Study Notes prepared for the AmblesideOnline Curriculum by Anne White, 2014 using Thomas North's text. If you wish to use this Study Guide as a teacher's edition, text-only version of this Life (without the Study Guide) is also available to print for your student. Read Intro to these study guides here.
"When I first began to write these lines, my intent was to profit other[s]: but since, continuing and going on, I have much profited my self by looking into these historys, as if I looked into a glasse, to frame and fashion my life, to the mowld and patterne of these vertuous noblemen. For ronning over their manners in this sort, and seeking also to describe their lives: methinks I am still conversant and familliar with them, and do as it were lodge them with me, one after another. And when I come to peruse their historys, and to waye the virtues and qualitys they have had, and what singularity eche of them possessed: and to choose and culle out the chiefest things of note in them, and their best speaches and doings most worthy of memorie . . . " --Plutarch
This term's study is about Lucius Æmilius Paulus Macedonicus (c. 229 BC-160 BC), usually called Aemilius. (If you're looking him up online, you might also try reversing the names. Even Plutarch occasionally reverses them.)
Did you ever notice that in many of Plutarch's lives, there's a second, often well-known, person that you need to know about to follow the story, and often a particular event such as a war that the story centers around? In the life of Fabius, you learn about Hannibal and the Punic wars; in Crassus, you read about Spartacus; this story follows the same pattern. The event is the Third Macedonian War, from 171 to 168 B.C.; and the second character is Perseus, who was the last king of Macedon until he was conquered by the Romans at the end of the war. In Philip's World History Encyclopedia, Perseus gets his own entry, but Aemilius Paulus does not! Nevertheless, Plutarch gives Aemilius credit for the Roman victory, and praises him because "though he conquered so great and so rich a realm as that of Macedon [which gave Rome control over much of the Eastern Mediterranean], yet he would not touch, nor see any of the money."
One of the resources we have in our homeschool is The Timechart History of the World, published by Third Millennium Press. If you have a similar timeline, now is the time to get it out and find the time period when the Roman Republic was starting to swell all over the other nations' colour bands. The shape of the Roman blob on our timeline is quite different from the long, narrow stripe of Alexander the Great's empire, which seems to explode from nowhere and shows that his empire covered many countries but for a comparatively short time. The Roman blob starts out as a regular-sized stripe like most of the others, but suddenly begins to swell up around 300 B.C., and blots out most of the known world for about the next seven hundred years.
Looking back again at Alexander's empire, we can see the string of rulers who followed him as kings of Macedon, and Plutarch refers to several of these during the story. It's a little confusing because some of them share names. The main ones for our purposes are Philip V and his son Perseus.
However, we won't get into the war with Perseus until Plutarch has introduced us properly to Paulus Aemilius.
These notes will are based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, with some clarifications from Dryden [in brackets]. I have updated some of the spelling, including the names of places which often vary a bit from Dryden's. The text is included in each lesson. In some places I have kept the combined A and E (Æ), which Dryden uses more than North does, but in others I have left it out (where it seemed unnecessary). On many websites and in typed materials where it's difficult to manage the Æ, you will see it spelled just AE.
Plutarch begins this story of Paulus Aemilius in a traditional way, with a family tree. Don't worry too much about all the details of his ancestors; the most important thing here is that he came from a family with a good reputation. (See the vocabulary note about Lucius Paulus.)
If you've done some of the previous studies about Rome, you may have looked up the ranks of the different Roman officials. from top to bottom, the governing officials were dictator (this position was filled only during times of crisis), consul, praetor, aedile, quaestor, and tribune. (There was more than one of each at a time-two consuls, eight praetors, etc.) There were also censors, who were usually ex-consuls. The first several lessons follow Paulus Aemilius through his positions as aedile, praetor (but a specially honoured praetor), and consul (twice). He had a second, separate position as an "augur," a special kind of fortune-telling priest. (The Random House College Dictionary defines it more formally as "one of a body of ancient Roman officials charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs.") Plutarch says that Aemilius took this job so seriously that he raised it to an art form.
He also took his role as military commander very seriously; Plutarch finds it noteworthy that he actually taught (instructed, coached) the soldiers under his command. So far we get a picture of someone definitely out of the ordinary; perhaps someone who raised being a Roman to an art form?
Lucius Paulus: the father of Paulus Aemilius, twice elected consul
Cannes: a battle against the Carthaginians in 216 B.C., where the Romans were badly defeated
manifest: outright, obvious
aedile: see note in introduction
augur: see note
would needs: insisted on
sue for office: run for office
terrible: serious, passionate
Section to Read:
Some writers affirm also, that the first of the house that gave name to all the posterity after, was Marcus [Dryden says Mamercus], the son of Pythagoras the wise, whom king Numa for the sweetness and pleasant grace of his tongue, surnamed Marcus Aemilius: and those specially affirm it, that say king Numa was Pythagoras' scholar. Howsoever it was, the most part of this family that obtained honour and estimation for tbeir virtue, were ever fortunate also in all their doings, saving Lucius Paulus only, who died in the battle of Cannes [Cannae]. But his misfortune doth bear manifest testimony of his wisdom and valiancy together. For he was forced to fight against his will, when he saw he could not bridle the rashness of his fellow consul that would needs join battle, and to do as he did, saving that he fled not as the other, who being first procurer of the battle, was the first that ran away: where he to the contrary, to his power did what he could to let him, and did stick by it, and fought it valiantly unto the last gasp. This Aemilius left a daughter behind him called Aemilia, which was married unto Scipio the great: and a son, Paulus Aemilius, being the same man whose life we presently treat of.
His youth fortunately fell out in a flourishing time of glory and honour, through the sundry virtues of many great and noble persons living in those days, among whom he made his name famous also: and it was not by that ordinary art and course, which the best esteemed young men of that age did take and follow. For he did not use to plead private men's causes in law, neither would creep into men's favour by fawning upon any of them: though he saw it a common practise, and policy of men, to seek the people's favour and good wills by such means. Moreover, he refused not that common course which other[s] took, for that it was contrary to his nature, or that he could not frame with either or both, if he had been so disposed: but he rather sought to win reputation by his honesty, his valiantness, and upright dealing, as choosing that the better way, than either of the other two, insomuch as in marvellous short time he passed all those that were of his age.
The first office of honour he sued for, was the office of aedile, in which suit he was preferred before twelve other[s] that sued for the selfsame office: who were men of no small quality, for they all came afterwards to be consuls. After this, he was chosen to be one of the number of the priests, whom the Romans call Augurs: who have the charge of all the divinations and soothsayings, in telling of things to come by flying of birds, and signs in the air. He was so careful, and took such pains to understand how the Romans did use the same, and with such diligence sought the observation of the ancient religion of Romans in all holy matters: that where that priesthood was before esteemed but a title of honour, and desired for the name only: he brought it to pass, that it was the most honourable science, and best reputed of in Rome. Wherein he confirmed the philosophers' opinion: that religion is the knowledge how to serve God [Dryden says "the gods"]. For when he did anything belonging to his office of priesthood, he did it with great experience, judgment, and diligence, leaving all other thoughts, and without omitting any ancient ceremonies or adding to any new, contending oftentimes with his companions in things which seemed light, and of small moment: declaring unto them, that though we do presume the gods are easy to be pacified, and that they readily pardon all faults and scapes committed by negligence, yet if it were no more but for respect of commonwealth's sake, they should not slightly, nor carelessly dissemble or pass over faults committed in those matters. For no man (sayeth he) at the first that committeth any fault, doth alone trouble the state of the commonwealth: but withal, we must think he leaveth the grounds of civil government, that is not as careful to keep the institutions of small matters, as also of the great. So was he also a severe captain, and strict observer of all martial discipline, not seeking to win the soldiers' love by flattery, when he was general in the field, as many did in that time: neither corrupting them for a second charge, by shewing himself gentle and courteous in the first, unto those that served under him: but himself did orderly shew them the very rules and precepts of the discipline of wars, even as a priest that should express the names and ceremonies of some holy sacrifice wherein were danger to omit any part or parcel. Howbeit, being terrible to execute the law of arms upon rebellious and disobedient soldiers, he kept up thereby the state of the common weal the better: judging [that] to overcome the enemy by force, was but an accessory, as a man may term it, in respect of well training and ordering his citizens by good discipline.
Narration and Discussion:
What characteristics distinguished Paulus Aemilius from other young men of his time?
Explain how Aemilius raised the position of augur to "one of the highest arts." As Christians, we are told to have nothing to do with divination and so might think his work was repulsive or dangerous; other people might just find the whole thing silly. Can you neverthless explain what positive aspects his attitude shows about his character?
More about Aemilius and the priests: how did he explain his worry about allowing laxity even in small religious matters? Do you think this is a good principle for our own lives? (For older students: might such attention to detail eventually become excessive legalism?)
In regard to the training of his army, Aemilius said that "to overcome the enemy by force, was but an accessory, as a man may term it, in respect of well training and ordering his citizens by good discipline." (Remember that citizens were also soldiers.) How was this an unusual belief for a Roman commander?
Plutarch continues the introduction to Aemilius and covers the years leading up to the war with Perseus.
The structure of this passage needs a little explaining. The first paragraph tells the story of how Aemilius and his army put down a Spanish uprising. At the end of the paragraph, Plutarch gets a little bit sidetracked into an explanation of Aemilius's marriages and who his daughters married (later on). Then, Plutarch says, back to the story: Aemilius is now consul and leads a battle against the Ligurians. He hopes to be made consul again, is somewhat disappointed by the results, but still finds lots to keep him busy.
Vocabulary and Notes:
"While the Romans were in wars against king Antiochus surnamed the Great": Because most of the Roman army was already tied up with another war, Aemilus (as praetor) was asked to lead troops against an uprising in Spain.
Fabius Maximus, who was five times consul: this is the Fabius we have studied previously
Scipio Africanus: the general who defeated Hannibal, also discussed in the life of Fabius
cousin-german: usually a first cousin; "german" here means "true, genuine"
axes: these were carried as symbols of Roman power and authority
drachma: a silver coin of ancient Greece
pinnaces: small boats
intercourse of merchandise: business, trade
razed: tore down
triumph (verb): to be publicly recognized for a military victory
Section to Read:
While the Romans were in wars against king Antiochus surnamed the Great, in the South parts: all the chiefest captains of Rome being employed that way, there fell out another in the West parts towards Spain, where they were all up in arms. Thither they sent Aemilius [the] praetor, not with six axes as the other praetors had borne before them, but with twelve: so that under the name of praetor, he had the authority and dignity of a consul. He twice overcame the barbarous people in battle, and slew thirty thousand of them, and got this victory through his great skill and wisdom, in choosing the advantage of place and time, to fight with his enemies, even as they passed over a river, which easily gave his soldiers the victory. Moreover he took there two hundred and fifty cities, all which did open, and gladly receive him in. So, leaving that country quiet and in good peace, and having received their fealty by oath made between his hands, he returned again to Rome, not enriched the value of a drachma more than before. For then he took little regard to his expenses, he spent so frankly, neither was his purse his master, though his revenue was not great to bear it out: as it appeared to the world after his death, for all that he had, was little enough to satisfy his wife's jointer [dowry].
His first wife was Papyria, the daughter of a noble consul Papyrius Masso, and after they had lived a long time together, he was divorced from her, notwithstanding he had goodly children by her. For by her he had that famous Scipio the second, and Fabius Maximus. The just cause of the divorce between them, appeareth not to us in writing: but methinks the tale that is told concerning the separation of a certain marriage is true. That a certain Roman having forsaken his wife, her friends fell out with him, and asked him: What fault dost thou find in her? is she not honest of her body? is she not fair? doth she not bring thee goodly children? But he putting forth his foot, shewed them his shoe, and answered them. Is not this a goodly shoe? is it not finely made? and is it not new? yet I dare say there is never a one of you can tell where it wringeth me. For to say truly, great and open faults are commonly occasions to make husbands put away their wives: but yet oftentimes household words run so between them (proceeding of crooked conditions, or of diversity of natures, which strangers are not privy unto) that in process of time they do beget such a strange alteration of love and minds in them, as one house can no longer hold them.
