Hostages in Republican Rome

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2: The System of Hostage Regulations in Rome and the Greco-Roman World {27–79}

The formal regulations concerning hostages reveal considerable variety in detail. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to examine the several categories into which the regulations may be classified in order to determine the underlying principles by which hostages were chosen and to attempt the reconstruction of a typical case. I have used material from Greek and other Mediterranean cultures as touchstones, so to speak, for the Roman incidents, so that both traits in common and features which are peculiarly Roman may be isolated and appreciated; [1] although the difficulties in such an approach are manifest, it will help to prevent in some measure the distortion which would be inevitable if one considered Roman hostage exaction without taking into account the broader context of the Greco-Roman world. The major problem, of course, is the paucity of examples to be found in a given category, for, of the many occasions on which hostages were exacted, there are relatively few for which any further details are attested (63.3%). Often, too, it is the extraordinary nature of the details which has prompted their documentation, giving the reader a distorted view of the entire system. [2] We will therefore need to bear in mind these caveats, as we examine the conditions stipulated by treaty or other formal agreement.
One question, however, must be posed and tentatively answered before we survey the available data on hostage requirements. Whose {27|28} practices and preferences had precedence? In a legal contract, both parties agree to the terms, but a nation desperate for peace may have no meaningful choice. It has been asserted that the recipient state determined the specifics of sex, age, number, and affiliation, and some ancient testimony supports the idea (e.g., Polybius 29.3.4; Caesar Gallic War 5.4.1–2). [3] While this hypothesis is probably not always true, it is likely to be correct for the majority of cases. On the other hand, the recipient of hostages would frequently have had customs not too dissimilar from those of the donor, as the two were often neighbors and from the same racial and linguistic stock, or, when practices differed, the recipient might well have respected native custom in order to minimize resentment. [4]


Two facts have obscured the question of the preferred gender for a hostage: first, the linguistic bias which permitted a group of both men and women to be collectively described as male, and second, the unspecified gender of the words for hostages and children. For the purposes of this study, I have assumed a neutral value for such words as παῖς, παιδίον, τέκνον, and liberi, and a masculine value only where the male gender seems indisputable (e.g., ἄνδρες and similar words, or where military service is indicated). This assumption is perhaps overly conservative and severely limits the examples under discussion, but it seems to be the only adequate guarantee of an avoidance of circular reasoning. Even a cursory glance at Table I discloses a marked preference for male hostages over female or mixed groups. With the exception of {28|29} legendary material, [5] the earliest examples of female hostages date from the {29|30} fourth century B.C., although the date of the exact incident which may claim the dubious distinction of the first such exaction is a vexed problem.

Table I: Hostage Gender in Historical Exactions
Type of Exaction            
Nationality of Recipient State
Mutual Treaty Private Extralegal Unclear Total
Greek           44
Male 1 (2.3%) 17 (38.6%) 10 (22.7%) 8 (18.2%) 0 (0.0%) 36 (81.8%)
Female/mixed 0 (0.0%) 3 (6.8%) 4 (9.1%) 0 (0.0%) 1 (2.3%) 8 (18.2%)
Roman           31
Male 0 (0.0%) 13 (41.9%) 8 (25.8%) 7 (22.6%) 0 (0.0%) 28 (90.3%)
Female/mixed 0 (0.0%) 2 (6.5%) 0 (0.0%) 1 (3.2%) 0 (0.0%) 3 (9.7%)
Other           9
Male 1 (11.1%) 3 (33.3%) 0 (0.0%) 0 (0.0%) 1 (11.1%) 5 (55.5%)
Female/mixed 0 (0.0%) 0 (0.0%) 0 (0.0%) 3 (33.3%) 1 (11.1%) 4 (44.4%)
Total 2 (2.4%) 38 (45.2%) 22 (26.2%) 19 (22.6%) 3 (3.7%) 84

According to Plutarch, Antipater had demanded fifty children from Sparta in 331 B.C., after his defeat of Agis; the ephor Eteocles, fearing that the children would be uneducated because they were not trained in the traditional manner, offered instead twice the number of old men or women (Plutarch Moralia 235 B–C). Two factors make this anecdote suspect. Had the Spartan counterproposal occurred, the combination of counterproposal (which is not found in the other sources for this episode) and of the first Greek exaction of female hostages ought to have merited comment before Plutarch’s time. Moreover, the four centuries which had elapsed between Antipater’s demand and the time of Plutarch had witnessed a significant change in Greek gender preference for hostages, [6] and Plutarch could easily have inserted this anachronistic detail in an anecdote or simply have accepted it from his source, who had made this kind of error. In any case, the late and unsupported testimony of Plutarch is insufficient to permit the conclusion that female hostages were a feature of Greek political negotiations as early as 331 B.C.

In 326 B.C., Alexander of Epirus sent three hundred familiae from southern Italy to Epirus (Livy 8.24.5). The statement that entire familiae were exacted is very curious and unparalleled: it is not obvious what individuals are understood by the term, but one can readily assume the presence of women among them. As Livy, the authority for this story, is also a late source, and one especially {30|31} prone to contamination from unreliable sources, it is difficult to accept the full historicity of this incident, and it is more likely that it is the earliest known exaction of females by Greeks.
Nevertheless, the custom had certainly appeared by 303 B.C., the year of the Metapontine campaign of the Spartan Cleonymus and the Lucanians. Duris of Samos is cited as the source for the parenthetical observation that Cleonymus was πρῶτος ἀνθρώπων εἰς ὁμηρείαν λαβὼν παρὰ Μεταποντίνων γυναῖκας καὶ παρθένους … (Athenaeus 13.605D–E). This statement cannot be true in its absolute sense. Even if we discount the demand of Antipater related by Plutarch and the exaction attributed to Alexander of Epirus, we cannot accept the information as it stands, for the Egyptians and the Persians had taken female hostages at least two generations before. [7] The simplest solution, if we attempt to rehabilitate Duris’ remark, is that something like ‘Ἑλληνικῶν ‘either has fallen out of the text or was what Duris meant but did not write. [8] Whether our difficulty with the phrase πρῶτος ἀνθρώπων is resolved by textual emendation, by a narrowed understanding to be derived from context, or by merely declaring Duris in error on this point, it is clear that the Greeks exacted female hostages by formal international agreement at least from the time of the late fourth century B.C.
What is astonishing is the speed with which this custom gained acceptance in the Greek world. In 361 B.C., Rheomithras had given his wife, his children and the children of his friends as hostages to Tachos, the king of Egypt (Xenophon Education of Cyrus 8.8.4; Diodorus 15.92.1); Xenophon coupled Rheomithras with Mithradates, who had betrayed his own father, and used them both as examples of evildoers who had profited by their {31|32} immorality. Obviously, such conduct was despicable to the conservative Xenophon, whose works probably reflected the sentiments of many Greeks of the early fourth century. The disapproval with which exaction of female hostages was viewed had not disappeared by the end of the century, since the motives attributed to Cleonymus in 303 B.C. are those of lust and sexual indulgence (Diodorus 20.104.3). [9] Yet an anecdote attributed to Agesipolis the son of Cleombrotus (probably Agesipolis III of Sparta) [10] indicates that by the second half of the third century B.C. women and children were the usual hostages: when someone said that Agesipolis while king had served as a hostage with those in the prime of life, and not their wives or children (οὐχ οἱ παῖδες οὐδ᾿ αἱ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν), Agesipolis declared it fitting that they bear the consequences of their own mistakes (Plutarch Moralia 215 BC.). Although Plutarch’s authority for the historicity of this event is justly suspect, other incidents from this period support the tone of Plutarch’s anecdote. In 223/2 B.C., Ptolemy III Euergetes’ demand for Cratesicleia, mother of the Spartan king Cleomenes, was not an outrage, but merely a cause of shame to Cleomenes (Plutarch Cleomenes 22.3–7). [11] So much had opinion altered that Polybius, in the second century B.C., could criticize the Carthaginians of 241 B.C. for not keeping the mercenaries’ wives and children as extralegal hostages (Polybius 1.68.3); in another passage, which describes in a gnomic manner the best pledges for the future integrity of a person, Polybius listed wives, children, oaths, and previous behavior (Polybius 8.36.3). [12] Female hostages had apparently become a standard feature of Greek practice. {32|33}
Nor was female exaction confined only to Greek spheres of influence. As mentioned above, Rheomithras offered his relatives and those of his friends as surety for his loyalty to the king of Egypt in 362/1 B.C.; [13] in 334/3 B.C. the Greek general Memnon delivered his wife and children to the Persian king Darius, and, like Rheomithras, was rewarded with the supreme command of the king’s forces (Diodorus 17.23.5). Both of these instances were private agreements and involved non-Greek monarchs, but it may be that, among the Persians, female hostages guaranteed formal treaties as well; on one occasion, Egyptian wives and children remained in Persian custody while the Egyptians acted as guides for Greek mercenaries in Persian pay in 350/49 B.C. (Diodorus 16.48.3). [14] Alexander the Great is alleged by a late and unreliable source to have received hostages of both sexes on his Indian campaigns in 326 B.C. (Polyaenus 4.3.30). The Carthaginians also took female hostages, for, when Scipio captured Cartagena in 209 B.C., he discovered both males and females of a variety of ages among the Iberians detained there (Polybius 10.18.6; Livy 26.49–51.1; 27.17.1–3; 16; etc.). [15]
Roman practice contrasted sharply. Only four episodes concerning female hostages are attested after 389 B.C., when Roman accounts may be said to begin to be substantially historical. Of the four episodes, two occur in the context of factional infighting: the planned seizure of Pompey’s children (one a girl) in 63 B.C. by the Catilinarian conspirators (Plutarch Cicero 18.1) and the attempted detention of Octavian’s mother and sister by the Republicans in 43 B.C. (Appian Civil Wars 3.91). In neither case was the sex of the hostage a meaningful {33|34} factor in the selection; the relationship with the leader of the other faction alone seems to have determined the choice of hostages. Thus there are only two passages which suggest actual Roman demands for female hostages: the possible existence of women hostages taken during Pompey’s Eastern campaigns (Appian Mithridatic Wars 103; 117), [16] and Augustus’ policy toward some barbarian tribes (Suetonius Augustus 21. 2).
Only the latter may be regarded as indisputably historical, and it is of considerable value for understanding Roman custom, its efficacy, the flexibility of Augustus’ foreign policy, and foreign customs. Let us examine the pertinent passage in full.

… tantumque afuit a cupiditate quoquo modo imperium vel bellicam gloriam augendi, ut quorundam barbarorum principes in aede Martis Ultoris iurare coegerit mansuros se in fide ac pace quam peterent, a quibusdam vero novum genus obsidum, feminas, exigere temptaverit, quod neglegere marum pignera sentiebat; et tamen potestatem semper omnibus fecit, quotiens vellent obsides recipiendi.
[… and so far was he from a desire for increasing in any way the empire or his military reputation, that he compelled the leaders of some barbarians [17] to swear in the Temple of Mars Ultor that they would abide by the agreement and peace which they sought, (and) from some barbarians he tried to exact a new type of hostages, women, because he felt that they disregarded males as pledges; nevertheless, he always granted to all permission to replace hostages as often as they wished.]
Four points must be emphasized: 1) the exaction and the oath-taking are evidence of Augustus’ peaceful objectives; [18] 2) women were a “new type” of hostage; 3) his innovation was prompted by the failure (in his opinion) of the traditional male hostages; [19] 4) Augustus mitigated the apparent severity of his innovation by allowing frequent exchanges of personnel, [20] again a proof of his lenient disposition.
It is the second point with which we must here concern ourselves. According to Suetonius, Augustus did something unusual in {34|35} choosing female hostages, and, since there has survived only one other possible historic case of women being detained as formal hostages at Rome, we should accept Suetonius’ testimony as substantially accurate. Thus the available evidence indicates that during the Republic the Romans habitually selected male hostages, and that female hostages were rare exceptions. [21] Despite the prevailing Greek practice in the second century B.C., when contact with the, Roman political theory no alteration in this criterion for hostage selection occurred until the Romans met peoples who did not seem sufficiently restrained by the threat of death against their male hostages. Only then was the ineffectual Roman practice discontinued in favor of a custom perhaps native to those on whom Rome inflicted it.


