Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Cethegus (?)1

M, #64201, b. ca 10 BC
FatherSer. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Maluginensis (?)1 b. ca 30 BC, d. 023
Last Edited3 Dec 2004
     Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Cethegus (?) was born ca 10 BC.1 He married Munantia Plancina (?), daughter of L. Munantius L.f. Plancus (?).1
     Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Cethegus (?) was Proconsul of Africa between 0030 and 0040.1

Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Cethegus (?)
Ser. CORNELIUS Ser.f. LENTULUS CETHEGUS. Born about 10BC; consul 24 AD; proconsul of Africa 30/40. He m. (Munantia Plancina). Born about 10 BC. Daughter of L. Munantius L.f. Plancus, and sister of L. Munantius L.f. Plancus, consul 13 AD.1 GAV-63. He was Consul in 024.1


Munantia Plancina (?) b. ca 10 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Munantia Plancina (?)1

F, #64202, b. ca 10 BC
FatherL. Munantius L.f. Plancus (?)1
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     Munantia Plancina (?) was born ca 10 BC.1 She married Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Cethegus (?), son of Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Maluginensis (?).1


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

L. Munantius L.f. Plancus (?)1

M, #64203
Last Edited2 Dec 2004




  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Maluginensis (?)1

M, #64205, b. ca 30 BC, d. 023
FatherCn. Cornelius Cn.F. Lentulus (?)1 b. ca 60 BC
Last Edited3 Dec 2004
     Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Maluginensis (?) was born ca 30 BC.1
Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Maluginensis (?) died in 023.1

Ser. Cornelius Ser.f. Lentulus Maluginensis (?)
Ser. CORNELIUS Cn.f. LENTULUS MALUGINENSIS. Born about 30BC; suf. 10 AD; died 23.1


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Cn. Cornelius Cn.F. Lentulus (?)1

M, #64206, b. ca 60 BC
FatherCn. Cornelius Lentulus (?)1 b. ca 85 BC
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Cn. Cornelius Cn.F. Lentulus (?) was born ca 60 BC.1
     He was Quaestor 30 BC - 28 BC.1 GAV-65.

Cn. Cornelius Cn.F. Lentulus (?)
Cn. CORNELIUS Cn.f. LENTULUS. Born about 60 BC; quaestor 30/28.1




  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Cn. Cornelius Lentulus (?)1

M, #64207, b. ca 85 BC
FatherCn. Cornelius P.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?)1 b. ca 105 BC
MotherFabia (?)1 b. ca 100 BC
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Cn. Cornelius Lentulus (?) was born ca 85 BC.1
     He was praef. class. Sicily 30 BC.1 GAV-66.

Cn. Cornelius Lentulus (?)
Cn. CORNELIUS LENTULUS. Born about 85/80 BC; praef. class. Sicily.1




  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Cn. Cornelius P.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?)1

M, #64208, b. ca 105 BC
FatherO. Cornelius Mar.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?)1 b. c 130, d. aft 101 BC
MotherCornelia (?)1 b. ca 125 BC
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Cn. Cornelius P.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?) was born ca 105 BC.1 He married Fabia (?), daughter of Q. Fabius Maximus (?).1
     Cn. Cornelius P.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?) was Consul 56 BC.1

Cn. Cornelius P.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?)
Cn. CORNELIUS P.f. LENTULUS MARCELLINUS. Born about 104/5 BC; consul 56. He m. (Fabia). Born about 100. Daughter of Q. Fabius Maximus, praetor 91. Descendant of Q. Fabius Maximus Aemilianus.1 GAV-67.


Fabia (?) b. ca 100 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Fabia (?)1

F, #64209, b. ca 100 BC
FatherQ. Fabius Maximus (?)1
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Fabia (?) was born ca 100 BC.1 She married Cn. Cornelius P.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?), son of O. Cornelius Mar.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?) and Cornelia (?).1

Fabia (?)
Daughter of Q. Fabius Maximus, praetor 91. Descendant of Q. Fabius Maximus Aemilianus.1


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Q. Fabius Maximus (?)1

M, #64210
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     Q. Fabius Maximus (?)
Praetor 91 BC.1 GAV-68.




  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Cornelia (?)1

F, #64211, b. ca 125 BC
FatherP. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?)1 b. ca 155 BC, d. 111 BC
MotherCaecilia (?)1 b. ca 155 BC
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Cornelia (?) was born ca 125 BC.1 She married O. Cornelius Mar.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?)1


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

O. Cornelius Mar.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?)1

M, #64212, b. circa 130, d. aft 101 BC
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     O. Cornelius Mar.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?) died aft 101 BC.1 He married Cornelia (?), daughter of P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?) and Caecilia (?).1 O. Cornelius Mar.F. Lentulus Marcellinus (?) was born circa 130.1


Cornelia (?) b. ca 125 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?)1

M, #64213, b. ca 155 BC, d. 111 BC
FatherP. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?)1 b. ca 182 BC, d. 133 BC
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?) died 111 BC.1 He was born ca 155 BC.1 He married Caecilia (?)1
     P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?)
Consul 111 BC.1 GAV-69.


Caecilia (?) b. ca 155 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Caecilia (?)1

F, #64214, b. ca 155 BC
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Caecilia (?) was born ca 155 BC.1 She married P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?), son of P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?).1


P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?) b. ca 155 BC, d. 111 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?)1

M, #64215, b. ca 182 BC, d. 133 BC
FatherP. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (?)1
MotherCornelia (?)1 b. ca 205 BC
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio (?) died 133 BC.1 He was born ca 182 BC.1
     He was Consul 138 BC.1 GAV-70.




  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (?)1,2

M, #64216
FatherPublius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (?)2
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (?) married Cornelia (?), daughter of P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder) and Aemila (?).1,2
     P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (?) was Consul 162 BC.1 GAV-71.

P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (?)
PUBLIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO NASICA CORCULUM Son of NASICA, son in law of AFRICANUS THE ELDER, Corculum served at Pydna in 168 BCE. He was elected consul for 162, but after departing for his province was recalled and forced to give up his office. He was censor in 159 and consul for the second time in 155, when he ended the Dalmatian war and celebrated a triumph. He was against the third Punic war, opposing Cato the Elder. He was appointed princeps senatus in 147 and 142, and became pontifex maximus in 150 after many years in that college.2


Cornelia (?) b. ca 205 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."
  2. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.

Cornelia (?)1

F, #64217, b. ca 205 BC
FatherP. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)1 b. ca 235 BC
MotherAemila (?)1 b. ca 225 BC, d. aft 182 BC
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Cornelia (?) was born ca 205 BC.1 She married P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (?), son of Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (?).1,2


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."
  2. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)1

M, #64218, b. ca 235 BC
FatherL. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?)1,2 d. 211 BC
MotherPomponia (?)1
Last Edited9 Mar 2008
     P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder) was born ca 235 BC.1 He married Aemila (?), daughter of L. Aemilius Paullus (?).1
     P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
"The two greatest cities in the world, they said, were at almost the same time shown to be ungrateful to their leading citizens; but Rome was the more ungrateful of the two, in that conquored Carthage had expelled the conquored Hannibal, whereas victorious Rome was driving out the victorious Scipio."
Livy, The History of Rome from its Founding XXXVIII.50

The First Trial

The end of the career of Scipio Africanus - like so many other aspects of his life - are clouded by legend, a lack of reliable sources, and historical controversy for more than 2000 years. The version we shall present here is just one possible interpretation of many, and could be challenged on just about every detail.

The Scipios had returned from Asia triumphant over Antiochus, but their political domination was about to come to and end. No doubt the Scipio's were already looking forward to the Censorship election of 184 BCE, for which post the Scipio's had two prominent candidates; Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica and Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus. But competition was keen, and part of that competition was the inseperable team of Lucius Valerius Flaccus and Marcus Porcius Cato.

Cato had been an outspoken critic of Scipio throughout their careers, but the picture often drawn of him as the small-minded conservative constantly hounding the broad-minded Scipio, is probably untrue. Cato was, quite simply, a controversial figure,whose outspokenness, sharp tongue, and insignificant lineage made him an object of animosity for the nobility of Rome. He was constantly under threat of being prosecuted by his many enemies, and constantly on the lookout for opportunities to prosecute - Plutarch and Livy recount that even at the age of 86 he was brought to court by his enemies, while he himself prosecuted Servilius Galba four years later at the age of 90!

The seven other candidates for the Censorship seem early on to have formed an alliance for the express purpose of keeping Flaccus and Cato from office. Faced with such opposition, Cato and Flaccus must have looked for ways to weaken the opposition, the most dangerous of whom was clearly Scipio Asiaticus, with his recent victory in Asia, and his powerful brother. There are some indications that Cato's prosecution of Manius Acilius Glabrio, another potential rival for the Censorship, may have been primarily motivated by rivalry for the Censorship. It seems very likely, given that Cato is reputed to have been behind the attacks on the Scipios, that these following trials should be seen as an extension of an electoral strategy aimed at discrediting the Scipio's and thus removing two dangerous rivals from the runnings.

Charges seem to have been raised against Lucius Cornelius Scipio first, accusing him of embezzling part of the 3000 talents of the first installment of the tribute collected from Antiochus. The charge seems clearly to have been a mere technicality; inasmuch as a Roman army commander had full jurisdiction over the booty he received for the maintenance of his army. Scipio's opponents, however, claimed that the money collected belonged entirely to the state treasury.

Africanus appears to have been on a mission in Etruria when he heard of the charges, but immediately returned to Rome. It is said that, finding his brother being taken away he drove the Government officials from his brother's person, and that when the Tribunes - whose persons were inviolate and sacrosanct by law - tried to restrain them, he did violence to them. Later during the trials, when it was demanded that the accounts of the army in Asia was presented to the Senate, Africanus asked for the accounts from his brother and:

when the book was brought to him, he held it out and tore it to bits in the sights of every one, telling the man who had asked for it to search among the pieces for the account. At the same time he asked the rest of the house why they demanded an account of how and by whom the three thousand talents had been spent, while they had not inquired how and by whose hands the fifteen thousand talents they were receiving from Antiochus were coming into the treasury, nor how they had become masters of Asia, Africa, and Spain. So not only were all abashed, but he who had demanded the account kept silence.
Polybius, The Histories XXIII.14

It seems possible -- indeed likely -- that Africanus was by this time already suffering from the illness that would take his life. Certainly his acts, while they seem to have had short-term positive effects, differ markedly from his behavior in earlier years, and strongly transmit the impression of a man too tired to be diplomatic.

Certainly, his acts added fuel to the fire, and the Scipios opponents now attempted to bring Africanus himself to trial. Perhaps it is from just such an attempt that Polybius recounts:

he (Africanus) said nothing more when he came forward to defend himself, but that it was not proper for the Roman people to listen to anyone who accused Publius Cornelius Scipio, to whom his accusers owed it that they had the power of speech at all. All the people on hearing this at once dispersed, leaving the accuser alone.
Polybius, The Histories XXIII.14

However, accusations against the Scipios - and in particular Africanus - seem to have persisted, and their opponents - spearheaded by two Tribunes of the Plebs of the Petelii clan - eventually succeeded in forcing Africanus to meet up in court. They accused him of peculation; of having had his son restored by Antiochus without a ransom, and of having usurped the powers of the Consul and thereby the Roman people during the campaign in Asia. The old charges of extravagance, un-Roman behavior, and corruption of the army's discipline may have been brought up again and the accusations lasted all day. On the second day of the trial, Scipio Africanus walked up to the rostra, upon which a silence fell upon the huge assembly of people that had flocked to Rome to watch the spectacle. Into this silence, Scipio spoke:

'Tribunes of the plebs, and citizens of Rome, this is the day on which I fought with good success in a pitched battle against Hannibal and the Carthaginians in Africa. Therefore, since it is proper on this day that lawsuits and quarrels should be set aside, I shall straightaway go from here to the Capitol, to offer salutation to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, to Juno, to Minerva, and to the other gods who preside over the Capitol and the citadel. And I shall render thanks to them because on this very day, as also on many another occasion, they gave me the will, and the ability to do outstanding service to the state. I also invite you, citizens of Rome, all of you for whom it is convenient, to come with me and to pray the gods that you may have leaders like me; but I invite you on this assumption, that if from my seventeenth year up to my old age you have always been in advance of my years in promoting me to posts of honour, I on my part have anticipated those honours of yours by my achievements.'
From the Rostra he climbed up to the Capitol. At the same time the assembled crowd with one accord left the Forum and followed Scipio, so that in the end even the clerks and messengers abandoned the tribunes and no one stayed with them except their retinue of slaves and the herald who from the Rostra summoned the defendant.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXXVIII.51

Having had his moment of triumph over the tribunes, Scipio retired to his villa in Liternum and refused to return to Rome to stand trial. His health was in decline, and he had no wish to participate further in such petty political squabbles as these trials represented; the sole aim of which was mud-slinging. The Petelii tried to bring forward a motion to have Scipio arrested and brought to Rome, but this was defeated by the unanimous consent of the other tribunes, and Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus - a political opponent of Scipio - rose in his defence:

'Tribunes', he went on, 'is Scipio, the conquoror of Africa, to stand humbly at your feet? Was it for this that in Spain he routed and put to flight four of the most renowned Carthaginian commanders, and four Carthaginian armies? Was it for this that he captured Syphax, crushed Hannibal, made Carthage our tributary, banished Antiochus (for Lucius Scipio welcomes his brother to a share of this glory) beyond the Taurus Ridges? Was it for this end, that he should bow before the two Petilii? Will you allow anyone to seek the palm of victory over Publius Africanus? Shall no service of their own, no honours conferred by you, enable men of mark to reach a safe and, as one may say, a holy citadel, where their old age may find repose; where it may be, if not reverenced, at least immune from harm?'
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXXVIII.53

The Petilii were censured by the Senate, and Scipio was left in peace. So Scipio was left to himself; which was precisely what Scipio wished. Cicero, in one of his treatises, passes on the following anecdote about Scipio:

Publius Cornelius Scipio, the first of that family to be called Africanus, used to remark that he was never less idle than when he had nothing to do, and never less lonely than when he was by himself. We have this on the authority of Marcus Porcius Cato the Censor, who was almost his contemporary. It is a fine sentiment as - as you would expect from so great and wise a man.
Cicero, On Duties III.1

Scipio Africanus spent the rest of his life at Liturnum; by all accounts content and satisfied with managing his estate and the simple pleasures of country life. He died either late in 184 BCE or early in 183 BCE. According to some accounts he requested to be buried there; preferring to be laid to rest there rather than in the soil of his ungrateful nation. However even this is obscured by legend; Livy reporting that tombstones to Scipio Africanus existed in both Rome and Liturnum during his own time.

Scipio the Man

The personality of Scipio is almost impossible to divest from the legend that surrounds him. It is clear from the ancient accounts that Scipio was regarded in his own and latter times as the supreme hero; a great man, unblemished with the character flaws that blacken the greatness of Alexander the Great or the ambitions of a Marius, Sulla, or Caesar. Plutarch, in his biographies, compared Scipio Africanus and Epaminondas (the liberator of Thebes and military genius who broke Sparta's power) as the two supreme personalities of the Roman and Greek worlds respectively.

One of the overriding traits of Scipio Africanus would seem to have been one of generosity. This kindliness was often politically motivated, but it remains a consistent feature of all Scipio's dealings throughout his life. While he could clearly be ruthless when required, his dealings with his enemies was never harsh or vengeful, and always appears to have dealt as fairly as he could with everyone; whether it was Roman mutineers, the rebellious tribes of Spain, or defeated Carthage. It is clear that - like his great antagonist Hannibal - Scipio had a powerful charisma that left everyone, including Hannibal, profoundly affected. In addition to this, he was fiercely patriotic and modest - refusing honors both in Spain and Rome that would have turned the head of a lesser man. Both Livy and Polybius pay homage to this aspect of his personality, noting Scipio's greatness of mind.

Of the few character-flaws that have come down to us, only two seem to have had any substance. He may have been somewhat high-handed - certainly he was considered so by his contemporaries. Both Lidell-Hart and Scullard comment that this impression could easily have arisen if - as they believe - Scipio was a rather reserved person, willing only to confide in his closest friends. The charge of being high-handed does not fit well with the known facts of Scipio's career, and on balance, it seems likely that if Scipio appeared arrogant to his contemporaries, it was an appearance caused by his position, achievements, and fame, rather than a result of an arrogant personality.

