to submit to

the Romans, and delivered up hostages and deserters, with a sum of money.

But the Senate, with its usual policy, refused to confirm the treaty of

its general, which perfectly aroused the Numantines to resentment and

despair. These brave people obtained successes against the Roman general

Laenas and his successors, Mancinus and M. AEmilius Lepides, as well as

Philus and Piso.

The Romans, aroused at last to this inglorious war, which had

lasted nearly ten years, resolved to take the city of the Numantines at

any cost, and intrusted the work to Scipio AEmilianus, their best general.

He spent the summer (B.C. 134) in extensive preparations, and it was not

till winter that he drew his army round the walls of Numantia, defended by

only eight thousand citizens. Scipio even declined a battle, and fought

with mattock and spade. A double wall of circumvallation, surmounted with

towers, was built around the city, and closed the access to it by the

Douro, by which the besieged relied upon for provisions. The city

sustained a memorable siege of nearly a year, and was only reduced by

famine. The inhabitants were sold as slaves, and the city was leveled with

the ground. The fall of this fortress struck at the root of opposition to

Rome, and a senatorial commission was sent to Spain, in order to organize

with Scipio the newly-won territories, and became henceforth the

best-regulated country of all the provinces of Rome.

But a graver difficulty existed with the African, Greek, and

Asiatic States that had been brought under the influence of the Roman

hegemony, which was neither formal sovereignty nor actual subjection. The

client States had neither independence nor peace. The Senate,

nevertheless, perpetually interfered with the course of African, Hellenic,

Asiatic, and Egyptian affairs. Commissioners were constantly going to

Alexandria, to the Achaean diet, and to the courts of the Asiatic princes,

and the government of Rome deprived the nations of the blessings of

freedom and the blessings of order.

It was time to put a stop to this state of things, and the only way

to do so was to convert the client States into Roman provinces. After the

destruction of Carthage, the children of Masinissa retained in substance

their former territories, but were not allowed to make Carthage their

capital. Her territories became a Roman province, whose capital was Utica.

Macedonia also disappeared, like Carthage, from the ranks of

nations. But the four small States into which the kingdom was parceled

could not live in peace. Neither Roman commissioners nor foreign arbiters

could restore order. At this crisis a young man appeared in Thrace, who

called himself the son of Perseus. This pseudo-Philip, for such was his

name, strikingly resembled the son of Perseus. Unable to obtain

recognition in his native country, he went to Demetrius Sotor, king of

Syria. By him he was sent to Rome. The Senate attached so little

importance to the man, that he was left, imperfectly guarded, in an

Italian town, and fled to Miletus. Again arrested, and again contriving to

escape, he went to Thrace, and obtained a recognition from Teres, the

chief of the Thracian barbarians. With his support he invaded Macedonia,

and obtained several successes over the Macedonian militia. The Roman

commissioner Nasica, without troops, was obliged to call to his aid the

Achaean and Pergamene soldiers, until defended by a Roman legion under the

praetor Juventius. Juventius was slain by the pretender, and his army cut

to pieces. And it was not until a stronger Roman array, under Quintus

Caecilius Metellus, appeared, that he was subdued. The four States into

which Macedonia had been divided were now converted into a Roman province,

B.C. 148, and Macedonia became, not a united kingdom, but a united

province, with nearly the former limits.

The defense of the Hellenic civilization now devolved on the Romans, but

was not conducted with adequate forces or befitting energy, and the petty

States were therefore exposed to social disorganization, and the Greeks

evidently sought to pick a quarrel with Rome.

Hence the Achaean war, B.C. 149. It is not of much historical

importance. It was commenced under Metellus, and continued under Mummius,

who reduced the noisy belligerents to terms, and entered Corinth, the seat

of rebellion, and the first commercial city of Greece. By order of the

Senate, the Corinthian citizens were sold into slavery, the fortifications

of the city leveled with the ground, and the city itself was sacked. The

mock sovereignty of leagues was abolished, and all remains of Grecian

liberty fled.

In Asia Minor, after the Seleucidae were driven away, Pergamus

became the first power. But even this State did not escape the jealousy of

the Romans, and with Attalus III. the house of Attalids became extinct.

He, however, had bequeathed his kingdom to the Romans, and his

testament kindled a civil war. Aristonicus, a natural son of Eumenes II.,

made his appearance at Lecuae, a small sea-port near Smyrna, as a pretender

to the crown. He was defeated by the Ephesians, who saw the necessity of

the protection and friendship of the Roman government. But he again

appeared with new troops, and the struggle was serious, since there were

no Roman troops in Asia. But, B.C. 131, a Roman army was sent under the

consul Publius Licinius Crassus Mucianus, one of the wealthiest men of

Rome, distinguished as an orator and jurist. This distinguished general

was about to lay siege to Leucae, when he was surprised and taken captive,

and put to death. His successor, Marcus Perpenua, was fortunate in his

warfare, and the pretender was taken prisoner, and executed at Rome. The

remaining cities yielded to the conqueror, and Asia Minor became a Roman


In other States the Romans set up kings as they chose. In Syria,

Antiochus Eupater was recognized over the claims of Demetrius Sotor, then

a hostage in Rome. But he contrived to escape, and seized the government

of his ancestral kingdom. But it would seem that the Romans, at this

period, did not take a very lively interest in the affairs of remote

Asiatic States, and the decrees of the Senate were often disregarded with

impunity. A great reaction of the East took place against the West, and,

under Mithridates, a renewed struggle again gave dignity to the Eastern

kingdoms, which had not raised their heads since the conquests of

Alexander. That memorable struggle will be alluded to in the proper place.

It was a difficult problem which Rome undertook when she undertook to

govern the Asiatic world. It was easy to conquer; it was difficult to

rule, when degeneracy and luxury became the vices of the Romans

themselves. We are now to trace those domestic dissensions and civil wars

which indicate the decline of the Roman republic. But before we describe

those wars, we will take a brief survey of the social and political

changes in Rome at this period.