The Belli and the Titthi -- Beginning of the Numantine War -- Claudius Marcellus in Spain -- Makes an Armistice -- Licinius Lucullus succeeds Him-His Infamous Conduct -- Scipio Africanus the Younger -- Retreat of the Romans
Some years later another serious war broke out in 222 Spain for the following reason: Segeda, a large and powerful city of a Celtiberian tribe called the Belli, was included in the treaties made by Gracchus. It persuaded some of the smaller towns to settle in its own borders, and then surrounded itself with a wall forty stades in circumference. It also forced the Titthi, a neighboring tribe, to join in the undertaking. When the Senate learned this it forbade the building of the wall, demanded the tribute imposed by Gracchus, and ordered the inhabitants to furnish a contingent for the Roman army, for this was one of the stipulations of the treaty made with Gracchus. As to the wall they replied that the Celtiberians were forbidden by Gracchus to build new cities, but not forbidden to fortify existing ones. As to the tribute and the military contingent they said that they had been released from these requirements by the Romans themselves subsequently. This was true, but the Senate, when granting these exemptions, always added that they should continue only during the pleasure of the Roman people.
Accordingly the praetor Nobilior was sent against them with an army of nearly 30,000 men. When the Segedians learned of his coming, their wall not being yet finished, they fled with their wives and children to the Arevaci and begged that the latter would receive them. The Arevaci did so, and also chose a Segedian named Carus, whom they considered skilful in war, as their general. On the third day after his election he placed 20,000 foot and 500 horse in ambush in a dense forest and fell upon the Romans as they were passing through. The battle was for a long time doubtful, but in the end he gained a splendid victory, 6000 Roman citizens being slain. So great a disaster befell the city on that day. But while he was engaged in a disorderly pursuit after the victory, the Roman horse, who were guarding the baggage, fell upon him and killed 224 Carus himself, who was performing prodigies of valor, and not less than 6000 others with him. Finally night put an end to the conflict. This disaster happened on the day on which the Romans are accustomed to celebrate the festival of Vulcan. For which reason, from that time on, no general will begin a battle on that day unless compelled to do so.
The Arevaci convened immediately, even in the night, at Numantia, which was a very strong city, and chose Ambo and Leuco as their generals. Three days later Nobilior advanced and pitched his camp twenty-four stades from the place. Here he was joined by 300 horse and ten elephants sent to him by Masinissa. When he moved against the enemy he placed these animals in the rear where they could not be seen. Then when battle was joined the army divided and brought the elephants into view. The Celtiberians and their horses, who had never seen elephants before, were thunderstruck and fled to the city. Nobilior advanced at once against the city walls, where the battle raged fiercely, until one of the elephants was struck on the head with a large falling stone, when he became savage, uttered a loud cry, turned upon his friends, and began to destroy everything that came in his way, making no distinction between friend and foe. The other elephants, excited by his cries, all began to do the same, trampling the Romans under foot, scattering and hurling them this way and that. This is always the way with elephants when they are enraged. Then they take everybody for foes; wherefore some people call them the common enemy, on account of their fickleness. The Romans took to disorderly flight. When the Numantines perceived this they sallied out and pursued them, killing about 4000 men and three elephants. They also captured many arms and standards. The loss of the Celtiberians was about 2000.
Nobilior, recovering a little from this disaster, made an attack upon the stores which the enemy had collected at the town of Axinium, but he accomplished nothing, and having lost many of his men there, he returned by night to his camp. Thence he sent Biesius, his master of horse, to secure the alliance of a neighboring tribe and to ask for assistance in the way of cavalry. They gave him some, and as he was returning with them the Celtiberians laid an ambush for him. The ambush was discovered and the allies escaped, but Biesius, who engaged the enemy, was killed and many of his soldiers with him. Under the influence of such a succession of disasters to the Romans, the town of Ocilis, where their provisions and money were stored, revolted to the Celtiberians. Then Nobilior in despair went into winter quarters in his camp, sheltering himself as well as he could. He suffered much from scantiness of supplies, having only what was inside the camp, and from heavy snowstorms and severe frost, so that many of his men perished while outside gathering wood, and others inside fell victims to confinement and cold.