The other charge against him is that of being fond of beautiful women; a mention of Scipio being unfaithful to his wife exists in Valerius Maximus in addition to Livy's story of the Spanish princess. Whether Scipio was in fact unfaithful to his wife is hard to say (though the evidence points to it). By all accounts though, Scipio and Aemilia would appear to have had a happy and fruitful marriage, despite Scipio's weakness for other women.

In an age of brutality, Scipio shines through in the historical accounts as a truly great - almost superhuman - man, remarkable for his character, achievements and abilities. While we should not ignore the effects of later romanticisation and the growth of the legend around Scipio, there is no reason to doubt that Scipio Africanus was a genuinly great-minded man, patriotic, morally sound, and generous.

Scipio the Father

Scipio was early on bethrothed to Aemilia, daughter of the Lucius Aemilius Paullus killed at Cannae. It is uncertain when they were married; most probably during his Consulship or shortly after his return from Africa. The couple had at least four children together; two sons and two daughters.

The eldest son - also called Publius Cornelius Scipio - inherited the poor health of his father (a typical problem of the Roman aristocracy), as a result of which he was unable to pursue a military or political career. He grew up to be a man of great intelligence, greatly respected for his wisdom, and the author of a history book (which hasn't survived). It would appear that his illness also kept him from marrying. In any case, he adopted his cousin - the younger son of Lucius Aemilius Paullus, his mother's brother - as his own son. The boy was given the name Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus - and would in his own time earn the additional names of Africanus (for his destruction of Carthage) and Numantius (for his conquests in Spain).

The younger son Lucius rose to be Praetor, but is otherwise unremarked upon in the history books. It seems likely that he died during or shortly after his year as praetor, as his non-appearance in the annals is otherwise inexplicable. As a Scipio - even after the trials - he would have been a virtually assured of his rise to Consul, had he been alive. His death would also explain the need for the elder son to adopt Scipio Aemilianus.

Scipio's eldest daughter Cornelia the elder was married to Scipio's nephew Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum - son of the Consul of 191 BCE. His youngest daughter, known to posterity as Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, was married after Scipio's death to Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, the Tribune who had defended her father. Loosing her much older husband before her sons were full grown, she would raise them up on her own. She allegedly had 12 children - only three of whom reached adulthood, only to have both her sons cut down at the prime of their life. Her exemplary composure, wisdom and beauty (she was courted by one of the Egyptian Kings - whose offer she turned down) earned her legendary status as the perfect Roman matron.

Scipio's attitude towards his family appears to have been a liberal one. All of his children were certainly well-educated. His wife Aemilia was a trend-setter and a leading woman. Breaking with the traditional Roman values espoused by men like Cato, she had no compunctions about flaunting her freedom or her wealth, while at the same time being a devoted Roman wife and mother. There can be little doubt that she offered a powerful example to the Roman women of her own generation, just as her daughter would latter offer an example to the Romans of latter generations. Like her daughter Cornelia, Aemilia was considered a role model for Roman women by latter generations; fiercely loyal to her husband, gentle and kind.

Scipio the General

In an age of war, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus led the Roman army for 8 years in two campaigns, fighting six major battles and numerous skirmishes, without loosing any. In his final battle he faced one of the greatest generals of all time, Hannibal, with a numerically inferior army, and won. It seems incredible, in the light of his achievements, that there can be any question about Scipio's status as one of the greatest Generals of his age (or indeed any age). And yet modern history has refused to give Scipio Africanus his dues.

The motive for this is in many cases not hard to find. Fascinated by the brilliant exploits and wonderful tale of Hannibal, one finds that many people appear unable to forgive Scipio for his crowning glory - his defeat of Hannibal at Zama. This unscholarly bias has led more than one historian into unsagacious and ridiculous comments on Scipio's abilities, seemingly afraid that admitting Scipio as Hannibal's equal is somehow demeaning to the Carthaginian. Such an attitude is absurd - obviously it can never lessen the glory of a great man to have been defeated by an equal or better.

A common assertion against Scipio rests on the perceived idea that he copied the tactics of Hannibal. This is a ridiculous charge, inasmuch as Hannibal himself had copied his successful tactics from previous Carthaginian generals (Xanthippos at Bagradas had used the enveloping tactics later used at Cannae, and Hamilcar Barca is recorded as using many of the stratagems Hannibal used in his own battles). If copying tactics from others does not lessen the reputation of Hannibal; how can such a charge be used to argue that Scipio was a lesser General? In addition, the charge is basically false, as anyone who has studied Scipio's battles should realize. Scipio never had the same tools to work with as Hannibal, and thus we find the tactics he deploys very different from those of Hannibal. Where Hannibal relied on his superbly drilled cavalry, Scipio relied instead on the legions, and the superb drill and flexibility that he instilled into his troops.

Scipio's battles, like those of Hannibal, are studies in brilliant tactics and astute generalship - from his brilliant assault on Nova Carthago, to his split columns at Baecula, the ruse and double envelopment of Ilipa, the burning of the camps at Castra Cornelia, and finally the glorious victory at Zama. Commentators who claim that Scipio's genius was a copy of Hannibal's not only betray themselves as small-minded men incapable of recognizing greatness due to their narrow glorification of Hannibal, but also an astonishing lack of historical insight. It is sad that so many historians find themselves unable to give credit where credit is due, and admit that Hannibal and Scipio Africanus share the honor of being the two greatest Generals of their own, and perhaps any, age.

Comparisons between these two great Generals are pointless, but if any are to be made, the most reliable would be the one reportedly made by Hannibal himself, at the second meeting of Africanus and Hannibal while Scipio was a delegate to the court of Antiochus.

Africanus asked who, in Hannibal's opinion, was the greatest general of all time. Hannibal replied: 'Alexander, King of the Macedonians, because with a small force he routed armies of countless numbers, and because he traversed the remotest lands. Merely to visit such lands transcended human expectation.' Asked whom he would place second, Hannibal said: 'Pyrrhus. He was the first to teach the art of laying out a camp. Besides that, no one has ever shown nicer judgement in choosing his ground, or in disposing his forces. He also had the art of winning men to his side; so that the Italian peoples preferred the overlordship of a foreign king to that of the Roman people, who for so long had been the chief power in that country.' When Africanus followed up by asking whom he ranked third, Hannibal unhesitatingly chose himself. Scipio burst out laughing at this, and said: 'What would you have said if you had defeated me?' 'In that case', replied Hannibal, 'I should certainly put myself before Alexander and before Pyrrhus - in fact, before all other generals!' This reply, with its elaborate Punic subtlety, and this unexpected kind of flattery...affected Scipio deeply, because Hannibal had set him (Scipio) apart from the general run of commanders, as one whose worth was beyond calculation.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXXV.14 187 BC - 184 BC.3 He was Consul 194 BC.1

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
"...the people had once been rebuked by Scipio for wishing tomake him consul for an indefinite period and dictator; that he had forbidden the erection of statues to himself in the Comitium, on the Rostra, in the Curia, on the Capitol, in the shrine of Jupiter; that he had also forbidden a decree that a likeness of himself in in triumphal costume should be represented coming out of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus."
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.57


The triumph over Carthage naturally marks the high point of Scipio's career and fame. Even so, it is remarkable that so little factual information can be gathered about Scipio's latter career, in which he appears on the stage of history only in a few scattered episodes.

In 199 BCE, Scipio was the natural choice as one of the two Censors; the crown of any Roman political career. As Censor he was responsible for the Census, for punishing irregular conduct, enrolling new members to the Senate, and sub-letting public contracts. This office Scipio performed without any controversies. We are told that Scipio was involved in securing land-grants for the veterans of his army; a just reward for the more than 15 years of faithful service of the soldiers of Cannae.

The next few years are dominated in the history books by the war against Philip V of Macedon, and the rise to fame of Titus Quinctus Flaminius - later surnamed Macedonius. But in 195 BCE, we once again hear of Scipio.

During the years following the peace, Hannibal had been elected to the position of Suffete in Carthage, and from this position had introduced much needed reforms in the Carthaginian political system to restore citizens rights, and control the corruption of magistrates. His political opponents, however, would not easily be cowed, and therefore sent envoys to Rome in order to oust him. This was a welcome opportunity for the majority of the Roman people, who had never forgiven nor forgotten the many grievous tragedies that Hannibal had inflicted upon them. The Roman people wished to see the Carthaginian led in disgrace through the streets of Rome, imprisoned and perhaps ritually strangled or thrown off the Tarpeian rock.

Only one man spoke out against common opinion, and that was Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. Having defeated Hannibal and once and for all eliminated Carthage as a world power, Scipio felt that it was unworthy of the Roman people to continue to pursue the great Carthaginian for base revenge. For a long time, Scipio successfully resisted this movement; though eventually even he could not prevent the Senate from sending the commissioners who would hound Hannibal from Carthage and into exile in Syria.

In 194 BCE, Scipio entered upon his second Consulship, a remarkable honour for a Roman noble in times of relative peace. Little is known about his doings as Consuls; it is said that he joined his colleague Tiberius Sempronius Longus in campaigning in Gaul against the Boii; though it appears the Celts - no doubt wary of Scipio's reputation - refused to meet him in battle. His second consulship thus offered no military glory like his first. Plutarch tells us that he went to Spain at the end of his Consulship; however this seems unlikely given the evidence for his activities later in the year described by Livy. In 193 BCE, we find him a member of the commission sent to Carthage to mediate in a dispute over territory between Massinissa and Carthage.

Competition for the Consular elections of 192 BCE was fierce; with Scipio Africanus championing his cousin Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum as well as his old associate Gaius Laelius, while Titus Quinctus Flaminius - conqueror of Macedonia who had recently celebrated a triumph - championed his brother Lucius Quinctus Flaminius. Despite the strong support of Scipio and the Cornelian gens, the Scipiones suffered defeat at the polls; neither of Scipio's two candidates was chosen.

Compared to the momentous events of the first thirty-five years of his life, the decade following Zama are quiet years for Africanus. What we hear of him in these years is unremarkable, and mostly concerns tales of how his wishes are thwarted. The claims of some historians that he was an ineffective politician, however, seem very unreasonable. Of 22 consuls in the period 200-190 BCE, 7 chosen - one third - can be directly related to Africanus: himself, his brother, his trusted right-hand Laelius, his cousin Cornelius Scipio Nasica (son of his uncle), his cousins of the Cornelii Meruli (one of whom was his colleague as aedile in 210), and Tiberius Sempronius Longus, who partnered in consulship with Africanus, just as his father had shared the consulship in 218 BCE with Scipio's father. To these, some historians would add further consuls who seem to have pursued a "Scipionic" policy, such as Publius Sulpicius Galba, Cornelius Cethegus, the two consuls of the Minucius clan, Marcus Acilius Glabrio and several others.

Whether or not these additional consuls were within Scipio's sphere of influence (and it seems likely that at least some of them were), there can be no doubt that Africanus was a dominant and dominating personality in Roman political life of this decade. It is worth noting that even the Triumvirate of Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus - powerful as it seemed - was quite unable to dominate Roman political life for more than a couple of years. There is no evidence that Scipio in fact wished to dominate the state in the way that the triumvirate did, but even so Roman foreign policy - markedly phil-hellenistic in these years - as well as the high number of Consuls from the his immediate amici indicate that he might in fact have done so. The fact that the sources only recount instances in which he was defeated - all of them circumstances in which he was up against strong public feelings or men of equally great popularity, does not tell us much about Scipio's practical influence on Roman policy. What influence he did exert is likely to have been carried out through conventional means, using his position as Princeps Senatus in the traditions of Roman politics. That he was a dominating personality is obvious from the honours that Livy recounts that the people gave and attempted to give him, as well as the accusations of Scipio in latter years. It is also shines through in Livy's explanation of the electoral defeat in 192 BCE comparing Scipio to Flaminius:

Scipio's fame was the greater - and for that reason more liable to jealousy...there was the fact that Scipio had by this time been continually in the public eye for nearly ten years, a circumstance which renders great men less revered, merely because people are surfeited with the sight of them; Scipio had been consul for the second time after the defeat of Hannibal; he had also held the censorship.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation, XXXV.10

The Last Campaign

The year 191 BCE saw Nasica succeed on his second attempt in the polls. In Asia, Antiochus Megas had invaded Greece on the instigation of the Aetolians, and thus provoked war with the Romans. Marcus Acilius Glabrio - the other consul - had received Greece as his province in the lots, and it was he who crossed to Greece and defeated the Seleucid King at Thermopylai. Giving up Greece for lost, Antiochus returned to Asia Minor, where he prepared himself for the inevitable Roman invasion.

After being driven from Carthage, Hannibal had gone into the service of the Seleucid King, and this - as well as the greatness of the Seleucid Kingdom - undoubtedly contributed to the election of both Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Gaius Laelius as Consuls. But this left a burning question in the air: who would get the command of the war against Antiochus, and what would be the role of Africanus?

In this state of indecision; Gaius Laelius displayed the nobility of his character and his enduring friendship for Africanus, by suggesting that the Senate decide, rather than the random draw of lots. Once Africanus announced that, if chosen, he would accompany his brother as a Legate, the decision was inevitable.

the Senate was delighted to put to the test the question which would be the most powerful support; the help given to Antiochus by the vanquished Hannibal, or that given to the Consul and the Roman legions by his conqueror, Africanus.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation, XXXVII.3

The Scipio brothers arrived in Greece in early 190 BCE. Despite Glabrio's victory the year before, the Aetolians and Athenians were still in arms against the Romans. However, knowing their cause was lost, the Greeks sought peace with the Romans -- encouraged by Africanus, who wished to avoid entanglements in Greece so that they could concentrate against the primary danger, Antiochus. Although Lucius acted bull-headed, Africanus eventually succeeded in brokering an armistice acceptable to both parties.

Having secured the armistice, Africanus then proceeded to charm King Philip V of Macedonia, whose goodwill they would require to secure their safe passage to Asia Minor. At the same time, the victory of the Roman fleet over the Seleucid fleet - led by Hannibal, the last time he participated in the war in a military capacity - cleared the Hellespontine crossing. The road to Asia was open.

Roman operations were delayed for a while, however, as Publius Cornelius - for religious reasons - was forbidden from changing his domicile shortly after the army had crossed the Hellespont. Despairing of his chances, however, Antiochus had already resolved to seek terms of peace. He therefore sent an envoy to Africanus, offering to return his son (the young Publius Cornelius - eldest son of Africanus - had been captured by the Seleucids early in the war) and to endow him with unimaginable riches, if only Africanus would broker a peace. Scipio's reply is a testament to his greatness:

Of the king's munificient offers I shall accept the greatest, namely my son. As for the rest, I pray heaven that my fortune will never need them; my soul, at any rate, will never need them. In return for so great a gift to me he will find me grateful to him, if he desires private gratitude in return for private service: in my public character I shall receive nothing from him and I shall give nothing. One thing I can give him at the present moment, and that is my sincere counsel. Go and tell him this from me; tell him to stop the war and not to reject any offer of peace.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation, XXXVII.37

The Roman terms, however, were too harsh for King Antiochus, and he resolved to try his fortune in battle. As the Roman army marched south to confront him, Africanus allegedly fell ill. Hearing this, Antiochus sent the young Publius Cornelius back to his father as a gift. In return, he received the cryptic advice not to come out to battle until Africanus had returned to the Roman camp.

In the event, Lucius Cornelius Scipio pressed the King's army hard, and at Magnesia, the two armies deployed for battle. The Seleucid army of 60,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry were defeated by the 30,000 man Roman army when King Antiochus pursued the defeated left wing of the Roman army too far and left his infantry exposed. By the time Antiochus had returned from his pursuit, the Seleucid infantry was in flight and the battle lost.

There can be no doubt that the war against Antiochus was as much Africanus' campaign as any of his earlier campaigns. Every message that we know of issued from the Roman army during the war carry the address of both Lucius and Africanus - quite unnecesarry, since Africanus had no formal powers. We also find that every known envoy sent to the Romans during this time also took the precaution of addressing him in private; sometimes even prior to addressing the main Roman command council. And finally, when the terms of peace after Magnesia are to be dictated to the Seleucids, it is Africanus who is the spokesman for the Romans once again.