So Aemilius, having put away Papyria his first wife, he married another that brought him two sons, which he brought up with himself in his house, and gave his two first sons (to wit, Scipio the second, and Fabius Maximus) in adoption, to two of the noblest and richest families of the city of Rome. The elder of the twain, unto Fabius Maximus, he that was five times consul: and the younger unto the house of the Cornelians, whom the son of the great Scipio the African did adopt, being his cousin-german, and named him Scipio.
Concerning his daughters, the son of Cato married the one, and Aelius Tubero the other, who was a marvellous honest man, and did more nobly maintain himself in his poverty, then any other Roman: for they were sixteen persons all of one name, and of the house of the Aelians, very near akin one to the other, who had all but one little house in the city, and a small farm in the country, wherewith they entertained themselves, and lived all together in one house, with their wives, and many little children. Amongst their wives, one of them was the daughter of Paulus Aemilius, after he had been twice consul, and had triumphed twice, not being ashamed of her husband's poverty, but wondering at [proud of] his virtue that made him poor. Whereas brethren and kinsmen, as the world goeth now, if they dwell not far asunder, and in other countries, not one near another, and that rivers part them not, or walls divide their lands, leaving great large wastes between them: they are never quiet, but still in quarrel one with another. Goodly examples doth this story lay before the wise, and well advised readers, to learn thereby how to frame their life, and wisely to behave themselves.
Now Aemilius being chosen consul, went to make war with the Ligurians, who dwelled in the Alps, and which otherwise are called Ligustines. These are very valiant and warlike men, and were very good soldiers at that time, by reason of their continual wars against the Romans, whose near neighbours they were. For they dwelt in the furthest part of Italy that bordereth upon the great Alps, and the row of Alps, whereof the foot joineth to the Tuscan sea, and pointeth towards Africa, and are mingled with the Gauls, and Spaniards, neighbours unto that sea coast: who scouring all the Mediterranean sea at that time, unto the strait of Hercules' Pillars, did with their little light pinnaces of pirates, let [stopped, interfered with] all the traffic and intercourse of merchandise. Aemilius being gone to seek them in their country, they tarried his coming with an army of forty thousand men: nevertheless, though he had but eight thousand men in all, and that they were five to one of his, yet he gave the onset apon them, and overthrew them, and drave [drove] them into their cities. Then he sent to offer them peace, for the Romans would not altogether destroy the Ligurians, because their country was a [guard] or bulwark against the invasion of the Gauls, who lay lurking for opportunity and occasion to invade Italy: whereupon these Ligurians yielded themselves unto him, and put all their forts and ships into his hands. Aemilius delivered unto them their holds again, without other hurt done unto them, saving that he razed the walls of their fortifications: howbeit he took all their ships from them, leaving them little boats of three oars only, and no greater, and set all the prisoners at liberty they had taken, both by sea and by land, as well Romans as other, which were a marvellous number. These were all the notable acts he did worth memory, in the first year of his consulship.
Afterwards, he oftentimes shewed himself very desirous to be consul again, and did put forth himself to sue for it: but when he was denied it, he never after made suit for it again, but gave himself only to study divine things, and to see his children virtuously brought up, not only in the Roman tongue which himself was taught, but also a little more curiously in the Greek tongue. For he did not only retain Grammarians, Rhetoricians, and Logicians, but also painters, gravers of images, [managers of horses and dogs, and instructors in field sports], [all] of Greece, about his children: and he himself also (if no matters of commonwealth troubled him) was ever with them in the school when they were at their books, and also when they otherwise did exercise themselves. For he loved his children as much, or more, than any other Roman.
Narration and Discussion:
What were the acts most worthy of remark in Aemilius's first consulship? How did he react when he was passed over for a second consulship?
Why did the Romans not want to "altogether destroy the Ligurians?" How did they punish them instead?
Aemilius as homeschooling dad: describe the educational curriculum of the children of Aemilius. Is it anything like yours? (If you're not familiar with grammar, logic and rhetoric, you might be interested in researching them.)
Discuss these quotes:
"wondering at [proud of] his virtue that kept him poor."
"Goodly examples doth this story lay before the wise, and well advised readers, to learn thereby how to frame their life, and wisely to behave themselves." Dryden translates this, "History suggests a variety of good counsel of this sort, by the way, to those who desire to learn and improve."
Something to compare: Timoleon spent a long time out of the limelight as well, before he was called to lead a major battle. Do you think these times of waiting were useful in some way in preparing Timoleon and Aemilius for the things they were called to do later on?
LESSON THREE: The Family Tree of Perseus
In Plutarch's list of the rulers of Macedon (the beginning of the second paragraph of this section), skip over the first Antigonus and Demetrius; zero in on "Antigonus, called Gonatus." This Antigonus Gonatus had a son named Demetrius, who reigned only a short time, died, and left his son Philip as a boy king. Since boy kings need someone to help them rule (a regent), Philip's regent was his stepfather, a cousin to the late king, whose name was also Antigonus (also called Antigonus Doson). Plutarch explains what happened next: "At first they only styled him regent and general, but when they found by experynce that he governed the kingdom with moderation and to general advantage, gave him the title of king."
Philip, the boy king who was temporarily replaced by his stepfather, "in his youth gave great hopes of equalling the best of kings . . . ." but (after he came to rule himself) was beaten by the Romans. He afterwards prepared for war again, strengthening his army, gathering weapons-and then died suddenly. (Plutarch says Philip might have died of grief over the fact that he had had his own son Demetrius executed, because of a plot contrived by his other son Perseus.) (Yes, this is the third Demetrius mentioned here already; the Macedonians repeated names a lot.)
Perseus was called "mean" and "sordid." It is said that he lacked courage and was noted for his covetous character. It was even rumored that he might not be a true prince at all; that he might have been the son of palace servants (see Plutarch's explanation). At least that might have explained his seeming lack of princely character. However, in this section at least, he was also a very good commander, and he used what his father had stored up to gain some advantage over the Romans.
(You might want to look at a map of the ancient world when you get to the last paragraph of this lesson; look at Gaul and Illyria, and find the Danube and the Adriatic Sea. Gaul is a little confusing because sometimes (later on in history) it refers to the present-day country of France; in this case, it would be more a part of Germany if these Gauls lived near the Danube. Illyria is the area right across the Adriatic from Italy, now called Croatia.)
husband: manager, steward
escaped good cheap: got off lightly
entertain ten thousand strangers: pay ten thousand mercenary (foreign) soldiers
talent: a unit of money
tribute: tax or other financial demand
Section to Read:
Now concerning the state of the commonwealth, the Romans were at wars with King Perseus, and they much blamed the captains they had sent thither before, for that for lack of skill and courage, they had so cowardly behaved themselves, as their enemies laughed them to scorn: and they received more hurt of them, then they did unto the King. For not long before, they had driven King Antiochus beyound Mount Taurus, and had made him forsake the rest of Asia, and had shut him up within the borders of Syria: who was glad that he had bought that country with fifteen thousand talents, which he paid for a fine. A little before also, they had overcome Philip, king of Macedon, in Thessaly, and had delivered the Grecians from the bondage of the Macedonians. And moreover, having overcome Hannibal (unto whom no Prince nor King that ever was in the world was comparable, either for his power or valiantness), they thought this too great a dishonour to them, that this war they had against king Perseus, should hold so long of even hand with them, as if he had been an enemy equal with the people of Rome: considering also that they fought not against them, but with the refuse and scattered people of the overthrown army his father had lost before, and knew not that Philip had left his army stronger, and more expert by reason of his overthrow, than it was before. As I will briefly rehearse the story from the beginning.
Antigonus, who was of the greatest power of all the captains and successors of Alexander the great, having obtained for himself and his posterity the title of a king, had a son called Demetrius, of whom came Antigonus the second, that was surnamed Gonatas, whose son was also called Demetrius, that reigned no long time, but died, and left a young son called Philip. By reason whereof, the princes and nobility of Macedon, fearing that the realm should be left without heir: they preferred one Antigonus, cousin to the last deceased King, and made him marry the mother of Philip the Less, giving him the name at the first of the King's protector only, and lieutenant general of his majesty. But after, when they had found he was a good and wise prince, and a good husband for the realm, they then gave him the absolute name of a king, and surnamed him Doson, to say, the giver: for he promised much, and gave little. After him reigned Philip, who in his green youth gave more hope of himself, then any other of the kings before: insomuch they thought that one day be would restore Macedon her ancient fame and glory, and that he alone would pluck down the pride and power of the Romans, who rose against all the world. But after that he had lost a great battle, and was overthrown by Titus Quintus Flamininus near unto the city of Scotusa: then he began to quake for fear, and to leave all to the mercy of the Romans, thinking he escaped good cheap, for any light ransom or tribute the Romans should impose upon him.
Yet afterwards coming to understand himself, he grew to disdain it much, thinking that to reign through the favour of the Romans, was but to make himself a slave, to seek to live in pleasure at his ease, and not for a valiant and noble prince born. Whereupon he set all his mind, to study the discipline of wars, and made his preparations as wisely and closely, as possibly he could. For he left all his towns alongst the seacoast, and [those] standing upon any high ways, without any fortification at all, and in manner desolate without people, to the end there might appear no occasion of doubt or mistrust in him: and in the meantime, in the high countries of his realm far from great beaten ways, he levied a great number of men of war, and replenished his towns and strongholds that lay scatteringly abroad, with armour and weapon[s], money, and men, providing for war, which he kept as secretly as he could. For he had provision of armour in his armoury, to arm thirty thousand men, and eight million bushels of corn safely locked up in his forts and stronger places, and ready money, as much as would serve to entertain ten thousand strangers in pay, to defend his country for the space of ten years.
But before he could bring that to pass he had purposed, he died for grief and sorrow, after he knew he had unjustly put Demetrius, the best of his sons, to death, upon the false accusation of the worst, that was Perseus: who as he did inherit the kingdom of his father by succession, so did he also inherit his father's malice against the Romans. But he had no shoulders to bear so heavy a burden, and especially being as he was, a man of so vile and wicked nature: for among many lewd and naughty conditions he had, he was extreme covetous and miserable. [omission]
Notwithstanding, simple though he was, and of vile and base nature, he found the strength of his kingdom so great, that he was contented to take upon him to make war against the Romans, which he maintained a long time, and fought against their consuls, that were their generals, and repulsed great armies of theirs both by sea and land, and overcame some. As Publius Licinius among other[s], the first that invaded Macedon, was overthrown by him in a battle of horsemen, where he slew at that time two thousand five hundred good men of his, and took six hundred prisoners. And their army by sea, riding at anchor before the city of Oreum, he did suddenly set apon, and took twenty great ships of burden, and all that was in them, and sank the rest, which were all laden with corn: and took of all sorts besides, about [four galleys with five banks of oars].
The second consul and general he fought with all, was Hostilius, whom he repulsed, attempting by force to invade Macedon, by way of the city of Elumia [Elimiae]. Another time again, when he entered in by stealth upon the coast of Thessaly, he offered him battle, but the other durst not abide it. Furthermore, as though the war troubled him nothing at all, and that he had cared little for the Romans: he went and fought a battle in the meantime with the Dardanians, where he slew ten thousand of those barbarous people, and brought a marvellous great spoil away with him. Moreover he procured the nation of the Gauls dwelling upon the river of Danube, which they call Basternae (men very warlike, and excellent good horsemen) and did practise with the Illyrians also by mean[s] of their king Gentius, to make them join with him in these wars: so that there ran a rumour all about, that for money he had gotten these Gauls to come down into Italy, from the high country of Gaul, all alongst the Adriatic sea.
Narration and Discussion:
As the first two lessons gave us the background to Aemilius Paulus, this section tells the history of his enemy Perseus. Why did the Romans think it "scorn that Perseus should think himself an enemy fit to match the Romans?" (For older students: how does the Macedonian history that Plutarch tells explain Perseus's attitude?)
Why do you think Perseus was so successful in his first attempts against the Romans, if he was as cowardly and sordid as Plutarch says?
