[figure in text: REDUCED FACSIMILE, VATICAN MS. GR. 141. XII CENTURY, FIRST PAGE OF AUTHOR'S PREFACE]
INTENDING to write the history of the Romans I have deemed it best to begin with the boundaries of the nations under their sway. They are as follows: In the ocean, the major part of those who inhabit the British Isles. Then entering the Mediterranean by the Pillars of Hercules and circumnavigating the same we find under their rule all the islands and the mainlands washed by that sea. The first of these on the right hand are the Mauritanians of the coast and various other African nations as far as Carthage. Farther inland are the nomad tribes whom the Romans call Numidians and their country Numidia; then other Africans who dwell around the Syrtes as far as Cyrene, and Cyrene itself; also the Marmarid, the Ammonii, and those who dwell by the lake Mareotis; then the great city founded by Alexander on the border of Egypt, and Egypt itself, as one sails up the Nile, as far as eastern Ethiopia; and as far as Pelusium by sea.
Here turning our course we take in Palestine-Syria, and beyond it a part of Arabia. The Phnicians hold the country next to Palestine on the sea, and beyond the Phnician territory are Cle-Syria, and the parts stretching from the sea as far inland as the river Euphrates, namely Palmyra and the sandy country round about, extending even to the Euphrates itself. The Cilicians come next to the Syrians, and their neighbors are the Cappadocians, and that part of the Armenian country called Lesser Armenia. Along the Euxine are other nations called by the common name Pontic, subject to the Roman rule. The Syrians and Cilicians border on the Mediterranean, the Armenians and Cappadocians extend to the Pontic nations and to the interior as far as Greater Armenia, which is not subject to the Romans in the way of tribute, but its people appoint their own kings. Descending from Cilicia and Cappadocia to Ionia we find the great peninsula bounded on the right by the Euxine, the Propontis, the Hellespont, and the gean, and on the left by the Pamphylian or Egyptian sea, for it is called by both names. Some of the countries embraced in it look toward the Egyptian sea, namely: Pamphylia and Lycia and after them Caria extending to Ionia. Others look toward the Euxine, the Propontis, and the Hellespont, namely: the Galatians, Bithynians, Mysians, and Phrygians. In the interior are the Pisidians and Lydians. So many nations inhabit this peninsula and all are under Roman rule.
Crossing from these coasts they rule other nations around the Euixine, the Mysians of Europe and the Thracians who border that sea. Beyond Ionia are the gean sea, the Adriatic, the straits of Sicily, and the Tyrrhenian sea stretching to the Pillars of Hercules. This is the distance from Ionia to the ocean. Following the coast line we find the following countries subject to the Romans: all of Greece, Thessaly, and Macedonia, also the adjoining Thracians, the Illyrians, and Pannonians, and Italy itself, the longest of all, extending from the Adriatic and bordering the greater part of the Tyrrhenian sea as far as the country of the Celts (whom the Romans call Gauls), some of whom border the Mediterranean, others the Northern ocean, and still others dwell along the river Rhine; also all of Spain and Celtiberia on the Northern and Western oceans as far as the Pillars of Hercules. Of these I shall speak more particularly when I come to deal with each nation. But for the present let this suffice for the principal boundaries which define their empire along the sea.
On the landward side the boundaries are a part of Mauritania lying against western Ethiopia and the remainder of Africa (having a very warm climate, or much infested with wild beasts) extending to eastern Ethiopia. These are the Roman boundaries in Africa. Those of Asia are the river Euphrates, Mount Caucasus, the kingdom of Greater Armenia, the Colchians who dwell along the Euxine sea, and the remainder of that coast. In Europe the two rivers, Rhine and Danube, for the most part bound the Roman empire. Of these the Rhine empties into the
[figure in text: The Roman Empire at the Time of Hadrian]
Northern ocean and the Danube into the Euxine. On the other side of these rivers, however, some of the Celts beyond the Rhine are under Roman sway, and beyond the Danube some of the Get, who are called Dacians. These, with the nearest approach to accuracy, are the boundaries on the mainland.
All the islands of the sea also, the Cyclades, Sporades, Ionian isles, Echinades, the Tuscan isles, the Balearic isles, and all the rest in Libyan, Ionian, Egyptian, Myrtoan, Sicilian, and Mediterranean waters, by whatever names called; also those which the Greeks by way of distinction call the great islands, Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes, Lesbos, Euba, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica, and whatever other isle there may be, large or small--all are under Roman rule. Crossing the Northern ocean to Britain, a continent in itself, they took possession of the better and larger part, not caring for the remainder. Indeed, the part they do hold is not of much use to them.
