Plutarch's Life of Titus Quintius Flamininus
Text taken from Thomas North and/or John Dryden
Titus Quintius Flamininus (227 B.C.-174 B.C.)
Reading for Lesson One
It is easy to see Titus Quintius Flamininus' form and stature by his statue, which is now set up at Rome, near to that of Apollo (that was brought from Carthage), and is placed right against the coming in to the Circus Maximus, under which there is an inscription in Greek letters.
The temper of his mind is said to have been of the warmest, both in anger and in kindness, not indeed equally so in both respects; as in punishing he was ever moderate, never inflexible; but whatever courtesy or good turn he set about, he went through with it, and was as perpetually kind and obliging to those on whom he had poured his favours, as if they, not he, had been the benefactors; exerting himself for the security and preservation of what he seemed to consider his noblest possessions, those to whom he had done good. But being ever thirsty after honour, and passionate for glory, if anything of a greater and more extraordinary nature were to be done, he was eager to be the doer of it himself; and took more pleasure in those that needed, than in those that were capable of conferring favours; looking on the former as objects for his virtue, and on the latter as competitors in glory.
He came to man's estate when the city of Rome had greatest wars and trouble. At that time all the youth of Rome who were of the age to carry weapons were sent to the wars to learn to the art of commanding; and Flamininus, having passed through the rudiments of soldiery, received his first charge in the war against Hannibal, as tribune under Marcellus, then consul. Marcellus, being slain by an ambush Hannibal had laid for him, was cut off. But Titus received the appointment of propraetor of the province and city of Tarentum, which was now taken again the second time.
In this government of his, he won the reputation as much of a good and just man as he did of an expert and skillful captain. By reason whereof, when the Romans were requested to send men to inhabit the cities of Narnia and Cossa, he was appointed the chief leader of them, which chiefly gave him heart and courage to level his aim immediately at the consulship. Having these colonies, and all their interest ready at his service, he offered himself as candidate; but the tribunes of the people, Fulvius and Manius, spoke against him, and said it was out of all reason that a man of such raw years, one who was yet, as it were, untrained, uninitiated in the first sacred rites and mysteries of government, should, in contempt of the laws, intrude and force himself into the office of the highest dignity. However, the Senate preferred it wholly to the voices of the people: who presently pronounced him consul, along with Sextus Aelius, although he was not yet thirty years old.
The war against Philip and the Macedonians fell to Titus by lot; in the which methinks Fortune greatly favoured the Romans' affairs, that made such a man general of wars; as neither the people nor the state of things which were now to be dealt with were such as to require a general who would always be upon the point of force and mere blows, but rather were accessible to persuasion and gentle usage. It is true that the kingdom of Macedon furnished supplies enough to Philip for actual battle with the Romans; but to maintain a long and lingering war he must call in aid from Greece; must there procure his supplies; and there find his means of retreat. Greece, in a word, would be his resource for all the requisites of his army. Unless, therefore, the Greeks could be withdrawn from siding with Philip, this war with him must not expect its decision from a single battle.
Moreover, Greece (which never before bore the Romans any great goodwill) would not have dealt then so quickly in friendship with them, had not their general Titus been of a kind, gentle nature, one who worked rather by fair means than force; who could both eloquently utter his mind to them, and courteously also hear them speak, that had to do with him; and who chiefly ministered justice and equity to every man alike. But the story of his actions will best illustrate these particulars.
Reading for Lesson Two
Titus observed that both Sulpicius and Publius, who had been his predecessors in that command, had not taken the field against the Macedonians till late in the year; and then, too, had not set their hands properly to the war, but had kept skirmishing, and scouting here and there for passes and provisions, and never came to close fighting with Philip. He resolved not to trifle away a year, as they had done, at home, in ostentation of the honour and in domestic administration, and only then to join the army, with the pitiful hope of protracting the term of office through a second year, acting as consul in the first, and as general in the latter. He did willingly leave all his honours and dignities he might have enjoyed by his office at Rome.
He therefore besought the Senate that they would appoint his brother Lucius Quintius as admiral of the navy; and took with him three thousand "old soldiers" (but still young and vigorous), of those who, under Scipio, had defeated Hasdrubal in Spain, and Hannibal in Africa. With this company he passed the seas without danger, and landed in Epirus, where he found Publius encamped with his army, over against Philip, who of long time had lain in camp about the mouth of the River Apsus, to guard the strait and passage which is the entry into Epirus. So that Publius had lain still there, and done nothing, by reason of the natural force and hardness of the place.
Titus therefore took upon himself the conduct of the army, and, having dismissed Publius, examined the ground. It is a long valley walled on either side with great high mountains, as those which shut in the valley of Tempe in Thessaly. Howbeit it had no such goodly woods, nor green forests, nor fair meadows, nor other like places of pleasure, as the other side had: but it was a great deep marsh or quagmire, through the midst whereof the River Apsus did run, being, in greatness and swiftness of stream, very like to the River Peneus. It covers the foot of those hills, and leaves only a craggy, narrow path cut out beside the stream, not easily passable at any time for an army, but not at all when guarded by an enemy.