The following year Claudius Marcellus succeeded Nobilior in the command, bringing with him 8000 foot and 500 horse. The enemy laid an ambush for him also, but he moved with circumspection and pitched his camp before Ocilis with his whole army. As he was renowned for good fortune in war, he brought the place to terms at once and granted it pardon, taking hostages and imposing a fine of thirty talents of silver. The Nergobriges, hearing of his moderation, sent and asked what they could do to obtain peace. In reply he ordered them to furnish him 100 horsemen as auxiliaries, and they promised to do so, but in the meantime they were attacking the rear guard of the Romans and carried off a lot of baggage. When the leaders of the hundred horse arrived according to agreement, and were interrogated about the attack on the rear guard, they replied that this had been done by some of their people who did not know of the agreement. Marcellus then put the hundred horsemen in chains, sold their horses, devastated their country, distributed the plunder to his soldiers, and besieged the city. When the Nergobriges saw the engines advanced and the mounds thrown up against their walls they sent a herald, who wore a wolf's skin instead of bearing a caduceus, and begged forgiveness. Marcellus replied that he would not grant it unless all the Arevaci, the Belli, and the Titthi would ask it together. When these tribes heard of this, they sent ambassadors eagerly, and begged that Marcellus would let them off with a light punishment and renew the terms of the agreement made with Gracchus. 226 This petition was opposed by some of the country people who had been incited to war by them.
Marcellus sent ambassadors from each party to Rome to carry on their dispute there. At the same time he sent private letters to the Senate urging peace. He desired that the war should be brought to an end by himself, thinking that he should gain glory thereby. Some of the ambassadors from the friendly faction on coming to the city were treated as guests, but, as was customary, those from the hostile faction lodged outside the walls. The Senate rejected the proposal of peace and took it ill that these people had refused terms to the Romans when they were asked by Nobilior, the predecessor of Marcellus. So they replied that Marcellus would announce the Senate's decision to them. And now for the first time they chose an army for Spain by lot, instead of the customary levy, for since many had complained that they had been treated unjustly by the consuls in the enrolment, while others had been chosen for easy service, it was decided now to choose by lot. The consul Iicinius Lucullus was appointed to the command, and he had for his lieutenant Cornelius Scipio who was not long afterwards distinguished as the conqueror of Carthage and of Numantia.
While Lucullus was on the march Marcellus notified the Celtiberians of the coming war, and gave back the hostages in response to their request. Then he sent for the chief of the Celtiberian embassy in Rome and conferred with him privately a long time. From this circumstance it was then suspected, and was strongly confirmed by later events, that he sought to persuade them to put their affairs in his hands, because he tried in every way to bring the war to an end before the arrival of Lucullus. Directly after this conference 5000 of the Arevaci took possession of the city of Nergobriga. Marcellus marched against Numantia, encamped at a distance of five stades from it, and was driving the Numantines inside the walls when their leader Litenno halted and called out that he would like to have a conference with Marcellus. This being granted he said that the Belli, Titthi, and Arevaci would put themselves entirely in his hands. He was delighted to hear this and having demanded 227 and received hostages and money, he let them go 228 free. Thus the war with the Belli, the Titthi, and the Arevaci was brought to an end before Lucullus arrived.
Lucullus being greedy of fame and needing money, because he was in straitened circumstances, invaded the territory of the Vacci, another Celtiberian tribe, neighbors of the Arevaci, against whom war had not been declared by the Senate, nor had they ever attacked the Romans, or offended Lucullus himself. Crossing the river Tagus he came to the city of Cauca, and pitched his camp near it. The citizens asked him what he had come for and what occasion there was for war, and when he replied that he had come to aid the Carpetani whom the Vacci had maltreated they retired inside their walls, from which they sallied out and fell upon his wood-cutters and foragers, killing many and pursuing the remainder to the camp. When battle was joined the Cauci, who resembled light-armed troops, had the advantage at first, but when they had expended all their darts they were obliged to fly, not being accustomed to a standing fight, and while forcing their way through the gates about 3000 of them were slain.