Although holding the empire of so many and so great nations the Romans labored five hundred years with toil and difficulty to establish their power firmly in Italy itself. Half of this time they were under kings, but having expelled them and sworn to have kingly rule no longer, they adopted aristocracy, and chose their rulers yearly. In the two hundred years next succeeding the five hundred their dominion increased greatly, they acquired unexampled foreign power, and brought the greater part of the nations under their sway. Gaius [Julius] Csar having got the upper hand of his rivals possessed himself of the sovereignty, holding it in a firm grasp, and preserved the form and name of the republic but made himself the absolute ruler of all. In this way the government, from that time to this, has been a monarchy; but they do not call their rulers kings, out of respect, as I think, for the ancient oath. They call them imperators [emperors], that being the title also of those who formerly held the chief command of the armies for the time being. Yet they are very kings in fact.
From the advent of the emperors to the present time is nearly two hundred years more, in the course of which the city has been greatly embellished, its revenue much increased, and in the long reign of peace and security everything has moved toward a lasting prosperity. Some nations have been added to the empire by these emperors, and the revolts of others have been suppressed. Possessing the best part of the earth and sea they have, on the whole, aimed to preserve their empire by the exercise of prudence, rather than to extend their sway indefinitely over poverty-stricken and profitless tribes of barbarians, some of whom I have seen at Rome offering themselves, by their ambassadors, as its subjects, but the chief of the state would not accept them because they would be of no use to it. They give kings to a great many other nations whom they do not wish to have under their own government. On some of these subject nations they spend more than they receive from them, deeming it dishonorable to give them up even though they are costly. They surround the empire with great armies and they garrison the whole stretch of land and sea like a single strong-hold.
No government down to the present time ever attained to such size and duration. That of the Greeks, even if we count the mastery of Athens, Sparta, and Thebes successively from the invasion of Darius, which was the beginning of their glory, to the hegemony of Greece held by Philip the son of Amyntas, lasted comparatively but few years. Their wars were not for conquest abroad but rather for preminence among themselves, and they were most distinguished for the defence of their freedom against foreign invaders. Those of them who invaded Sicily with the hope of extending their dominion made a failure, and whenever they marched into Asia they accomplished small results and speedily returned. In short the Greek power, although ardent in fighting for the Grecian hegemony, never advanced steadfastly beyond the boundaries of Greece, but took pride in holding itself unenslaved and seldom conquered, and from the time of Philip the son of Amyntas, and of Alexander the son of Philip, they seem to me to have done very badly and to have been unworthy of themselves.
The mastery of Asia is not to be compared, as to labor and bravery, with that of the smallest of the countries of Europe, on account of the effeminacy and cowardice of the Asiatic peoples, as will be shown in the progress of this history. Such of the Asiatic nations as the Romans hold, they subdued in a few battles, though even the Macedonians joined in the defence, while the conquest of Africa and of Europe was in many cases very exhausting. Again, the duration of the Assyrians, Medes, and Persians taken together (the three greatest empires before Alexander), does not amount to nine hundred years, which that of Rome has already reached, and the size of their empire I think was not half that of the Romans, whose boundaries extend from the setting of the sun and the Western ocean to Mount Caucasus and the river Euphrates, and through Egypt to Ethiopia and through Arabia as far as the Eastern ocean, so that their boundary is the ocean both where the sun-god rises and where he sinks, while they control the entire Mediterranean, and all its islands as well as Britain in the ocean. The greatest sea-power of the Medes and Persians included either the gulf of Pamphylia and the single island of Cyprus or perhaps some other small islets belonging to Ionia in the Mediterranean. They controlled the Persian gulf also, but how much of a sea is that?57
The history of Macedonia before Philip, the son of Amyntas, was of very small account; there was a time, indeed, when the Macedonians were a subject race. The reign of Philip himself was full of toil and struggles which were not contemptible, yet even his deeds concerned only Greece and the neighboring country. The empire of Alexander was splendid in its magnitude, in its armies, in the success and rapidity of his conquests, and it wanted little of being boundless and unexampled, yet in its shortness of duration it was like a brilliant flash of lightning. Although broken into several satrapies even the parts were splendid. The kings of my own country [Egypt] alone had an army consisting of 200,000 foot, 40,000 horse, 300 war elephants, and 2,000 armed chariots, and arms in reserve for 300,000 soldiers more. This was their force for land service. For naval service they had 2,000 barges propelled by poles, and other smaller craft, 1,500 galleys with from one and a half to five benches of oars each, and galley furniture for twice as many ships, 800 vessels provided with cabins, gilded on stem and stern for the pomp of war, with which the kings themselves were wont to go to naval combats; and money in their treasuries to the amount of 740,000 Egyptian talents. Such was the state of preparedness for war shown by the royal accounts as recorded and left by the king of Egypt second in succession after Alexander, who was the most formidable of these rulers in his preparations, the most lavish in expenditure, and the most magnificent in projects. It appears that many of the other satrapies were not much inferior in these respects. Yet all these resources were wasted under their successors by warring with each other. By means of such civil dissensions alone are great states destroyed.
