Quintus Sertorius could lay claim to a position among the greatest generals of ancient times. A loyal Roman, who lost an eye defending the Roman frontier, fortune then pitted him against the Roman military machine and some of its premier commanders, including Pompey the Great.
Having chosen the wrong side of the first civil war, he fought through it with courage and integrity, but at its conclusion he was forced to flee the purges of Sulla. He was then invited to command the rebellious barbarian tribes of Spain. By energy, force of will and genius, he captivated his men and turned the light, irregular troops into a force that smashed the Roman armies that were sent to bring the Spanish tribes back under the Roman yoke. After a series of campaigns, he gathered other Roman refugees and established a state that imitated that of Rome. Ultimately betrayed and murdered by the local aristocracy, the story of Quintus Sertorius, a man who swam against the tide of Roman history, has largely and unjustly been forgotten.
This episode was written by Liam O’Faolain.
Liam is a senior lecturer at the Cork Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland, where he conducts research on photonics for applications in sensing and fibre-optic communications. He received a PhD in Physics from the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 2005 and has written over 90 articles for scientific journals. He is a keen student of history, particularly that of Ancient Greece and Rome.