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The Romance of Spanish History by  John S.C. Abbott
Table of Contents


 

 

THE EARLY HISTORY OF SPAIN

(From 500 B.C. to 44 B.C.)

Geography of Spain.—Its Aborigines.—Colonial Settlements.—Its Conquest by Carthage.—Designs of Rome upon Spain.—Strife between Rome and Carthage for its Possession.—Siege of Saguntum.—Campaigns of the Scipios.—Roman Extortion.—Exploits of Viriatus.—His Assassination —Achievements of Sertorius.—Campaign of Pompey.—Governorship of Julius Cesar.

[17] THE Spanish peninsula, separated from France on the north by the Pyrenees, and bounded on the three remaining sides by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, contains an area of 225,600 square miles, being a little larger than France. Nature has reared a very formidable barrier between Spain and France, for the Pyrenees, extending in a straight line 250 miles in length, from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, and often rising in peaks more than ten thousand feet in height, offer but three defiles which carriages can traverse, though there are more than a hundred passes which may be surmounted by pedestrians or the sure-footed mule. The soil is fertile; the climate genial and salubrious; and the face of the country, diversified with meadows and mountains, presents, in rare combination, the most attractive features both of loveliness and sublimity.

History does not inform us when and how this beautiful [18] peninsula—called Hispania by the Romans—first became inhabited. Whether the earliest emigrants crossed the straits of Gibraltar from Africa, or came from Asia, coasting the shores of the Mediterranean, or descended from France through the defiles of the Pyrenees, can now never be known. The first glimpse we catch of Spain, through the haze of past ages, reveals to us the country inhabited by numerous barbaric tribes, fiercely hostile to each other, and constantly engaged in bloody wars. The mountain fastnesses were infested with robber bands, and rapine and violence everywhere reigned. The weapons grasped by these fierce warriors consisted of lances, clubs, and slings, with sabres and hatchets, of rude fashion but of keen edge. Their food was mainly nuts and roots. Their clothing consisted of a single linen garment, girded around the waist; and a woollen tunic, surmounted by a cloth cap, descended to the feet. As in all barbarous nations, the hard work of life was performed by the women.

The names even of most of these tribes have long since perished; a few however have been transmitted to our day, such as the Celts, the Gallicians, the Lusitanians, and the Iberians. Several ages before the foundations of Rome or of Carthage were laid, it is said that the Phoenicians, exploring in their commercial tours the shores of the Mediterranean, established a mercantile colony at Cadiz. The colonists growing rich and strong, extended their dominions and founded the cities of Malaga and Cordova. About 800 years before Christ, a colony from Rhodes settled in the Spanish peninsula, and established the city of Rosas. Other expeditions, from various parts of Greece, also planted colonies and engaged in successful traffic with the Spanish natives.

[19] Four hundred years before Christ, the Carthaginian republic was one of the leading powers, and Carthage was one of the most populous and influential cities on the globe. The Carthaginians crossed the narrow straits which separate Africa from Spain, landed in great strength upon the Spanish peninsula, and, after a short but severe conflict, subdued the foreign colonies there, brought the native Spaniards into subjection, and established their own supremacy over all the southern coast. Cadiz became the central point of Carthaginian power, from whence the invaders constantly extended their conquests. Though many of the interior tribes maintained for a time a sort of rude and ferocious independence, still Carthage gradually assumed dominion over the whole of Spain.

In the year 235 B.C., Hamilcar, the father of the illustrious Hannibal, compelled nearly all the tribes of Spain to acknowledge his sway. For eight years Hamilcar waged almost an incessant battle with the Spaniards. Still it was merely a military possession which he held of the country, and he erected Barcelona and several other fortresses, where his soldiers could bid defiance to assaults, and could overawe the surrounding inhabitants. He was a stern conqueror, and the subjugated people regarded him with dread. In one insurrection, which his severity provoked, two-thirds of his army perished, and Hamilcar himself also was slain. His son-in-law, Asdrubal, was intrusted with the supreme command.

Asdrubal adopted a conciliatory policy, courting alliance with those tribes whom he could not easily vanquish. He founded the city of Carthagena, on the gulf to which he gave the same name. He had intended this place for his capital, having formed the plan of organizing Spain into a [20] kingdom, independent of Carthage, over which he designed to assume the monarchy.

