Blood of Ancient Kings 4th Edition (Tales of Asculum Book 1)

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Be it, that ye believed the report rather through want of thought, than through a wish that it should be true; and let me even be supposed such a person, that it were no wonder if the army were weary of my command: yet, what had your country deserved of you, that, by uniting your counsels with Mandonius and Indibilis, you were going to betray it? What had the Roman people merited, when you took away the power from tribunes appointed by their common suffrage, and conferred it on private men?

That it should rain stones, that lightnings should be darted from heaven, and that animals should produce monstrous births, you look upon as prodigies. This is a prodigy that can be expiated by no victims, by no supplications, without the blood of those who dared to commit such enormous crimes. Formerly, a legion, which had been sent as a garrison to Rhegium, wickedly put to death the principal inhabitants, and kept possession of that opulent city for ten years; for which offence the whole legion, four thousand men, were beheaded in the Forum at Rome.

These, however, did not put themselves under the command of an Atrius, a man no better than a scullion, whose very name was ominous; but of Decius Jubellius, a military tribune: nor did they join themselves to the enemies of the Roman people, either to the Edition: current; Page: [ 49 ] Samnites or Lucanians.


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You united in counsels with Mandonius and Indibilis, with whom you intended to have united also your arms. Besides, those men expected to hold Rhegium as a lasting settlement, as the Campanians held Capua, after taking it from the ancient Tuscan inhabitants; and as the Mamertines held Messana in Sicily,—never entertaining a thought of making war on the Roman people or their allies.

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Did you intend to settle your habitations at Sucro? But supposing that you had banished out of your minds all recollection of them, as you did of your country and of me, let us examine what could be your design, and whether it can be accounted for on the supposition of a depravity of principle, without including also the utmost degree of folly.

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While I was alive, and the other part of the army safe, with which I took Carthage in one day, with which I vanquished, put to flight, and drove out of Spain, four generals, with four armies of the Carthaginians; could you expect that you, who were but eight thousand men, all of you of course inferior in worth to Albius and Atrius, since to their command you submitted yourselves, —could you imagine, I say, that you should be able to wrest the province of Spain out of the hands of the Roman people?

I lay no stress upon my own name, I put it out of the question, supposing myself no farther ill treated, than in your easily and joyfully giving credit to the report of my death: What! Jove, supremely great and good, forbid that the city built for eternity, under the favour and direction of the gods, should last no longer than this frail and mortal body.

Although so many illustrious commanders, Flaminius, Paullus, Edition: current; Page: [ 50 ] Gracchus, Posthumius, Albinus, Marcus Marcellus, Titus Quintus Crispinus, Cneius Fulvius, my relations the Scipios, have all been lost in one war, yet the Roman people still survive, and will survive, whilst a thousand others perish, some by the sword, some by disease: and must the Roman state have been carried out to burial along with my single body?

You yourselves, here in Spain, when my father and uncle, your two generals, were slain, chose Septimus Marcius your leader against the Carthaginians, exulting in their late victory. Could either the armies, or the leaders, or their dignity, or their cause, admit of a comparison? And even if you were superior to all these, would you bear arms on the side of the Carthaginians, against your country, against your countrymen? Would you wish that Africa should rule over Italy.

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And for what fault, I would ask, of your nation? What grief, what anger had incited you? Was the delay of your pay for a few days, and while your general was sick, sufficient reason for declaring war against your native land? Soldiers, the truth is, you have been mad; nor was the disorder which seized my body more violent than that which seized your minds.

It shocks me to mention what such men believed, what they hoped, what they wished. But let all those matters be buried Edition: current; Page: [ 51 ] in oblivion, if possible; if not, let them however be covered in silence. I doubt not but my language may appear to you severe and harsh; yet how much more harsh your actions than my words! Do you think it reasonable, that I should bear the facts which you have committed, and that you should not have patience to hear them mentioned? But even with these things you shall be reproached no farther: I wish you may as easily forget them as I shall.

