Scipio, a Roman patrician family belonging to the Cornelia gens. The tomb of the Scipios, discovered in 1616 and excavated in 1780, is near the modern gate of St. Sebastian. The most distinguished members of the family are: I. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major, a Roman general, born about 234 B. C., died about 183. He was the son of P. Cornelius Scipio, who with his brother Cneius Cornelius Scipio was defeated and killed in Spain by the Carthaginian generals Mago and Hasdrubal (211). He is first mentioned at the battle of the Ti-cinus in 218. In 216 he was at the battle of Cannae, and Livy and other writers ascribe to his influence the prevention of the scheme entertained by the Roman nobles after that disastrous day of fleeing from Italy; but better authorities attribute this to Varro, the defeated general. In 212 he was made curule aedile. After the defeat and death of his father in Spain, being then 24 years of age, he offered to take command of the Roman armies in that province as proconsul. He arrived in Spain in the summer of 210, and found the three Carthaginian generals, who were on ill terms with each other, in different parts of the peninsula.
At the head of 25,000 foot and 2,500 horse, he made a rapid march from the Iberus (Ebro) to New Carthage (Cartagena), the centre of Punic power in Spain, in which were the Carthaginian treasure, magazines, and hostages. The city, remote from all succor, and ill defended by a garrison of 1,000 men, was soon taken. The captive Spaniards were dismissed with kindness, and in this manner Scipio began his work of conciliating the natives. He returned to Tarraco, and, strengthened by an alliance with several of the Spanish tribes, in 209 took the field against Hasdrubal, over whom he is said to have gained a great victory at Baecula, but failed to prevent him from marching to the assistance of his brother Hannibal in Italy. In 207 Scipio, at the head of 45,000 foot and 3,000 horse, defeated a superior force of the enemy under Hasdrubal, the son of Gisco, and Mago, near a town called Silpia or Elinga, and put an end to the power of the Carthaginians in Spain. Scipio, anxious to carry the war into Africa, gained over Masinissa, the Numid-ian ally of the Carthaginians, who had come to Spain; and to win the support of Syphax, the king of the Massaesylians in Numidia, he crossed over with only two quinquiremes to negotiate with him personally.
There he found Hasdrubal, the son of Gisco, present with a similar intention, and the Carthaginian prevailed principally through the charms of his daughter Sophonisba. On his return Scipio found Spain in a general revolt, but put it down in a short campaign marked by the merciless treatment of Illiturgi, and the desperation of the inhabitants of Astapa, who fell to a man. He quelled a mutiny which had broken out while he was confined by a severe illness in the Roman camp on the Sucro (Jucar), and defeated the Spaniards, who had taken the same opportunity to revolt. In a short time the Carthaginians abandoned Spain entirely, and in 206 Scipio handed over the government to his successor, and returned to Rome. There he was received with enthusiasm, and Was elected consul for the following year. He had now an opportunity of attacking the Punic power in Africa; but the senate would only allow him to go to Sicily, with the right of crossing into the Carthaginian territory if advantageous, but denied him an army. Volunteers, however, flocked to his standard, and in 204 he sailed with his army from Lilybaeum, and landed near Utica, where he was joined by Masinissa. The Romans began the siege of Utica, but the approach of a vast Carthaginian and Numidian army compelled them to abandon the project.
During the winter he amused Syphax with negotiations in regard to peace, but early in 203 by a stratagem burned the camps and almost annihilated the armies opposed to him. The Carthaginians collected another army, which suffered another total defeat, and thereupon they recalled Hannibal and Mago from Italy, and made a truce. Hannibal was not indisposed to peace, but was compelled to take the field, and the two armies met near Zama (202). A complete victory for the Romans ended the second Punic war and the power of Carthage. Scipio returned to Rome in 201, and was welcomed with extraordinary enthusiasm. The surname of Afri-canus was given him, but he declined the distinction of statues in the public places, and took no part in the government for a few years. He was censor in 199, and consul a second time in 194, and several times received the title of princeps senatus. In 193 he was one of the three commissioners sent to mediate between Masinissa and the Carthaginians. In 190 he accompanied his brother Lucius (afterward known as Asiaticus) as legatus in the war against Antiochus the Great of Syria. On their return to Rome in 189, after the close of the war, his" brother was accused of taking bribes from Antiochus, and appropriating the public moneys to his own use.