There were some, therefore, who would have had Titus make a circuit through Dassaretis, and take an easy and safe road by the district of Lyncus. But he, fearing that if he should engage himself too far from the sea in barren and untilled countries, and Philip should decline fighting, he might, through want of provisions, be constrained to march back again to the seaside without effecting anything, as his predecessor had done before him, embraced the resolution of forcing his way over the mountains.
Now Philip kept the top of the mountains with his army; and when the Romans forced their way up the hills, they were received with darts, slings, and shot, that lighted amongst them here and there: insomuch as the skirmish was very hot for the time it lasted, and many were slain and hurt on either side. There seemed but little likelihood of thus ending the war; but some of the men, who fed there cattle thereabouts, came to Titus with a discovery that there was a roundabout way which the enemy neglected to guard, through which they undertook to conduct his army, and to bring it, within three days at furthest, to the top of the hill. To gain the surer credit with him, they said they were sent to him by Charops, the son of Machatas. Charops was a leading man in Epirus, who was friendly to the Romans, and aided them (though, for fear of Philip, secretly). Titus gave their information belief, and sent a captain with four thousand foot and three hundred horse, these herdsmen being their guides, but kept in bonds. In the daytime they lay still under the covert of the hollow and woody places; but in the night they marched all night by moonlight, which was then, by good hap, at the full.
Titus, having sent these men away, lay quiet with his main body, merely keeping up the attention of the enemy by some slight skirmishing. But when the day arrived that those who stole round were expected upon the top of the hill, he drew up his forces early in the morning, as well the light-armed as the heavy, and divided them into three parts. With the one of them he himself went on that side of the river where the way is straitest, making his bands to march directly against the side of the hill. The Macedonians again shot lustily at them from the height of the hill, and in certain places amongst the rocks they came to the sword. At the selfsame time, the two other troops on either hand of him did their endeavour likewise to get up the hill, and, as it were, envying one another, they climbed up with great courage against the sharp and steep hanging of the mountain.
Whilst they were struggling forward, the sun rose, and a thin smoke, like a mist, hanging on the hills, was seen rising at a distance, unperceived by the enemy, being behind them, as they stood on the heights. The Romans, though they were not assured of it, did hope, being in the midst of the fight, that it was their fellows they looked for. But when they saw it increased still more, and more, and in such sort that it darkened all the air: they no longer doubted but it was the fire-signal of their companions; and, raising a triumphant shout, forcing their way onwards, they drove the enemy back into the roughest ground; while the other party echoed back their acclamations from the top of the mountain.
The Macedonians fled with all the speed they could make; there fell, indeed, not more than two thousand of them; for the difficulties of the place rescued them from pursuit. But the Romans spoiled their camp, took all that they found in their tents, took also their slaves, and won the passage into the mountains, by the which they entered the country of Epirus: but with such order and discipline, with such temperance and moderation, that, though they were far from the sea, at a great distance from their vessels, and stinted of their monthly allowance of corn; and though they had much difficulty in buying, yet they never took anything of the country, though they found great store and plenty of all riches in it.
For Titus was advertised that Philip, making a flight (rather than a march) through Thessaly, forced the inhabitants from the towns to take shelter in the mountains, burnt down the towns themselves, and gave up as spoil to his soldiers all the property which is had been found impossible to remove, abandoning, as it would seem, the whole country to the Romans. Titus was, therefore, very desirous, and entreated his soldiers, that they would pass through it as if it were their own, or as if a place trusted into their hands.
Reading for Lesson Three
Indeed, the Roman soldiers quickly perceived what benefit they derived from this moderate and orderly conduct. For they no sooner set foot in Thessaly but the cities opened their gates, and the Greeks within Thermopylae were all eagerness and excitement to ally themselves with them. The Achaeans also, on the other side, did renounce the league and alliance they had made with Philip; and furthermore did determine, in their council, to make war with him on the Romans' side. And although the Aetolians were at that time friends and confederates with the Romans, and that they did show themselves very loving to take their part in these wars: nevertheless when they desired the Opuntians that they would put their city into their (Aetolian) hands, and were offered that it should be kept and defended from Philip: they (the Opuntians) would not hearken thereto, but sent for Titus, and put themselves and their goods wholly into his protection.
They say that when Pyrrhus first saw the Romans' army range in order of battle from the top of a hill, he said: "This order of the barbarous people, setting of their men in battle array, was not done in a barbarous manner." And those also that never had seen Titus before, and came for to speak with him, were compelled in a manner to say as much. For where they had heard the Macedonians say that there came a captain of the barbarous people that destroyed all before him by force of arms, and subdued whole countries by violence; they said, to the contrary, that they found him a man indeed young of years, howbeit gentle, and courteous to look on, and that spoke the Greek tongue excellently well, and was a lover of honour. They were wonderfully pleased and attracted; and when they left him, they filled the cities, wherever they were, with favourable feelings for him, and with the belief that in him they might find the protector and assertor of their liberties.