Even in Livy's time, the accounts of the war seem to have been muddled; no one knowing, for instance, exactly when Scipio's son had been captured. Scipio's mysterious illness conveniently occuring so that Lucius could receive the glory of victory out of his brothers shadow, Scipio's rapid recovery in time to head the peace negotiations, and Scipio's cryptic messages to the Seleucid King all raise questions. In the Strategematae of Frontinus, there is a passage indicating that some historians at least believed that Africanus was present at Magnesia, and suggested the time and place for the attack. But whether or not the course of events were planned and prepared by Africanus (as might be suggested by the illness episode and Frontinus), is impossible to know.

Regardless, the Scipio brothers had been triumphant, and Antiochus and the Seleucid Kingdom were evicted from all their possessions in Asia Minor, confining them to the (still huge) eastern parts of their Empire. In addition, a huge indemnity of 15,000 talents was laid on the Seleucids - a burden that, indirectly, was to lead to the death of Antiochus III and his successor, Antiochus IV (both were killed while "plundering" temples to raise money for the Roman tribute). 200 BC - 190 BC.4

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
"...give to me and to the Roman people means to inflict upon the Carthaginian state the sufferings which the Carthaginians have labored to inflict upon us."
Prayer of Scipio Africanus at the embarkation from Sicily.
Livy, The History of Rome XXIX.27

The Arrival

The forces that Scipio embarked for his African campaign were small indeed; his fleet no more than 40 warships and 400 transports. Estimates of the initial size of his army vary; but the lowest number of 16,000 infantry and 1,600 cavalry given in Livy would seem to tally well with the number of transports quoted in the initial invasion. Very likely, additional reinforcements from the garisson in Sicily arrived later in the year.

He arrived to an Africa in turmoil; his carefully laid alliances sabotaged by the activities of the Carthaginians. His Numidian allies, Syphax and Massinissa, had gone to war against each other in the succession struggles after the death of Gala, King of the Maesulii Numidians, and Massinissa's father (Syphax was the King of the Masaesulii tribe). At the same time, Syphax had been turned by Carthaginian diplomacy to abandon his alliance with Scipio, and had married the daughter of Hasdrubal Gisgon, Sophonisba. With Carthaginian help, Syphax had succeeded in decisively defeating Massinissa, and Scipio's sole ally in Africa was now a King without a Kingdom.

As a result of this, Massinissa could bring only a small troop with him to join Scipio when the latter landed at Cap Farina; not far from the city of Utica. His arrival caused widespread panic and great alarm in Carthage, as the population of the country-side fled into the Cities. A small reconnaisance force sent out by the Carthaginians was easily trapped and destroyed by Scipio, and as the Roman army ravaged the country-side, they were able to gather considerable booty and captives.

The Carthaginians now sent a force of 4,000 cavalry to keep a watch on Scipio, while their General Hadsrubal Gisgo assembled an army to oppose the Romans. Scipio ordered Massinissa to attack the Carthaginian force and then lure the enemy into the ambush laid by Scipio. The plan worked perfectly, and the enemy force was destroyed 3,000 men killed and captured, while the rest fled into the countryside.

Unopposed, Scipio's forces ravaged the country-side, and then laid siege to the city of Utica. Utica could provide him with a port, thus easing the supply situation for the Roman army. However, the Punic city defended itself stoutly, and soon help arrived from Carthage in the armies of Hasdrubal Giscon and Syphax. According to Livy, Hasdrubal had 30,000 foot and 3,000 cavalry while Syphax had 50,000 foot and 10,000 cavalry. This is probably an exaggeration. However, given Scipio's unwillingness to engage the Carthaginians, it is probably safe to assume that Scipio's forces were heavily outnumbered. After forty days in front of Utica, Scipio withdrew his army into winter quarters close to Utica.

Castra Cornelia

Scipio chose for his winter camp a small promonotory, well-protected due to a narrow ridge where it joined land. Now Scipio's careful preparations paid off, and his army was kept well-supplied as they wintered in their secure camp, a site which earned the name Castra Cornelia - the Castle of Cornelius (it retained the name for more than 200 years).

Heavily outnumbered and isolated, the Romans were literally under siege. In the standstill in operations during the winter, Syphax attempted to initiate a dialogue with the Romans to attempt to broke an end to the war. After initially refusing the approach, Scipio appeared to change his opinion. His envoys had noticed that the Numidian camp was poorly defended, and almost entirely made of highly combustible wood and thatch, and Scipio now made sure the entire camp was completely scouted by experienced Roman Centurions.

With Syphax lulled into a sense that peace was a possibility, Scipio asked the Carthaginians to offer terms; seemingly anxious to have peace. This led the Carthaginians to make exorbitant demands, and Scipio could then, with clear conscience, break off negotiations.

Scipio's design was now brought to fruition. Sending Laelius and Massinnisa with part of the army to set fire to the Numidian camp, he himself took the other half of the army to the Carthaginian camp. The first half of the plan went perfectly, and soon the badly constructed Numidian camp was blazing lustily. The Carthaginian sentries, thinking that the blaze was accidental, rushed to assist the Numidians. Unprepared, Carthaginians poured out of the camp with buckets and blankets, only to be cut down by the Roman force. Scipio's troop seized the gates of the camp, forced their way into the Carthaginian camp, and set fire to the Carthaginian camp as well.

A scene from apocalypse now presented itself. Intermixed, Numidian, Carthaginian, horses, cattle, and all the other living beings within the two encampments, roused in the deep of night to the horror of the flames. Thousands perished in the flames; many of the survivors escaping the conflagration only to cut down in their flight by the Roman soldiers waiting outside in the darkness.

The Carthaginian losses were severe; 40,000 dead according to Livy, with five thousand prisoners being taken, including 11 Carthaginian senators. Both Hasdrubal and Syphax escaped, with a small number of infantry and foot. In one fell stroke, Scipio had destroyed the combined Carthago-Numidian army.

Free from the worry of the enemy presence, Scipio prepared to resume his objective of securing the all-important port of Utica. Ever cautious, however, he soon learned that Hasdrubal and Syphax had regrouped in the interior, and were assembling and training a new army based around a recently arrived mercenary contigent of Celtiberians. Leaving a token force to garrison the Castra Cornelia and keep up the appearance of a siege against Utica, Scipio immediately marched with the main part of his force against Syphax.

After a few days of skirmishing, Hasdrubal and Syphax accepted battle. The inexperienced Carthaginian and Numidian cavalry (most of the experienced troops had died in the previous battles) were almost immediately routed and soon the entire army was in flight. The Celtiberians alone stood firm, were surrounded and slaughtered to a man.

Scipio now sent Laelius and Massinissa at the head of flying columns, to pursue the fleeing Syphax, while he himself at the head of the major part of the army subjugated the area surrounding Carthage. Many towns surrendered upon his approach, and shortly his army was so impeded by plunder and prisoners that these had to be sent back to the Castra Cornelia. He then occuppied the fortress of Tunis, barely twenty-five kilometers from Carthage.

In an attempt to strike back, the Carthaginians had prepared their navy, and launched it to attempt a surprise attack against the Castra Cornelia, convinced that with Scipio and the majority of the army gone, they would be able to relieve Utica. The Romans at Tunis however, saw the Carthaginian fleet set out, and realizing the vulnerability of the unmanned warships and transports, Scipio immediately ordered his troops back to Utica, while he rode ahead.

Rather than try to man his warships and attempt to fight a superior enemy at sea, Scipio instead drew his ships in as close to the shore as possible (taking care to protect the vitally important warships) and lashed them together. In this way he made a fighting platform for his army, and when the Carthaginians fleet arrived, they found themselves faced by a wall of ships manned by Roman soldiers. Planning to surprise the enemy, the Carthaginians had been too cautious in their approach, and thus allowed Scipio's troops to return in time. Nevertheless, the Carthaginians attacked valiantly, and after a long indecisive fight, managed to cut out and tow off sixty of the empty Roman transports. By his prompt action, Scipio had succeeded in preventing unnecesarry loss of troops, supplies, or the warships that were vital to maintaining his position in Africa.

The Carthaginian force was to suffer a further blow though; for Massinissa and Laelius had caught up with Syphax and forced the latter's hastily reformed army to battle. Syphax had lost once again, fallen from his horse during the rout, and been taken captive by Laelius. Along with Syphax, Massinissa had captured the beautiful Sophonisba, Syphax's wife and (or so Syphax claimed) the reason for the betrayal of his treaty with Scipio. Somehow, she convinced Massinissa to marry her, to prevent her being taken as a prisoner. This act worried Scipio, and he therefore summonned Massinissa and convinced the Numidian prince of the error of his ways. Withdrawing from the audience, Massinissa after long deliberations, sent Sophonisba a gift of poison, which she drank with the sarcastic remark:

I should have died a better death, if I had not married on the day of my funeral.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXX.15

The Truce

Scipio, true to his nature, scolded Massinissa for the fatal results of his hasty acts, but at the same time praised both him and Laelius for their achievements in completing the defeat of Syphax. Laelius, he sent with Syphax as prisoner to Rome in order to report on his successes, while Massinissa was acclaimed as King of all Numidia before the army. Without any remaining Carthaginian armies in the field, Scipio's forces could range at will through the African country-side, and Scipio returned with parts of his forces to abandoned fortress of Tunis and thus threatened the City of Carthage with siege.

Although the Carthaginians had sent envoys to the surviving Barca brothers, Hannibal and Mago, to return to Carthage, the latest events had robbed the Carthaginian people of hope. Thus the Council of Thirty (an inner Cabal in the Carthaginian government) went to Scipio and prostrated themselves before him to sue for peace.

Scipio's terms were comparatively lenient; and the Carthaginians immediately agreed to these terms, concluding an armistice with Scipio, and sending envoys to Rome to ratify the treaty. The subsequent events could indicate that the armistice proposed by the Carthaginians was a ruse from the start, intended to buy time until Hannibal and Mago could return from Italy, and the Carthaginians could pit two new armies against Scipio. At the same time, Carthaginian recruiting officers were busy hiring mercenaries in Spain, and a number of these were captured by the Romans near Saguntum.

At the same time, Scipio's political opponents (minus Fabius Maximus, who had died of old age during the year) were putting pressure on the Senate to try and replace him in command of the African army, with the peace so near. The Roman Consul Servilius Caepio, in fact, transferred himself to Sicily with the intention of travelling to Africa and superseding Scipio. Scipio's support, both in the Senate and among the people remained strong, however, and the move was blocked. At the same time, the Roman Senate considered the peace treaty suggested by Scipio; Livy claims the treaty was refused, grounded on the suspicions of the Senate, whereas Polybius claims it was ratified. Regardless of the actual decision, events where taken out of the hands of the diplomats by the act of the Carthaginian people.

A Roman convoy of 200 transports had been caught in a storm, and the ships scattered and driven ashore in the area surrounding Carthage. Excited by this windfall of supplies, the People of Carthage had put pressure on the Senate to take the ships thus offered, and any appeals to stand by the armistice were drowned in the popular outcry. The seizing of the ships constituted a clear breach of the armistice, and subsequently, the Carthaginians allegedly compounded their crimes by attempting to kill the envoys sent by Scipio to request the return of the seized ships.

So with Scipio's army settling into wintercamp in 203 BCE, the war resumed. A renewed attempt in the Roman senate to supersede him in command of the African army was easily foiled, by Scipio's huge popularity among the people. Thus politically, Scipio's position was secure.

On the military front, however, events were significantly more bleak. Hannibal Barca had at last landed at Hadrumentum with the hardened veterans of his Italian army. These men, some of them veterans of 16 years of warfare, provided a formidable core to the new army being formed at Carthage, in every respect equivalent to Scipio's own veterans. To augment these troops, Hannibal could add the well-disciplined troops of Mago's Ligurian army (Mago had died of a wound during the crossing). Finally, Hannibal could supplement these troops with a considerable force of new recruits from the Carthaginian cities and whatever mercenaries the Carthaginian recruiting officers had been able to muster. The crowning achievement of this massive, last-ditch recruiting attempt was the collection of 80 war elephants.

Prelude to Battle

Winter had reduced operations to a low pitch, a pause that Hannibal no doubt appreciated, as it gave him the opportunity to drill his new recruits, and acclimatize his vererans - many of whom would be native Italians - to their new theater of operations. Hannibal's army would now have bulked large with troops; in addition to the 80 war elephants, his army would seem to have numbered somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 men, at least one third, and possible one half of them might be the elite force of his veterans. His main problem was a lack of quality cavalry, and although he no doubt had a proportion of cavalry among his veterans (who could be provided new horses), the devastating losses suffered by the Carthaginians in the previous years, would have reduced the quantity, and above all the quality of the cavalry he could muster. His position was however significantly strengthened when Tychaeus, a relative of Syphax, joined him with a body of 2,000 Numidian horsemen.

With Massinissa off campaigning in the West to bring all of Numidia to heel, Scipio himself was encamped close to Carthage. The stream of petitions that his activities before Carthage caused to be sent to Hannibal apparently left him unmoved, but when Scipio began a devastating marching west through the African heart-lands, Hannibal at last bestirred himself.

Scipio's action at this point would seem a coldly calculated act of genius, at one stroke, he was drawing his opponent ever closer to the pitched battle that he required, while closing the distance between himself and Massinissa. Because at this point in time, Scipio's forces were without a doubt significantly less than Hannibal. His handling of the situation was masterful, and he not only managed to avoid a battle until Massinissa could arrive, but also succeeded in outmaneouvering the Carthaginian master-general. Placing his camp in a favorable position near Naraggarra, Scipio forced Hannibal to encamp his forces in a position far from water.

During the course of these operations, a couple of Hannibalic spies were captured close to the Roman encampments. Rather than execute them, however, Scipio treated them leniently, and showed them round his camp. This act of confidence so aroused Hannibal's curiousity, that he requested a meeting with Scipio. Though the particulars of this meeting has been doubted, the fact that Polybius (who personally interviewed both Laelius and Massinissa) testifies to its truthfulness are strong arguements for the truth of this occurence.

Hannibal opened the meeting as follows:

"Would that neither the Romans had ever coveted any possessions outside Italy, nor the Carthaginians any outside Africa; for both these were very fine empires and empires of which it might be said on the whole that Nature herself had fixed their limits. But now that in the first place we went to war with each other for the possession of Sicily and next for that of Spain, now that, finally refusing to listen to the admonition of Fortune, we have gone so far that your native solil was once in imminent danger and our own still is, what remains but to consider by what means we can avert the anger of the gods and compose our present contentino? I myself am ready to do so as I learnt by actual experience how fickle Fortune is, and how by a slight turn of the scale either way she brings about changes of the greatest moment, as if she were sporting with little children. But I fear that you, Publius, both because you are very young and because success has constantly attended you both in Spain and in Africa, and you have never up to now at least fallen into the counter-current of Fortune, will not be convinced by my words, however worthy of credit they may be......If you conquer you will add but little to the fame of your country and your own, but if you suffer defeat you will utterly efface the memory of all that was grand and glorious in your past. What then is the end I would gain by this interview? I propose the all the countries the were formerly a subject of dispute between us, that is Sicily, Sardinia, and Spain, shall belong to Rome and that Carthage shall never make war upon Rome on account of them. Likewise that the other islands lying between Italy and Africa shall belong to Rome. Such terms of peace would, I am convinced, be most secure for the Carthaginians and most honourable to you and to all the Romans.
Polybius, The Histories XV.6-7

These terms were unacceptable, as Hannibal must have known, and Scipio wasted no time in turning them down. With the situation thus remaining unresolved, the two commanders returned to their respective camps. Shortly after this, Massinissa arrived at the Roman camp with 6,000 foot and 4,000 horse. The scene was now set for the final show-down.


It is impossible to accurately assess the size of Scipio's army before Zama, but considering that Massinissa had earlier taken with him 10 cohorts of Roman infantry (a Legion), we may conclude that Scipio's army probably did not exceed 24,000 infantry (plus perhaps a small contigent of lightly armed Numidians), while his cavalry would have been no more than 6,400 (the 2,400 cavalry of the Legions plus Massinissa's 4,000). These numbers assume that the Roman army was significantly over it's normal strength strength, and that any losses to the cavalry (who had been very active in the fighting so far) had been replaced up to full strength. Appian's numbers of 23,000 foot, and 1,500 Roman cavalry in additions to Massinissa's 4,000 Numidian horse on the whole seems to be a very reasonable estimate (we note that many commentators mistakenly add to this number the 6,000 infantry brought in by Massinissa, ignoring the clear testimony of Polybius that most -- if not all -- of these would have been the Roman legionaries detached with the Prince).