Success and leadership often seem to be a matter of attitude. Aemilius Paulus, at the age of almost sixty, is unanimously chosen as consul for the second time, because Rome is in desperate need of a general who will act like a general. When he "lays it on the line" and tells the Romans that he has to be given total command, they quickly agree-they have nothing to lose, and the world to gain. Perseus, on the other hand, begins to lose control, because he doubts his own ability to be in full authority.
to dispose their offices in wars any more by grace and favour unto those that sued for them: Dryden translates this, "to choose their commanders by favour or solicitation." They had previously chosen commanders from those that [themselves] asked for the position; now it was time to be more deliberate in the choice.
husband: manager, steward
wote you what?: do you know what?
footmen: foot soldiers
grazing: farming livestock
this barbarous supply: these mercenary [foreign] soldiers
easilier: more easily
lusty: strong, powerful
Section to Read:
The Romans being advertised of these news, thought the time served not now to dispose their offices in wars any more by grace and favour unto those that sued for them, but contrariwise, that they should call some nobleman that were very skillful, and a wise captain, and could discreetly govern and perform things of great charge. As Paulus Aemilius, a man well stepped on in years, being three score year[s] old: and yet of good power, by reason of the lusty young men his sons, and sons-in-law, besides a great number of his friends and kinfolk. So all that bare great authority, did altogether with one consent counsel him to obey the people, which called him to the consulship. At the beginning, indeed he delayed the people much that came to importune him, and utterly denied them: saying, he was no meet man neither to desire, nor yet to take on any charge. Howbeit in the end, seeing the people did urge it apon him, by knocking continually at his gates, and calling him aloud in the streets, willing him to come into the marketplace, and perceiving they were angry with him because he refused it: he was content to be persuaded. And when he stood among them that sued for the consulship, the people thought straight that he stood not there so much for desire of the office, as for that he put them in hope of assured victory, and happy success of this begun war: so great was their love towards him, and the good hope they had of him, that they chose him consul again the second time. Wherefore so soon as he was chosen, they would not proceed to drawing of lots according to their custom, which of the two consuls should happen to go into Macedon: but presently with a full and whole consent of them all, they gave him the whole charge of the wars of Macedon. So being consul now, and appointed to make war upon king Perseus, all the people did honourably [ac]company him home unto his house: where a little girl (a daughter of his) called Tertia, being yet an infant, came weeping unto her father. He making much of her: asked her why she wept. The poor girl answered, [catching] him about the neck, and kissing him: Alas, father, wote you what? our Perseus is dead. She meant it by a little whelp so called, which was her playfellow. In good hour, my girl, said he, I like the sign well. Thus doth Cicero the orator report it in his book of divinations.
The Romans had a custom at that time, that such as were elected consuls (after that they were openly proclaimed) should make an oration of thanks unto the people, for the honour and favour they had shewed him. The people then (according to the custom) being gathered together to hear Aemilius speak, he made this oration unto them: That the first time he sued to be consul, was in respect of himself, standing at that time in need of such honour: now he offered himself the second time unto it, for the good love he bare unto them, who stood in need of a general, wherefore he thought himself nothing bound nor beholding unto them now. And if they did think also this war might be better followed by any other, than by himself, he would presently with all his heart resign the place. Furthermore, if they had any trust or confidence in him, that they thought him a man sufficient to discharge it: then that they would not speak nor meddle in any matter that concerned his duty, and the office of a general, saving only, that they would be diligent (without any words) to do whatsoever he commanded, and should be necessary for the war and service they took in hand. For if every man would be a commander, as they had been heretofore, of those by whom they should be commanded: then the world would more laugh them to scorn in this service, then ever before had been accustomed. These words made the Romans very obedient to him, and conceived good hope to come, being all of them very glad that they had refused those ambitious flatterers that sued for the charge, and had given it unto a man that durst boldly and frankly tell them the truth. Mark how the Romans by yielding unto reason and virtue, came to command all other[s], and to make themselves the mightiest people of the world.
Now that Paulus Aemilius setting forward to this war, had wind at will, and fair passage to bring him at his journey's end: I impute it to good fortune, that so quickly and safely conveyed him to his camp. But for the rest of his exploits he did in all this war, when part of them were performed by his own hardiness, other by his wisdom and good counsel, other by the diligence of his friends in serving him with good will, other by his own resolute constancy and courage in extremest danger, and last, by his marvellous skill in determining at an instant what was to be done: I cannot attribute any notable act or worthy service unto this his good fortune, they talk of so much, as they may do in other captains' doings. Unless they will say peradventure, that Perseus' covetousness and misery was Aemilius' good fortune: for his miserable fear of spending money, was the only cause and destruction of the whole realm of Macedon, which was in good state and hope of continuing in prosperity. For there came down into the country of Macedon at king Perseus' request, ten thousand Bastarae a-horseback, and as many footmen to them, who always joined with them in battle, all mercenary soldiers, depending upon pay and entertainment of wars, as men that could not plow nor sow, nor traffic merchandise by sea, nor [had] skill of grazing to gain their living with: and to be short, that had no other occupation or merchandise, but to serve in the wars, and to overcome those with whom they fought.
Furthermore, when they came to encamp and lodge in the Maedica, near to the Macedonians, who saw them so goodly great men, and so well trained and exercised in handling all kind[s] of weapons, so brave and lusty in words and threats against their enemies: they began to pluck up their hearts, and to look big, imagining that the Romans would never abide them, but would be afeared to look them in the face, and only to see their march, it was so terrible and fearful. But Perseus, after he had encouraged his men in this sort, and had put them in such a hope and jollity, when this barbarous supply came to ask him a thousand crowns in hand for every captain, he was so damped and troubled withal in his mind, casting up the sum it came to, that his only covetousness and misery made him return them back, and refuse their service: not as one that meant to fight with the Romans, but rather to spare his treasure, and to be a husband for them, as if he should have given up a straight account unto them of his charges in this war, against whom he made it. And notwithstanding also his enemies did teach him what he had to do, considering that besides all other their warlike furniture and munition, they had no less than a hundred thousand fighting men lying in camp together, ready to execute the consul's commandment. Yet he taking upon him to resist so puissant an army, and to maintain the wars, which forced his enemies to be at extreme charge in entertaining such multitudes of men, and more then needed: hardly could depart with his gold and silver, but kept it safe locked up in his treasury, as if he had been afraid to touch it, and had been none of his.
[Optional Section] And he did not shew that he came of the noble race of these kings of Lydia, and of Phoenicia, who gloried to be rich: but shewed how by inheritance of blood he challenged some part of the virtue of Philip, and of Alexander, who both because they esteemed to buy victory with money, not money with victory, did many notable things, and thereby conquered the world. Hereof came the common saying in old time, that it was not Philip, but his gold and silver that won the cities of Greece. And Alexander when he went to conquer the Indes [India], seeing the Macedonians carry with them all the wealth of Persia, which made his camp very heavy, and slow to march: he himself first of all set fire of his own carriage that conveyed all his necessaries, and persuaded other[s] to do the like, that they might march more lightly, and easelier go on the journey. But Perseus contrarily would not spend any part of his goods, to save himself, his children and realm, but rather yielded to be led prisoner in triumph with a great ransom, to shew the Romans how good a husband he had been for them. For he did not only send away the Gauls without giving them pay as he had promised, but moreover having persuaded Gentius king of Illyria to take his part in these wars, for the sum of three hundred talents which he had promised to furnish him with: he caused the money to be told, and put up in bags by those whom Gentius sent to receive it. Whereupon Gentius thinking himself sure of the money promised, committed a fond and foul part: for he stayed the ambassadors the Romans sent unto him, and committed them to prison. This part being come to Perseus' ears, he thought now he needed not hire him with money to be an enemy to the Romans, considering he had waded so far, as that he had already done, was as a manifest sign of his ill will towards them, and that it was too late to look back and repent him, now that his foul part had plunged him into certain wars, for an uncertain hope. So did he abuse the unfortunate king, and defrauded him of the three hundred talents he had promised him. And worse than this, shortly after he suffered Lucius Anicius the Roman praetor, whom they sent against him with an army, to pluck King Gentius, his wife, and children, out of his realm and kingdom, and to carry them prisoners with him.
Narration and Discussion:
Why did Aemilius say that he didn't need to thank the people for choosing him as consul the second time? Explain the rules he set out in his speech. Why was he so adamant that he must be fully in charge? How did the people react to this? (See especially the last sentence of the paragraph.)
Older students may be interested in studying what the Bible says about authority and obedience; Charlotte Mason's books also discuss these topics. If your students have read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie, you may want to use the example found there of authority used or misused in the classroom (the story of the teacher Miss Wilder).
What general reasons does Plutarch give for the Romans' success against Perseus? How did the covetousness (stinginess) of Perseus end up being the one piece of good luck (vs. skill) that worked in Aemilius's favour? (What happened to the ten thousand horsemen Perseus planned to hire?) Discuss the saying that "empire was to be purchased by money, not money by empire." How does this line up with what the Bible says about the source and proper use of wealth? (Check out Psalm 50:10; also Psalm 112.)
Optional section: How did Perseus show himself despicable towards his mercenary soldiers?
Introduction: The Battle of Pydna
The armies of Aemilius and Perseus meet at the foot of Mount Olympus. Perseus has four thousand cavalry soldiers and about forty thousand foot soldiers; the number of Roman soldiers is not given, but one of the Roman leaders, Scipio Nasica, said that his division had "three thousand Italians that were not Romans, and his left wing [consisted] of five thousand"; it appears that the Romans were somewhat outnumbered. (The second link below says that there were about 38,000 Romans and 44,000 Macedonians.) However, Aemilius seems to have been amazingly calm about that, and "lay still for some days" trying to find a way around, over, or through the mountain, to surround the Macedonians on the other side.
he made no manner of reckoning of his person: he was not worried about Perseus himself
straits: narrow places
tract of time: delaying as long as possible
charge: delay and expense
overmuch licentious liberty: too much freedom to do as they pleased
sufferance: absence of objection; toleration
in the general's office: taking on the general's responsibilities
casting many things: examining many possibilities
it was not kept: it was unguarded
stealing from Nasica: sneaking away from Nasica
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Now when Aemilius was arrived in Macedon, to make war against such an enemy: he made no manner of reckoning of his person [Perseus], but of the great preparation and power he had. For in one camp he had four thousand horsemen, and no less then forty thousand footmen, with the which army he had planted himself alongst the seaside, by the foot of the Mount Olympus, in a place unpossible to be approached: and there he had so well fortified all the straits and passages unto him with fortifications of wood, that he thought himself to lie safe out of all danger, and imagined to dally with Aemilius, and by tract of time to [weary] him out with charge. Aemilius in the mean season lay not idle, but occupied his wits thoroughly, and left no means unattempted, to put something in proof. And perceiving that his soldiers by overmuch licentious liberty (wherein by sufferance they lived before) were angry with delaying and lying still, and that they did busily occupy themselves in the general's office, saying this, and such a thing would be done that is not done: he took them up roundly, and commanded them they should meddle no more too curiously in matters that pertained not to them, and that they should take care for nothing else, but to see their armour and weapon ready to serve valiantly, and to use their swords after the Roman's fashion, when their general should appoint and command them. Wherefore, to make them more careful to look to themselves, he commanded those that watched should have no spears nor pikes, because they should be more wakeful, having no long weapon to resist the enemy, if they were assaulted.
The greatest trouble his army had, was lack of fresh water, because the water that ran to the sea was very little, and marvellous foul by the seaside. But Aemilius considering they were at the foot of the Mount Olympus (which is of marvellous height, and full of wood withal) conjectured, seeing the trees so fresh and green, that there should be some little pretty springs among them, which ran under the ground. So he made them dig many holes and wells alongst the mountains, which were straight filled with fair water being pent within ground before for lack of breaking open the heads, which then ran down in streams, and met together in sundry places. [omission]
Now to return to our history again. Aemilius lay there a convenient time, and stirred not: and it is said there were never seen two so great armies one so near to the other, and to be so quiet. In the end, casting many things with himself, and devising sundry practises, he was informed of another way to enter into Macedon, through the country of Perrhaebia, over against the temple [of Apollo] called Pythion, and the rock upon which it is built, where there lay no garrison: which gave him better hope to pass that way, for that it was not kept, than that he feared the narrowness and hardness of the way unto it. So, he brake the matter to his council. Thereupon Scipio called Nasica (the son adopted of that great Scipio the African [Africanus], who became afterwards a great man, and was president of the Senate or council) was the first man that offered himself to lead them, whom it would please him to send to take that passage, and to assault their enemies behind. The second was Fabius Maximus, the eldest son of Aemilius, who being but a very young man, rose notwithstanding, and offered himself very willingly. Aemilius was very glad of their offers, and gave them not so many men as Polybius writeth, but so many as Nasica himself declareth, in a letter of his he wrote to a king, where he reporteth all the story of this journey. There were 3000 Italians levied in Italy, by the confederates of the Romans, who were not of the Roman legions, and in the left wing about 5000. Besides those, Nasica took also 120 men at arms, and about 200 Cretans and Thracians mingled together, of those Harpalus had sent thither. With this number Nasica departed from the camp, and took his way toward the seaside, and lodged by the temple of Hercules, as if he had determined to do this feat by sea, to environ the camp of the enemies behind. But when the soldiers had supped, and that it was dark night, he made the captains of every band privy to his enterprise, and so marched all night a contrary way from the sea, until at the length they came under the temple of Pythion, where he lodged to rest the soldiers that were sore travelled all night. In this place, the Mount Olympus is above ten furlongs high, as appeareth in a place engraven by him that measured it.