The restrictions on age and the references to the age of particular hostages are perhaps the details most often related in our sources; superficially, the evidence seems straightforward, but on closer examination one becomes aware of difficulties. References to age may be classified into three groups: 1) an actual age or range of ages is mentioned in the pertinent passage (e.g., the Aetolian Treaty of 189 B.C. (Polybius 21.32); 2) the age of an individual is known or can be inferred from other sources (e.g., the age of Philip, son of Amyntas in 369 B.C. [Diodorus 15.67.4; Plutarch Pelopidas 26.4, plus the knowledge that he was born ca. 383 B.C.]); 3) the age is implied by such descriptive words as παῖς, τέκνον, υἱός, filius, and liberi. It is, of course, the last group which is the {35|36} most difficult to comprehend, for

Table II: Relative Ages of Historical Hostages
Recipient’s Nationality/Type of Exaction Mutual Treaty Private Extralegal Uncle Total
Greek           42
adult 0 (0.0%) 8(19.0%) 5 (11.9%) 8 (19.0%) 0(0.0%) 21 (50.0%)
children 1 (2.4%) 7(16.7%) 7 (16.7%) 0 ( 0.0%) 0(0.0%) 15 (35. 7%)
mixed 0 (0.0%) 4*(9.5%) 2 ( 4.8%) 0 (0.0%) 0 (0.0%) 6 (14.3%)
Roman           46
adult 0 (0.0%) 4 (8.7%) 3 (6.5%) 10 (21.7%) 1(2.2%) 18 (39.1%)
child 0 (0.0%) 17(37.0%) 3 (6.5%) 3 ( 6.5%) 1(2.2%) 24 (52.2%)
mixed 0 (0.0%) 1 ( 2.2%) 0 ( 0.0%) 3 (6.5%) 0(0.0%) 4 ( 8.7%)
Other           13
adult 0 (0.0%) 2(15.4%) 0 ( 0.0%) 1 ( 7.7%) 0(0.0%) 3 (23.1%)
child 1 (7.7%) 3(23.1%) 0 ( 0.0%) 0 ( 0.0%) 0 (0.0%) 4 (30.7%)
mixed 0 (0.0%) 0 (0.0%) 2(15.4%) 2 (15.4%) 2(15.4%) 6 (46.2%)
totals 2 (2.0%) 46(45.5%) 22(21.8%) 27 (26.7%) 4 (4.0%) 101**
* Including the Samian hostages of 441/0 B.C., following the superior testimony of Thucydides 1.115.3.
** I have omitted two incidents. The Volscian hostages of 495 B.C. are called liberi in Livy 2.22.2, but ἄνδρες in Dionysius of Halicarnassus 6.25.2, and the alternative plans of Plutarch Moralia 235 B–C, seemingly resolved in favor of the Spartan counterproposal, are contradicted by Diodorus 17.73.5. 3

{36|37} these words signify a relationship, not a true age classification. [22] The impulse to think of individuals so described as pre-adult must be curbed as misleading, although in some cases this was undoubtedly true. [23] Nevertheless, one important inference can be drawn from the employment of these terms: the emphasis on the relationship indicates the hostages’ dependence on another’s authority and their lack of status in their own right. The distinction between “children” and “adults” which I have established is, therefore, less a matter of chronological age than of personal authority, and this peculiarity must be borne in mind in what follows. As will be seen, it is a useful and valid distinction. [24]

From Table II it is apparent that there are distinct differences in Greek and Roman practice. The most significant of these is the marked preference for child hostages among the Romans, 52.2% of the total cases for such age is specified, as compared to only 35.7% among the Greeks. Moreover, the Roman preference is most evident in formal international agreements, where the potential hostages might come from the most diverse age groups, and the recipient’s preferences could therefore have fullest scope. (An army in the field probably could not have surrendered women or children very easily, and the receiving party would have had to accept hostages from available personnel.) While Greeks accepted adult, child, and mixed groups of 25 hostages for treaties without evincing strong preferences, [25] Romans chose adults in only four incidents (8.7%), one involving women (Augustus’ exaction of barbarian women [Suetonius Augustus 21.2]) and three involving men of military age, evidently as hostages for a truce {37|38} rather than a treaty (Livy 43.17.6; Appian Wars in Spain 48; 50): [26] all somewhat anomalous cases.
The relative preponderance of private hostages among the Greeks probably reflects a custom which the Romans employed in a far more restricted manner; the concept ὁμηρεία referred to a less technical situation in which persons could declare themselves hostages for their statements (Themistocles’ offer to the Spartans in 479/8 B.C., Nepos Themistocles 7.2; Plutarch Themistocles 19.2: Polyaenus 1.30.4; the Pythagorean Archytas and his followers who were Plato’s sureties for the Younger Dionysius’ good intentions, Plutarch Dion 18.2; 20.1; Phocion’s pledge of himself that the Piraeus would remain safely in Athenian control, Nepos Phocion 2,4), and perhaps the instability of internal and foreign alliances (at least compared to the constancy of the Roman Senate) accounts for the greater number of private agreements (Charon’s offer of his son to his fellow conspirators, Plutarch Pelopidas 9.5–7; Moralia 595; the demands for Agathocles’ children by the leader of an opposing Syracusan faction, Diodorus 20.79.4; demands for sureties in foreign alliances, Polyaenus 5.3.4; Plutarch Pyrrhus 31. 2; Polybius 4.9.5; Josephus Jewish Antiquities 13.204–206 [27] ).
In eight instances, the age of an individual hostage or the age range for a group of hostages is known or can be estimated. Philip of Macedon, son of Amyntas, was allegedly delivered to the Illyrians shortly after his birth about 383 B.C. (Justin 7.5.1; Diodorus 12.2.2,4). [28] The authority for his hostageship at Thebes in the early 360’s is very much better (Plutarch Pelopidas 26.4; Moralia 178C: Diodorus 15.67.4; Justin 6.9.7; 7.5.1–3; Orosius 3.22.2), and we may reasonably assume {38|39} that his age was about fourteen to eighteen years during his detention. It is unfortunate that Philip is our only Greek hostage of known age, for it is quite likely that his case is atypical; certainly his relationship to the king of Macedon was a stronger factor in his selection than his age. [29] Similarly, the surrender of Antyllus, M. Antonius’ son, to Caesar’s assassins at the tender age of one or two years (Livy Summaries 116; Velleius Paterculus 2.58.3; Cicero Philippics 1.1.2; 1.13.31; 2.36.90; Plutarch Brutus 19.2; Antony 14.1; Appian Civil Wars 2.142; 3.15; Dio 44.34.6) and the planned abduction of the equally young Gnaeus and Sextus Pompey and Pompeia in 63 B.C. (Plutarch Cicero 18.1) were due to their connection with powerful relatives, and their ages were probably not operational factors. These were personal pledges, and parents would in all likelihood have served as well as children.
Of far greater significance are the ranges specified in the Roman treaties with Carthage in 201 B.C. (14–30 years old, Polybius 15.18.8 and Livy 30.37.6), with the Aetolian League in 189 B.C. 30 (12–40 years old, Polybius 21.32.10–11 and Livy 38.11.6), [30] and with Antiochus III of Syria in 188 B.C. (18–40 years old, Polybius 21.42.22 [31] ). The ancient source for all these treaties and for the ages of Demetrius of Macedon and Demetrius of Syria is the reliable and, for the most part, contemporary Polybius. As Aymard has remarked, the accuracy of these details seems difficult to refute, and the small number of hostages exacted and the minimum age limitation imply that the exaction was not intended to weaken the state militarily. [32]
Both Demetrius of Macedon and Demetrius of Syria were about ten years old at the time of their exaction. Since the surviving {39|40} conditions of the treaty with Philip V do not include age restrictions, this fact is easily fitted into the other data at our disposal. But the age of the Syrian prince is another matter; according to the original treaty with Antiochus III, hostages were to be at least eighteen (Polybius 21.42.22 and Livy 38.38.9). This contradiction may be explained in one of two ways: either the original restriction no longer pertained, or Demetrius was a special case excepted from the restriction. Mørkholm argues that the violation of the age restriction indicated Roman instigation for the exchange of Antiochus (later Antiochus IV Epiphanes) for the child Demetrius, [33] and it is very probable that the royal hostages had special advantages which outweighed their relatively less desirable age; their affiliation was far more important than the disadvantage of their greater youth. [34]
Thus within the same quarter-century of Roman history the minimum age for hostages ranged from about ten to eighteen, and the maximum age from thirty to forty or forty-five. [35] What purpose could these variations serve? Several hypotheses could be postulated to explain these slight differences in age: 1) they are random and arbitrary; 2) they represent a Roman attempt to determine the most suitable age for a hostage; 3) they reflect the Roman response to the differing ages at which differing cultures recognized maturity; 4) they resulted from a conscious Roman policy which adjusted a rather general age requirement to suit each individual case. [36] As should be obvious, one’s preference among the possible explanations is dependent on one’s somewhat subjective analysis of Roman motivation during this period of imperial expansion. Nevertheless, the very existence of the variations allows us to infer that Roman requirements {40|41} were flexible and capable of adaptation.
The problems of variation notwithstanding, our major concern should be the reason for the distinct difference in the Roman preference for children [37] and the Greek preference for adults. Let us consider the merits of each. The exaction of leaders, particularly those of opposing factions, could potentially paralyze a faction’s resistance and might conceivably cause its disintegration into smaller, more easily subdued subgroups in the absence of a strong leader. Should, however, the detention of opposing leaders be protracted, [38] it is likely that new leaders would arise to fill the power vacuum, and it is not impossible that the new leaders would pose a greater threat because of greater competence. Such new leaders might well perceive the former leaders, now hostages, as personal rivals and feel no distress at endangering them; their value as hostages would thus be lessened to a considerable degree. Moreover, the influence of leaders among their fellow citizens may be partly a function of their maturity and experience. The old men who are especially esteemed for their advice are not good risks for long-term detention, as their greater age and probable poorer health increase the odds against their surviving the period of detention. The selection of children, at least in the sense of those who are not leaders in their own right, obviates the problem posed by the possible emergence of new leaders; the same people remain in control of the state, but are themselves controlled by the fear of harm to their children. However reluctantly, these leaders are compelled to cooperate with the recipient state, or their children will suffer. In this {41|42} theoretical context, it becomes evident that the recipient state would require some provisions to safeguard the value of the hostages it exacted, and it is possible to see in the attested minimum and maximum age limits an attempt to secure hostages in the healthiest range of the age spectrum. [39]
Yet there is another advantage in taking children: the ease with which children assimilate and adopt new ideas and customs. The extent to which the Romans recognized and utilized the receptiveness and malleability of youth has long been debated, and scholars have argued for both complete recognition and complete ignorance of the value of Romanized hostages. Nevertheless, by the early Principate even such derivative intellectuals as Diodorus and Plutarch had observed the impact that a foreign education had upon hostages: we have already seen Eteocles’ refusal to sacrifice the education of Spartan boys (Plutarch Moralia 235B–C); Philip son of Amyntas learned much military strategy from his stay at Thebes during the hegemony of Epaminondas (Diodorus 16.2.2); and Sertorius could entice the Iberians to support him with the promise of sharing his command with the Iberian boys trained in Roman ways (Plutarch Sertorius 14.2). [40] Here we may note simply that the Romans preferred, under ordinary circumstances, to exact children, in the sense of persons not yet sui iuris, and varying in age from twelve to forty years, and that they took independent adults only when circumstances so demanded.


Despite the notorious difficulties involved in studies based on numbers, due to the ease with which numbers are corrupted in the {42|43} textual tradition, a survey of those ancient

Table III: Numbers of Hostages Exacted
Recipient State Donor State Number Exacted Donor State’s Political Structure
Athens Opuntian Locrians 100 Autonomous city-states
Athens Samians 100* Democratic city-state
Syracuse Rhegium 100 Oligarchic city-state
Thebes Macedon 31 Kingdom
Thebes Macedon 51 Kingdom
Macedon Sparta 50 or 100* Oligarchic Monarchic city
Macedon Nysa 100 Oligarchic city-state
Epirus South Italy* 300 Autonomous cities familiae
Demetrius Poliorcetes Rhodes 100 Oligarchic city-state
Cleonymus & Lucanians Metapontum 200 Oligarchic city-state
Syracuse Bruttians 600 Oligarchic tribe
Sparta Achaean League 300 Oligarchic federation
Sparta Argos 20 Oligarchic city-state
Rome Veii*** 50 Oligarchic city-state
Cora and Pometia*** 300 Autonomous city-states
Arretium** 120 Subject to Rome
Carthage 150 or 100* Oligarchic city-state
Sparta 5 Monarchic city-state
Syria 20 Kingdom
Aetolian League 40 Oligarchic federation
Cephallenian cities (Same, Cranii, Palensia) 20 each Autonomous city-state
Sardinia 230 Autonomous cities
Nergobriges 100 Oligarchic tribe
Intercatia 50 Oligarchic city
Carthage 300 Oligarchic city-state
Numantia 300 Oligarchic city-state
Termessus 300 Oligarchic city-state
Numidia 300 Kingdom
Isaura Nova 100 Oligarchic city
Crete 300 Autonomous city-states
Bellovaci 600 Oligarchic tribe
Treveri 200 Oligarchic tribe {43|44}
Trinobantes 40 Manarchic
Senones 100 Oligarchic tribe
Vellaunodunum 600 Oligarchic city
Commagene 2 Kingdom
Metulum 50 Oligarchic city-state
Segesta 100 Oligarchic city-state
Dalmatians 700 Autonomous tribes
Samnites Rome 600 Oligarchic tribe
Carthage Syracuse 400 Monarchic city-state
Carthage Salmatis 300 Oligarchic city-state
Carthage Spain* 300 Autonomous
* The figures so marked are given differently in different sources or stated as alternatives for different age groups. For a discussion of these differences, see below, p. 85n48.
** These instances, unlike the others in this table, may not have been exactions specified by a treaty.
*** These incidents belong to Rome’s legendary period, and their historicity is dubious.

{44|45} passages which attribute definite numbers of hostages to specific incidents may illuminate certain principles of selection. For lack of better evidence, I have assumed the general accuracy of the texts as they stand. The range in the number of hostages as related by ancient sources is remarkable, Octavian exacted 700 Dalmatians in his campaigns of 35–33 B.C. (Appian Illyrian Wars 28), while Antony took only two from Antiochus I of Commagene after the siege of Samosata in 38 B.C. (Dio 49.22.2). [41] Both of these episodes, however, are unusual; for the most part, a range of 20–600 is far more typical, as can be seen from Table III. The factors which established this wide range deserve careful analysis.