Against this force, Hannibal could mass a significantly larger army. In the front-line, he deployed his 80 war elephants, a greater number than had been used at any other time during the war. Behind these, he deployed 12,000 mercenaries, Ligurians, Celts, Moors, and Balearics. Many of these would have been from Mago's army; troops that had made a good showing against Roman armies in Liguria. Behind this force was deployed the Carthaginian citizen levy and Libyan infantry; most probably amounting to another 12,000 troops. Far behind these first two lines, Hannibal had stationed his crack force of veterans in reserve. Given the subsequent events during the battle, it is highly likely that this force numbered at least 20,000 troops, and one reason for deploying them so far behind the two other battlelines was no doubt to mask their deployment. On either flank, Hannibal had deployed his cavalry. In addition to the 2,000 Numidians horse brought in by Tychaeus, Hannibal also had at his service the rest of the once-proud Carthaginian citizen cavalry, whatever troopers he had brought with him from Italy, and any Numidian mercenaries that might still be in the service of Carthage. A reasonable estimate would probably place the number of his cavalry between 3,000 to 5,000 horse, with a lower number seeming more probable. In favor of a higher number, is the fact that Hannibal seemingly took no precautions to remedy the disrepancy in cavalry numbers; a role in which elephants were often deployed. On the whole, though, we may conclude that Hannibal must have felt confident in his forces, and his chances of success (as is also demonstrated by his decision to venture a battle at once).

Scipio, with his customary high confidence, did not fear the battle either. Despite their smaller numbers, his army was superbly disciplined, with two years of victories behind them. They probably had an edge in cavalry, and to the troops of Cannae, this would have been a welcome knowledge. Scipio's main worry would have been the large number of elephants in Hannibal's army, and to counter this, he deployed his army in a most unorthodox manner. Rather than the traditional triplex acies (checkerboard formation), he formed up the three lines of his army with the maniples one behind the other, thus forming corridors in the gaps between the maniples.

After some indecisive skirmishing, Hannibal ordered his elephants to charge, but Scipio immediately turned the tables by ordering his trumpeteers and buglers to blow their instruments, while the soldiers let out a loud shout. The cacophony of noise unsettled the beast - most of whom were barely trained - and created a panic. Harassed by the Roman velites, some charged in between the gaps in the Legions, killing many of the light infantry and passing through the Roman lines to escape, while others turned around and in trying to escape collided with their own cavalry. Taking advantage of the confusion, Laelius and Massinissa, stationed on each their wing with the cavalry charged their opponents and drove them off. Hannibal had lost all his cavalry, but the Roman cavalry pursued the enemy, leaving their own infantry unsupported and outnumbered.

Undeterred, the Romans charged the first line of the Carthaginians, and though the mercenaries put up a good fight, they were eventually forced to fall back. The second line, however, was not prepared to permit this, and fighting broke out between some of the mercenaries and the second Carthaginian line, even as the Romans pressed in upon them. The confusion and spirited resistance of the Carthaginians threatened to disrupt the Roman hastati, but by moving the Principes (Roman second line) up to support the fighting, the Carthaginians were eventually broken and fled.

The fighting had been fierce and bloody,and the ground over which the Romans were now moving was littered with bodies and broken weaponry; a slippery, blood-soaked mess. But the Roman's had yet to face Hannibal, and his crack force of veterans, and their front ranks were in wild dissarray as they pursued the carthaginian levy. This was the point when Scipio demonstrated his mastery of the arts of war. Recalling the Hastati from their pursuit, Scipio reformed his battle line. Since Hannibal's reserves were numerous enough to outflank Scipio's men, Scipio extended his lines by moving his second and third lines up on the flanks of his front line to form one single line to match that of Hannibal. That Scipio could achieve such a maneuvre in the face of an enemy formation and during the chaos of a pursuit speaks volumes about the cast-iron discipline that Scipio had instilled in his troops, and his tactical skill.

Finally, the two forces clashed - Hannibal's all-conquoring veterans against the extended Roman lines. The forces were evenly matched, and for a while the battle hung in the balance. Hannibal's tactic to blunt the Roman troops with the first two lines of expendable troops and then crush them with his veterans might yet win the day. But suddenly Massinissa and Laelius returned from their pursuits and fell on the rear of the Carthaginian formation, and it was all over. The Carthaginian formation crumpled under the attack, and by evening the Romans had stormed and plundered the Carthaginian camp. More than half of Hannibal's army lay on the field of battle, along with 1500 Roman dead.


Unlike Hannibal after Cannae, Scipio seized the moment to lay maximal pressure on the beaten Carthaginians by marching on the city. It is unlikely that he intended to besiege it - he did not have the ressources for such a task - but the threat alone was a potent weapon. The Carthaginians caved in; and Scipio set forth his terms: Carthage was no longer to have an independent foreign policy; their navy and elephant corps were to be destroyed (Livy says that more than 500 ships were burned), and for the next 50 years, Carthage would have to pay indemnities to the Romans. The terms were harsh, and left Carthage as little more than yet another Roman vassal.

Some Carthaginians balked at submitting to these terms, but Hannibal - seeing the inevitable - convinced the Carthaginians to accept the terms, even physically dragging a senator from the speaker's podium to shut him up. The war was over.

Scipio spent the rest of the year putting affairs in Africa in order, installing Massinissa as King of all Numidia and a powerful watchdog on the much-reduced Carthaginian state. By 201 BCE, the treaty had been ratified by the Senate, their decisions implemented, and Scipio could at last set sail for the Sicily again. From there he sent the majority of his army by sea to Rome, while he himself made his way through Italy in an extended triumphal progression.

Everywhere he found rejoicing as much on account of the peace as for victory, when the towns poured out to do him honor and crowds of peasants too held up his progress along the roads. He reached Rome and rode into the city in triumph -- triumph such as had never been seen before. To the treasury he brought 123,000 pounds weight of silver; to his soldiers he distributed 400 asses apiece.
As for the surname Africanus, I have not been able to find out how it became current -- through the army's devotion to their general, or frompopular favor; or it may have started with the flattery of his close friends, in the way, in our fathers' time, Sulla was called "Fortunate" and Pompey "the Great". What is certain is that Scipio was the first general to be celebrated by the name of the people he conquored, though subsequently there were men fra less renowned for the victorieswho took him as a precedent, and acquired titles of honour for their family portraits and distinguished surnames for their descendants.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXX.45 204 BC - 201 BC.5

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
"It is on record that the election drew a greater crowd of people than any other during the war; they had come not only to vote but to see Scipio, and great throngs followed him to his house and attended him to the Capitol to watch him sacrifice the hundred oxen which he had vowed to Jupiter while he was in Spain."
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.38

The Return

After handing over command of Spain to the pro-praetors Lucius Lentulus and Lucius Manlius Acidinus, Scipio returned to Rome. As a signal honour, the Senate convened a meeting in the temple of Bellona outside the city (a Roman general could not enter the city until he had laid down his imperium) where he presented his report to the Senate. He detailed the number of battles fought, the large number of enemy towns captured, the many Spanish peoples that - willingly or forced -acknowledged the dominion of Rome.

He reminded the Senate that he had gone to Spain to face four enemy commanders and four victorious armies and had left not a single Carthaginian soldier in the country.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.38

For this glorious service, Scipio humbly asked for the honour of a triumph. Envy was already rearing its ugly head, however, and the Senate refused the request on the basis of tradition: no one who had commanded armies without holding a regular magistracy had ever celebrated a triumph before. Scipio did not press his case and at the close of the proceedings he entered the city as a private citizen preceeded by his contributions to the treasury conquored in Spain: 14,342 pounds weight of silver and a huge amount of silver coins.

Scipio's tact was wise, and left his family's traditional enemies; the Fabii and Claudii with no opening to discredit him. The ensuing Consular elections for the year 205 saw his strategy reap its gains: not only was Publius Cornelius Scipio voted Consul by every one of the centuries, but his political ally, Publius Licinius Crassus<, was elected as the second Consul. This was a huge advantage for Scipio as it was now common knowledge that Scipio intended to finish the war and invade Africa and, due to his religious duties, Crassus was unable to leave Italy.

The Accusations of Fabius Maximus

These rumors caused Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator to lash out at Scipio in the Senate. Beginning by pointing out that neither the Senate nor the People had yet proposed Africa to be on the list of operations for the coming year, he all but accused Scipio of insulting the Senate by coming before them with his mind already decided. He then continued:

I know very well that in opposing this excessive hurry to invade Africa, I shall have to face hostile criticism on two counts: first I shall be blamed for my natural tendency to avoid precipitate action......secondly I shall incur the charge of ill-will and envy of the daily increasing fame of a brave consul. From this latter suspicion, surely I am defended by my past life and character and by the distinctions I have won in my dictatorship and my five consulships and so much honour as both soldier and statesman that I have had too much of it, not too little; and if that is no defence, then my age surely is; for how can I compete with a man who is younger even than my own son? Remember the attack made upon me by my master of Horse when I was a dictator; and yet, though I was still at the height of my powers...... (I did not) utter a word of protest against making his power equal to mine, a thing which had not been heard of before. I wanted by deeds not by words to force a man, who in the opinion of some had been put at the level as myself, to admit before many days were past that I was the better soldier. Is it then likely now, that at the end of my career, I should enter into jealous rivalry with one in the very flower of his manhood for the prize of this African campaign...... My duty is to live and die with such glory as I have already won. I prevented Hannibal from defeating us, and thus enabled you who are young and strong to bring him finally to his knees.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.40

After thus extolling his own virtues, he goes on to urge that Scipio's task must be to attack Hannibal in Italy:

Hannibal is formidable still: to prefer to fight him elsewhere may well look more like fear than contempt. Why then do you not gird yourself for the campaign which lies before you?......march direct to where Hannibal at this moment is, and fight him there.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.41

Fabius then goes on to magnify the danger to the Roman people should Scipio invade Africa, and after listing a number of examples to show how great the risks to Scipio's army are, goes on to belittle Scipio's achievements in Spain.

...on the Ebro were the armies of your father and uncle, rendered all the more eager for battle by the very disaster of their generals' death; there too in command was that fine soldier Lucius Marcius......You captured New Carthage at your leisure, for not one of the three Carthaginian armies attempted to defend their allies; as for your other achievements -- and I do not belittle them -- they are in no way to be compared with a campaign in Africa...
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.42

After thus making light of Scipio's achievements in Spain, Fabius goes on to warn Scipio of the dangers of Africa: that he will find the entire land united against him and pretend concern for Scipio's fate should he cross to Africa. Accusing him that Scipio's rashness will lead to the reinforcement of Hannibal in Italy, he then criticsized Scipio for letting Hasdrubal escape in Spain. After a sneering comment about Scipio's military skill, the tone of the critique sharpened:

Not even you can shut your eyes to the truth that the very head and seat of the war is where Hannibal is -- indeed you claim that your object of going to Africa is to draw Hannibal after you.....Say then, will you be stronger alone in Africa or here in Italy, supported by your colleague's army? ........Is it surely an odd sort of strategy to prefer to fight when your own numbers are cut by half and those of the enemy greatly increased, rather than when two armies of your own have the chance of dealing with a single enemy force already exhausted by the innumerable struggles of a long and exacting campaign........Your father started for Spain, but returned to Italy from his province in order to meet, on the contrary, with Hannibal in Italy are preparing to leave it, not because you think that such a move would help the country but because it would redound to your own glory and credit
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.42

Fabius then ended his speech with a direct attack on Scipio:

In my view, gentlemen of the Senate, Publius Cornelius Scipio has been made consul, not for his own personal benefit but to serve the country and us, and the armed forces have been raised for the protection of Rome and Italy, not for arrogant consuls who fancy themselves kings to whisk away to any part of the world they please
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.43

The speech of Fabius, whether authentic or not, probably very well reflects the obstacles that Scipio now faced in the Senate. Old (and therefore renowned) senator who had fought in the first war and led the nation through the so far twelve years of the second Punic war, bitterly envious of the young, charismatic Consul whose popularity was soaring, too narrowly short-sighted to ever again consider diverging from the Fabian strategy after the disaster of Cannae. These men were not about to let the Scipios once again risk the army of Rome on far adventures.

Scipio's Reply

Feelings were clearly running against Scipio, when he rose to reply. His first remarks are a biting counterthrust:

Fabius himself, gentlemen, at the beginning of his speech mentioned that he might be suspected of deliberate disparagement of myself......To obviate the charge of envy, he made a great deal of his own achievements and the positions he has held, as if it were only from mere nobodies that I need fear rivalry, and not from a man who, because of his pre-eminence is unwilling that I should be thought his equal.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.43

Having pointed out the clear strain of envy in Fabius's remarks, Scipio mocked Fabius's concern for Scipio's safety on the African venture.

Whence this sudden solicitude for me? When my father and uncle killed and their two armies almost annihilated; when the Spanish provinces were lost and four Carthaginian generals......forcibly held the whole country in a grip of fear......when an officer was needed to take command and I was the only man to offer himself for the task.......why was it that no one said a word about my youth, or the enemy's strength, or the difficulties that ythe campaign would involve, or the death of my father and uncle?......Are there more powerful armies in Africa now, or more andbetter generals, than there were in Spain? Was I then an older and more experienced commander than I am now? is easy to belittle my achievements; the utter defeat of four Carthaginian armies, innumerable towns taken by storm or terrified into submission, the conquest of the entire country up to the Atlantic coast involving the surrender of countless fierce tribes and their petty kings, the complete recovery of Spain so that no trace of opposition is left in the country. And God knows, it would be just as easy, should I return victorious from Africa, to belittle those very things of which the danger is now being so grossly exaggerated, in order to keep me home.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.43

One by one, Scipio demolished the historical examples raised by Fabius. He pointed out the advantages to be gained by invading Africa; pointing to Hannibal's example to demonstrate the powers of the offensive. He would draw Hannibal to him, rather than dance to the tune of the Punic piper. Having enumerated sound strategic reasons for his wish to invade Africa, he concluded with tiny stab at his elder rival.

Though Fabius has depreciated my services in Spain, I will not attempt to turn his glory into ridicule and magnify my own. If nothing else, though a young man, I will showmy superiority over this old man in modesty and in the government of my tongue. Such has been my life, and such the services I have performed, that I can rest content in silence with that opinion which you have spontaneously formed of me."
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.43

Opposition remained strong however, and the Senate required assurances that Scipio would not attempt to bypass their authority. Even after receiving such assurances from Scipio, the permission they gave was grudging. It was allowed that the Consul who got imperium for Sicily might have permission to cross to Africa if he judged this to be for the advantage of the state. But - as Sicily had been at peace for the past five years - he would receive no troops to supplement the garrison stationed there. The Senate would grant no concessions to his dream of ending the war.

Scipio in Sicily

Undismayed by the bitterly led opposition, Scipio set to work with a will. By calling for donations and volunteers from allied communities in Italy, he was able to lay down the keels for and build 30 new warships within 45 days; with these ships and 7000 volunteers, he set sail for his province of Sicily.

Scipio's first task once he reached Sicily, was to build the kernel for a skilled cavalry force to oppose the renowned Carthaginian cavalry. Drawing upon the Sicilian communities, he commandeered 300 noble youths to accompany him to Africa as cavalry. The perils of such hazardous service was not welcomed by the Sicilians, and they mustered at the Roman camp with understandable reluctance. Scipio addressed them gently, told them he understood their fears, and then offered to release them from service, provided they handed over their horse, arms, and would train a substitute to serve in their place. The Sicilians promptly agreed, and Scipio gave them tutelage of 300 of his picked volunteers. These volunteers would form the kernel of the Roman cavalry force in Africa.

He thereupon set about the massive task of preparing for the invasion. Old and new ships were refitted or repaired; and grain was stockpiled in depots to supply the invasion force. The war which had raged in Sicily from 215-210 had left many grievances and grudges against the Romans; Scipio took the opportunity to redress these grievances, ensuring that plundered property was restored to the Sicilians by Consular decrees and direct action. These acts of justice significantly improved the standing of Scipio, and Rome, with the Sicilians, and not only quelled talks of revolt, but made the Sicilians active allies. He also sent Gaius Laelius on a raiding expedition to Africa in order to determine whether or not his newly won African allies (Syphax and Massinissa), were prepared to support him.

