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Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (236–183 BC), also known as Scipio Africanus, Scipio the Elder, and Scipio the Great was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic. He was best known for defeating Hannibal at the final battle of the Second Punic War at Zama, a feat that earned him the agnomen Africanus, the nickname "the Roman Hannibal", as well as recognition as one of the finest commanders in military history. An earlier great display of his tactical abilities had come already at the Battle of Ilipa...
Early military service...
Scipio's childhood might be considered to have come to an end with his entry into the army. At an early age, Scipio joined the Roman struggle against Carthage in the Second Punic War. At some point, he is said to have promised his father to continue the struggle against Carthage all his life, showing similar dedication to that of his enemy, Hannibal. The young Scipio survived the disastrous battles at Ticinus, Trebia, and Cannae. According to Polybius, he saved his father's life when he was 18, by "charging the encircling force alone with reckless daring" at the Battle of Ticinus. Scipio's would-be father-in-law Lucius Aemilius Paullus was killed in 216 BC at the third of these battles, the Battle of Cannae. Despite these defeats at the hands of the Carthaginians, Scipio remained focused on securing Roman victory. Scipio was never again to see a Roman force defeated, for once given command at the age of 25 he never lost a battle...
With his wife Aemilia Paulla (also called Aemilia Tertia), daughter of the consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus who fell at Cannae and sister of another consul Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus, he had a happy and fruitful marriage. Aemilia Paulla had unusual freedom and wealth for a patrician married woman, and she was an important role model for many younger Roman woman, just as her youngest daughter Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, would be an important role model for many Late Republican Roman noblewomen, including allegedly, the mother of Julius Caesar.
At his death, Scipio Africanus had two living sons. Both rose to become praetors in 174 BC, but took no further part in public life; both died unmarried, relatively young. Publius, the elder son and heir, adopted his first cousin — Aemilius Paullus (b. 185 BC) as Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus (also known as Scipio Aemilianus Africanus) well before the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC.
Scipio and Aemilia Paulla also had two surviving daughters. The elder, Cornelia, married her second cousin Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum (son of the consul of 191 BC who was himself son of Scipio's elder paternal uncle Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus). This son-in-law was a distinguished Roman in his own right. He became consul (abdicating or resigning in 162 BC for religious reasons, then being re-elected in 155 BC), censor in 159 BC, Princeps Senatus, and died as Pontifex Maximus in 141 BC. Scipio Nasica rose to many of the dignities enjoyed by his late father-in-law, and was noted for his staunch (if ultimately futile) opposition to Cato the Censor over the fate of Carthage from about 157 to 149 BC. They had at least one surviving son...
Scipio's only descendants living through the late Republican period were the descendants of his two daughters, his sons having died without legitimate surviving issue. His younger daughter's last surviving child Sempronia, wife and then widow of Scipio Aemilianus, was alive as late as 102 BC. Another descendant was his great-great-granddaughter, Fulvia Flacca Bambula, the only grandchild of Gaius Gracchus, best known as the wealthy third wife of Roman Triumvir Mark Antony who abandoned her for Cleopatra. Fulvia left several children, of whom at least one, Iullus Antonius, is known to have left issue surviving into the first century AD.
None of Scipio's descendants, apart from Scipio Aemilianus—his wife's nephew who became his adoptive grandson—came close to matching his political career or his military successes.
The Roman historian Valerius Maximus, writing in the first century AD, alleged that Scipio Africanus had a weakness for beautiful women, and knowing this, some of his soldiers presented him with a beautiful young woman captured in New Carthage. The woman turned out to be the fiancée of an important Iberian chieftain, and Scipio chose to act as a general and not an ordinary soldier in restoring her, virtue and ransom intact, to her fiancé.
According to Valerius Maximus, Scipio had a dalliance circa 191 BC with one of his own serving girls, which his wife magnanimously overlooked. The affair, if it lasted from circa 191 BC to Scipio's death 183 BC, might have resulted in issue (not mentioned); what is mentioned is that the girl was freed by Aemilia Paulla after Scipio's death and married to one of his freedmen. This account is only found in Valerius Maximus (Memorable Deeds and Sayings 6.7.1-3. L) writing in the 1st century AD, some decades after Livy. If this is correct, clearly Scipio did not hesitate to sleep with his female slaves, like so many other Roman masters.
The Praetorian Guard (Latin: Praetoriani) was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC. The Guard was dissolved by Emperor Constantine I in the 4th century.
Shortly before Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, Benito Mussolini commissioned an epic film depicting the exploits of Scipio. Scipione l'africano, written by Carmine Gallone, won the Mussolini Cup for the greatest Italian film at the 1937 Venice Film Festival.
A division of the Italian army was used as extras in the film, shortly before being transferred to duty in the Spanish Civil War...
Last edited by lightgiver; 23-03-2012 at 12:27 AM.