Zonaras 7.10 Part II: The War with Gabii

Tarquinius resorts to deceit in order to capture the town of Gabii:

Tarquinius declared war on Gabii, and because the battle was going badly, he subdued the town with a trick. He bid his son to defect to Gabii. In order to put the most convincing spin on this defection, Sextus railed against his father as a tyrant and an oath breaker, and Tarquinius whipped his son and defended himself. Then, according to the agreement, he made his false defection to Gabii, taking along with him some money and companions. The people of Gabii, believing this charade because of Tarquinius’ well-known savagery, and because at that time Sextus’ reproaches against his father were all true, it seemed that they really were in a feud. They therefore embraced him most heartily, and they then began to make with him many raids on Roman land, which they attacked rather savagely. Then, because he offered money to some men personally, and pressed the attack on their common enemy so mercilessly, he was made general by the people of Gabii and entrusted with the management of their political affairs. After all of this, he sent a man to his father to let him know how things had proceeded, and to ask about what he desired to be done next. Tarquinius said nothing in response to the man, but – that he might not betray what he willed or did not – he led the man to a garden filled with poppy plants. He cut the tallest heads of these off with his staff, and laying them upon the ground, he sent the messenger away. The messenger then reported what had happened to Sextus in total ignorance of what had really transpired. But Sextus understood the meaning of the suggestion, and proceeded to kill off the most prominent citizens of Gabii – some in secret by poison, others with armed assailants, and still others he murdered through the law courts, by fabricating a charge that they intended to ally themselves with his father.

‘Tarquinius Superbus’ by Lawrence Alma Tadema

Γαουίνοις δὲ μάχην συνῆψε, καὶ κακῶς μὲν ἠγωνίσατο, δόλῳ δὲ αὐτοὺς ἐχειρώσατο. αὐτομολῆσαι γὰρ αὐτοῖς Σέξτῳ ὑπέθετο τῷ υἱῷ· ἵνα δ’ εὐπρόσωπος αὐτῷ τῆς αὐτομολίας πρόφασις γένηται, ἐκεῖνος μὲν τὸν πατέρα φανερῶς ὡς τύραννον καὶ παράσπονδον ἐλοιδόρησεν, ὁ δὲ τὸν υἱὸν ἐμαστίγωσέ τε καὶ ἀντημύνατο. εἶτα κατὰ συνθήκας πρὸς Γαουίνους ἐψευδαυτομόλησε, χρήματά τε καὶ ἑταίρους παρειληφώς. οἱ δέ, πιστεύσαντες τῇ σκηνῇ διά τε τὴν τοῦ Ταρκυνίου ὠμότητα καὶ ὅτι καὶ τότε πολλὰ καὶἀληθῆ τὸν πατέρα ἐκακηγόρει κἀντεῦθεν ἐκπεπολεμῶσθαι αὐτῷ ἐδόκει, ἐδέξαντό τε αὐτὸν ἀσμενέστατα καί τινας ἐπελεύσεις κατὰ τῆς ῾Ρωμαϊκῆς χώρας σὺν αὐτῷ ἐποιήσαντο καὶ οὐ μετρίως αὐτῇ ἐλυμήναντο. διὰ ταῦτα γοῦν, καὶ ὅτι χρήματα ἰδίᾳ τέ τισι παρεῖχε καὶ ἐς τὸ κοινὸν ἀνήλισκε δαψιλῶς, ᾑρέθη παρ’ αὐτῶν στρατηγὸς καὶ τὴν τῶν πολιτικῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς πραγμάτων ἐπετράπη διοίκησιν. ἐπὶ τούτοις λάθρᾳ πέμψας τινὰ τὰ συμβάντα τε ἐγνώρισε τῷ πατρὶ καὶ πρὸς τὸ μέλλον γνώμην ᾔτησεν ἐξ αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ εἶπεμὲν τῷ πεμφθέντι οὐδέν, ἵνα μὴ ἴσως γνωσθεὶς ἑκών τι ἢ ἄκων ἐξείποι, εἰς δὲ κῆπον εἰσαγαγὼν αὐτόν, ἐν ᾧ μήκωνες ἦσαν, τὰς κωδύας αὐτῶν τὰς ὑπερεχούσας ῥάβδῳ κατέκλασε καὶ εἰς γῆν κατεστόρεσε, καὶ οὕτω τὸν ἀγγελιαφόρον ἀπέπεμψε. καὶ ὁ μὲν τὸ πραχθὲν τῷ Σέξτῳ ἀπήγγειλεν, ἀσυνέτως ἔχων τῆς πράξεως, ὁ δὲ τὸν νοῦν συνῆκε τῆς ὑποθέσεως, καὶ τοὺς ἀξιολογωτέρους τῶν Γαουίνων τοὺς μὲν λάθρᾳ φαρμάκοις διέφθειρε, τοὺς δὲ διά τινων δῆθεν λῃστῶν, ἄλλους δὲ καὶ ἐκ δικαστηρίων ἀπέκτεινε, συκοφαντίας κατ’ αὐτῶν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα προδοσίας πλαττόμενος.

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