Renewed Outbreak Of The Spanish Insurrection Metellus Sent To Spain

Sertorius, who twenty years before had served under Titus Didius in Spain and knew the resources of the land, resolved to comply with the invitation, and, leaving behind a small detachment on the Mauretanian coast, embarked for Spain (about 674). The straits separating Spain and Africa were occupied by a Roman squadron commanded by Cotta; to steal through it was impossible; so Sertorius fought his way through and succeeded in reaching the Lusitanians. There were not more than twenty Lusitanian communities that placed themselves under his orders; and even of "Romans" he mustered only 2600 men, a considerable part of whom were deserters from the army of Pacciaecus or Africans armed after the Roman style. Sertorius saw that everything depended on his associating with the loose guerilla-bands a strong nucleus of troops possessing Roman organization and discipline: for this end he reinforced the band which he had brought with him by levying 4000 infantry and 700 cavalry, and with this one legion and the swarms of Spanish volunteers advanced against the Romans. The command in Further Spain was held by Lucius Fufidius, who through his absolute devotion to Sulla--well tried amidst the proscriptions--had risen from a subaltern to be propraetor; he was totally defeated on the Baetis; 2000 Romans covered the field of battle. Messengers in all haste summoned the governor of the adjoining province of the Ebro, Marcus Domitius Calvinus, to check the farther advance of the Sertorians; and there soon appeared (675) also the experienced general Quintus Metellus, sent by Sulla to relieve the incapable Fufidius in southern Spain. But they did not succeed in mastering the revolt. In the Ebro province not only was the army of Calvinus destroyed and he himself slain by the lieutenant of Sertorius, the quaestor Lucius Hirtuleius, but Lucius Manlius, the governor of Transalpine Gaul, who had crossed the Pyrenees with three legions to the help of his colleague, was totally defeated by the same brave leader. With difficulty Manlius escaped with a few men to Ilerda (Lerida) and thence to his province, losing on the march his whole baggage through a sudden attack of the Aquitanian tribes. In Further Spain Metellus penetrated into the Lusitanian territory; but Sertorius succeeded during the siege of Longobriga (not far from the mouth of the Tagus) in alluring a division under Aquinus into an ambush, and thereby compelling Metellus himself to raise the siege and to evacuate the Lusitanian territory. Sertorius followed him, defeated on the Anas (Guadiana) the corps of Thorius, and inflicted vast damage by guerilla warfare on the army of the commander-in- chief himself. Metellus, a methodical and somewhat clumsy tactician, was in despair as to this opponent, who obstinately declined a decisive battle, but cut off his supplies and communications and constantly hovered round him on all sides.

Organizations Of Sertorius

These extraordinary successes obtained by Sertorius in the two Spanish provinces were the more significant, that they were not achieved merely by arms and were not of a mere military nature. The emigrants as such were not formidable; nor were isolated successes of the Lusitanians under this or that foreign leader of much moment. But with the most decided political and patriotic tact Sertorius acted, whenever he could do so, not as condottiere of the Lusitanians in revolt against Rome, but as Roman general and governor of Spain, in which capacity he had in fact been sent thither by the former rulers. He began(16) to form the heads of the emigration into a senate, which was to increase to 300 members and to conduct affairs and to nominate magistrates in Roman form. He regarded his army as a Roman one, and filled the officers' posts, without exception, with Romans. When facing the Spaniards, he was the governor, who by virtue of his office levied troops and other support from them; but he was a governor who, instead of exercising the usual despotic sway, endeavoured to attach the provincials to Rome and to himself personally. His chivalrous character rendered it easy for him to enter into Spanish habits, and excited in the Spanish nobility the most ardent enthusiasm for the wonderful foreigner who had a spirit so kindred with their own. According to the warlike custom of personal following which subsisted in Spain as among the Celts and the Germans, thousands of the noblest Spaniards swore to stand faithfully by their Roman general unto death; and in them Sertorius found more trustworthy comrades than in his countrymen and party-associates. He did not disdain to turn to account the superstition of the ruder Spanish tribes, and to have his plans of war brought to him as commands of Diana by the white fawn of the goddess. Throughout he exercised a just and gentle rule. His troops, at least so far as his eye and his arm reached, had to maintain the strictest discipline. Gentle as he generally was in punishing, he showed himself inexorable when any outrage was perpetrated by his soldiers on friendly soil. Nor was he inattentive to the permanent alleviation of the condition of the provincials; he reduced the tribute, and directed the soldiers to construct winter barracks for themselves, so that the oppressive burden of quartering the troops was done away and thus a source of unspeakable mischief and annoyance was stopped. For the children of Spaniards of quality an academy was erected at Osca (Huesca), in which they received the higher instruction usual in Rome, learning to speak Latin and Greek, and to wear the toga--a remarkable measure, which was by no means designed merely to take from the allies in as gentle a form as possible the hostages that in Spain were inevitable, but was above all an emanation from, and an advance onthe great project of Gaius Gracchus and the democratic party for gradually Romanizing the provinces. It was the first attempt to accomplish their Romanization not by extirpating the old inhabitants and filling their places with Italian emigrants, but by Romanizing the provincials themselves.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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