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Nameless city in Africa taken by Scipio
#1
Hello, I have a question about a rather obscure episode of the Second Punic War. In book 29 of his Ab Urbe Condita Libri, Livy tells us about Scipio's arrival in Africa. In particular, soon after disembarking: "Scipio non agros modo circa vastavit sed urbem etiam proximam Afrorum satis opulentam cepit...", which roughly means that in addition to pillaging the surrounding land, he captured a fairly rich Carthaginian city. What's odd is that he doesn't give a name for it. He's clearly not talking about Utica, as that siege came a bit later and the Romans failed to take it by storm anyway. Any idea or theories about the name of the city that you know of? I couldn't find anything about it outside of Livy.
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#2
Roberti wrote:

Hello, I have a question about a rather obscure episode of the Second Punic War. In book 29 of his Ab Urbe Condita Libri, Livy tells us about Scipio's arrival in Africa. In particular, soon after disembarking: "Scipio...captured a fairly rich Carthaginian city. What's odd is that he doesn't give a name for it.
 
I’ve been making an intensive study of the Second Punic War, which focuses on the many contradictionary events that took place. These patterns of contradictions go back to the beginning of the republic. For example, Brutus the first consul, has his two sons flogged and beheaded for trying to overthrow the new republic and restore Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome. Another source has Tarquinius Superbus have his sons flogged and beheaded for trying to overthrow him.
 
I have learnt that where there is contradiction it means a mistake has been made or it is a fabrication. All the contradictions I have been researching all follow a similar pattern. The time frame when the fabrications began, and when they ended points towards the source being Fabius Pictor. By the time of the Second Punic War, these fabrications have intensified, which has proven to me that much of what we understand about the Second Punic War has been bastardised to the point of being so distorted that the truth has most likely being lost in the process. Many of the battles in the Iberian campaign in the Second Punic War are disguised doublets. Unfortunately, Polybius and Livy have employed the writings of Fabius Pictor far more often than most people think. Livy has referred to Fabius Pictor on far more occasions than Polybius and has tried to blend such events with Polybius’ writings. Fabius Pictor was too emotional to be an objective historian. He has allowed his emotions to drive his writings, creating fictional Carthaginian defeats to appease his emotional hatred of them, and most importantly to cover up any Roman disgrace.
 
The event regarding the death of the consul is one such clear example. Livy implies that Fabius Pictor’s numbers were good, and the list of the number of men in Marcellus’ party when he was ambushed, is, from my research extremely accurate. However, Marcellus’ escort is made up of one body of Latins and the rest Etruscans, who fled. This is a blatant lie. I have irrefutable evidence, both data and text that proves all Roman consul’s had Romans as bodyguard cavalry.
 
Fabius Pictor, having lived through the Second Punic War in the role of a senator, knew he could not deny the Romans were defeated at Cannae, but he could water down some internal events that happened during the battle. Fabius Pictor also shows favouritism with some of the consuls over others, and this is why there are contradictions in who was in command when. He seems to be protecting the reputation of friends in the senate, who had been defeated, especially defeated in a disgraceful manner, like having your camp captured by Hannibal’s forces.
 
Fabius Pictor is a creature of habit, and when he wants to disguise something, his patterns always works in the same manner. One such pattern, is when nothing happens between the Romans and the Carthaginians during the Second Punic War, Fabius Pictor will make something happen by taking an historical event, reversing it and then inserting it in that quite non combat activity period.
 
It seems it was very important to Fabius Pictor, that the first engagement between Hannibal and the Romans should be a Roman victory. The cavalry incident at the Rhone, which resulted in a Roman victory, was one of Fabius Pictor’s fabrications. It actually belongs to the Ticinus, and events at the Ticinus actually belong to the Trebbia. This is how Fabius Pictor works, take a Roman defeat and later make it into a Carthaginian defeat. More importantly, take a disgraceful Roman event in a battle, and then turn it into a Carthaginian disgrace in another invented battle, in which the Romans win. So for example, those 10,000 brave Romans at the Trebbia, that heroically broke through the Carthaginian lines and escaped to Placentia, what if the real story was they broke and fled before first contact? Fabius Pictor could not live with that, so a remedy had to be found. But where did Fabius Pictor get the idea of 10,000 men breaking through the Carthaginian line, oh yes, those 10,000 Romans that broke through the Carthaginian lines at the Trasimene. You cannot accuse Fabius Pictor of lying can you? After all, some of those men were at the Trebbia.
 
