Bad-Ass Files: Virathus, One Of The First Guerilla Fighters

So I was watching this series on the History Channel the other night called Barbarians Rising and the first episode was about Hannibal and Virathus. The Hannibal story was good, but I knew about most of it already, Having read more than a few books on Hannibal, including The Ghost of Cannae, which I highly recommend.. The second story was about this wild shepard from Lusitania (in modern Portugal) called Virathus. Talk about one tough, never say die grunt, Virathus was it! Anyways here is his amazing TRUE story. -SF

viriathus

“He carried on the war not for the sake of personal gain or power nor through anger, but for the sake of warlike deeds in themselves; hence he was accounted at once a lover of war and a master of war.”  –Cassius Dio

Even before they were an ever-expanding empire hell-bent on world domination and the unconditional submission of anything they even remotely perceived as an enemy, the Romans were still pretty colossal jackasses. While this statement can confidently be broadly applied to almost every single dealing between the time that Romulus first suckled a she-wolf and when Mehmet the Conqueror’s Turkish forces overran the last bastion of Constantinople nearly two millennia later, the Iberian peninsula is as good a place as any to focus on the good people of Latium and their crush-tastic propensity for violently ruining the lives of everyone in their general vicinity.

The whole mess started with a charming little African city called Carthage, and the fact that it’s mere existence was enough to send the Roman senate into hysterical bouts of implacable, over-the-top Lou Ferrigno-style blood rages. Much like people didn’t like Lou when he was angry, so was it with Rome, and over the years Rome and Carthage ended up embarking on some pretty epic murder-fests that left a large part of the Mediterranean either plundered, appendageless, or otherwise seriously jacked up beyond all recognition. The people of Rome were particularly upset when a Carthaginian general named Hannibal put together a huge army, stomped his way around southern Italy, and nearly demolished their entire civilization beneath the heels of a few thousand rampaging elephants, and when you’re a classical-age warrior culture you tend to have a little bit of trouble getting over a little thing like that.

Carthage was eventually crushed, burned down, and urinated on, and the earth was salted so that no crops could ever grow there again, which more or less took care of that problem. After handling diplomatic relations with North Africa in a thoroughly Roman way, the powerful Latin consuls still hadn’t satiated their kill-boners, so they decided to march into Hispania and extend their domination to the native peoples of the Iberian Peninsula – many of whom had lent their services to the afore-mentioned Hannibal and his murdergasmic marauding death force.

Well Spain and Portugal, and particularly a region known as Lusitania, weren’t really down with getting their necks stomped on by the sandaled foot of Roman-style totalitarian domination, so they decided to pick up a bunch of shiv-tastic weapons and stab anybody foolish enough to get within appropriate kidney-shanking distance. The Roman commander Sulpicus Galba wasn’t particularly interested in going toe-to-toe with these indigenous hardasses, so he approached the good people of Lusitania and offered them a deal – if they handed over their weapons and agreed to play nice, he would listen to their demands and try to work out a deal with them.

Read the Remainder at Bad-Ass Of The Week

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