The name of an illustrious patrician family of the Cornelian gens. This name, which signifies a stick or staff, is said to have been given to the founder of the family, because he served as a staff in directing his blind father. This family produced some of the greatest men in Rome, and to them she was more indebted than to any others for the empire of the world. The family tomb of the Scipios was discovered in 1780, on the left of the Appia Via, about four hundred paces within the modern Porta S. Sebastiano. The inscriptions and other curiosities are now deposited in the Museo Pio-Clementino at Rome.
(1) P. Cornelius Scipio, magister equitum B.C. 396, and consular tribune 395 and 394.
(2) L. Cornelius Scipio, consul 350.
(3) P. Cornelius Scipio Barbtus, consul 328, and dictator 306. He was also Pontifex Maximus.
(4) L. Cornelius Scipio Barbtus, consul 298, when he carried on war against the Etruscans, and defeated them near Volaterrae. He also served under the consuls in 297, 295, and 293 against the Samnites. This Scipio was the great-grandfather of the conqueror of Hannibal. The genealogy of the family can be traced with more certainty from this time.
(5) Cn. Cornelius Scipio Asna, son of No. 4, was consul 260, in the First Punic War. In an attempt upon the Liparaean Islands, he was taken prisoner with seventeen ships. He probably recovered his liberty when Regulus invaded Africa, for he was consul a second time in 254. In this year he and his colleague, A. Atilius Calatinus, crossed over into Sicily and took the town of Panormus.
(6) L. Cornelius Scipio, also son of No. 4, was consul 259. He drove the Carthaginians out of Sardinia and Corsica, defeating Hanno , the Carthaginian commander. He was censor in 258.
(7) P. Cornelius Scipio Asna, son of No. 5, was consul 221, and carried on war, with his colleague M. Minucius Rufus, [p. 1425] [figure in text: Sarcophagus of L. Cornelius Scipio Barbatus.] against the Istri, who were subdued by the consuls. He is mentioned again in 211, when he recommended that the Senate should recall all the generals and armies from Italy for the defence of the capital, because Hannibal was marching upon the city.
(8) P. Cornelius Scipio, son of No. 6, was consul, with Ti. Sempronius Longus , in 218, the first year of the Second Punic War. He sailed with an army to Gaul, in order to encounter Hannibal before crossing the Alps; but, finding that Hannibal had crossed the Rhne, and had got the start of him by a three days' march, he resolved to sail back to Italy and await Hannibal's arrival in Cisalpine Gaul. But as the Romans had an army of twenty-five thousand men in Cisalpine Gaul, under the command of two praetors, Scipio sent into Spain the army which he had brought with him, under the command of his brother, Cn. Scipio. On his return to Italy, Scipio took the command of the army in Cisalpine Gaul, and hastened to meet Hannibal. An engagement took place between the cavalry and light-armed troops of the two armies. The Romans were defeated; the consul himself received a severe wound, and was only saved from death by the courage of his young son Publius, the future conqueror of Hannibal. Scipio now retreated across the Ticinus, crossed the Po also, first took up his quarters at Placentia, and subsequently withdrew to the hills on the left bank of the Trebia, where he was joined by the other consul, Sempronius Longus. The latter resolved upon a battle, in opposition to the advice of his colleague. The result was the complete defeat of the Roman army, which was obliged to take refuge within the walls of Placentia. In the following year (217), Scipio, whose imperium had been prolonged, crossed over into Spain. He and his brother Gneius continued in Spain until their death in 211, and did the most important service for their country by preventing reinforcements being sent to Hannibal from Spain. In 215 they transferred the war from the Ebro to the Guadalquivir and won two great victories at Illiturgis and Intibilis. They fortified an important harbour at Tarraco and regained Saguntum, and by adroit policy induced Syphax to turn against the Carthaginians in Africa; but in 212, having to confront three armies under Hasdrubal Barca, Hasdrubal Gisgo, and Mago, they enlisted 20,000 Celtiberians and divided their armies. This was a fatal step. The Spaniards were untrustworthy, and the armies of the Scipios were defeated separately and both the brothers were slain by the Carthaginians (Polyb. iii.; Livy, xii.-xxv.; Annib. 5-8; Hisp.14-16).
(9) Cn. Cornelius Scipio Calvus, son of No. 6, and brother of No. 8, was consul 222, with M. Claudius Marcellus. In conjunction with his colleague he carried on war against the Insubrians. In 218 he carried on war as the legate of his brother Publius for eight years in Spain, as has been related above (Polyb. ii. 34; Marcell. 6, 7).
(10) P. Cornelius Scipio Africnus Maior, son of No. 8, was born in B.C. 237. (According to Livy, xxvi. 18, and Val. Max. iii. 7, 1, he was born in 234, but the authority of Polybius should be followed, who says that he was twenty-seven when he went to Spain.) He was unquestionably one of the greatest men of Rome, and he acquired at an early age the confidence and admiration of his countrymen. His enthusiastic mind led him to believe that he was a special favourite of the gods; and he never engaged in any public or private business without first going to the Capitol, where he sat some time alone, enjoying communication with the gods. For all he proposed or executed he alleged the divine approval; and the Roman people gave credit to his assertions and regarded him as a being almost superior to the common race of men (Livy, xxvi. 19). There can be no doubt that Scipio himself believed in the divine revelations which he asserted to have been vouchsafed to him; and the extraordinary success which attended all his enterprises must have deepened this belief. He is first mentioned in 218 at the battle of the Ticinus, when he saved the life of his father as has been already related. He fought at Cannae two years afterwards (216), when he was already a tribune of the soldiers, and was one of the few Roman officers who survived that fatal day. He was chosen along with Appius Claudius to command the remains of the army, which had taken refuge at Canusium; and it was owing to his youthful heroism and presence of mind that the Roman nobles, who had thought of leaving Italy in despair, were prevented from carrying their rash project into effect. He had already gained the favour of the people to such an extent that he was elected aedile in 212, although he had not yet reached the legal age. In 210, after the death of his father and uncle in Spain, the Romans resolved to increase their army in that country, and to place it under the command of a proconsul. But when the people assembled to elect a proconsul, none of the generals of experience ventured to sue for so dangerous a command. At length Scipio, who was then barely twenty-four, offered himself as a candidate, and was chosen with enthusiasm to take the command. His success in Spain was striking and rapid. In the first campaign (210) he took the important city of Carthago Nova, and in the course of the next three years he drove the Carthaginians entirely out of Spain, and became master of that country. He returned to Rome in 206, and was elected consul for the following year (205), although he had not yet filled the office of praetor, and was only thirty years of age. He was anxious to cross over at once to Africa, and bring the contest to an end at the gates of Carthage; but the oldest members of the Senate, and among them Q. Fabius Maximus, [p. 1426] opposed his project, partly through timidity and partly through jealousy of the youthful conqueror. All that Scipio could obtain was the province of Sicily, with permission to cross over to Africa; but the Senate refused him an army, thus making the permission of no practical use. But the allies had a truer view of the interests of Italy than the Roman Senate, and from all the towns of Italy volunteers flocked to join the standard of the youthful hero. The Senate could not refuse to allow him to enlist volunteers; and such was the enthusiasm in his favour that he was able to cross over to Sicily with an army and a fleet contrary to the expectations and even the wishes of the Senate. After spending the winter in Sicily, and completing all his preparations for the invasion of Africa, he crossed over to the latter country in the course of the following year. Success again attended his arms. The Carthaginians and their ally Syphax were defeated with great slaughter, and the former were compelled to recall Hannibal from Italy as the only hope of saving their country. The long struggle between the two peoples was at length brought to a close by the battle fought near the city of Zama on the 19th of October, 202, in which Scipio gained a decisive and brilliant victory over Hannibal. Carthage had no alternative but submission, but the final treaty was not concluded till the following year (201). Scipio returned to Italy in 201, and entered Rome in triumph. He was received with universal enthusiasm, and the surname of Africanus was conferred upon him. The people wished to make him consul and dictator for life, and to erect his statue in the Comitia, the Rostra, the Curia, and even in the Capitol, but he prudently declined all these invidious distinctions. As he did not choose to usurp the supreme power, and as he was an object of suspicion and dislike to the majority of the Senate, he took no prominent part in public affairs during the next few years. He was censor in 199 with P. Aelius Paetus, and consul a second time in 194 with Ti. Sempronius Longus. In 193 he was one of the three commissioners who were sent to Africa to mediate between Masinissa and the Carthaginians; and in the same year he was one of the ambassadors sent to Antiochus at Ephesus, at whose court Hannibal was then residing. The tale runs that he had there an interview with the great Carthaginian, who declared him the greatest general that ever lived. The compliment was paid in a manner the most flattering to Scipio. The latter had asked, Who was the greatest general? Alexander the Great, was Hannibal's reply. Who was the second? Pyrrhus. Who the third? Myself, replied the Carthaginian. What would you have said, then, if you had conquered me? asked Scipio, in astonishment. I should then have placed myself before Alexander, before Pyrrhus, and before all other generals. In 190 Africanus served as legate under his brother Lucius in the war against Antiochus the Great. Shortly after his return, he and his brother Lucius were accused of having received bribes from Antiochus to let the monarch off too leniently, and of having appropriated to their own use part of the money which had been paid by Antiochus to the Roman State. The details of the accusation are related with such discrepancies by the ancient authorities that it is impossible to determine with certainty the true history of the affair, or the year in which it occurred. It appears, however, that there were two distinct prosecutions, and the following is perhaps the most probable history of the transaction. In 187, two tribunes of the people of the name of Petillii, instigated by Cato and the other enemies of the Scipios, required L. Scipio to render an account of all the sums of money which he had received from Antiochus. L. Scipio accordingly prepared his accounts, but as he was in the act of delivering them up, the proud conqueror of Hannibal indignantly snatched them out of his hands, and tore them into pieces before the Senate. But this haughty conduct appears to have produced an unfavourable impression, and his brother, when brought to trial in the course of the same year, was declared guilty, and sentenced to pay a heavy fine. The tribune C. Minucius Augurinus ordered him to be dragged to prison and there detained till the money was paid; whereupon Africanus res[figure in text: Scipio Africanus Maior. (Capitol.)] cued his brother from the hands of the tribune's officer. The contest would probably have been attended with fatal results had not Tiberius Gracchus, the father of the celebrated tribune, and then tribune himself, had the prudence to release Lucius from the sentence of imprisonment. The successful issue of the prosecution of Lucius emboldened his enemies to bring the great Africanus himself before the people. His accuser was M. Naevius, the tribune of the people, and the accusation was brought in 185. When the trial came on, and Africanus was summoned, he proudly reminded the people that this was the anniversary of the day on which he had defeated Hannibal at Zama, and called upon them to follow him to the Capitol, in order there to return thanks to the immortal gods, and to pray that they would grant the Roman State other citizens like himself. Scipio struck a chord which vibrated in every heart, and he was immediately followed by crowds to the Capitol. Having thus set all the laws at defiance, Scipio immediately quitted Rome, and retired to his country seat at Liternum. The tribunes wished to renew the prosecution, but Gracchus wisely persuaded them to let it drop. Scipio never returned to Rome. He passed his remaining days in the cultivation of his estate at Liternum; and at his death is said to have requested that his body might be buried there, and not in his ungrateful country. The year of his death is equally uncertain; but he probably died in 183. Scipio married Aemilia, the daughter of L. Aemilius Paulus, who fell at the battle of Cannae, and by her he had four children, two sons (Nos. 12, 13), and two daughters, the elder of whom married P. Scipio Nasica Corculum (No. 17), [p. 1427] and the younger Tiberius Gracchus, and thus became the mother of the two celebrated tribunes. (See Cornelia.)
(11) L. Cornelius Scipio Asiatcus, also called Asiagnes or Asiagnus, was the son of No. 8, and the brother of the great Africanus. He served under his brother in Spain; was praetor in B.C. 193, when he obtained the province of Sicily; and consul in 190, with C. Laelius. The Senate had not much confidence in his abilities, and it was only through the offer of his brother Africanus to accompany him as a legate that he obtained the province of Greece and the conduct of the war against Antiochus. He defeated Antiochus at Mount Sipylus, in 190, entered Rome in triumph in the following year, and assumed the surname of Asiaticus. The history of his accusation and condemnation has been already related in the life of his brother. He was a candidate for the censorship in 184, but was defeated by the old enemy of his family, M. Porcius Cato, who deprived Asiaticus of his horse at the review of the equites. It appears, therefore, that even as late as this time an eques did not forfeit his horse by becoming a senator.
(12) P. Cornelius Scipio Africnus, elder son of the great Africanus, was prevented by his weak health from taking any part in public affairs. Cicero praises his oratiunculae and his Greek history, and remarks that, with the greatness of his father's mind he possessed a larger amount of learning. He had no son of his own, but adopted the son of L. Aemilius Paulus (see below, No. 15).
(13) L. or Cn. Cornelius Scipio Africnus, younger son of the great Africanus. He accompanied his father into Asia in B.C. 190, and was taken prisoner by Antiochus. This Scipio was a degenerate son of an illustrious father, and only obtained the praetorship, in B.C. 174, through Cicereius, who had been a secretary of his father, giving way to him. In the same year he was expelled from the Senate by the censors.
(14) L. Cornelius Scipio Asiatcus, a descendant of No. 11, belonged to the Marian party, and was consul B.C. 83 with C. Norbanus. In this year Sulla returned to Italy: Scipio was deserted by his troops, and taken prisoner in his camp along with his son Lucius, but was dismissed by Sulla uninjured. He was, however, included in the proscription in the following year (82), whereupon he fled to Massilia, and passed there the remainder of his life. His daughter was married to P. Sestius.
(15) P. Cornelius Scipio Aemilinus Africnus Minor, was the younger son of L. Aemilius Paulus, the conqueror of Macedonia, and was adopted by P. Scipio (No. 12), the son of the conqueror of Hannibal. He was born about B.C. 185. In his seventeenth year he accompanied his father Paulus to Greece, and fought under him at the battle of Pydna, 168. Scipio devoted himself with ardour to the study of literature, and formed an intimate friendship with Polybius, when the latter came to Rome along with the other Achaean exiles in 167. (See Polybius.) At a later period he also cultivated the acquaintance of the philosopher Panaetius, and he likewise admitted the poets Lucilius and Terence to his intimacy, and is said to have assisted the latter in the composition of his comedies. (See Terentius.) His friendship with Laelius, whose tastes and pursuits were so congenial to his own, has been immortalized by Cicero's celebrated treatise entitled Laelius sive de Amicitia. Although thus devoted to the study of polite literature, Scipio is said to have cultivated the virtues which distinguished the older Romans, and to have made Cato the model of his conduct. If we may believe his panegyrists, he possessed all the simple virtues of an old Roman, mellowed by the refining influences of Greek civilization. Scipio first served in Spain with great distinction as military tribune under the consul L. Lucullus in 151. On the breaking out of the Third Punic War in 149 he accompanied the Roman army to Africa, again with the rank of military tribune. Here he gained still more renown. By his personal bravery and military skill he repaired, to a great extent, the mistakes of the consul Manilius, whose army on one occasion he saved from destruction. He returned to Rome in 148, and had already gained such popularity that when he became a candidate for the aedileship for the following year (147) he was elected consul, although he was only thirty-seven, and had not therefore attained the legal age. The Senate assigned to him Africa as his province, to which he forthwith sailed, accompanicd by his friends Polybius and Laelius. He prosecuted the siege of Carthage with the utmost vigour. The Carthaginians defended themselves with the courage of despair, and the Romans were unable to force their way into the city till the spring of the following year (146). The inhabitants fought from street to street, and from house to house, and the work of destruction and butchery went on for days. The fate of this once magnificent city moved Scipio to tears, and anticipating that a similar catastrophe might one day befall Rome, he repeated the lines of the Iliad (vi. 448), in which Hector bewails the approaching fall of Troy. After reducing Africa to the form of a Roman province, Scipio returned to Rome in the same year, and celebrated a splendid triumph on account of his victory. The surname of Africanus, which he had inherited by adoption from the conqueror of Hannibal, had been now acquired by him by his own exploits. In 142 Scipio was censor, and in the administration of the duties of his office he attempted to repress the growing luxury and immorality of his contemporaries. His efforts, however, were thwarted by his colleague Mummius, who had himself acquired a love for Greek and Asiatic luxuries. In 139 Scipio was accused by Ti. Claudius Asellus of maiestas. Asellus attacked him out of private animosity, because he had been deprived of his horse, and reduced to the condition of an aerarius by Scipio in his censorship. Scipio was acquitted, and the speeches which he delivered on the occasion obtained great celebrity. It appears to have been after this event that Scipio was sent on an embassy to Egypt and Asia to attend to the Roman interests in those countries. The long continuance of the war in Spain again called Scipio to the consulship. He was appointed consul in his absence, and had the province of Spain assigned to him in 134. His operations were attended with success; and in 133 he brought the war to a conclusion by the capture of the city of Numantia after a long siege. He now received the surname of Numantnus in addition to that of Africanus. During his absence in Spain Tiberius Gracchus had been put to death. Scipio was married to Sempronia, the sister of the fallen tribune, but he had no sympathy with his reforms, and no sorrow for his fate. Upon his return to Rome in 132, he did not disguise his sentiments, and when asked [p. 1428]
in the assembly of the tribes by C. Papirius Carbo, the tribune, what he thought of the death of Tiberius Gracchus, he boldly replied that he was justly slain (iure caesum). The people loudly expressed their disapprobation; whereupon Scipio proudly bade them to be silent. He now took the lead in opposing the popular party, and endeavoured to prevent the agrarian law of Tiberius Graechus from being carried into effect. In order to accomplish this object, he proposed in the Senate (129) that all disputes respecting the lands of the allies should be taken out of the hands of the commissioners appointed under the law of Tiberius Gracchus, and should be committed to other persons. This would have been equivalent to an abrogation of the law; and accordingly Fulvius Flaccus, Papirius Carbo, and C. Gracchus, the three commissioners, offered the most vehement opposition to his proposal. In the Forum he was accused by Carbo with the bitterest invectives as the enemy of the people, and upon his again expressing his approval of the death of Tiberius Gracchus, the people shouted out, Down with the tyrant! In the evening he went home with the intention of composing a speech for the following day; but next day he was found dead in his room. The most contradictory rumours were circulated respecting his death, but it was generally believed that he was murdered. Suspicion fell upon various persons; his wife Sempronia and her mother Cornelia were suspected by some; Carbo , Fulvius, and C. Gracchus by others. Of all these, Carbo was most generally believed to have been guilty, and is expressly mentioned as the murderer by Cicero. The general opinion entertained by the Romans of a subsequent age respecting Scipio is given by Cicero in his work on the Republic, in which Scipio is introduced as the principal speaker.