Afterwards, on Philip's professing a desire for peace, Titus made a tender to him of peace and friendship, upon the condition that the Greeks be left to their own laws, and that he should withdraw his garrisons; which he refused to comply with. Now after these proposals, the universal belief even of the favourers and partisans of Philip was that the Romans came not to fight against the Greeks, but for the Greeks, against the Macedonians. Whereupon all Greece came in, and offered themselves unto Titus without compulsion.
But as he marched into Boeotia, without committing the least act of hostility, the nobility and chief men of Thebes came out of their city to meet him, devoted (under the influence of Brachylles) to the Macedonian alliance, but desirous at the same tie to show honour and deference to Titus [omission]. Titus received them in the most obliging and courteous manner, but kept going gently on, questioning and inquiring of them, and sometimes entertaining them with narratives of his own, to the end that his soldiers, being wearied with journeying, might in the meantime take good breath; and so marching on, by little and little, he entered into the city with them.
The lords of Thebes were not greatly pleased with this, but yet they dared not refuse him, as a good number of his men attended him in. Titus, however, now he was within, as if he had not had the city at his mercy, came forward and addressed them, urging them to join the Roman interest.
King Attalus followed, to the same effect. And he, indeed, trying to play the advocate, beyond what it seems his age could bear, was seized, in the midst of his speech, with a sudden flux or dizziness, and swooned away; and, not long after, was conveyed by ship into Asia, and died there. The Boeotians then joined the Roman alliance.
But now, when Philip sent an embassy to Rome, Titus dispatched away agents on his part, too, to solicit the Senate if they should continue the war, to continue him in his command; or, if they determined an end to that, that he might have the honour of concluding the peace. Having a great passion for distinction, his fear was that if another general were commissioned to carry on the war, the honour even of what was passed would be lost to him; and his friends transacted matters so well on his behalf, that Philip was unsuccessful in his proposals; neither was there sent any other general in Titus' place, but he still continued his charge in these wars.
Reading for Lesson Four
Titus no sooner received the Senate's determination, but, big with hopes, he marched directly into Thessaly to engage Philip. His army consisted of twenty-six thousand foot and four hundred horse; the forces of Philip were much about the same number. In this eagerness to encounter, they advanced against each other till both were near Scotussa; where they resolved to hazard a battle.
So neither they nor their men were afraid to see themselves one so near another; but rather to the contrary, the Romans on the one side took greater heart and courage unto them, desiring to fight, as thinking with themselves what great honour they should win to overcome the Macedonians, who were so highly esteemed for their valiantness, by reason of the famous acts that Alexander the Great did by them. And the Macedonians on the other side also, taking the Romans for other manner of soldiers than the Persians, began to have good hope if they might win the field, to make the name of Philip more glorious than that of Alexander.
Titus, therefore, called upon his soldiers to play the part of valiant men, because they were now to act their parts upon the most illustrious theater of the world, Greece, and so contend with the bravest antagonists. And Philip, on the other side, commenced a harangue to his men, as usual before an engagement; and to be the better heard (whether it were merely a mischance, or the result of unseasonable haste, not observing what he did), he mounted an eminence outside their camp, which proved to be a burying-place; and much disturbed by the despondency that seized his army at the unluckiness of the omen, all that day kept in his camp, and declined fighting.
But on the morrow, as day came on, after a soft and rainy night, the clouds changing into a mist filled all the plain with thick darkness; and a dense foggy air descending, by the time it was full day, from the adjacent mountains into the ground betwixt the two camps, concealed them from each other's view. The scouts sent out on either side, some for ambuscade, some to discover what the enemies did, falling in upon one another quickly after they were thus detached, began the fight at what are called the Cynos Cephalae or "Dogs' Heads," a number of sharp tops of hills that stand close to one another, and have the name from some resemblance in their shape. In this skirmish there were many changes, as commonly falleth out when they fight in such ill-favoured stony places. For sometime the Romans fled, and the Macedonians chased them: another time the Macedonians that followed the chase were glad to fly themselves, and the Romans who fled before now had them in chase. This change and alteration came, by sending new supplies still from both camps, to relieve them that were distressed and driven to flee.
At length, the heavens clearing up let them see what was going on; upon which, the whole armies engaged. Philip, who was in the right wing, from the advantage of the higher ground which he had, threw on the Romans the whole weight of his phalanx, with a force which they were unable to sustain; the dense array of spears, and the pressure of the compact mass overpowering them. But the king's left wing being broken up by the hilliness of the place, Titus observing it, and cherishing little or no hopes on that side where his own gave ground, made in all haste to the other; and there charged in upon the Macedonians, who, in consequence of the inequality and roughness of the ground, could not keep their phalanx entire, nor line their ranks to any great depth (which is the great point of their strength), but were forced to fight man for man under heavy and unwieldy armour. For the battle of the Macedonians hath this property, that so long as the order is kept close and joined together, it seemeth as it were but the body of a beast of a force invincible. But also after that it is once open, and that they are sundered and not joined together, it doth not only lose the force and power of the whole body, but also of every private soldier that fighteth: partly by reason of the diversity of the weapons wherewith they fight, and partly for that their whole strength consisteth most in the disposing and joining together of their ranks and orders which doth stay up one another, more than doth every private soldier's strength.