In 187, at the instigation of M. Porcius Cato, Lucius was required by the tribunes to give an account of the sums he had received. He prepared to do so, but Africanus snatched the papers from his hands and tore them up before the senate. During the same year Lucius was tried, found guilty, and carried to prison, but was rescued by his brother. The tribune, Tiberius Gracchus, released Lucius from his sentence of imprisonment, and his friends paid the fine. His adversaries now ventured to attack Africanus himself. Scipio made no defence, but simply recounted his services to the state, and thus triumphed over his enemies. He spent the remainder of his days on his estate at Liternum. The accounts of Scipio's life are confused and contradictory. Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, was his daughter. II. Publius Cornelius Scipio AEmilianus Africanus Minor, a Roman general, born about 185 B. C, died in 129. He was the son of L. AEmilius Paulus, the conqueror of Macedon, and was adopted by P. Scipio, the son of Africanus Major. He was with his father at the battle of Pydna in 168, in 151 went as military tribune to Spain, where he gained a high reputation, and in 150 was sent to Africa to obtain elephants from Masinissa. In 149, on the breaking out of the third Punic war, he accompanied the army to Africa as military tribune, and saved it from the disasters which would naturally have resulted from the incapacity of Manilius. In 147 he was elected consul, and in the spring of 146 he took the city of Carthage, and ended the third Punic war.
He returned to Rome, celebrated a triumph, and received the surname of Africanus. In 142 he was made censor, and endeavored to repress the growing luxury of the Roman people. In 139 he was tried on the charge of majestas, but was acquitted. After this he went on an embassy to Egypt and Asia, and in 134 he was elected to the consulship in order to carry on the war in Spain. Having brought the disorganized troops into a proper state of discipline, he took Numantia in 133, after a memorable siege and desperate defence, ending in the self-immolation of nearly all its inhabitants; for this he received the surname of Numantinus. During this time the civil troubles in Rome had culminated in the murder of Tiberius Gracchus, whose sister Scipio had married; a deed which he approved, notwithstanding their relationship. The people were consequently estranged from him, and in 129, on the day following his speech against the agrarian law, he was found dead in his chamber. He was one of the most accomplished literary men of his time, well acquainted with Greek philosophy and literature, and the friend and patron of the historian Polybius, the philosopher Panaetius, and the poets Lucilius and Terence.
Quin-Tns CaeCilras Metellus Pius, a Roman general, killed himself in 46 B. C. He was the son of P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica and the adopted son of Metellus Pius, and in consequence he has been called P. Scipio Nasica, or Q. Metellus Scipio. In 63 B. C. he came to Cicero by night to inform him of the conspiracy of Catiline. He became tribune in 60, was accused of bribery by his opponent and defended by Cicero, and in 53 was a candidate for the consulship and one of the leaders of the Clodian mob opposed to Milo. When the senate allowed Pompey to be made sole consul, that leader, who was his son-in-law, chose him (August, 52) as his colleague. He labored assiduously to destroy the power of Caesar, and the breach between the aristocratic and democratic parties at Rome and the civil war were largely due to him. He grossly misgoverned the province of Syria, assigned to him, joined Pompey in Greece after Caesar's repulse at Dyrrachium, and after the battle of Pharsalia fled to Africa, where he took command of the army of Attius Varus, and where he also practised extortion and oppression.
In December, 47, Caesar crossed the Mediterranean, and in April, 46, routed the forces of Scipio and Juba, king of Numidia, at the battle of Thapsus; and Scipio stabbed himself and sprang into the sea to escape capture.