Rome was now rising rapidly into power, and, with insatiable lust of conquest, turned her eyes to Spain, wishing to wrest the important province from her rival, Carthage. Asdrubal, with great energy, was preparing for this approaching strife, when he was assassinated by a slave, whose master, a native prince, he had put to death. Hannibal was now twenty-six years of age, when he succeeded his brother-in law in command of the army and as governor of Spain. He was a man of heroic mould; merciless, in accordance with the ferocity of the times, but singularly sagacious, bold, and self reliant, and endowed with the rare ability of embracing the most extensive combinations, while, at the same time, he could attend to the minutest details.

Hannibal when a child, before his father's death, had taken a solemn oath never to make peace with the Romans. He now, with all his amazing energy, made preparations for a death-struggle with Rome, which was then threatening the supremacy of Carthage everywhere, both on the land and on the sea. Rome had entered into alliance with one of the powerful Spanish tribes, the Saguntines. Their principal city, Saguntum, was situated upon the Mediterranean, on the site of the present city of Murviedro. Hannibal commenced his war upon Rome by marching at the head of an army 150,000 thousand strong against Saguntum. The siege and destruction of this city are described by Livy with great graphic skill.

According to the narrative of Livy, the besieged made the most heroic resistance. The destruction of Saguntum is regarded as one of the most sublime and terrible of the tragedies of war. For nine months the storm of battle raged [21] incessantly around the walls. Every assault was successfully repelled. In many fierce sorties the works of the besiegers were demolished, and the plain was strewed with the dead. On one occasion Hannibal himself was very severely wounded. As he effected breaches in the walls with his battering-rams, he found other walls reared behind them still more substantial, and lapping over the gaps. But Hannibal was a man whom no disasters could dishearten. Obstacles only nerved him to greater effort and endurance. He reared enormous towers on wheels, and rolled them up to the walls, that his men might fight on a level with those who defended the ramparts. Thus month after month of this truly demoniac strife lingered away, until famine commenced its cruel devastations in the city. The women and children perished by thousands. Gaunt and skeleton spectres stalked through the streets, none having food but those for whom it was indispensable to enable them to fight. The end now drew nigh. Human endurance could accomplish nothing more. There was plenty in the camp of Hannibal, and his broken ranks were continually filled up by fresh recruits.

The Saguntines, finding that they must fall, resolved with barbaric heroism that their fall should be the sublimest act in the drama; an act which should fill the world with their renown. They accomplished their design. For more than two thousand years, the story of the fall of Saguntum has echoed through the corridors of history.

In the heart of the city they collected an enormous mass of every thing combustible, so that upon the touch of the flambeau it would blaze and glow like a furnace. Upon this vast pile they placed their wives and their children, and all their valuable effects. [22] The fathers, husbands, and brothers capable of bearing arms then formed themselves into solid columns, and suddenly rushing from the gates, fell upon the besiegers with the utmost fury. No man thought of self protection, but strove only to sell his life as dearly as possible. The slaughter was awful. In the midst of the terror, uproar, and tumult, the torch was applied to the majestic pyre, and it flamed, crackling and roaring, to the skies. It was but a short agony ere all the writhing victims were consumed to ashes. The Carthaginians, having overpowered and cut down their desperate assailants, rushed into the city to find it but a mass of flame, with scarcely a living inhabitant. Mercilessly they destroyed the few stragglers who were left in the streets.

Thus perished Saguntum, one of the most flourishing cities of ancient Spain. This event, which occurred in the year 219 B.C., ushered in the Second Punic War—a war which swept nearly the whole then known world with fire, and almost deluged it with blood. The destruction of Saguntum was a fitting prelude to the scenes which ensued. Spain was now a captive in the hands of Carthage; many of the tribes being willingly captive, but others restless and struggling to be free.

The Spanish tribes, who had been hostile to Carthage, were indignant that Rome had not sent her legions to aid her allies, the Saguntines. The remissness of the Romans in this affair seems inexplicable. They, however, as soon as they heard of the fall of Saguntum, prepared to send an army into Spain to conquer the country from Carthage. Ambassadors were dispatched to visit the disaffected tribes, and to incite them to coalition with Rome. But the Spanish chieftains received the ambassadors with great coldness.