When these were routed, some of the Romans gave chase to the fleeing; others charged the flanks of those Macedonians who were still fighting, so that the conquering wing, also, was quickly disordered, took to flight and threw down its arms.
Reading for Lesson Five
There were then slain no less than eight thousand, and about five thousand were taken prisoners; and the Aetolians were blamed as having been the main occasion that Philip himself got safe off. For whilst the Romans were in pursuit, they (the Aetolians) fell to ravaging and plundering the camp, and did it so completely, that when the others returned, they found no booty in it. This bred at first hard words, quarrels, and misunderstandings betwixt them. But afterwards they angered Titus worse, challenging the honour of this victory to themselves; because they gave it out through Greece that they alone had overthrown King Philip in the battle.
So that in the songs and ballads the poets made in praise of this victory, which every country and townsman had in his mouth: they always put the Aetolians before the Romans, as in this that followeth, which was currently sung in every place:
"Naked and tombless see, O passer-by,
The thirty thousand men of Thessaly,
Slain by the Aetolians and the Latin band,
That came with Titus from Italia's land;
Alas for mighty Macedon! that day,
Swift as a roe, King Philip fled away."
The poet was Alcaeus that made these verses for to sing, who did them in disgrace of King Philip, falsely increasing the number of his men which died in the battle, only to shame and spite him the more: howbeit he spited Titus thereby, more than Philip, because it was sung in every place. For Philip laughed at it, and to encounter him again with the like mock, he made a song to counterfeit his, as followeth:
"Naked and leafless see, O passer-by,
The cross that shall Alcaeus crucify."
But such little matters extremely fretted Titus, who was ambitious of a reputation among the Greeks; and he therefore acted in all after-occurrences by himself, paying but very slight regard to the Aetolians. This offended them in their turn; and when Titus listened to terms of accommodation, and admitted an embassy upon the proffers of the Macedonian king, the Aetolians made it their business to publish through all the cities of Greece that Titus had sold peace unto Philip, when he might altogether have ended the war, and utterly have destroyed Philip's whole power and empire, who had first brought Greece into bondage.
These slanderous reports and false tales, which the Aetolians spread thus abroad, did much trouble the Romans' friends and confederates; but Philip himself, making overtures of submission of himself and his kingdom to the discretion of Titus and the Romans, put an end to those jealousies; as Titus, by accepting them, did to the war.
Titus reinstated Philip in his kingdom of Macedon, but made it a condition that he should quit Greece; and that he should pay one thousand talents. He took from him also all his shipping, save ten vessels; and sent Demetrius, one of his sons, as hostage to Rome; improving his opportunity to the best advantage, and taking wise precautions for the future.
For then Hannibal of Carthage (the great enemy of the Romans), an exile from his own country, came to King Antiochus, whom he put in the head, and earnestly moved, to follow his good fortune, and the increase of his empire. Whom Hannibal so followed with these persuasions, that King Antiochus at length was come to it. And trusting to his former good success, and notable acts, whereby in the wars before he had attained the surname of "Great": he began now to aspire to the monarchy of the whole world, and sought how to find occasion to make wars with the Romans.
So that if Titus (foreseeing that afar off) had not wisely inclined to peace, but if the wars of Antiochus had fallen out together with the wars of King Philip; and if these two, the mightiest princes of the world, had joined together against the city of Rome: then it had been in as great trouble and danger as ever it was before, in the time of their wars against Hannibal. But now, Titus opportunely introducing this peace between the wars, dispatching the present danger before the new one had arrived, at once disappointed Antiochus of his first hopes, and Philip of his last.
Reading for Lesson Six
When the ten commissioners, delegated to Titus from the Senate, advised Titus to restore the rest of Greece to their liberty, except for Corinth, Chalcis, and Demetrias, which should be kept garrisoned for security against Antiochus: the Aetolians on this, breaking out into loud accusations, agitated all the cities, calling upon Titus to strike off the "shackles of Greece" (as Philip used to term those three cities); and asking the Greeks whether it were not matter of much consolation to them that, though their chains weighed heavier, yet they were now smoother and better polished than formerly; and whether Titus were not deservedly admired by them as their benefactor, who had "unshackled the feet" of Greece, but tied her up by the neck.
Titus, vexed and angry at this, made it his request to the Senate, and at last prevailed in it, that the garrisons in these cities should be dismissed; that so the Greeks might be no longer debtors to him for a partial, but for an entire favour.
It was now the time of the celebration of the Isthmian games; and the seats around the racecourse were crowded with an unusual multitude of spectators; Greece, after long wars, having regained not only peace, but hopes of liberty, and being able once more to keep holiday in safety. A trumpet sounded to command silence; and the crier, stepping forth amidst the spectators, made proclamation:
That the Senate of Rome, and Titus Quintius Flamininus, consul of the people of Rome, now that they had overthrown King Philip and the Macedonians in battle, did thenceforth discharge from all garrisons, and set at liberty from all taxes, subsidies, and impositions forever, to live after their old ancient laws, and in full liberty: the Corinthians, the Locrians, those of Phocide, those of the Isle of Euboea, the Achaeans, the Phthiotes, the Magnesians, the Thessalians, and the Perrhaebeians.