Therefore, as to what concerns you all in general, if you are sorry for your error, I am fully satisfied with the expiation. The Calenian, Albius, the Umbrian, Atrius, and the other authors of that abominable mutiny, shall atone with their blood for the crime of which they have been guilty; and if you have recovered your sound judgment, the sight of their punishment will not only be not disagreeable, but even pleasing to you, for the tendency of their schemes was as pernicious and destructive to yourselves as to any other persons whatsoever.

They were then all dragged out, the place was cleared, and their fellows being summoned by their names, took the oath of obedience to Scipio before the tribunes of the soldiers, as the same time receiving their pay.


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Such was the end and issue of the rising which began at Sucro. Adherbal put them on board a ship of five banks, and sending it off before him, because it sailed slower than any one of three banks, followed himself at a small distance with eight three-banked vessels. The Carthaginian, alarmed by this unexpected affair, hesitated for some time whether he should follow the quinquereme, or face the enemy.

The force of the stream, too, had rendered it impossible to manage their ships; nor was the fight like a naval engagement, for nothing Edition: current; Page: [ 53 ] was effected either by skill or prudence. The tide, indeed, might be said to have the entire command, for it bore them down, sometimes on their own, sometimes on the Roman vessels, while they were endeavouring in vain to row in a contrary direction; so that a ship which was flying might be seen whirled round by an eddy, and carried full against the conqueror; while another, engaged in pursuit, if it happened to fall into a contrary current, would be turned about as if for flight.

Thus one ship aiming a violent stroke of its beak against the hull of the enemy, being carried itself in an oblique direction, received a blow from the beak of that it had strove to pierce; while that which lay with its side exposed to the assailant, was suddenly whirled round, so as to present its prow to them. While the battle between the triremes was thus doubtful and irregular, being governed entirely by chance, the Roman quinquereme, more manageable, either from being steadier on account of its great weight, or from making its way through the eddies by its superior number of rowers, sunk two triremes, and brushing along close by a third, swept off the oars on one side, handling roughly some others which it had overtaken: but Adherbal crowded sail, and with the five remaining ships escaped to Africa.

Marcius assenting, they both returned to Carthage a few days after. By their departure, Mago not only gained a respite from the dangers which had environed him both by sea and land, but on hearing of the rebellion of the Illergetians, he even conceived hopes of recovering Spain. He sent messengers to the senate Edition: current; Page: [ 54 ] at Carthage, with instructions to exaggerate both the intestine dissension in the Roman camp, and the defection of the allies; and to exhort them to send such supplies as should enable him to recover the empire of Spain, which had been transmitted to them by their ancestors.

Mandonius and Indibilis, returning into their own territories, kept themselves quiet for some time, not knowing what to determine, until they could learn what measures were taken with regard to the mutiny; for if pardon were granted by Scipio to his countrymen, they did not doubt but that it would extend to themselves.

But when the punishment of the offenders came to be known, supposing that their own crime would be thought to demand an equal atonement, they called their countrymen to arms, and re-assembling the auxiliaries which had joined them before, they marched out with twenty thousand foot and two thousand five hundred horse, into the territory of Sedeta, where, at the beginning of the revolt, they had established a camp. Scipio quickly conciliated the affections of his men by his punctuality in discharging all arrears, to the guilty as well as to the innocent, and which was strengthened by the mildness of his discourse, and the benignity of his countenance towards all without distinction.

That there was one circumstance respecting his army, which gave him great satisfaction, which was, their being all either of his own country, allies, or of the Latine confederacy; that there was scarcely a single soldier in it who had not been brought thither from Italy, either by his uncle, Cneius Scipio, the first of the Roman name who entered that province, or by his father in his consulate, or by himself. That they were all accustomed to the name and authority of the Scipios: that he wished to carry them home with him to a well-deserved triumph; and that he entertained confident hopes that they would support his claim to the consulship, as if they were, every one of them, to share the honour of it.

That as to the expedition before them, that man must have forgotten his own exploits, who could consider it as a war. For his part, he was really more concerned about Mago, who had fled with a few ships, beyond the limits of the world, into a spot surrounded by the ocean, than about the Illergetians; for on that spot, there was a Carthaginian general; and whatever forces might be there, they were Carthaginians. It was not, therefore, because he apprehended any danger from thence, that he had determined to suppress the Illergetians before he left the province, but principally that such a heinous revolt should not escape without punishment: and, also, that it might not be said, that there was one enemy left in a country which had been overrun with such bravery and success.

