Hostages in Republican Rome

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4: The Termination of Hostageship {144–191}

In the previous chapters we have examined some of the purposes for which hostages were exacted in antiquity, the specific regulations by which they were chosen, and their treatment during detention. Finally, we must consider the ways in which the contract according to which the hostages served could be terminated and thus their detention permanently ended. [1] There were several conditions which culminated in the release of hostages, and it is a study of these conditions which forms the subject of this chapter. In order to facilitate our comprehension of the many possible variations, let us first establish a theoretical framework into which we may then attempt to fit the actual incidents; indeed, because it was probably some anomaly or unusual detail which captured the attention of the ancient author, the actual incidents may not preserve the typical pattern so well as does our theoretical norm.


As demonstrated above, [2] many treaties provided a clear statement of a date or act which was to be the termination of the period of detention. Upon the fulfillment of the obligations imposed by the agreement, the recipient state ought to have released the donor’s hostages, and it is reasonable to assume that most agreements ended in this way without incident. Oddly, no explicit examples of restoration in accordance with the original agreement have survived, although this {144|145} type of restoration was surely frequent. We may infer that it was predictable and expected, and that our ancient sources omitted it as an unimportant detail easily assumed by their readers.
Most of the attested Greek cases of restoration were intended as favors to purchase favors. In a story of dubious historical merit, we are told that Alexander II of Macedon purchased peace from the Illyrians by paying them tribute and giving them his younger brother Philip during the earliest part of his reign, and that he then employed the same hostage in his treaty with Thebes (Justin 7.5.1-2); perhaps the future king guaranteed the payment of the tribute to the Illyrians and was soon redeemed. [3] In return for the release of Cappadocian hostages held in Nora, Eumenes took their horses, draft animals, and tents (Plutarch Eumenes 12.2); we know nothing more of this exchange.
When Alexander Balas seriously attempted to usurp the throne of Demetrius I Soter in 153/2 B.C., Demetrius tried to secure Maccabaean support by permitting the restoration of the hostages who, exacted in 161 B.C., were evidently still under guard in the citadel of Jerusalem; to the relief of the opposition party, Jonathan Maccabaeus executed the release fairly (Josephus Jewish Antiquities 13.38-40). Nevertheless, the additional promises of autonomy which Balas made and the hope for greater rewards to be seized in the political confusion of a Syrian dynastic dispute outweighed Judaean gratitude to Demetrius for this gift, and Judaea supported Balas. [4]
Two other Greek incidents are more puzzling. The earliest Greek restoration known to me deserves attention because of its anomalous nature. Dionysius I of Syracuse and the Italian city of Rhegium had agreed in 389 B.C. that, inter alia, the city would underwrite {145|146} the expense of Dionysius’ Italian campaigns when the invading Sicilian army did not support itself in enemy territory. This clause Dionysius invoked the following year in order to provoke a violation of the treaty if the Rhegians refused or, if they obeyed, to deplete the city of cash and supplies so as to render it easy prey to a siege. When the Rhegians eventually refused further aid to their alleged ally, Dionysius returned the hostages whom he had exacted the previous year and commenced open hostilities (Diodorus 14.106.3; 108.1–3). Dionysius would seem to have had legal justification for either the continued detention or the punishment of the hostages, [5] but he chose to restore them, as propaganda, as an added burden upon Rhegium’s already strained resources, as an attempt to form a pro-Sicilian bloc in the besieged city, or for some entirely unfathomable (at this distance of time) reason.
The purpose which urged Mausolus to restore the Latmian hostages exacted by Hidrieus is more comprehensible than Dionysius’, but its internal logic and its contrived intricacy must raise some suspicion. Circa 357 B.C., Mausolus released the Latmian hostages and showered the city and citizens with favors and honors in order to lull the citizens into a false sense of security. The scheme worked. Having granted Mausolus permission to march his army through their territory, many citizens turned up outside the walls to watch it pass, while a detachment fell upon the city from the opposite direction and captured it (Polyaenus 7.23.2). Lack of a reliable history of Asia Minor prevents us from assessing the exact historical value of the incident, but, tortuous as it seems, it is not beyond belief. In common with the other examples of hostage restoration, the advantage which Mausolus {146|147} supposedly gained is clear.
The Roman government was no less when it determined on the release of foreign hostages. The distinction of being the first historical hostage restored by the Romans belongs to Demetrius, the younger son of Philip V of Macedon. The return itself is very well attested, and in several sources the cause is attributed specifically to Philip’s, aid to Rome in the European phase of the war with Antiochus III the Great of Syria (Livy 36.35.13; 37.25.12; Eutropius 4.3.3; Polybius 21.3.3; 11.9-10; Appian Macedonian Affairs 9.5; Syrian Wars 20, 23). [6] Of the release itself and its immediate purpose there can be no doubt, for Livy (35.31.5) suggests and Diodorus (28.15.1) states that the Romans had previously held out Demetrius’ return and the remission of the outstanding war indemnity as lures for Philip’s support. Certainly the Romans and Philip must have considered the restoration of the young Macedonian prince as a favor which repaid Philip for the monetary and military debt incurred when Philip helped the Romans by resisting Antiochus’ invasion of Greece.
A different and very much more complex problem arises when we analyze Rome’s subsequent conduct toward the restored prince. Demetrius had spent six years (197–191 B.C.) in Rome during his early teens, formative and impressionable years in any culture. [7] In view of the later favor shown the Macedonian by the Senate, it is evident that eminent Romans had known and perhaps cultivated the youth at this time. When in 184/3 B.C. Philip dispatched Demetrius as his representative to answer the charges laid against him by the Greek cities, the Senate acquitted Philip as a personal gift to Demetrius, who had displayed complete incompetence as Philip’s advocate. The condescending {147|148} tone of the Senate’s response could only have irritated the Macedonian king. The Roman commission to Greece in the spring of 183 B.C. further exacerbated Philip’s feelings by paying obvious court to Demetrius; using rumors of Perseus’ illegitimacy and other unsavory and unsubtle hints, they attempted to manipulate the succession to Demetrius’ advantage. [8] Soon after, Demetrius and Perseus began plotting against one another until Philip himself became embroiled in the quarrel; for a time, Philip managed to smooth over the surface of the dispute. Nevertheless, the charge of treason which Perseus eventually lodged against his half-brother required investigation, and Philip sent envoys to seek information in Italy. Secretly watched, Demetrius confessed to his guardian that he intended to flee to Rome; this treasonable confession and a letter from Flamininus, in which the Roman expert on Greek affairs denied responsibility for Demetrius’ plans and ambitions (especially if he were disloyal to king and father), made Philip’s elimination of the prince inevitable. Shortly before Philip’s death, however, he learned that the investigative ambassadors had been corrupted and that the letter from Flamininus was a forgery. Grief, it is said, hastened the king’s demise. [9]
Can we credit this account? Polybius, the only extant contemporary source, heartily disliked Philip, and Livy’s narrative is greatly colored by the foreshadowing of the Third Macedonian War in which Perseus opposed Rome. Two scholars have pointed out the strong dramatic element in Livy’s version, and Benecke, although he has accepted the substantial truth of the story, has postulated that the character and career of Demetrius became the subject of tragic plays or novels soon after his death. [10] The conduct of both Philip and Perseus probably {148|149} deserves some rehabilitation, just as Demetrius deserves less admiration, if any; he was less a martyr to the Roman cause than to his own ambition. More important, however, is the matter of Rome’s role in Demetrius’ death. The Roman embassy to Greece in 183 B.C. meddled very clumsily in a domestic affair already settled under Macedonian law. [11] If this were the sum of Roman involvement, it would be easy to assume, with Edson, that the Roman senators, rarely endowed with diplomacy or tact and sometimes lacking even common courtesy, merely wished to gain the throne for their favorite Demetrius and, because of their lack of diplomatic experience, used a crude and naive method which defeated their purpose. [12]
The question of the authenticity of Flamininus’ letter raises a more sinister question: did the Senate intend to place Demetrius upon the throne, or merely to initiate a civil war, opposing Demetrius to the ambitious plans of Philip (and Perseus) for restoring the power of Macedon? If the ambassadors had forged Flamininus’ seal upon a letter which in effect condemned a pro-Roman prince to death, would one of the guilty ambassadors have dared to seek refuge in Italy, as happened when Philip discovered the “forgery?” [13] Yet if the letter was genuine, we must invoke one of three explanations: a) Flamininus did not realize how damning the letter would seem to the suspicious monarch; b) the letter was more guarded and less incriminating than reported by Livy (40.23.8); [14] c) the letter deliberately and cynically absolved Rome of complicity regardless of its condemnation of Demetrius. The major objection to the first hypothesis seems to me to be its blithe assumption of Roman ignorance concerning the state of affairs in Macedon, the purpose of the investigative ambassadors, and predictable human {149|150} reactions; it is difficult to believe that Flamininus knew nothing of Perseus’ accusation, Demetrius’ precarious position, or Philip’s possible responses to his letter. The balance of power between Rome and Macedon had been, after all, a major issue of foreign policy throughout the last decade. The second hypothesis is plausible, but the explicit testimony of Livy is difficult to explain away. If we accept the second hypothesis, Rome would have to bear the moral responsibility for encouraging Demetrius to declare his pro-Roman sentiments, although the Romans never intended to give him active aid. [15] The third hypothesis perhaps overstates the case, but it gains credence from the lack of any direct Roman intervention and from later foreign policy. In the course of the next thirty years, the Senate verbally encouraged the revolts of Ptolemy VII Physcon in 169 and 161 B.C. (Livy. 44.19.13–14; Diodorus 31.23), Attalus of Pergamum in 167 B. C. (Polybius 30.1.7–8), Timarchus of Babylon in 162 B.C. (Diodorus 31.27a), and Alexander Balas in 153/2 B.C. (Polybius 33.18) in order to intensify internecine feuds. [16] In view of these later incidents it is almost impossible not to suspect that Demetrius was the earliest victim of this method of weakening potential opponents. Since in the 180’s B.C. Macedon was Rome’s most dangerous possible foe, it would not be surprising to find Rome using indirect intervention to undermine Macedon’s ruling dynasty in a manner which subsequently became slightly more refined and definitely systematic.
Thus it is entirely possible that the release of Demetrius may have served two quite distinct purposes: chiefly and most immediately, it rewarded Philip for his aid to the Romans in the war with Antiochus, and it returned Demetrius, now the center of a pro-Roman party, to the {150|151} court of a reluctant Roman ally. There need not have been an elaborate plan already devised at the time of Demetrius’ restoration, but only the realization that a Roman sympathizer in so lofty a place could prove valuable. The apparent favor of Demetrius’ early release granted to Philip also benefited Roman interests. It is well to remember that such ulterior motives may have weighed heavily in the Senate’s decision to restore Philip’s son, and they may have existed in other cases of early release. In a few other cases we may safely postulate the restoration of hostages, despite the lack of direct evidence to that effect. The Aetolian Treaty ratified in 189 B.C. stipulated that the hostages were to serve six years (Polybius 21.32.10); since the Aetolians adhered faithfully to the agreement, the Romans had no pretext on which to detain them longer and their illegal detention would probably have merited mention, which is nonexistent. (No modern scholar has seen fit to comment upon this clause of the treaty, much less suggest that it was violated.)