[23] "Are you not ashamed," said an Iberian chief, "to expect that we should prefer your friendship to that of the Carthaginians? Can we forget your perfidy to the Saguntines, who perished because you came not to their aid? Go seek allies elsewhere, among those who have not heard of the fate of Saguntum."

The ambassadors could make no reply, and, in confusion, returned to Rome, having entirely failed in their mission. Publius Scipio was then consul at Rome. As Hannibal was marching across the Alps for the invasion of Italy, Publius Scipio sent his brother Cnaeus Scipio, a distinguished general, with an army to Spain by water. He landed at Ampurias, in Catalonia, a little north of the river Ebro, with the very inadequate force of 10,000 infantry and 700 cavalry. Hannibal had left a Carthaginian general by the name of Hanno in command of the troops in Catalonia, though Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, was commander-in-chief in Spain.

Scipio, conscious of his weakness, moved with great caution, doing every thing in his power to conciliate the natives, and to enlist them on his side. He was extremely affable and friendly, complimenting the chiefs upon their bravery, and soon he so won their confidence that large numbers gathered around his banners. Ere long he was in a condition to offer battle to Hanno, and, encountering him upon the plains of Catalonia, defeated him with great loss. His little fleet also met the Carthaginian fleet near the mouth of the Ebro, and sinking a portion of the ships, dispersed the rest. Thus the whole of Catalonia and the coast from the Ebro to the Pyrenees fell into the hands of the Romans.

These successes were followed by others still more de- [24] cisive. Many of the tribes joined the conquering Romans. The consul, Publius Scipio, soon embarked for Spain with large re-enforcements, and joined his brother. By their vigorous co-operation nearly the whole peninsula was soon wrested from the Carthaginians, and Spain became a Roman province. A few fortresses only still held at bay the legions of Scipio. But Hasdrubal possessed many of the qualities of his heroic brother Hannibal. He gathered re-enforcements from Carthage, formed alliance with several tribes, and wretched Spain became the bloody battle-field where Rome and Carthage struggled for the supremacy of the world. The fortunes of war as usual ebbed and flowed on many a hard-fought field; now the banners of the one party, and again those of the other, floating amidst the huzzahs of victory. At length, in two terrible battles, both Publius and Cnaeus Scipio were slain, and the Roman army was nearly exterminated.

The Carthaginians, flushed with victory, approached the fortified camp where the remnants of the Roman legions were entrenched. Their escape was hopeless, and their doom seemed sealed. A Roman general, Lucius Martins, by an earnest harangue roused the soldiers to the bold resolve to avenge the death of the Scipios, and to sell their lives as dearly as possible. At midnight he led his whole band, who were inspired with the energies of despair, into the Carthaginian camp, bursting the barriers with shrieks and fury as of incarnate fiends. The Carthaginians were totally unprepared for such an attack, not dreaming that their crushed foes would dare to leave their ramparts.

Every Roman had his especial duty assigned him; some fired the tents; some plunged into them with sword and [25] battle-axe; some guarded the avenues to cut off the fugitives. The flames, the clamor, the butchery, the utter bewilderment of the Carthaginians, the heroic efforts of the Romans, the gloom of night illumined by the lurid flames of the conflagration, presented a scene of horror which can not be conceived. The massacre was awful, and before the morning dawned nearly the whole Carthaginian army was destroyed. All who were not slain were dispersed in wild disorder, leaving the whole Carthaginian camp in the hands of those whom, the evening before, the Carthaginians had regarded but as victims awaiting their execution.

The Roman Senate, animated by this astonishing achievement, immediately dispatched a strong armament to Spain under the leadership of Publius Cornelius Scipio, a son of the consul who had recently perished in battle. This young man, then but twenty-four years of age, who subsequently obtained the surname of Africanus, in honor of his exploits in Africa, had already acquired much celebrity in Rome, not only for his heroism, but for the earnest religious character which he had remarkably exhibited. Being peculiarly endowed with those qualities which attract the affections as well as the admiration of men, he soon became the idol of the army, and many of the Spanish chieftains with enthusiasm espoused his cause.