So, to reply to your question, if Scipio landed in Africa and did nothing because he had to consolidate his position, allow his men and horse to get over being seasick, such inactivity cannot be tolerated by Fabius Pictor, so he borrows other historical events and inserts them where he wants then. Now we have Scipio, instead of sitting on his hands, doing glorious deeds. Maybe Fabius Pictor was some frustrated person who had been denied a military command during the Second Punic War, and released his frustration in his writings. If the city has no name, then you can be assured the event did not happen. Had the incident been true, the name of the city would have been given.
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#3
This is an interesting post indeed and I`m fascinated by Steven`s response, but how does one identify the Pictor in Livy and Polybius - is it the details of the battle losses, prisoners, captured standards, etc, or is it in the manner of identifying Pictor`s style in descriptions or expressions used?
Livy seems to give more us more details than Polybius, who I suspect preferred to rely upon Laelius` vague battle statistics for Zama fro instance: "...the Carthaginian loss amounting to twenty thousand killed and nearly the same number of prisoners." The details in Livy seem perhaps to be closer to original records kept in Rome and the after action reports received by Rome`s city Quaestor which would have been easily accessed by Pictor?
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#4
Michael wrote:

....but how does one identify the Pictor in Livy and Polybius - is it the details of the battle losses, prisoners, captured standards, etc, or is it in the manner of identifying Pictor`s style in descriptions or expressions used?
 
A lot has happened since I wrote the above. Quite a lot, and a new player has revealed himself, and that is Alimentus, who also wrote on the Second Punic War and claimed to have personally spoken to Hannibal when he was a prisoner of the Carthaginians. Polybius has used Alimentus’ numbers for Hannibal’s army in 219 BC, but has taken Alimentus’ 80,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry has being 90,000 infantry, and then made his causality calculations from that point. Therefore, mistake on mistake. Using Alimentus’ numbers, Hannibal arrives in Italy with 26,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry. Polybius has 20,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry.
 
Michael wrote:
Livy seems to give more us more details than Polybius,
 
I have found that Livy relies on Polybius for the Second Punic War. For example, in Polybius’ account, Publius Scipio the Elder returns to Iberia in 217 BC with 20 ships. Livy allocates Publius Scipio the Elder 30 ships and 8,000 men, a difference of 10 ships. Now 8,000 men divided by 30 ships would allocate each ship 2666 point 666 men per ship. That approach is wrong. What Livy did, was take the correct total number of men belonging to his 30 ships, and subtracted it from Polybius’ grand total of 55 ships, with 35 ships belonging to Gnaeus Scipio. In this manner, Livy ends up with 8,000 men. Polybius’ 20 ships should be 30 ships. After researching all the Roman fleet numbers for the Second Punic War, I have a dozen examples of the fleets missing 10 ships, which tell me the source is Polybius.
 
Many of the fleet numbers given by Livy follow this trend. Many examples of the fleet movements during the Second Punic War have been confused between what ships stayed and what ships were transferred somewhere else.
 
In 217 BC, Polybius reports that Gnaeus Scipio sailed from Tarraco with 35 ships and defeated a Carthaginian fleet of 40 ships. The 35 ships work out to be the number of ships being sent back to Italy by Gnaeus Scipio. In 208 BC, Livy reports that Publius Scipio (proconsul) sent from Iberia to Sardinia a fleet of 50 ships for the praetor C. Aurunculeius. That is the number of ships that remained with Publius Scipio.
 
For the invasion of Africa, Livy has Publius Scipio Africanus leave Italy with 30 warships and 7,000 men. That is wrong. The 7,000 men are those that Africanus selected in Sicily, of which 3,000 were taken from the Cannae and Herdonea exiles. Africanus crossed to Italy with 16,000 men, 30 ships and 400 transports.
 
For the battle of Zama, Appian gives Africanus infantry at 23,000 infantry. Appian also mentions that the Roman army had 16,000 infantry and 1600 cavalry. Now by taking Appian’s 23,000 infantry and subtracting Appian’s other figure of 16,000 infantry, the result is 7,000 infantry. Various ancient historians are taking information concerning the army numbers from different time frames. The problem is Livy or his source has confused the chronology, which happens on more than one occasion during Africanus’ African campaign. The figure of 16,000 infantry and 1,600 cavalry is Polybius.
 
For example, Livy has Publius Scipio Africanus leave Sicily with a fleet of 40 warships and about 400 transports. So in Sicily, Publius Scipio Africanus has gained 10 ships. Appian claims Africanus had 10 ships in Italy, so here is another example of chronology confusion. Appian also gives Africanus’ fleet 52 warships, which is an increase of 12 ships compared to Livy. The various figures given for the African campaign, have been rounded, but are very accurate, so the infantry and cavalry numbers combined with the fleet and the fleet’s organisational structure, work out that while in Sicily, 12 ships were added to Africanus’ fleet, bringing the total from 30 to 42, which has been rounded by Livy or his source to 40 ships. The two additional ships are the command ships, with one being Scipio’s flagship. Many of the numbers given for the Roman fleet omit the command ships, so this is a common practice. Therefore, Appian sees the total of 40 warships in one source, and 12 ships in another, and adds them to get 52 ships. I love Appian, he is my mathematical code breaker.
 
Michael wrote:
The details in Livy seem perhaps to be closer to original records kept in Rome and the after action reports received by Rome`s city Quaestor which would have been easily accessed by Pictor?
 
At present I am backing off from pointing fingers at who is to blame. I have now caught Polybius out as for literally lying. There is also another racket going on relating to the Second Punic War and that is to employ Roman army numbers for Carthaginian army numbers.
 
Michael wrote:
Livy seems to give more us more details than Polybius, who I suspect preferred to rely upon Laelius` vague battle statistics for Zama for instance:
 
To find the truth about whether the battle of Zama is historical or fabrication, one has to research the whole African campaign by every ancient historian. Only then will you find the truth. Unfortunately, this has not been undertaken by modern historian, preferring to take the easy road and follow Polybius. Unfortunately, Polybius is not being as honest as he would like us to believe.
 
People may be baffled as to how I can be certain of what I write, or believe I must be pulling it from my arse. It has come about from years of studying the Roman army and learning and understanding their military doctrines. It also comes from understanding and identifying the methodology of the various ancient historians.
 
Last year, I thought it was fine to show the subunits of the various legions, armies and fleets. However, I decided to put anything to the test by deploying it for battle. So those 5,000 men sent by Stilicho in 398 AD to suppress a revolt must be able to be arrayed for battle so that all the subunits conform to all the other data in the primary sources and can be arrayed with an equal depth in every unit.
 
Doing this with the Roman fleet after the First Punic War caused some small problems. During the First Punic War, Polybius mentions the legion organisation and the squadron organisation for a Roman fleet. However, after the First Punic War the Romans favoured the squadron organisation. What I found, and it was subtle, was the Roman fleet organisation did not follow the same infantry and cavalry numbers as the land armies. Knowing this unlocked the door to understanding more of the data concerning fleet numbers. Some ancient historians were not aware of this and tried to bring the fleet organisation back to the land organisation and made a pigs breakfast of the whole affair. One such example is Livy’s breakdown of the Roman levy of 219 BC. Both Sempronius and Scipio the Elder are being transported by fleets, so there numbers have been based on the fleet organisation. Livy or his source, in trying to adjust back to the land organisation, and this mathematical carving up ends in Scipio having 1,600 allied cavalry, Sempronius with 1,800 allied cavalry, and Manlius with 1,000 allied cavalry.
 
Other data concerning the number of cavalry and infantry for a fleet are spot on, in fact more so than the mistakes. The Romans are very methodical and formalistic, in fact chronically formalistic, and this makes it possible to understand their military machinations.
 