One such factor is, clearly, the population of the donor state. Had, for example, 600 hostages been exacted from Sparta in 195 B.C., there would have been severe military repercussions throughout the Peloponnesus, to the advantage of Philopoemen’s Achaean League. [42] Although the reforms of the last kings and of the tyrants had ameliorated the critical shortage of free Spartan male citizens, the demand for hostages must have recognized Sparta’s depleted manpower. In like manner the relatively few hostages from the Cephallenian cities (Livy 39.28.6) reflect the inability of those cities to provide numerous citizens of the requisite quality. Nevertheless, population was by no means the only or even the major criterion. Such a criterion leaves unanswered the question of why each of the Cephallenian cities should furnish as many hostages as did the Seleucid monarch Antiochus III the Great of Asia or why Sardinia in 176 B.C. delivered 230 hostages (Livy 41.17.3) when Carthage had only one hundred or {45|46} one hundred fifty exacted in 201 B.C. (Polybius 15.18.8: Livy 30.37.6; Appian Punic Wars 54). [43]
The key to the solution lies in the quality of hostages which can be taken, itself a product of the donor state’s form of government. The quality of the hostages is in inverse relation to the number of hostages needed to guarantee the agreement and in direct proportion to the size of the ruling class. The obvious validity of this statement needs no argument. Neither the total number nor the names of the other hostages whom Philip V furnished at the conclusion of the second Macedonian War are known because Demetrius, son of Philip V, was the only one of real importance. The treaty with Antiochus III of Syria regulated the triennial replacement of all the Syrian hostages except Antiochus, the son of Antiochus III (Appian Syrian Wars 39); since Antiochus was the second legitimate son, only the firstborn son and heir apparent Seleucus could hove been a hostage of equal or greater quality. Control of the major families of an oligarchy was correspondingly more difficult, and that of a democracy almost impossible, which may partially explain the Roman preference for oligarchic or monarchic rule in states subject to her. The fact that the type of government was relatively more important than the size of population is evident from the disproportionately large numbers of hostages exacted from the Illyrian Dalmatians (Appian Illyrian Wars 28) and the Sardinians (Livy 41.17.3) compared to the modest numbers demanded from the Aetolian League (Polybius 21.32.10–11; Livy 38.11.6) and Antiochus III of Syria; [44] the many small, autonomous states of Illyria and Sardinia compelled the exaction of several {46|47} hostages from each one, combining to form a far greater total than was necessary for the much larger territory governed centrally by an oligarchy or monarchy.
That the number of hostages is often in round figures—20, 50, 100 and 300 are those most frequently encountered—should occasion no surprise. The popularity of 300 is more remarkable. As Ogilvie has observed, “300 is the traditional number in legend for hostages.” [45] Only one instance of 300 hostages in an historical setting appears to have firm contemporary substantiation, and that is of the Carthaginians exacted in 149 B.C. before the outbreak of hostilities (Polybius 36.4.6). In all other cases, the numerical detail occurs in authorities much further removed in time from the events described: 1) the Volscian hostages of 503 and 495 B.C. (Livy 2.16.9, 22.2); 2) the illustrious families sent to Epirus in 326 B.C. (Livy 8.24.5); 3) about 200 B.C., the obscure inhabitants of equally obscure Salmatis (Polyaenus 7.48.1); 4) the Termessan and Numantine hostages of about 143 B.C. (Diodorus 33.16.1), the Numidians of 108 B.C. (Orosius 5.15.7), and the Cretans in 70/69 B.C. (Diodorus 40.1.2–3; Appian Sicilian War 6.1). The last group is particularly suspicious because none of the treaties in which these terms were stated was ratified. It is difficult to imagine why the details of these failed negotiations should survive when the details from legal, ratified documents are so often vague or omitted altogether. It is even more troublesome to explain how a tradition since lost managed to be scrupulously preserved in a late, less reliable source while the extant and more contemporary authority remained silent. [46] Moreover, the propriety of demanding the same number from the monarch Jugurtha, {47|48} the urban and decentralized Crete, and the prosperous but hardly enormous towns of Numantia and Termessus seems rather dubious, especially in light of the criteria of population and type of government.
With the exception of 300, however, there seems little point in emending or discounting the numerical data. [47] Some of the figures are probably inaccurate, due to either scribal error or authorial imagination. [48] As neither error nor imagination can be objectively demonstrated, nothing could be gained by denying wholesale the numerical accuracy of our sources, but neither should one assert total acceptance of them. Nevertheless, the inherent logic of the criteria of population and type of government, coupled with the wide range of the received numbers, strongly indicates a flexible and pragmatic policy.


That hostages should belong to the governing class of the donor state is certainly predictable; since the purpose of taking a hostage was to constrain the donor state to obey the wishes of the recipient state, the logical and obvious choice for the hostage was a member of the class which could guide the state into obedience. Naturally, the selection of a monarch’s relative, particularly a son, and of aristocratic family members occurred most frequently, as monarchies and oligarchies were the commonest forms of government. It is significant that individual names are most often associated with royal hostages (e.g., Demetrius of Macedon, Antiochus son of Antiochus III, Demetrius son of Seleucus IV), and, although other hostages were {48|49} also exacted at the same time, they were completely overshadowed by the royal relative. The implication is clear: the value of the hostage is proportional to his status. [49]
The evidence does in fact support the view that hostages normally belonged to the highest rank of the political structure of their state. There are two categories into which this evidence falls: 1) kinship with the kings or factional leaders: and 2) words denoting socio-political standing. The tendency to exact relatives of rulers needs no explanation, since in antiquity kinship bonds promoted both natural affection and religious sentiment. [50] Unfortunately, the condition of the surviving material does not permit an analysis of the types of relationship preferred, except that children clearly predominate; [51] in cultures with low rates of life expectancy, parents—who might otherwise have been most commonly the persons who constrained the conduct of the donor [52] —would frequently have predeceased their children’s mature career. The exaction of brothers (e.g. Philip of Macedon [Plutarch Pelopidas 26.4; Diodorus 15.67.4; Justin 7.5.1; Orosius 3.12.2], the brother of Asander [Diodorus 19.75.1–2], and the brother of the High Priest Hyrcanus [Josephus Jewish Antiquities 13.247]), nephews (e.g., Antigonus’ nephew Ptolemy [Plutarch Eumenes 10.2–3] and Indutiomarus’ nephew [Caesar Gallic War 5.27.2]) and other relatives could have been prompted by the lack or unavailability of closer kin, or by a known hostility to members of the immediate family; [53] the scanty references to affiliation simply do not tell us the principles by which one or a few relatives were chosen from all the members of the leader’s family.
The second category includes such descriptive adjectives as {49|50} πρῶτος, ἐπιφανέστατος, εὐγενής, ἄριστος, ἀξιολογώτατος, ἐνδοξότατος, πλουιώτατος, κάλλιστος, κράτιστος, nobilis, illustris, primus, and principes; like the nouns ἱππεῖς and equites, these words are the semi-technical terms for the wealthiest and must powerful citizens of a state, particularly an oligarchy. In the Macedonian monarchy, the body of men known as the “Friends” (ἑταῖροι or φίλοι and amici) sometimes were asked to provide hostages: in 368 B.C., to Thebes (Plutarch Pelopidas 27.3); to Seleucus in 286 B.C. (Plutarch Demetrius 48.1); to Rome in 197–196 B.C. (Polybius 18.39.5–6; Appian Macedonian Affairs 9.2: Zonaras 9.16: Plutarch Moralia 197A: Livy 33.13.14–15), in 172 B.C. (Livy 42.39.6–7), and in 168 B.C. (Polybius 29.4.6). On only two occasions do we find hostages described by a word indicating that they might have been of less exalted status, and those are the surrender of twenty Argive πολῖται to Cleomenes of Sparta (Plutarch Cleomenes 17.5) and of one hundred Rhodians to Demetrius Poliorcetes (Diodorus 20.99.3); we do not know more.
Which factional leaders were likely to be the targets of an exaction? One might readily predict that a faction which opposed the recipient state would have supplied the greatest number of hostages: it is certainly reasonable to assume that the opponents of the recipient state stood in greatest need of restraint, and that families of proven loyalty to the recipient state were less likely to be compelled to furnish hostages. In theory; [54] but again the scanty information on the factional policies of individual hostages almost precludes conclusion. It may be noted, however, that the evidence derived from internal, extralegal exaction (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 4.83.3; 6.53.1; 6.84.2; {50|51} 8.43.4; Livy 24.31.12–13; Diodorus 33.15.1; Plutarch Cicero 18.1; Cicero Letters to Friends 10.17.3; Appian Civil Wars 3.91; 5.137) demonstrates the feasibility of this hypothesis in domestic practice.
With regard to foreign policy, our comprehension of the faction hypothesis of hostage selection must rest upon three instances. In 169 B.C. at an assembly of the Aetolian League, Lyciscus, the leader of the pro-Roman party, urged that the supporters of anti-Roman policies deliver their children to Rome (Polybius 28.4.7); his avowed purpose was the quelling of the recent unrest in Greece. In the next year, Masgaba, speaking for his father Masinissa, requested that Hanno, the son of Hamilcar, [55] be substituted for another hostage, whose name is lost in a lacuna; he was politely thanked and told that the Roman Senate did not think it fair to exact Carthaginian hostages according to the discretion of Masinissa (Livy 45.145). When the Sequani and the Germans demanded hostages from the Aedui in 61 B.C., all the Aeduan leaders except Diviciacus delivered their children (Caesar Gallic War 1.31.8). Thus factional politics did play some role in determining the individuals chosen as hostages, but probably only if the recipient state had a previously established group of allies within the donor state.
This very tentative observation may have a counterpoise in the exactions made to guarantee armistices. The donor party favoring an armistice seems to have selected the hostages, [56] and these parties are usually the ones who are already the most closely connected to the recipient state. In a state with two factions nearly equal in strength, such as Carthage in 203 and the Aetolian League in 191 B.C., the armistice party might well have difficulty in forcing the opposing {51|52} faction to supply hostages for a settlement which the opposing faction did not find desirable. Moreover, the anti-Barcid party in Carthage and the pro-Phaneas party in the Aetolian League would have been as eager to display their own good intentions as they would have been hard pressed to offer persons from the opposing faction. In these circumstances, it is possible that the hostages came from the party in least need of external control. [57]


The evidence for who selected hostages is fairly abundant; in 48 cases we are told explicitly which party chose the hostages. [58] In nine, or 18.7%, of these cases, however, chance played the largest role, for the hostages were seized or detained in an extralegal, usually violent, situation; the rape of the Sabine women (Plutarch Romulus 16.2); the Etruscan prisoners of war held by Tarquinius Priscus (ἐν ὁμήρων … λόγῳ, Dionysius of Halicarnassus 3.57.1); Mucius Scaevola in 508 B.C. (Dionysus of Halicarnassus 5.31.2); the consular ambassadors at Cumae in 492 B.C. (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 7.2.3; 12.2); the Tarentine envoys detained by Pyrrhus in 281 B.C. (Zonaras 8.2); the residents of Rhegium captured outside the walls by Hannibal in 215 B.C. (velut obsides, Livy 24.1.7–8); the Syracusan army at Leontini in 214 B.C. (Livy 24.31.12–13); the son of the Ilergetes’ chief (Livy 34.12.7); and Philip’s proposed military levy from the Achaean League in 200 B.C. (in loco obsidum, Livy 31.25.8). [59] A combination of circumstances was responsible for the detention of hostages such as these, and essentially anyone available at the time would have served. Thus it is not meaningful to speak of selection in these cases. {52|53}
In ten other cases (20.8%), a recipient state or faction chose extralegal hostages in a more deliberate manner, because of the political position of the hostages themselves or because of a familial relationship to a leader: among the Greeks, Alexander the Great “honored” some Thracian chiefs by taking them with him on his Asian campaigns (Frontinius Stratagems 2.11.3), and Nabis in 195 B.C. arrested his potential rivals (Livy 34.27.7–8; 32.12); among the Romans, very much in the tradition of Alexander, Julius Caesar brought to Britain in 54 B.C. the Gallic leaders whom he believed to be disaffected allies (Caesar Gallic War 5.5.4), and the Pompeians Afranius and Petreius detained the Spanish leaders to prevent Spanish defection to the Caesarian cause in 49 B.C. (Caesar Civil War 1.74.5); following (probably unknowingly) the precedent of Nabis, the Catilinarian conspirators in 63 B.C. (Plutarch Cicero 18.1), the Republicans in 43 B.C. (Appian Civil Wars 3.91), and Sextus Pompey in 35 B.C. (Appian Civil Wars 5.137) attempted to seize targeted members of the opposing faction or their relatives; in 216/5 B.C. picked Campanian nobles garrisoned Sicily, serving both as sureties for Campanian loyalty to Rome and as troops against the threat of Punic and native uprisings, just as Spanish soldiers chosen by Hannibal protected Africa (Livy 21.21.11–13); the outrages which Diêgylis of Thrace inflicted upon the relatives of those who had fled Thrace for the safety of Pergamum were meant as a savage retaliation upon disobedient subjects (Diodorus 33.151). These extralegal seizures and detentions, although they display the recipient’s conscious selection, do not indicate at all the procedure employed in a formal agreement, which is the only sort of exaction in which selection is a negotiable issue. {53|54}
In the twelve unilateral exactions involving a treaty, the recipient state chose or approved the hostages in at least eleven. [60] The sources for the ten Roman instances (including three of dubious historical validity) seem maddeningly vague on the method of selection, as if this were merely a matter of routine reporting; [61] even where we are told something more, it is sometimes very little (e.g., “from youths between fourteen and thirty years old” of the Treaty of Zama in 201 B.C. [Polybius 15.18.8; Livy 30.37.8], or “freeborn women,” in the Latin demand of 389 B.C. [Plutarch Romulus 29.4; Camillus 33.2; Macrobius Saturnalia 1.11.37; cf. Plutarch Moralia 313A]). In one case, the Roman general was limited, not only by criteria of sex and age, but also by the exemptions accorded to some magistrates ex officio (the στρατηγός, ἱππάρχος, and δημοσίος γραμματεύς), and to former hostages to Rome (Polybius 21.32.10; Livy 38.11.6). The former exemption is very like the other Greek incident for which we know who chose the hostages; in 304 B.C., Demetrius Poliorcetes could select one hundred hostages from citizens not in office (Diodorus 20.99.3). The difficulties which might have resulted from the detention of an official by an opposing foreign government are obvious. While no similar conditions are documented for other treaties, it is certainly a predictable limitation and quite plausibly would occur more frequently if complete copies of treaties, and not just summaries, were reproduced by our sources. [62]
It is difficult to know how a Roman general would have selected hostages in these cases. Did the donor government make suggestions? Two sources indicate that this did happen, and that the Roman commander had the right of approval (the Treaty of Zama [Livy 30.37.6] and the armistice with Nabis in 195 B.G. [Livy 34.35.11]). {54|55} Yet the temptation to be rid of worthless persons or political rivals would be enormous to a leader permitted to nominate his own hostage to a foreign power; the quality of such hostage would be minimal. [63] If one knew enough of the donor state’s political situation, one could circumvent the problem of relying upon information provided by an enemy in whose self-interest it was to lie; one could demand hostages by name. Thus Scipio selected hostages from Antiochus III in 190 B.C. (Polybius 21.17.8), Pompey from Artoces of Iberia in 65 B.C. (Florus 1.40.28; Dio 37.2.6–7), and Caesar from the Treveri in 54 B.C. (Caesar Gallic War 5.4.1–2).
The only bilateral exaction for which we have evidence on the criterion of selection is that of Perseus of Macedon and Genthius of Illyria in 168 B.C. (Polybius 29.3.4,6). Each king received from the other the hostages whom he wished, and it appears that each had a list—and definite ideas about the persons best suited for the purpose.
But the recipient did not always have the ability to select hostages. In private agreements, the recipient sometimes did not possess the physical superiority to enforce his will with regard to his selection criteria and instead was compelled to accept what was offered. When the Greeks Themistocles (Plutarch Themistocles 19.2; Nepos Themistocles 7.2; Polyaenus 1.30.4) and Phocion (Nepos Phocion 2,4) pledged themselves as security for their statements, when Charon volunteered his son (Plutarch Pelopidas 9.5–7; Moralia 595) and Rheomithras (Xenophon Education of Cyrus 8.8.4; cf. Diodorus 15.92.1) and Memnon their entire families (Diodorus 17.23.5) for their loyalty to a cause, and when Agathocles guaranteed a truce {55|56} with Ophelas of Cyrene by the delivery of his son (Polyaenus 5.3.4), and when the anonymous Cumaean offered himself to prove the genuineness of his betrayal of his comrades in 492 B.C. (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 7.10.5–6), the recipients could apparently only accept or refuse the proposal; besides, the donors had already offered the most effective types of hostages. [64] The Romans are attested as recipients in two such incidents, the detention of one of the two men who had declared their willingness to betray Nequinum in 299 B.C. (Livy 10.10.3) and the surrender of two of Masinissa’s retinue for a conference between Scipio and the Numidian prince (Livy 28.35.4).
Two peculiar cases should also be classified as instances in which the donor was able to select the hostages. In 285 B.C. Seleucus I captured Demetrius Poliorcetes; Antigonus Gonatas, Demetrius’ son, offered himself in place of his father (ὁμηρεύειν ἕτοιμος ὢν αὐτὸς ὑπὲρ τοῦ πατρός, Plutarch Demetrius 51.2; Moralia 183C). This incident, however, is quite extraordinary, and it cannot be brought into a more general context. The other episode is not really of the same type as the previous examples; in 361/0 B.C. Dionysius the Younger persuaded the Pythagorean Archytus and his followers to secure Dionysius’ promise to safeguard Plato in Syracuse (Plutarch Dion 18.2; 20.1). As the vocabulary of this anecdote is different from the others, [65] it is perhaps best to do no more than narrate it.
Sometimes, however, a recipient did try to dictate the choice of hostages, usually because the donor sought a favor with particular desperation. [66] The conference which Antigonus requested with Eumenes {56|57} in 320 B.C. (Plutarch Eumenes 10. 2–3), [67] the deal which Agathocles tried to negotiate with Deinocrates in 306 B.C. (Diodorus 20.79.4), and the aid which Cleomenes of Sparta in 223/2 B.C. asked of Ptolemy III Euergetes of Egypt (Plutarch Cleomenes 22.3–7) and the Messenians of the Achaean League in 219 B.C. (Polybius 4.9.5) all indicated to the recipient that the donor could not refuse to grant him his choice since the donor could not escape from a very difficult situation without the recipient’s cooperation.
Although frequently in private agreements and regularly in treaties the recipient determined the choice of hostages, opportunities for deception remained. Plutarch and Macrobius recount that in 389B.C., in revenge for the rape of the Sabine women, the Latins demanded freeborn Roman women “for marriage alliances” from a Rome exhausted by the Gallic invasion (Plutarch Romulus 29.4; Camillus 33.2–7; Macrobius Saturnalia 1.11.35–40; cf. Plutarch Moralia 313A). Afraid to refuse, the Romans escaped humiliation first by the substitution of slave women and then by their successful surprise attack upon the enemy. The labored parallels and the general implausibility of the tale need no elaborate refutation; this is not an historical but a literary anecdote. But a comparison with the story of Popaedius Silo’s substitution of slave children and lead-plated goods in place of his own legitimate children and solid plate (Appian Civil Wars 1.85) produces an interesting question: could a recipient be deceived? There could be no point in deception if the donor sincerely meant to uphold his part of the conditions, for revelation of such a deception could probably negate the agreement. In both cases of substitution it is significant that the deception was meant as a temporizing measure until some resistance could be prepared, {57|58} while the recipient was lulled to a false sense of security by the donor’s apparent compliance. Was it possible to avoid giving the stipulated hostages by such means? Theoretically, it might seem, under certain circumstances, the obvious thing to try. Practically, the recipient’s knowledge of the donor’s circumstances, the strong possibility of betrayal by an informant—whether domestic, a personal enemy, or a foreign agent [68] —and the difficulty of an adequate impersonation over a prolonged period militate against the success of deception.
Thus the selection of hostages was a variable factor which depended upon the relative strengths of donor and recipient. Yet it is almost certain that the ancient evidence, which probably reflects only the final stage of bilateral agreements, has omitted preliminary proceedings: the proposal of certain criteria, the acceptance or refusal of those criteria, the production of a list of names which was then either approved or rejected. One source, unfortunately the late and not altogether reliable Plutarch, has preserved an anecdote of the supposed negotiations between Antipater and Sparta in 331 B.C.; Antipater’s demand for fifty boys was met with a counterproposal of one hundred old men or women (Plutarch Moralia 235 B–C). Although the historicity of the incident is dubious, [69] we may infer that there existed the possibility of selection according to mutually agreeable criteria.

Temporal Restrictions

References to time in formal agreements fall into two categories: the period granted for the delivery of the hostages and the {58|59} term of service for the individual hostages and for the entire contract. The former category needs no explanation, since it is obvious that the donor state would have required some time to notify and transport the chosen persons, especially if the donor state covered a large geographical area (Caesar Gallic War 4.27.6, 7.12.3–4). Moreover, a delivery deadline is equally advantageous for the recipient state because it establishes a definite date and act by which the recipient may judge whether the donor state has accepted the terms of the agreement. Although relatively few truces and treaties are specifically said to include such a clause (Cato’s Spanish settlements in 195 B.C. [Polyaenus 8.17.1]; the surrender of Carthage in 149 B.C. [Polybius 36.4.6; Appian Punic Wars 77]; Caesar’s demand to the Pirustae in 54 B.C. [Caesar Civil War 5.1.8]; and Vercingetorix’s revolt in 52 B.C. [Caesar Gallic War 7.64.11]), it must have been a standard feature in all negotiations. The period of delivery is very imperfectly attested as “at a certain day” (Polyaenus 8.17.1; Caesar Civil War 5.1.8; 7.64.1), within thirty days (Polybius 36.4.6), or immediately (Caesar Gallic War 4.27.6). [70]
The evidence for the delivery date of hostages is scanty but straightforward. The second matter (i.e., the term of service), however, is full of problems, and the ancient authors seem to mention at least three possibilities which the single topic “length of exaction” covers: 1) detention of hostages as guarantees for peaceful conduct for a fixed period of time; 2) detention of hostages as guarantees for peaceful conduct until the performance of a certain act; 3) the term of service for individual hostages. [71] To the first category belongs the Aetolian Treaty of 189 B.C., which limited the hostages {59|60} to six years’ service (Polybius 21.32.10), a term identical to the period over which the war indemnity was to be paid. The remaining evidence may be organized around two very different questions.
The first devolves upon the fate of those hostages who guaranteed an armistice which did not finally culminate in a peace settlement. Were such hostages returned to their own government or were they detained by the recipient state? In the case of four armistices our sources incorporate information on this matter. The clearest is that between Flamininus and Philip V of Macedon in 197 B.C., when Flamininus granted Philip a four months’ truce for the purpose of negotiating with the Senate a peace treaty; in return, Philip delivered hostages (including his younger son Demetrius) and two hundred talents, which were to be returned if Rome failed to ratify an agreement (Livy 33.13.14–15; Polybius 18.39.5–6; Appian Macedonian Affairs 4.2; Zonaras 9.16). In a similar incident, the conditional clause of the agreement has not survived, but the events demonstrate that it must have existed; in 151 B.C., the Roman general Marcellus repatriated the hostages of the Celtiberians after the Senate refused to ratify the preliminary terms (Appian Wars in Spain 50). The other two armistices require scholarly interpretation, and for that reason they have been used variously, both to support and to contradict the two preceding examples. In 83 B.C., during the civil war between the Marian generals and Sulla, recently returned from his victories in the East, the Marian L. Scipio received hostages from Sulla as pledges for a truce during which they were to discuss a settlement of their {60|61} disputes; when Scipio’s colleague Sertorius violated the truce by seizing Suessa, Scipio released the hostages without having been asked to do so (Appian Civil Wars 1.85).
If our information ended there, the implication would be clear: the termination of the truce released the hostages from their obligation. But the narrative continues and Appian relates that the capture of Suessa and the return of the hostages, which Sulla had not sought, alienated Scipio’s troops from him, and they then deserted en masse to Sulla. If Appian has not misinterpreted the episode by assuming the defection was motivated by the truce violation, there are two possible explanations for this disaffection among Scipio’s soldiers: either they felt disgusted that Scipio had forfeited through treachery or stupidity so obvious an advantage, or they believed that Scipio and the other Marians did not wish to cease hostilities under a negotiated peace. In the case of the former, the disaffection indicates that release of the hostages was not the expected result of the truce violation, and in the latter that the release demonstrated the indifference of the Marian party to continued negotiations; the latter makes better sense of the curious emphasis on the fact that Sulla had not requested their return. [72]
The passage which has generated by far the most argument is a paragraph describing Scipio’s preliminary conditions for a settlement after the Battle of Zama. Appian (Punic Wars 54) had put into Scipio’s mouth a speech in which 150 hostages of Scipio’s choice, 1000 talents, and provisions for the Roman army would purchase an armistice while an embassy to Rome was prepared; should the Senate ratify the treaty, the hostages were to be released (καὶ γενομένων τῶν σπονδῶν ἀπολήψεσθε {61|62} τὰ ὅμηρα). Several questions have been posed by those who have compared this passage with the other accounts of the preliminary treaty (Polybius 15.18.8; Livy 30.37.6), but only two of these questions need concern us here. First, at what stage in the negotiations were the hostages delivered? Second, what is the meaning of the ratification proviso?
The former query can be more cogently expressed in terms of what the hostages guaranteed. As the passage implies, the hostages must surely have guaranteed the peaceful conduct of the Carthaginians while their legation negotiated final terms in Rome, [73] and so it is reasonable to assume that these hostages were delivered almost immediately to Scipio. A comparison of this account with that of the Polybian-Livian tradition, however, discloses three points of disagreement; the total number exacted, their ages, and their purpose. [74] For Polybius, these hostages guaranteed the final peace. Since Polybius essentially identified the preliminary with the final ratified terms, and since Carthaginian hostages remained in Roman hands until at least 168 B.C. (Livy 45.14.5), Polybius’ interpretation is certainly valid. Moreover, we have another instance in which Polybius seems to have conflated preliminary and final terms; although Demetrius of Macedon served as a hostage in Rome from 197 to 191 B.C., Polybius did not include this condition in his description of the final treaty with Philip (18.44) but mentions it only in the preliminary negotiations, when Demetrius guaranteed the armistice (15.39.5–6). Similarly, Livy’s presentation of the campaign against Nabis (34.35.11; 40.4), which is based on Polybius’ narrative, [75] also describes the {62|63} exaction of the hostages from Sparta as pledges for the truce between Nabis and the Romans, and we may infer that he then simply omitted repeating these terms in the final treaty. Thus it should be clear that the discrepancies between the accounts in Appian and Polybius concerning the Treaty of Zama and its preliminary armistice in no way discredit Appian’s testimony, nor are the two accounts irreconcilable.
The ratification proviso is more problematic. Deceptively reasonable at the first reading, it states that the hostages arc to be released on the Senate’s ratification of a treaty, which seems to be consistent with the assumption that they guaranteed the truce only; after ratification, the truce would no longer have pertained. But Appian did not refer to any subsequent exaction, and Carthaginian hostages were still furnished to Rome a third of a century later. Only two explanations appear to me to be possible: 1) Appian is correct but for some reason neglected to mention the second exaction; or 2) Appian is wrong. The first premise leads to an additional problem, the inefficient and clumsy second exaction. If the persons involved in the two exactions were substantially the same, their release and then second delivery to the Romans is incomprehensible and pointless. But if the two groups were substantially different, it is difficult to understand both why the first group was unsuited to further service after only a few months’ time, and from where Carthage would have obtained so large a pool of youths of the highest nobility, after the recent depletion of Carthage’s population of military age. [76]
Moscovich rightly perceived the difficulty of the received text when he asked what would have happened had negotiations failed. [77] {63|64} If negotiations during a truce lead to a final peace treaty, there is no need for the armistice to have settled the fate of the hostages for the period of time covered by the final peace; their release or further detention after the time of the truce may be included among the provisions of the final treaty. There is every need to determine their fate if negotiations fail, because there is no later opportunity for a discussion of the matter. Moreover, the purpose of a truce is to preserve the status quo. Possession of hostages shielded the recipient state from ambushes or surprise attacks by the donor; [78] a return clause would have protected the donor state from threats against the hostages after the truce expired. If the hostages indeed guaranteed Carthaginian good behavior during the truce, and the truce had ended in a failure to establish peace but without any violation of the armistice’s conditions, could Scipio have retained the Punic hostages? Retention was certainly expedient, as Aymard observed. His contention that the restoration of the Carthaginian hostages would have been folly for the Romans because it would have reestablished the armistice situation, to the benefit of the Carthaginians, [79] disregards both the legality of the case and the delicate position of Scipio and the Senate. [80] Nor is it obvious how reestablishment of the pre-armistice situation otherwise benefited the Carthaginians significantly; Scipio’s army still held major portions of their territory, and even if the hostages were returned, the provisions and the money which paid the Roman troops could not be given back. Aymard postulated that the desperate plight of Carthage after the defeat at Zama obviated the necessity for the return clause natural in a negotiated {64|65} armistice and that such a concession would have been “misplaced generosity” in the victorious general’s terms to a defeated people. [81] This argument greatly exaggerates the strength of the Roman military position and ignores the complexities of Roman domestic intrigue. Scipio’s fear of replacement, the exhaustion of Rome and Italy, the resistance of which Carthage, a strongly fortified and armed city, was still capable, [82] all militated against any prolongation of the war in order to insist on unconditional surrender.
Täubler decided that Appian (or his scribe) erred and emended Appian’s text by the insertion of a negative adverb: καὶ οὐ γενομένον τῶν σπονδῶν ἀπολήψεσθε τὰ ὅμηρα. [83] Walbank’s objection to οὐ is commendable; [84] μὴ is preferable, but this is not a substantial criticism. Aside from the reservations which always attend an emendation of the received text when it is even slightly intelligible, there seem few explicit arguments against it. Aymard maintained, as we have seen above, the impracticality of Scipio’s release of Punic hostages for the truce but the inefficiency of, and lack of evidence for, a second exaction (both demonstrated by Moscovich) indicate the weakness of Aymard’s position. Täubler’s addition of a negative adverb has, moreover, the advantage of parallel incidents. [85] Nonetheless, the emendation has not met with general acceptance, despite what I feel is the best solution to this difficult and perhaps insolvable problem.
Appian’s account of the 300 Carthaginians at the outset of the third Punic War (Punic Wars 77) also supports the hypothesis that some conditions concerning repatriation were formally included in armistices and some treaties. [86] The lack of such conditions was considered suspicious {65|66} by the Carthaginians and contributed to their uneasiness about Roman demands. It is of course possible that Appian contributed this detail from his rhetorical training rather than from his historical research. But no release of these hostages ever occurred; they lived out their lives in honorable confinement in Italy with other Carthaginian prisoners (Zonaras 9.30). [87]
The second question which arises from the surviving material on temporal regulations is a serious and important problem which we cannot answer: for how long did a donor state provide hostages? As noted above, the Aetolian Treaty of 189 B.C. specifies six years as the period for which hostages were submitted and the indemnity paid (Polybius 21.32.10). Did all donor states continue to furnish hostages only until the full payment of the indemnity? [88] We know that the Treaty of Zama established that Carthage pay fifty annual installments, and Punic hostages remained in Roman control until at least 168 B.C. (Livy 45.14.5). Philip V of Macedon received the release of his son Demetrius and the cancellation of his unpaid debt to the Roman treasury as a double gift in return for his aid to the Roman army (Polybius 21.3.3; Livy 36.35.13; Eutropius 4.3.3; Appian Syrian Wars 20; Zonaras 9.19). Demetrius of Syria claimed that all legal pretext for his detention had disappeared by 164 B.C. (Polybius 31.2); [89] he had come to Rome in 175 B.C., and the last indemnity installment was paid in 173 B.C. (Livy 42.6.6–7). Can we assume that the obligation to supply hostages terminated with the final indemnity payment? I believe that the hypothesis is not unreasonable; but the evidence is too sparse to make such a hypothesis more than speculative. {66|67}
Thus we may conclude that temporal regulations undoubtedly occurred far more often than the extant material indicates. An initial delivery date and some sort of expiration clause must have been included in almost every formal agreement, but the very frequency of such clauses probably made them seem routine and so contributed to the failure of ancient writers to relate them.

Mutatio Obsidum

The formal provisions for the exchange of hostages (mutatio obsidum) involve considerable uncertainty. Only one treaty actually describes the procedure, that of the Romans with Antiochus III the Great of Syria in 188 B.C. (Polybius 21.42.22; Livy 38.38.9; Appian Syrian Wars 39). All three sources agree that the exchange was triennial, and Appian supplies the additional details that Antiochus, the son of the king, was excluded from the exchange and that the Senate, not the consul, had added the entire stipulation at the time of the treaty’s ratification. There seems no reason to dispute either point. Unfortunately the only exchange of hostages pertaining to this treaty is irrelevant. When Demetrius, the son of Seleucus IV Philopator, replaced his uncle Antiochus at Rome in 175 B.C. (Appian Syrian Wars 45), Seleucus was attesting his personal guarantee for the treaty’s continuance. Since, by the terms of the treaty of 188 B.C., Antiochus was the only hostage exempt from replacement, it is impossible to consider Demetrius’ substitution for him in 175 B.C. as part of the formal conditions of the treaty of 188 B.C. The death of Antiochus III the Great in 187 B.C. had dissolved the agreement, and Seleucus renewed the compact. [90] Whether the exchange clause was also renewed can only {67|68} be guessed at.
The Roman-Aetolian treaty of 189 B.C., however, contains two stipulations deserving some attention in this context (Polybius 21.32.11). The first is the specified duration of the service of the Aetolian hostages, six years, which coincides with the number of yearly installments to be paid on the war indemnity. [91] The second is the replacement of any hostages who should meanwhile die. In view of the youth of the selected hostages (twelve to forty at their selection, and thus eighteen to forty-six on their restoration, Polybius 21.32.10; Livy 38.38.6) and the short period of detention, this replacement clause is a very cautious, conservative measure. It appears reasonable to assume that similar clauses were inserted in other treaties, especially when the detention period was greater. [92] Moscovich has rightly and convincingly argued that no reference to ‘mutatio obsidium’ can be understood from this treaty. [93] Still, the obvious utility of a provision for the replacement of hostages who die, despite its peculiarity to the Aetolian treaty, suggests the possibility that the ancient sources may have omitted clauses of little importance either because they were standard and customary (and therefore uninteresting) or because the circumstances under which they were to become operative did not arise. Whatever the case, the lack of evidence in other treaties does not mean that some arrangement for exchange, either by formal stipulations or by custom, should not be understood as a standard feature of such treaties.
Again, the most significant episode for this type of clause is the Treaty of Zama in 201 B.C. The annalistic sources of Livy {68|69} describe two occasions, one in 199 B.C. and the other in 181 B.C., on which hostages were restored to the Carthaginians (Livy 32.2–4; 40.34.14). [94] The reliability of these sources has been seriously impugned, and the occasions have been entirely discounted. [95] It is true that some of the annalists preferred creative fiction to historical fact, but it is equally true that others were fairly accurate historians, and this is precisely the sort of technical information which is likely to have been preserved in the official records. The mere absence of supportive evidence from independent sources, Polybius in particular, ought not be lead us to dismiss the possible merits of annalistic material without a hearing.
In each passage it is said that one hundred hostages were restored. The verb used is reddere, in which there is no unequivocal denotation of “exchange” in the sense needed here. [96] Immediately one recognizes the difficulty of restoring 200 persons when only 100 or 150 hostages were exacted by the treaty of 201 B.C. [97] Moscovich, however, has observed that the hostages delivered to the Romans for the violated armistice of 203 B.C. (Polybius 15.8.7) could be grouped with the other Carthaginians held in Italy; if so, reddere could mean outright restitution. [98] Thus we are not obliged to recognize as evidence for mutationes the “restorations” of 199 and 181 B.C., but a subtler factor may convince us that mutationes took place. Carthaginian hostages were detained in Italy until at least 168 B.C., when Masgaba, Masinissa’s son, demanded that Hanno, son of Hamilcar, be substituted for some other hostage (Livy 45.14.5). At that time hostages exacted according to the age requirements in 201 B.C. would {69|70} have been forty-seven to sixty-three years old and could hardly be expected to survive many more years. It seems unlikely that the government which carefully stipulated replacements for the Aetolian hostages who died during the six years of their detention would permit the gradual loss of Carthaginian hostages through death and increasingly poor health over thirty-three years. Moreover, the value of a hostage who was absent from Carthage for a third of a century would almost certainly have been much less than that of a hostage who had been in the city more recently; the personal bonds between the hostages and their friends and relatives would significantly weaken, thereby seriously impairing their value as hostages. The inevitable shifts in political influence of the oligarchic families posed a further danger, if hostages were taken only from families important in 201 B.C., for their influence may have been eclipsed by that of others not related to the Carthaginians in Roman control. [99] We may also infer that Masgaba’s proposal to have Hanno sent to replace some other hostage was apparently a reflection of Masinissa’s attempt to restrain the anti-Numidian policy of Hamilcar, Hanno’s father.
Clearly some provisions for exchange were necessary, and it is possible that the “restorations” of 199 and 181 B.C. were in fact exchanges. [100] How often and at what intervals might exchanges have taken place? The years 201, 199, 181 and 168 do not permit us to infer the existence of any regular system except that of annual replacement, which is improbable because of the large number of persons involved if no duplication was allowed. [101] It would have been impossible, if there were one hundred new hostages every year, to maintain a principle {70|71} of selection from the best families, since the age limit was restricted to men aged fourteen to thirty years old, and Carthage was governed by relatively few families. Moreover, the administration of details such as selection, transport and quartering for frequent exchanges would have been extremely cumbersome. Aymard is probably correct in asserting that replacement was irregular rather than “a solidly established usage” codified in custom if not in the treaty itself. [102]
Two other passages appear to concern the practice of mutatio obsidum. After Opimius’ victories on behalf of Massilia in 155 B.C., he compelled the Ligurians to supply the Massiliots with hostages κατά τινας τακτοὺς χρόνους (Polybius 33.10.12). The tantalizing plural χρόνους tempts one to consider it probable that the treaty contained a formal exchange procedure, but the lack of further explicit evidence prevents one from having more than suspicion. Phillipson has classified this incident with examples specifying the time allotted or the delivery of hostages, [103] but the plural puzzles me.
Describing Augustus’ moderation toward barbarian chiefs, Suetonius wrote: et tamen potestatem semper omnibus fecit quotiens vellent obsides recipiendi (Augustus 21.2). Aymard has admirably discussed the difficulty in translating recipiendi as “taking back”; if the barbarian leaders could seek restoration of their hostages, surely they would do so once for all as soon as possible. [104] There would be no point in the exaction if hostages could be immediately reclaimed. In this context the verb recipere is the active equivalent of the passive reddi, and the confusion which Suetonius’ remark has produced is due as much to its brevity as to his assumption of his {71|72} readers’ knowledge of the general practices concerning hostages.

Hostages From Non-contracting Parties

It is perhaps ironic that a provision concerning hostages which embodies one of the most logical peace terms has left almost no surviving evidence for its existence. When one nation has ceded to another its claim on some piece of land, it is well-nigh inconceivable that the first nation should be allowed to keep hostages from the ceded area, for in that case, the loyalty of the inhabitants to the new ruler would undergo a severe strain from the outset. Caesar clearly understood that the Aeduan hostages in the power of Ariovistus and the Germans constituted a distinct threat to Roman authority in southern Gaul, and his presentation of this pretext for his German campaign of 58 B.C., must have been amply appreciated by his contemporaries (Gallic War 1.33.2). [105] Other examples of the repatriation of hostages are not uncommon, but such restorations were usually due to the fact that the hostages had been captured by a third party (i.e., neither the donor nor the recipient). [106] Only three passages, to my knowledge, specifically treat the release of hostages from a non-contracting state as part of the formal negotiations for peace, and they refer to separate events in different authors. Two are incontrovertible. In 201 B.C., the Carthaginians agreed to release the hostages whom they had been keeping from states that were now, as a result of the new treaty, outside the new boundaries of the Carthaginian empire (Appian Punic Wars 54). [107] Second, Pharnaces was to return to Ariarathes all the places which had formerly been in Ariarathes’ territory and the hostages therefrom, in accordance with the treaty of 180/179 B.C. (Polybius 25.2.6). [108] {72|73}
The third passage has generated much more discussion because of its singularly problematic character. Nonius Marcellus in his compendium of unusual Latin forms preserved some lines from Naevius’ Punic War.

id quoque paciscunt, moenia ut sint quae Lutatium
reconcilient; captivos plurimos idem
Sicilienses paciscit obsides ut reddant

Naevius Punic War VII 11.41–43 [109]

The last line is the crux of this discussion; the textual variants and emendations for the first two lines need not concern us here. [110] The role of idem, however, is important for an understanding of the line. Is it a part of the Naevian text, functioning as the nominative pronoun which is the subject of paciscit, or is it Nonius’ reference to Naevius, introducing a second citation from the same author?

If Warmington’s punctuation of the passage in Nonius is correct, it must follow that idem refers to Lutatius (or, less plausibly, to another Roman negotiator) and that the lines belong to the peace terms of 241 B.C. which, we must assume, were described in Book VII. Warmington postulated the Carthaginians as the subject of paciscunt and the Sicilians as the subject of reddant. [111] Thus the Roman general would have stipulated that the Sicilians repatriate the Carthaginian prisoners of war who were held as hostages. [112] Several objections have been raised to this hypothesis, most notably by Täubler. [113] With the exception of Hiero’s domain, the Romans controlled Sicily, and the repatriation of Carthaginians held prisoner in Sicilian cities {73|74} could not have been the subject of an agreement with Hamilcar. Normally, the prisoners of war of a defeated nation were ransomed, detained as prisoners, or sold as slaves. [114] Moreover, since the armies of Carthage were primarily composed of mercenaries, it is difficult to comprehend why Lutatius demanded that the already financially embarrassed city significantly add to her troubles by releasing mercenaries who would return to demand wages. The hypothesis of Leo and Warmington is seriously undermined by the complexity of a single line’s reference to three nationalities, by the lack of evidence for Carthaginians under Sicilian control at the end of the First Punic War, and by the fact that such an agreement would have contradicted the usual practice in the matter of the prisoners and/or hostages.
If Nonius inserted idem to signify the beginning of another Naevian quotation in which the active verb pacisco was used, it is no longer necessary to supply Lutatius as the subject of paciscit. Cichorius on this basis proposed a quite different interpretation of the fragment, citing as further evidence for the separation of the passage into two fragments the alteration of the plural paciscunt to the singular paciscit. [115] He argued that Sicilienses modified the accusative obsides, which suggested to him as the understood subject of paciscit Hiero II of Syracuse. He maintained that only Hiero could have given Sicilian hostages and that Hiero was the sole Sicilian candidate for the singular verb in this context. The hostages would have been exacted by the treaty made with the Romans in 263 B.C. as guarantees for the fifteen installments of the war indemnity levied on {74|75} Syracuse. [116] This line, Cichorius believed, belonged to Hiero’ s request for their return by the Romans after the last installment was paid in 248 B.C. and would therefore be more properly assigned to Book VI than to Book VII.
While Cichorius’ hypothesis is supported by a suitable occasion for the exaction of Sicilian hostages, no other evidence corroborates its assumption that hostages were in fact given to the Romans by the Syracusans. Nor has Cichorius adequately explained why a fragment of Book VI should follow, rather than precede, a fragment of Book VII; Nonius tended to preserve the order of his citations, [117] which inclines one to suspect that this line not only belonged to Book VII but also followed the other line(s), although possibly after an interval. [118] The verb paciscit also seems peculiar. The agreement was contracted in 263 B.C., and unless the verb refers to a renewal of the Roman-Syracusan alliance on condition that Hiero’s Sicilian hostages were returned, it is difficult to understand it in its usual meaning. [119] In view of Hiero’s care to sustain a cordial, perhaps even a fawning, subordination to his Roman allies, a request for the repatriation of hostages before the end of hostilities is uncharacteristic; the Romans might well suspect treachery if Hiero seemed too eager for their release. [120]
The interpretation offered by Täubler best settles the problems raised by this perplexing passage. [121] The subject of paciscit is Lutatius, that of reddant the Carthaginians, and Sicilienses modifies obsides. Thus the Roman general sought concrete demonstration of the Carthaginian concession of Sicily by stipulating that the Sicilian hostages be restored. How had the Carthaginians obtained Sicilian {75|76} hostages? Täubler proposed that the Carthaginian generals campaigning in Sicily would have taken hostages from whatever territory lay in their control to prevent defection to the Romans and to safeguard themselves from guerrilla attacks. Again, however, there is no positive evidence to prove that the Carthaginians, who had taken hostages from Hecatompylus (Theveste) in Numidia in 243/2 B.C. (Diodorus 24.10.2) and from Syracuse in 289 B.C. (Diodorus 21.18), exacted Sicilian hostages during the First Punic War, [122] but that they did so seems a reasonable assumption.
The many difficulties inherent in trying to glean as much information as possible from so fragmentary a work as Naevius’ Punic War preclude any final solution of all the questions surrounding this line. Nevertheless, a fairly strong case has been made by Täubler which would group this fragment with the restorations of hostages in 201 and in 180/179 B.C. (Appian Punic Wars 54; Polybius 25.2.6); [123] the Naevian incident is thus not without parallel. [124] The logical necessity of demanding the release of hostages from surrendered territory very early in the negotiations may plausibly account for the scarcity of references to such a practice; the condition was probably fulfilled immediately, before further terms were contracted, and so it was rarely recorded in the official final agreement.


What, finally, may be postulated about the “typical” regulations concerning hostages in Roman practice? [125] On the basis of the evidence presented in this chapter it is possible to reconstruct the general characteristics of most of the hostages exacted by Rome in {76|77} the Republican period and to offer a list of clauses which in all likelihood were routinely employed whenever suitable circumstances arose.
Hostages taken according to a ratified treaty were usually young men, in the sense of the Latin word adulescens; [126] selected by the Roman magistrate in whose provincia the territory of the co-contractant lay, they were chosen from the highest-ranking families of the governing class. Their number depended on the quality of the hostages provided, and quality was a function of kinship and/or personal tie to the actual ruler or member of the ruling class. It is reasonable to assume that treaties typically included clauses in which the length of the hostageship of individuals and of the exaction as a whole was specified, and that provisions governing substitutions and restorations were clearly spelled out, as well as the procedures for any other foreseeable contingencies.
If we compare several Roman treaties, we can reconstruct a composite agreement which may allow us to consider hostage regulations in relation to each other and as a unified group. Such a composite agreement might include the following conditions:

  • the government will give to the Romans x males as hostages;
  • the hostages will be between twelve and forty years old;
  • they will serve as hostages for y years which will either be the complete period for which the donor is to provide hostages or the period for which the individual hostages serve;
  • they will be chosen by the Romans;
  • exceptions may be made for certain magistrates and former hostages to Rome; {77|78}
  • hostages will be provided for a total of z years/until a certain event occurs; then they will be released;
  • if a hostage dies, another is to replace him;
  • they will be delivered by a certain date and to a certain place or a certain official. [127]

Of course, as seen in the discussion of the individual clauses, there was a great deal of flexibility within each limitation. Nevertheless, despite the failure of every extant treaty to include all eight conditions, I believe that these eight conditions must have been determined by negotiations between the contracting parties; although they may not have needed formal recognition in the treaty itself, some sort of agreement on these points would have been mandatory in almost every case.

Armistices involved somewhat different criteria. Since an armistice usually covered a very short period of time, the hostage regulations were not as stringent or as elaborate as those for treaties. The salient characteristics are:

  • the government will give to the Romans x males as hostages;
  • the hostages will be detained for the period of the truce, and for a longer period, if the peace settlement should require it;
  • they will be delivered by a certain date and to a certain place or a certain official;
  • if the donor government holds hostages from land which is to be ceded, those hostages will be released.

Although other restrictions may also have been applied to the hostages who guaranteed a particular truce, such restrictions were less uniform than those which usually attended treaties; the short duration of service and the sometimes limited number of people available prevented {78|79} the employment of the full rigor of a formal exaction.

In both types of agreement, however, it should be clear that there were basic criteria which could be altered according to the particular situation. The Romans by no means adhered to an unchanging list of specific demands, but negotiated within a range of requirements.


[ back ] 1. See above, pp. iii–vi, for a description of my methodology.
[ back ] 2. E.g., the unusual selection of women and their subsequent abuse by Cleonymus (Athenaeus 13.605d–e; Diodorus 20.104.3) and Augustus’ hostage policy with regard to certain barbarians (Suetonius Augustus 21.1).
[ back ] 3. For a complete discussion of this matter, see below, pp. 52–58.
[ back ] 4. Token observance of native custom by an ethnically different governing class has been a feature of international diplomacy for millennia. The Roman policy of non-interference is frequently cited as a major factor in its relatively good rapport with native elements throughout the Empire.
[ back ] 5. I have rejected the historicity of several incidents on various grounds, including the great disparity between the dramatic and compositional dates, the legendary nature of some of the material, the loose application of ὅμηρος in Greek sources to rhetorical or extralegal situations (see above, pp.1–11), and the perhaps idiosyncratic use of ὅμηρος in a single source for a frequently cited anecdote (e.g., the rape of the Sabine women, Plutarch Romulus 16.2). One story, the rape of the Roman women by the Latins, illustrates all of these objections. The earliest authority for this event of 389 B.C. is Plutarch (Romulus 29.4; Camillus 33.2–7; Moralia 313A); the story line is an absurd composite of aetiological myth for the festival of the Capratine Nones and exemplar of servile fidelity (Macrobius Saturnalia 1.11.35–40); the obscurity of the sense of hostageship as applied to this episode is obvious and Plutarch’s description of the Latins’ circumlocution αἴτησις γυναῖκων being understood by the Romans as ἐξομήρευσις (Plutarch Camillius 33.2). For a discussion of the Cloelia legend, see below, pp. 263–274.
[ back ] 6. See below, pp. 31–32.
[ back ] 7. See below, p. 33.
[ back ] 8. There is also the possibility that Athenaeus misquoted Duris; in view of the fragments that are all that survive of Duris, we cannot judge which of the three hypotheses is most probable. Walbank (Polybius 2:111) seems to put the not inconsiderable weight of his authority behind the accuracy of Duris’ remark, with a Greek context understood.
[ back ] 9. Of course the scandalous misconduct of Cleonymus may account for much of the disapproval.
[ back ] 10. Babbitt ‘s note (Plutarch’s Moralia, vol. 3 [Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1957], 285) identified the Agesipolis of this apophthegm as Agesipolis II, king of Sparta in 371–370 B.C. In the anecdote immediately preceding this one, however, the subject is Philip’s sack of Olynthus, and so Agesipolis II cannot be the speaker of this group of anecdotes. This reasoning assumes that Plutarch has not confused the two kings into a single character, which is possible.
[ back ] 11. Again, Plutarch’s familiarity with the exaction of women may be responsible for the lack of comment on the practice in his works.
[ back ] 12. Indeed, the rhetorician Dionysius of Halicarnassus, in the early Principate, called parents, wives, and other relations the best hostages imaginable (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 6.62.5).
[ back ] 13. See above, p. 31–32.
[ back ] 14. The circumstances of this exaction are unknown, so we cannot tell if the women guaranteed a formal agreement or had been seized and detained by the Persians. It would be premature at best to say more on the basis of such scanty evidence.
[ back ] 15. The exaction of the wives and daughters of Indibilis and Mandonius was evidently not part of the treaty between the Ilergetes and the Carthaginians, but the result of the false accusation of Hasdrubal son of Gesco (Polybius 9.11.4; 10.35.6), whether the other women at Cartagena were formal hostages for either an international or a private agreement, or whether they were extralegal hostages, cannot now be ascertained. Walbank (Polybius 2:137) suggests that the hostages took the place of the money Indibilis refused to pay.
[ back ] 16. Appian’s laconic testimony can be variously interpreted. It is possible that Appian or his source misunderstood the status of the female prisoners in Pompey’s triumph, especially if the women had served as hostages to Mithridates or other Eastern powers and had then been captured by the Romans; cf. Bithys, the son of Cotys of Thrace, in 167 B.C., below, pp. 184–185. Nor is it impossible that Pompey had exacted female hostages, since some Scythian tribes obeyed female leaders and the choice usually fell on the ruling class; see below, pp. 48–52.
[ back ] 17. Aymard in “Les otages barbares” (pp. 138–139) has convincingly argued that these barbarians were German; it is difficult to imagine any other barbarians who were providing Rome with hostages at this time to whom it might plausibly refer, particularly since it fits so well with the known customs of the Germans (Tacitus Germania 8).
[ back ] 18. For the meaning and purpose of hostageship, see above, pp. 1–11.
[ back ] 19. For the efficacy and versatility of hostage exaction, see below, pp. 205–207.
[ back ] 20. For a discussion of mutatio obsidum with particular reference to this passage, see below, pp. 67–72.
[ back ] 21. R.M. Ogilvie, in A Commentary on Livy, Books 1–5 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1970), p. 267, rather dogmatically asserts that the taking of hostages of mixed sex “was the usual custom,” without further comment or justification. Phillipson in International Law and Custom (1:402) suggests that, as the Romans had given female hostages to Porsenna, they “in all probability” received them as well. I have found no other cases to support these statements until the very late Republic and early Principate.
[ back ] 22. The terms μειράκιον and adulescens, also used of hostages, appear to have a clearer reference to a range of ages, but both are infrequent.
[ back ] 23. For lack of a better term I have called these persons children, but I do so with a caveat that the “children” may have been as old as forty. Appian (Punic Wars 54) declared the Carthaginian hostages whom Polybius (15.18.8) specified as fourteen to thirty years old to be παῖδες. Aymard in “Les otages carthaginois (p. 438n4) opines that Greek writers could not prolong the notion of παῖς to the age of thirty, citing Polybius 4.20.7 as a decisive passage. Although his opinion carries some weight, I feel less assigned that a definite range of ages can be assigned to παῖς; its meaning is hardly technical and probably varies according to author and situation. Cf. LSJ, s.v. παῖς, where in legal texts it means “issue.”
[ back ] 24. I have maintained this distinction throughout this work.
[ back ] 25. It is of some interest to observe that Alexander seems to have initiated a policy of exacting mostly adult males, although the practice was certainly known before his time. From Aeneas Tacticus, however, who describes the appropriate measures for securing a city against betrayal by the parents of hostages tortured within sight of the city walls (1.20.23–25), we may infer that children were frequently exacted in the earlier part of the fourth century B.C.
[ back ] 26. The exaction of men of military age may be a formalized levy of troops; c.f. above, pp. 10, 23 n. 23. Such levies account for two Greek cases (Livy 24.31.12–13; 31.25.8), two Roman cases (Livy 23.4.8, 7.2, and 31.10; 40.47.10) and one case involving Hannibal’s dispatch of Spanish recruits to Africa (Livy 21.21.11–13) from the totals in Table II. I am puzzled as to why only Livy indicates this dual purpose and at a loss to explain the possible significance of the fact.
[ back ] 27. These examples are not international agreements, although there is some resemblance between the two types (e.g., the magistrates of the Achaean League sought the sons of the Messenian envoys as hostages [Polybius 4.9.5], and the League could conceivably have repudiated the arrangement made between the magistrates and the envoys, which is what differentiates it from a ratified treaty).
[ back ] 28. For a discussion of this incident and its possible historicity, see below, p. 192n3.
[ back ] 29. For a discussion of affiliation, see below, pp. 48–52.
[ back ] 30. Phillipson (International Law and Custom, 2.80) erroneously translates Polybius as “not less than ten or more than forty.”
[ back ] 31. Livy’s failure to duplicate exactly Polybius’ account has usually been assigned to an error on Livy’s part; the Roman historian specified a range of eighteen to forty-five years (Livy 38.38.9). Certainly Polybius’ figures are more likely to be accurate, but even if Livy were correct here it would not greatly alter our understanding.
[ back ] 32. Aymard, “Les otages carthaginois,” p. 444.
[ back ] 33. Otto Møkholm, Antiochus IV of Syria (Copenhagen, Class. and Med. Dissertationes, VIII, 1966), p. 36, cited by Walbank, Polybius 3:465–466.
[ back ] 34. For a discussion of affiliation, see below, pp. 48–52; for the influence of Romanization, see below, pp. 207–209.
[ back ] 35. See above, note 1.
[ back ] 36. I must confess a fondness for the last hypothesis, for it suggests that the Romans had some definite intention in exacting hostages, even if it was as limited and practical an intention as establishing age restriction to fit the hostages whom they had already determined to take. Still, evidence for the Roman goals in hostageship are nonexistent, and the question must remain open. For further discussion, see Walbank, Polybius 3:134–135.
[ back ] 37. The Roman preference for children is given some slight support by legendary material also; cf. the children exchanged by the Trojans and Aborigines (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 1.59.1–2) and those exacted from Caenina by Romulus (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 2.34.1). For a discussion of the impubes (Livy 2.13.10) in the Cloelia legend, see below, p. 264.
[ back ] 38. The only attested term of hostageship is three years (Livy 38.38.9; Polybius 21.42.22; Appian Syrian War 39), and the Aetolian hostages could not have served more than six years (Polybius 21.32.10–11). For a discussion of the duration of the service of individual hostages and the period for which hostages were required by treaty, see below, pp. 58–72.
[ back ] 39. The advantages and disadvantages set forth in this paragraph are arguments from common sense; no extant ancient authority chose to mention them, perhaps because they seemed obvious. Aymard in “Les otages carthaginois” (p. 445) relates the age restrictions to health; they may also reflect the ancient concept of “prime of life.”
[ back ] 40. Helmut Berve (“Sertorius,” Hermes 64 [1929]:224–227) denies any conscious attempt at the Romanization of hostages even to the late Republican general Sertorius. Others, notably Aymard (“Les otages barbares,” pp. 141–142), Norman DeWitt (“The Peaceful Conquest of Gaul,” Classical Essays Presented to James A. Kleist, S.J. [St. Louis: The Classical Bulletin, 1946], pp. 24–25), and Moscovich (“Hostage Regulations,” p. 425) tacitly assume some degree of Romanization as a conscious Roman goal, although only Moscovich has suggested it of the middle Republican period. For a fuller discussion of the issue of Romanization, see below, pp. 207–209.
[ back ] 41. A comparison of these two incidents is especially telling because both belong to the same decade and political milieu. Although one could hardly expect Antony to take from the still undefeated Antiochus as many hostages as Octavian would later demand from the whole of Illyria in three years of campaigning, still two hostages “of little value” (οὐκ ἐπιφανῶν) are a poor showing. Craven (Antony’s Oriental Policy Until the Defeat of the Parthian Expedition, University of Missouri Studies, vol. 3, no. 2 [Columbia, Missouri, University of Missouri, 1920]), has explained the comment by reminding the modern reader that the source is probably Antony’s lieutenant Dellius, who later became Octavian’s adherent; it would have suited Dellius’ purpose to denigrate Antony’s success where he could.
[ back ] 42. Since Flamininus’ purpose in his Greek negotiations is believed to have been a stable balance of power between Philip V and the Aetolian League in the north and between Sparta and the Achaean League in the Peloponnesus, such a substantial weakening of Sparta would not have suited his intentions. See Frederic M. Wood, Jr., “The Military and Diplomatic Campaign of T. Quinctius Flamininus in 198 B.C.,” AJPh 62 (1941): 277–288, and Walbank, Polybius 3:88–89.
[ back ] 43. Of course, ancient demography is a very difficult and imprecise science, but surely the populations of Antiochus’ Asian empire and the prosperous mercantile city of Carthage must have exceeded those of the three Greek towns on the island of Cephallenia and that of the island of Sardinia.
[ back ] 44. See Table III.
[ back ] 45. Ogilvie, Livy, p. 276. Three hundred seems to have been used as an arbitrary and indefinite large number. See Lewis and Short, Dictionary, p. 1895, s.v. trecenti.
[ back ] 46. None of these objections are valid enough to cause us to reject the attested figures. It is not impossible for a late, unreliable source to preserve information which is not found elsewhere, but it is, I believe, not very probable that three hundred is the accurate number in all the places in which it is quoted.
[ back ] 47. The limited sample of documented numbers, the range of the attested numbers over time and geographical area, and the lack of solid demographical evidence prevent meaningful comparisons. The coincidence of the numbers of hostages and of talents in a war indemnity (Diodorus 12.27.2; Polyaenus 7.48.1; Thucydides 7.83.2; Plutarch, Nicias 27.2) is interesting and of some value in assessing that which the hostage guaranteed, but the data are insufficient for any conclusion to be drawn from this one hostage/one talent formula. See above, p. 7.
[ back ] 48. It is somewhat reassuring to note that there are only two cases in which different sources disagree on the number of hostages. The first is the conflicting testimony of Thucydides (1.115.3) and of Diodorus (12.27.2–4) concerning the treaty between Athens and Samos in 441/440 B.C. The obvious superiority of Thucydides’ historical reputation and temporal situation obviates the need for debate on the better source. Moreover, the separation of two groups, men and children, in Thucydides may have prompted a miscalculation or misunderstanding augmenting the problems of textual corruption in number. The second case is more interesting. According to Polybius (15.18.8) and Livy (30.37.6), one hundred youths guaranteed the peace of Zama. Appian (Punic Wars 54), however, states that there were 150 hostages as part of the armistice. Several scholars, notably Walbank (Polybius 2:470–471), have presumed that the difference in numbers is due to the fact that one group of hostages guaranteed the armistice and the other group the final peace. Moscovich (“Hostage Regulations,” pp. 417–427) has rightly observed the inefficiency of two exactions and various other flaws in the hypotheses offered by previous scholars. A third incident relates a difference in the number of hostages demanded and the number offered by the donor government. In 331 B.C. the Macedonian regent requested fifty children from Sparta; the Spartan ephor Eteoeles countered with the offer of one hundred old men or women (Plutarch Moralia 235). Evidently the point was negotiable, or Eteoeles hoped that it was.
[ back ] 49. The Macedonian-Theban treaty contracted in 368 B.C. by Ptolemy indicates the strength of this rule. Although Philip, son of Amyntas, was probably among the ‘ἑταῖροι’ sent with Ptolemy’s son Philoxenus, it is only Philoxenus who was specified (Plutarch Pelopidas 27.3) Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ account (5.32.2–4) lists two of the hostages by name, and they are the children of that year’s consuls.
[ back ] 50. The ancient dread of pollution that could be invoked by violence toward relatives surely needs no reference to bibliography.
[ back ] 51. Cf. Dionysius of Halicarnassus 6.62.5, where wives, children and parents are called the best hostages imaginable. For the exaction of children and its merits, see above, pp. 35–42.
[ back ] 52. After all, everyone has parents, but not everyone has children.
[ back ] 53. The Gallo-German tribes seem especially susceptible to fraternal discord; cf. the Aeduans Dumnorix and Diviciacus and the Cherusci Arminius and Flavus.
[ back ] 54. It has been suggested to me that the Romans would probably have dealt with whatever group was in power. I agree, but I also submit that those leaders suspected of anti-Roman inclinations would have borne the greater part of the burden.
[ back ] 55. Presumably Hamilcar called the Samnite, a leader of the democratic, anti-Numidian party (Appian Punic Wars 68, 70), Masinissa evidently wished to silence Hamilcar (or at least hinder him) as early as 168 B.C., eighteen years before the exile of the pro-Numidian spokesmen.
[ back ] 56. While the recipient state appears to have selected hostages who guaranteed a treaty, hostages for a truce were sometimes chosen by the donor state.
[ back ] 57. Moscovich (“Hostage Regulations,” p. 424, and “Aetolian Treaty,” pp. 140–142) argues quite convincingly for assuming hostage exactions from the pro-Roman parties in both incidents. The lack of ancient testimony prevents more than a suggestion of the possibility that armistices had rather different criteria, especially when there was an established pro-Roman party.
[ back ] 58. For a list of these cases, see the column marked “Selection” in Appendix I.B., pp. 245–259.
[ back ] 59. For an analysis of types of hostages and the vocabulary used to describe them, see above, pp. 1–11.
[ back ] 60. The twelfth incident is the by now familiar anecdote of Plutarch concerning the negotiations between Antipater and Etcocles, the Spartan in 331 B.C. (Plutarch Moralia 235 B–C); as Diodorus (17.73.5) gives the number at fifty rather than one hundred, we may with caution accept that in this case also the recipient state selected at least some of the criteria for the exaction.
[ back ] 61. The legendary exactions from Caenina by Romulus (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 2.34.1) and from the Volscians in 495 B.C. by Servilius (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 6.25.2) and the Illyrian exactions of Octavian (Appian Illyrica 21) mention only that these Romans selected the hostages, without further qualification.
[ back ] 62. We cannot assume that, because only these treaties contain restrictions, only these exactions wore restricted and only in these areas; the brevity with which many treaties were reported suggest that many clauses were probably omitted, and it is precisely this type of detail which is likely to have been excised by the literary sources. In some cases, of course, the age criterion might have obviated the need for such a clause; e.g., a thirty-year-old Carthaginian was probably not yet influential enough to be elected to the highest magistracy. Cf. above, pp. 35–42.
[ back ] 63. Aymard, “Les otages barbares,” p. 141.
[ back ] 64. See above, p. 48.
[ back ] 65. See above, p. 1.
[ back ] 66. These cases have been categorized as private agreements, not formal, international treaties; see above, pp. 8–10.
[ back ] 67. That Plutarch has informed us of Eumenes’ insistence on selection is due to the point that Plutarch is making, as Antigonus’ expressed admiration for Eumenes’ indomitability in the face of adversity emphasizes.
[ back ] 68. Masgaba’s proposed substitution of Hanno son of Hamilcar, which provoked the mild rebuke that it was not just for Masgaba to choose Carthaginian hostages for Rome (Livy 45.14.5), suggests that such informants may have supplied some of the data upon which Roman decisions were made; the rebuke was perhaps a reminder that the Senate would protect its own prerogatives.
[ back ] 69. See above, p. 30.
[ back ] 70. Most agreements, particularly armistices, probably involved delivery of hostages as soon as possible; common sense indicates that, once a truce is negotiated, it is best that it go into effect immediately. Cf. Phillipson, 1:403. Livy has recounted (Livy 9.5.12–13) the order of procedure that he believed typical in the rhetorically elaborate description of the Caudine Forks sponsio.
[ back ] 71. The third temporal regulation is discussed below, pp. 67–72.
[ back ] 72. The emphasis is of course Appian’s, but we cannot therefore deny its importance.
[ back ] 73. Walbank, Polybius 2:466.
[ back ] 74. The discrepancies in age and number are discussed, above, p. 39 and p. 85n48 respectively.
[ back ] 75. Heinrich Nissen, Kritische Untersuchungen über die Quellen der vierten and fünften Dekade des Livius (Berlin, Weidmann, 1863), pp. 157–160.
[ back ] 76. The exaction of Scipio’s choice of youths aged fourteen to thirty years old would undoubtedly have fallen heavily on the ordo iudicum, itself a small, tightly knit group. It could be speculatively argued that noble young men of eighteen to thirty years of age would have been among the heavy casualties the Carthaginians suffered in the African campaigns. De Sanctis (Storia dei Romani 3:2:605n15) analyzed the relationship of Appian’s account to the treaty in its final form and concluded that Appian was correct; the discrepancy between one hundred and one hundred fifty hostages he explained as the difference necessary between Carthage in 202 B.C., when she was still prepared to resist with all her accumulated resources, and Carthage in 201 B.C., after the surrender of her warships, trained elephants, and other supplies. While it is not impossible that a second exaction occurred, perhaps involving different age limitations or affiliations, I find it unconvincing because it would have been inconvenient, and more importantly, because I believe that the Romans would not have lightly altered the composition of a group of hostages who had successfully guaranteed an armistice; this belief is supported by the Roman demand for Demetrius of Macedon to secure the treaty as well as the truce with Philip V. One could adduce the support of Appian Samnite Wars 4 to the contrary, but the testimony of so uneven an author on the legendary subject of the Caudine Forks disaster is very dubious, and I have not listed it among preliminary agreements that describe a specific act for the release of hostages. Nor is Porsenna’s detention of Mucius until a treaty was ratified (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 5.31.2) valuable; Mucius was technically a prisoner of war, not a hostage; and prisoners of war were regularly released after a peace settlement. Indeed, the fact that Appian is twice the source for release after ratification may say something about Appian’ s comprehension of Republican practice.
[ back ] 77. “Hostage Regulations,” pp. 417–18.
[ back ] 78. As Scipio discovered in 203 B.C., hostages were not necessarily effective; concern for their safety did not prevent the seizure of the grain ships (Polybius 15.8.7).
[ back ] 79. “Les otages carthaginois,” p. 441.
[ back ] 80. Even in the next generation the expedient but unscrupulous conduct of Q. Marcius Philippus, who deceived Perseus into dispatching an embassy to Rome in order to postpone the inevitable conflict between Rome and Macedon until Roman countermeasures were taken, was blamed as much as praised. Moreover, credibility is an important element in statescraft, and it would have been foolish to jeopardize negotiations by insisting on detention of hostages beyond the period of the truce.
[ back ] 81. “Les otages carthaginois,” p. 441; Walbank (Polybius 2:470) appears to agree with Aymard’ s estimate of the Carthaginian defeat.
[ back ] 82. Carthage’s dogged resistance for three long years after the surrender of arms, war engines and other military paraphernalia in 149 B.C. suggests that a forcible seizure of the city in 201 B.C. would have been extremely difficult. Hannibal remained an important citizen despite the treaty. Most persuasive is the ratification by the Roman Senate of Scipio’s terms without further conditions; had Carthage been as helpless as Aymard contended, harsher demands would surely have been made.
[ back ] 83. Imperium Romanum, p. 40n1.
[ back ] 84. Walbank, Polybius 2:470; cf. Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973), p. 618, 2728.
[ back ] 85. Walbank (Polybius 2:470) objected that the comparison with Philip V (Polybius 18.39.5–6) is defective because Philip had not yet been defeated and because “Appian is speaking of hostages guaranteeing the preliminaries, not the final peace.” It is my understanding that the Polybian passage concerning Scipio’s settlement also refers to a temporary agreement.
[ back ] 86. Although Appian is our only source for such conditions in Roman treaties, the sole Greek example of temporal regulation known to me is found in a treaty. An Athenian garrison in Oropus and Oropian hostages provided security for Athenian cleruchs, but in case of complaint, the garrison was to be withdrawn and the hostages restored (Pausanias 7.11.5). Inevitably, the garrison troops wronged the Oropians, the Oropians claimed their legal rights, and Athens maintained that the treaty remained valid by disavowing the acts of the garrison as private disputes. The failure to enforce strictly the treaty’s terms is hardly remarkable, nor is the mental acuity which foresaw the possibility of failure; Greco-Roman diplomacy and law had long since surpassed the elementary level of this type of proviso.
[ back ] 87. The legal position of these hostages is peculiar. Since the Roman conditions were expressed in a series of individual demands, the Carthaginians had not ratified the treaty as a whole before the hostages were exacted. Whether they had violated their formal act of surrender appears to hang on the point raised by Banno (Appian Punic Wars 83): if the Romans guaranteed autonomy and freedom to the city, could they seek the destruction of the town and evacuation of the people without negating that guarantee? If so, the subsequent resistance constituted a Carthaginian violation and forfeited the hostages to Roman mercy. Of course, the point is moot; after Aemilianus’ capture and razing of the city, there was no point in returning the hostages, for there was neither city nor government left.
[ back ] 88. See above, pp. 7 and 22n13.
[ back ] 89. For a discussion of Demetrius’ claim, see below, pp. 120–121.
[ back ] 90. Phillipson, International Law and Custom 1:404. The case of Demetrius is peculiar for other reasons as well. The delay between Seleucus’ succession and the replacement of Antiochus seems overly protracted, although it is possible that Antiochus was the nearest male relative of appropriate age; we do not know precisely when Seleucus’ sons were born. In 187 B.C. Demetrius was not yet conceived, and an older brother would have been very young. For a detailed discussion of Antiochus and Demetrius, see below, pp. 276–282.
[ back ] 91. See above, n88.
[ back ] 92. While no other treaties define the temporal limitation on the hostages’ service, a minimum period can sometimes be calculated from the treaty’s date and the date of the last reference to that group of hostages; thus Carthage provided hostages for at least the period 201–168 B.C., Philip V of Macedon 196–191 B.C., Antiochus III 188–187 B.C. and Seleucus IV 187–175 B.C.
[ back ] 93. “A Note on the Aetolian Treaty of 189 B.C.” Polis and Imperium: Studies in Honor of Edward Togo Salmon (Toronto: A.H. Hakkert, 1974), p. 140.
[ back ] 94. The semi-corroborative statement of Nepos (Hannibal 7.2) about the Carthaginian embassy of 199 B.C. may well have derived from the same annalistic source. As he does not mention any restitution of hostages, the passage is not relevant.
[ back ] 95. Kahrstedt, Geschichte 3:589n1 and 3:608n1; Gsell, L’Afrique du Nord 3:294n7; a possibility expressed by Nissen, quoted in de Sanctis, Storia dei Romani 3.2.605n15, et alii.
[ back ] 96. Lewis and Short, Dictionary, pp. 1538–9, s. v. reddo.
[ back ] 97. For the problem of the numerical discrepancy, see above, p. 85n48.
[ back ] 98. “Hostage Regulations,” pp. 422–423.
[ back ] 99. Ibid., p. 426.
[ back ] 100. Hatto H. Schmitt (Staatsverträge 3:306) agrees with Aymard (“Les otages barbares,” p. 140) that reddere is essentially equivalent to mutare. Neither scholar cites the use of reddere for mutare in a context other than hostage restoration; see n96 above.
[ back ] 101. Moscovich, “Hostage Regulations,” p. 420. Cf. the clause in the Aetolian Treaty of 189 B.C. that exempted previous hostages to Rome from further service (Polybius 21.32.10; Livy 38.11.7).
[ back ] 102. “Les otages carthaginois,” p. 447. Indeed, the fact that the Carthaginians asked (petentibus) for the exchange in 199 B.C. (Livy 32.2.3), and Masgaba proposed a substitution in 168 B.C. (petenti, Livy 45.14.5) may support the hypothesis that such an exchange occurred when one or the other party requested it.
[ back ] 103. International Law and Custom 1:403; Tenney Frank (CAH 9: 330) has merely “translated the mystery.”
[ back ] 104. “Les otages barbares,” p .140.
[ back ] 105. Max Radin (“The International Law in the Gallic Campaigns,” CJ 12 [1916]:20) justly observed that the legality of such a pretext is nonexistent and that Ariovistus’ defense, that he had taken them iure belli, is “unanswerable. “ But the removal of the potential pressure that Ariovistus could exert on Aeduan politics through these hostages would have justified the war on grounds of expediency; Caesar’s repetition of this fact signifies how important the restoration of the Aeduan hostages was as Caesar’s rationalization of the war (Caesar, Gallic War 1.31; 33.3; 35.3; 36.5).
[ back ] 106. See below, pp. 183–189.
[ back ] 107. H.H. Scullard, in Scipio Africanus in the Second Punic War (Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1930), pp. 257–258, has discussed this clause with regard to the new boundaries of the Punic empire, but not the hostages’ restoration.
[ back ] 108. Walbank (Polybius 3:272) has suggested other occasions for the exaction of these hostages, but he has not chosen among the possibilities. The terms of the Spartan-Argive treaty of 418 B.C. include a provision that the Argives restore the Orchomenian hostages (Thucydides 5.77.1; c.f. 61.5), but the children whom the Lacedaemonians were to release are not described as hostages (Thucydides 5.77.3).
[ back ] 109. I give the text of Warmington, Remains of Early Latin, vol. 2: Livius, Naevius, Pacuvias, and Accius, (Cambridge; Harvard University Press, 1961), pp. 64–65. Fragment 43 (Warmington) = 42 (Strzelecki) = 38 Barchiesi = 51 (Marmorale) = 39 (Mariotti) = 474 (Mueller). Mueller in Noni Marcelli compendiosa doetrina (Leipzig; Teubner, 1888), 2:86, cites the fragment differently;