At first, many heard not at all, and others not distinctly, what was said; but there was a confused and uncertain stir among the assembled people, some wondering, some asking, some calling out to have it proclaimed again. When, therefore, fresh silence was made, the crier raising his voice, succeeded in making himself generally heard, and recited the decree again. A shout of joy followed it, so loud that it was heard as far as the sea. Then all the people that had taken their places, and were set to see the sword players play, rose up all on their feet. There was no further thought of the entertainment: all were only eager to leap up and salute and address their thanks to the "deliverer and champion of Greece."
A Sidebar about Loud Noises
What we often hear alleged, in proof of the force of human voices, was actually verified upon this occasion. Crows that were accidentally flying over the course fell down dead into it. The disruption of the air must be the cause of it; for the voices being numerous, and the acclamation violent, the air breaks with it and can no longer give support to the birds, but lets them tumble, like one that should attempt to walk upon a vacuum. Unless we will rather say that it was the violence of the cry which struck the birds passing through the air, as if they had been hit with arrows, and so made them fall down dead to the earth. It may be also, that there was some hurling wind in the air, as we do see sometime in the sea, when it riseth high, and many times turneth about the waves, by violence of the storm.
Back to the Story
So it is, that if Titus had not prevented the whole multitude of people which came to see him, and that he had not got him away betimes, before the games were ended: he would have hardly escaped from being stifled amongst them, the people came so thick about him from every place. But after that they were weary of crying, and singing around his pavilion until night, in the end they went their way: and as they went, if they met any of their kin, friends or citizens, they did kiss and embrace one another for joy, and so supped, and made merry together.
And there, no doubt, redoubling their joy, they began to recollect and talk of the state of Greece, what wars she had incurred in defense of her liberty, and yet was never perhaps mistress of a more settled or grateful one than this which other men's labours had won for her; almost without one drop of blood, or one citizen's loss to be mourned for she had this day put into her hands the most glorious of rewards, and best worth the contending for.
Reading for Lesson Seven
It is a very rare thing amongst men, to find a man very valiant, and wise withal: but yet of all sorts of valiant men, it is harder to find a just man. Such men as Agesilaus, Lysander, Nicias, and Alcibiades knew how to play the general's part, how to manage a war, how to bring off their men victorious by land and sea; but how to employ that success to generous and honest purposes they had not known. For should a man except the achievement at Marathon, the sea-fight at Salamis, the engagements at Plataea and Thermopylae, and Cimon's exploits at Eurymedon and on the coast of Cyprus: Greece fought all her battles against, and to enslave, herself. She erected all her trophies to her own shame and misery, and was brought to ruin and desolation almost wholly by the guilt and ambition of her great men. Whereas a foreign people, the which (as it should seem) had very small occasion to move them to do it (for that they have had no great familiarity with ancient Greece, and through the counsel and good wisdom of the which it should seem very strange that Greece could receive any benefit) have notwithstanding with dangerous battles and infinite troubles, delivered it from oppression, and servitude, of violent lords and tyrants.
This, and suchlike talk, did at that time occupy the Grecians' heads; whilst Titus by his actions made good what had been proclaimed. For he immediately dispatched away Lentulus to Asia, to set the Bargylians free; Titillius to Thrace, to see the garrisons of Philip removed out of the towns and islands there; while Publius Villius set sail in order to treat with Antiochus about the freedom of the Greeks under him. Titus himself passed on to Chalcis, and sailing thence to Magnesia, dismantled the garrisons there, and surrendered the government into the people's hands.
Shortly after, he was appointed at Argos to preside in the Nemean Games, and did his part in the management of that solemnity singularly well; and made a second publication there, by the crier of liberty, to the Greeks; and, visiting all the cities, he exhorted them to the practice of obedience to law, of constant justice, and unity, and friendship one towards another. He suppressed their factions; brought home their political exiles; and, in short, his conquest over the Macedonians did not seem to give him a more lively pleasure than to find himself prevalent in reconciling Greeks with Greeks; so that their liberty seemed now the least part of the kindness he conferred upon them.
The story goes that when Lycurgus the orator had rescued Xenocrates the philosopher from the collectors who were hurrying him away to prison for non-payment of the tax which strangers inhabiting within the city of Athens were to pay [omission]; Xenocrates afterwards meeting the children of Lycurgus, said unto them: "I do well requite your father's good turn he did me: for I am the cause that he is praised and commended of every man, for the kindness he shewed on my behalf." But the returns which attended Titus Quintius and the Romans, for their beneficence to the Greeks, terminated not in empty praises only; for these proceedings gained them, deservedly, credit and confidence, and thereby power, among all nations: for many not only admitted the Roman commanders, but even sent and entreated to be under their protection; neither was this done by popular governments alone, or by single cities, but kings oppressed by kings cast themselves into these protecting hands. Insomuch that, in a very short time (with the favour and help of the gods, as I am persuaded), all the world came to submit themselves to their obedience, and under the protection of their empire.
