Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus

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Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus

Birthplace: Rome, Roma, Italy
Death: Died in Literne
Immediate Family:

Son of Publius Cornelius Scipio and Pomponia
Husband of Aemilia Tertia Paula
Father of Cornelia Scipionis Africana Maior; Cornelia Scipionis Africana Minor; Lucius Cornelius Scipio and Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
Brother of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus

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About Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus

Scipio Africanus the Elder, full name Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (234?-183 bc), one of the most famous generals of ancient Rome and a hero of the Second Punic War between Carthage and Rome. In 210 bc, after serving in the Roman legions sent against the Carthaginian general Hannibal in northern Italy, Scipio was put in command of the Roman armies in Spain. Arriving there in 209 bc, he led a surprise attack against the headquarters of the Carthaginian army at Nova Carthago (now Cartagena), thereby depriving Carthage of its principal supply base. In 208 bc he had driven the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal from Spain, but had failed to prevent him from crossing the Pyrenees to assist his brother Hannibal in 207 bc. Scipio returned to Rome in triumph in 205 bc and was elected consul for that year. In 204-203 bc, he led an invasion of North Africa, defeating the Carthaginians at Campi Magni (modern Suk al-Khamis, Tunisia). Hannibal was then recalled from Italy, but Scipio won a decisive victory over him in the Battle of Zama (202 bc). For this conquest, which ended the Second Punic War, Scipio was granted the surname Africanus.

In 190 bc Scipio served as tactical adviser to his brother in the war with the Seleucid king Antiochus III; the Syrian force was crushed in the great Roman victory at Magnesia in Asia Minor. On his return to Rome Scipio was accused by his enemy, Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Elder), of accepting bribes from Antiochus. He was acquitted of the charges, but retired from public life to his villa at Liternum in Campania. Scipio Africanus is regarded as the greatest Roman general before Julius Caesar. He was also an accomplished scholar and encouraged appreciation of Greek culture in Rome.

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Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major (236 - 183 BC) was a general in the Second Punic War and statesman of the Roman Republic. He was best known for defeating Hannibal of Carthage, a feat that earned him the surname Africanus.


Early years

He was present at the disastrous Battle of the Ticinus (where, according to one tradition, he saved his father's life); and those at the Trebia and at Cannae. Even after the last of these defeats at the hands of the Carthaginians, he was resolutely focused on securing Roman victory. On hearing that Lucius Caecilius Metellus and other politicians were at the point of giving up the struggle and quitting Italy in despair, he gathered what few followers he could find and stormed into the meeting, where at sword-point he forced all present to swear that they would continue in faithful service to Rome.

Spanish Campaign

The year after his father's death, he offered himself for the command of the new army which the Romans resolved to send to Spain. In spite of his youth, his noble demeanor and enthusiastic language had made so great an impression that he was unanimously elected. All Spain south of the Ebro river in the year of his arrival (210) was under Carthaginian control, but fortunately for him the three Carthaginian generals, Hasdrubal and Mago (Hannibal's brothers), and Hasdrubal the son of Gisgo, were not disposed to act in concert and were preoccupied with revolts in Africa. Scipio, on landing at the mouth of the Ebro, was thus able to surprise and capture Carthago Nova, the headquarters of the Carthaginian power in Spain. He obtained a rich booty of war stores and supplies, and an excellent harbor. His kindly treatment of the Spanish hostages and prisoners brought many over to his side.

In 209 he drove back Hasdrubal from his position at Baecula, on the upper Guadalquivir, but was unable to hinder the Carthaginian's march to Italy. After winning over a number of Spanish chiefs he achieved in 206 a decisive victory over the full Carthaginian levy at Ilipa (near C ba), which resulted in the evacuation of Spain by the Punic commanders.

With the idea of striking a blow at Carthage in Africa, he paid a short visit to the Numidian princes Syphax and Massinissa, and managed to win them both to his side. Unfortunately, Syphax later changed his mind and married Sophonisba, daughter of Hasdrubal the son of Gisgo, and fought against Massinissa and Scipio in Africa. On his return to Spain, Scipio had to quell a mutiny which had broken out among his troops. Hannibal's brother Mago had meanwhile sailed for Italy, and in 206 Scipio himself, having secured the Roman occupation of Spain by the capture of Gades, gave up his command and returned to Rome.

African Campaign

In the following year he was unanimously elected to the consulship and assigned the province of Sicily.

