Young Folks' History of Rome HTML version

20. The First Eastern War, 215-183
Scipio remained in Africa till he had arranged matters and won such a claim to
Massinissa's gratitude that this king of Numidia was sure to watch over the interests of
Rome. Scipio then returned home, and entered Rome with a grand triumph, all the nobler
for himself that he did not lead Hannibal in his chains. He had been too generous to
demand that so brave an enemy should be delivered up to him. He received the surname
of Africanus, and was one of the most respected and beloved of Romans. He was the first
who began to take up Greek learning and culture, and to exchange the old Roman
ruggedness for the graces of philosophy and poetry. Indeed the Romans were beginning
to have much to do with the Greeks, and the war they entered upon now was the first for
the sake of spreading their own power. All the former ones had been in self-defence, and
the new one did in fact spring out of the Punic war, for the Carthaginians had tried to
persuade Philip, king of Macedon, to follow in the track of Pyrrhus, and come and help
Hannibal in Southern Italy. The Romans had kept him off by stirring up the robber
Ætolians against him; and when he began to punish these wild neighbors, the Romans
leagued themselves with the old Greek cities which Macedon oppressed, and a great war
took place.
Titus Quinctius Flaminius commanded in Greece for four years, first as consul and then
as proconsul. His crowning victory was at Cynocephalæ, or the Dogshead Rocks, where
he so broke the strength of Macedon that at the Isthmian games he proclaimed the
deliverance of Greece, and in their joy the people crowded round him with crowns and
garlands, and shouted so loud that birds in the air were said to have dropped down at the
Macedon had cities in Asia Minor, and the king of Syria's enemy, Antiochus the Great,
hoped to master them, and even to conquer Greece by the help of Hannibal, who had
found himself unable to live in Carthage after his defeat, and was wandering about to
give his services to any one who was a foe of Rome.
As Rome took the part of Philip, as her subject and ally, there was soon full scope for his
efforts; but the Syrians were such wretched troops that even Hannibal could do nothing
with them, and the king himself would not attend to his advice, but wasted his time in
pleasure in the isle of Euboea. So the consul Acilius first beat them at Thermopylæ, and
then, on Lucius Cornelius Scipio being sent to conduct the war, his great brother
Africanus volunteered to go with him as his lieutenant, and together they followed
Antiochus into Asia Minor, and gained such advantages that the Syrian was obliged to
sue for peace. The Romans replied by requiring of him to give up all Asia Minor as far as
Mount Tarsus, and in despair he risked a battle in Magnesia, and met with a total defeat;
80,000 Greeks and Syrians being overthrown by 50,000 Romans. Neither Africanus nor
Hannibal were present in this battle, since the first was ill, and the second was besieged in
a city in Pamphylia; but while terms of peace were being made, the two are said have met
on friendly terms, and Scipio asked Hannibal whom he thought the greatest of generals.
"Alexander," was the answer. "Whom the next greatest?" "Pyrrhus." "Whom do you rank
as the third?" "Myself," said Hannibal. "But if you had beaten me?" asked Scipio. "Then I
would have placed myself before Alexander."
The Romans insisted that Hannibal should be dismissed by Antiochus, though Scipio
declared that this was ungenerous; but they dreaded his never-ceasing enmity; and when
he took refuge with the king of Bothnia, they still required that he should be given up or