 
 
 
 
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#5
Steven,
Interesting you saying that you love Appian for being a code-breaker, I think Appian is the key too to understanding the Zama campaign as a whole. I suspect he simply added all known sources together (those before Polybius and Polybius` own version of events) and came up with his extended Zama campaign. I have looked for a while at the way that the main ancient historians (Polybius, Livy, Appian, and Dio) cover the events leading upto the battle and afterwards too. It just seems to me that Appian has added the earlier history (or rather an amalgam of histories; the largely lost sources of Pictor, Alimentus, Quadrigarius and Coelius perhaps) and simply added these to Polybius from the point that Appian tells us that negotiations between Hannibal and Scipio led to an agreement over Octavius` captured supply ships. That supply ships episode may have been used by Polybius to excuse the resumption of war eariler by Rome and Scipio in Africa, but this time, Appian says a second round of hostilities in late 202 is due to political pressure from the Carthaginian people. This is where the two versions of the history are joined and Polybius takes over.
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#6
Michael wrote:

Interesting you saying that you love Appian for being a code-breaker, I think Appian is the key too to understanding the Zama campaign as a whole. I suspect he simply added all known sources together (those before Polybius and Polybius` own version of events) and came up with his extended Zama campaign.
 
That is definitely my conclusion. Take the Polybius out of Appian and truth starts to unfold.
 
Michael wrote:
It just seems to me that Appian has added the earlier history (or rather an amalgam of histories; the largely lost sources of Pictor, Alimentus, Quadrigarius and Coelius perhaps) and simply added these to Polybius from the point that Appian tells us that negotiations between Hannibal and Scipio led to an agreement over Octavius` captured supply ships.
 
Appian has not entirely followed Polybius. Appian omits anything about the battle of the Great Plains.
 
Michael wrote:
That supply ships episode may have been used by Polybius to excuse the resumption of war.
 
The two Roman supply fleets, one sent from Sardinia and one from Sicily amount to 50 warships and 300 transports for a total of 350 ships. Scipio’s fleet has 40 warships and 400 transports, for a total of 440 ships. So why does a fleet of 440 ships need resupplying by 350 ships?
 
Have a look at the year the ships were supposedly sent by Octavius and the year Octavius left Africa with the fleet. When an ancient historian alters history with a fabrication, this will cause a ripple effect, leading to more chronology alterations to fit the fabrication.
 
There is a lot of information in the various primary sources that has not come under the microscope, in relation to the Second Punic War, and the Scipio’s especially, the Iberian and African campaigns, and because of this, year after year modern historians serve up the same Polybius hogwash. However, in their defence, many of the ancient historians have followed the traditional Roman historical perspective, beginning with the republic arising from the rape of Lucretia, the decisive battle of Zama in which Hannibal is defeated. Livy is one such example.
 
I’m fence sitting at the moment. I have information that would indicate the corruption of the Iberian campaign of the Scipio’s in Iberia and Africa are the work of Polybius. However, other bits of information tell me that Polybius could be following a corrupt source himself, he believes is historical fact. The naval battle of Gnaeus Scipio and the Roman fleet of 35 ships is one such example. If Livy was using Polybius, the fleet reinforcement numbers would be the same, but they are not. Therefore, both Livy and Polybius are using the same source, and this source takes historical actions from another time and inserts them into another time frame when nothing is happening. Sometime he takes Roman defeats and pops them in somewhere else as a Roman victory.
 
In 217 BC, Gnaeus Scipio sailed to Onusa, plundered the city, and then marched to Cartagena, and ravaged the entire countryside, and even managed to set fire to the houses that adjoined the walls and gate of Cartagena. In a similar fashion to the exploits of Gnaeus Scipio, the proconsul, Valerius Laevinus, sailed to Africa, where according to Livy, the Romans “committed widespread devastation round Utica and Carthage, and that plunder was carried off under the very walls of Utica and the frontiers of Carthage.”
 
After capturing Cartagena in 209 BC, Scipio Africanus’ fleet is given at 35 ships, which is the same number of ships given to Gnaeus Scipio in 217 BC. Both are not historical. In 209 BC, Scipio also has a fleet of 50 ships.
 