The Treaty of Zama as it has survived, however, has no such limitation of service, and some question has arisen about the period during which Rome held Punic hostages. De Sanctis, Schmitt, and W. Hoffman assumed that a donor government normally submitted hostages so long as there was an outstanding war indemnity. [17] Aymard has denied that restoration was necessarily bound to any definite date or event and that the presence of Carthaginian hostages in Italy until 152 B.C. is not very probable. Indeed, he has suggested that it may not have been contrary to the Treaty of 201 B.C. that Rome retain Punic hostages after 152 B.C. [18] I disagree. The last reference to these hostages is {151|152} dated to 168 B.C., when Masgaba informed the Senate that Hanno, the son of Hamilcar, should be exacted in another’s place (Livy 45.14.5). [19] We may assume that Hamilcar’s son would have spent some little time as a hostage, two or three years at least, or the point of exchanging him for another would have been lost; [20] Carthage would then have supplied hostages for a minimum of thirty-five years. The remaining fifteen years of hostageship, by Aymard’s reasoning the shortest additional period for which Rome was entitled to detain Punic hostages do not seem a likely gift to be granted Carthage as long as Cato lived. Aymard’s hypothesis that Rome held Carthaginian hostages even after 152 B.C., however, fails to take into account the abrupt change in the policies of the African city, previously docile in the face of humiliation and injustice; in 152 B.C., the pro-Numidian party was expelled from Carthage and active resistance to Numidian incursions mounted (Appian Punic Wars 71). The Roman eagerness to exact three hundred Punic hostages in 149 B.C. (Livy Summaries 49; Polybius 36.4.6; Diodorus 32.6.1; Zonaras 9.26; Appian Punic Wars 76) makes little sense if they still retained one hundred hostages by the terms of the Treaty of Zama. The coincidence of the city’s change in policy, the Roman demand for hostages and the Carthaginian distress (reported in Appian Punic Wars 77) when the hostages were surrendered without fixed conditions in 149 B.C. indicate to me the high probability that it was in 152/1 B.C. that Rome restored the last hostages delivered in accordance with the Treaty of Zama. [21]
Hostages demanded as sureties for a conference truce are especially prone to vanish from our sources directly after their exaction. The only return mentioned explicitly occurred when Scipio released Sulla’s hostages in 83 B.C., after another Marian general {152|153} violated the truce (Appian Civil Wars 1.85); the release was recounted because it motivated other events. [22] Several conferences conclude without any reference to the safe release of these persons, although in two cases subsequent events in their lives are recorded. Pantauchus and Hippias, the “first friends” who guaranteed the good conduct of the royal retinue during Perseus’ conversation with Q. Marcius Philippus in 172 B.C. (Livy 42.39.6–7), later negotiated Perseus’ alliance with Genthius (Polybius 29.3.1–9); Antyllus, the young son of M. Antony demanded by Caesar’s assassins before they would descend from the Capitoline (Livy Summaries 116; Velleius Paterculus 2.58.3; Cicero Philippics 1.1.2; 1.13.31; 2.36.90; Appian Civil Wars 2.142; 3.15; Dio 44.34.6; Plutarch Brutus 19.2; Antony 14.1) survived to perish fourteen years later at Octavian’s order (Suetonius Augustus 17.5; Plutarch Antony 87.1; Dio 51.15.5). Recipient governments ought to have released all hostages whose party demonstrated good faith during a truce, [23] and it is reasonable to assume that most did so. [24]
One last Roman historical incident deserves examination. Sertorius had obtained control of a number of noble Iberian youths by establishing a school at Osca, but upon the defection of their tribes some of the boys were slain and others were sold into slavery (Plutarch Sertorius 10.3; 25.4). The assassination of Sertorius further disturbed the uneasy Romano-Iberian alliance, and Sertorius’ successor Perpenna returned the surviving hostages to the Iberians to soothe their outraged feelings (Appian Civil Wars 1.114). [25] Perpenna’s motivation in attempting to reconcile to himself erstwhile supporters needs no deep analysis, but it is interesting to observe that an increasing dependence upon donors of hostages resulted in the hostages’ release, and thus a move toward {153|154} greater equality between the two parties. [26]
We can perceive in a different cultural milieu a similar desire for future support in an episode already discussed in other contexts. [27] The Carthaginian commander of Saguntum, Bostar, was persuaded to restore the hostages in his care in the hopes that this act of generosity would win over the good will of the Iberians (Polybius 3.98–99; Livy 22.22.10–14; Zonaras 9.1). It was, we are told, the proximity of Roman troops which prompted Punic clemency to secure the loyalty which fear for the safety of the hostages did not engender, and it is the only example of voluntary restoration on the part of the Carthaginians known to me. [28] What is intriguing about the incident is the tone of the sources; Bostar is made to seem foolish and gullible. It is not clear whether the ancients thought his folly lay principally in trusting the traitor Abilyx or in believing that returning the hostages would advance the Punic cause around the vicinity of the Ebro River, but the emphasis is perhaps somewhat heavier on the latter. [29]
Another Punic restoration recorded by Plutarch (Moralia 248E–249B, followed by Polyaenus 7.48.1) is clearly to be rejected as unhistorical. In this absurd anecdote, Hannibal is said to have agreed to raise the siege of Salmatis, an Iberian town, for three hundred talents and three hundred hostages. After delivery of the money and hostages, the citizens changed their minds; Hannibal captured the town, and the citizens then agreed to leave the site with only their wives and the clothes they wore. But the wives concealed daggers on their persons, and the citizens reentered the city and attacked the dispersed and looting soldiers. In respect for the women’s courage, Hannibal returned territory, goods, and hostages. After two acts {154|155} of treachery which left his soldiers dead? I see no great valor in hiding a knife, nor a cause for respect in violating oaths. Nor do I believe that Hannibal did.
The last historical restoration to be considered here is that of Tigranes the Great of Armenia. Taken hostage by the Parthian king Mithridates II, Tigranes agreed to cede seventy Armenian valleys to Parthia for his installation upon the throne of Armenia in 96/5 B.C. (Justin 38.3.1; Strabo 11.14.15 C532). [30] Since his lineage is not certainly known, it is possible that the Parthians recognized his claim over those of more direct descendants, which may account for the seemingly high price of his installation. The immediate purpose of the restoring government is obvious, but the possible effect which Tigranes’ protracted stay in Parthia (obses Parthis ante multum temporis datus, Justin 38.3.1) had upon Mithridates’ decision should not be entirely discounted. Tigranes’ character and response to Parthian customs and attitudes may have favorably impressed the Parthian monarch; a comparison of Tigranes and his sojourn in Parthia with that of the Macedonian Demetrius and his stay in Rome is not without interest. [31]
Legendary material for hostage restoration is rather spare. Without consulting the Senate, Romulus released the Veientine hostages, a hubristic act which aroused resentment and led to his assassination (Plutarch Romulus 27.2; Dio 1.11; Dionysius of Halicarnassus 2.56.3). This arrogant usurpation of a senatorial function is patently anachronistic and primarily symbolic of Romulus’ arbitrary foreign policy, but, like the Punic Bostar, Romulus may also be criticized for the restoration itself. Porsenna’s return of Cloelia and the other hostages is discussed within the context of the entire legend, [32] but it must be observed {155|156} that in most versions of the story admiration for Cloelia’s spirit prompted Porsenna’s generosity: a romantic but suspect motive. [33]
In short, almost all the explicit restorations which are attested appear to have been motivated by the desire of the recipient state to purchase a favor. [34] Moreover, in addition to the immediate purpose which profited the recipient government, restoration could conceivably place former hostages, acquainted with the practices and persons of their keepers, in positions of great authority where their gratitude toward and/or ties of friendship with the recipient government could substantially repay the effort of their cultivation and outweigh their value as restraints; witness the careers of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Demetrius I Soter, who carefully maintained peaceful relations with Rome even when provoked. [35] It is this fact—that in these incidents there is some particular or unique motivation involved in the restoration—that has prompted the preservation of these examples of restorations: the release of hostages after the bona fide fulfillment of an agreement’s conditions must have been so routine that our sources assumed that their readers would have understood it.


When both donor and recipient had satisfied the terms of an agreement, or when the recipient sought either to repay or to purchase in advance the donor’s assistance, hostages were restored. Even the most carefully phrased treaties, however, are open to varied interpretations, and sometimes a donor state claimed that the terms had been fulfilled or that the contract was void: in both cases, the donor state asserted its right to the hostages’ release. As such an assertion could {156|157} be perceived as a preliminary step to a revolt on the part of the donor, since the donor government would not otherwise have anticipated that any harm would befall its hostages, [36] it is not surprising that the ancient sources attest few (ten, of which eight are historical) requests for the release of hostages; [37] only in the absence of a clear, well-defined agreement between the recipient and the present government of the donor state was such a request feasible.
A single example survives from the Greek world. [38] According to a treaty signed about 154–152 B.C. between Athens and Oropus, Oropus supplied hostages to Athens on condition that they would be returned on demand should Athens violate any of the terms of the agreement. Subsequently, Athenian cleruchs in Oropus harmed an uncertain number of Oropians and the Oropian government sought redress in accordance with the treaty, but the Athenians refused to acknowledge the violation by disclaiming responsibility for the actions of the Athenians in Oropus (Pausanias 7.11.4–6). Since the treaty provided a process for redress, the Oropians would have been foolish to initiate other proceedings before Athens had failed to respect the agreement. Unfortunately for Greece, the dispute did not end with the Athenian refusal; the Oropians then bribed an official of the Achaean League in the hope that he could induce the Achaeans to take up hostilities against Athens, a situation which helped to generate the tensions from which arose the Greek rebellion of 149-146 B.C.
The practice of Rome as the recipient state is only slightly more fully attested. In 191 B.C. Lacedaemonian envoys to Rome sought a favorable decision on the matters of some villages and the restoration of hostages, probably those exacted from Nabis in 195 B.C. (Polybius 21.1.1–3). [39] {157|158} The Senate settled the issue of the villages, but the return of the hostages remained under discussion. Shortly thereafter, all the Lacedaemonian hostages except Armenas (who soon died of illness) were freed (Polybius 21.3.4). [40] Since the payments of the war indemnity were to cover eight years and thus were due until 187 B.C., the release of four of the five hostages so long before the debt was paid is surprising and needs explanation. [41] Scholarly opinion seems divided on the motivation for and wisdom of this decision. Walbank has suggested that the maneuver was perhaps designed to embarrass the Peloponnese, which was newly united under the domination of the Achaean League; [42] de Sanctis stated that retention of the hostages could have facilitated obedience to the Senate’s demand for the exiles’ return. [43] Without further evidence it is impossible to determine with any assurance the motivation behind the restoration, but it is difficult for me to believe, with de Sanctis, that the Roman senators did not evaluate soundly the advantages and disadvantages of the Lacedaemonian restoration. [44]
Nearly thirty years later, Demetrius of Syria appeared before the Senate twice to ask that he be released from hostageship; he maintained that his detention as a hostage for his cousin Antiochus V was unjust (παρὰ τὸ δίκαιον, Polybius 31.2.1–12; 11.7–9). Polybius’ account suggests very clearly that the argument was valid, but the refusal either to release him or to recognize his claim to the Syrian throne was due to the Senate’s belief that such a release was counter to Roman interests. [45]
The remaining five historical cases occurred during the reign of Augustus and concerned the princes of Armenia and Parthia. There are, however, three basic elements which detract from the value of {158|159} these episodes for our understanding of hostage practices in the Roman world. First, none of the princes appears to have been exacted as guarantees for a legal contract; their description as hostages refers rather to the actuality of their circumstances in the modern sense of the word. [46] Secondly, Augustus alone formulated the Roman foreign policy which governed the release or detention of the princes. No longer the product simply of a senatorial majority, Roman foreign policy could enjoy a long-term consistency while employing innovative techniques which a large group of policymakers might well have rejected. Finally, Eastern potentates often desired the return of male relatives for sinister reasons; the murder or mutilation of potential rivals was not uncommon in countries in which lineage was the prime criterion for succession to the monarchy. In such cases a request for the restoration of relatives was not an expression of concern for the well-being of the detained persons, and in a sense it is therefore misleading to compare these cases to requests evidently genuine in their wish to restore hostages to the safety of their own community. These three elements, at variance with the characteristics of the majority of incidents examined in other chapters of this study, make the experiences of the Armenian and Parthian princes atypical, and we may not generalize on the basis of these cases.
After the young Caesar, later called Augustus, had defeated Cleopatra and M. Antony [47] he discovered in Alexandria the children and relatives of many distinguished Eastern leaders, including four brothers of Artaxes, king of Armenia. Although Artaxes asked that his brothers be returned to him, the Roman victor denied this favor to the monarch who had ordered the death of the Romans in Armenia after {159|160} Antony’s disastrous Parthian campaign (Dio 51.16.1–2). Artaxes presumably realized that his arrangement with Antony was meaningless to Caesar and needed renegotiation, and he probably felt that a firm stance could not damage his position. From his point of view, it might even have seemed entirely possible that his request would be granted, since Caesar did restore the daughter of the Median king. The Armenian situation remained outwardly unchanged for the next decade, but around 20 B.C. some Armenians who opposed Artaxes sought to replace Artaxes with his brother Tigranes who had meanwhile been resident in Rome. Augustus chose not only to permit Tigranes’ departure, but he even sent Tiberius with troops to enforce Tigranes’ claim to the throne (Dio 54.9.4–5). [48]
There are two attested groups of hostages involving the children of Phraates IV, king of Parthia. The date of the earlier episode is placed by Dio in 30 B.C. and by Justin at an unspecified time within the period 27–25 B.C. Unfortunately, neither source is impeccable; Dio (51.18.3) has associated the incident with Caesar’s reorganization of the eastern empire after his victory at Actium, while Justin (42.5.6–11) has attached it to the Spanish campaigns of a few years later. According to Justin, the non-Arsacid general Tiridates successfully resisted the suzerainty of his former lord Phraates IV until Phraates mustered a superior force of Scythians. Tiridates then fled to Caesar, who was campaigning in Spain, and offered the Roman the youngest son of Phraates as a hostage. [49] Although Tiridates hoped for military aid to regain his power in Parthia, Caesar instead granted him only permission to reside in Roman Syria in return for the prince. In 23 B.C. Phraates IV sent envoys to Rome to seek the return of both {160|161} his son and his rebellious subject Tiridates; although Caesar refused the latter part of the demand, he did release the son without ransom, with the understanding that Phraates would surrender the Roman standards and prisoners of war in Parthia. Dio’s account differs from Justin’s version in the date and in the important matter of how Augustus acquired the son, for Dio declares that Phraates himself offered his alliance and his son, whom Caesar took to Rome as a favor (ἐν εὐεργεσίας μέρει); [50] the events of 23 B.C. he described as substantially the same (53.33.1–2). [51]
Three points seem to me to render Dio’s testimony suspect. First, would an alliance between Rome and Parthia in 30 B.C. have acknowledged the sort of Roman superiority that the transfer of a Parthian prince would seem to indicate? [52] I think not, especially after the flight of the pretender Tiridates. There is little reason to suppose that Phraates was worried that Caesar would support Tiridates’ claim with military assistance. Artaxes of Armenia had executed Romans, Antony had annexed his kingdom into the empire, and yet Artaxes was still king. Since the logical first step to an invasion of Parthia was securing Armenia, Phraates should not have been concerned about Roman expansion into Parthian spheres of influence in 30 B.C. Thus it is improbable that Phraates would submit in the diplomatic war by surrendering his son unnecessarily. [53] Second, Justin’s connection of the Parthian hostage and Spain is incomprehensible except as a simultaneous event, while Dio’s association with the post-Actium settlement of the eastern empire is quite understandable as a telescoped summary of Roman-Parthian relations during the early 20s B.C. Third, accepting the version of Justin allows us to assume that less time {161|162} elapsed between the son’s abduction by Tiridates and the demand for his release by Phraates, and such a reduced period of time makes better sense; if the son were kidnapped in 26/5, it could conceivably have taken Phraates two years to learn of the abduction and of Tiridates’ destination, to plan a course of action, to dispatch an embassy to distant Rome, and to await the hearing and decision. On the basis of these objections, I propose to accept Justin’s testimony on this episode as the more plausible.