Olympus' mount is just, by measure made with line,
twelve hundred seventy paces trod, as measure can assign.
The measure being made, right ore against the place,
whereas Apollo's temple stands, built with stately grace.
Even from the level plot, of that same country's plain,
unto the top which all on high, doth on the hill remain.
And so Xenagoras the son of Eumelus,
in olden days by measure made, the same did find for us.
And did engrave it here in writing for to see,
when as he took his latest leave (Apollo god) of thee.
Yet the geometricians say, that there is no mountain higher, nor sea deeper, then the length of ten furlongs: so that I think this Xenagoras (in my opinion) did not take his measure at adventure, and by guess, but by true rules of the art, and instruments geometrical.
There Nasica rested all night.
King Perseus perceiving in the meantime that Aemilius stirred not from the place where he lay, mistrusted nothing his practise, and the coming of Nasica who was at hand: until such time as a traitor of Creta [Crete] (stealing from Nasica) did reveal unto him the pretended practise, as also the Romans compassing of him about. He wondered much at these news, howbeit he removed not his camp from the place he lay in, but dispatched one of his captains called Milon, with ten thousand strangers, and two thousand Macedonians: and straightly commanded him with all the possible speed he could, to get the top of the hill before them. Polybius sayeth, that the Romans came and gave them an alarm, when they were sleeping. But Nasica writeth, that there was a marvellous sharp and terrible battle on the top of the mountains: and said plainly, that a Thracian soldier coming towards him, he threw his dart at him, and hitting him right in the breast, slew him stark dead: and having repulsed their enemies, Milon their captain shamefully running away in his coat without any armour or weapon, he followed him without any danger, and so went down to the valley, with the safety of all his company.
Narration and Discussion:
What does it mean that the Roman soldiers were too ready "to teach their general his duty?" How did Aemilius rebuke them? What is the duty of a soldier, according to Aemilius?
Explain the Romans' strategy for surrounding the Macedonian army. What was Perseus' biggest mistake?
Plutarch stretches the story out a lot here, giving detailed descriptions of the arrival of the Romans at Pydna, the sacrifices Aemilius made, and what the troops looked like. Like a "wise pilot" or an orchestra conductor, Aemilius waits for the real battle to begin and then directs the action. And still it has only begun.
phalanx: battle formation of footsoldiers with shields and spears
stayed his army: stopped his army
foragers: those bringing in food and supplies
halberd: a weapon like a battleaxe
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This conflict fortuning thus, Perseus raised his camp in great haste from the place where he was, and being disappointed of his hope, he retired in great fear, as one at his wit's end, and not knowing how to determine. Yet was he constrained either to stay, and encamp before the city of Pydne [Pydna], there to take the hazard of battle: or else to divide his army into his cities and strongholds, and to receive the wars within his own country, the which being once crept in, could never be driven out again, without great murder and bloodshed. Hereupon his friends did counsel him, to choose rather the fortune of battle: alleging unto him, that he was the stronger in men a great way, and that the Macedonians would fight lustily with all the courage they could, considering that they fought for the safety of their wives and children, and also in the presence of their king, who should both see every man's doing and fight himself in person also for them. The king, moved by these persuasions, determined to venture the chance of battle. So he pitched his camp, and viewed the situation of the places all about, and divided the companies amongst his captains, purposing to give a hot charge upon the enemies when they should draw near. The place and country was [a field fit for the action of a phalanx, which requires smooth standing and even ground], and little pretty hills also one depending upon another, which were very commodious for [light troops and skirmishers] to retire themselves unto being distressed, and also to environ their enemies behind. There were two small rivers also, Aison [Æson] and Leucus that ran through the same, the which though they were not very deep, being about the later end of the summer, yet they would annoy the Romans notwithstanding.
Now when Aemilius was joined with Nasica, he marched on straight in battle [ar]ray towards his enemies. But perceiving afar [that] their battle marched in very good order, and the great multitude of men placed in the same: he wondered to behold it, and suddenly stayed his army, considering with himself what he had to do. Then the young captains having charge under him, desirous to fight it out presently, went unto him to pray him to give the onset: but Nasica specially above the rest, having good hope in the former good luck he had at his first encounter. Aemilius smiling, answered him: So would I do, if I were as young as thou. But the sundry victories I have won heretofore, having taught me by experience the faults the vanquished do commit: do forbid me to go so hotly to work (before my soldiers have rested, which did return but now) to assault an army set in such order of battle.
When he had answered him thus, he commanded the first bands that were now in view of the enemies, should embattle themselves, shewing a countenance to the enemy as though they would fight: and that those in the rearward should lodge in the meantime, and fortify the camp. So, bringing the foremost men to be hindmost, by changing from man to man before the enemies were [a]ware of it: he had broken his battle by little and little, and lodged his men, fortified within the camp without any tumult or noise, and the enemies never perceiving it.
But when night came, and every man had supped, as they were going to sleep and take their rest, the moon, which was at the full and of a great height, began to darken, and to change into many sorts of colours, losing her light, until such time as she vanished away, and was eclipsed altogether. Then the Romans began to make a noise with basins and pans, as their fashion is to do in such a [situation], thinking by this sound to call her again, and to make her come to her light, lifting up many torches lighted, and firebrands into the air. The Macedonians on the other side did no such matter within their camp, but were all together stricken with an horrible fear: and there ran straight a whispering rumour through the people, that this sign in the element signified the eclipse of the king. For Aemilius was not ignorant of the diversities of the eclipses, and he had heard say the cause is, by reason that the moon making her ordinary course about the world (after certain revolutions of time) doth come to enter into the round shadow of the earth, within the which she remaineth hidden: until such time as having past the dark region of the shadow, she cometh afterwards to recover her light which she taketh of the sun. Nevertheless, he being a godly devout man, so soon as he perceived the moon had recovered her former brightness again, he sacrificed eleven calves. And the next morning also by the break of day, making sacrifice to Hercules, he could never have any signs or tokens that promised him good luck, in sacrificing twenty oxen one after another: but at the one and twentieth, he had signs that promised him victory, so he defended himself. Wherefore after he had vowed a solemn sacrifice of a hundred oxen to Hercules, and also games of prizes at the weapons, he commanded his captains to put their men in readiness to fight: and so sought to win time, tarrying till the sun came about in the afternoon towards the West, to the end that the Romans which were turned towards the East, should not have it in their faces when they were fighting. In the meantime, he reposed himself in his tent, which was all open behind towards the side that looked into the valley, where the camp of his enemies lay.
When it grew towards night, to make the enemies set upon his men: some say he used this policy. He made a horse be driven to them without a bridle, and certain Romans followed him, as they would have taken him again: and this was the [beginning of the skirmish]. Others say, that the Thracians serving under the charge of captain Alexander, did set upon certain foragers of the Romans, that brought forage into the camp: out of the which, seven hundred of the Ligurians ran suddenly to the rescue, and relief coming still from both armies, at the last the main battle followed after. Wherefore Aemilius like a wise general foreseeing by the danger of this skirmish, and the stirring of both camps, what the fury of the battle would come to: came out of his tent, and passing, by the bands, did encourage them, and prayed them to stick to it like men.
In the meantime, Nasica thrusting himself into the place where the skirmish was hottest, perceived the army of the enemies marching in battle, ready to join. The first that marched in the voward, were the Thracians, who seemed terrible to look apon, as he writeth himself: for they were mighty made men, and carried marvellous bright targets of steel before them, their legs were armed with greaves [omission], their coats were black, and [they] marched shaking heavy halberds upon their shoulders. Next unto these Thracians, there followed them all the other strangers and soldiers whom the King had hired, diversely armed and set forth: for they were people of sundry nations gathered together, among whom the Paeonians were mingled. The third squadron was of Macedonians, and all of them chosen men, as well for the flower of their youth, as for the valiantness of their persons: and they were all in goodly gilt armours, and brave purple cassocks upon them, spick and span new. And at their backs came after them, the old bands to shew themselves out of the camp, with targets of copper, that made all the plain to shine with the brightness of their steel and copper. And all the hills and mountains thereabouts did ring again like an Echo, with the cry and noise of so many fighting men, one encouraging another. In this order they marched so fiercely, with so great heart burning, and such swiftness: that the first which were slain at the encounter, fell dead two furlongs from the camp of the Romans.
Narration and Discussion:
Compare the Roman and Macedonian reactions to the eclipse of the moon. Give a reason why Aemilius was "no novice in these things."
Discuss the ways that Aemilius showed wisdom as he led his troops.
The battle continues, and the Romans have a real challenge: breaking through the porcupine of spears and shields called a phalanx. At first it seems that it can't be done, but a weakness does appear, helped by the fact that Perseus suddenly seems unavailable to lead the Macedonians.
dissemble: disguise, conceal one's true feelings
under colour: under a pretense
cuirass, corselet: body armour
giving back: retreating
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The charge being given, and the battle begun, Aemilius galloping to the voward of his battle,
perceived that the captains of the Macedonians which were in the first ranks, had already thrust their pikes into the Romans' targets, so as they could not come near them with their swords: and that the other Macedonians carrying their targets behinde them, had now plucked them before them, and did base their pikes all at one time, and made a violent thrust into the targets of the Romans. Which when he had considered, and of what strength and force his wall and rank of targets was, one joining so near another, and what a terror it was to see a front of a battle with so many armed pikes and steel heads: he was more afeared and amazed withal, then with any sight he ever saw before. Nevertheless he could wisely dissemble it at that time. And so passing by the companies of his horsemen, without either cuirass or helmet upon his head, he shewed a noble cheerful countenance unto them that fought.
But on the contrary side, Perseus the king of Macedon, as Polybius writeth, so soon as the battle was begun, withdrew himself, and got into the city of Pydne [Pydna], under pretence to go to do sacrifice unto Hercules: who doth not accept the faint sacrifice of cowards, neither doth receive their prayers, because they be unreasonable. For it is no reason, that he that shooteth not, should hit the white: nor that he should win the victory, that bideth not the battle: neither that he should have any good, that doeth nothing toward it: nor that a naughty man should be fortunate, and prosper. The gods did favour Aemilius' prayers, because he prayed for victory with his sword in his hand, and fighting did call to them for aid.
Howbeit there is one Posidonius, a writer, who sayeth he was in that time, and moreover, that he was at the battle: and he hath written an history containing, many books of the acts of king Perseus, where he sayeth that it was not for faint heart, nor under colour to sacrifice unto Hercules, that Perseus went from the battle: but because he had a stripe [kick] of a horse on the thigh the day before. Who though he could not very well help himself, and that all his friends sought to persuade him not to go to the battle: yet he caused one of his horse[s] to be brought to him notwithstanding (which he commonly used to ride up and down on) and taking his back, rode into the battle unarmed, where an infinite number of darts were thrown at him from both sides. And among those, he had a blow with a dart that hurt him somewhat, but it was overthwart, and not with the point, and did hit him on the left side glancing wise, with such a force, that it rent his coat and rased [bruised] his skin underneath, so as it left a mark behind a long time after. And this is all that Posidonius writeth to defend and excuse Perseus.
