Viriathus: Principles & Perfidy
Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 20, 2012
I am now studying the Romans and discovered this gem of history that I hadn’t read, or at least remembered, before. This is one of the things I love most about the LIFE Business – the ability to study and grow, not just for myself, but to help others. The LIFE Founders and its community are constantly reading, listening, and associating to learn and grow. In this way, they can share what they learned with others to help everyone in the community improve. In my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, I teach on the importance of the PDCA process to constantly improve one’s skills. This PDCA process is being applied by so many in the LIFE Community, that lives are being changed daily. I sure am glad that nearly twenty years ago, Chris Brady, George Guzzardo, and I committed to stay the course and learn to build communities. Who could have known that, through that effort, we now enjoy the LIFE Business. Here is my version of powerful life story of Viriathus.
In 160 BC, the the Roman praetor of Spain, Servius Sulspicius Galba, negotiated a peaceful surrender of 7,000 Lusitaninan (modern day Portugal) warriors. After disarming them, Galba ordered his soldiers to massacre the helpless men. Nearly all the Lusitanians died, but a few, including Viriathus, escaped into the woods. Through his bravery and first-hand account of the Romans misdeeds, Viriathus was chosen leader of his countrymen in the revolt against Roman rule of the their homeland. Galba sent the Roman commander Vetilius to capture the rebels, but Virathus had a surprise for his unsuspecting opponent. He lured the army further and further into the mountains, cut off their escape, and cut the Roman army to pieces.
Another Roman army of 4,000 men, shortly afterwards received the same treatment from the brilliant Viriathus and his desperate Lusitanian army. Indeed, for three years the Lusitanian leader overran Roman authorities, defeating legion after legion, charged with capturing the alleged outlaws. In 141 BC, Servilianus, the commander of Roman forces, was defeated and sued for peace, recognizing Lusitania as an independent state with Virathus as the Chief Magistrate. The Roman Senate was horrified and when Caepio, the brother of Servilanus, assumed command of the troops, he perfidiously broke the treaty. Not surprisingly to Viriathus, the Romans resumed hostilities against the signed treaty.
By 139 BC, Caepo, discovering he was just as helpless against the superior strategy and will of Virathus, resorted to treachery to accomplish his goal. During peace negotiations, Virathus sent his most trusted friends, Audax, Ditalco, and Minumsy, to negotiate with Caepo. Instead of negotiations, however, Caepo offered large gifts and bribes for the three men to sell out their leader. Sadly, the men chose prizes over principles and plotted the assassination of the only Spaniard to successfully withstand against Roman tyranny. Viriathus, always prepared, slept little and in his armor. In this way, when awaken, he could quickly lead his men into battle. Therefore, it was customary for his closest friends to enter his tent at night on pressing business. Audax and his associated entered the tent after Virathus fell asleep and stabbed him in the throat, the only part of his body not protected by armor. Thus, the fearless leader died, not from his Roman enemies, but from the treachery of his “friends.” Also dying were the hopes of Lusitanian freedom as the rebellion collapsed after Viriathus death and farther Spain bent its neck to the Roman yoke.
Why did I share this terrible story of bad character and ethics? Simply to point out that the prizes won by the traitors are long gone, but the disloyalty lives on in infamy. Never, I repeat never, accept temporary gain for permanent harm. In reality, the three traitors, sold out the freedom of their country, their people, and killed their leader for temporary trinkets. Indeed, a person ought to sell everything he has before he sells his character, for the things can be replaced, but the character cannot. Nonetheless, many do not follow this principles and sell out the permanent for the temporary. Imagine readers, if Virathus had sent you on the peace errand. How should leaders of character respond when offered personal gain to destroy others? Let everyone examine himself.