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Viriatus

Viriatus (vērēäˈtəs) [key], d. 139 B.C., leader of the Lusitani (see Lusitania). One of the survivors of the massacre of the Lusitani by the Roman praetor Servius Sulpicius Galba, Viriatus rose as a popular leader and persuaded his countrymen to resist Roman rule. He gathered an army and in 147 B.C. defeated the Romans. During the next two years he established control over a considerable area. One Roman defeat followed another. The victories of Viriatus encouraged the Celtiberians to renew their resistance to Rome. The senate then sent an army under Fabius Maximus Servilianus, which Viritus succeeded in trapping. Instead of destroying this army, he concluded a peace and allowed the Romans to leave. For this act of clemency he was declared a friend of Rome by the senate. In 139, however, the successor of Servilianus, Servilius Caepio, with the tacit consent of the senate, renewed the war. Viriatus, probably swayed by his countrymen, who were weary of the war, opened negotiations with Caepio, who brought the war to an end by bribing Viriatus' emissaries to kill him. His rule collapsed after his assassination.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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