The Romans having their hands full, and being stayed by the battle of the Macedonians that they could make no breach into them: there was a captain of the Pelignans called Salius, who took the ensign of his band, and cast it among the press of his enemies. Then all the Pelignians brake in upon them, with a marvellous force and fury into that place: for all Italians think it too great a shame and dishonour for soldiers to lose or forsake their ensign. Thus was there marvellous force of both sides used in that place: for the Pelignians proved to cut the Macedonians' pikes with their swords, or else to make them give back with their great targets, or to make a breach into them, and to take the pikes with their hands. But the Macedonians to the contrary, holding their pikes fast with both hands, ran them through that came near unto them: so that neither target nor corselet could hold out the force and violence of the push of their pikes, insomuch as they turned up the heels of the Pelignians and Terracinians [Marrucinians], who like desperate beasts without reason, shutting in themselves among their enemies, ran wilfully upon their own deaths, and their first rank were slain every man of them. Thereupon those that were behind, gave back a little, but fled not turning their backs, and only retired, giving back towards the mountain Olocrus. Aemilius, seeing that (as Posidonius writeth), rent his arming coat from his back for anger, because that some of his men gave back: other[s] durst not front the battle of the Macedonians, which was so strongly embattled of every side, and so mured in with a wall of pikes, presenting their armed heads on every side a man could come, that it was impossible to break into them, no not so much as to come near them only. Yet notwithstanding, because the field was not altogether plain and even, the battle that was large in the front, could not always keep that wall, continuing their targets close one to another, but they were driven of necessity to break and open in many places, as it happeneth oft in great battles, according to the great force of the soldiers: that in one place they thrust forward, and in another they give back, and leave a hole.
Wherefore Aemilius suddenly taken the [ad]vantage of this occasion, divided his men into small companies and commanded them they should quickly thrust in between their enemies, and occupy the places they saw void in the front of their enemies, and that they should set on them in that sort, and not with one whole continual charge, but occupying them here and there with divers companies, in sundry places. Aemilius gave this charge unto the private captains of every band and their lieutenants, and the captains also gave the like charge unto their soldiers that could skillfully execute their commandment. For they went presently into those parts where they saw the places open, and being once entered in among them, some gave charge upon the flanks of the Macedonians, where they were all naked and unarmed: other set upon them behind: so that the strength of all the [phalanx] (which consisteth in keeping close together) being opened in this sort, was straight overthrown. Furthermore, when they came to fight man for man, or a few against a few: the Macedonians with their little short swords, came to strike upon the great shields of the Romans, which were very strong, and covered all their bodies down to the foot. And they to the contrary, were driven of necessity to receive the blows of the strong heavy swords of the Romans, upon their little weak targets: so that what with their heaviness, and the vehement force wherewith the blows lighted upon them, there was no target nor corselet, but they passed it through, and ran them in. By reason whereof they could make no long resistance, whereupon they turned their backs, and ran away.
But when they came to the squadron of the old beaten soldiers of the Macedonians, there was the cruellest fight and most desperate service, where they say that Marcus Cato (son of great Cato, and son-in-law of Aemilius) shewing all the valiantness in his person that a noble mind could possibly perform, lost his sword which fell out of his hand. But he like a young man of noble courage, that had been valiantly brought up in all discipline, and knew how to follow the steps of his father (the noblest person that ever man saw) was to shew then his value and worthiness: and thought it more honour for him there to die, then living to suffer his enemies to enjoy any spoil of his. So, by and by he ran into the Roman army, to find out some of his friends, whom he told what had befalled him, and prayed them to help him to recover his sword: whereto they agreed. And being a good company of lusty, valiant soldiers together, they rushed straight in among their enemies, at the place where he brought them, and so did set upon them with such force and fury, that they made a lane through the midst of them, and with great slaughter and spilling of blood, even by plain force, they cleared the way still before them. Now when the place was voided, they sought for the sword, and in the end found it with great ado, amongst a heap of other swords and dead bodies, whereat they rejoiced marvellously. Then singing a song of victory, they went again more fiercely therefore to give a charge upon their enemies, who were not yet broken asunder: until such time as at the length, the three thousand chosen Macedonians fighting valiantly even to the last man, and never forsaking their ranks, were all slain in the place. After whose overthrows, there was a great slaughter of other[s] also that fled: so that all the valley and foot of the mountains thereabouts was covered with dead bodies.
The next day after the battle, when the Romans did pass over the river of Leucus, they found it running all a-blood. For it is said there were slain at this field, of Perseus' men, above five and twenty thousand: and of the Romans' side, as Posidonius sayeth, not above six score, or as Nasica writeth, but four score only. And for so great an overthrow, it is reported it was wonderful quickly done, and executed. For they began to fight about three of the clock in the afternoon, and had won the victory before four, and all the rest of the day they followed their enemies in chase, an hundred and twenty furlongs from the place where the battle was fought: so that it was very late, and far forth night, before they returned again into the camp.
Narration and Discussion:
Plutarch says that the force of the Macedeonian phalanx "consists in common action and close union." Describe how the Romans managed to break through the phalanx. Is there a lesson here for the body of Christ? See Romans 12:4,5; 1 Cor. 1:10; 1 Cor. 12:14, 27.
What are the two explanations given for Perseus's failure to lead his troops? Compare his actions with those of Aemilius.
An interesting statement: "The gods did favour Aemilius' prayers, because he prayed for victory with his sword in his hand . . . " Is this something that could also apply to Christian faith?
The tension in this passage comes from Aemilius's fear that he has lost his favourite son, Scipio, in the battle. Scipio does show up eventually, though, which allows his father to fully enjoy the victory over Perseus. Perseus "shows his true colors" in defeat, by blaming everyone else, telling sad storys to get money out of some Cretans, and killing those who criticize him.
Note on Scipio: There is a bit of confusion in Plutarch's story about exactly which Scipio we are talking about in this passage (and in earlier ones). Back in lesson 2, Plutarch said that Aemilius's younger son was adopted by "the son of Scipio Africanus, his cousin-german, and was by him named Scipio." That made it sound as if the older Scipio was the one who later defeated Hannibal in Africa, but it was in fact Aemilius's son who did so.
new crept out of the shell: fresh-hatched, inexperienced
familiars: close friends
the mean soldiers: the low-ranking soldiers
his old humour: his old attitude
a Cretan lie: a Cretan-style lie against the Cretans themselves (who were reputed to be liars)
Section to Read:
So such as returned, were received with marvellous great joy of their pages that went out with links and torches lighted, to bring their masters into their tents, where their men had made great bonfires, and decked them up with crowns and garlands of laurel, saving the general's tent only: who was very heavy, for that of his two sons he brought with him to the wars, the younger could not be found, which he loved best of the twain, because he saw he was of a better nature then the rest of his brethren. For even then, being new crept out of the shell as it were, he was marvellous valiant and hardy, and desired honour wonderfully. Now Aemilius thought he had been cast away, fearing least for lack of experience in the wars, and through the rashness of his youth, he had put himself too far in fight amongst the press of the enemies. Hereupon the camp heard straight what sorrow Aemilius was in, and how grievously he took it. The Romans being set at supper, rose from their meat, and with torchlight some ran to Aemilius' tent, other went out of the camp to seek him among the dead bodies, if they might know him: so all the camp was full of sorrow and mourning, the valleys and hills all abouts did ring again with the cries of those that called Scipio aloud. For even from his childhood he had a natural gift in him, of all the rare and singular parts required in a captain and wise governor of the common weal above all the young men of his time. At the last, when they were out of all hope of his coming again, be happily returned from the chase of the enemies, with two or three of his familiars only, all bloodied with new blood (like a swift running greyhound fleshed with the blood of the hare) having pursued very far for joy of the victory. It is that Scipio which afterwards destroyed both the cities of Carthage and Numantium, who was the greatest man of war, and valiantest captain of the Romans in his time, and of the greatest authority and reputation among them. Thus fortune deferring till another time the execution of her spite, which she did bear to so noble an exploit, suffered Aemilius for that time, to take his full pleasure of that noble victory.
And as for Perseus, he fled first from the city of Pydne, unto the city of Pella, with his horsemen, which were in manner all saved. Whereupon the footmen that saved themselves by flying, meeting them by the way, called them traitors, cowards, and villains: and worse than that, they turned them off their horsebacks, and fought it out lustily with them. Perseus seeing that, and fearing lest this mutiny might turn to light on his neck, he turned his horse out of the highway, and pulled off his purple coat, and carried it before him, and took his diadem, fearing least they should know him by these tokens: and because he might more easily speak with his friends by the way, he lighted afoot, and led his horse in his hand. But such as were about him, one made as though he would mend the ratchet of his shoe, another seemed to water his horse, another as though he would drink: so that one dragging after another in this sort, they all left him at the last, and ran their way, not fearing the enemy's fury so much, as their King's cruelty: who being grieved with his misfortune, sought to lay the fault of the overthrow, upon all other, but himself. Now he being come into the city of Pella by night, Euctus and Eudaeus, two of his treasurers, came unto him, and speaking boldly (but out of time) presumed to tell him the great fault he had committed, and did counsel him also what he should do. The King was so moved with their presumption, that with his own hands he stabbed his dagger in them both, and slew them outright. But after this fact, all his servants and friends refused him, and there only tarried with him but Evander Cretan, Archedamus [the] Aetolian, and Neon [the] Boeotian. And as for the mean soldiers, there were none that followed him but the Cretans, and yet it was not for the good will they did bear him, but for the love of his gold and silver, as bees that keep their hives for love of the honey. For he carried with him a great treasure, and gave them leave to spoil certain plate and vessel of gold and silver, to the value of fifty talents. But first of all, when he was come into the city of Amphipolis, and afterwards into the city of Alepse [Galepsus], and that the fear was well blown over: he returned again to his old humour, which was borne and bred with him, and that was, avarice and misery. For he made his complaint, unto those that were about him, that he had unawares given to the soldiers of Creta, his plate and vessel of gold to be spoiled, being those which in old time belonged unto Alexander the Great: and prayed them with tears in his eyes that had the plate, they would be contented to change it for ready money. Now such as knew his nature, found straight this was but a fraud and a Cretan lie to deceive Cretans with: but those that trusted him, and did restore again the plate they had, did lose it every jot, for he never paid them [a] penny of it. So he got of his friends, the value of thirty talents which his enemies soon after did take from him. And with that sum he went into the Isle of Samothracia, where he took the sanctuary and privilege, of the temple of Castor and Pollux.
They say, that the Macedonians of long continuance did naturally love their kings: but then seeing all their hope and expectation broken, their hearts failed them, and broke withal. For they all came and submitted themselves unto Aemilius, and made him lord of the whole realm of Macedon in two days: and this doth seem to confirm their words, who impute all Aemilius' doings unto his good fortune. And surely, the marvellous fortune he happened on in the city of Amphipolis, doth confirm it much, which a man cannot ascribe otherwise, but to the special grace of the gods. For one day beginning to do sacrifice, lightning fell from heaven, and set all the wood afire apon the altar, and sanctified the sacrifice. But yet the miracle of his fame is more to be wondered at. For four days after Perseus had lost the battle, and that the city of Pella was taken, as the people of Rome were at the lists or show place, seeing horses run for games: suddenly there rose a rumour at the entering into the lists where the games were, how Aemilius had won a great battle of King Perseus, and had conquered all Macedon. This news was rife straight in every man's mouth, and there followed upon it a marvellous joy and great cheer in every corner, with shouts and clapping of hands, that continued all the day through the city of Rome. Afterwards they made diligent enquiry, how this rumour first came up, but no certain author could be known, and every man said they heard it spoken: so as in the end it came to nothing, and passed away in that sort for a time. But shortly after, there came letters, and certain news that made them wonder more than before, from whence the messenger came that reported the first news of it: which could be devised by no natural means, and yet proved true afterwards. [omission]
Narration and Discussion:
Explain why the soldiers acted so immediately and vigorously when it was feared that Scipio had been killed. What does this say to you about their regard for Aemilius (or was it just for Scipio)? (If you read the criticism of Aemilius online (see the note above about Scipio) , are their actions still logical? How could you explain the difference in views?)
Discuss this sentence: "Thus Fortune, deferring her displeasure and jealousy of such great success to some other time, let Aemilius at present enjoy this victory, without any detraction or diminution." Does this foreshadow trouble ahead for Aemilius? (Discuss foreshadowing if you need to.)
Discuss how Perseus blamed others for his defeat. What does this show about his character?