The main problem with modern historians is their methodology of having favourites. For the war with Hannibal, Polybius is the favourite. This is a very restrictive approach to understanding history. By having favourites, consciously or unconsciously, the historian will protect that favourite. If they do not, the whole house of cards would come down, and with it all their theory.
 
The rewrite of the Second Punic War by the ancient historian I have labelled “the great fabricator” has inserted rather stupid and irrational logic into his account. Having Sempronius at the Trebbia being hot headed and rash, so he easily falls for Hannibal’s stratagem of the Numidians riding up to the Roman camp, leaving Sempronius outraged that the only course of action is to advance against Hannibal at all cost. If you stop and think about it, and if you have read other accounts of cavalry attacking camps, what the hell could the Numidian cavalry achieved....literally nothing. If they got close to the camp, they would get a barrage of missiles coming their way.
 
However, that is what you get in the Polybius version, which is propaganda. It could be that Polybius has done nothing more than follow his source, but changed the name of Scipio to Sempronius. Strangely, Polybius does say that the Romans either blamed Scipio and his rashness for the defeat or the betrayal of the Celts. So what do those non favourite ancient authors have to say, who have unfairly been judged as unreliable all because they have not followed the propaganda version of events. Well Appian has Publius Scipio the Elder, not wounded at the Ticinus as Polybius claims, but wounded at the Trebbia while trying to stop his men from fleeing. By taking an unbiased approach to the non favourite ancient authors, a better picture can be constructed about the Trebbia.
 
Publius Scipio fled the Ticinus because his army was greatly outnumbered by Hannibal’s. Publius Scipio sent for help, something Polybius does not admit, yet others do. The Roman senate ordered Sempronius in Sicily to march to the Po. Sempronius allocates parts of his army to the defence of Sicily, knowing full well that the Roman senate will be providing replacement troops for him in Italy. Therefore, a large part of Sempronius army did not march to Ariminum. Also what they are doing, as found in the Roman army numbers for the Trebbia, is converting his fleet consular army to a land consular army. His new army assembles at Ariminum and then marches to Placentia. Appian has Scipio army taking refuge in Placentia, with Hannibal having a few attempts to take the place. Sempronius marches from Ariminum to Placentia, and if you look at a map, there is no way Hannibal can prevent a junction between the two Roman armies. To do so, if Hannibal marched past Placentia to engage Sempronius, Scipio could follow in his rear. Once at Placentia, Sempronius encamps south of Placentia, and on the east side of the Trebbia.
 
So how does Hannibal get the Romans to attack him? First he must have something they want, and that is Clastidium, which was the Roman granary. Now turning to another non favourite ancient author and another of the so called “unreliable,” Nepos mentions that Publius Scipio fought Hannibal for the possession of Clastidium. Therefore, the battle of the Trebbia is about retaking Clastidium. I have also dismissed the Roman freezing from the cold due to crossing the Trebbia. Nothing is mention of the Numidian cavalry freezing, especially as they had crossed the Trebbia twice. All Hannibal’s victories from the Trebbia to Cannae, have the weather on his side, which is again, propaganda to find another reason as to why the Romans lost.
 
 
So after waffling on, at this moment in time, I think Polybius employs a very corrupt source, and that Polybius has changed names to protect the Scipio family. However, when it comes to the brutal character assassination of Gaius Flaminius I believe the source is Fabius Pictor. When it comes to those accounts of the cruelty of Hannibal, I believe the source is Alimentus.
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#7
I must admit I was focused on the events of the winter of 202 BC, and zama in particluar, but going back to "The Great Plains" would make Polybius look more suspect too I believe. I think you hinted at this in the Zama thread? and that Baecula was a doublet of Ilipa too...?
I had a quick look at Livy`s and Polybius` versions of the Great Plains. In particluar the absence of stats for these battles is notable; no detailed figures for killed, prisioners, captured standards, or elephants that you find elsewhere in Livy. Polybius lacking then in official data and another battle is fabricated after the event ...and Livy follows Polybius of course.
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