The circumstances surrounding the delivery of the four legitimate sons of Phraates IV to Augustus about 10/9 B.C. have already been discussed. [54] Vonones, Rhodaspes, Seraspadanes, and Phraates obeyed the dictates of their father and never attempted of their own volition a return to Parthia, even after the assassination of Phraates IV and the accession of the bastard Phraataces (Phraates V). [55] This new king of Parthia chose to support Tigranes III as king of Armenia over the claims of the Roman candidates Artavasdes, and this interference in Roman Armenian policy provoked the famous eastern mission of C. Caesar. When Phraataces tried to explain his position on the Armenian problem and demanded the release of his legitimate half-brothers, Augustus refused to acknowledge either his claim to the throne or his right to their return (Dio 55.10.20); the surrender of the true heirs to certain death played no part in Augustus’ Parthian policy. The hostile confrontation of Roman and Parthian interests was resolved by a negotiated settlement in which Phraataces withdrew from Armenia and dropped the issue of his brothers’ release while Augustus evidently recognized him as king of Parthia (Dio 55.10a.4). The embassy of about A.D. 6, however, which sought to have Vonones, the eldest prince (Tacitus Annals 2.2), {162|163} returned from Rome so that he might become the next king of Parthia, met with complete success, and Vonones I reigned until his deposition in A.D. 11/12. [56] On three other occasions, in A.D. 35, 36, and 47, Parthian embassies received a king from the descendants of Phraates IV, who had resided in Rome since 10/9 B.C. [57]
Several observations can be made. Embassies which represented a government or a pro-Roman faction of a government who requested a king succeeded. A king grateful to Rome was, after all, worth more than a pretender residing in Rome. Foreign kings who wished to recover (and/or suppress) their relatives (and rivals) had to pay for the favor or failed. Unfettered by the pre-existing conditions of a legal contract, Augustus was not restricted in his manipulations of Eastern policy; by the support of a rival claimant to the throne he could embroil a nation in civil war, establish a monarch friendly to Rome, or gain concessions in exchange for his non-intervention. These possibilities, however, were certainly not Augustus’ own contribution to Roman foreign policy; they follow the precedents established by the Senate in treating the much earlier hostage princes Demetrius of Macedon, Antiochus son of Antiochus III of Syria, and Demetrius son of Seleucus IV of Syria.
Two stories from the legendary history of Rome include formal requests for the return of captives, and, while the difference in status between hostages and captives precludes the use of these tales as corroborative evidence for the practices involving hostages, they are nevertheless suggestive. The Rape of the Sabine women needs no extensive citation of sources to remind the reader that the seizure of these women resulted in an immediate demand for their release and, {163|164} upon its refusal, in armed attack upon Rome (e.g., Plutarch Romulus 16.2–3). Abduction by force in a time of peace was indeed reprehensible, but the employment of a religious festival to disarm opposition outraged every sense of decency. Similarly but less spectacularly, the decision of Tarquinius Priscus not to send back the Tuscan prisoners of war according to custom, and instead to retain them under strict guard at Rome, so irritated the Tuscan League cities that they declared war on Rome (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 3.56.5–57.1). In both incidents the detention of foreign citizens contrary to custom became a casus belli when Rome refused to right the injustice.
A comparison of these two legends with the historical episodes concerning the Armenian and Parthian princes is irresistible. In all these cases, none of the participants seems to have been legally bound by any formal agreement, [58] and political realities affected the foreign responses when Rome refused to restore these persons; the fate of a few individuals was not an effective call to arms in the large kingdoms of Armenia and Parthia. The absence of formal regulations by no means prevented either party from attempting to alter the situation to one more favorable to its own interests by either demanding or granting the restoration of extralegal hostages. [59] Moreover, a request for release in these circumstances did not normally affect the relationship between the two nations, which was at best an uneasy peace and at worst open hostility. We should conclude that this method of recovering hostages—i.e. the simple procedure of request—was rare and unusual, and that it occurred primarily as a diplomatic issue between independent nations nominally at peace or between the recipient state and a government {164|165} which had not represented the donor nation at the time of the original exaction.

Violation of an Agreement by the Donor State

From the preceding sections of this chapter, it should be clear that, so long as the donor state observed the agreement (formal or otherwise) by remaining at peace, the options of the recipient were limited to the decision to restore or retain the hostages. When the donor government broke the agreement, which could occur in a number of ways, the options of the recipient also proliferated; the hostages could be executed, relegated to the status of captivi, retained as hostages, released or some mixture of these possibilities. Such are the possibilities, but what in fact happened to the hostages when their state violated the conditions of the agreement which the hostages guaranteed? It is perhaps easiest to examine these cases according to the manner in which the agreement was broken; thus we may consider the range of response which each type of violation prompted.

Escapes and Abductions

The earliest illegal recovery of historical hostages to be examined in this study is that devised by the Samians in 441/0 B.C. The Samians, after resuming control of Samos from the puppet democracy established by Athens, stole away (ἐκκλέψαντος) their hostages from Lemnos, where the Athenians had left them; only then were the Athenians declared enemies of Samos (Thucydides 1.115.3–5; Diodorus 12.27.2–3; Plutarch Pericles 25.3). The preliminary victories of the anti-Athenian government in Samos did not, however, result in autonomy for the Samians. After a {165|166} lengthy siege, Pericles recaptured the city and again exacted hostages (Thucydides 1.117.3; Plutarch Pericles 28.1). The clear sequence of events is significant for evaluating the importance of their hostages to the Samians. Since a concerted effort to rescue the hostages from Athenian-dominated territory occurred before the official outbreak of hostilities it is fair to infer that the failure of the rescue attempt would have prevented an open break with Athens. In all events we must conclude that, for the Samians, the possibility that the hostages might be recovered more than counterbalanced the risk posed by an illegal sally into enemy territory. [60] The validity of hostageship as a means of restraint is further indicated by the second exaction made by the Athenians. [61] It is unfortunate that none of the hostages involved can be identified; we do not know the fate of the first group or how the second group differed, if at all, from the first. [62]
In the troubled years after Alexander’s death, political alignments in the Near East shifted with astonishing ease as Alexander’s generals fought for dominance. In 313 B.C. Asander, satrap of Caria, agreed to transfer his soldiers to Antigonus and to relinquish the Greek cities in his territory, leaving them autonomous in return for Antigonus’ recognition of his rule in Caria; Asander’s brother Agathon was sent to Antigonus as a hostage to guarantee these term. Yet Asander repented of his bargain, stole away (ἐξέκλεψεν) his brother from custody, and applied for aid to Antigonus’ rivals Ptolemy and Seleucus. Antigonus dislodged Asander and annexed Caria to his own territory (Diodorus 19.75.1–4). Like Pericles, Antigonus responded to the abduction of hostages with a declaration of war and finally enforced his will. Again, like the Samians, Agathon’s subsequent career, {166|167} if any, is unknown.
Both the Athenians and Antigonus were able to subdue their rebellious subordinates, and each victory reestablished the victor’s authority over the conquered area. Other governments were not always so inclined. During the early 360s B.C. Thebes busied herself in the affairs of Macedon and, because of the brilliant leadership of Epaminondas and Pelopidas, dominated the foreign policy of that monarchy. By the terms of the treaties between Pelopidas and the kings Alexander II and Ptolemy, Thebes held as hostages some very distinguished Macedonians, among them Philip, the youngest son of Amyntas III (Plutarch Pelopidas 26.4; Diodorus 15.67.4; Justin 6.9.7; 7.5.1–3; Orosius 3.12.2; Aeschines On the Embassy 26; Plutarch Pelopidas 27.3). [63] After three years with Epaminondas in Thebes, the young prince fled to his own land (Diodorus 16.2.4; Orosius 3.12.2). There is no reason to suspect that Ptolemy or his successor Perdiccas connived at Philip’s escape, for the turmoil around the throne, already considerable, could only worsen with the appearance of another royal prince. [64] Certainly, the language of Diodorus implies that Philip himself bore the responsibility for his flight: διαδρὰς ἐκ τῆς ὁμηρείας, “having run away from hostageship.” The Theban authorities appear to have done nothing. [65]
Nor did Agathocles of Syracuse two generations later react to the defiance of the Bruttians. Agathocles had supported the Italian Greeks against the Bruttians, and his garrison in Italy had guarded the Bruttian hostages. [66] After his return to Syracuse, the Bruttians overwhelmed the garrison and recovered their hostages, freeing themselves of his domination (Diodorus 21.8). Although Agathocles remained tyrant of Syracuse until his death about five years later, the Sicilian {167|168} made no attempt to reassert his control over southern Italy or to avenge his defeat; perhaps there was little profit for Sicilians to fight on behalf of the security of ungrateful Italian Greeks.
Declaration of war or magisterial inertia were not, however, the only possible responses of recipient governments to the escape or abduction of hostages. In his struggles with Antigonus Doson of Macedon and the Achaean League, Cleomenes III of Sparta had surrendered his mother and his two sons to Ptolemy III Euergetes in return for aid; his hostage relatives in Egypt prevented him from making a separate peace with Antigonus (Plutarch Cleomenes 22.3,7). [67] That Cleomenes should flee to Alexandria after his defeat at Sellasia was under the circumstances predictable, despite Euergetes’ failure to deliver the necessary money for the soldiers’ pay, a circumstance which was partly to blame for the defeat. Indeed, Euergetes eventually might have used the Spartan in his schemes to thwart Macedonian expansion in Greece, but Euergetes died and Ptolemy IV Philopator succeeded. Under the lax and corrupt rule of this indolent king, Cleomenes’ energy and ambition were suspect, and the Spartan group became virtual prisoners in Alexandria. In frustration, Cleomenes decided to risk everything in an attempt to reach the Alexandrian harbor and the perils of a ship bound for Greece. He and the Spartans with him died fighting. His mother and sons were then slain; not even the women of her retinue were spared (Plutarch Cleomenes 32–38). Although Cleomenes’ relatives were of no immediate value to Egypt after his death, the murder of an old woman, two young boys, and a group of women appears to be a gratuitously brutal retaliation upon a dead man. [68] Moreover, it was wasteful and perhaps shortsighted, for if the sons of Cleomenes had been allowed to live to adulthood, they might, if {168|169} properly managed, have proved embarrassing to Macedon and/or the Spartan tyrants, giving Egypt a diplomatic weapon to employ in Greek affairs. [69] Nevertheless, the incident, distasteful as it is, serves as an important reminder that the complete slaughter of a group of hostages and their attendants was a possible consequence of disloyalty, even for the Hellenistic Greeks whom we praise as civilized and humane.