Through prudence and good fortune has the empire of the Romans attained to greatness and duration58 in gaining which they have excelled all others in bravery, patience, and hard labor. They were never elated by success until they had firmly secured their power, nor were they ever cast down by misfortune, although they sometimes lost 20,000 men in a single day, at another time 40,000, and once 50,000, and although the city itself was often in danger. Neither famine, nor frequently recurring plague, nor sedition, nor all these falling upon them at once could abate their ardor; until, through the doubtful struggles and dangers of seven hundred years, they achieved their present greatness, having enjoyed the favors of fortune through wisdom.
These things have been described by many writers, both Greek and Roman, and the history is even more copious than that of the Macedonian empire, which was the longest history of earlier times. Being interested in it, and desiring to compare the Roman prowess carefully with that of every other nation, my history has often led me from Carthage to Spain, from Spain to Sicily or to Macedonia, or to join some embassy to foreign countries, or some alliance formed with them; thence back to Carthage or Sicily, like a wanderer, and again elsewhere, while the work was still unfinished. At last I have brought the parts together, showing how often the Romans sent armies or embassies into Sicily and what they did there until they brought it into its present condition; also how often they made war and peace with the Carthaginians, or sent embassies to them or received the same from them, and what damage they inflicted upon or suffered from them until they demolished Carthage and made Africa a Roman province, and how they rebuilt Carthage and brought Africa into its present condition. I have made this research also in respect to each of the other provinces, desiring to learn the Romans' relations to each, in order to understand the weakness of these nations or their power of endurance, as well as the bravery or good fortune of their conquerors or any other circumstance contributing to the result.
Thinking that the public would like to learn the history of the Romans in this way, I am going to write the part relating to each nation separately, omitting what happened to the others in the meantime, and taking it up in its proper place. It seems superfluous to put down the dates of everything, but I shall mention those of the most important events now and then. The Roman citizens, like other people, formerly had only one name each; afterwards they took a second, and not much later, for easier recognition, there was given to some of them a third derived from some personal incident or as a distinction for bravery. In like manner surnames have been added to the names of certain Greeks. For purposes of distinction I shall sometimes mention all the names, especially of illustrious men, but for the most part I shall call these and others by the names that are deemed most characteristic.
As there are three books which treat of the numerous exploits of the Romans in Italy, these three must together be considered the Italian Roman history; but on account of the great number of events in them the division has been made. The first of these will show the events that took place in successive reigns while they had kings, of whom there were seven, and this I shall call the history of Rome under the kings. Next in order will be the history of the rest of Italy except the part along the Adriatic. This, by way of distinction from the former, will be called the second Italian book of Roman history. With the last nation, the Samnites, who dwelt on the Adriatic, the Romans struggled eighty years under the greatest difficulties, but finally they subjugated them and the neighbors who were allied with them, and also the Greeks who had settled in Italy. This, by way of distinction from the former, will be called the Samnite Roman history. The rest will be named according to its subject, the Celtic, Sicilian, Spanish, Hannibalic, Carthaginian, Macedonian, and so on. The order of these histories with respect to each other is according to the time when the Romans began to be embroiled in war with each nation, even though many other things intervened before that nation came to its end. The internal seditions and civil wars of the Romans--to them the most calamitous of all--will be designated under the names of their chief actors, as the wars of Marius and Sulla, those of Pompey and Caesar, those of Antony and the second Caesar, surnamed Augustus, against the murderers of the first Caesar, and those of Antony and Augustus against each other. At the end of this last of the civil wars Egypt passed under the Roman sway, and the Roman government itself became a monarchy.
Thus, the foreign wars will be divided into books according to the nations, and the civil wars according to the chief commanders. The last book will show the present military force of the Romans, the revenues they collect from each province, what they spend for the naval service, and other things of that kind. It is proper to begin with the origin of the people of whose prowess I am about to write. Who I am, who have written these things, many indeed know, and I have already indicated.59 To speak more plainly I am Appian of Alexandria, having reached the highest place in my native country, and having been, in Rome, a pleader of causes before the emperors, until they deemed me worthy of being made their procurator. And if any one has a great desire to learn more [about my affairs] there is a special treatise of mine on that subject.