Reading for Lesson Eight
Titus himself thought more highly of his liberation of Greece than of any other of his actions, as appears by the inscription with which he dedicated some silver targets, together with his own shields, to Apollo at Delphi:
Ye Spartan Tyndarids, twin sons of Jove,
Who in swift horsemanship have placed your love,
Titus, of great Aeneas's race, leaves this
In honour of the liberty of Greece.
He offered also to Apollo a golden crown, with this inscription:
This golden crown upon thy locks divine,
O blest Latonia's son, was set to shine
By the great captain of the Aenean name.
O Phoebus, grant the noble Titus fame!
[omission for length]
Titus now engaged in a most gallant and just war upon Nabis, that most profligate and lawless tyrant of the Lacedaemonians; but in the end he disappointed the expectations of the Greeks. For when he had an opportunity of taking him, he purposely let it slip, and struck up a peace with him, leaving Sparta to bewail an unworthy slavery; whether it were that he feared, if the war should be protracted, that Rome would send a new general who might rob him of the glory of it; or that he stood jealous and envious of the honour they did unto Philopoemen: who, having shown himself in every place as excellent a captain as ever came in Greece, and having done notable acts and famous service, both of great wisdom, and also of valiantness, and specially in the Achaeans' war, he was as much honoured and reverenced of the Achaeans, in the theaters and common assemblies, even as Titus was. Whereat Titus was marvellously offended, for he thought it unreasonable that an Arcadian, who had never been general of an army but in small little wars against his neighbours, should be as much esteemed and honoured as a consul of Rome, waging war as the protector of Greece in general. But, besides, Titus was not without an apology, too, for what he did: namely, that he put an end to the war only when he foresaw that the tyrant's destruction must have been attended with the ruin of the other Spartans.
The Achaeans, by various decrees, did much to show Titus honour. None of these returns, however, seemed to come up to the height of the actions that merited them; unless it were one present they made him, which affected and pleased him beyond all the rest, which was this. The Romans, who in the war with Hannibal, had the misfortune to be taken captives, were sold about here and there, and dispersed into slavery; twelve hundred in number were at that time in Greece. The reverse of their fortune always rendered them objects of compassion; but then much more was their misery to be pitied, when these captives found, in the Romans' army, some of them their sons, others their brethren, and the rest their fellows and friends, free and conquerors, and themselves slaves and bondmen. It grieved Titus much to see these poor men in such miserable captivity, notwithstanding he would not take them by force from those that had them. Whereupon the Achaeans redeemed and bought them for five hundred pence a man; and having gathered them together into a troop, they presented all the Roman captives unto Titus, even as he was ready to take ship to return into Italy: which present made him return home with greater joy and satisfaction, having received for his noble deeds so honourable a recompense, and worthy of himself, that was so loving a man to his citizens and country.
And surely, that only was the ornament (in my opinion) that did most beautify his triumph. It is the custom for slaves, upon their manumission, to shave their heads and wear felt hats; and these redeemed Romans followed in that habit in the procession. To add to the glory of this show, there were the Grecian helmets, the Macedonian targets and long spears, borne with the rest of the spoils in public view, besides vast sums of money (Tuditanus says 3,713 pounds weight of massy gold, 43,270 of silver, and 14,514 pieces of coined gold), which was all over and above the thousand talents with Philip owed to Rome, and which the Romans were afterwards prevailed upon, chiefly by the mediation of Titus, to remit to Philip, declaring him their ally and confederate, and sending him home his son who had been held hostage.
Reading for Lesson Nine
Shortly after, Antiochus entered Greece with a numerous fleet and a powerful army, soliciting the cities there to sedition and revolt. He was abetted in all and seconded by the Aetolians, who for this long time had borne a grudge and secret enmity to the Romans, and now suggested to him, by way of a cause and pretext of war, that he came "to bring the Greeks liberty." When, indeed, they never wanted it less, as they were "free" already; but, because they had no just cause to make war, they taught him to cloak it in the most honest way he could.
Wherefore the Romans fearing greatly the rising of the people, and the rumour of the power of this great king, they sent thither the consul Manius Acilius to take the charge of the war, and Titus as his lieutenant, out of regard to the Greeks, some of whom he no sooner saw, but he confirmed them in the Roman interests; others, who began to falter, he "treated," like a timely physician: by the use of the strong remedy of their own affection for himself, he was able to arrest in the first stage of the "disease," before they had committed themselves to any great error.
Indeed there were some (but few of them) that left him, which were won and corrupted before by the Aetolians; and though he had just cause of offence towards them, yet he saved them after the battle. For King Antiochus, being overcome at Thermopylae, fled his way, and in great haste took the sea to return into Asia. Manius, the consul, himself invaded and besieged a part of the Aetolians, while King Philip had permission to reduce the rest. Thus, for instance, the Dolopes and Magnetians on the one hand, and the Athamanes and Aperantians on the other, were ransacked by the Macedonians.
