Scipio Africanus Minor

Scipio Africanus Minor (Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus), c.185–129 b.c., Roman general, destroyer of Carthage. He was the son of Aemilius Paullus, under whom he fought at Pydna. He was adopted by the eldest son of Scipio Africanus Major (see under Scipio, family). He earned a great reputation as a patron of Greek literature and of Roman writers, notably Terence and Laelius, and he was the lifelong friend of Polybius, his protégé. His friendship with Laelius has been immortalized by Cicero in De amicitia. He served in the army in Spain (151), and he visited Masinissa of Numidia. As consul (147) he went to Africa and terminated the Third Punic War with the capture and destruction of Carthage. In 142 he was censor. He was consul again (134) and went to Spain, where he ended the rebellion with the destruction of Numantia. On his return to Rome he openly rejoiced at the murder of his adoptive cousin and own brother-in-law, Tiberius Gracchus (Scipio's wife, Sempronia, was sister of the Gracchi), and led the conservatives in attempting to destroy the Gracchan reforms. This culminated in a measure introduced by Scipio to deprive the Gracchan land commission of its powers and thus vitiate the agrarian law. A great public quarrel arose, and Scipio was found dead in his bed. No inquiry was made, and it was generally said that he was murdered by his wife, his mother-in-law, or some other of the Gracchan party. Cicero praises Scipio in the Dream of Scipio, a splendid passage in his De republica.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Rome: Biographies