Again we see the contrast between Perseus and Aemilius. Perseus just can't seem to get past a run of bad luck; he is cheated out of his possessions while trying to escape, his children are prisoners, and there is nothing for him to do but grovel before Aemilius. Instead of being pleased at having Perseus throwing himself at his feet, Aemilius is saddened, angered, and embarrassed for Perseus, and has him taken away. After dispensing a bit of philosophy, he sends his soldiers off for some "R and R" and heads to Greece, where he sees the sights in Delphi and Olympia, and generously hosts some games and banquets for the Macedonians . . . out of King Perseus's treasury.
Note on Cnaeus Octavius
While searching for information on Cnaeus Octavius, I found an interesting document that parallels much of Plutarch's story, Marcus Junianus Justinus's Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompius Trogus, Book XXXIII, translated, with notes, by the Rev. John Selby Watson in 1853. Here's the bit of it that mentions Octavius:
"In this engagement, Marcus Cato, the son of Cato the orator, while he was fighting, with extraordinary bravery, among the thickest of the enemy, fell from his horse, and continued his efforts on foot. A number of the enemy gathered about him when he fell, with loud shouts, as if they would kill him as he lay on the ground, but he, recovering himself sooner than they expected, made great slaughter among them. The enemy flocking round him, however, to overpower him with their numbers, his sword, as he was aiming at a tall fellow among them, fell from his hand among a troop of his opponents; when he, to recover it, plunged in among the points of the enemy's weapons, protecting himself with his shield, while both armies were looking on, and, having regained his sword, though not without receiving many wounds, he got back safe to his friends, amidst a loud shout from the enemy. The rest of the Romans, imitating his boldness, secured the victory. King Perseus fled, and arrived, with ten thousand talents, at Samothrace; and Cnaeus Octavius, being sent by the consul in pursuit of him, took him prisonr, with his two sons Alexander and Philip, and brought him to the consul.
"Macedonia, from the time of Caranus, who was the first that reigned in it, to Perseus, had thirty kings; under whose government it continued for nine hundred and twenty-three years, but possessed supreme power for only a hundred and ninety-two. When it fell under the power of the Romans, it was left free, magistrates being appointed in every city; and it received laws from Paulus Aemilius, which it still uses.
"As to the Aetolians, the senators of every city in the country, whose fidelity had been suspected, were sent, together with their wives and children, to Rome; where, to prevent them from raising any disturbance in their country, they were long detained; and it was not without difficulty, and after the senate had been wearied with embassies from the cities for their release, that they were allowed to return to their own country."
Cnaeus Octavius, abbreviated Cn. Octavius: see note above
Samothrace: an island in the North Aegean.
discharge Fortune: exonerate, free Fortune
Alas poor man, why doest thou discharge Fortune of this fault, where thou mightest justly charge and accuse her to thy discharge, [by] doing things for the which every one judgeth thou hast deserved thy present misery, and art unworthy also of thy former honour?: By acting the way you are acting, you are eliminating any chance that people will think "he just had bad luck."
perdurable: long-lasting, eternal
put his army into garrisons: let them go for a rest
Section to Read:
But again to our history. Cn. Octavius, lieutenant of the army of Aemilius by sea, came to anchor under the Isle of Samothracia, where he would not take Perseus by force out of the sanctuary where he was, for the reverence he did bear unto the gods Castor and Pollux: but he did besiege him in such sort, as he could not [e]scape him, nor fly by sea out of the island. Yet he had secretly practised with one Oroandes, a Cretan, that had a brigantine, and [persuaded] him for a sum of money to convey him away by night: but the Cretan served him a right Cretan's trick. For when he had taken aboard by night into his vessel, all the King's treasure of gold and silver, he sent him word that he should not fail the next night following to come unto the pier by the temple of Ceres, with his wife, his children and servants, where indeed was no possibility to take shipping: but the next night following he hoisted sail, and got him away. It was a pitiful thing that Perseus was driven to do and suffer at that time. For he came down in the night by ropes, out of a little strait window upon the walls, and not only himself, but his wife and little babes, who never knew before what flying and hardness meant. And he fetched a more grievous bitter sigh, when one told him on the pier, that he saw Oroandes the Cretan under sail in the main seas. Then day beginning to break, and seeing himself void of all hope, he ran with his wife for life to the wall, to recover the sanctuary again, before the Romans that saw him could overtake him. And as for his children, he had given them himself into the hands of one Ion, whom before he had marvellously loved, and who then did traitorously betray him: for he delivered his children unto the Romans. Which part was one of the chiefest causes that drave him (as a beast that will follow her little ones being taken from her) to yield himself into their hands that had his children.
Now he had a special confidence in Scipio Nasica, and therefore he asked for him when he came to yield himself: but it was answered him, that he was not there. Then he began to lament his hard and miserable fortune every way. And in the end, considering how necessity enforced him, he yielded himself into the hands of Cn. Octavius, wherein he shewed plainly, that he had another vice in him more unmanly and vile than avarice: that was, a faint heart, and fear to die. But hereby he deprived himself of others' pity and compassion towards him; being that only thing which fortune cannot deny and take from the afflicted, and specially from them that have a noble heart. For he made request they would bring him unto the general Aemilius, who rose from his chair when he saw him come, and went to meet him with his friends, the water standing in his eyes, to meet a great king, by fortune of war, and by the will of the gods, fallen into that most lamentable fact. But he to the contrary, unmanly, and shamefully behaved himself. For he fell down at his feet, and embraced his knees, and uttered such uncomely speech and vile requests, as Aemilius [him]self could not abide to hear them: but knitting his brows against him, being heartily offended, he spake thus unto him: Alas poor man, why doest thou discharge Fortune of this fault, where thou mightest justly charge and accuse her to thy discharge, [by] doing things for the which every one judgeth thou hast deserved thy present misery, and art unworthy also of thy former honour? why dost thou defame my victory, and blemish the glory of my doings, shewing thyself so base a man, as my honour is not great, to overcome so unworthy an enemy? The Romans have ever esteemed magnanimity, even in their greatest enemies: but dastardliness, though it be fortunate, yet is it hated of everybody.
Notwithstanding, he took him up, and taking him by the hand, gave him into the custody of Aemilius Tubero.
Then Aemilius went into his tent, and carried his sons, and sons-in-law, with him, and other men of quality, and specially the younger sort. And being set down, he continued a great space very pensive with himself, not speaking a word: in so much as all the standers by, wondered much at the matter. In the end, he began to enter into discourse and talk of fortune, and the unconstancy of these worldly things, and said unto them: Is there any man living, my friends, who having fortune at will, should therefore boast and glory in the prosperity of his doings, for that he hath conquered a country., city, or realm: and not rather to fear the unconstancy of Fortune? who laying before our eyes, and all those that profess arms at this present, so notable an example of the common frailty of men, doth plainly teach us to think, that there is nothing constant or perdurable in this world. For when is it, that men may think themselves assured, considering that when I they have overcome others, then are they driven to mistrust fortune most, and to mingle fear and mistrust, with joy of victory: if they will wisely consider the common course of fatal destiny that altereth daily, sometime favouring one, otherwhile throwing down another? you see, that in an hour's space we have trodden under our feet the house of Alexander the Great: who hath been the mightiest and most redoubted prince of the world. You see a king, that not long since was followed and accompanied with many thousand soldiers of horsemen and footmen: brought at this present into such miserable extremity, that he is enforced to receive his meat and drink daily at the hands of his enemies. Should we have any better hope then, that Fortune will always favour our doings, more then she doth his now, at this present? no, out of doubt. Therefore digesting this matter well, you young men I say, be not to brag nor [be] foolish proud, of this conquest and noble victory: but think what may happen hereafter, marking to what end fortune will turn the envy of this our present prosperity.
Such were Aemilius' words to these young men, as it is reported, bridling by these and such like persuasions, the lusty bravery of this youth, even as with the bit and bridle of reason.
Afterwards he put his army into garrisons to refresh them: and went himself in person in the meantime to visit Greece, making it an honourable progress, and also a commendable. For as he passed through their cities, he relieved the people, reformed the government of their state, and ever gave them some gift or present. Unto some he gave corn, which King Perseus had gathered for the wars: and unto other he gave oils, meeting with so great store of provision, that he rather lacked people to give it unto, to receive it at his hands, than wanting to give, there was so much.
As he passed by the city of Delphi, he saw there a great pillar, four square, of white stone, which they had set up, to put King Perseus' image of gold upon it. Whereupon he commanded them to set up his in that place, saying: it was reason the conquered should give place unto the conquerors. And being in the city of Olympia, visiting the temple of Jupiter Olympian, he spake this openly, which ever since hath been remembered: that Phidias had rightly made Jupiter, as Homer had described him. Afterwards when the ten ambassadors were arrived that were sent from Rome to establish with him the realm of Macedon, he redelivered the Macedonians their country and towns again, to live at liberty, according to their laws, paying yearly to the Romans for tribute, a hundred talents: where before they were wont to pay unto their kings ten times as much. And he made plays and games of all sorts, and did celebrate sumptuous sacrifices unto the gods. He kept open court to all comers, and made noble feasts, and defrayed the whole charge thereof, with the treasure Perseus had gathered together, sparing for no cost. But through his care and foresight there was such a special good order taken, every man so courteously received and welcomed, and so orderly marshalled at the table according to their estate and calling: that the Grecians wondered to see him so careful in matters of sport and pleasure: and that he took as great pains in his own person, to see that small matters should be ordered as they ought: as he took great regard for discharge of more weighty causes. But this was a marvellous pleasure to him, to see that among such sumptuous sights prepared to shew pleasure to the persons invited, no sight or stately shew did so delight them, as to enjoy the sight and company of his person. So he told them, that seemed to wonder at his diligence and care in these matters: that to order a feast well, required as great judgement and discretion, as to set a battle: to make the one fearful to the enemies, and the other acceptable to his friends.
But men esteemed his bounty and magnanimity for his best virtue and quality, For he did not only refuse to see the King's wonderful treasure of gold and silver, but caused it to be delivered to the custody of the treasurers, to carry to the coffers of store in Rome: and only suffered his sons that were learned, to take the books of the King's library. When he did reward the soldiers for their valiant service in this battle, he gave his son-in-law Aemilius Tubero a cup, weighing five talents. It is the same Tubero we told you [of] before, who lived with sixteen other of his kin all in one house, and of the only revenue they had of a little farm in the country. Some say, that cup was the first piece of plate that ever came into the house of the Aelians [Ælii], and yet it came for honour and reward of virtue: but before that time, neither themselves, nor their wives, would ever have, or wear, any gold or silver.
Narration and Discussion:
Discuss Aemilius's response to Perseus's groveling, especially this line: "Distressed valor challenges great respect, even from enemies; but cowardice, though never so successful, from the Romans has always met with scorn." This might be an interesting part to act out or to write as a dramatic scene.
You may also want to re-read Aemilius's speech just after this, beginning "Is it meet . . . ". You might compare this with some of Solomon's writings in Ecclesiastes.
Tell some of the things Aemilius did or saw during his holiday in Greece. (You might write a letter home telling some of them.) Was it in character for Aemilius to have his own statue placed on the pedestal that was intended for the statue of Perseus in Delphi? How did he explain it?
How did Aemilius deal with the conquered Macedonian people?
Explain his saying that "there was the same spirit shown in marshalling a banquet as an army; in rendering the one formidable to the enemy, the other acceptable to the guests."
For older students: in the last lesson, I suggested that you might look at some more critical views of Aemilius (see the link given in Lesson 8). If you did, you might also want to include these points from this lesson's reading in your picture of Aemilius: "For as he passed, he eased the people's grievances, reformed their governments, and bestowed gifts upon him . . . ." and so on. Does this fit with the corrupt view given on the website? Was Plutarch perhaps mistaken about Aemilius's good character?