While Manius laid Heraclea waste, and besieged Naupactus, Titus, still with a compassionate care for Greece, sailed across from Peloponnesus, and began first of all to chide him that the victory should be owing alone to his arms, and yet he should suffer Philip to bear away the prize and profit of the war; and he himself (Manius) wreak his anger only upon a single town, whilst the Macedonians overran several nations and kingdoms. But as he happened to stand then in view of the besieged, they no sooner spied him out, but they called to him from their wall; they stretched forth their hands; they supplicated and entreated him. At the time, he said not a word more, but turning about with tears in his eyes, went his way.
Some little while after he discussed the matter so effectually with Manius, that he won him over from his passion, and prevailed with him to give a truce and time to the Aetolians to send deputies to Rome, to petition the Senate for terms of moderation.
Reading for Lesson Ten
But the most trouble and difficulty Titus had was to entreat with Manius for the Chalcidians, who had incensed him (Manius) on account of a marriage which Antiochus had made in their city, even whilst the war was on foot; a match no ways suitable in point of age, he an elderly man being enamoured with a mere girl, and as little proper for the time, in the midst of a war. She was the daughter of one Cleoptolemus, and is said to have been wonderfully beautiful. The Chalcidians, in consequence, embraced the king's interests with zeal and alacrity, and let him make their city the basis of his operations during the war. Thither, therefore, he made with all speed, when he was routed and fled; and reaching Chalcis, without making any stay, taking this young lady, and his money and friends with him, away he sailed to Asia.
For this cause the consul Manius, having won the battle, did march straight with his army towards the city of Chalcis in a great rage and fury. Titus hurried after him, endeavouring to pacify and to entreat him; and at length succeeded both with him and the chief men among the Romans.
The Chalcidians, thus owing their lives to Titus, dedicated to him all the best and most magnificent of their sacred buildings, inscriptions upon which may be seen to run thus to this day:
"The people dedicate this gymnasium to Titus and to Hercules."
"The people consecrate this delphinium to Titus and to Hercules."
And what is yet more, even in our time, a "priest of Titus" was formally elected and declared [omission for length].
Other parts of Greece also heaped honours upon him suitable to his merits, and what made all those honours true and real was the surprising goodwill and affection which his moderation and equity of character had won for him. For if he were at any time at variance with anybody in matters of business, or out of emulation and rivalry (as with Philopoemen, and again with Diophanes, when in office as general of the Achaeans), his resentment never went far, nor did it ever break out into acts; but when it had vented itself in some citizen-like freedom of speech, there was an end of it.
Therefore none thought him ever a cruel man, or eager of revenge; but many have thought him rash, and hasty of nature. Otherwise, he was as good a companion in company as possibly could be, and would use as pleasant wise mirth as any man.
For instance, to divert the Achaeans from the conquest of the Isle of Zacynthus: "If," said he, "they put their head too far out of Peloponnesus, they may hazard themselves as much as a tortoise out of its shell."
And the first time he parled with Philip to treat of peace, Philip said unto him, "You have brought many men with you, and I am come alone." "Indeed, it is true you are alone," said Titus, "because you made all your friends and kin to be slain."
In the council of the Achaeans, King Antiochus' ambassadors being come thither, to move them to break their league with the Romans and to make alliance with the king, they made a marvellous large discourse of the great multitude of soldiers that were in their master's army, and did number them by many diverse names. Whereunto Titus answered, and told how a friend of his having bidden him one night to supper, and having served so many dishes to his board, as he was angry with him for bestowing so great cost upon him, wondering how he could so suddenly get so much store of meat, and of so diverse kinds.
"My friend said to me again, that all was but pork dressed so many ways, and with so sundry sauces. And even so (quoth Titus), my Lords of Achaea, esteem not King Antiochus' army the more, to hear of so many men of arms, numbered with their lances, and of such a number of footmen with their pikes: for they are all but Syrians, diversely armed, only with ill-favoured little weapons."
Reading for Lesson Eleven
After his achievements in Greece, and when the war with Antiochus was at an end, Titus was created censor: the most eminent office, and, in a manner, the highest preferment, in the commonwealth. The son of Marcellus, who had been five times consul, was his colleague. These two censors, by virtue of their office, cashiered four senators of no great distinction, and admitted to the roll of citizens all free-born residents. But this was more by constraint than their own choice; for Terentius Culeo, then tribune of the people, to spite the nobility, persuaded the people of Rome to command it so.
Now at that time, two of the noblest and most famous men of Rome were great enemies one against another: Publius Scipio Africanus, and Marcus Porcius Cato. Titus named Scipio as first member of the senate; and involved himself in a quarrel with Cato, on an unhappy occasion. Titus had a brother, Lucius Flamininus, very unlike him in all points of character, and, in particular, low and dissolute in his pleasures, and flagrantly regardless of all decency.
[The details of the misbehaviour of Lucius Quintius are omitted for extreme mature content.]
