Publius Cornelius Scipio (Consul 218 BC)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Publius Cornelius Scipio († 211 BC ) was one of the leading generals and statesmen of the Roman Republic during the first phase of the Second Punic War . He came from the Scipions family , a branch of the important Roman patrician dynasty of the Cornelier . As consul of the year 218 BC He could not stop Hannibal's advance from Spain to northern Italy and suffered defeats against the great Punic in his first battles on Italian soil. In contrast, he succeeded in his later battles in Spain , which he led together with his older brother Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus , to achieve certain military successes and to shake the Punic rule on the Iberian Peninsula. 211 BC He fell in a battle against the Carthaginians, as did his brother just a month later.


The two main sources for Publius Cornelius Scipio are the 3rd book of the historical work of Polybius and books 21-25 of the Annals of Titus Livius . In addition, other preserved historical representations such as those by Appian and Zonaras have little independent source value. Polybius is generally more reliable than Livy, but has only survived in fragments for the period after the Battle of Cannae , so that for the period from 216–211 BC. BC Livy provides the only more detailed account of Scipio's deeds in Spain.

Consulate 218 BC Chr.

Publius Cornelius Scipio was the son of the consul from 259 BC. Chr., Lucius Cornelius Scipio , as well as the younger brother of the consul from 222 BC. BC, Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus. Nothing is known about his early career. Together with Tiberius Sempronius Longus he was a Roman consul in 218 BC. BC, the first year of the Second Punic War. While Scipio was to invade Spain, Longus had to gather troops and naval forces in Sicily for an invasion of North Africa.

The departure of Scipios from Italy was delayed due to a revolt of the Insubrians and Boier , which was triggered by the establishment of the Roman colonies Placentia (today's Piacenza ) and Cremona (early 218 BC) and the prospect of Hannibal's arrival. The Praetor Gaius Atilius Serranus had to rush to the aid of the Praetor Lucius Manlius Vulso , who had been ambushed by the Boier, with one of the two legions of Scipio , so that Scipio felt compelled to carry out further recruiting. According to the historian Appian , Scipio finally left Italy with 10,000 foot soldiers and 700 horsemen on 60 ships.

In five days Scipio sailed from Pisa to Massalia (present-day Marseille ), which he took about in September 218 BC. Reached. He set up camp near the great estuary of the Rhone and let his seasick soldiers recover from the sea voyage. He was soon surprised by the news that Hannibal had meanwhile crossed the Pyrenees and had reached the Rhône at about the same time as the consul by walking at a fast pace. The Punier managed to cross the river with his troops, which had been made difficult by fighting the tribe of the people, in good time. According to Polybios, the not exactly localized crossing point was about four days' march from the sea. While the Punic troops had not yet fully crossed the river, 300 Roman horsemen who were supposed to scout out the enemy’s plans for Scipio met 500 Numidian cavalrymen, who were also sent by Hannibal for reconnaissance purposes, but were able to assert themselves victoriously in a bitter and loss-making battle.

Since Hannibal's forces had a three-day lead and the Rhône rushed upstream, Scipio did not engage in pursuit. He wanted to return as soon as possible to organize the defense of northern Italy. He subordinated the majority of his army to his brother Gnaeus, who was to use this force to fight the Carthaginian troops stationed in Spain. Scipio thus made a strategic decision that was favorable to the Romans, because the Punians also had to concentrate on Spain as a theater of war and Hasdrubal, who was fighting there, could not come to the aid of his brother Hannibal in Italy for years.

Scipio sailed back to Italy, probably made a stopover in Genoa and landed in Pisa. After a march through Etruria , he took command of the army of the Praetors Gaius Atilius Serranus and Lucius Manlius Vulso and tried to intercept as quickly as possible the troops of Hannibal, who had succeeded in invading northern Italy by crossing the Alps . The consul first moved with his troops to the Po and probably crossed it at Placentia. He followed the course of the river to the west, built a temporary bridge over the Ticinus, secured by a small crew, and also crossed this river. Soon afterwards he came across Hannibal's cavalry with his cavalry and the lightly armed men. There was a battle on the Ticinus , which in reality took place more to the west of the Ticinus and north of the Po near today's Lomello . The Romans lost the battle. Scipio himself was badly wounded and, according to one version, was saved by his son Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, who was only 17 years old . But Livy mentions that, according to Lucius Coelius Antipater , Scipio owed his life to a Ligurian slave.

The injured consul withdrew very quickly over the Ticinus, had the bridge over it destroyed, then crossed the Po again and set up his first base near Placentia. Hannibal quickly pursued Scipio, now received support from many of the surrounding Celts, who had hitherto remained waiting, and made camp close to that of the consul. He did not accept a challenge from the Punians to fight. Scipio's Celtic auxiliaries murdered many of the Romans who were nearby at night, beheaded them and went over to Hannibal. The consul, angry about this betrayal, feared that all the Celts of Gallia cisalpina would now fall away and tried to find a safer place. Therefore he advanced towards the Trebia at night and was able to cross the river with the majority of his army in time, because the Numidians who followed behind later plundered the abandoned Roman camp first. On the heights of the other bank of the river, Scipio built his new fortification. Here he waited for his colleague Tiberius Sempronius Longus, who had been called back from Sicily, to arrive.

Longus came with his army in December 218 BC. In Scipio's camp. Since Scipio was still suffering from his wounds, he took command. According to the Scipion-friendly tradition, Longus is said to have selfishly sought a victory over Hannibal, while Scipio urgently advised against a battle. In any case, due to his injury, Scipio was not actively involved in the battle of the Trebia that followed. On a cold winter's day with sleet, Hannibal incited Longus to fight, enticed the Roman army to cross the swollen river to the other side, where the rested Punic camped, and inflicted a definite defeat on the exhausted opponents. About 10,000 Roman infantrymen were probably able to break through the Carthaginian lines under Longus' leadership and get to Placentia. The bad weather and the high-water Trebia prevented the Punians from attacking the Roman camp on the other bank. The following night Scipio was also able to cross the river with the remains of the Roman troops on rafts and march unmolested to Placentia. The ancient historian Friedrich Münzer locates the camp of the two consuls on the western bank and the battlefield on the eastern bank of the Trebia south of Placentia, while other colleagues such as Johannes Kromayer assume the exact opposite distribution. From Placentia Scipio led his troops to Cremona, where he spent the winter.

Fight in Spain and death

After Publius Scipio's brother Gnaeus at the beginning of 217 BC. Chr. Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal had defeated in a sea battle at the mouth of the Ebro , the Senate sent Publius Scipio with a prolonged empire as proconsul to Spain, where both brothers were now to wage war together. Polybius puts the number of ships on which Scipio sailed with his army to the Iberian Peninsula at 20, Livius, however, at 30. The latter historian also states that the strength of Scipio's army was 8,000 men. The proconsul landed in the summer of 217 BC. In Tarraco (today Tarragona ) and united with his brother Gnaeus. Both crossed the Ebro for the first time and marched against Sagunto . The fleet followed them along the coast. Hannibal had the sons of high-ranking Spaniards, who came from communities considered unreliable, placed under guard as hostages in Sagunto, in order to ensure the loyalty of these cities. A distinguished Spaniard named Abelux decided to change sides, deceived the simple-minded Carthaginian commander Bostar with a ruse and was thus able to hand the hostages over to the Romans. The Scipions released the prisoners to their homeland and thus gained sympathy from many Iberian tribes. Then they went with the armed forces to the winter quarters north of the Ebro.

The text of Polybius has not survived for the further deeds of the Scipio brothers in Spain over the next few years and therefore the much more unreliable representation of Livy is the main source, which is often inaccurate in chronological and topographical information, sometimes has obvious duplicates and exaggerated representations of the contains Roman successes.

After Hannibal's great victory in the Battle of Cannae (216 BC) Hasdrubal received an order from Carthage to leave Spain with his troops by land and to support his victorious brother in Italy. But the two Scipions and their troops blocked Hasdrubal's advance near the city of Hibera on the Ebro and defeated him here in a battle in the autumn of 216 BC. BC so clearly that he had to give up his plan and stay in Spain. The Scipions were therefore able to report to Rome that Hasdrubal posed no threat to Italy for the time being. In the summer of 215 BC They urged them to send clothing, supplies of grain and money to their exhausted troops. Their demand was met with great effort by Rome, which was in a serious financial crisis due to the consequences of the war. After the requested funds had arrived in Spain, the Scipions came to the aid of about 16,000 soldiers from the town of Iliturgi , which had passed over to the Romans, probably near today's Jaén in Andalusia , who were supported by the three Punic commanders Hasdrubal, his brother Mago and a Hannibal , the son of Bomilkar, was besieged. Livy ascribes a great victory to the brothers against their outnumbered opponents. Then they are said to have successfully repelled an attack by the Carthaginians on the city of Intibili ; allegedly almost all Iberian tribes went over to the Romans.

214 BC Hasdrubal and Mago fought successfully against numerous Spaniards, so that Iberian territories loyal to Rome were threatened with secession. Publius Scipio then crossed the Ebro and marched to a place called Castrum Album , where he took up camp. The Romans suffered losses and were unable to maintain their advanced position, so they retreated and holed up in Mons Victoriae , the location of which is unknown. Here Gnaeus Scipio came to the aid of his brother Publius with his whole army. The Scipions were faced with an army commanded by three Punic generals. When Publius Scipio rode out with the light cavalry to scout the enemy, he was surrounded, but released by his brother. The important city of Castulo , long allied with Carthage and located in High Andalusia , from which Hannibal's wife Imilke came, now fell away to the Romans. Gnaeus Scipio then allegedly very successfully horrified Iliturgi, which was besieged by the Carthaginians - probably a duplicate of the similar Livian story of the previous year - and also liberated the city of Bigerra . Livy attributes another victory to the Romans at Munda (near today's Córdoba ), which, however, could not have been fully exploited due to the wounding of Gnaeus Scipio. Subsequently, the Scipions are said to have achieved further successes; in particular, they would have reconquered Sagunto - the capture of which by Hannibal was one of the main reasons for the Second Punic War. The Romans gave Sagunto back to its former inhabitants and subjugated their old enemies, the Turdetans . Livy's statement that Sagunto was regained eight years after the Carthaginian conquest suggests that the city was in 212 BC. BC (and not, as Livy thinks, 214 BC) fell into the hands of the Romans.