Two things happen in this passage: first, Aemilius (uncharacteristically, but under orders from Rome) leads an attack on the cities of the region of Epirus. Second, the army returns to Rome, where the soldiers immediately begin to grumble about the tiny reward they were given for their part in those attacks. (Plutarch has said before that Aemilius did not touch Perseus's money, but put it into the public treasury; however, he's not clear about whether or not Aemilius took much personal reward from the attacks on Epirus.) The whole thing escalates into a vote as to whether Aemilius should be allowed his triumph at all; but a speech by Marcus Servilius decides the question.
spoil: ransack, loot
too strait unto them: too stingy with them
seditious: treasonous, trouble-making
rail: abuse, scold
they sought no redress: they did nothing about it
Section to Read:
After he had very well ordered and disposed all things, at the last he took leave of the Grecians, and counseled the Macedonians to remember the liberty the Romans had given them, and that they should be careful to keep it, by their good government and concord together. Then he departed from them, and took his journey towards the country of Epirus, having received commission from the Senate of Rome, to suffer his soldiers who had done service in the battle, and overthrow of king Perseus, to spoil all the cities of that country. Wherefore that he might surprise them on a sudden, and that they should mistrust nothing, he sent to all the cities that they should send him by a certain day, ten of the chiefest men of every city. Who when they were come, he commanded them to go and bring him by such a day, all the gold and silver they had within their cities, as well in their private houses, as in their temples and churches, and gave unto every one of them a captain and garrison with them, as if it had been only to have received and searched for the gold and silver he demanded. But when the day appointed was come, the soldiers in divers places (and all at one time) set upon their enemies, and did rifle and spoil them of that they had, and made them also pay ransom every man: So as by this policy, there were taken and made slaves in one day, a hundred and fifty thousand persons, and three score and ten cities spoiled and sacked every one. And yet when they came to divide the spoil of this general destruction of a whole realm, it came not to every soldier's part, above eleven silver drachmas apiece. Which made every one to wonder greatly, and to fear also the terror of the wars, to see the wealth and riches of so great a realm, to amount to so little for every man's share.
When Aemilius had done this fact against his own nature, which was very gentle and courteous: he went unto the seaside to the city of Orica, and there embarked with his army bound for Italy. Where when he was arrived, he went up the river of Tiber against the stream, in king Perseus' chief galley, which had sixteen oars on a side, richly set out with the armour of the prisoners, rich clothes of purple colour, and other such spoils of the enemies: so that the Romans running out of Rome in multitudes of people to see this galley, and going side by side by her as they rowed softly, Aemilius took as great pleasure in it, as in any open games or feasts, or triumph that had been shewed indeed. But when the soldiers saw, that the gold and silver of King Perseus' treasure was not divided amongst them according unto promise, and that they had a great deal less then they looked for, they were marvellously offended, and inwardly grudged Aemilius in their hearts. Nevertheless, they durst not speak it openly, but did accuse him, that he had been too strait unto them in this war, and therefore they did shew no great desire, nor forwardness, to procure him the honour of triumph.
Which Servius Galba understanding, that had been an old enemy of his, notwithstanding he had the charge of a thousand men under him in this war: he like an envious viper told the people, how Aemilius had not deserved the honour of triumph, and sowed seditious words against him among the soldiers to aggravate their ill will the more against him. Moreover, he craved a day of the Tribunes of the people, to have respite to bring forth such matter as they determined to object against him: saying the time then was far spent, the sun being but four hours high, and that it would require longer time and leisure. The Tribunes made him answer, that he should speak then what he had to say against him, or otherwise they would not grant him audience. Hereupon he began to make a long oration in his [Æmilius'] dispraise, full of railing words, and spent all the rest of the day in that railing oration.
Afterwards when night came on, the Tribunes brake up the assembly, and the next morning the soldiers being encouraged by Galba's oration, and having considered together, did flock about Galba, in the mount of the Capitol, where the Tribunes had given warning they would keep their assembly. Now being broad day, Aemilius' triumph was referred to the most number of voices of the people, and the first tribe flatly did deny his triumph. The Senate, and the residue of the people hearing that, were very sorry to see they did Aemilius so open wrong and injury. The common people said nothing to it, but seemed to be very sorry, howbeit they sought no redress. The lords of the Senate cried out apon them, and said it was too much shame, and exhorted one another to bridle the insolency and boldness of these soldiers, who would grow in end to such tumult and disorder, that they would commit all mischief and wickedness, if betimes they were not looked to, and prevented, seeing they did so openly stand against their general, seeking to deprive him of the honour of his triumph and victory.
So they assembled a good company of them together, and went up to the Capitol, and prayed the Tribunes they would stay to take the voices of the people, until they had acquainted them with such needful matter, as they had to open unto them. The Tribunes granted to it, and silence was made. Then Marcus Servilius, who had been consul, and had fought three and twenty combats of life and death in his own person, and had always slain as many of his enemies as challenged him Man for Man: rose up, and spake in favour of Aemilius in this manner: "I know now (said he) better then before, how noble and worthy a captain Paulus Aemilius is, who hath achieved such glory and honourable victory, with so dishonourable and disobedient soldiers. And I can but wonder, that the people not long since rejoiced, and made great account, of the victories and triumphs won upon the Illyrians and other nations of Africa: and that now they should for spite envy his glory (doing what lieth in them to hinder) to bring a Macedonian king alive in a triumph, and to shew the glory and greatness of King Philip and Alexander the Great, subdued by the Romans' force and power. What reason have ye, that not long since, upon a flying rumour that Aemilius had won the battle against Perseus, you straight made sacrifices to the gods with great joy, praying them that you might be witnesses of the truth thereof: and now that the person himself whom you made general is returned home, and doth deliver you most assured victory, you do frustrate the gods' most solemn thanks and honour due to them, and do deprive yourselves also of your wonted glory in such a case? as if you were afeard to see the greatness of your prosperity, or that you meant to pardon a king, your slave and prisoner. And yet of the two, you have more reason to hinder the triumph, as pitying the king: than envying your captain.
But the malice of the wicked, through your patience is grown to such an insolent audacity and boldness, that we see men present here before us, which never went from the smoke of the chimney, nor carried away any blows in the field, being crammed at home like worms and housedoves: and yet they are so impudent and shameless, as they dare presume unreverently to your faces, to prate of the office and duty of a general of an army, and of the desert of triumph, before you say, who by experience of many a sore cut and wound upon your bodies in the wars, have learned to know a good and valiant captain, from a vile and cowardly person." And speaking these words, he cast open his gown, and shewed before them all, the infinite scars and cuts he had received upon his breast: and then turning him behind, shewed all such places as were not fit to be seen openly, and so turned him again to Galba, and said unto him: Thou mockest me for that I shew thee: but I rejoice before my country men and citizens: that for serving my country night and day a horseback, I have these wounds upon me which thou seest. Now get thee about thy business, and receive their voices: and I will come after, noting them that are naughty and unthankful citizens, who like to be soothed with flattery, and not stoutly commanded, as behoveth a general in the war. These words so reined the hard headed soldiers with the curb of reason, that all the other tribes agreed in one, and granted Aemilius' triumph: the order and solemnity whereof was performed in this sort.
Narration and Discussion:
Discuss this sentence: "Yet what was given to each soldier, out of so vast a destruction and utter ruin, amounted to no more than eleven drachmas; so that men could only shudder at the issue of a war, where the wealth of a whole nation thus divided turned to so little advantage and profit to each particular man." Does Plutarch feel that this sacking of the cities was worth it for a reward of only eleven drachmas apiece? What do you think? (Would he have approved of it more if the reward had been greater?)
In this passage, we have the first agreement with the criticism of Aemilius that has been written elsewhere (such as that on the website discussed earlier). What is the basis of this criticism? Does it seem to have been justified, or just sour grapes?
What a great scene the "triumph" part would be for acting out! There is of course the difficulty of needing great numbers of Romans! Could you find a way around it? Alternate activities might include writing Marcus Servilius's speech in poetic form (as Shakespeare might have done if he had used this scene); or discussing the logic of his argument (what does he mean by "with our own wounds [we] have been taught how to judge of the valor or the cowardice of commanders?")
The Romans throw a three-day parade in celebration of the victory over Perseus--who of course is the "guest of honour." And that's all!
Vocabulary for Dryden:
greaves: leg armour
sarissas: very long spears (see previous lessons)
frocks: uniforms, costumes
libation: drink offerings to the gods
forbear: suppress, prevent
raillery: making fun of something
habergions, or brigantines and corselets: coats of mail
toys: jests, antics
Section to Read:
First, the people having set up sundry scaffolds as well in the lists and field (called circos by the Latins) where the games and common running of horses and chariots are made, as also about the marketplace, and in other streets of the city, through the which, the shew of the triumph should pass: they all presented themselves in their best gowns to see the magnificence and state thereof. All the temples of the gods also were set wide open, hanged full of garlands of flowers, and all perfumed within: and there were set through all the quarters of the city, numbers of sergeants and other officers holding tipstaves in their hands, to order the straggling people, and to keep them up in corners and lanes' ends, that they should not pester the streets, and hinder the triumph. Furthermore, the sight of this triumph was to continue three days, whereof the first was scant sufficient to see the passing by of the images, tables, and pictures, and statues of wonderful bigness, all won and gotten of their enemies, and drawn in the show upon two hundred and fifty chariots. The second day, there were carried upon a number of carts, all the fairest and richest armour of the Macedonians, as well of copper, as also of iron and steel, all glistering bright, being newly furbished, and artificially laid in order (and yet in such sort, as if they had been cast in heaps one upon another, without taking any care otherwise for the ordering and laying of them) fair burganets [helmets] upon targets: habergions, or brigantines and corselets, upon greaves: round targets of the Cretans, and javelins of the Thracians, and arrows amongst the armed pikes: all this armour and carriage, being bound one to another so trimly (neither being too loose, nor too strait) that one hitting against another, as they drew them upon the cart, through the city, they made such a sound and noise, as it was fearful to hear it: so that the only sight of these spoils of the captives being overcome, made the sight so much more terrible to behold it. After these carts loaden with armour, there followed three thousand men, which carried the ready money in seven hundred and fifty vessels, which weighed about three talents apiece, and every one of them were carried by four men: and there were other that carried great bowls of silver, cups and goblets fashioned like horns, and other pots to drink in, goodly to behold, as well for their bigness, as for their great and singular embossed works about it.
The third day early in the morning, the trumpets began to sound and set forwards, sounding no march nor sweet note, to beautify triumph withal: but they blew out the brave alarm they sound at an assault, to give the soldiers courage for to fight. After them followed six score goodly fat oxen, having all their horns gilt, and garlands of flowers and nosegays about their heads, and there went by them certain young men, with aprons of needlework girt about their middle who led them to the sacrifice, and young boys with them also, that carried goodly basins of gold and silver, to cast and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices about. And after these, followed those that carried all coins of gold divided by basins and vessels, and every one of them weighing three talents as they did before, that carried the great holy cup, which Aemilius had caused to be made of massy gold, set full of precious stones, weighing the weight of ten talents, to make an offering unto the gods. And next unto them went others that carried plate made and wrought after antique fashion, and notable cups of ancient king of Macedon: as the cup called Antigonus: and another Seleucus: and to be short, all the whole cupboard of plate of gold and silver of King Perseus. And next them came the chariot of his armour, in the which was all King Perseus' harness, and his royal band (they call a diadem) upon his armour. And a little space between them, followed next the King's children, whom they led prisoners, with the train of their schoolmasters and other officers, and their servants, weeping and lamenting: who held up their hands unto the people that looked upon them, and taught the King's young children to do the like, to ask mercy and grace at the people's hands. There were three pretty little children, two sons and a daughter amongst them, whose tender years and lack of understanding, made them (poor souls) they could not feel their present misery, which made the people so much more to pity them, when they saw the poor little infants, that they knew not the change of their hard fortune: so that for the compassion they had of them, they almost let the father pass without looking upon him. Many people's hearts did melt for very pity, that the tears ran down their cheeks, so as this sight brought both pleasure and sorrow, together to the lookers on, until they were past and gone a good way out of sight. King Perseus the father, followed after his children and their train, and he was clothed in a black gown, wearing a pair of slippers on his feet after his country manner. He shewed by his countenance his troubled mind, oppressed with sorrow of his most miserable state and fortune. He was followed with his kinfolks, his familiar friends, his officers and household servants, their faces disfigured by blubbering, showing to the world by their lamenting tears, and sorrowful eyes cast upon their unfortunate master, how much they sorrowed and bewailed his most hard and cursed fortune, little accounting of their own misery. The voice goeth, that Perseus sent unto Aemilius to entreat him, that he should not be led through the city in the show and sight of the triumph. But Aemilius mocking (as he deserved) his cowardly faint heart, answered: as for that, it was before, and is now in him, to do if he will. Meaning to let him understand thereby, that he might rather choose to die, than living to receive such open shame. Howbeit his heart would not serve him, he was so cowardly, and made so effeminate, by a certain vain hope he knew not what, that he was contented to make one among his own spoils. After all this, there followed 400 princely crowns of gold, which the cities and towns of Greece had purposely sent by their ambassadors unto Aemilius, to honour his victory: and next unto them, he came himself in his chariot triumphing, which was passing sumptuously set forth and adorned. It was a noble sight to behold: and yet the person of himself only was worth the looking on, without all that great pomp and magnificence. For he was apparelled in a purple gown branched with gold, and carried in his right hand a laurel bough, as all his army did besides: the which being divided by bands and companies, followed the triumphing chariot of their captain, some of the soldiers, singing songs of victory, which the Romans use to sing in like triumphs, mingling them with merry pleasant toys, rejoicing, at their captain. Other of them also did sing songs of triumph, in the honour and praise of Aemilius' noble conquest and victory. He was openly praised and honoured of everybody, and neither hated nor envied of honest men. Saving the ordinary use of some part of man's exceeding prosperity and felicity, mingling with man's life the sense and feeling of good and evil together: because that no living person should pass life, without some adversity or misfortune, but that such (as Homer sayeth) should only think themselves happy, to whom fortune hath equally sorted the good with the evil.