However, this is certain: Cato, when he became censor, made a severe scrutiny into the senators' lives in order to purge and reform the house; and expelled Lucius, though he had been once consul before, and though the punishment seemed to reflect dishonour on his brother also. Whereupon both the brethren came weeping with all humility before the people, and made a petition that seemed very reasonable and civil: which was that they would command Cato to come before them, to declare the cause openly why he had with such open shame defaced so noble a house as theirs was. Cato then, without delay or shrinking back, asked Titus if he knew nothing of the unspeakable event. Titus answered, he knew not of it. Then Cato opened all the whole matter as it was; and in the end of his tale, he bade Lucius Quintius swear openly, if he would deny that what he had said was true. Lucius answered not a word. Whereupon the people judged the shame was justly laid upon him: and so to honour Cato, they did accompany home from the tribunal in great state.
But Titus still so deeply resented his brother's degradation, that he allied himself with those who had long borne a grudge against Cato; and winning over a major part of the Senate, he revoked and made void all the contracts, leases, and bargains made by Cato, relating to public revenues; and also got numerous actions and accusations brought against him; carrying on against a lawful magistrate and excellent citizen (for the sake of one who was indeed his relation, but was unworthy to be so, and had but gotten his deserts) a course of bitter and violent attacks, which it would be hard to say were either right or patriotic.
Afterwards, however, at a public spectacle in the theatre, when the Senators were set according to their custom, in the most honourable places: Lucius Flamininus came in also, who in lowly and humble manner went to sit down in the furthest seats of the theater, without regard of his former honour: which when the people saw, they took pity of him, and could not abide to see him thus dishonoured. So they cried out to have him come and sit among the other Senators and consuls, who made him place, and received him accordingly.
Reading for Lesson Twelve
This natural ambition of Titus was well enough looked on by the world whilst the wars we have given a relation of afforded competent fuel to feed it; as, for instance, when, after the expiration of his consulship, he had a command as military tribune, which nobody pressed upon him. But being now out of all employ in the government, and advanced in years, he showed his defects more plainly: allowing himself in this inactive remainder of life to be carried away with the passion for reputation, as uncontrollably as any youth.
Some such transport, it is thought, betrayed him into a proceeding against Hannibal, which lost him the regard of many. For Hannibal, having fled his country, first took sanctuary with Antiochus; but he, having been glad to obtain a peace after the battle in Phrygia, Hannibal was put to shift for himself, by a second flight; and, after wandering through many countries, fixed at length in Bithynia, proffering his service to King Prusias. Everyone at Rome knew where he was, but looked upon him now, in his weakness and old age, with no sort of apprehension, as one whom fortune had quite cast off.
Titus, however, coming thither as ambassador, though he was sent from the Senate to Prusias upon another errand; yet seeing Hannibal resident there, it stirred up resentment in him to find that he was yet alive. And though Prusias used much intercession and entreaties in favour of him, as his suppliant and familiar friend, Titus was not to be entreated [omission].
There is a certain sandy country in Bithynia near to the seaside, where there is a little village called Libyssa, and where Hannibal remained continually. He, mistrusting King Prusias' faint heart, and fearing the Romans' malice also, had made seven privy caves and vaults underground long before, that he might secretly go out at either of them which way he would, and every one of them came to the main vault where himself did lie, and could not be discerned outwardly. When it was told him that Titus had willed Prusias to deliver him into his hands, he sought then to save himself by those means: but he found that all the vents out had watch and ward upon them by the king's commandment. So then he determined to kill himself.
[omission for length: Hannibal's suicide by poison]
The news whereof being come to Rome unto the Senate, many of them thought Titus too violent and cruel, to have made Hannibal kill himself in that sort, when extremity of age had overcome him already, and was as a bird left naked, her feathers falling from her for age: and so much the more, because there was no instant occasion offered him to urge him to do it, but a covetous mind of honour, for that he would be chronicled to be the cause and author of Hannibal's death.
And then in contrariwise they did much honour and commend the clemency and noble mind of Scipio Africanus. Who, having overcome Hannibal in battle in Africa himself, being then indeed to be feared, and having never been overcome before: yet he did not cause him to be driven out of his country, neither did ask him of the Carthaginians, but both then, and before the battle, when he parled with him of peace, he took Hannibal courteously by the hand, and after the battle, in the conditions of peace he gave them, he never spoke a word of hurt to Hannibal's person, neither did he shew any cruelty to him in his misery [omission].
Such conduct was much admired in Scipio; and that of Titus, who had, as it were, insulted the dead whom another had slain, was no less generally found fault with. Not but that there were some who applauded the action, looking upon a living Hannibal as a fire, which only wanted blowing to become a flame. For when he was in the prime and flower of his age, it was not his body nor his hand that had been so formidable, but his consummate skill and experience, together with his innate malice and rancour against the Roman name, things which do not impair with age. For the temper and bent of the soul remains constant, while Fortune continually varies; and some new hope might easily rouse to a fresh attempt those whose hatred made them enemies to the last.
We find no further mention in history of anything done by Titus, either in war or in the administration of the government, but simply that he died in peace.
AmblesideOnline Plutarch Readings:
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey, Pt 1 Pompey, Pt 2 Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey, Pt 1 Pompey, Pt 2 Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus