Desperate struggle in Spain

While Macedon and Carthage were being defeated for good, the Spanish tribes remained stubbornly defiant. Hash blows were dealt them by the consuls Lucullus and Galba in 151 and 150 BC and yet they could not be broken.

In the south the Lusitanians found a brilliant leader in Viriathus, who in 142 BC maneuvered the Roman consul Servilianus into a trap, and was able to dictate terms so reasonable that they were even accepted by the senate. Viriathus was even recognized as a friend and ally of Rome. Nevertheless two years later the new consul, Caepio, not only attacked the friend and ally but arranged his assassination. It was a blow from which the Lusitanians did not recover.

No less stubborn though were the Celtiberians, whose principle fortress was the city of Numantia. Here the fighting, temporarily suppressed by Lucullus, broke out again in 143 BC. The fighting proved too much for successive Roman commanders until in 137 BC the consul Mancinus was even forced to capitulate, the terms being negotiated by quaestor Tiberius Gracchus, a man whom the Spaniards trusted, for he was the son of the Gracchus who had been so sympathetic towards Spanish interests before.

The senate though refused to accept the treaty and the war was renewed. Against a foe as fearsome as the Spaniards a brilliant commander was obviously required. Rome hence in 134 BC turned to her greatest soldier of the day, the conqueror of Carthage, the second Scipio Africanus (Scipio Aemilianus).
He was in fact not a candidate for the consulship that year for he was legally disqualified from standing (having held the consulship in recently) but the election was carried by unanimous vote of the comitia tributa, the assembly of the tribes, and in the face of such huge popular support the legal technicalities were set aside.

But even for Scipio the task was no easy one. It was not until he had restored discipline to the demoralized troops that in 133 BC he set about his Numantian campaign. Like Carthage the doomed fortress of Numantia held out grimly to the last moment. When there was nothing left to eat but human flesh, it finally surrendered. And like Carthage it was then obliterated, so completely that its very site was forgotten.

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