But Hasdrubal was not wanting either in energy or sagacity. He gathered large re-enforcements from Carthage and from his Spanish allies, and was soon again in condition to take the field. Both parties prepared with great vigor to submit the possession of Spain to the arbitrament of battle. Scipio, upon landing, marched directly upon Carthagena, and laid siege to the city. This movement was so rapid and unexpected, and the siege was prosecuted [26] with such vigor, that the city was soon compelled to capitulate, and all its vast pecuniary and military treasures fell into the hands of the conqueror.

The conduct of Scipio on this occasion has given him great and enviable renown. There was among his captives a native maiden princess, of marvellous beauty, who at sight inspired him with the most passionate attachment. But so soon as Scipio learned that she was the affianced bride of a young Spanish chieftain, Allucius, he restored her to her lover. The parents of the maiden were overjoyed, and, in their gratitude, sent Scipio a very large present, as the gift-ransom for their child. Scipio bestowed this ransom upon the youthful pair, as the dowry of the maiden. Allucius immediately entered the Roman service, attached himself enthusiastically to Scipio, and contributed very essential aid to his subsequent enterprises.

The magnanimous victor, instead of making, according to the custom of the times, the citizens of Carthagena slaves, and sending them to the market to replenish his purse, gave them all their liberty, and restored to them their property. He did all in his power to alleviate the inevitable horrors of war, and to promote the happiness of the vanquished. Such conduct was as politic as it was unparalleled in those dark and cruel days. The fame of his clemency spread rapidly, and his popularity daily increased. Still the Carthaginians were too strongly established in Spain to be easily driven out. Campaign after campaign ensued, with all their awful accompaniments of tumult, blood, and woe.

After three campaigns in as many years, which campaigns extended the devastations of war over nearly the whole peninsula, the Romans attained the decisive superi- [27] ority. Steadily now Scipio advanced in his conquests, wresting fortress after fortress from the Carthaginians, until they were left in possession of Cadiz alone. Finding it impossible to hold this city, the Carthaginian troops abandoned it, escaping in their ships, and thus the whole Spanish peninsula was surrendered to Rome. The conquerors divided their prize into two provinces, which they called Hither and Farther Spain, the River Ebro constituting the boundary between them. Each of these domains was intrusted to a Roman governor, who sometimes held the title of proconsul, and again that of praetor. Tarragona was the capital of Hither Spain. Farther Spain being of larger extent, the governor moved about, closing his place of residence according to his pleasure. Such was the condition of the Spanish peninsula 200 years B.C.

Most of the Roman governors were inexorable tyrants, who made it the primary object of their administrations to wring as much money as possible from the miserable people. Their oppressions and outrages were constantly goading the tribes to revolt, which revolts were quelled by cavalry charges and dripping swords. For half a century there was seldom a day in which some of the tribes were not in open insurrection. Not unfrequently nearly the whole peninsula would be in a blaze of war. Some of the mountain tribes, indeed, were never thoroughly subjugated, but in their wild retreats maintained a rude independence. Occasionally a Roman governor would be ignominiously defeated, but then some successor of surpassing energy would regain all that his predecessor had lost. War was the normal condition of the people; peace its transient exception.

The Roman Government was thoroughly detested by [28] the Spanish people; and if the tribes had possessed sufficient intelligence and virtue to combine, the invaders might easily have been driven from the land. But the Romans, with superior sagacity, ever succeeded in fomenting the jealousy of the tribes, and thus, by arraying them against each other, held them all in subjection. The enormities perpetrated by these Roman governors in Spain can never be described. Let but one be mentioned in illustration of many. A Roman army was marching along the banks of the Tagus, on an expedition of conquest and plunder. A deputation from several tribes waited upon Lucullus, the proconsul in command of the army, offering to submit to Rome on certain terms which they proposed. Lucullus received them with apparent cordiality, and, with strong expressions of sympathy for the hardships to which they were exposed, said:

"Come to us, and we will conduct you to happier homes. We have, in Italy, abundance of uncultivated land, very fertile, beneath bright and sunny skies. There you can live almost without labor, and your lives will glide along like a cloudless summer day. Come in as large numbers as you please, and we will conduct you safely to those new homes, will provide farms for you all, and I will be your father."