(16) P. Cornelius Scipio Nasca, that is, Scipio with the pointed nose, was the son of Cn. Scipio Calvus, who fell in Spain in B.C. 211. He is first mentioned in 204 as a young man who was judged by the Senate to be the best citizen in the State, and was therefore sent to Ostia along with the Roman matrons to receive the statue of the Idaean Mother, which had been brought from Pessinus. He was curule aedile in 196; praetor in 194, when he fought with success in Further Spain; and consul 191, when he defeated the Boii, and triumphed over them on his return to Rome. Scipio Nasica was a celebrated jurist, and a house was given him by the state in the Via Sacra, in order that he might be more easily consulted.
(17) P. Cornelius Scipio Nasca Corclum, son of No. 16, inherited from his father a love of jurisprudence, and became so celebrated for his discernment and for his knowledge of the pontifical and civil law, that he received his surname of Corculum. He married a daughter of Scipio Africanus the elder. He was consul for the first time in 162, but abdicated, together with his colleague, almost immediately after they had entered upon their office, on account of some fault in the auspices. He was censor in 159 with M. Popilius Laenas, and was consul a second time in 155, when he subdued the Dalmatians. He was a firm upholder of the old Roman habits and manners, and in his second consulship he induced the Senate to order the demolition of a theatre, which was near completion, as injurious to public morals. When Cato repeatedly expressed his desire for the destruction of Carthage, Scipio, on the other hand, declared that he wished for its preservation, since the existence of such a rival would prove a useful check upon the licentiousness of the multitude. He was elected Pontifex Maximus in 150.
(18) P. Cornelius Scipio Nasca Serapio , son of No. 17, is chiefly known as the leader of the Senate in the murder of Tiberius Gracchus. He was consul in 138, and in consequence of the severity with which he and his colleague conducted the levy of troops, they were thrown into prison by C. Curiatius, the tribune of the plebs. It was this Curiatius who gave Nasica the nickname of Serapio , from his resemblance to a person of low rank of this name; but, though given him in derision, it afterward became his distinguishing surname. In 133, when the tribes met to re-elect Tiberius Gracchus to the tribunate, and the utmost confusion prevailed in the Forum, Nasica called upon the consuls to save the Republic; but as they refused to have recourse to violence, he exclaimed, As the consul betrays the State, do you who wish to obey the laws follow me; and, so saying, he rushed forth from the temple of Fides, where the Senate was sitting, followed by the greater number of the senators. The people gave way before them, and Gracchus was assassinated as he attempted to escape. In consequence of his conduct on this occasion, Nasica became an object of such detestation to the people, that the Senate found it advisable to send him on a pretended mission to Asia, although he was Pontifex Maximus, and ought not, therefore, to have quitted Italy. He did not venture to return to Rome, and after wandering about from place to place, died soon afterwards at Pergamum.
(19) P. Cornelius Scipio Nasca, son of No. 18, was consul 111, and died during his consulship. (20) P. Cornelius Scipio Nasca, son of No. 19, praetor in 94, is mentioned by Cicero as one of the advocates of Sextus Roscius of Ameria. He married Licinia, the second daughter of L. Crassus, the orator. He had two sons, both of whom were adopted, one by his maternal grandfather, L. Crassus, in his testament, and is therefore called L. Licinius Crassus Scipio, and the other by Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, consul 80, and is therefore called Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio. This Scipio became the father-inlaw of Cn. Pompey the triumvir, and fell in Africa in 46. His life is given under Metellus, No. 15. (21) Cn. Cornelius Scipio Hispallus, son of L. Scipio, who is only known as a brother of the two Scipios who fell in Spain. Hispallus was praetor 179, and consul 171. (22) Cn. Cornelius Scipio Hispallus, son of No. 21, was praetor 139, when he published an edict that all Chaldaeans (i. e. astrologers) should leave Rome and Italy within ten days.
See Capellmann, De Scipionibus (1841).