Pompeius In Gaul

First of all the new general found employment in Gaul, where no formal insurrection had broken out, but serious disturbances of the peace had occurred at several places; in consequence of which Pompeius deprived the cantons of the Volcae-Arecomici and the Helvii of their independence, and placed them under Massilia. He also laid out a new road over the Cottian Alps (Mont Genevre,(21)), and so established a shorter communication between the valley of the Po and Gaul. Amidst this work the best season of the year passed away; it was not till late in autumn that Pompeius crossed the Pyrenees.

Appearance Of Pompeius In Spain

Sertorius had meanwhile not been idle. He had despatched Hirtuleius into the Further province to keep Metellus in check, and had himself endeavoured to follow up his complete victory in the Hither province, and to prepare for the reception of Pompeius. The isolated Celtiberian towns there, which still adhered to Rome, were attacked and reduced one after another; at last, in the very middle of winter, the strong Contrebia (south-east of Saragossa) had fallen. In vain the hard-pressed towns had sent message after message to Pompeius; he would not be induced by any entreaties to depart from his wonted rut of slowly advancing. With the exception of the maritime towns, which were defended by the Roman fleet, and the districts of the Indigetes and Laletani in the north-east corner of Spain, where Pompeius established himself after he had at length crossed the Pyrenees, and made his raw troops bivouac throughout the winter to inure them to hardships, the whole of Hither Spain had at the end of 677 become by treaty or force dependent on Sertorius, and the district on the upper and middle Ebro thenceforth continued the main stay of his power. Even the apprehension, which the fresh Roman force and the celebrated name of the general excited in the army of the insurgents, had a salutary effect on it. Marcus Perpenna, who hitherto as the equal of Sertorius in rank had claimed an independent command over the force which he had brought with him from Liguria, was, on the news of the arrival of Pompeius in Spain, compelled by his soldiers to place himself under the orders of his abler colleague.

For the campaign of 678 Sertorius again employed the corps of Hirtuleius against Metellus, while Perpenna with a strong army took up his position along the lower course of the Ebro to prevent Pompeius from crossing the river, if he should march, as was to be expected, in a southerly direction with the view of effecting a junction with Metellus, and along the coast for the sake of procuring supplies for his troops. The corps of Gaius Herennius was destined to the immediate support of Perpenna; farther inland on the upper Ebro, Sertorius in person prosecuted meanwhile the subjugation of several districts friendly to Rome, and held himself at the same time ready to hasten according to circumstances to the aid of Perpenna or Hirtuleius. It was still his intention to avoid any pitched battle, and to annoy the enemy by petty conflicts and cutting off supplies.

Pompeius Defeated

Pompeius, however, forced the passage of the Ebro against Perpenna and took up a position on the river Pallantias, near Saguntum, whence, as we have already said, the Sertorians maintained their communications with Italy and the east. It was time that Sertorius should appear in person, and throw the superiority of his numbers and of his genius into the scale against the greater excellence of the soldiers of his opponent. For a considerable time the struggle was concentrated around the town of Lauro (on the Xucar, south of Valencia), which had declared for Pompeius and was on that account besieged by Sertorius. Pompeius exerted himself to the utmost to relieve it; but, after several of his divisions had already been assailed separately and cut to pieces, the great warrior found himself--just when he thought that he had surrounded the Sertorians, and when he had already invited the besieged to be spectators of the capture of the besieging army--all of a sudden completely outmanoeuvred; and in order that he might not be himself surrounded, he had to look on from his camp at the capture and reduction to ashes of the allied town and at the carrying off of its inhabitants to Lusitania--an event which induced a number of towns that had been wavering in middle and eastern Spain to adhere anew to Sertorius.

Victories Of Metellus

Meanwhile Metellus fought with better fortune. In a sharp engagement at Italica (not far from Seville), which Hirtuleius had imprudently risked, and in which both generals fought hand to hand and Hirtuleius was wounded, Metellus defeated him and compelled him to evacuate the Roman territory proper, and to throw himself into Lusitania. This victory permitted Metellus to unite with Pompeius. The two generals took up their winter-quarters in 678-79 at the Pyrenees, and in the next campaign in 679 they resolved to make a joint attack on the enemy in his position near Valentia. But while Metellus was advancing, Pompeius offered battle beforehand to the main army of the enemy, with a view to wipe out the stain of Lauro and to gain the expected laurels, if possible, alone. With joy Sertorius embraced the opportunity of fighting with Pompeius before Metellus arrived.

Battle On The Sucro

The armies met on the river Sucro (Xucar): after a sharp conflict Pompeius was beaten on the right wing, and was himself carried from the field severely wounded. Afranius no doubt conquered with the left and took the camp of the Sertorians, but during its pillage he was suddenly assailed by Sertorius and compelled also to give way. Had Sertorius been able to renew the battle on the following day, the army of Pompeius would perhaps have been annihilated. But meanwhile Metellus had come up, had overthrown the corps of Perpenna ranged against him, and taken his camp: it was not possible to resume the battle against the two armies united.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
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