The next day the elders of the city came out wearing crowns on their heads and bearing olive-branches, and asked Lucullus what they should do to establish friendly relations. He replied that they must give hostages and 100 talents of silver, and furnish a contingent of horse to the Roman army. When all these demands had been complied with he asked that a Roman garrison should be admitted to the city. When the Cauci assented to this he brought in 2000 soldiers carefully chosen, to whom he gave orders that when they were admitted they should occupy the walls. When this was (lone Lucullus introduced the rest of his army and ordered them at the sound of the trumpet to kill all the adult males of the Cauci. The latter, invoking the gods who preside over promises and oaths, and upbraiding the perfidy of the Romans, were cruelly slain, only a few out of 20,000 escaping by leaping down the sheer walls at the gates. Lucullus sacked the city and brought infamy upon the Roman name. The rest of the barbarians collecting together from the fields took refuge among inaccessible rocks or in the most strongly fortified towns, carrying away what they could, and burning what they were obliged to leave, so that Lucullus should not find any plunder.
The latter, having traversed a long stretch of deserted country, came to the city of Intercatia where more than 20,000 foot and 2000 horse had taken refuge together. Lucullus very foolishly invited them to enter into a treaty. They reproached him with the slaughter of the Cauci, and asked him whether he invited them to the same kind of a pledge that he had given to that people. He, like all guilty souls, being angry with his accusers instead of reproaching himself, laid waste their fields. Then he drew a line of siege around the city, threw up several mounds, and repeatedly set his forces in order of battle to provoke a fight. The enemy did not respond but fought with projectiles only. There was a certain barbarian distinguished by his splendid armor, who frequently rode into the space between the armies and challenged the Romans to single combat, and when nobody accepted the challenge he jeered at them, made insulting gestures, and went back. After he had done this several times, Scipio, who was still a youth, felt very much aggrieved, and springing forward accepted the challenge. Fortunately he won the victory over this giant although he was himself a man of small size.
This victory raised the spirits of the Romans, but the next night they were seized with panic. A body of the enemy's horse who had gone out foraging before Lucullus arrived, returned and not finding any entrance to the city because it was surrounded by the besiegers, ran about shouting and creating disturbance while those inside the walls shouted back. These noises caused strange terror in the Roman camp. Their soldiers were sick from want of sleep, and because of the unaccustomed food which the country afforded. They had no wine, no salt, no vinegar, no oil, but lived on wheat and barley, and the flesh of deer and rabbits boiled without salt, which caused dysentery, from which many died. Finally when a mound was completed so that they could batter the enemy's walls, they knocked down a section and rushed into the city, but they were speedily overpowered. Being compelled to retreat and being unacquainted with the ground, they fell into a reservoir where many perished. The following night the barbarians repaired their broken wall. As both sides were now suffering severely (for famine had fastened upon both), Scipio promised the barbarians that if they would make a treaty it should not be violated. They had so much confidence in his word that the war was brought to an end on these conditions: The Intercatii to give to Lucullus 10,000 cloaks, a certain number of cattle, and fifty hostages. As for the gold and silver that Lucullus was after (and for the sake of which he had waged this war, thinking that all Spain abounded with gold and silver), he got nothing. Not only did they have none, but these particular Celtiberians did not set any value on those metals.
He went next to Pallantia, a city more renowned for bravery, where many refugees had congregated, for which reason he was advised by some to pass by without making an attempt upon it. Put, having heard that it was a rich place, he would not go away until the Pallantian horse, by incessantly harassing his foragers, prevented him from getting supplies. When his food was exhausted Lucullus withdrew his army, marching in the form of a square, and pursued by the Pallantians as far as the river Durius. From that place the Pallantians returned by night to their own country. Lucullus passed into the territory of the Turditani, and went into winter quarters. This was the end of the war with the Vacci, which was waged by Lucullus without the authority of the Roman people, but he was never called to account for it.