The successful Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus was then succeeded in command of Hispania Baetica by a different general, Quintus Pompeius. The first encounter between Quintus Pompeius and Viriathus ended to the benefit of the Romans. Viriathus retreated south of the Tagus, towards the famed Hill of Venus. However, once again, Viriathus successfully turned upon his pursers and killed over 1,000 Romans and captured many standards. Quintus Pompeius was driven back to his camp and Viriathus then managed to drive out a garrison from Itucca, one of the cities lost to the Romans the previous year. Viriathus went on to ravage the countryside of Bastitania while Quintus Pompeius was paralyzed, as Appian says, by his "timidity and inexperience". Ultimately, Quintus Pompeius went into winter quarters in autumn, leaving Baetica's defense in the hands of a Spaniard from Italica named Caius Marcius.
Quintus Fabius Maximus Servilianus, brother of Quintus Fabius Maximus Aemilianus succeeded the inept Quintus Pompeius the following year bringing a force comparable to his brother's as well as 10 elephants and a number of additional horses obtained from the Numidian king Micipsa. Before Servilianus' forces were all together the first contest between the new Roman force and Viriathus' much smaller band of 6,000 ended in a stalemate.
Once Servilianus' forces were complete he established a large base camp and advanced against Viriathus. The Romans were initially successful and Viriathus was compelled to retreat back into Lusitania. Yet again, Viriathus took advantage of a disorderly pursuit and turned on the Romans killing upwards 3,000 and driving the rest back to their camp. The Lusitanians went on to attack the Roman camp and even though the Romans eventually put up a gallant defense, were harassed by the light armed troops and tenacious cavalry of the Lusitanians until they were apparently driven out of their camp and back to Itucca.
After this, Viriathus was in desperate need of provisions and retired to Lusitania by burning his camp and departing under the cover of night. The rest of the year the Romans campaigned with great success by choosing not to pursue Viriathus but instead, march against towns in Baetica that had sided with him. After plundering many towns he turned west towards the Cuneus and then north into Lusitania.
While on the march, the Romans were attacked by several large guerilla bands and at first lost considerable amounts of booty they had captured along the way. The Romans eventually vanquished the guerillas and of the men that fell into their hands, some 500 leaders were beheaded, the Roman subjects found amongst them had their hands cut off and the rest were sold into slavery. Regardless of all the Roman successes during this short campaign, the war with Viriathus once again showed how lubricious and unpredictable it could be.
While the Romans were besieging a town in fidelity with Viriathus called Erisana, the later and his forces snuck into the town one night and made a successful sally the next day against the Romans working the circumvallation trenches. The remaining Romans were mustered to order of battle by Servilianus but were defeated and put to flight. The hasty retreat lead them into a precipitous mountain pass among high cliffs where the Romans were surrounded by the Lusitanians. Escape was now impossible and they had no choice but unconditional surrender.
Viriathus And The Lusitanian War was written by forum member Sean Higgins (Pantagathus).
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Did you know...?
Lusitania took its name from the Lusitani, an Indo-European tribe that lived in that region.