Rome was as capable of savage retribution as any Hellenistic nation. In 212 B.C., the Tarentine representative Phileas persuaded the hostages of Tarentum and Thurii to escape; although they managed to flee as far as Tarracina, the Romans apprehended them there and returned them to Rome, where they were scourged and flung from the Tarpeian Rock (Livy 25.7.11–14). Inasmuch as the outrage of their friends and relatives led directly to the defection of these cities to Hannibal (Livy 25.8.1–2; 15.7), their execution was obviously shortsighted and counterproductive. Nevertheless the hostages were guilty of violating the agreement between the Greek cities and Rome and retaliation was just, albeit severe. [70]
This incident typifies a response which is different from that in the Greek cases examined earlier, for the punishment of the hostages is purely the result of the hostages’ own action, and the Romans evidently did not intend to inflict vengeance upon their innocent fellow-townsmen. [71] For this reason and because the treachery of the hostages posed a serious threat to Roman security in Southern Italy, the brutal but legal execution of the Tarentines and Thurians appears less appalling than does the slaughter of the Spartans in Alexandria.
The historical validity of the servile uprisings of 198 B.C. {169|170} and of the possible involvement of Punic hostages has been considered in the previous chapter, [72] but it is well to repeat that the Roman magistrate acted quickly both to quash the immediate uproar and to prevent further trouble by restricting the hostages to a sort of house arrest. Thus even the rumor of a threat to Roman control over foreign hostages could bring about prompt and prohibitive restraints which must have precluded most attempts at escape or abduction; we can only hope that, after the danger had passed, the hostages were free to resume their earlier privileges.
The civil war after Caesar’s assassination in 44 B.C. provided the Judaean Malichus with an opportunity for revolt, but, since his son was a hostage in Tyre, [73] his first rebellious act was to try to steal away (ὑπεκκλέψαι) his son from hostageship. Unfortunately for Malichus, his rival Herod, who already had sufficient cause to hate him as the man responsible for the death of Herod’s father, learned of his plans and informed the authorities; military tribunes killed him (Josephus Jewish Antiquities 14.290–2).
A poorly documented incident of the third century B.C., the earliest attested attempt to escape from Roman authorities, is one of the two known partially successful escapes. In 269 B.C. a Samnite named Lollius ran off to his own country and became a brigand, gathering a number of followers and storing the proceeds with the Caraceni. A Roman expedition under Q. Gallus and C. Fabius recaptured Lollius without difficulty, but the campaign against the Caraceni was complicated by adverse weather conditions, although it too eventually succeeded (Zonaras 8.7). From this summary it is not clear whether Lollius was a simple highwayman or aspired to a more impressive—and {170|171} more interesting—status as the leader of a guerilla resistance movement. In either case Lollius’ escape and subsequent career were scarcely likely to win him any Roman sympathy, and we must conclude that he probably met with an unhappy demise soon after his recapture. [74] Nor is the authenticity of the entire episode beyond question; the major characters are all, surprisingly, named, and the content somewhat skimpy. Nevertheless, it is equally unconvincing to assume it false, for it lacks the colorful details of a good invention. [75] In the absence of conflicting evidence, it is perhaps best to accept the story as historical, with some reservation.
On the other hand, the successful escape of Demetrius, son of Seleucus IV Philopator, is very well attested (Polybius 31.2; 11–15.10; Diodorus 31.18; et al.). I have analyzed elsewhere the privileges which he appears to have enjoyed, [76] but it is convenient to reiterate here that his relatively unrestricted mobility within the general area of Rome was a major factor in the success of the venture. The mechanics of the escape itself—his seeming adherence to his usual routine, careful selection of associates, the wary negotiations for transport conducted through an agent, his announced intention of going hunting (which explained his absence in the following days), the calculated appeal to the unsuspecting party preventing his immediate departure—need not concern us, for these details are peculiar to this one escape, and they testify more to the rewards of planning and organization than they promote an understanding of responses to the escape of hostages. What is important for comprehension of the operating principles of hostageship is the official reaction of the Roman Senate. [77] Upon the realization that Demetrius could not be recalled or recaptured, the {171|172} Senate expressed its disapproval in a passive resentment which refused to acknowledge Demetrius as king of Syria, instead granting verbal recognition (i.e. license to revolt) to Timarchus, satrap of Babylon (Diodorus 31.27a). The Senate maintained its refusal until a commission headed by Ti. Gracchus (a son-in-law of the elder Scipio Africanus, and thus related to the Scipiones, Aemilii, and Fabii who formed the “liberal” circle with which Polybius was associated) forced its grudging acknowledgement of the de facto situation in Syria by recognizing Demetrius as the legitimate king. [78] But Rome remained hostile to the former hostage, and an embassy from the rebellious Hasmonaeans in Judaea, a traditional part of the Syrian kingdom, met with diplomatic success when it appeared before the Senate. [79] Moreover, the obvious Roman antagonism had caused Demetrius’ neighboring monarchs, Ariarthes V of Cappadocia and Attalus II of Pergamum, to dissociate themselves from Demetrius. Nor was Syria united in support of the ruling king; domestic unrest was as ominous as foreign dislike. In 153 B.C. Heracleides, brother of the dead pretender Timarchus, obtained Roman recognition of the right of Alexander Balas to the Syrian throne; Balas claimed to be a bastard son of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. [80] In 150 B.C. Balas, a puppet king whose claim was enforced by invading Pergamene and Cappadocian troops, received the backing of defecting Hasmonaeans, some of Demetrius’ own generals, and the rebellious citizens of Antioch. Demetrius fell in battle, the last competent Seleucid monarch. Many Roman senators must have smiled at the report of his death.
The legendary history of Rome furnishes two more episodes of escape and rescue, both successful, both about the “conquest” of Roman enemies, and neither of clear historical value. The story of Cloelia is of course the more famous; the numerous variants, however, have {172|173} obscured whatever element of historical value remain, if indeed any do, and these will be discussed elsewhere as a whole. [81] It is sufficient to remark here that the most emphatic features of the escape’s consequences are the return of the errant hostages and generous magnanimity of Porsenna. In no other of the examined incidents did the donor government so punctiliously return its hostages or the recipient government so graciously dismiss the insult to its sovereignty. The impeccable chivalry or, in the case of Rome, perhaps a dogged sense of legal obligation, is decidedly suspect. The second legendary episode is downright silly. As an explanation for the unusual aspects of the sacrifice on the Capratine Nones, Plutarch relates that the Latins demanded freeborn Roman women in return for peace after the Gallic sack had exhausted the city’s resources, but that, instead of freeborn women, slave women were appropriately dressed and delivered to the Latins only to be rescued by the Romans, who ambushed their Latin escort in the night. In this way, we are told, the Romans avoided giving hostages and also managed to escape any pretext for war by refusing the demand (Romulus 29.4; Camillus 33.2–7; cf. Moralia 313A; Macrobius Saturnalia 1.11. 35–40). Since the Latins still possessed superior military forces, had not received the tribute, and would have had to be utter nitwits not to wonder at the fortuitous death of the escort party, I cannot believe that the story is anything but a badly conceived and poorly contrived aetiology by a particularly unimaginative and stupid hack.
It should now be clear that there was no automatic, fixed response to the escape or abduction of hostages. If the donor government instigated their rebellion, the recipient government could {173|174} either claim this violation of a prior agreement as grounds for war or simply ignore it, depending on the recipient’s abilities and inclinations at that time. [82] Individuals who eluded recapture might evade all potentially bad consequences, as did Philip of Macedon, or suffer, like Demetrius of Syria, a series of humiliations and grievances directly attributable to the hostility of the government from which he had escaped. [83] Those who failed in an attempt to flee could expect no mercy except a swift death. The attitude of the Roman government was consistently harsh toward hostages violating their agreement, perhaps because Rome during this period could actively demonstrate her displeasure.


A donor state which no longer wished to observe the agreement made with the recipient state might yet feel constrained by the dire consequences which could befall their hostages. As we have just seen, a donor (or the hostages themselves) sometimes attempted to remove the hostages from the fate which threatened them. A more desperate method of attempting to regain hostages was the seizure of distinguished persons from the recipient state, in order to force an exchange. [84] There were three disadvantages to this scheme: 1) the recipient state would need to be willing to negotiate an exchange before the donor state could reap any benefit; 2) persons sufficiently important to make an even exchange feasible could not have been readily available for abduction by the donor state; 3) some dishonor accompanied a failure to abide by the customary observances of international law, which considered official representatives of a foreign government as endowed with diplomatic immunity. [85] Thus is it is clear why only four accounts of {174|175} this type of attempted exchange have survived; the stratagem, itself of dubious integrity, depended heavily for its success upon circumstances beyond the control of its devisors. [86]
The devious Athenian politician Themistocles plotted the first such known exchange in 479 B.C. An ambassador to Sparta, he had volunteered his person as a guarantee of Athenian obedience to Sparta’s wishes concerning the fortifications under construction. He had then suggested that a Spartan embassy visit Athens to confirm his report. According to his secret instructions, this Spartan embassy was detained in Athens, and it obtained its freedom only upon the Spartan release of Themistocles and his colleagues (Nepos Themistocles 7.2; Frontinus Stratagems 1.1.10). [87]
An anecdote of questionable reliability concerning Antigonus Monophthalmus relates an incident which concluded with equal success and a somewhat higher moral tone. [88] Antigonus had hired some Gallic mercenaries and had delivered some Macedonians to the Gauls as hostages for the payment of the stipulated fee. After the battle the Gauls demanded more money and threatened harm to the hostages unless their demand was met. Apparently yielding to this extortion, Antigonus agreed and asked the Gauls to send their most trusted men to receive the gold. But Antigonus, instead of giving these men the money, kept them and took back the Macedonian hostages before returning the Gauls whom he had detained and the original sum (Polyaenus 4.6.17). Certainly the Gallic treachery in demanding more gold and in threatening the Macedonian hostages disposes us to forgive Antigonus for his broken word, especially as he still paid the stipulated fee to untrustworthy Gauls who no longer held Macedonian hostages. {175|176}
Neither the Boii nor the Veneti could match these Greek successes, primarily because their Roman adversary did not negotiate on terms of equality with nations who had once acknowledged Rome’s superiority. Roman generals had defeated the Boii and other Gallic tribes in northern Italy in the decade before the Second Punic war and had evidently exacted hostages. When report of Hannibal’s planned invasion of Italy reached the Boii, they determined to seize Roman land commissioners in the area who were then to be exchanged for the hostages held by the Romans. [89] (Hannibal’s invasion, it was thought, would divert Roman attention elsewhere and prevent the use of Rome’s entire energy for vengeance upon this disgraceful act.) The commissioners were duly seized, the ruse of a conference luring the Romans into a Gallic trap. Upon Hannibal’s arrival, the Boii offered him these Roman captives, but the Punic general returned them so that the Boii might proceed with the exchange as planned (Polybius 3.40.7; 10; 67.6–7; Livy 21.21.7; Frontinus Stratagems 1.8.6). Hannibal’s generosity availed nothing. The Roman government did not exchange the hostages for the commissioners, and the Roman captives remained with the Boii until the end of the war (Livy 30.19.7–9). [90]
Caesar maintained a similar obstinacy concerning an exchange and moved much more promptly to punish the Gallic temerity in attacking Roman personnel. The Veneti in 56 B.C. arrested Roman officers who had come into their territory for supplies, intending to exchange them for hostages delivered earlier to the Romans, and other tribes soon followed the Venetian example. Understandably annoyed at this revolt against his authority, which had been established in the previous year, Caesar undertook a war for its immediate suppression; the most prominent Veneti were slain and the rest sold into slavery (Caesar Gallic War 3.8.2; 5; 10.2; 16.4; Dio 39.40.1; Orosius 6.8). [91] {176|177}
The Gallic failure to effect a trade of Romans for their own hostages illustrates in a small incident the Roman obduracy against an unfavorable conditional peace and the Roman attitude that individuals, regardless of their distinction, were more expendable than Rome’s reputation for sovereignty. Threats against important citizens of Sparta, or against Gallic nobles, could reverse a governmental stand among the Spartans or the Gauls, [92] and the inability of the Gauls to alter the balance of power by such threats must have surprised nations accustomed to the great influence held by individuals: it was only such influence which made feasible exchanges under these conditions.


What can be said of the apparent failures of the system of hostageship? There are numerous instances in which a state withdrew from or reneged on its agreement despite its prior delivery of hostages to another government. What could befall these hostages when their country defaulted? It is in this situation that the paradoxical nature of the entire system becomes most evident, for although hostages were individually guiltless, their lives were nevertheless forfeit. [93] Moreover, their deaths could not have prevented or stopped a revolt and indeed may have provoked resentment and an even more desperate resistance. [94] How, then, did ancient governments perceive and respond to this dilemma?
Of Greek responses little is reported. Three of the five incidents in which a donor government resisted after a surrender of hostages have been discussed elsewhere in this study: a) the release of the Rhegian hostages by Dionysius I of Syracuse (Diodorus 14.106.3; 108.1–3); [95] {177|178} b) Agathocles’ surprise attack upon Ophelas of Cyrene while that worthy was attempting to seduce Agathocles’ hostage son (Polyaenus 5.3.3); [96] and c) the Bruttian massacre of Agathocles’ garrison and recovery of the hostages held in Italy (Diodorus 21.8). [97] The “happy ending” for the hostages in these stories is also an element in a pseudohistorical episode of the legend of Theseus, which is similar in outline to the anecdote concerning Agathocles and Ophelas. Deucalion, son of Minos, demanded the return of Theseus’ kinsman Daedalus and threatened to kill the youths Minos had exacted unless Theseus agreed. Theseus soothed the Cretan until he had readied his fleet for a surprise attack, which in the event proved successful; Theseus recovered the youths under an agreement with Ariadne (Plutarch Theseus 19.5–7). The legend related by Plutarch makes explicit the threat of violence usually only implied.