id quoque patiscunt … moenia sint …
… quae Lutatium concillient et:
captivos plurimos idem,
Sicilienses paciscit obsides ut reddant.
[ back ] 110. All the editors cited in footnote 109 have substantial aparatus critici and may be consulted for a discussion of these points.
[ back ] 111. ROL 2:65. He also offered Sicilienses as the subject of paciscunt, but rather dubiously; Lutatius had little need for negotiations with the Sicilians, who were no match for the Roman troops.
[ back ] 112. Leo’s argument differs in the interpretation of idem: for Leo, Nonius juxtaposed two separate fragments—but since he also supplied Lutatius as the subject of paciscit, there is no essential disagreement in their views. Friedrich Leo, Der Saturnische Vers, Abhandlungen der Koniglichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaft zu Göttingen, philologisch historische Klasse, n.s, 8 (1904–1905):39n5.
[ back ] 113. Täubler, “Naeviana,” Hermes 57 (1922):156–160.
[ back ] 114. Cf. Rome’s refusal to return Carthaginian captives two years after the Treaty of Zama (Nepos Hannibal 7.2); see below, pp.112–116.
[ back ] 115. Conrad Cichorius, Römische Studien historisches epigraphisches literargeschichtliches aus aus vier Jahrhunderten Roms (Leipzig: Teubner, 1922), pp. 50–52. The separation into two fragments leaves us with two disparate events, connected only by the fact that in describing them Naevius used the rare active form pacisco. The first two lines belong, on this hypothesis, to the negotiations of 241 B.C.; the subject of paciscunt is Romani, that of reconciliant Carthaginienses, and the captivos plurimos are the Roman prisoners of war, whose return is a feature of almost every Roman treaty. The third line is Hiero’s demand in 248 B.C. for the hostages exacted by the agreement of 263 B.C.
[ back ] 116. Ironically, the hypothesis that hostages guaranteed the financial clauses of a treaty, upon which Cichorius’ argument is largely based, is most concisely proposed by Täubler in Imperium Romanum (p. 39); Täubler disagrees with Cichorius’ explication, as we shall see below, pp. 75–76.
[ back ] 117. W. M. Lindsay, Nonius Marcellus’ Dictionary Of Republican Latin (Oxford, James Parker and Co., 1901), p. 89.
[ back ] 118. This is not, perhaps, a totally convincing argument against Cichorius’ hypothesis, and Marmorale, Barchiesi, and Strzelecki have placed the single line before the two-line fragment, evidently because they agree with Cichorius’ reordering of the fragments. The restoration would presumably belong among the earliest conditions of the peace negotiations.
[ back ] 119. Diplomatic relations between Hiero and Rome after 248 B.C. must have continued; cf. de Sanctis, Storia dei Romani 3.1:114n40. That it would have been necessary to negotiate a new treaty after 248 B.C. seems very unlikely to me, since the usual practice seems to have been renewal of the old agreement; paciscit appears inappropriate for a restatement of the old alliance.
[ back ] 120. Even in times of peace the Romans did not appreciate too strict an interpretation of an ally’s rights, legal or not. The establishment of Delos as a free port, which was Rhodes’ punishment for suggesting that Rome and Perseus of Macedon negotiate in 168–167 B.C., demonstrates Rome’s dislike for a display of an ally’s independence.
[ back ] 121. Of the major editors of Naevius, Strzelecki, Barchiesi, and Marmorale found Täubler’s interpretation persuasive. Warmington’s opinion has already been discussed; Mariotti has cautiously reserved judgment by placing the fragment among those of uncertain location.
[ back ] 122. Schmitt (Staatsverträge 3:178–179) agrees with Täubler’s grammatical analysis, but he suggests that the Sicilian hostages were Syracusans given to the Carthaginians, presumably in 264 B.C., when Hiero was a Punic ally.
[ back ] 123. See above, p. 72.
[ back ] 124. Täubler (“Naeviana,” p. 56) stated that the provision had no parallel, but I believe him mistaken.
[ back ] 125. I must reiterate that the extant evidence is not above suspicion; it is the unusual nature of some of the incidents that has ensured their survival. Nevertheless, the abundance of consistent data throughout the period under consideration indicates the strong possibility that many episodes reflect fairly standard practices and that we may use them to infer the underlying principles of exaction.
[ back ] 126. I.e., pubescent through early middle age.
[ back ] 127. With the exception of place, all the other clauses here listed have been discussed in full above. The place of delivery is only rarely attested as such; see below, pp. 95–100.