The poor mountaineers, rendered wretched by war and anarchy, were delighted with these cheering prospects. Thirty thousand of them were soon assembled in the Roman camp. Lucullus received them with great cordiality, and divided them into three bands, as he alleged, in preparation for their march. He relieved them of their arms, which he said would be only an encumbrance to them on their way. Then, when they were disarmed and helpless, [29] he fell fiercely upon them with his prepared legions, and ten thousand were speedily slain. The remaining twenty thousand were bound, and driven off into Gaul, where they were sold as slaves. Lucullus was now prepared to return to Rome, enriched by the spoil which he had thus amassed.

A few escaped the massacre and the captivity. Among them was a man by the name of Viriatus, who subsequently performed exploits which have given him world-wide renown. Fleeing to the mountains, he soon gathered around him a bold band of Lusitanians, who acknowledged him as their leader. With an eagle eye he watched the invaders, and not a magazine could be left unguarded or a detachment leave the Roman camp, but his heroic band was urged to the assault with the speed of the whirlwind and the destructive energies of the thunderbolt. Totally disregarding for himself the wealth he thus acquired, he distributed it to his impoverished countrymen, to whom he was a most bountiful benefactor. Incessantly harassing the Romans wherever they presented the slightest exposure, when assailed by a superior force he retired to the mountain fastnesses.

His wonderful achievements spread his name far and wide, and his followers so rapidly increased that soon several powerful tribes were rallied around him as their chieftain. From the cloud-enveloped cliffs his well-trained bands were ever descending, like the mountain storm, upon the plains of Lusitania. More than once he braved the veteran legions of Rome in a pitched battle, and vanquished them. The energies of the provincial governments of both Hither and Farther Spain were combined to crush this insurgent chief. Viriatus met their united armies on the banks of [30] the Tagus, and they were scattered before the impetuous charges of his horsemen.

Passing from victory to victory, the heroic conqueror was soon in possession of one-half of the peninsula, and Rome herself was alarmed lest Spain should be wrested from her. The Senate consequently dispatched the consul, Quintus Fabius Maximus, at the head of 17,000 troops, to combine with the broken legions in Spain and overwhelm their bold assailant. For twelve months he did not venture to meet the Spanish chieftain on the field, waiting for his forces to acquire the discipline and the endurance of veterans. At length the opposing hosts met again and again in the shock of war. Roman diplomacy succeeded in detaching several tribes from the ranks of Viriatus, and he was compelled to retreat to the mountains. The Romans eagerly and incautiously pursued. Viriatus turned upon them, and routed them with terrible slaughter. The war had now proved so destructive to the Roman arms, and the prospect of success seemed so remote, that the Romans proposed terms of peace, to which Viriatus acceded.

But Rome, with characteristic treachery, after ratifying this solemn treaty sent Caepio as proconsul to Farther Spain, with secret orders to take advantage of the defenselessness of Viriatus, who, unsuspicious of treachery, had dismissed most of his forces. Caepio, watching his opportunity, and having lured Viriatus into a trap, as he supposed, fell fiercely upon the heroic little band he had surrounded. But Viriatus, eluding his foe, escaped into Castile, where he soon rallied another army. With characteristic magnanimity, he sent three ambassadors to the camp of Caepio to inquire the reasons for an aggression apparently so perfidious. Caepio, by the proffer of immense rewards, bribed these bar- [31] baric messengers to assassinate their chief. On their return they stole into his tent when he was asleep, and plunged their swords into his bosom. The murderers lost their reward; for Caepio doubled his infamy by refusing to pay the thirty pieces of silver, through the promise of which he had incited them to their Judas-like treachery.