One other historical reference, however, suggests that “happy endings” should by no means be held typical. Writing about defensive strategy during the second quarter of the fourth century B.C., Aeneas Tacticus advised that a city besieged by an enemy to whom it had given hostages send the parents and close relatives of the hostages away from the city altogether or at least minimize their role in the city’s defense, lest observation of the hostages’ deaths (τὰ ἐσχατα πάσχοντας) induce them to betray the city to the enemy (1.10.23–25). The inference that the hostages might well suffer execution in these circumstances is inescapable. [98]
The evidence for Roman practice is little better. Of the many historical revolts by donor states, [99] the plight of the hostages is acknowledged in only five instances, and their fate specified in {178|179} only three. In 189 B.C. the Cephallenian city of Same, after an initial capitulation and the surrender of some hostages to the Roman commander, determined to resist; the hostages were sent before the city’s walls to stir up the pity of the inhabitants, presumably to persuade thereby a second submission (Livy 38.28.9). [100] We cannot mistake the intended intimidation, especially if the sentence is taken in conjunction with the passage from Aeneas Tacticus. The language which describes another, much later, incident creates a similarly uneasy atmosphere in which there is no overt menace from the recipient government; in this instance, the recipient government instead shifts the blame for any harm done the hostages to the donor state. In A.D. 9 the Sugambri rebelled under the leadership of Melo, “betraying their hostages and their pledges” (προδιδόντες καὶ τὰ ὅμηρα καὶ τὰς πὶστεις, Strabo 7.1.4 C291). [101]
In both of these cases the implication of potential violence is the only clue to the hostages’ immediate future, but in the three remaining incidents their fate is known. In 152 B.C., the Nergobriges of Iberia attempted to open negotiations with the Roman commander Marcellus while another group of them attacked the Romans elsewhere. Despite the delivery of one hundred horsemen (undoubtedly the condition Marcellus had posed to guarantee a truce during the negotiations) and the explanation that the attack was a simple mistake, Marcellus sold the horses, imprisoned the men, and continued to treat the territory as hostile (Appian Wars in Spain 48). We may reasonably suppose that the attack constituted a valid excuse for the forfeiture of the hostages, who then probably assumed the status of prisoners of war. Three years later, the defiance of Rome by Carthage resulted in the honorable but {179|180} lifelong custody of the three hundred Punic hostages submitted before the Third Punic War (Zonaras 9.30), a clemency the more surprising in view of the utter ruthlessness with which the other citizens and the city itself were destroyed. [102]
Yet the vulnerability of hostages becomes frighteningly apparent in the conduct of Sertorius two generations later: in 73/72 B.C. the Roman punished the defection of his Iberian allies with the death and enslavement of some of the boys attending school at Osca, children of the Iberian nobility (Plutarch Sertorius 10.3; 25.4). The precarious position of Sertorius, an exile whose life depended upon continued victories over his countrymen, undoubtedly provoked this brutal and desperate attempt to regain ascendancy over his disenchanted Iberian friends, and it is likely that Plutarch’s source for Sertorius’ biography was somewhat biased against the Marian general. Plutarch himself, however, seem, to have subscribed to a negative assessment of the Roman’s character, for he asserted that Sertorius’ harsh treatment of these youths indicated an assumed mildness of disposition (10.39) and was in fact an injustice (25.4). Plutarch’s attitude argues an age in which the execution of hostages in response to their country’s default was completely foreign, an attitude whose roots may be found in Livy (28.34.7–10) and perhaps even earlier. [103]
Thus the question of the Roman response to defection in regard to hostages, already severely hampered by the lack of documentation, is further complicated by the extremes to which the few cases attest. Although it is tempting to excuse or discount Sertorius’ brutality as atypical, a legend attached to the early years of the Republic suggests that hostages truly represented their government and were accordingly {180|181} punished if a treaty was violated. [104] In the course of the wars between Rome and her neighbors, Rome compelled the towns of Cora and Pometia to deliver hostages. When these towns revolted, the Romans not only killed the captives but even the hostages (Livy 2.16.9; cf. Dionysius of Halicarnassus 6.25.1–3; 30.1). Despite the problems of dating this episode and the “literary regeneration” of the towns (in Livy 2.22.2), [105] it is difficult to dismiss the strong possibility that the legendary execution reflects a genuine early Roman response to the revolt of an inferior “allied” power; the justification which Dionysius attributed to Appius Claudius (6.30.1), that the deaths would be an exemplary lesson to others who gave Rome hostages, is perhaps a rhetorical flourish which nevertheless expressed a valid political point.
Comparative material from other cultures is widely scattered, with few examples from any single ethnic group. The historically unreliable Polyaenus, in an anecdote concerning the Bosporan kingdoms of the fifth century B.C., tell the involved story of Tirgatao, a princess of the Maotian Ixomatae, who was attacked by her former husband Hecataeus and Hecataeus’ new father-in-law, Satyrus. After Hecataeus and Satyrus sued for peace, Tirgatao accepted Satyrus’ son as a hostage for the sworn agreement; when Satyrus’ later plot against her was discovered, she executed the hostage and again waged war on her persecutors (8.55.1). One’s sympathy is entirely with the lady. Yet this “historical romance” is the only explicit testimony known to me that in other societies hostages might be killed as a punishment for a treaty violation. [106] The Persian attitude is unknown despite the treacherous behavior of Asiatic Greeks at the Battle of Mycale in 479 B.C. (Diodorus 11.36.6). We are equally ignorant of the Samnite reaction {181|182} either to the alleged Roman repudiation of the sponsio after the disaster at the Caudine Forks [107] or to the Lucanian defection to the Romans in 298 B.C. (Livy 8.27.10; 10.11.13; Dionysius of Halicarnassus 17.1; Warmington ROL 4:2). [108] The attitude attributed to Carthaginians in the years immediately before and after the beginning of the Hannibalic War varies from the account of the ridiculous and highly implausible restoration of hostages in recognition of the manly courage of Salmatis’ women (Plutarch Moralia 248E–249B; Polyaenus 7.48.1) [109] to ignorance of what Hannibal did with the hostages of the Alpine tribe which treacherously attacked him in 218 B.C. (Polybius 3.52.5; Livy 21.34.3–4) to the probably realistic fear of the Iberians in 217 B.C. that, if they supported the Romans, their hostage children would die as punishment for their disloyalty (Livy 22.22.5). The Gauls who served as Antigonus’ mercenaries and then tried to extort a higher fee than previously stipulated (Polyaenus 4.6.17) may have overtly threatened the hostages in their power, as Ariovistus did in 58B.C. (Caesar Gallic War 1.31.12 & 15), but nothing indicates that they actually implemented torture or murder. [110]
It would appear from these admittedly few cases that the Romans did not automatically pursue a prescribed course of action when a donor state defaulted upon an agreement. Although we might have expected that forfeited hostages were regularly executed—was not death the ultimate implicit threat which was to constrain the donor?—, [111] imprisonment was perhaps a more merciful and more expedient punishment. Despite the legal right to execute forfeited hostages, the wisdom of doing so is debatable; the resentment produced by this reaction, unleashed by the inability to harm the hostages any further, could conceivably {182|183} counterbalance the deterrent value which common knowledge that the deaths of hostages inevitably followed rebellion might have. Imprisonment lacked the long-range deterrent value of execution, but it did demonstrate that the recipient government was serious, while maintaining the lives of the hostages as a bargaining point in future negotiations. Nor should we underestimate the Roman capacity for mercy. At least by the time of the early Principate, the idea of exacting vengeance for revolt upon hostages themselves guiltless was distasteful, as the speech which Livy wrote for Scipio indicates: neque se in obsides innoxios, sed in ipsos, se defecerint, saeviturum (Livy 28.34.10). [112] Nevertheless, the large number of incidents for which the fate of the hostages is not known and the possibility of execution which was always present, despite the seeming inclination toward mercy in some of the attested cases, must make us wary of drawing any firm conclusions about Roman policy toward forfeited hostages.

Intervention of a Third Party

A hostage’s fate might be determined in yet another manner: action independent of both his own government’s wishes and those of the recipient state. The intervention of a third party occasionally altered the situation between hostage and keeper. [113] The one Greek example cannot of course be assumed as altogether typical, [114] and the singularity of the episode makes any comparison with the Roman cases merely intriguing. Nevertheless, this unique Greek example forms a useful point of departure, for it is the earliest case under consideration. After his seizure of Ephesus in 302 B.C., Lysimachus’ general Prepelaüs restored the Rhodian hostages whom Demetrius Poliorcetes had exacted two years earlier (Diodorus 20.107.4). His successful invasion {183|184} of Demetrius’ territory permitted Prepelaüs (and his master Lysimachus) to control the destiny of these hostages, and the single act of their release simultaneously robbed Demetrius of their use and presumably earned Prepelaüs the gratitude of the individual hostages and, as leaders, their state. [115] It may be worth noting that Diodorus does not seem surprised by the return of the hostages to Rhodes, and that therefore this is probably standard Hellenistic practice. This pattern of events—physical possession of the hostages followed by restoration—is the most frequently repeated, with only slight variations. [116]
The earliest Roman incidents clearly demonstrate this pattern. [117] The historical validity of the first episode, the return of the Iberian hostages held at Saguntum which the wily Abilyx engineered (Polybius 3.98–99; Livy 22.22.4–18; Zonaras 9.1), has been examined elsewhere, [118] but it is important to reiterate in the context of third-party interference the significant difference between the free release of hostages which the elder Scipios granted in 217 B.C. and the conditional restoration which Scipio demanded on his capture of Cartagena in 209 B.C., the supposed original for the Abilyx variant. Africanus’ release of the hostages from Cartagena occurred only after the Iberian tribes to which the hostages belonged had renounced their Punic allegiance and agreed to support the Romans. The conditional release marks an obvious deviation from the conduct of Prepelaüs and the elder Scipios, a condition which, despite its equally obvious practicality, did not become a standard feature of such restorations. [119]
In the next generation, the Third Macedonian War provided another opportunity for Roman intervention. When the war with Perseus {184|185} of Macedon ended, L. Aemilius Paulus dispatched Bithys, son of the Thracian king Cotys, to Italy; the Thracian prince had been detained in Macedon as a hostage for Cotys’ aid to Perseus, and Paulus had captured him together with Perseus’ children. Thracian envoys to Rome requested permission to ransom the prince and the other Thracian hostages with him. Although the envoys tried to excuse Cotys’ aid to Perseus because he had been compelled to give hostages, the Senate replied that the delivery of hostages was in itself an accusation, not a defense, of Cotys’ anti-Roman actions. The Senate did, however, order that three ambassadors escort Bithys and the other Thracians back to Cotys, without ransom (Polybius 30.18.1–4; Livy 45.42.5–12; Zonaras 9.24). The decision to release the captured hostages, we are told, originated not in the genuine magnanimous generosity of the Roman Senate, but in the expediency which recognized that the Roman “gift,” which cost Rome nothing, bound Cotys by the favor which the accompanying admonishment emphasized (Polybius 30.17.4); moreover, the Thracians formed a protective barrier for the Greek coastal cities from the tribes further inland, and an inclination toward the Romans was potentially valuable. [120]
But the physical capture of hostages was not the only means by which a third party could arrange their release. Diplomatic arbitration might also effect restoration. [121] In 184 B.C., a Roman embassy headed by Ap. Claudius traveled through Crete to settle disputes; among other issues the Romans decided that Cydon would receive back from Charmion’s control her hostages and should depart from Phalasarna without removing anything (Polybius 22.15.5–6). [122] Although the Cretans were willing to accept Roman arbitration, it is not completely certain that Rome’s arbitration was in this instance final. Whether there was an actual disagreement between the two Cretan parties is unknown, and {185|186} one can state with confidence only that the Roman ambassadors of 184 B.C. chose to dissolve whatever contract existed between Cydon and Phalasarna. [123]
The campaigns against Mithridates furnish two more examples of the Roman desire to negate agreements made between other nations. The Chians had delivered to Zenobius, Mithridates’ general, their arms, hostages and a tribute of 2,000 talents after their defeat in 86 B.C. Zenobius, however, claimed that the weight of the tribute was short and used this pretext to send the Chian citizenry to Pontus (Appian Mithridatic Wars 46–47). The release of the Chians and all the other unfortunates whom Mithridates had had dragged off to Pontus became part of the negotiated settlement of the First Mithridatic War (Appian Mithridatic Wars 55;58), and the surviving Chians eventually returned home. [124] Similarly, after Mithridates’ death, his son Pharnaces sent his body, the persons responsible for Manius’ capture, and all hostages, Greek and barbarian, to the Roman general Pompey (Appian Mithridatic Wars 113); this was the price of Pompey’s recognition of Pharnaces’ claim to Pontus. [125] Of these hostages, those from Antioch were certainly restored (Eutropius 6.14.2), and in all probability the others were as well.
Roman interference was not, however, always or immediately successful. In 91 B.C., a Roman magistrate learned that a hostage for the Italian social alliance was being transported from Asculum to another allied city; he dared to threaten the already seditious community unless the hostage was released. His injudicious and arrogant demand prompted his murder and the slaughter of all the Romans in Asculum (Appian Civil Wars 1.38). This violent incident ignited the battles of the Social War. {186|187}
Caesar’s request for the return of Aeduan hostages from the Sequani and their allies, the Germans, met with a similar initial rejection, but in this case Roman military power proved successful where diplomacy had failed. In 61 B.C., the Sequani and mercenary German troops under Ariovistus had resoundingly defeated the Aedui, the longstanding rivals of the Sequani, at Admagetobriga. The subsequent embassy of the Aeduan Diviciacus, who sought Roman aid against the Sequani-German coalition, was ineffectual, and Caesar himself as consul in 59 B.C. had procured some recognition for the authority of the German Ariovistus. It must therefore have come as a surprise to the German chief when in 58 B.C. Caesar demanded that he release the Aeduan hostages and authorize the Sequani to do likewise (Caesar Gallic War 1.35.3). Caesar’s insistence on their return and Ariovistus’ adamant refusal are a significant part of Caesar’ s account of the preliminaries to the Germanic campaign; the issue arises in no fewer than seven chapters in the first book (31.7–15; 33.2; 35.3; 36.5; 37.2; 43.9; 44.2) and is recollected twice elsewhere (6.12.4, 6; 7.54.3). The legality of Caesar’s position has already been discussed, [126] and it is sufficient to remark here that Caesar’s demand required troops for its enforcement and that ultimately the hostages appear to have been restored unconditionally (6.12.6; 7.54.3). [127] Caesar also returned the hostages of the Eburones who had been held by the Aduatuci (Caesar Gallic War 5.27.2) and it is likely that this was his standard practice.
Two episodes in which Rome did not figure as the third, non-contracting government merit brief examination, for each presents a quite different attitude on the part of the third nation. Early in the Social War, the allies under Papius seized Venusia, where Oxynta, son of the {187|188} Numidian king Jugurtha, was being detained in Roman custody. [128] The allies displayed him, dressed in royal garb and hailed as king of Numidia, to the Numidian cavalry that was then under Roman command, hoping to instigate their defection or at least to undermine Roman confidence in the Numidian auxiliaries (Appian Civil Wars 1.42). Beyond the immediate success of this stratagem, nothing further of the prince or of allied intentions toward Numidia is known. [129] It is unlikely that Oxynta enjoyed much freedom in the exercise of authority, despite his title, and the Roman policy, which eroded the allied unity in resistance, prevented any compromise of the Roman position in Africa, if indeed there was ever any intention to reward Oxynta by supporting his claim to Numidia. [130]
The second incident is more informative, but authorial bias may have significantly corrupted its value as evidence of Gallic practice. The Aedui, on behalf of whose hostages Caesar had based his justification of the Germanic campaign, were staunch allies of the Romans until the revolt of Vercingetorix. As such, they, together with a Roman garrison, had been entrusted with the Gallic hostages and war materials collected at Noviodunum, a town on the Loire within their territory (Caesar Gallic War 6.4.4; 7.55.1–3). When in 52 B.C. the auxiliary Aeduan cavalry, whom Caesar had dismissed in order that they might prevent sedition, heard that the Aeduan government sanctioned revolt, they seized the town, massacred the garrison and the resident traders, and escorted the captured hostages to their own magistrate at Bibracte (Caesar Civil War 7.55.4–6). The subsequent intimidation, by threats to the hostages of such tribes as were hesitant to join the revolt (horom [sc. obsidum] supplicio dubitantis territant, Caesar Civil War 7.63.3) seems {188|189} the act of brutal savages, an impression that Caesar no doubt planned to convey. Caesar has deliberately colored the episode. The possibility of injury is, after all, inherent in the very concept of a hostage, regardless of which nation, Roman or Aeduan, held them. [131] Stripped of its prejudicial tone, the incident bears a close, although not exact, resemblance to Scipio’s conditional release of Iberian hostages captured at Cartagena; the difference between Scipio’s “gallantry” and Aeduan “brutality” may lie primarily in one’s point of view. [132]
Although we cannot compare Roman practice to that of any other culture with any accuracy, the events summarized above reflect a consistently liberal attitude toward captive hostages, an attitude which usually permitted the free or conditional release of such persons. [133] Several attested incidents indicate that even when no state of war existed between Rome and another government which was detaining hostages, Roman magistrates attempted to pressure the recipient nation into their return. The consistency of this policy is perfectly understandable, for by restoring hostages to their native country, Rome often gained the gratitude of that state and also weakened the dominant recipient state. In this somewhat limited context clemency was expedient. Such a policy thus serves as a method for maintaining a balance of power among other states, and it could also function as an important tool in “imperialistic” expansion.
In this chapter I hope that I have made clear the six basic categories into which terminations of hostageship fall. The variety of the situations which led to release or alteration of status are perhaps {189|190} predictable, since political circumstances are by their nature variable and give rise to varying methods of handling change. What is remarkable is the range of response within each of these categories. Viewed schematically, each action which effected a change in a hostage’s position could have prompted a reaction which affected the hostage positively (i.e., release or an improvement in the conditions of detention), negatively (i.e., death or a decline in the conditions of detention), or ambiguously (i.e., either no real difference in treatment, although the hostage was technically forfeit, or a mixed response such as the release of the hostage coupled with a declaration of war); excepting request and restoration, [134] the four other categories all contain examples of each of these types of response.
Despite the wide disparity of reaction to similar circumstances, we can infer some general principles about the way in which the Romans viewed the proper conclusions of hostageship. For aggressive (and illegal) action by the donor government, such as seizure and revolt, the Romans punished the offending state and often the hostages as well; [135] for those who failed in an attempt to escape or to abduct hostages from Roman control, death was the usual penalty. In the only successful escape, that of the Seleucid prince Demetrius, when physical chastisement was impossible, a crippling diplomatic blow was substituted. Restoration occurred as a reward for services rendered (e.g., the support of Philip V against Antiochus III of Syria); [136] those who were “guests” of the Roman state (like Vonones, son of Phraates IV) or who were technically prisoners of war (like the Iberians captured by Scipio at Cartagena) could receive their release in return for their anticipated gratitude in the concrete form of alliances favoring Rome {190|191} and governmental partiality to Roman interests.
Although the guiding Roman principle can be simply and briefly summarized as perceived self-interest, the flexibility of the policies which achieved that self-interest must excite our admiration. The Romans appear to have examined each case carefully before resolving on a course of action specifically tailored for the situation; similar acts did not inevitably end in similar consequences. [137] This appreciation of differences in detail is perhaps the more surprising in a people frequently criticized for their lack of sophistication in political theory and for lack of imagination.


[ back ] 1. The practice of mutatio obsidum (see above, pp. 67–72) was a temporary measure which relieved individuals of the obligation of serving as hostages; by “a permanent end to detention” I mean actions which absolved the donor state of the obligation or altered the status of hostages under detention.
[ back ] 2. See above, pp. 59–67.
[ back ] 3. There arc a number of problems with this story. The reign of Alexander II is remarkable for its brevity, as he was assassinated about a year after he had gained the throne. Justin’s description of the first hostageship of Philip in the prima initia of his rule and then of the hostageships to Thebes interiecto tempore is, therefore, implausible. Possibly Justin confused Alexander with Amyntas, who was deposed by the Illyrians in the early part of his reign (ca. 393 B.C.) and later was reinstated around the time of Philip’s birth (ca. 383 B.C.). The story has been further complicated by the well-documented hostageship of Philip at Thebes from 369 to 365 B.C., which a late source (Diodorus 16.2.2) attached to the earlier episode with the Illyrians. There is little reason to believe that the Illyrians kept a Macedonian hostage in Boeotian Thebes; even if the Macedonians and Illyrians were negotiating on approximately equal terms, and they therefore chose a neutral third party to detain the hostage (see above, pp. 102–104), it is difficult to understand why Thebes would have been so selected. The note on Diodorus 16.2.2 in the Loeb translation (Charles L. Sherwin, Diodorus Siculus, vol. 7 [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952J, p. 236), which states that Alexander ransomed Philip from the Illyrians, seems to be an erroneous translation of Justin 7.5.1.
[ back ] 4. The decision to support Balas was hardly surprising, since Demetrius was a competent monarch who had suppressed the earlier uprising and had himself been responsible for the earlier exaction of hostages. Despite the bitter hatred felt for Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Balas’ alleged father, the Jews felt that Balas, a political cipher, was preferable to the energetic Demetrius.
[ back ] 5. See below, pp. 177–183.
[ back ] 6. Zonaras (9.19), Plutarch (Flaminius 14.2), and De Viris Illustribus (51) attest his release but not the cause.
[ back ] 7. According to Edson (“Perseus and Demetrius,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 46 [1935]: 191–192): Demetrius was born around 208 B.C., which would make him eleven in 197 B.C.: Kaerst (RE 4 (1901): 2794–2795, s.v. “Demetrius,” no. 37) has him two years younger.
[ back ] 8. For a discussion of the apparent policy of exacting second sons as hostages, see below, pp. 276–282.
[ back ] 9. This story is uncritically accepted by Kaerst (RE 4 (1901):2794–2795, s.v. “Demetrius,” no. 37).
[ back ] 10. Benecke, CAH 8:254, denied by Walbank (Polybius 3:229); for the alternative methods of the murder, cf. Walbank, Philip, pp. 252, 334–335.
[ back ] 11. Sand, Client Princes, p. 124; de Sanctis, Storia dei Romani 4.1:245–247; Walbank, Philip, p. 241; Edson, “Perseus and Demetrius,” p. 193.
[ back ] 12. Edson, “Perseus and Demetrius,” p. 201. Note the frequently cited story of the following generation concerning the circle which Popillius Laenas drew around the Roman ally Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Polybius 29.26–27 et al.), the brutal treatment accorded Eumenes after the victory at Pydna, and the steadfast and repeated refusal of the Senate to heed either Carthage or Philip when disputes arose between them and their neighbors.
[ back ] 13. Edson (“Perseus and Demetrius,” pp. 199–200) first raised this telling point, as Walbank (Philip, p. 251) acknowledged.
[ back ] 14. The suggestion of Walbank (Philip, p. 251).
[ back ] 15. Edson, “Perseus and Demetrius,” p. 200.
[ back ] 16. Badian, Foreign Clientelae, p. 94; Aymard, “Les otages barbares,” p. 141.
[ back ] 17. De Sanctis, Storia dei Romani 3.2:605n15; Hatto Schmitt, Staatsverträge 3:306; Wilhelm Hoffman, “Die römische Politik des 2. Jahrhunderts und das Ende Karthagos,” Historia 9 (1960):335; cf. Täubler, Imperium Romanum, p. 39, for the hypothesis that hostages guaranteed the indemnity payments, discussed above, pp. 7 and 22n13.
[ back ] 18. “Les otages carthaginois,” pp. 442–443 and 449–450.
[ back ] 19. I have used the emendation proposed by Zingerle and accepted by Weissenborn for filling the lacuna.
[ back ] 20. For a discussion of mutatio obsidum, see above, pp. 67–72.
[ back ] 21. The argument concerning Tarentine hostages from the treaty of 272 B.C. is far more circumstantial. No primary source states that hostages were exacted by this treaty (pace Scullard, A History of the Roman World from 753 to 146 B.C. [London: Methuen, 1951], p. 125). De Sanctis (Storia dei Romani 2:398) cited Livy 25.7 and Polybius 8.26 as proof, but these passages document only that Rome held Tarentine and Thurian hostages during the Hannibalic War; the inclusion of Thurii, which had supported Rome throughout the Pyrrhic War, implies that the treaty of 272 B.C. may not have been the contract for the exaction (Tenney Frank, CAH 7:641–643; Schmitt, Staatsverträge 3:128). Cf. the submission of Arretine hostages in 208 B.C. (Livy 27.24.1) and A.H. McDonald, “Rome and the Italian Confederation,” 13.
[ back ] 22. For a discussion of the motivation for the release, see above, pp. 60–61.
[ back ] 23. For this condition within the agreement itself, see above, pp. 60–66.
