Viriathus used the victory with great sagacity, considering the situation an opportune moment to bring the war to an end and win the respect and gratitude of the Romans. He agreed to allow the Romans to depart uninjured, on condition of their permitting the Lusitanians to retain undisturbed possession of their own territory, and of their recognizing him as a friend and ally of the Roman people. Servilianus concluded a treaty with Viriathus on these terms, and being glad to conclude this troublesome war, it was ratified by the Senate and people of Rome.
Though brought to an agreeable end, the consul Quintus Servilius Caepio, who succeeded his brother Servilianus in the command of Hispania Baetica, was not content with the peaceful outcome of the war. It can be reckoned that he had looked forward to the war in Spain as an opportunity for gaining both wealth and glory; and he sent a flood of letters to Rome to induce the senate to break the treaty by representing it as unworthy of the Roman people.
At first the senate could not be persuaded to give approval for open violation of the peace but acquiesced to the point of contriving that Caepio could harass Viriathus as long as he did it secretively and without open attack. However, either through gaining a suitable pretext or being convinced finally by Caepio's ceaseless flow of correspondence on the issue, Rome faithlessly declared war and Caepio invaded Lusitania.
Confronted at first in Carpetania, Viriathus judged it unwise to confront such a superior force. He dispersed his forces and eluded the Romans for a whole year. Caepio tried in vein to find Viriathus and marched deep into Lusitania as far as the territory of the Vettones and the Callaici.
In a fragment of Cassius Dio we learn that during the course of this campaign, Caepio became highly loathed by his troops because of his harshness and cruelty. The men, most especially the cavalry, apparently made jokes about their commander and spoke openly and negatively about him in the camp. Once Caepio got word of what was going on, he commanded the cavalry, whom he deemed to be the instigators, to go to the mountain where Viriathus was entrenched and cut firewood. Seeing the rash danger inherent in the endeavor, the tribunes and lieutenants begged for Caepio to reconsider but he would not.
The cavalrymen, choosing to perish over speaking respectfully to Caepio were joined by the allied cavalry and other volunteers and went on the mission given them. They returned successfully and pilled the wood up around the general's quarters with the intent of burning Caepio to death. He would have had he not apparently escaped the blaze in time.
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.