Home >> Chamber's Encyclopedia, Volume 15 >> Vendee La to Viviparous Fish >> Viriathus


romans, lusitanian, war, proprietor and country

VIRIATHUS, a Lu'sitanian (i.e., Portuguese) patriot, who energetically strove to pre trent his country from falling under the dominion of the Romans. He flourished in the Sd C, BM. Originally a shepherd, he afterward became a guerrilla chief, and appears to have supported himself (like many of the Lusitanian borderers) by predatory excur sions into the neighboring Spanish territory. This mode of life brought him into col. Jision with Rome, and in the year 151 B.C., the proprietor, Ser. Galba, was ordered ti, invade the country, and reduce the Lusitanians to subjection. By an act of detestable treachery Galba succeeded in destroying a large body of the natives; but the few who) escaped (among whom was Viriathus) were inspired with the most implacable anima: ity toward the Romans, and immediately proceeded to rouse the patriotic passions t their countrymen. Viriathus soon rose into prominence. At first he kept mainly 1 the mountains, and contented himself with harassing the enemy by sudden and ben descents, but in 147 (having been formally chosen leader in a season of great peril) l:s gave battle to Vetilius, the Roman proprietor, near Tribola (a town of Lusitania, s. the Tagus), and inflicted on him a severe defeat. In the course of the next two years be repeatedly came off victorious in conflict with Roman armies; until in 144 the consul. Q. Fabius h:tnilianus, encountered him in Andalusia with a large army of 15,000 foot and 2,000 horse, and Viriathus was driven back into his native fastnesses. But the Spanish tribes themselves now broke out in insurrection against their foreign masters; and after 143 the Romans had both a Numantine and a Lusitauian war to wage. The general sent against Viriathus was the proprietor, Q. Pompeius, who, after a slight temporary success, was utterly crushed at the "hill of Venus," and forced to take ref uge at Cordoba (in Andalusia), while the conqueror wasted all the country round the Guadalquivir. Next year (142), the Romans were more fortunate. Q. Fabius Servili

anus, consul, conducted the war, and succeeded in driving Viriathus once more out of Spain, and in annihilating several guerrilla bands; but in 141 a terrible reverse befell him near Grisane, when the whole of his army was hopelessly surrounded in a moun tain-pass, and the of the Caudine Forks (q.v.) was repeated, by its unconditional surrender. Viriathus, like Gains Pontius, showed a noble magnanimity in his hour of supreme triumph; he allowed his captives to go away free and unhurt on condition of Servilianus allowing the Lusitanians to retain their independence, and accepting their alliance. His terms were accepted, and the Portuguese patriot seemed to have tri umphed over his colossal adversary; but in 140 the consul, Q. Servilius Ccepio (brother of Servilianus), having received the command in Further Spain, suddenly and treacher ously resumed the war against Viriathus, and fearing lest he should not succeed in fair fighting, bribed some Lusitanian envoys (who had been sent to him by Viriathus with offers of peace) to murder their master, which they did while he lay sleeping in his tent. The death of this heroic chief was practically the ruin of Lusitanian independ ence; for though the followers of Viriathus elected another leader in his place, and strove to carry on the war, they could scarcely maintain themselves in the field for the rest of the year, and were then glad to acknowledge the supremacy of the Romans.