Sertorius was an able statesman and outstanding general, who achieved great renown by leading a
rebellion in Spain against the Roman government, and holding out against all the forces that Rome
could muster against him for over seven years. He was greatly respected, even by his enemies, and
eventually perished, not in battle, but by treachery.
|ROMAN CONQUEST OF HISPANIA|
Sertorius started his soldiering career fighting against the Teutones in the Cimbrian War
under Marius. He later entered public life, but his career was limited because of
his opposition to Sulla. He was a member of the Marian party because of his opposition to Sulla,
but he disliked Marius personally. He was, however, at hand when the Marian party, led by Cinna and
Marius, laid siege to Rome, although he did not take part in the proscription, and was considered a
moderating influence on the leaders. He took a post in Spain shortly before Sulla returned to power,
but when the Marian party was purged from Rome, he fled to Africa, and fought some of Sulla's armies
in that province.
In 80 B.C., the Lusitani tribe in western Spain revolted from Rome, and invited Sertorius to come and lead the rebellion. He was joined there
by many refugees from Sulla's proscriptions, deserters from Sulla's army, and other malcontents.
With this motley force, along with the native Spaniards, he was able to hold out against Rome for
seven years. There are many stories of his great campaigns against Rome's armies in Spain, that
show his extraordinary military and statesmanlike qualities. Sertorius was a brave and good-natured
leader who got along well with the native tribes. It was his object to create a stable government,
and civilize the people as much as possible along the Roman model. He established a senate of 300
members, drawn mostly from Roman emigrants but also including some Spanish natives. He established a
school for the native children, where they received a Roman education. There are also many stories
told about a white fawn, presented to him as a gift, that he claimed could speak to him with advice
from the goddess Diana.
In 77 B.C. Pompey, one of the greatest generals in Rome, joined Metellus
Pius, the Roman general that he had been skirmishing with for several years. But Pompey was no more
successful than Metellus. At the same time, Sertorius was also joined by many new refugees from
Rome, who came under the leadership of Perpenna Vento. Eventually however, some members of
Sertorius's own senate became jealous and distrustful of his power. One of the Roman commanders had
promised a reward to anyone who killed Sertorius, and in 72 B.C., he was killed by his own
associates as he supped at a banquet. The tribes under Sertorius immediately sued Pompey for peace,
and as a gesture of goodwill, it is said that Perpenna Vento presented Pompey with letters from
leading citizens back in Rome, proving them to be supporters of Sertorius. Instead of accepting
them, Pompey burned them unread and had Perpenna killed.
Key events during the life of Sertorius:
||Served with Marius at Aix, where the Teutones were defeated.
||Served with the army in Spain.
||Served as quaestor in Cisalpine Gaul, but was prevented by Sulla from attaining any higher office.
||Served in Social War. Lost sight in one of his eyes.
||With Marius and Cinna, took Rome for the Marian party, but did not take part in the massacres.
||Appointed governor of western Spain, but when Sulla returned, he lost his office, and fled to Africa.
||Recalled to Spain by the Lusitani tribe, that was in rebellion from Rome.
||Established government in western Spain; joined by Roman refugees from Sulla's proscriptions.
||Created a local senate, and schools for children of the natives.
||Joined by Perpenna Vento and other nobles; attacked unsuccessfully by Pompey and Metellus Pius.
||Assassinated at a banquet by one of his followers.
||Defeated Mithradates in Greece. Marched on Rome, defeated the party of his enemy Marius.
||Renowned general. Modernized legions. Waged a bloody feud with party of Sulla.
||Very renowned general. Defeated pirates. Led opposition to Caesar in civil war.
||King of Pontus, enemy of Rome, raised rebellions in Greece and Asia Minor.
||Leader of group of Roman nobles who joined Sertorius, but later betrayed him.
||Roman commander who opposed Sertorius, but without success.