He desired them, therefore, Edition: current; Page: [ 56 ] with the favour of the gods, to follow him, not to what could properly be called a war, for the contest was not with a people on an equality with them, but to inflict punishment on a set of criminals. After this discourse he dismissed them, with orders to prepare for a decampment on the following morning.

After a march of ten days, he arrived at the river Iberus, which he passed, and on the fourth day he pitched his camp within sight of the enemy. A conveniently projecting mountain covered the ambush of the cavalry, and the battle began without delay; for the Spaniards rushed on the cattle, as soon as they saw them at a distance, and the light infantry attacked them, occupied with their booty.

At first, they endeavoured to terrify each other with missive weapons; afterwards, having discharged their light darts, which were fitter to provoke than to decide the fight, they drew their swords, and began to engage foot to foot.

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This discomfiture served rather to inflame the rage of the barbarians than depress them. In order, therefore, to show that they were not dispirited, at the first light on the day following, they led out their troops to battle. The valley being narrow, Edition: current; Page: [ 57 ] as has been mentioned, could not contain all their forces; so that only about two-thirds of the infantry and all their cavalry came down to the engagement. The remainder of the foot they posted on a hill on one side. Scipio, judging that the narrowness of the ground was a favourable circumstance to him, both because fighting in a confined space seemed better suited to the Roman than the Spanish soldier, and also because the enemy could not completely form their line, turned his thoughts to a new scheme.

In this they succeeded, for the Spaniards were unconscious of their coming, until they heard the tumult of the fight between them and their own cavalry on the rear.

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Thus there were two different battles; two lines of foot, and two bodies of horse, were engaged along the extent of the plain, the circumscribed ground not allowing them to be composed of both together. On the side of the Spaniards, as neither their foot could assist the horse, nor the horse the foot, the latter, who had rashly ventured into the plain, relying on the support of their cavalry, were cut to pieces; and the cavalry, being surrounded, could neither withstand the Roman infantry in front, for by this time their own was entirely cut off, nor the cavalry on their rear; but, having formed in a circle, and defended themselves a long time without changing their position, they were all slain to a Edition: current; Page: [ 58 ] man.

Thus, not one of those who were engaged in the valley, either horse or foot, survived the fight. The third company, which had stood on the hill, rather to view the engagement securely, than to take any part in it, had both room and time to make their escape. The two princes also fled with them during the tumult, and before the army was entirely surrounded. The same day, the camp of the Spaniards was taken, together with about three thousand men, beside other booty. Of the Romans and their allies, there fell one thousand two hundred; above three thousand were wounded. The victory would have been less bloody, if the battle had happened in a more extensive plain, so as to have allowed the enemy an easy flight.

That, in the former case, they had confidence in their cause, before they had made trial of his clemency; but now, on the contrary, they could have none in their cause, and their only hope lay in the mercy of their conqueror. Further, he would not even deprive them of their arms; those were only to be taken, as pledges, by such as feared a renewal of war; they should, therefore, be freely left them; nor should their minds be shackled with fear.

Should they again revolt, he would not take vengeance on guiltless hostages, but on themselves; he would inflict no punishment on defenceless enemies, but on those who carried arms. That he left it to themselves, who had experienced both, to choose the favour or the resentment of the Romans. Scipio, having sent on his lieutenant into Farther Spain, and Silanus back to Tarraco, delayed only a few days, until the Illergetians had paid the fine demanded of them. Then, with some troops lightly equipped, he followed Marcius, whom he overtook at a small distance from the ocean.

The negociation, some time before commenced with Masinissa, had been delayed by various causes; the Numidian choosing to confer only with Scipio himself, and from his hand to receive the ratification of the compact. When Masinissa received notice at Gades from Marcius, that he was drawing nigh, complaining that his horses were injured by being pent up in the island; that they not only caused a Edition: current; Page: [ 60 ] scarcity of every thing among the men, but felt it themselves; and besides, that the horsemen were losing their spirits through want of exercise; he prevailed on Mago to allow him to pass over to the continent, to plunder the adjacent country of the Spaniards.