Narration and Discussion:
Describe the triumph in any way you want: verbally, in a drawing, another way?
Did Perseus have a choice about being part of the spectacle (and being made a spectacle of?) What do you think of the choice he made?
Explain the very last sentence of the passage, about the gods wanting to lessen any mortal happiness that is too great. How is this different from the Christian perspective?
A headline on our local sports page today says "Such-and-such-an-athlete due for a change in fortune." How little things have changed since Plutarch's time! The hint in the last lesson that nothing could remain perfect is fulfilled, as two of Aemilius's sons die at the time of his triumph. But in typical Aemilius fashion, he accepts his loss philosophically ("I knew something bad would probably happen, so I'm just glad it happened to me personally and not to the whole city of Rome"). The rest of the passage describes his time as censor, his retirement years, and his final return to Rome--appropriately--to make a sacrifice.
Some trivia about a Latin derivative: what English word comes from the Roman prison called the Carcer?
Section to Read:
And this I speak, because Aemilius had four sons, two of the which he gave in adoption unto the families of Scipio and of Fabius, as we have said before: and two other which he had by his second wife, he brought up with him in his own house, and were both yet very young. Of the which the one died, being 14 years of age five days before his father's triumph: and the other died also, three days after the pomp of triumph, at 12 years of age. When this sorrowful chance had befallen him, every one in Rome did pity him in their hearts: but fortune's spite and cruelty did more grieve and fear them, to see her little regard towards him, to put into a house of triumph full of honour and glory, and of sacrifices and joy) such a pitiful mourning, and mingling, of sorrows and lamentations of death, amongst such songs of triumph and victory.
Notwithstanding this, Aemilius taking things like a wise man, thought that he was not only to use constancy and magnanimity, against the sword and pike of the enemy: but alike also against all adversity and enmity of spiteful fortune. So, he wisely weighed and considered his present misfortune, with his former prosperity; and finding his misfortune counter-peased with felicity, and his private griefs cut off with common joy, he gave no place to his sorrows and mischances, neither blemished any way the dignity of his triumph and victory. For when he had buried the eldest of his two last sons, he left not to make his triumphant entry, as you have heard before. And his second son also being deceased after his triumph, he caused the people to assemble, and in face of the whole city he made an oration, not like a discomforted man, but like one rather that did comfort his sorrowful countrymen for his mischance.
He told them, that concerning men's matters, never any thing did fear him: but for things above, he ever feared Fortune, mistrusting her change and inconstancy, and specially in the last war, doubting for so great prosperity as could be wished, to be paid home with an after intolerable adversity, and sinister chance. "For as I went (said he) I passed over the gulf of the Adriatic [Ionian] sea, from Brindes [Brundisium] unto Corfu [Corcyra] in one day. And from thence in five days after, I arrived in the city of Delphes, where I did sacrifice unto Apollo. And within five other days, I arrived in my camp, where I found mine army in Macedon. And after I had done the sacrifice, and due ceremonies for purifying of the same, I presently began to follow the purpose and cause of my coming: so as in 15 days after, I made an honourable end of all those wars. But yet, mistrusting Fortune, always, seeing the prosperous course of my affairs, and considering that there were no other enemies, nor dangers I needed to fear: I feared sorely she would change at my return, when I should be upon the sea, bringing home so goodly and victorious an army, with so many spoils and so many princes and kings taken prisoners. And yet when I was safely arrived in the haven, and seeing all the city at my return full of joy, and of feasts and sacrifices: I still suspected Fortune, knowing her manner well enough that she useth not to gratify men so frankly, nor to grant them so great things clearly, without some certain spark of envy waiting on them. Neither did my mind being still occupied in fear of some thing to happen to the common wealth, shake of this fear behind me: but that I saw, this home mishap and misery lighted upon me, enforcing me with mine own hands in these holy days of my triumph, to bury my two young sons one after another, which I only brought up with me, for the succesion of my name and house. Wherefore, methinks now I may say, I am out of all danger, at the least touching my chiefest and greatest misfortune: and do begin to [e]stablish my self with this assured hope, that this good fortune henceforth shall remain with us evermore, with out fear of other unlucky or sinister chance. For she hath sufficiently countervailed the favorable victory she gave you, with the envious mishap wherewith she hath plagued both me and mine: shewing the conqueror and triumpher, as noble an example of man's misery and weakness, as the party conquered, that had been led in triumph. Saving that Perseus yet, conquered as he is, hath this comfort left him: to see his children living, and that the conqueror Aemilius hath lost his."
And this was the sum of Aemilius' notable oration he made unto the people of Rome, proceeding of a noble and honourable disposed mind. And though it pitied him in his heart to see the strange change of king Perseus' fortune, and that he heartily desired to do him good: yet he could never obtain other grace for him, but only to remove him from the common prison (which the Romans call Carcer) into a more cleanly and sweeter house: where being straitly guarded and looked unto, he killed himself by abstinence from meat, as most part of historiographers do write. Yet some writers tell a marvellous strange tale, and manner of his death. For they say the soldiers that guarded him, kept him from sleep, watching him straitly when sleep took him, and would not suffer him to shut his eye lids (only upon malice they did bear him, because they could not otherwise hurt him) keeping him awake by force, not suffering him to take rest: until such time as nature being forced to give over, he gave up the ghost. Two of his sons died also: but the third called Alexander, became an excellent turner and joiner, and was learned, and could speak the Roman tongue very well, and did write it so trimly, that afterwards he was chancellor to the magistrates of Rome, and did wisely and discreetly behave himself in his office.
They do add to this goodly conquest of the realm of Macedon, that Aemilius conquered another special good thing, that made him marvellously well liked of the common people: that is, that he brought so much gold and silver unto the treasury store of Rome, as the common people needed never after to make contribution for any thing, until the very time and year that Hircius and Pansa were consuls, which was about the beginning of the first wars of Augustus and Antonius. And yet Aemilius had one singular good gift in him: that though the people did greatly love and honour him, yet he ever took part with the Senate and nobility, and did never by word nor deed any thing in favour of the people, to flatter or please them; but in matters concerning government, he did ever lean to the nobility and good men. And this did Appius afterwards cast in his son's teeth, Scipio Africanus. For both of them being two of the chiefest men of their time, and contending together for the office of censor: Appius had about him to favour his suit, all the Senate and Nobility, as of ancient time the family of the Appians had ever held on their part. And Scipio Africanus, though he was a great man of himself, yet he was in all time favoured and beloved of the common people. Whereupon when Appius saw him come into the marketplace, followed with men of small quality and base condition, that had been slaves before, but otherwise could skillfully handle such practices, bring the people together, and by opportunity of cries and loud voices (if need were) obtain what they would in the assemblies of the city: he spake out aloud, and said: O Paulus Aemilius, now hast thou good cause to sigh, and mourn in thy grave where thou liest (if the dead do know what we do here on earth) to see Aemilius a common sergeant, and Licinius a prattling fellow, how they bring, thy son unto the dignity of a censor. And as for Scipio, he was always beloved of the common people, because he did favour them in all things. But Aemilius also, although he took ever the noblemen's part, he was not therefore less beloved of the common people, than those that always flattered them, doing all things as the people would, to please them: which the common people did witness, as well by other honours and offices they offered him, as in the dignity of the censor which they gave him. For it was the holiest office of all other at that time, and of greatest power and authority, specially for inquiry and reformation of every man's life and manners. For he that was censor, had authority to put any senator of the counsel, and to disgrade him, if he did not worthily behave himself according to his place and and calling: and might name and declare any one of the Senate, whom he thought to be most honest, and fittest for the place again. Moreover, they might by their authority, take from licentious young men, their horse which was kept at the charge of the common weal. Furthermore, they be the assessors of the people, and the muster masters, keeping books of the number of persons at every mustering. So there appeared numbered in the register book Aemilius made then of them, three hundred, seven and thirty thousand, four hundred, and two and fifty men, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus named president of the Senate, who had that honour four times before, and did put of the counsel three senators, that were but mean men. And the like mean and moderation he and his companion Martius Philippus kept, upon view and muster taken of the Roman horsemen.
And after he had ordered and disposed the greatest matters of his charge and office, he fell sick of a disease that at the beginning seemed very dangerous, but in the end there was no other danger, saving that it was a lingering disease, and hard to cure. So, following the counsel of physicians, who willed him to go to a city in Italy called Velia, he took sea, and went thither, and continued there a long time, dwelling in pleasant houses upon the seaside, quietly and out of all noise. But during this time of his absence, the Romans wished for him many a time and oft. And when they were gathered together in the theaters, to see the plays and sports, they cried out divers times for him: whereby they shewed that they had a great desire to see him again. Time being come about when they used to make a solemn yearly sacrifice, and Aemilius finding himself also in good perfect health: be returned again to Rome, where he made the sacrifice with the other priests, all the people of Rome gathering about him, rejoicing much to see him. The next day after, he made another particular sacrifice, to give thanks unto the gods for recovery of his health. After the sacrifice was ended, he went home to his house, and sat him down to dinner: he suddenly fell into a raving (without any perseverance of sickness spied in him before, or any change or alteration in him) and his wits went from him in such sort, that he died within three days after, lacking no necessary thing that an earthly man could have, to make him happy in this world. For he was even honoured at his funerals, and his virtue adorned with many goodly glorious ornaments, neither with gold, silver, nor ivory, nor with other such sumptuousness or magnificence of apparel, but with the love and good will of the people, all of them confessing his virtue and well doing: and this did not only his natural countrymen perform in memory of him, but his very enemies also. For all those that met in Rome by chance at that time, that were either come out of Spain, from Genoa [Ligurians], or out of Macedon, all those that were young and strong, did willingly put themselves under the coffin where his body lay, to help to carry him to the church: and the old men followed his body to accompany the same, calling Aemilius the benefactor, saviour, and father of their country. For he did not only entreat them gently, and graciously, whom he had subdued: but all his life time he was ever ready to pleasure them, and to set forwards their causes, even as they had been his confederates, very friends, and near kinsmen. The inventory, of all his goods after his death, did scant amount unto the sum of three hundred, three score, and ten thousand silver drachmas, which his two sons did inherit. But Scipio being the younger, left all his right unto his elder brother Fabius, because he was adopted into a very rich house, which was the house of the great Scipio Africanus. Such they say was Paulus Aemilius' conditions and life.
Narration and Discussion:
Discuss Aemilius's speeches about courage and resolution. How did his actions show that he believed in what he said? Is it true "that Fortune never conferred any great benefits that were unmixed and unattended with probabilitys of reverse?" How could a Christian viewpoint turn that belief inside out? (See Romans 8:28.)
Flash-forward to the days of Scipio and Appius: Discuss what Appius said about Aemilius more or less "spinning in his grave" over his son's attitude towards the common people.
What do you think are the most significant points Plutarch brings out about the death and funeral of Aemilius? How do they reflect his life?