In the meantime, Scipio prepared and trained his troops, much as he had done during his first year in Spain. In addition to his 7000 volunteers, the garrisson of Sicily consisted of a motley collection of disreputable troops. Here, the Senate had sent the disgraced survivors of all Rome's disasters: Cannae, and the battles of Herdonea. Though they had desperately petitioned for the chance to redeem themselves, these troops had been denied the opportunity of fighting in the battles to recapture Sicily and left to rot in garrisson duty. Scipio came to them as one of their own; he too had fought at Cannae, and no doubt rescued some of the men he would now command. These soldiers, many of whom would have been stationed on Sicily for more than 10 years, responded enthusiastically to the chance to finally leave the island, and avenge themselves on the Carthaginians. With these men, whom the Roman senate had disregarded, Scipio would weld a superbly disciplined fighting force to match the one he had left behind in Spain.
Political Troubles

Taking advantage of a happy chance, Scipio took the opportunity to recapture Locri, a small town on the toe of Italy, from its Carthaginian occuppiers. Crossing over with 3000 men, Scipio succeeded in capturing the town. When Hannibal rushed to the rescue, Scipio laid a cunning trap, ambushing the Master of the Ambush himself. Disconcerted, Hannibal withdrew and left the town in the possession of the Romans.

Since Locri was technically outside of his imperium, Scipio withdrew to Sicily once the situation was under control, returning command of the area to the Pro-praetor Quintus Pleminius. At once Scipio had left, however, Pleminius proceeded to plunder the city, even though the Locrians had themselves assisted in the recapture. When the two Tribunes who commanded Scipio's contigent of troops in Locri attempted to prevent this, Pleminius ordered them stripped and beaten. This enraged Scipio's men so much that they broke with their habits of discipline; Pleminius was beaten, mutilated, and left for dead.

Such misconduct could of course not be tolerated; even less so given the sensitivity of the situation. As a result, Scipio ordered that the two Tribunes be put in chains and sent to Rome for judgement. Once Scipio had left the scene, Pleminius - now back in command- had the two Tribunes tortured and put to death and then proceeded to plunder Locri even more thoroughly.

Unwilling to take more abuse, the Locrians appealed to the Senate in Rome. By this time, Scipio's year as Consul had ended, and he was preparing - as Proconsul - to embark his army for Africa. He was vulnerable, and Scipio's opponents grasped at the chance to put an unexpected stop to his plans. After cross-examining the Locrians, the enemies of the Scipio's once again launched attacks against Scipio's credibility.

Leading the onslaught was Quintus Fabius, who accused him (Scipio) of having all the qualities which inevitably lead to the ruin of military discipline. In Spain, he declared, almost more men had been lost through mutiny than had been killed in battle, while Scipio, like some foreign despot, alternately treated his soldiers with absurd indulgence and extreme brutality....Scipio, he said, should be recalled for leaving his province without orders from the Senare, and arrangements should be made with the people's tribunes to bring forward a bill to deprive him of his command.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXIX.19

The virulent but untrue accusations of Fabius Maximus started a hot debate in the Senate house that lasted for several days; Scipio's opponents alleging that not only was Scipio un-Roman (he was a keen admirer of Greek culture), but even un-soldierly. He was accused of indolence, effeminacy, and of spending too much time reading books and going to the gymnasium in Syracuse.

The Senate was set to condemn Scipio unheard, even though the Locrians had denied Scipio's fault. But Scipio's allies worked hard to turn opinion, and finally engineered a compromise solution whereby a commission of inquiry was appointed to visit Scipio. The commission would investigate the charges against him and have the power to deprive him of his command.

Scipio, however, was well prepared. Learning the truth about Pleminius, he had ensured that the pro-praetor had been placed in chains, and restitution been made to the Locrians. Thus the commission could get no one to lay charges against Scipio, though no doubt his political opponents tried. So with little else to do, the commission travelled to Sicily to review his preparations.

To meet their review, Scipio had collected his army in Syracuse, and put his troops through their complex drills, while the fleet fought a mock battle in the harbor. He then showed them the well-stocked armories and granaries he had laid in preparation for the war. So impressive was this display, that the commission returned to Rome stating that if Scipio and his army could not defeat Hannibal, then no one could. With the enthusiastic support of the commission and the grudging blessing of the Roman Senate, Scipio embarked his army for Africa. 205 BC.6 He was Consul 205 BC.1

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
"A murmur arose that things were desperate, that hope of saving the country had been so utterly lost that no one dared accept the Spanish command. Such was the general feeling when suddenly Publius Cornelius Scipio, son of the Publius Scipio who had been killed in Spain and still a young man of about twenty-four, announced his candidature for the command."
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVI.18
The Spanish Command

Nero had only gone to Spain as a temporary measure, and in 210 it was decided to send reinforcements and a privatus cum imperio to take over command in Spain. But on the day of the election, no senior magistrates offered themselves for the task of campaigning in Spain against superior Carthaginian forces and two brothers of Hannibal. Disgruntled, the people milled about on the election field, when suddenly Scipio stepped up on a podium and declared his candidature. His election was unanimous, not only by every century, but by every man present at the election.

People began to have second thoughts later on though: not only was Scipio only 25 years old (the legal age for a praetor - the lowest rank that could have imperium - was set at 39 in 180 BCE), but they considered it a bad omen to send a Scipio into the heart of Spain, where his father and uncle were buried, while his family was still in mourning. Realizing this, Scipio called an assembly of the People to calm. At this assembly, the sagacity of his words, coupled with his profound self-confidence (and no doubt a good deal of religious fervor), did much to calm the worries of the people.

The First Year: Nova Carthago (209)

Scipio left Rome with ten thousand infantry, a thousand cavalry, and 30 quinquiremes - the only reinforcements that Rome would commit to Spain for the rest of the war. Basing himself at Tarracco, he attempted to strengthen the alliances with the Spanish tribes, whose loyalty had been severely strained by the Roman defeats. Marcius who, despite having saved the Roman armies in Spain, had been snubbed by the Senate, he honored and appointed one of his staff officers. The soldiers he visited one by one in their winter quarters, to boost morale, playing on their fondness for their old commanders:

'Already you recognize in me something of my father and uncle, in my face, my look, the turn of my body; soon I shall strive to give you back an image of their hearts as well, of their loyalty and courage, so that each of you may say that Scipio, his beloved general, has risen from the dead or been born again.'
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVI.41

During the winter he scouted out the dispositions of his enemies, discovering that the Carthaginians had divided their armies in their efforts to pacify Spain. He also learnt details about the Carthaginian base of Kartagenea (New Carthage), treasury of the Carthaginian province of Spain, lying on the direct sea-crossing to Carthage, and almost the only city in Spain with harbours fit for substantial naval forces. It was a natural fortress of great strength. The Carthaginian garrison was only a thousand man strong - with the Carthaginians masters of Spain, and with strong Carthaginian armies within 10 days march of the city, they did not fear an attack on it.

During the winter of 210, he also made detailed inquiries into the location of the Kartagenea from local fishermen. The city was located on a narrow peninsula; the only way of approach a narrow isthmus some 300 meters across. Leaving some 3,000 men with his official second in command, Marcus Silanus, Scipio marched the rest of his men (around 25,000) south in the early spring of 209. His friend, and the only other man privy to Scipio's plan, Gaius Laelius, commanded the thirty warships that accompanied Scipio's forces.

Scipio's first act upon his arrival was to construct fortifications across the isthmus facing inland, thus ensuring that he would be able to defend his positions against any reinforcing forces. The next morning, he began the assault on the seemingly impregnable fortress. The commander of the city - yet another Mago - had armed the citizens and posted two thousand of the best citizen troops on the landward side in preparation for a sortie. Anticipating this, Scipio first sent a troop of men forward to attack with scaling ladders. When the expected sortie came, Scipio's men promptly retreated as ordered. Scipio then sent in his reserves and the sortie was driven back in disorder and so furiously that the Romans almost succeeded in forcing entrance on the heels of the sortie.

During the assault, Scipio took part in the battle, but took care to stay out of danger, and was accompanied by three soldiers carrying large shields to cover him from missile fire.

"...Thus he could both see what was going on, and being seen by all his men he inspired the combatants with great spirit. The consequence was that nothing was omitted which was necesarry in the engagement, but the moment that circumstances suggested any step to him, he set to work at once to do what was necesarry."
Polybius, The Histories X.13

Such conduct, as Polybius points out, contrasts markedly with the typical general of his times (including Alexander the Great), who seemed to glory in putting themselves at risk, never thinking of the consequences to their army should they fall. Having proven his courage beyond a doubt, Scipio was wise enough not to risk his life unnecesarrily. Towards noon Scipio called off the assault, and settled down to wait for his plan to ripen.

The first assault had been merely a preliminary probe with limited forces. For the second assault which was launched late in the afternoon, Scipio brought up fresh troops; enough now to ensure that the whole landward side of the fortress would be under assault. At the same time, Gaius Laelius landed marines in the harbor to assault the city from the sea, thereby ensuring that every man of the garrisson was engaged. In the meantime, Scipio assembled 500 men at the edge of the lagoon that bounded one side of the city.

At the very moment when the assault was at its height, the tide began to ebb and the water gradually began to recede from the edge of the lagoon, exposing the walls of the city on the lagoon side. The sight seemed like a miracle to the Roman army, and the 500 men Scipio had detailed to the job quickly raced through the shallow water and mounted the undefended walls of the city on the lagoon side. Falling upon the city's defender's from the rear, they captured the main gates and opened them to the rest of the army.

While the Roman soldiers pouring over the walls set about systematically massacring the city population, Scipio himself organized an assault on the city's citadel, which was still garrisoned. Unnerved by the slaughter, and realizing that the city was lost, Mago surrendered, whereupon Scipio gave the signal for the massacre to end. It is noteworthy that, while the massacre of a city's population upon capture was normal in ancient times, the Romans were the only ones to use it in such a systematic, cold-blooded fashion to break the will to resist of the conquored city.

In one fell stroke, Scipio had taken the greatest Carthaginian city in Spain, captured immense quantities of military stores and treasure, and delivered a great moral blow to the enemy. As Livy makes Scipio tell his troops before the assault:

"You will in actuality attack the walls of a single city, but in that city you will have made yourselves masters of Spain"
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVI.42

Once the city was captured, Scipio acted with great humanity toward the people thus put in his power. The Carthaginian citizens he set free and restored to their property; of two thousand artisans (Kartagenea was the main armory of Spain), he promised freedom if they would work in the Roman service. Others he enrolled as rowers for the ships he had captured in the harbor. The large number of Spanish hostages that had been kept in the city, he sent home, a calculated diplomatic move.

During the capture, some young Roman soldiers came across an exceptionally beautiful girl. Knowing that Scipio had an eye for beautiful women, they brought her to their commander as a present. Scipio was astonished at her beauty, but mindful of his position of Commander expressed his gratitude to his men and showed his own moderation and self-restraint by refusing the gift. Learning that the girl was betrothed to a young Spanish chief named Allucius, Scipio sent for the young man and presented her to him. When the girl's parents came to thank him and presented him with gifts, Scipio turned the gifts over to Allucius as a dowry from himself. Thus Scipio's reputation for kindness and generosity was spread far and wide among the Spanish tribes. In addition, Allucius himself soon after joined Scipio with 1,400 Spanish warriors of his tribe.

Having reconstructed the defenses and adequately garrissoned City, Scipio sent Gaius Laelius off with a report to the Senate, and spent the rest of the year in training and drilling his men in the environs of Tarraco, while his newly acquired artificers turned out thousands of finely tempered, short Spanish cut-and-thrust swords - the Gladius Hispaniensis that was to become the standard sword of the later Roman Legions. In between overseeing the production and drilling his troops, Scipio spent his time in trying to convince the Spanish tribes to forsake their alliance with the Carthaginians.

The Conquest (208-207)
Without substantial naval forces, the Carthaginians had no hope of recapturing Kartagenea, and they spent the winter trying to prevent the defection of the Spanish tribes. At the same time, Hadrsubal Barca had begun to recruit an army which he could march to reinforce that of his brother in Spain. Scipio's scouts kept him appraised of the Carthaginian plans, and early in the year he marched south, surprising Hadsrubal in the vicinity of Baecula.

Scipio had with him around 35-40,000 men - his Roman troops reinforced by the crews of his ships (who were not needed at the moment), and perhaps some 10-15,000 Spanish auxiliaries. Hadsrubal, with only 25-30,000 men, retreated to his camp on a small but high plateau, and deployed his light troops on a lower terrace below the camp. A direct frontal assault looked impossible; Scipio's decision to send his own light troops (and a picked force of heavy infantry) forward in a frontal attack therefore took Hadsrubal by surprise. The Romans took heavy losses, but succeeded in taking the lower terrace, and Scipio now sent forward all his light troops.

Hadsrubal now began deploying his army in front of his camp to beat off the attack of the light troops coming up the hill, but was again surprised when Roman troops suddenly fell on the flanks of his only partially deployed formation. Scipio and Laelius had each taken half of the Roman troops and marched round the Carthaginian flanks while their attention had been fixed by the frontal attack. Now the Roman pincers closed on the Carthaginian army. Hadsrubal, realizing that all was lost immediately ordered a retreat. Extricating part of his army, including his elephants and the treasure chest, Hadsrubal retreated up the Tagus valley, but perhaps half to two-thirds of his army were either killed or captured.

Polybius tells us that Scipio did not think it advisable to pursue Hadsrubal (and agrees); but in spite of their expert opinion, later historians have used the escape of Hadsrubal to criticize Scipio, conveniently ignoring the lessons of two millenia of Spanish warfare. Away from the coast, Scipio would be reliant upon foraging to supply his army. Had he chosen to follow Hadsrubal, he would have had to forage in ground already picked bare by Hadsrubal's troops. At the same time, he would have placed himself in position to be encircled and surrounded by the two other Carthaginian armies, both of whom marched north to reinforce Hadsrubal and joined him short days after the battle. In view of these facts, to pursue Hadsrubal would not only have been the height of foolishness, but probably suicidal.

In the event, Hadsrubal - taking over command of Mago's army and adding to these the survivors of his own - slipped through one of the Western passes of the Pyrenees (Scipio had garissoned the Eastern passes). Even so, he spent most of the rest of the year in recruiting troops in Gaul, in preparation for the invasion of Italy. The remaining Carthaginian army in Spain retreated to Gades, while Massinissa with 3000 Numidian cavalry harrassed the Roman forces in Spain.

In the aftermath of Baecula, Scipio successfully stepped up his diplomatic efforts to secure the alliance of many more of the Spanish tribes. On the march south, the two Spanish leaders Edeco and Andobales had saluted him as King, but now after the battle, all of the Spanish tribes took up this form of salutation (while Scipio's Roman troops probably hailed him as Imperator). Once again showing his mental stature and surprising clear-headedness for a man of twenty-eight whose word was now law in all of Northern-eastern Spain, Scipio called an assembly:

"...he told that he wished to be called kingly by them, and actually to be kingly, but that he did not wish to be king or to be called so by any one. Having said this, he ordered them henceforth to call him General."
Polybius, The Histories X.40

One Carthaginian army had been effectively destroyed, and the other had been sent to Italy. The Carthaginian hold on Spain had been dangerously weakened; and the Carthaginian Government decided to send fresh reinforcements to Spain, under the command of a new general, Hanno. Hanno marched his troops inland to join up with Mago, who was recruiting new Spanish troops in central Spain, while Hadsrubal Gisgon marched from Gades to challenge Scipio.

Keeping a watchful eye on Hadsrubal Gisgon, Scipio sent Silanus with 10,000 foot and 500 horse on a forced march to attack Hanno and Mago in their training camp. Though inferior in numbers, Silanus attack was a total success; taken totally by surprise, the new Spanish levies were scattered beyond all hope of recall and Hanno himself was captured. Salvaging what he could from the wreck, Mago retreated to Gades, where he joined with Hadsrubal Gisgon who had also retreated when hearing of the attack. It is typical of Scipio's character that he was unstinting in his praise of his successful lieutenant.

Either during 207 (or the year before at Baecula), the Romans captured a young Numidian boy of royal lineage. His name was Massiva, a nephew of Massinissa who in disobeying his uncle had ridden into battle where he had been taken prisoner. True to his usual magnaminous treatment of his captives, Scipio sent the boy back to his uncle, bestowing rich gifts upon the boy.