By this time Hannibal's movements were restricted to the southwestern toe of Italy, and the war was now to be transferred to Africa. Scipio was intent on this, and his great name drew to him a number of volunteers from all parts of Italy. The old-fashioned aristocracy of Rome, who disliked his luxurious tastes and affinity for Greek culture, and still entertained a wholesome dread of Hannibal, opposed the idea; all Scipio could obtain was permission to cross over from Sicily to Africa, if it appeared to be in the interests of Rome.

The introduction (205) of the Phrygian worship of Cybele and the transference of the image of the goddess herself from Pessinus to Rome to bless the expedition may have affected public opinion. A commission of inquiry was sent over to Sicily, and it found that Scipio was at the head of a well-equipped fleet and army. At the commissioners' bidding he sailed in 204 and landed near Utica. Carthage, meanwhile, had secured the friendship of the Numidian Syphax, whose advance compelled Scipio to raise the siege of Utica and dig in on the shore between that place and Carthage. Next year he destroyed two combined armies of the Carthaginians and Numidians.

After the failure of peace negotiations in which Scipio displayed great moderation, he defeated Hannibal in a decisive battle near Zama (October 19, 202 BC), despite being outnumbered.

In the subsequent settlement with Carthage he successfully upheld his comparatively lenient terms, against the immoderate demands of many Roman aristocrats. Scipio was welcomed back to Rome with the cognomen, or nickname, of Africanus, and had the good sense to refuse the many honors which the people would have thrust upon him. For some years he lived quietly and took no part in politics.


In 193 he was one of the commissioners sent to Africa to settle a dispute between Massinissa and the Carthaginians, which the commission did not achieve. This may have been because Hannibal, in the service of Antiochus III, might have come to Carthage to gather support for a new attack on Italy. In 190, when the Romans declared war against Antiochus III of Syria, Publius offered to join his brother Lucius, if the Senate entrusted the chief command to him. The two brothers brought the war to a conclusion by a decisive victory at Magnesia in the same year.

Political Opposition

Meanwhile, Scipio's political enemies, led by Cato, had gained ground. When the Scipiones returned to Rome, two tributes prosecuted (187) Lucius on the grounds of misappropriation of money received from Antiochus. As Lucius was in the act of producing his account-books, his brother wrested them from his hands, tore them in pieces, and flung them on the floor of the Senate house. This created a bad impression; Lucius was brought to trial, condemned and heavily fined.

Africanus himself was subsequently (185) accused of having been bribed by Antiochus, but by reminding the people that it was the anniversary of his victory at Zama he caused an outburst of enthusiasm in his favor. The people crowded round him and followed him to the Capitol, where they offered thanks to the gods and begged them to give Rome more citizens like Africanus.

He then retired to his native country seat at Liternum on the coast of Campania where he lived until his death. With his wife Aemilia, daughter of the consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus who fell at Cannae, he had a daughter, Cornelia Africana, who became the mother of the two famous Gracchi by her marriage with Tiberius Gracchus.


Scipio was one of Rome's greatest generals. He never lost a battle. Skillful alike in strategy and in tactics, he had also the faculty of inspiring his soldiers with confidence. According to the story, Hannibal, who regarded Alexander as the first and Pyrrhus as the second among military commanders, confessed that had he beaten Scipio he should have put himself before either of them. He was a man of great intellectual culture and could speak and read Greek, and wrote his own memoirs in Greek. He also enjoyed the reputation of being a graceful orator.

There was a belief that he was a special favorite of heaven and held actual communication with the gods. It is quite possible that he himself honestly shared this belief; to his political opponents he was often harsh and arrogant, but towards others singularly gracious and sympathetic. According to Gellmus, his life was written by Oppius and Hyginus, and also, it was said, by Plutarch.


The exploits of Scipio inspired George Frideric Handel to write the opera Scipio, the march from which remains the regimental slow march of the British Grenadier Guards.

Birth: 236 BC

Death: 183 BC

Father: Publius Corneilus Scipio

Marriage 1 Aemilia Paula b: ABT 225 BC


Publius Cornelius Scipio
Cornelia Scipio
Lucius Cornelius Scipio
Cornelia Africana Scipio b: 190 BC

Forrás / Source:

ID: I46338

Name: Publius Corneilus Scipio

Given Name: Publius Corneilus

Surname: Scipio

Sex: M

_UID: 304D575820A9864A80F6196132053488A852

Change Date: 3 Oct 2005

Death: deceased

Event: Deacon

Father: Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio

Marriage 1 Spouse Unknown



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Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus's Timeline

June 20, -236
Rome, Roma, Italy
Age 35
Rome, Roma, Italy
Age 45
born 191 or 190 BC
December 3, -183
Age 53
Age 53