The next year 213 BC The Scipions made contact with Syphax , a king of Numidia, who had rebelled against Carthage. The Punians then turned to another Numidian king, Gala, for help, whose young son Massinissa took over the task. Hasdrubal was also recalled from Spain with some of his troops. However, the Romans could not achieve any major successes on the Iberian Peninsula.

Early 211 BC The Scipions wanted to lead a major attack against the Carthaginians. They had strengthened their army by 20,000 newly recruited Celtiberians and now divided their troops. Publius Scipio had two thirds of the army against Hannibal's brother Mago and a Hasdrubal , the son of Gisgos. The task of Gnaeus Scipio, however, was to fight the Hannibal brother Hasdrubal, who had returned to Spain after the defeat of Syphax, with the remaining third of the armed forces and the Celtiberian auxiliaries. The Scipions parted at the town of Amtorgis . Publius Scipio set off, but was later constantly worried in his camp by the Numidian cavalry of Massinissa, who had crossed over to Spain. When he learned that Indibilis was also marching against him with 7500 Suessetans , he decided to leave his camp at night to prevent him from being completely enclosed To counter indibilis. He met this opponent, but soon Massinissa appeared first and shortly afterwards the Carthaginian commanders Mago and Hasdrubal, Gisgo's son, appeared on the battlefield. The Romans were worn out between the opposing troops and Publius Scipio was pierced by a spear and killed. Just a month later, his brother Gnaeus also fell.

Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus took over the supreme command in Spain after the death of his father Publius Scipio and that of his uncle Gnaeus Scipio. He was able to drive the Carthaginians away from the Iberian Peninsula in years of fighting and finally victoriously end the Second Punic War.


Individual evidence

  1. Polybios 3, 40, 2; 4, 66, 9; Livy 21: 6, 3; to the magistrates of the year 218 BC See: T. Robert S. Broughton : The Magistrates Of The Roman Republic. Volume 1: 509 BC - 100 BC (= Philological Monographs. Vol. 15, Part 1, ZDB -ID 418575-4 ). American Philological Association, New York NY 1951, pp. 237-242, (Unchanged reprint 1968).
  2. Polybios 3:40 ; Livy 21:25, 2-21, 26, 3; on this Serge Lancel: Hannibal. 1998, p. 118 f.
  3. ^ Appian , Iberica 14.
  4. Polybios 3:41; Livy 21, 26, 3ff.
  5. Polybios 3, 42-46; Livy 21, 26, 6 - 21, 28, 12.
  6. Polybios 3, 42, 1.
  7. Polybios 3, 45, 1ff .; Livy 21, 29, 1ff.
  8. Polybios 3, 49, 1ff .; Livy 21, 32, 1-4.
  9. ^ Serge Lancel: Hannibal. 1998, p. 122 f.
  10. Polybios 3, 56, 5; Livy 21:32, 5; 21, 39, 3.
  11. Polybios 3, 56, 5f .; 3, 64, 1; 3, 65, 1ff .; Livy 21:39, 3f .; 21, 39, 10; 21, 45, 1ff .; 21, 46, 3.
  12. ^ Serge Lancel: Hannibal. 1998, p. 142.
  13. ^ Course of the battle: Polybios 3, 65; Livy 21:46.
  14. Polybios 10, 3; Livy 21:46, 7-10.
  15. Polybios 3, 66, 1-68, 8; Livy 21, 47, 1 - 21, 48, 7; on this Serge Lancel: Hannibal. 1998, p. 143 ff.
  16. Polybios 3, 70, 1-8; Livy 21, 53, 1-9.
  17. Polybios 3, 71-74; Livy 21, 54-56.
  18. ^ Friedrich Münzer : Sempronius 66). In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume II A, 2, Stuttgart 1923, Sp. 1431 f.
  19. Livy 21:56, 9; Cornelius Nepos , Hannibal 7.
  20. Polybios 3, 97-99; Livy 22:22; Appian, Iberica 15.
  21. Livy 23, 28f.
  22. Livius 23, 48f.
  23. ^ Livy 24, 41f .; on this Serge Lancel: Hannibal. 1998, p. 223 f.
  24. Livy 24, 48f., Appian, Iberica 16.
  25. Livy 25, 32, 1-8.
  26. Livy 25:34.