While Scipio won magnificent victories in Spain, Fabius Maximus had succeeded in recapturing the Southern Italian city of Tarentum in 209. In 208 however, Hannibal succeeded in ambushing and killing the two Roman Consuls, one of them the famed Marcus Claudius Marcellus (referred to as "the Sword of Rome", where Fabius was "the shield"). Hadsrubal's invasion of Italy brought tensions to new heights, but Caius Claudius Nero, now Consul, tricked Hannibal and marched a picked force north to join with Marcus Livius Salinator. At the Metaurus, the Roman forces - totalling some 45,000 men - trapped and destroyed the army of Hadsrubal Barca. Hadsrubal himself, seeing his army surrounded and the battle lost, rode into the thick of the battle and fell fighting.

The Crowning Victory: Ilipa (206)

The Carthaginians had spent the winter in recruiting new troops and strengthening their army for the last great effort. They had ammassed a massive army of 70,000 infantry, 4,500 cavalry and 32 elephants at Gades and in the spring, Mago and Hadsrubal Gisgo marched this army east to challenge Scipio for dominion of Spain.

Scipio concentrated his forces near Baecula and Castulo. His army had been weakened by the need to garrisson his newly acquired possession, and the sending of Spanish troops to the army in Italy - but with the aid of his new allies, he was able to boost the size of his army to 45,000 infantry and some 3,000 cavalry - though less than half of these were his reliable Roman legionaries. So close to the grave of his father, Scipio could hardly avoid thinking of the fate of his father, betrayed by these same allies. In spite of his numerical inferiority, Scipio marched his army west to meet the Carthaginians and came upon them near Ilipa.

The Carthaginians had camped on a small hill; Scipio now placed his camp on certain low hills opposing them, but in such a position as to cut of the Carthaginians from retreating to their base at Gades. While the Roman army pitched camp, the Carthaginian and Numidian cavalry, led by Mago and Massinissa attempted a surprise attack on the Romans engaged in fortifying their camp. But Scipio was prepared for this eventuality and had placed his own cavalry in ambush. The Carthaginians were thus soon driven back to their own camp. Every day, for the next couple of days, the Carthaginians marched their army out to offer battle late in the day, deploying their forces with the steady African spearmen in the center, and the spanish allies on the flanks. Each day, even later, Scipio would simmilarly march out and place his roman legionaries in the centre and the spanish allies on the flanks. Neither side attacked, but since both sides set up identically each day, it was soon common talk in both camps that this would be the order of battle.

As soon as this idea had taken root, Scipio acted. He ordered his men fed and armed before daylight and sent his light troops and cavalry forward to attack the Carthaginian camp before dawn. The Carthaginians, caught napping, were forced to rush out and deploy their army without breakfast. Only now did they realize that Scipio had altered his own deployment - this day Scipio had deployed his Spaniards in the centre and his Romans out on the wings. With both armies deployed, the Romans ready and watchful, there was no chance for the Carthaginians to alter their own deployment.

During the next seven hours, the light troops and cavalry battled it out in front of the two armies, alternately advancing and retreating. Scipio was in no hurry: he wanted the Carthaginian army to feel their lack of a breakfast, and the Carthaginians dared not attack. Finally, Scipio recalled his exhausted light troops and ordered the advance - but the Spaniards only at a slow pace. As his army came withing 700 metres of the enemy, Scipio, with the right wing, wheeled the maniples of his wing into column and marched until the heads of the columns were opposite the end of the Carthaginian lines (which was longer than the Roman, due to numerical superiority). The columns then wheeled and advanced quickly toward the enemy, redeployed into line and attacked the Hadrsubal's spaniards, while the Roman cavalry and velites swept round their rear. Marcius and Silanus on the left wing duplicated this maneuvre.

There was little the Carthaginians could do. The African spearmen dared not move to assist their wings, lest they themselves be attacked by the slowly moving spaniards of the Roman centre. Hadsrubal's elephants stationed on the wings soon panicked and stampeded into his own troops, spreading additional confusion. Hadrsubal's spaniards fought well, but hungry and outclassed, they were soon routed. A sudden rainstorm which churned the ground into mud saved the Carthaginian army from immediate annihilation, but Scipio exploited his victory to the full despite the difficulties. Cut off by Scipio from Gades, the Carthaginians were forced to retreat away from their base; and Scipio's relentless pursuit ensured the complete destruction of the Carthaginian army.

Ilipa can be considered the crowning victory of the Roman army, showing what the manipular system was capable off at the height of it's development. It is generally considered the highest development of tactical skill in the history of the Roman army. If Cannae is the classic example of a double envelopment, Ilipa is the masterpiece: a perfect example of fixing and destroying the enemy at minimum cost. With this battle alone, Scipio establishes himself as one of the greatest generals of all time.

To his friends, who urged him to take a rest (possibly because his health was by this time deteoriating), Scipio replied:

...that he had now to consider how he should begin the war against Carthage; for up to now the Carthaginians had been making war on the Romans, but now fortune had given the Romans the opportunity of making war on the Carthaginians.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXVIII.17

For now though, the subjugation of Spain still remained to be completed. A few tribes who had betrayed the Romans in 211 were now punished for their treachery - the inhabitants of one city committing mass suicide rather than surrender. He also sent an expedition to attempt to capture Gades, but the Gadetians who had promised to open the gates where discovered and killed before they could betray the city. At this point, Scipio fell seriously ill, and rumours of his death caused a mutiny in the Roman army and the revolt of Scipio's former Spanish allies. The main cause of the mutiny was arrears of pay; having received no reinforcements and very little support from Rome for the past four years, and with the lack of plunder from their recent campaigns, Scipio had been unable to pay his troops on time. Scipio, recovering from his illness, quelled the mutiny, executed the ringleaders of the mutiny, and had the troops paid in full from money contributed by allied spanish communities.

He then marched against Andobales and utterly defeated the Celtiberian army. Having thus pacified the Spaniards, he could afford to be merciful, as he concentrated on his true goal; Africa. Scipio had sent his friend Laelius to the King of the Western Numidians, Syphax, who was once again considering revolt against the Carthaginians. Syphax however, refused to ratify any treaty except with Scipio, so sometime during 206, Scipio sailed with two quinquiremes to meet with Syphax, taking a considerable risk in doing so.

In fact he arrived at the Numidian harbor, at exactly the same time as Hadsrubal (who had fled from Spain) anchored there on his way back to Carthage. However, Scipio's ship managed to make harbor before Hadsrubal's seven Triremes could make out to intercept them, and in a neutral harbor, Hadsrubal dared not act against the Romans. Syphax, thrilled to be hosting two such august personages. Both were now invited to dinner with Syphax, and so great was Scipio's charm that not only Syphax, but Hadsrubal as well, were taken in by his personality. Having secured the alliance with Syphax, Scipio returned to Spain where he spoke with Massinissa (still resisting the Romans in Spain), heir to the throne of Eastern Numidia. Mago Barca, the last Carthaginian general in Spain, received orders from Carthage to sail for Italy. Along the way he attempted to assault Kartagenea, was repulsed and rorced to retreat. Gades however would not allow him entrance and soon after surrendered, and Mago was forced to recuperate on Minorca (the inhabitants of Mallorca would not allow him to land).

The stage was set for Scipio to go to Africa, and at the end of the year he returned to Rome stand for Consul in 205. 210 BC - 206 BC.7

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
"The fact that he won greater fame than almost anyone before him makes the whole world curious to know what kind of man he was, and what were the natural gifts and the training which enabled him to succeed in so many great enterprises."
Polybius, The Histories X.2

Publius Cornelius Scipio was born at Rome either in 236 or 235 (all dates are BC), a scion of the Cornelii, one of the most illustrious and ancient Roman patrician families. Practically nothing is known about his childhood - even before his death, his birth and youth had already become legend. He may have been pieous by nature, as Livius states that from the day he reached manhood (14 years of age), he had made a practice of never engaging in any business, private or public, without paying a visit to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol. It is also likely that he was somewhat weakly from youth, as he was plagued by ill-health thoughout most of his life.

The father of Scipio, himself named Publius Cornelius Scipio, would have entertained great ambitions for his son. For the past 150 years, the Scipio family had regularly been elected Consuls, and young Publius would have been expected to uphold the family honor by becoming Consul in turn.The Corneli Scipionii had become particularly prominent during the later part of the first Illyrian Wars (229-219 BCE). Of ten consuls elected in the years 222-218, 3 consuls came from the Scipio family, and at least 4 of the others would appear to have had close political ties to the Scipio family (most notably Lucius Aemilius Paullus).

Scipio's father was elected Consul for 218 BCE on the outbreak of the Second Punic War. The Scipionic faction would appear to have been strongly in favour of the war and their strategy called for a two-pronged attack on the Carthaginian possession in Africa and Spain, the attack on Spain to be led by Scipio's father. Being 17 or 18 years of age, Scipio was by now eligible to serve in the army; he would join his father's army for his first tour of duty (a roman citizen was expected to serve at least 10 campaigns (years)). Along with his father came also his uncle, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio.

The Scipios, with the army destined for Spain, reached Massilia sometime in September of 218, at the same time as Hannibal reached the Rhone. A troop of cavalry sent out to scout the whereabouts of Hannibal met and defeated a smaller troop of Numidians, but the Romans where too late to prevent Hannibal from crossing the Alps. Ordering his army to continue on to Spain under the command of his brother, Scipio's father returned to Italy to take command of the Roman forces in the Po Valley (Cisalpine Gaul), taking his son with him.

Hannibal Barca
The first battle of the war took place at the River Ticinus, between the cavalry and light troops of the armies. Hannibal outnumbered the romans by at least two to one but, deluded by the success of his cavalry on the Rhone, Scipio hazarded to offer battle. The young Scipio was stationed with a bodyguard on a small hill to the rear, to keep him out of harms way. The battle went badly - the light troops of the Romans fled almost immediately, and then Hannibal's Numidian cavalry encircled the Romans from behind. Scipio's father was himself wounded and fell from his horse. The Roman forces were fleeing, only a small bodyguard of two or three horsemen remained to defend the Consul, and they were soon surrounded and cut off by the enemy.

Seeing this, the young Scipio at once urged his bodyguards to charge the enemy. Seeing that the battle was lost, and frightened by the large numbers of the enemy closing in on the Consul, the bodyguards would appear to have hung back. Seeing that they would not obey him, the young Scipio spurred his own horse and instead recklessly charged the enemies encircling his father alone. Shamed by this act, the young Scipio's bodyguards rode after him, and the sudden attack so unnerved the enemies surrounding the Consul that they broke away. Scipio's father was the first in praising the young Scipio for saving his life, and after the battle, he ordered the corona civica - the highest Roman military commendation, to be presented to his son. The young Scipio refused, stating that "the action was one that rewarded itself".

After the defeat, the Romans retreated and waited for the arrival of reinforcements, the other Consul, Tiberius Sempronius Longus. Longus arrived in december and decided to offer battle. He was soundly beaten at the battle of the Trebbia, though a large portion of the Roman army actually succeeded in breaking through the Carthaginian centre and return to Placentia. Upon recovering from his wounds, Scipio's father left for Spain to join his brother who had already scored several succeses against the Carthaginians in Spain. Of Scipio's activities in 217 we know absolutely nothing, but in the course of the year, Hannibal destroyed the Roman army of Gaius Flaminius at Lake Trasimene.

For a time the Scipiones rival, Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator ("the Delayer") was in command as Dictator, but his policy of avoiding battle was unpopular with the people, and at the start of the new year, the Scipionic faction succeeded in getting Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Caius Terentius Varro elected as Consuls. There is no doubt about the close affiliations between the Aemilii and the Cornelii Scipiones - it is also very likely that they supported the election of Varro as someone who would support an offensive policy - something that the Scipiones favored throughout the war.

At the same time, Scipio was elected as a military tribune, no doubt helped by the fame he had won at Ticinus. It is likely that he was already at this time engaged to Aemilia, the daughter of Aemilius Paullus and thus he would be serving under his coming father-in-law. The Roman battle plan was simple - to use the superior quality of their legionaries to smash through the enemy's centre as they had successfully done at the Trebbia. To do this, the Romans had assembled the greatest Roman army ever, 80,000 men. The claims of Roman historians that Varro acted contrary to the wishes of Paullus and the Roman Senate are likely later fiction designed to protect the reputation of Paullus and the Senate - the Senate had specifically given the Consuls permission to engage Hannibal. Furthermore, on the day of battle, Paullus took up position on the right - traditionally the position reserved for the senior commander of the Roman army.

The Roman plan failed - trapped on a narrow plain of Cannae, the Roman army was virtually annihilated. Paullus chose to stay and die, but Varro escaped from the battle. Scipio too escaped with about 10,000 refugees who fled to the large Roman encampment. Many of the survivors would seem to have been stunned by the scale of the defeat and waited tamely in the camp to surrender, but about 4,000 - among them Scipio left the camp after nightfall, evaded Hannibal's cavalry patrols and made their way to Canusium. They were still in great peril. Only about 6-7 kilometres from the battlefield, Hannibal's forces could at any moment come marching down the road to attack them. The remnant of the army takes council, and by common consent, they decide to appoint as commanders Scipio - at this time no more than 20 years of age, and one Appius Claudius.

As the leaders of this little force took council, word was brought to them of a mutiny being plotted. Some young nobles, led by Lucius Caecilius Metellus, were contemplating to flee Italy and take service overseas with foreign kings. While the rest of the leaders were in dismay by these bad tidings and wanted to call a council.

But young Scipio -- the man who was destined to command the Roman armies in this war, said that this was no matter for debate; the crisis had come, and what was needed was not words, but bold action. 'Come with me', he cried, 'instantly, sword in hand, if you wish to save our country. The enemy's camp is nowhere more truly than where such thoughts can arise!' With a few followers he went straight to where Metellus was staying. Assembled in the house were the men of whom Philus had spoken, still discussing their plans. Scipio burst in, and holding his sword over their heads, 'I swear', he cried, 'with all the passion of my heart that I shall never desert our country, or permit any other citizen of Rome to leave her in the lurch. If I wilfully break my oath, may Jupiter, Greatest and Best, bring me to a shameful death, with my house, my family, and all I possess! Swear the same oath, Caecilius; and, all the rest of you, swear it too. If anyone refuse, know that against him this sword is drawn.' They could not have been more scared had they been looking into the face of their conquoror Hannibal. Every man took the oath and gave himself into the custody of Scipio.
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation XXII.55

With the danger thus quelled, Scipio and Appius, learning that Varro was rallying the rest of the army at Venusia, placed themselves under his command. In light of the latter charges by historians against Varro, it is worth noting that the Senate latter extended a vote of thanks to Varro (no doubt for rallying and saving what was left of the army - some 14,000 men), and that they continued to use him in a military capacity for the rest of the war.

The story of Scipio during the battle, was perhaps the only ray of sunlight in the darkest chapter of Roman history. As a result, Scipio's reputation for bravery, and his popularity with the people reached uncommon heights. This was probably not diminished by the news of the successes of his father and uncle in Spain: in 216 or 215. they defeated the army of Hadsrubal Barca (brother of Hannibal) at Ibera. During the following two years, a revolt by Syphax of Numidia forced the Carthaginians to devote considerable forces in Carthage, leaving the Scipios almost a free hand in Spain.

Celtic Warrior
Despite these successes of the Scipios, the policies of the Scipionic faction had been severely discredited by Cannae. Serious defections had followed, both of Capua - probably the richest town in Italy - and later by Syracuse in Sicily. Many of the Southern Italian tribes had also changed sides, though the Etruscans and the Latins (the true backbone of the Roman federation), stayed loyal. The Roman armies had gone on the defensive, steadfastly following the "Fabian" strategy proposed by Fabius Maximus.

So when one Lucius Cornelius, a cousin of Scipio (note: sources usually call him a brother, as Romans did not distinguish cousins from brothers), tried to stand for curule aedile in 213, his chances looked bleak. Taking note of this as the election approached, and knowing that he himself was very popular, Scipio realized that the only way by which his cousin would get elected was if they both attempted it. There was just one problem with such a plan, and that was that Scipio was underage.

His mother had long been concerned with the upcoming elections, visiting the different temples to sacrifice. In this atmosphere, he went to her and told her that he had twice had the same dream: he and his "brother" had both been elected to the aedileship, and were returning to the forum when she met them at the door and fell on their necks and kissed them. Hearing this wishful thinking, his mother exclaimed: "Would I might see that day." Seizing the opportunity, Scipio asked, "Then would you like us to try, mother?" Thinking that he was joking, as he was far too young to competer for the office, his mother assented. Even when he asked her to get a white toga, the traditional dress of a candidate, ready for him, she did not take him seriously.

