But there was a means of surmounting this difficulty. Lucullus of his own accord attacked the western neighbours of the Arevacae, the Vaccaei, a Celtiberian nation still independent which was living on the best understanding with the Romans. The question of the Spaniards as to what fault they had committed was answered by a sudden attack on the town of Cauca (Coca, eight Spanish leagues to the west of Segovia); and, while the terrified town believed that it had purchased a capitulation by heavy sacrifices of money, Roman troops marched in and enslaved or slaughtered the inhabitants without any pretext at all. After this heroic feat, which is said to have cost the lives of some 20,000 defenceless men, the army proceeded on its march. Far and wide the villages and townships were abandoned or, as in the case of the strong Intercatia and Pallantia (Palencia) the capital of the Vaccaei, closed their gates against the Roman army. Covetousness was caught in its own net; there was no community That would venture to conclude a capitulation with the perfidious commander, and the general flight of the inhabitants not only rendered booty scarce, but made it almost impossible for him to remain for any length of time in these inhospitable regions. In front of Intercatia, Scipio Aemilianus, an esteemed military tribune, the son of the victor of Pydna and the adopted grandson of the victor of Zama, succeeded, by pledging his word of honour when that of the general no longer availed, in inducing the inhabitants to conclude an agreement by virtue of which the Roman army departed on receiving a supply of cattle and clothing. But the siege of Pallantia had to be raised for want of provisions, and the Roman army in its retreat was pursued by the Vaccaei as far as the Douro. Lucullus thereupon proceeded to the southern province, where in the same year the praetor, Servius Sulpicius Galba, had allowed himself to be defeated by the Lusitanians. They spent the winter not far from each other-- Lucullus in the territory of the Turdetani, Galba at Conistorgis-- And in the following year (604) jointly attacked the Lusitanians. Lucullus gained some advantages over them near the straits of Gades. Galba performed a greater achievement, for he concluded a treaty with three Lusitanian tribes on the right bank of the Tagus and promised to transfer them to better settlements; whereupon the barbarians, who to the number of 7000 came to him for the sake of the expected lands, were separated into three divisions, disarmed, and partly carried off into slavery, partly massacred. War has hardly ever been waged with so much perfidy, cruelty, and avarice as by these two generals; who yet by means of their criminally acquired treasures escaped the one from condemnation, and the other even from impeachment. The veteran Cato in his eighty-fifth year, a few months before his death, attempted to bring Galba to account before the burgesses; but the weeping children of the general, and the gold which he had brought home with him, proved to the Roman people his innocence.
It was not so much the inglorious successes which Lucullus and Galba had attained in Spain, as the outbreak of the fourth Macedonian and of the third Carthaginian war in 605, which induced the Romans again to leave Spanish affairs in the first instance to the ordinary governors. Accordingly the Lusitanians, exasperated rather than humbled by the perfidy of Galba, immediately overran afresh the rich territory of the Turdetani. The Roman governor Gaius Vetilius (607-8?)(4) marched against them, and not only defeated them, but drove the whole host towards a hill where it seemed lost irretrievably. The capitulation was virtually concluded, when Viriathus--a man of humble origin, who formerly, when a youth, had bravely defended his flock from wild beasts and robbers and was now in more serious conflictsa dreaded guerilla chief, and who was one of the few that had accidentally escaped from the perfidious onslaught of Galba--warned his countrymen against relying on the Roman word of honour, and promised them deliverance if they would follow him. His language and his example produced a deep effect: the army entrusted him with the supreme command. Viriathus gave orders to the mass of his men to proceed in detached parties, by different routes, to the appointed rendezvous; he himself formed the best mounted and most trustworthy into a corps of 1000 horse, with which he covered the departure of his men. The Romans, who wanted light cavalry, did not venture to disperse for the pursuit under the eyes of the enemy's horsemen. After Viriathus and his band had for two whole days held in check the entire Roman army he suddenly disappeared during the night and hastened to the general rendezvous. The Roman general followed him, but fell into an adroitly-laid ambush, in which he lost the half of his army and was himself captured and slain; with difficulty the rest of the troops escaped to the colony of Carteia on the Straits. In all haste 5000 men of the Spanish militia were despatched from the Ebro to reinforce the defeated Romans; but Viriathus destroyed the corps while still on its march, and commanded so absolutely the whole interior of Carpetania that the Romans did not even venture to seek him there. Viriathus, now recognized as lord and king of all the Lusitanians, knew how to combine the full dignity of his princely position with the homely habits of a shepherd. No badge distinguished him from the common soldier: he rose from the richly adorned marriage- table of his father-in-law, the prince Astolpa in Roman Spain, without having touched the golden plate and the sumptuous fare, lifted his bride on horseback, and rode back with her to his mountains. He never took more of the spoil than the share which he allotted to each of his comrades. The soldier recognized the general simply by his tall figure, by his striking sallies of wit, and above all by the fact that he surpassed every one of his men in temperance as well as in toil, sleeping always in full armour and fighting in front of all in battle. It seemed as if in that thoroughly prosaic age one of the Homeric heroes had reappeared: the name of Viriathus resounded far and wide through Spain; and the brave nation conceived that in him it had at length found the man who was destined to break the fetters of alien domination.