For eleven years this heroic chieftain had held at bay the legions of Rome. His enemies stigmatize him as a rebel and a robber. He was neither. He owed Rome no allegiance; but, with exalted patriotism, he struggled to deliver his country from remorseless plunderers. Even his most bitter foes can not withhold their tribute of admiration for his heroism, his genius, his magnanimity, the temperance of his habits and the purity of his life. But the death of Viriatus did not terminate the war. His followers, exasperated by the treachery which had deprived them of their chieftain, chose a new leader, and the conflict was prosecuted with renewed bitterness, and with the usual vicissitudes of victories and defeats. Cities were besieged, and taken by storm. The tempest of war swept shrieking over extended plains, and many battle-fields were drenched with blood. Campaign succeeded campaign, as Romans and Spaniards, in the deadly strife, devastated the fair land with smouldering ruins, famine, and woe.

Numantia, in the north-east corner of Old Castile, on the River Douro, where Soira now stands, was the stronghold of the Spanish patriots. The Romans resolved to destroy the city, and invested it with an army 60,000 strong. The fortress was garrisoned by but 6000 Spaniards. The Romans constructed wall against wall, and bastion against bastion, resolved, by a strict blockade, to avoid all the risks of battle, and to subdue their foes by the simple yet terrible ener- [32] gies of famine. The Roman consul, Scipio Aemilianus, a son of the renowned Scipio Africanus, conducted the siege. He had already attained celebrity in his wars in Africa against Carthage, which city was now entirely demolished. As months passed away, during which the beleaguered garrison made many but unavailing sorties, every thing which by any possibility could be eaten was consumed. Famine was now slaying its thousands, and there was no alternative for the survivors but to die, or to surrender themselves to slavery; a doom worse than death. The indomitable Spaniards scorned to capitulate. The account which the ancient historians unite in giving of the scene which ensued seems absolutely incredible. And yet we have no light but such as they give to guide us, and their narrative is apparently well authenticated.

According to these accounts, the indomitable inhabitants of Numidia resolved upon mutual and entire extermination. Deliberately and determinedly they entered upon this enterprise. Husbands killed their wives; parents their children. Some fell upon their own swords. Some solicited friends to perform the kind act of death. Some set fire to their houses and perished in the flames. Thus every individual in Numidia was slain. Not a solitary inhabitant survived. And when the Romans clambered over the walls, they found a smouldering city without a living being in its streets. Not a captive remained to grace their triumph. Not a gem could be found for the Roman coronet. Life and wealth had been consumed together.

If this narrative be true, it is the most extraordinary event in the annals of war. The fall of Saguntum was awful. But the fall of Numantia stands without a parallel as the most energetic act of desperation time has witnessed.

[33] This tragic event took place 132 years B.C. The destruction of Numantia paralyzed the energies of the Spanish patriots, and two-thirds of the peninsula despairingly submitted to the Roman sway. Nearly all the tribes tremblingly sent deputations to implore the clemency of the conqueror. A few of the mountain clans, in their inaccessible retreats, who, in their poverty, were not worth the trouble of conquering, remained in independence. But still the extortions of the Romans were continually goading the enslaved people to insurrection; and the peace of Spain was only that peace to which the plantation slaves submit when crouching beneath the uplifted lash. Rapacity, lust, cruelty ever marked Roman domination in Spain. For half a century from this time the whole peninsula continued to exhibit the same unvarying picture of abject bondage. Occasionally, goaded to desperation, the victim would turn upon his oppressor but to be smitten with a mailed hand in bloody death.

In the year 81 B.C. the merciless dictator Sylla was at the height of his power in Rome. Among the innumerable victims on his proscription list, there was an illustrious general by the name of Quintus Sertorius. He was then in the prime of life, and was endowed with great physical energy and mental vigor. As a leader of armies he had no superior; and his ambition was as boundless and unscrupulous as was that of Sylla, before the terror of whose arm he had been compelled to flee.

Sertorius, in his flight, succeeded in reaching Spain. The natives, ever eager for an opportunity to rise against their oppressors, encouraged by his military renown and his inextinguishable hatred of the Roman usurper, rallied around him. He soon found himself at the head of 9000 [34] troops, ripe for any enterprise, no matter how desperate. But the Romans, to hold the restless Spaniards in subjection, had four armies in the field, amounting, all together, to 120,000 men. With amazing energy and military skill, Sertorius baffled his foes and multiplied his victories, until he united the two powerful tribes—nations they were then—called the Lusitanians and Celtiberians, into one central republic. Giving them a government exactly similar to that of Rome, he advanced in such a career of conquest, and of accumulating resources, that Spain seemed upon the eve of being rescued entirely from its foreign oppressors.