While his mother was still sleeping, Scipio appeared at the forum with his cousin to stand for election. Surprised to see him, the people greeted his candidature with universal acclaim. Outraged by the impropiety of his youth, two of the People's Tribunes tried to prevent him from submitting his candidature, a charge to which Scipio replied: "If all the Roman people want to make me aedile, well then .. I am old enough."
Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation, XXV.2

He and his cousin subsequently won the election. The news of their success ran ahead of them as they returned home, and as Scipio had predicted, his mother met them at the door to embrace and kiss them. From this episode began the legends that Scipio communed with the Gods, not only in his dreams, but also by day. No doubt his pieous nature (noted above), would have added additional fuel to fire. Polybius claims that this was merely an artifice to impress superstitious minds, but he wrote in a latter, more aetheistic hellenized age. Scipio's conduct in life leaves no reason to suggest that he was as coldly calculationg as Polybius believes. In his wish to help his brother (and knowing the means by which it could be accomplished), he may very well have had the dreams he claimed.

The following years saw an amazing resurgence of the Roman state, and vindication for the Fabian strategy. In 212, Marcus Claudius Marcellus captured and sacked Syracuse, and in the same year the Romans began to besiege Capua. Hannibal however also scored a significant success by capturing the major port Tarentum be stealth, though as a Roman garrison held out in the citadel, much of the advantage was negated. Hannibal attempted to march on Rome in order to relieve the siege at Capua, but the Romans were impeturbable, and and soon after, the city of Capua was recaptured.

The revolt of Syphax, which had prevented the Carthaginians from sending reinforcements to Hannibal and drained the armies of Spain, was put down in 213 with the help of Massinissa. This freed up considerable forces, and the Carthaginians could now send forces to Spain under the command of Hadsrubal and Mago Barca to halt the advance of the Scipios. The Scipios, who had received no reinforcements since 217, their forces depleted by the need to garrisson their conquests where forced to rely on Celtiberian mercenaries hired from friendly spanish tribes. Perhaps growing overconfident due to their unbroken string of successes in Spain, the Scipios divided their forces to deal with the dispersed Carthaginian armies in 212, Publius Scipio going to attack Mago Barca and Hadsrubal Gisgon, and Gnaeus Scipio, with the 20,000 Celtiberians, going to meet Hadsrubal Barca.

When Publius Scipio arrived near Castulo, he discovered that Mago's Carthaginians were shortly to be reinforced by 7,500 Iberian mercenaries. Harrassed by the effective Numidian cavalry of Massinissa, able neither to advance nor retreat, Publius Scipio slipped out of camp at night in an attempt to cut of the Iberians. The Numidians were not fooled for long though, and while the Romans engaged the Iberians, Mago and Massinissa arrived on the battlefield and attacked the Romans from the rear. For a while the Romans held out, but when Publius Scipio fell, the Romans broke and fled. Meanwhile, Hadsrubal Barca had bribed the Celtiberians to desert. Suddenly heavily outnumbered, Gnaeus Scipio tried to retreat. However, when Mago and the Numidians arrived, the harrassed Romans were forced to dig in on top a hill. Gnaeus Scipio was killed when the Carthaginians charged the improvised barricade; and the rest of the army dissolved.

The Roman armies fled north - only the work of the Eques Romanus, Lucius Marcius Septimus, prevented the Roman armies from being driven entirely out of Spain. Regrouping on the Ebro (in the far North), he managed to keep the Carthaginians at bay. Gaius Claudius Nero was sent from Rome as a temporary commander, and he managed to stabilize the situation at the Ebro. But the situation was bleak; in two inglorious battles, seven years of campaigning had been undone, and the Roman hold on Spain was all but broken. 236 BC - 211 BC.8

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder) and Alfred "the Great" (?) King of England
Having raised the possibility at the end of my previous post of a descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi, I thought I ought to sit down and work it out.

Generations 1 - 23 are from Settipani: Continuite (and the Addenda to this) Generations 23 - 25 are the result of the suggestions made in recent posts on this site about the family of the patrician Philagrius and the Eparchii Generations 25 - 31 are from Settipani: Midi
Generations 31 - 32 are from Settipani: Prehistoire
Generations 32 - 43 are, I suppose, common knowledge, except the precise nature of the Kent-West Saxon connection, but for this substitute to personal taste.

1. P. CORNELIUS SCIPIO AFRICANUS. Born about 235 BC; consul 205 and
194; died 183.Son of L. Cornelius Scipio, by Pomponia, sister of M. Pomponius
Matho, consul 233.
He m. Aemila. Born about 225 BC; died after 182. Daughter of L. Aemilius
Paullus, consul 219 and 216, and sister of L. Aemilius Paulus, consul 182 and
2. CORNELIA. Born about 205 BC.
She m. P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum. Consul 162.
3. P. CORNELIUS SCIPIO NASICA SERAPIO. Born about 182/1 BC; consul
138; died 133.
4. P. CORNELIUS SCIPIO NASICA SERPAIO. Born about 155 BC; consul 111,
died 111.
He m. (Caecilia). Born about 155/0.
5. (CORNELIA). Born about 125 BC.
She m. P. Cornelius Mar.f. Lentulus. Born about 130; died after 101.
consul 56.
He m. (Fabia). Born about 100. Daughter of Q. Fabius Maximus, praetor 91.
Descendant of Q. Fabius Maximus Aemilianus.
7. Cn. CORNELIUS LENTULUS. Born about 85/80 BC; praef. class. Sicily
8. Cn. CORNELIUS Cn.f. LENTULUS. Born about 60 BC; quaestor 30/28.
9. Ser. CORNELIUS Cn.f. LENTULUS MALUGINENSIS. Born about 30BC; suf.
10 AD; died 23.
10. Ser. CORNELIUS Ser.f. LENTULUS CETHEGUS. Born about 10BC; consul
24 AD; proconsul of Africa 30/40.
He m. (Munantia Plancina). Born about 10 BC. Daughter of L. Munantius L.f.
Plancus, and sister of L. Munantius L.f. Plancus, consul 13 AD.
11. CORNELIA CETHEGILLA. Born about 25 AD.
She m. Ser. Cornlius Ser.f. Salvidienus Orfitus. Born about 15/20 AD; consul
51; proconsul of Africa 62-63.
12. (Ser. CORNELIUS) SALVIDIENUS ORFITUS. Born about 50; suffectus
about 80/87; died 93.
consul 110; PUR 138.
He m. Calpurnia. Born about 100. Daughter of C. Calpurnius Piso Frugi
consul 149; proconsul of Africa 163/4.
He m. (Arria Sextia Paulina). Born about 160. Daughter of M. Nonius Arrius
Mucianus Manlius Carbo, by Sextia T.f. Asinia Polla.
15. (CORNELIA) Ser.f. NIGRINA. Born about 150.
She m. L. Eggius Cornelius Marulllus. Born about 145; consul 184; proconsul
of Africa 198/9.
170; proconsular legate of Africa 198.
17. (CORNELIA MARULLINA). Born about 205.
She m. M. Pupienus Africanus. Born about 200; died 236. Son of M. Clodius
Pupienus Maximus, emperor 238, by Sextia Cethegilla.
She m. (M. Maecius Probus). Born about 220.
19. (M. MAECIUS ORFITUS). Born about 240/5.
He m. (Furia). Born about 245. Daughter of the emperor Gordian III 238-244.
20. (MAECIA CETHEGILLA). Born about 265.
She m. (C. Memmius Caecilianus Placidus). Born about 260/5. Son of C.
Memmius Caecilianus Placidus, suffectus at the end of the 3rd century.
21. (PLACIDA). Born about 290. Sister of M. Maecius Memmius Furius
Baburius Caecilianus Placidus, consul 343.
She m. (Cornelius Severus). Born about 285.
22. (CORNELIA SEVERA). Born about 310.
She m. Q. Flavius Maesius Egnatius Lollianus Mavortius. Born about 300; PUR
342; consul 355.
23. (Q. FLAVIUS EGNATIUS) PLACIDUS SEVERUS. Born about 330; vic.urb.
He m. Antonia Marcianilla. Born about 335. Daughter of Antonius Marcellinus,
by Pontia Privata, daughter of Pontius Paulinus, founder of Burgos. Hence,
sister of St. Melania, and cousin of Meropius Pontius Paulinus, bishop of Nola
24. (EGNATIA AVITA). Born about 350. Sister of Avita, wife of Turcius
Apronianus, and aunt of Flavius Avitus Marinianus and Egnatia Susanna Avita.
She m. (Flavius Eparchius) Philagrius. Born about 330; Comes Orientis;
Patrician after 382.
25. EPARCHIUS. Born about 370; v.nob. of Toul. Uncle of the emperor
Eparchius Avitus.
26. LUPUS (St. Loup). Born about 395; Bishop of Troyes 426/7; died
He m. Pimeniola. Born about 400. Sister of Hilarius, Bishop of Arles 430.
27. HILARIUS. Born about 420/25; v.nob. of Langres.
He m. Quieta.
28. (HILARIA). Born about 455.
She m. (Aemilius). Born about 445. Son of Aemilius, v.nob. of Laon, and
brother of St. Remi, Bishop of Reims, and Principius, Bishop of Soissons.
29. HILARIUS. Born about 480. Heir of St. Remi.
Possibly his brother, Lupus, Bishop of Soissons, was father of generation
30. HILARIUS. Born about 500. Heir of St. Remi. Brother of Loup,
Bishop of Chalons 535, and Principius, Bishop of Meaux c.540.
He m. a sister of Arnegonde and Ingonde, queens of Clothaire I.
Possibly an anonymous brother was the father of generation 31, but in any
case the mother of generation 31 was a sister in law of Clothaire I.
31. INGOBERGA. Born about 519; died 589. Sister of Lupus, Duke of
She m. Charibert I. Born about 520; King of the Francs 561-567.
32. BERTHA. Born about 550.
She m. Aethelbert. King of Kent 560-616; Died 616.
33. EADBERT. Born about 570; King of Kent 616-640.
34. ERKINBERT. Born about 600; King of Kent 640-664.
He m. Sexburga. Daughter of Anna, King of the East Angles.
35. EGBERT I. Born about 625; King of Kent 664-673.
36. WIHTRED. Born about 650; King of Kent c.690-725.
37. AETHELBERGA.Born about 675.
She m. about 694, Ingeld. Born about 670; died 718. Brother of Ine, King of
Wessex 688-726.
The source for this construction of the relationship between the Kentish and
West Saxon dynasties is Leonard Dutton.
38. EOPPA. Born about 700. Possibly brother of Aethelheard, King of
Wessex 726-740.
39. EAFA. Born about 725.
40. EALHMUND. Born about 750; King of Kent 784.
41. EGBERT. Born about 775; King of Wessex 802-839; died 4 February
He m. Redburgh.
42. AETHELWULF. Born about 800; King of Wessex 839-855; died 13
January 855.
He m. Osburgh. Died 852. Daughter of Oslac.
43. ALFRED “the Great”. Born about 848; King of England 871-899; died
25 October 899.1

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
PUBLIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO AFRICANUS THE ELDER Son of PUBLIUS Scipio, nephew of CALVUS, brother of Scipio ASIGENES. Born in 234?-236? BCE, he reputedly saved his father's life at the battle of Ticinius in 218, and as military triune, to have rallied the Romans after their defeat by Hannibal at Cannae. Curule aedile in 213, he was given proconsular imperium and sent to Spain by the Popular Assembly, the first man so commissioned without first having been praetor or consul. Using innovative tatics, he captured Carthago Nova (Cartagena) and by 206 had subdued most of Carthaginian Spain. Elected consul for the year 205 BCE, he crossed to Africa in 205 despite senatorial opposition and after operations that included a truce, defeated Hannibal (who had returned to from Italy to defend the his home) in 202 at the battle of Zama. Returning to Rome, Scipio celebrated a triumph and received the cognomen 'Africanus', meaning 'conqueror of Africa', the first Roman so honored. Now the dominating presence in Roman politics, he was elected censor in in 199, consul a second time in 194, and became princeps senatus. He joined his brother (subsequently ASIAGENES) in operations against Antiochus of Syria following campaigns as consul in northern Italy. Senatorial opponents, including Cato the Elder, forced his retirement in 184 BCE and he died the following year.2 GAV-73.

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
Scipio Africanus Major - (Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus) (sp´ frk´ns) (KEY) , 236–183 B.C., Roman general, the conqueror of Hannibal in the Punic Wars. He was the son of Publius Cornelius Scipio, and from a very early age he considered himself to have divine inspiration. He was with his father at the Ticino (218), and he survived Cannae (216). The young Scipio was elected (c.211) to the proconsulship in Spain. He conquered New Carthage (Cartagena) almost at once (209) and used the city as his own base; within several years he had conquered Spain. As consul in 205, Scipio wanted to invade Africa, but his jealous enemies in the senate granted him permission to go only as far as Sicily and gave him no army. He trained a volunteer army in Sicily. In 204 he received permission to go to Africa, where he joined his allies the Numidians and fought with success against the Carthaginians. In 202, Hannibal crossed to Africa and tried to make peace, but Scipio’s demands were so extreme that war resulted; Scipio defeated Hannibal at Zama (202), returned home in triumph, and retired from public life. He was named Africanus after the country he conquered. His pride aggravated the hatred of his enemies, especially Cato the Elder, who accused the Scipio family of receiving bribes in the campaign against Antiochus III in which Scipio had accompanied (190) his brother. It was only through the influence of his son-in-law, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, that Scipio was saved from ruin. He retired into the country and ordered that his body might not be buried in his ungrateful city. Later he revealed his great magnanimity by his attempt to prevent the ruin of the exiled Hannibal by Rome.9

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
P. CORNELIUS SCIPIO AFRICANUS. Born about 235 BC; consul 205 and 194; died 183.Son of L. Cornelius Scipio, by Pomponia, sister of M. Pomponius Matho, consul 233. He m. Aemila. Born about 225 BC; died after 182. Daughter of L. Aemilius Paullus, consul 219 and 216, and sister of L. Aemilius Paulus, consul 182 and 168.1

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)
Epilogue: "I have related these anecdotes for the sake of the good fame of the departed and to incite their successors to achieve noble deeds."
Polybius, The Histories XXIII.14

When Scipio stepped unto the world stage in 218 BCE, Rome was about to enter the darkest hour in the history of Rome. Within 2 years, the Republic would be on the brink of defeat, more than 100,000 Romans and their allies dead on the field of battle. At his death, Rome was the unchallenged master of the Mediterannean world. In 168 BCE, the Roman commissioner Popilius could stand, unarmed and with nothing but his slaves and clerks as an escort and demand that Antiochus IV and his army leave Egypt - and expect to be obeyed!

The foundations of that power had been built in less than two decades; on the battlefields of Baecula, Ilippa, Zama, Kynoskefalai, Thermopylai, and Magnesia. Spain was conquored, Carthage, Macedonia, and Syria turned into obedient vassals, Numidia, Greece, Egypt, Pergamon, and Rhodos turned into willing allies. 30 years later, Polybius could write the astonishing history of how, in just 50 years, Rome had become the Mistress of the world. Many men had contributed to these developments: Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrocossus cunctator, whose delaying had preserved the state in its darkest hour, Gaius Claudius Nero and Livius whose victory at Metaurus had finally neutralized the threat of Hannibal to Italy, Titus Quinctus Flaminius Macedonius, whose victories had brought Greece and Macedonia within Roman dominion, Marcus Porcius Cato, whose victories in Spain had pacified the province during the extensive revolts in the time after the second Punic war. But pre-eminent in a time of Roman greatness, we find the person of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus.

...(it) was apparent to Greece, to Asia, and to all the kings and peoples in the East, something that had for long been the firm conviction of Spain, Gaul, Sicily, and Africa, namely, that one man was the source of Rome's power and the prop of her empire; that the city which was the mistress of the world sheltered beneath Scipio's shadow, and that his nod was the equivalent of senatorial decrees and the decisions of the popular assembly.
From the accusations against Scipio Africanus
Livy, History of Rome from its Foundation, XXXVIII.51

By the late 170s, the soldiers who had brought low the Carthaginians, Macedonians, and Seleucids had long since served out their terms. Against a rejuvenated Macedonian kingdom led by Philip V's son Perseus; a new generation of soldiers and a generals performed poorly, allowing war to drag on for 3 years. Once again the Romans turned to the shadow of Africanus, in the person of his brother-in-law, Lucius Aemilius Paullus (eventually to earn the epithet of Macedonius as well). Having prepared and disciplined his army, Paullus met and defeated the Macedonians at Pydna - a battle in which the Roman legions once again displayed the flexibility that Scipio Africanus had proven that the manipular system possessed. Paullus's victory would lead to the dismemberment and eventual annexation of the Macedonian kingdom after a final, doomed revolt in 148 BCE.