On landing, he sent forward three chiefs of the Numidians, to fix a time and place for a conference, desiring that two of them might be detained by Scipio as hostages, and the third sent back to conduct him to the place appointed.

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They came to the conference with but few attendants; the Numidian had long been possessed with admiration of the man he was about to meet, from the fame of his exploits, and had formed a perfect idea of the grandeur and dignity of his person. But on seeing him, his veneration increased; for the elegance of his appearance, naturally majestic, was added to by his flowing hair, and by his becoming dress, not decorated with ornaments, but in a style truly manly and military; by his age also, as he was in full vigour, aided by the bloom of youth, renewed as it were after his late illness.

After they had mutually pledged their faith, he returned to Tarraco; and Masinissa having, with permission of the Romans, ravaged the neighbouring soil, that he might not appear to have passed over to the continent for nothing, returned to Gades.

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While Mago was preparing to pass into Africa, despairing of success in Spain, of which he had been encouraged to entertain hopes, first, by the mutiny of the soldiers, and afterwards by the revolt of Indibilis, information was brought from Carthage, that the senate ordered him to carry over to Italy the fleet which he had at Gades, and having there hired as many of the Gallic and Ligurian youth as he could find, to form a junction with Hannibal, and not to suffer the war to sink into languor, after the very great exertions and greater successes which had signalized its beginning.

Money, to answer this purpose, was brought to Mago from Carthage, in addition to which he extorted much from the people of Gades, plundering not only their treasury but their temples, and compelling them to bring in their private properties of gold and silver to the public stock. As he sailed along the coast of Spain, he landed his men not far from New Carthage; and having ravaged the lands adjoining, brought up his fleet from thence to the city; where, having kept his soldiers on board the ships during the day, he disembarked them in the night, and led them on to that part of the wall over which the Romans had entered when they took the place; for he had a notion that the garrison was not strong, and that, on seeing a hope of changing masters, some of the townsmen would raise a commotion.

But those, who had fled Edition: current; Page: [ 62 ] in a panic from the fields, had already brought an account of the dispersion of the country-people, and the approach of the enemy; the fleet also had been observed during the day, and it was sufficiently evident that its station before the city had not been chosen without some reason. The garrison were therefore drawn up, and kept under arms, within side the gate which looks towards the bason and the sea.

The enemy, rushing on in a tumultuous manner, with crowds of seamen mixed among the soldiers, advanced to the walls with more noise than strength, when the Romans, suddenly throwing open the gate, rushed forth with a shout, and having disordered and repulsed the motley band at the first onset and discharge of their darts, pursued them with great slaughter to the coast, nor would one of them have survived the battle and the pursuit, had not the vessels, warping close to the shore, received them as they fled in dismay.

Those on shipboard also were not without their share of the confusion, occasioned by the drawing up of the ladders, lest the enemy should force in along with their own men, and in cutting away their cables and anchors to avoid the delay of weighing them. Many, in attempting to swim to the ships, as they could not in the declining light distinguish whither they ought to direct their course, or what to avoid, met a miserable death. Next day, when the fleet had fled back to the midocean, there were found between the wall and the shore eight hundred men slain, and two thousand stands of arms.

Mago, returning to Gades, was not permitted to enter the place, on which he put with his fleet into Cimbis, at a little distance, and from thence sent ambassadors, complaining of their having shut their gates against an ally and friend. Emboldened by these succours, the Carthaginian proceeded to the Balearick islands, about fifty miles distant. But here he met with an opposition, as violent as if the inhabitants of that island had been Romans.


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  6. As they now mostly use slings, so at that time these were their only weapons, in the skilful use of which the Baleareans universally excel all others. Such a quantity, therefore, of stones was poured, like the thickest hail, on the fleet as it approached the land, that, not daring to enter the harbour, the Carthaginians tacked about to the Edition: current; Page: [ 64 ] main.

    They then passed over to the smaller of the Baleares, which is equally fertile in soil, though, as already noted, of lesser strength.