He established two capitals, Evora, in the heart of Lusitania, and Osca, now Huesca, in Celtiberia. Both of these capitals were embellished with the noblest works of art. A Senate, consisting of 300 of the most distinguished citizens, most of them Romans by birth, administered the general affairs of the nation. The army was organized upon the Roman model. There was a university established at Huesca, to which Sertorius invited distinguished Latin and Greek professors, and which attained very considerable renown, attracting students from all parts of the peninsula. Industry, in all its branches, was encouraged. Arms were manufactured, arsenals reared, mines opened, and the hour of Roman expulsion and of Spanish disenthrallment seemed to be at hand.

The imperious Sylla, alarmed at the strength rebellion was assuming in Spain, dispatched the consul Metellus Pius, at the head of several Roman legions, to crush the audacious foe. Sertorius hurled upon them his exultant troops, and trampled them in the dust: Sylla died miserably, and went to the bar of God with the blood upon his soul of one hundred thousand men whom he had sent to the scaf- [35] fold. The Roman Senate, conscious that the emergency of Spanish affairs demanded the most decisive action, sent to the peninsula several veteran legions, under Cnaeus Pompey, a young general whose star was just beginning to rise, lurid and gleaming, over a war-scathed and smouldering world. The storm of battle now swept Spain with terrible devastation. When Pompey and Sertorius crossed swords, then the mightiest energies of the demon of war were called into requisition. There were many fierce and sanguinary battles, in which both parties struck their swiftest and heaviest blows, and then rested from the conflict, bleeding, panting, and equally exhausted. Rome poured in her re-enforcements to replenish the thinned ranks of Pompey. But with equal ardor the Spanish tribes contributed their recruits to strengthen the diminished battalions of Sertorius.

At one time the Spanish forces were so pressed by the Roman legions marching upon them in overwhelming masses, that they could not even hope for a successful encounter. Sertorius dispersed his army, at a given signal, through a hundred diverse paths, leaving the foe utterly bewildered by their sudden vanishment. In a few days they were all re-assembled, with recruited strength, at an appointed rendezvous. Rome now offered an immense reward for the head of Sertorius, hoping thus to secure his assassination by some of his followers. Perpenna, one of the generals of Sertorius, entered into a conspiracy to overthrow the illustrious chieftain, not for the sake of the offered reward, but to obtain the supreme command. At a convivial supper in celebration of a victory, Sertorius fell, pierced to the heart by a dozen poniards.

Perpenna attained his object, and was recognized as the leader of the army. But in his first battle the genius of [36] Pompey triumphed over him; his troops were slain or dispersed, and he was taken captive. The wretch sought to purchase pardon by acts of the utmost perfidy and meanness. Pompey, despising him, sent him to the scaffold. With the death of Sertorius, the last glimmer of Spanish independence expired; but his memory was cherished by the natives with undying love. The genius of Pompey now dominated over Spain. Most of the tribes submitted to the conqueror, and as he swept his armies from Andalusia to the Pyrenees, he found no occasion to draw his sword. Thus Spain, in the year 72 B.C., became again subject to Rome; and the tranquility of the vanquished people for twenty years was disturbed but by occasional and partial insurrections, which were promptly crushed, and with merciless severity.

Pompey, from this successful expedition, returned to Rome, and for a time Julius Caesar, a young man whose fame was rapidly rising, and who married a daughter of Pompey, was intrusted with the governorship of Spain. Though the tremendous energy of Caesar overawed all opposition, still, as he espoused the popular cause, in opposition to the aristocracy, he was decidedly a favorite with the masses. By his military prowess, and his wonderful administrative skill, he obtained much celebrity, and soon returned to Rome laden with the wealth which, in accordance with universal custom, he had extorted from the Spanish people. By means of this wealth he secured his election to the consulship, the highest office to which a Roman could then attain. Becoming thus powerful, he entered into a coalition with Pompey and Crassus, thus forming that famous triumvirate, who divided between themselves the dominion of the then known world.


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