Scipio Asiaticus, either voluntarily - like his brother - or forcibly (Livy's confused account of the proceedings claim that he was successfully prosecuted after Africanus's death) retired from politics shortly after the death of his brother. But the claim of some historians that the power of the Scipios was broken is patent nonsense. While the sons of Scipio Africanus were constrained from politics (as explained earlier), Scipio's nephew and son-in-law, Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum took over the reins from his elders and became an influential personality in Roman political life. Frequently at odds with Cato, he led the long and bitter opposition against the declaration of the third Punic war, and in that, at least, carried on the legacy of Africanus. By 147 BCE, he had - like his uncle - achieved the dignity of being appointed Princeps Senatus, a title that he probably held until his death sometime before 141 BCE. He had earlier become Pontifex Maximus (the High Priest of all the Roman religions) in 150 BCE, an honour that would be subsequently be held by his son, Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio.

Scipio's grandson by adoption, the son of Lucius Aemilius Paullus, was Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantius. As a young man, he achieved the Consulship during the Third Punic War and succeeded in bringing it to a close with the destruction of the ill-fated city - earning him, like his illustrious forebear, the title of Africanus. A decade later, he would be called upon once again to end the exhausting and debilitating wars in Spain in the destruction of Numantium.

Scipio's younger daughter Cornelia was the mother of the Grachii brothers, whose actions were to irrevocably change the face of Roman politics. Radical reform programs and untraditional methods led to their early deaths. Tragically, that of Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was to come at the hands of Scipio Nasica Serapio, who would die shortly after in 132 BCE under mysterious circumstances. Scipio Aemilianus who had been loudly critical of Tiberius would similarly die shortly after, allegedly poisoned by his wife Sempronia, daughter of the younger Cornelia and sister to the Gracchii. Despite the failures of their reforms and the attendant tragedies, their actions paved the way for the extension of the Roman citizenship to all of Italy as well as the extraordinary career of their contemporary, Gaius Marius. Many of the reforms they had championed would later be implemented by Gaius Julius Caesar.

With the murder of Gaius Sempronius Gracchus in 121 BCE comes an end to the era of the Scipiones. Although the son of Scipio Nasica Serapio would hold the Consulship in 111 BCE, the following decades belonged to the Caecilii Metelli, their nemesis Gaius Marius, and the civil wars that would eventually tear the Republic apart. In these conflicts, the Cornelii Scipiones, who for a century had been one of the dominating forces in Roman politics are almost entirely absent, surfacing once in the person of Pompey's ally Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio (a Scipio adopted into the Caecilius Metellus family), and much later for the final time in 16 BCE in the person of the consul Publius Cornelius Scipio.

By 121 BCE, however, the work that the Cornelii Scipiones had begun was completed; Rome was undisputed master of the Mediterranean, and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, referred to by Plutarch as Scipio the Great and considered by the Ancient world to be the greatest Roman of them all, had long since achieved the status of legend.10

P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder)

* Polybius, "The Histories", translated by W. R. Patton.
Polybius was an Achaian nobleman, who was detained and taken to Rome as a hostage in 167 BCE after the third Macedonian war. He was fortunate enough to have become acquainted with Aemilius Paullus, and become a tutor and close friend to his two sons; Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus and Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilanus Africanus; this association gave him unique and strong connections into the world of Roman politics and excellent sources of information on Roman history. He was invited by the Romans to participate in the aborted peace negotiations with Carthage in 149 BCE, was eyewitness (beside Scipio) at the destruction of Carthage, and was given authority by the Romans to handle the settlement of Greece after Greek revolt of 146 BCE. He performed this job so well that several Greek cities raised statues to honour him. He travelled extensively throught the Mediterannean world, as well as having travelled on expeditions along Africa's atlantic coast. However, he is most famous for his work on "The Histories", a 'universal history' of the peiod 220 BCE down to 146 BCE. Only fragments of the work survive, but along with Livy's "History of Rome", the books of Polybius provide the most important, as well as the most reliable source of the history of this period. In addition to his access to the family records and private letters of both Scipio Africanus and Aemilius Paullus, he also personally met and interviewed eyewitnesses of the events of the Second Punic war, including Gaius Laelius (Scipio Africanus's right hand) and Massinissa, the King of Numidia. An on-line e-text version of Polybius: The Histories can be found at the LacusCurtius.

* Livy, "The History of Rome from its Foundation".
Livy was an Roman historian, who wrote a mammoth 142 books on the history of Rome from its founding down to the time of Augustus. The work was called Ab Urbe Condita: From the Founding of the City. Livy wrote in a literary style; often embelleshing his tales with dramatical flavor (Hannibal's crossing of the Alps being one of the most famous passages in Livy). Although most of his work is lost, the entire history of the Second Punic War and the period following down 167 BCE (much of which is based on Polybius's history) has fortunately survived.

* Appian, "Roman History".
Appian's books on Roman History were composed in the time of the Emperor Hadrian. Books VI and VII concerning the Spanish and Hannibalic Wars survive, and are an important source for the period, although Appian's historical methods are often suspect and considered rather unreliable.

* Cassius Dio, "Roman History", translated by Earnest Cary.
Cassius Dio wrote an 80-book history of Rome, covering almost a 1000 years from the founding of the city in 753 BCE down to his own time in 229 AD. Unfortunately, Dio wrote in a very abbreviated style, often omitting names, dates and other historically relevant information, and omitting details in favor of rhetorical commonplace. About a third of Dio's work has survived, all of which is available in the Loeb Classical edition at theLacusCurtius.

* Plutarch, "Lives", translated by John Dryden.
Plutarch, who had access to sources now lost, wrote his biography of Scipio as a counterpoint to the one about Epaminondas (who reformed the military system of Thebes and broke the Spartan hegemony over Greece). Unfortunately, the biography of Scipio is lost, but the various biographies of Aemilius Paullus, Tiberius and Caius Sempronius Gracchus, Fabius Maximus, Marcus Claudius Marcellus, and Marcus Porcius Cato Censorius contain useful snippets on the events and times of Scipio Africanus. The Dryden translations of Plutarch's works can be accessed at the Internet Classic Archive.

* Frontinus, "The Stratagemata", translated by Charles E. Bennet.
Frontinus was a Roman patrician, who served as Consul thrice in the period 70-100 AD, was governor in Britain, in which capacity he subdued the Silures and fought several military campaigns as well as built the Via Julia which can still be seen to this day in Wales. He also served as Water Commissioner and wrote a work "On Aqueducts" which survives. "The Stratagemata " was presumably a supplement to one of his main work "The Art of War" (unfortunately lost), and contains anecdotes and examples drawn from history of interesting stratagems and tactics. Several of these stratagems derive from the battles of Scipio Africanus. Frontinus: Stratagemata are available on-line at LacusCurtius.

* Letters and Inscriptions
A few letters and inscriptions written by or about Scipio Africanus survive, most notably a letter written by him and his brother Asiaticus during or shortly after the Syrian war.

* H. H. Scullard, "Scipio Africanus: Soldier and Politician"
The best and most balanced book written on Scipio Africanus. Unfortunately, it is out of print and almost impossible to get hold of (though your library service might have a copy).

* Richard M. Haywood, "Studies on Scipio Africanus"
A series of essays/articles on various aspects of the life and particularly the politics of Scipio Africanus. Particularly studies the 210 BCE episode, and the trials of the Scipios. Unfortunately, this book is also out of print.

* B. H. Lidell-Hart, "Scipio Africanus: Greater than Napoleon" [] []
The only biography of Scipio that is easily available. Lidell-Hart was a great admirer of Scipio Africanus, and while he tells the story of Scipio's life in an entertaining and interesting manner, his biography of Scipio is as unbalanced on behalf of Scipio as Dodge's biography of Hannibal - which Lidell-Hart criticsizes vociferously - is unbalanced on behalf of Hannibal. For all that, it remains a good book.

Web Links on Scipio Africanus
* Hannibal Barca and the Punic Wars by Hilary Gowen -
This site is a compilation of information collected from many different sites on the web, some of which are no longer available in their original form. The section on Scipio Africanus is largely based on this article, but the wealth of information on Hannibal and the other aspects of the Punic wars makes this site well worth a look.

* Hannibal (236 - 183 v. Chr.) by Christian Ilaender -
A german page with a biography of Hannibal.

Author's Note

As the list of links above show, sagacious information about Scipio Africanus on the web is almost impossible to come by. Books about Scipio Africanus are almost equally impossible to come by, with the only book still in print being the old Lidell-Hart classic, "Scipio Africanus: Greater than Napoleon". Lidell-Hart's work was written as an answer to the decidedly anti-Scipionic biographies of Hannibal that were current in his day, and whose negative opinions of Scipio is still reflected in many of today's history books. So the decision to write a biography of perhaps the greatest Roman of them all was really not very hard.

Work on this article has however taken a long time. Begun in July 2000, I very soon ran out of the time to write as comprehensively as I wished to, particularly after work on Imperium began. It has taken just over two years to complete. Although this article is unlikely to ever reach the popularity of the biography of Caesar (which averages between 5-10000 hits a month), I hope that it will be of use for those few of you that wish to know a little more about one of the great forgotten men of the ancient world.

No ancient biographies of Scipio Africanus survive. As a result of this, what information we possess about him is scattered and fragmentary. Almost all of the personal information about him is cloaked by the legend that surrounds him, and Polybius's analysis of his personality is clouded by his own excessively rational opinions. As a result of this, any interpretation of Scipio Africanus is bound to be challengeable on many points. The views described in this article reflect my own personal beliefs and opinions on this subject, as shaped by the literature I've read. I do not claim that the opinions stated here are the truth - bear this in mind before sending me emails disagreeing with my opinions. The historical facts cited are, to the best of my knowledge correct, and in agreement with current historical data - if any are in error, I'd like to know - but do not send me e-mails stating that such and such is incorrect if you can not corrobrate it with factual references.

Feedback, suggestions, errata etc can be sent to:

The following are the appropriate citation details of this article:
M. O. Akinde, Scipio Africanus (236-184 ), July, 2002.
Available [Online]: < >.
Retrieved [Retrieval Data].11

Family 2

Aemila (?) b. ca 225 BC, d. aft 182 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."
  2. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.
  3. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as Great Leaders of the Ancient World.
  4. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  5. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  6. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  7. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  8. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  9. [S1653] Great Books Online, online, Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, Scipio Africanus Major: Hereinafter cited as Great Books Online.
  10. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  11. [S1650] Great Leaders of the Ancient World, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus:
  12. [S1653] Great Books Online, online, Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, Scipio Africanus Minor:
  13. [S1651] Cornelia Gracchus, daughter of Scipio Africanus c. 185 BC, online Hereinafter cited as Cornelia Gracchus.

L. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?)1,2

M, #64219, d. 211 BC
FatherLucius Cornelius Scipio (?)2
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     L. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?) died 211 BC.2 He married Pomponia (?), daughter of unknown (?).1
     L. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?) was Consul 218 BC.2 GAV-73.

L. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?)
PUBLIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO Son of Lucius Scipio and brother of CALVUS, father of the brothers AFRICANUS (The Elder) and ASIAGENES. Consul in 218 BCE, he was sent to Spain to fight Hannibal. Delayed by a Gallic uprising and unable to prevent Hannibal from crossing the Rhone R.,he retreated to Italy. At the Trebia River near Piacenza, he was defeated by Hannibal and lost half the Roman army. He rejoined his brother, CALVUS, whom he had sent to Spain, and together they defeated Hasdrubal south of the Ebro river in216 BCE, preventing him from reinforcing Hannibal in Italy. Operating in Spain for the next several years, he recaptured Saguntum in 212. In 211, he was pursued and killed in battle against superior Carthaginian forces near Nova Carthago (Cartagena).2


Pomponia (?)


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."
  2. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.

Pomponia (?)1

F, #64220
Fatherunknown (?)
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     Pomponia (?) married L. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?), son of Lucius Cornelius Scipio (?).1

Pomponia (?)
"sister of M. Pomponius Matho, consul 233."1


L. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?) d. 211 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."
  2. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.

unknown (?)

M, #64221
Last Edited3 Dec 2004




  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Aemila (?)1

F, #64223, b. ca 225 BC, d. aft 182 BC
FatherL. Aemilius Paullus (?)1
Last Edited1 Dec 2004
     Aemila (?) died aft 182 BC.1 She was born ca 225 BC.1 She married P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder), son of L. Publius Cornelius Scipio (?) and Pomponia (?).1


P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus (?) Major (the Elder) b. ca 235 BC
  • Publius Cornelius Scipio (?)2
  • Cornelia Gracchus (?)3
  • Cornelia (?)+1 b. ca 205 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."
  2. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.
  3. [S1651] Cornelia Gracchus, daughter of Scipio Africanus c. 185 BC, online Hereinafter cited as Cornelia Gracchus.

L. Aemilius Paullus (?)1

M, #64224
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     L. Aemilius Paullus (?) was Consul 216 BC.1 He was Consul 219 BC.1 GAV-73.


  • L. Aemilius Paullus (?)1
  • Aemila (?)+1 b. ca 225 BC, d. aft 182 BC


  1. [S1646] Alasdair Friend, "Friend email 7 July 2004: " DFA: Scipio - Philagrius - Alfred"," e-mail message from e-mail address (unknown address) to e-mail address, 7 July 2004, Provides theoretical descent from Scipio Africanus to Alfred the Great, suggested by M. Settipani's latest book about the nobility of the Midi. Hereinafter cited as "Friend email 7 July 2004."

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (?)1

M, #64226
FatherGnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus (?)1
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (?) was Praetor 194 BC.1 GAV-72.

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (?)
PUBLIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO NASICA Son of CALVUS, curule aedile in 197, and praetor in 194, when he operated in Spain. As consul of 191 he defeated the Boii, for which he celebrated a triumph, despite objections.1

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica (?)
Cornelia, married Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum, who was son of our Scipio's first cousin (Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica) the man declared by the Senate to be "the best man in Rome", in 204 to fulfill the requirement of the oracle at Delphi that "the best man" be the one to welcome the sacred image of Cybele, which the Romans in their desperation had obtained from King Attalus of Pergamum.1


  1. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.

Lucius Cornelius Scipio (?)1

M, #64227
FatherLucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (?)1
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     Lucius Cornelius Scipio (?) was Consul 259 BC.1 GAV-74.

Lucius Cornelius Scipio (?)
LUCIUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO Son of BARBATUS, he was curule aedile, then consul in in 259 BCE and censor in 258 BCE. As consul he used the new Roman fleet to attack the Carthaginians naval bases is Italy. He captured Aleria and assaulted the island of Corsica. The fasti triumphales assign him a triumph unrecorded elsewhere.1


  1. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.

Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (?)1

M, #64228
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (?) was Consul 298 BC.1 GAV-75.

Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus (?)
Consul in 298 BCE, possibly Censor in 280 BCE. According to Livy he subjected Lucania, and his sarcophagus records the capture of the Samnium cities of Cisauna and Taurasia.1


  1. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.

Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus (?)1

M, #64229
FatherLucius Cornelius Scipio (?)1
Last Edited2 Dec 2004
     Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus (?) was Consul 222 BC.1 GAV-73.

Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus (?)
GNAEUS CORNELIUS SCIPIO CALVUS Son of Lucius Scipio, brother of Publius Scipio, uncle of AFRICANUS THE ELDER, father of P. Scipio Nasica. Consul in 222 BCE, he defeated the Insubres and captured Mediolanum (Milan). following Hannibal's crossing of the Rhone R., he was sent to Spain by his brother to occupy the Carthaginian forces and prevent reinforcement of Hannibal, took control of the area north of the Ebro River. As proconsul in 217, he defeated a Carthaginian fleet at the mouth of the Ebro, and raided southwards to Carthago Nova (Cartagena) and Ebsus (Ibiza). Joined by his brother, the two captured Saguntum and defeated Hasdrubal south of the Ebro. Following the death of Publius in 211, Gnaeus attemted to retreat and was killed near Ilourgeia near Carthago Nova.1


  1. [S1652] The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones, online, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus: Hereinafter cited as The Family Tree of the Cornelii Scipiones.