[ back ] 24. Cf. Antigonus’ protection of Eumenes when the two were mobbed by Antigonus’ soldiers (Plutarch Eumenes 10.2–3) and Caesar’s conference with Afranius and Petreius in 49 B.C. (Caesar Civil War 1.84.2); Antigonus’ nephew Ptolemaios and Afranius’ son were almost certainly permitted to depart without incident. Cf. Livy 10.10.3: 28.35.4; and Appian Hannibal 47. The “deserter” who offered himself as a guide to Aristodemus and then misled him probably paid for his betrayal, if Aristodemus suspected him before his own death (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 7.11.4). The hostages delivered to Metellus by Jugurtha in 108 B. C. (Dio 26.89; Orosius 5.15.7) seem likely to have been detained, as were the Carthaginian hostages for the abortive surrender of 149 B.C. (Zonaras 9.30).
[ back ] 25. Schulten (Sertorius, p. 136) is probably correct in assuming that Perpenna released all the hostages still in Roman custody.
[ back ] 26. For the release of other extralegal hostages, as in the case of allies serving with the Roman army (e.g., the Campanian nobles in 216/215 B.C. [Livy 23.31.10], see above, p. 23n23). The circumstances were very different, and it is not surprising that the cases were handled differently.
[ back ] 27. See above, pp. 101–102.
[ back ] 28. For restoration as part of the original peace treaty, see above, pp. 60–67.
[ back ] 29. For restoration as part of the original peace treaty, see above, pp. 60-67.
[ back ] 30. For a discussion of Tigranes’ early career, see W.W. Tarn, CAH 9:603.
[ back ] 31. Unfortunately, little is known about Parthian policies of this period. Of course, we must also realize that Tigranes was a tough and competent ruler, while Demetrius was culpably stupid.
[ back ] 32. See Appendix IIA, below.
[ back ] 33. Altruistic motives like generosity and respect are rarely attested and infrequently to be inferred in historical examples, with the possible (although not probable) exception of the anecdote about Dionysius I of Syracuse and the Rhegians in 388 B.C. (Diodorus 14.108.1–3); see above, pp. 145–146.
[ back ] 34. Special circumstances, such as the death of the contracting donor, may also have obtained the hostages’, release. So argued Demetrius of Syria (Polybius 31.2.2), and Phillipson (International Law and Custom 1:404) has accepted and generalized the principle. It is possible that the death of the recipient might also have nullified the agreement; cf. the last request of Niall to release the hostages held by him at his burial monument (Stokes, “Rennes Dindṡenchas,” p. 296). The younger Aratus, however, remained at the court of Macedon after the death of Antigonus Doson (Plutarch Aratus 54.1).
[ back ] 35. For the role of cultural assimilation as a purpose in exacting hostages, see below, pp. 207–209.
[ back ] 36. For the usual good care of hostages, see above, pp. 107–132.
[ back ] 37. It is interesting to observe that the Germans forbade even the request for the hostages’ return (Caesar Gallic War 1.31.7–9); the reason for an elaborate oath to this effect, when a firm refusal by the Germans would have appeared to answer any request just as well, escapes me.
[ back ] 38. There may be a second example. Adcock and Mosley (Diplomacy, p. 196) translate the hostage clause of the Athenian decree of 446/445 B.C. concerning Chalcis (Staatsverträge, no. 155) as presupposing a Chalcidian request for the hostages’ release. This is a perfectly reasonable assumption, but I cannot discount the equally reasonable possibility that the request may have referred to something other than the release of the hostages, perhaps the place or circumstances of their detention.
[ back ] 39. Curiously, Polybius records the request but not the original exaction; Livy mentions the exaction but not the request (Livy 34.40.3). Of course, the mutilation of the Polybian text may explain this very minor point. The reference to Armenas makes the identification of the requested hostages with those surrendered in 195 B.C. almost certain.
[ back ] 40. The retention of Armenas is very interesting, for his father Nabis had predeceased him and so Armenas could not have been used to manipulate the Spartan ruler any longer. The Roman government may have feared that Armenas would attempt to succeed to his father’s position or otherwise disturb the settlement of Peloponnesian problems, if he were liberated. Cf. above, p. 116. Whatever motivated the Roman decision to exclude Armenas from the general release, the incident demonstrates that the senators applied at least two different policies to this single group of hostages.
[ back ] 41. For the common association of tribute and hostages, see above, p. 193n17. No one, to my knowledge, has considered the legal status of this treaty after the death of Nabis. I do not know the extent to which the Spartan state could be held responsible for agreements negotiated by the tyrant.
[ back ] 42. Philip, p. 208; the restoration of these hostages would have strengthened the party opposing the return of those exiled by Nabis (Polybius 3:88–89).
[ back ] 43. Storia dei Romani 4.1:223. In rebuttal, however, one may ask if the Senate was in truth eager for immediate obedience on this issue. The accounts in Polybius and Livy (36.35) do not show a strong senatorial interest in the matter.
[ back ] 44. If I may speculate briefly on the subject of the Senate’s clemency, two possibilities occur to me. There might have been a clause in the formal treaty which limited the hostages’ service to four years or to the full period of indebtedness which was shortened by early payment in full; cf. the willingness of Carthage to pay fifty years’ worth of indemnity within the first decade. Although these explanations do not seem altogether satisfactory, nevertheless it is well to recollect that we do not know all the circumstances about this or any other incident. A more plausible hypothesis is suggested by the coupling of the restoration of the Lacedaemonian and Macedonian hostages in Polybius’ narrative (Polybius 21.31–34). The Senate chose to reward Philip V with the release of the hostages exacted in 197/196 B.C. and the remission of the tribute which he had not yet paid, in recognition of his valuable assistance against Antiochus III of Syria. Might not Sparta have been advised by the Scipios to request the return of their hostages as repayment for some unrecorded service to the Romans?
[ back ] 45. For a complete discussion of Demetrius’ claim and his subsequent career, see below, pp. 171–172.
[ back ] 46. See above, pp. 127–128.
[ back ] 47. For a discussion of intervention by a third party, see below, pp. 183–189.
[ back ] 48. Artavasdes, the successor of Tigranes, may also have been a hostage. Anderson, CAH 10:273.
[ back ] 49. Anderson (CAH 10:261) identifies this youngest son as Phraates, the youngest of the four legitimate sons sent to Augustus in 10/9 B.C.
[ back ] 50. Dio’s curious phrase puzzles me. It is difficult to see how even the most rabid supporter of Augustus could have imagined that Augustus’ detention of Phraates’ son was a favor to anyone except Augustus. The only explanation that comes to mind is that Augustus’ custody might have been preferable to that of Tiridates, but if this is what Dio meant, it is obscurely expressed.
[ back ] 51. Rawlinson (Parthia, pp. 208–209) prefers the version of Dio, because it “seems impossible that the circumstantial account of Dio (51.18) can be a mere fiction.” Hanslik (RE 6A [1937]:1439–1440, s.v. “Tiridates,” no. 4) appears to favor the date 27/26 B.C. but finds the connection with Spain difficult. Anderson (CAH 10:261) in the main supports Justin’s narrative.
[ back ] 52. On the surrender of hostages as a tacit confession of inferiority, see above, pp. 4–6.
[ back ] 53. If Caesar had sufficient strength to have successfully sought Phraates’ son as a hostage in 30 B.C., I wonder that he did not then demand the prisoners of war and the military standards which were his object in 23 B.C. Would Phraates’ son have been more valuable in 23 B. C. than he had been seven years earlier?
[ back ] 54. See above, pp. 127–128.
[ back ] 55. Anderson, CAH 10:265.
[ back ] 56. The career of Vonones is for the most part irrelevant to this study, but the attitude toward the Romanized monarch attributed to the Parthians by the classical sources is of considerable interest. See above, p. 14.
[ back ] 57. These embassies, which are outside the temporal limits of this survey, indicate that the experience of Vonones was by no means unusual.
[ back ] 58. With the possible exception of the Parthian princes, there may well have been an informal and/or secret agreement between Phraates IV and Augustus, of which we know nothing.
[ back ] 59. For the distinction between legal and extralegal hostages, see above, pp. 1–11.
[ back ] 60. This fact speaks well for the judgment of whoever selected these hostages; for the process of selection, see above, pp. 52–58.
[ back ] 61. For an analysis of the efficacy of the hostage system, see below, pp. 205–207.
[ back ] 62. It is possible that the Athenians sought hostages from the pro-Athenian ruling class and that therefore there would be little point in punishing the first group. It is equally possible that anti-Athenian leaders supplied the hostages, a hypothesis supported by the Samian eagerness to recover them before rebelling. Punishment of these hostages would have hurt those most guilty of revolt. For a discussion of party affiliations, see above, pp. 48–52.
[ back ] 63. For the confusion of Philip’s two or three hostageships in the primary sources and a suggested resolution, see above, p. 192n3.
[ back ] 64. The assassination of Alexander II fomented a continuing dynastic feud; the usurper Ptolemy faced the legitimate heir Perdiccas and other pretenders who seized the opportunity afforded by the chaotic domestic situation.
[ back ] 65. It would be interesting to know if Philip alone fled or if all of the Macedonian hostages in Thebes also departed; the others have vanished from historical record, but it is possible that, unknown to us, the Thebans avenged themselves on the remaining hostages in Theban control for Philips’ flight.
[ back ] 66. Were the Bruttian hostages held in Italy by Agathocles’ titular allies? See above, p. 99.
[ back ] 67. Aymard, (“Les otages barbares,” p. 138) discusses this incident and a possible precedent for it.
[ back ] 68. Of course it is possible that, like the Volscian hostages of 495 B.C. (Dionysius of Halicarnassus 6.30.1), the execution of the Spartans was intended as a deterrent for those who gave hostages in the future, but Plutarch seems to ignore this possibility and dwells instead upon the pathetic dignity of Cratesicleia and the children.
[ back ] 69. Even if Ptolemy feared that the youths would try to avenge their father’s murder and thus could not be safely released, the mere threat of their release might have proved an effective diplomatic weapon in Greek affairs.
[ back ] 70. Kahrstedt, Geschichte 3:172–173, Westington, Atrocities, pp. 32,122. The Romans do not seem to have thought of executing only some of the hostages, thus maintaining some control over Tarentum and Thurii but also demonstrating very clearly the folly of escape. Perhaps because all were equally guilty, all ought–according to Roman notions of justice–to have been punished equally. Note, however, the death of some Iberian boys and the enslavement of others by Sertorius (Plutarch Sertorius 25.4); we do not know whether boys from each tribe were killed or enslaved, or whether some were killed, some enslaved, and some kept. After Sertorius’ death, Perpenna restored Iberian hostages (Appian Civil War 1.114), so there were survivors.
[ back ] 71. At any rate, there are no attested Greek examples of this type known to me.
[ back ] 72. See above, pp. 112–116.
[ back ] 73. Pompey had annexed Judaea and placed it under the administration of the governor of Syria.
[ back ] 74. Both brigandage and escape were undoubtedly capital charges; there is little to choose between them.
[ back ] 75. The lack of colorful detail may be due to the summarizing of Zonaras or to the meager abilities of the storyteller.
[ back ] 76. See above, pp. 119–122.
[ back ] 77. Polybius’ candor and obvious pride in his role as Demetrius’ advisor has suggested to modern scholars that the liberal minority of senators with whom Polybius was especially associated connived at Demetrius’ illicit departure. Cf. Badian, Foreign Clientelae, p. 108, and Bevan, CAH 8: 518.
[ back ] 78. Walbank (Polybius 3:478) notes that Gracchus had annulled Scipio Nasica’s election to the consulship and that Polybius despised Gracchus, although he docs not deny explicitly any connection between Gracchus and a pro-Demetrius senatorial party. Further, he describes recognition of Demetrius at Rome as dubious (Polybius 3:517). The point is, for our purposes in this study, academic. Sands (Client Princes, p. 59) acutely commented on the distinction made by the Senate between Demetrius’ inheritance of royal properties, which the Senate recognized, and the inheritance of the authority to govern (imperium), which Roman law held could not be inherited. Certainly the legalistic distinction was the Senate’s justification to withhold its approval of Demetrius’ claim, and Demetrius’ failure to obtain Roman acknowledgement of his right to imperium jeopardized his possession of the private royal inheritance.
[ back ] 79. Other groups may also have received tacit permission from Rome to try rebellion; cf. Badian, Foreign Clientelae, p. 108.
[ back ] 80. Yet Demetrius had been unable to gain Roman recognition of his right to succeed his father ten years earlier.
[ back ] 81. See below, pp. 263–274.
[ back ] 82. Phillipson (International Law and Custom 1:406) rightly remarked on the division of governmental and private actions.
[ back ] 83. The anomalies in the Cloelia legend do not fit into this simple pattern.
