CHAPTER VI. THE ROMAN ARMY.
While Rome was trembling for the issue of the war with the Cimbri, she was forced to send an army elsewhere. [Slave revolts.] There was at this time another general stir among the slave population. There were risings at Nuceria, at Capua, in the silver mines of Attica, and at Thurii, and the last was headed by a Roman eques, named Minucius or Vettius. He wanted to buy a female slave; and, failing to raise the money which was her price, armed his own slaves, was joined by others, assumed the state and title of king, and fortified a camp, being at the head of 3,500 men. Lucullus, the praetor, marched against him with 4,400 men; but though superior in numbers, he preferred Jugurthine tactics, and bribed a Greek to betray Vettius, who anticipated a worse fate by suicide. [Second slave rebellion in Sicily.] But, as before, the fiercest outbreak was in Sicily. Marius had applied for men for his levies to Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, who replied that he had none to send, because the Roman publicani had carried off most of his subjects and sold them as slaves. Thereupon the Senate issued orders that no free member of an allied state should be kept as a slave in a Roman province. [Weakness of Licinius Nerva.] P. Licinius Nerva, governor of Sicily, in accordance with these orders, set free a number of Sicilian slaves; but, worked on by the indignation of the proprietors, he backed out of what he had begun to do, and, having raised the hopes of the slaves, caused an insurrection by disappointing them. He suppressed the first rebels by treachery. But he was a weak man, and delayed so long in attacking another body near Heraclea, that when he sent a lieutenant to attack them with 600 men they were strong enough to beat him. [Salvius elected king.] By this success they supplied themselves with arms, and then elected Salvius as their king, who found himself at the head of 20,000 infantry and 2,000 horse. With these troops he attacked Morgantia, and, on the governor coming to relieve it, turned on him and routed him; and by proclaiming that anyone who threw down his arms should be spared, he got a fresh supply for his men. [Athenion heads the slaves in the west.] Then the slaves of the west rose near Lilybaeum, headed by Athenion, a Cilician robber-captain before he was a slave, and a man of great courage and capacity, who pretended to be a magician and was elected king. [Salvius takes the name of Tryphon.] Salvius took the name of Tryphon, a usurper of the Syrian throne in 149. Athenion, deferring to his authority, became his general, and Triocala, supposed to be near the modern Calata Bellotta, was their head-quarters. In some respects this second slave revolt was a repetition of the first. As the Cilician Cleon submitted to the impostor Eunous, who called himself Antiochus, so now the Cilician Athenion submitted to the impostor Salvius, who called himself Tryphon. [Lucullus sent to Sicily, 103 B.C.] The outbreak had probably begun in 105, but it was not till 103 that Lucullus, who had put down Vettius, was sent to Sicily with 1,600 or 1,700 men. [Battle of Scirthaea.] Tryphon, distrusting Athenion, had put him in prison. But he released him now, and at Scirthaea a great battle was fought, in which 20,000 slaves were slain, and Athenion was left for dead. Lucullus, however, delayed to attack Triocala, and did nothing more, unless he destroyed his own military stores in order to injure his successor C. Servilius. To say that if he did so, such mean treason could only happen in a government where place depends on a popular vote, is a random criticism, for, though nominally open to all, the consulship was virtually closed, except to a few families, which retained now, as they had always done, the high offices in their own hands, and, when Marius forced this close circle, Metellus is said to have acted much as Lucullus did.
Servilius was incapable. Athenion, who at Tryphon's death became king, surprised his camp, and nearly captured Messana. [M'. Aquilius ends the war.] But, in 101, M'. Aquilius was sent out, and defeated Athenion and slew him with his own hand. A batch of 1,000 still remained under arms, but surrendered to Aquilius. He sent them to Rome to fight with wild beasts in the arena. They preferred to die by each other's swords there. Satyrus and one other were left last, and Satyrus after killing his comrade slew himself. The misery caused in Sicily by this long war, which ended in 100 B.C., may be estimated by the fact that, whereas Sicily usually supplied Rome with corn, it was now desolated by famine, and its towns had to be supplied with grain from Rome.