[ back ] 84. We must not confuse forcible seizure for the purpose of compelling an exchange either with mutatio obsidum (see above, pp. 67–72), the peaceful and mutually agreeable substitution of one hostage for another, or with the offer of hostages in return for a captive. The latter exchange is between states formally equal. In 285 B.C. Seleucus captured Demetrius Poliorcetes, whose son Antigonus then offered himself in place of his father (Plutarch Demetrius 51.2; Moralia 183C). Similarly in 143/2 B. C. Simon Maccabaeus surrendered Jonathan’s two children to Tryphon for Jonathan’s release (Josephus Jewish Antiquities 13.204–206). In neither case was the exchange viable, for Seleucus refused to accept Antigonus’ proposal and Tryphon executed Jonathan despite the delivery of the children.
[ back ] 85. The protection of official envoys was one of the few subject on which most ancient states agreed.
[ back ] 86. Since the delivery of hostages usually indicated a previous military defeat (see above, pp. 5–6), it is probable that the donor government would in most instances have been inferior in strength. Because a recipient government would not have allowed a massive increase in military preparedness if it wished to remain dominant, open hostilities, which would have been very probable after the seizure of distinguished citizens from the recipient state, would frequently have resulted in swift defeat.
[ back ] 87. Cf. the case of the Roman ambassadors to Carthage in 203 B.C, who barely avoided a like fate (Appian Punic War 34). There are several examples of this typically Greek usage of the hostage concept, in which one’s person guaranteed the accuracy of one’s statement. See above, p. 9.
[ back ] 88. Although the lateness of the source (Polyaenus) renders the story suspect, it is reasonable to assume that the basic outline reflects the popular beliefs about the practice of hostageship.
[ back ] 89. The identification of these commissioners is difficult because of the many conflicting lists which the ancient resources catalogue. Their identities are not relevant to this study; cf. Broughton, MRR 1:241–242n12.
[ back ] 90. In view of the enormous Roman casualties during the Hannibalic War, the commissioners were perhaps fortunate in their early capture, for two of the three survived sixteen years of detention.
[ back ] 91. The frequency with which Gauls are involved in this type of scheme is interesting, although the sample is far too small to assign any significance to it. J.J. Hart (Histoire de la Gaule Romaine [120 avant J.-C.-451 aprés J.-C.]: Colonisation ou Colonialisme? Paris: Payot, 1966, pp. 67–68) observed that, since the Arverni had a privileged position because of their defeat in 121 B.C. by Fabius Maximus, their capital city of Gergovia was the logical place for the hostages of the tribes who had allied to resist Caesar; the Arverni had not delivered hostages to the Romans and so could not be tempted to try to trade the allied hostages for their own. I submit that the rise of the Arvernan Vercingetorix was probably aided by this same circumstance: no hostage of the Arverni was endangered by the revolt.
[ back ] 92. The same phenomenon can be seen among the medieval Irish in the capture of a king, Amhlaibh son of Sitric; his ransom included the hostages of the Gaeidhel (= Irish). Wm. M. Hennessy, The Annals of Loch Co, A Chronicle of Irish Affairs from A.D. 1014 to A.D. 1590, p. 31.
[ back ] 93. A problem recognized by Livy (28.34.7–10); for an evaluation of this issue, see below, pp. 182–183.
[ back ] 94. Cf. the deaths of the Tarentine and Thurian hostages in 212 B.C. (Livy 25.8.1–2; 15.7).
[ back ] 95. See above, pp. 145–146.
[ back ] 96. Luckily for his son, Agathocles was both successful and swift; see above, p. 109.
[ back ] 97. See above, pp. 99 and 167–168.
[ back ] 98. Another Greek incident involving the death of hostages (so-called) occurred during an external attack that was used as an excuse to exterminate internal rivals. In 195 B.C. Nabis of Sparta had the eighty most prominent leaden of the Spartan youth arrested and then secretly executed, despite his assertion that the arrest would last only until the threat of the external war was removed (Livy 34.27.7–8; 32.12). The assassination of rival leaders is perhaps less surprising than the elaborate guise under which it was carried out; discovery of the execution was inevitable. Nabis may have considered the time he gained to consolidate his position worth the damage done his reputation and the hostility of his victims’ friends and relatives. Nor should we forget that Livy’s source was biassed against the Spartan ruler and that mitigating circumstances may have been omitted.
[ back ] 99. For a discussion of the revolts and their meaning for the efficacy of hostageship, see below, pp. 205–207.
[ back ] 100. Resistance almost immediately after the delivery of hostages was evidently not uncommon: examples are Petra in 181 B.C. (Livy 40.22.14), the Third Punic War, and some occasions in the Illyrian campaigns of Augustus (Appian Illyrian Wars 21; 23–24; Dio 49.37.2 & 6). There are two possible inferences. Recipient states were reluctant to put hostages to death, and therefore the donor state felt no fear on behalf of the hostages, or donor states were insufficiently concerned about the hostages’ fate. In the case of the Carthaginians in 149 B.C., the enormity of the Roman demand seems to have forced them into revolt; the anguish of the parents and other citizens certainly indicates that, in less extreme circumstances, Roman control of the hostages would have succeeded in compelling obedience.
[ back ] 101. The Sugambri had delivered hostages to the Romans in 16 B.C. (Dio 54.20.6).
[ back ] 102. There can be no doubt that their execution was within legal bounds; see de Sanctis, Storia dei Romani 4.3:35.
[ back ] 103. See below, pp. 183–189, for this paradox. Plutarch’s distaste may also be due to Sertorius’ slyness in exacting them. Rawlinson (Parthia, p. 413) corroborates this attitude with regard to the Parthian princes in Rome during the early Principate.
[ back ] 104. The Sabine women were not mistreated, but neither did they guarantee a contract; see above, pp. 8–10 and 261 for the rhetorical (or at least nontechnical) meaning of hostage used by Greek authors in extralegal contexts.
[ back ] 105. The Sabine women were not mistreated, but neither did they guarantee a contract; see above, pp. 8–10 and 261 for the rhetorical (or at least nontechnical) meaning of hostage used by Greek authors in extralegal contexts.
[ back ] 106. Rostovtzeff’s judgment, CAH 8:564–565.
[ back ] 107. It is unlikely that Rome in fact disavowed the treaty, as de Sanctis (Storia dei Romani 2:300–301), Salmon (“Pax Caudina,” Journal of Roman Studies 19 (1929):12–18), and Adcock (CAH 7:600) have already observed. We can only marvel at the naiveté of Livy, who emphasizes the savagery of the Samnites by making the lives of the hostages forfeit if the treaty was not obeyed (Livy 9.5.5) and then conveniently forgets the threat when the Romans refuse to ratify the sponsio. Phillipson (International Law and Custom 1:404–405) has generalized this clause to a standard application without sufficient evidence. An equal forgetfulness assailed Plutarch in his aetiological myth about the Latin demand for Roman women in 389 B.C. (Plutarch, Romulus 29.4; Camillus 33.2.7; cf. Moralia 313A; Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.11. 35–40); why would the Latins ignore the attack on their escort as well as the failure of the Romans to furnish the women?
[ back ] 108. Costanzi (“Osservazioni sulla terza guerra sannitica,” Rivista di Filologia e di Istruzione classica 42 [1919]:174–175) lucidly argued that the Barbatus epitaph is a better authority than Livy and that the Lucanian hostages were not submitted voluntarily.
[ back ] 109. Although I find this anecdote of no value for the historical practice of hostageship, there may be historical elements in the description of the attack on Hannibal’s scattered troops. Philip Stadter, Plutarch’s Historical Methods: An Analysis of the Mulierum Virtutes (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1965), pp. 74–76.
[ back ] 110. Diêgylis of Thrace tortured relatives of those who fled his kingdom, victims whom Diodorus, after the Greek usage of the term, called hostages (Diodorus 33.15.1); see above, p. 10. Predictably, pro-Roman sources were frequently hostile to enemies of Rome and would emphasize—or invent—appropriately vicious attitudes and acts.
[ back ] 111. Cf. de Sanctis, Storia dei Romani 4.3:35.
[ back ] 112. Moscovich (“Obsidibus Traditis,” pp. 126–27) follows Grotius in noting that, unless the hostages themselves broke the agreement, it was not in accord with ius naturale to punish them.
[ back ] 113. See above, pp. 72–76, for diplomatic intervention.
[ back ] 114. I.e., it may represent only one possible solution.
[ back ] 115. For the usual socio-economic status of hostages, see above, pp. 48–52.
[ back ] 116. Phillipson, International Law and Custom 2:295–296.
[ back ] 117. The legend of Cloelia in some variants describes the attempt of the Tarquins to capture the Roman hostages sent to Porsenna. This theme will be analyzed within the framework of the entire legend; see below, pp. 263–274.
[ back ] 118. See above, pp. 101–102. Note also that Bostar, the representative of the recipient government, was willing to restore the hostages himself.
[ back ] 119. It is of course possible that accounts of what appear to be free restorations are merely summaries of negotiated releases in which the details of the conditions were omitted. In lieu of better evidence or clear contradictions within the corpus of historical writing, we can only accept the ancient testimony.
[ back ] 120. De Sanctis, Storia dei Romani 4.1:351–352. Cotys later tried to exploit Bithys’ familiarity with affairs Roman by sending him to plead the Thracian defense against the charges brought by the Teans for Abdera (Walbank, Polybius 3:440); cf. the embassy of Demetrius of Macedon in 184/3 B.C.
[ back ] 121. Diplomatic efficacy was in direct proportion with military strength, even when an arbiter was chosen by both disputants. Adcock and Mosely, Diplomacy, p. 214.
[ back ] 122. The identity of Charmion is unknown, but it has been assumed by Cardinali that Charmion was a citizen of Gortyn. See below, n. 123.
[ back ] 123. Walbank (Polybius 3:202) presents the theory of Cardinali, that Charmion was a Gortynian who kept the Cydonian hostages offered to his city in return for the Gortynian acquiescence in a Cydonian occupation of Phalasarna, but he docs not hesitate to mention its strongly hypothetical character. E. Kirsten (RE 19 [1938]:1653–1658, s. v. “Phalasarna,”) interpreted this incident quite differently. In his opinion, Phalasarna had clearly suffered from stasis, and the resulting exiles had summoned the aid of Cydonia for their return. I cannot agree. Why would Cydonia have given hostages to Phalasarnian exiles? In such a case, the Cydoniates might rather be expected to demand hostages from the exiles.
[ back ] 124. The Chians were enrolled as Roman allies (Appian Mithradatic Wars 61) and presumably returned to their pre-captive lives.
[ back ] 125. The surrender of the hostages attested to Pharnaces’ withdrawal from the territories conquered by his father. Cf. the clause of the Punic-Roman treaty of 201 B.C., in which Carthage was to restore the hostages of the peoples living beyond the Phoenician Trenches (Appian Punic War 54).
[ back ] 126. See above, pp. 90–91, n.105.
[ back ] 127. Unconditionally in law, perhaps; the Romans assuredly expected gratitude and obedience in return, as befitted a client.
[ back ] 128. Unconditionally in law, perhaps; the Romans assuredly expected gratitude and obedience in return, as befitted a client.
[ back ] 129. It is interesting to observe that Oxynta, whatever his status, was still interned in Italy over a decade after the defeat of his father Jugurtha.
[ back ] 130. A similarly frustrating anecdote concerns Illyrian hostages captured by the Roman army in Illyria during the Third Macedonian War (Livy 44.35.3). Not only is the fate of these captives unknown, but it is not even clear whether they were hostages from Illyria or to Illyria; such adjectives could be used subjectively or objectively.
[ back ] 131. It is difficult to imagine that Caesar would not have catalogued these atrocities, had he any reasonable grounds for doing so. Since torture of the hostages is only suggested, it is likely that no real torture occurred.
[ back ] 132. Caesar, it must be acknowledged, could justifiably criticize the Aedui because he had released the Aeduan hostages exacted by the Sequani and the Germans when they came into his control, while the Aedui at Noviodunum detained and threatened other Gallic hostages.
[ back ] 133. Phillipson (International Law and Custom 1:405 and 2:295–296) postulated that captive hostages were captivi except that they were granted the privilege or ransom more readily than other captivi. The only example of ransoming is that of the Thracian Bithys, whose father offered to ransom his subjects but received them as gift, (Livy 45.42.5–11). On this evidence it is possible to theorize that Thracians may have practiced ransoming hostages, but there is no clear proof that the Romans did so.
[ back ] 134. In these two groups, only positive and ambivalent consequences are explicitly attested, but it is quite probable that negative aspects have been glossed over by the ancient authors. The release of a hostage may seem to us to be a purely benevolent act, but nevertheless culminate in a civil war or the murderous elimination of a rival, according to the design of the releasing state. For the detrimental possibilities in requesting restoration, see above, pp. 156–157.
[ back ] 135. See above, pp. 174–183.
[ back ] 136. Some hostage, must have been returned simply because their term of service elapsed; cf. the Aetolian Treaty of 189 B.C.
[ back ] 137. Cf. the retention of Armenas, above, p. 116.