In all the world there is no folk more proud of themselves than the Romans. Their race, sung of by shrewd bards, sprang from the doughty race of haughty Troy, overthrown not by the Achaeans but by the envious gods. Aeneas the Trojan, son of Aphrodite, fleeing from the blazing walls, planted the Trojan Palladium on the banks of the Tiber, and laid the seed of the new city destined to be mistress of the world.
The Romans first took Etruscan kings and expelled tyrants who brought shame to the matrons of the city. Without Etruscan aid Rome was an orphan, surrounded by thirsty neighbours. Her men began to school themselves in the exercise of austerity, simplicity, toil and war, becoming a race of tenacious heroes that did not forgive offences in the struggle for survival: one must bury one�s enemy lest they live to bury one�s self!
The Etruscans, Sabines, Samnites, and Campanians all know full well that they have yielded to the burdensome yoke of the Senate and People of Rome. All the world will soon be under the Roman yoke, for they care not if wars be of blood and fire, nor that they be waged eternally, nor do they count the defeats. If one legion falls another rises in its place. Rome is yet more dangerous than the hydra of Lemnos: one might sever a head, but another will grow in its place to devour your entrails, despoil your fields, sack your cities and enslave your family!
Yet there is more to Rome than the sword. If you accept her severe rule, she will be a stern surrogate mother to your children and a deliverer of true justice.
A Gaul once said of the Romans "Vae Victis!" (Woe to the conquered!), and the Romans have learned this well. Since then it has been seared into the curule chair of her Consuls.
Where the North Wind first blows across the Iberian Peninsula live many tribes who are all offshoots of the great Celtic mother oak of nations. Every year the rulers of their extensive cities administer the fields that are watered by Pisoraca and the River Douro when it swells. Their granaries are always replete with grain, and this arouses the envy of neighbour tribes.
These Celts are a hardy folk, inured to cold, heat and hunger. These fierce and indomitable people are wont to fight amongst themselves and with their neighbours. They fiercely invoke their god, Erudino, calling on him to grant them bravery in battle. All who have heard tell of the Cantabrians fear them, even if they live at the ends of the Earth!
On the soil of Idoubeda, the country where rivers are born, live proud and independent tribes that speak a common tongue and share a hard existence. Their principal cities are not many in number, but they are proud and difficult to take, for they have high mud-brick walls, great ditches, and stones thrust into the ground like stakes in front of their gateways. The Celtiberians devote themselves to the breeding of livestock and, to a lesser extent, to agriculture and the mining of iron. The temper and suppleness of their blades is renowned.
Among the men of the Celtiberians it is the custom to wear the hair braided and tie it in pigtails. A cloak of dark wool, open on the left and held in place with a broach worn upon the right shoulder, is their national dress. The women of the farther reaches of Celtiberia prefer as love tokens the severed hands of enemies. It its they who maintain the ancient traditions, singing to the children of the deeds of their forefathers.
The Celtiberians are cunning warriors and consummate horsemen, though they prefer to fight on foot. The Celtiberian does not fear to die beneath the sword, for he knows that ravens and vultures will carry his soul aloft to lay it at the feet of the divine Lug, and that he will be remembered with honour amongst his folk. Any war fought against these people will be a war of fire, and their enemies will be consumed in its flames!
The Lusitanians are an ancient people of Celtic stock. They who recite history say that this people dwell near the shores along which Apollo descended to bathe. The god bathed in the River Oceano, which circles the world, and bathed also by the banks of the River Tagus, which reaches as far south as the Douro.
The Lusitanians are a race of agile warriors, skilled at ambush, swift in raids, for they charge only with small concave caetras (shields) secured with straps, light linen corslets, and light javelins that they hurl with great skill. Some noteworthy warriors sport mail coats, swords and spears. As audacious and stealthy a people as they are, they strike unexpectedly, moving like dark shadows through mountain slopes and woodlands. They are austere like the Spartans, for they oil their limbs twice a day, whiten their skin with vapour baths, and fortify themselves by bathing in freezing cold water.
The Lusitanians have few cities. Many are herders; others cultivate the poor soil of their land, while youths are driven to the annual plundering of the river valley of Baetis (Guadalquivir). Above all their gods they revere the strange Endevelicus the most. To him they offer him human sacrifices, reading the palpitating entrails of the victims without removing them, in order to read in them the design of the Fates. They sever the hands of their prisoners, offering that which sustains the sword to propitiate their dark gods.
If you travel through Lusitanian lands, be on your guard; take nothing valuable with you; travel at night; trust yourself to the gods of the road that you arouse neither the greed nor the ferocity of the Lusitanians. Oh, what a people these frightening folk would be with a great chieftain to lead them!
An old and toothless fighter, in the lost city of Attanagrum, recounts to his grandchildren the tale of how, in days gone by, the tribe of the Ilergetes ruled over plains and hills beyond the Iber, between the sea and the great mountains. Yet one day the gods extinguished their power, and their people were sundered.
Some, who are now called Ilergavones, stayed by the pale beaches, earning their living from the sea. Others, the Red Ilergetes, raised cities between the great River Iber and the mountains of the Pyrenees. They have grown in power, nigh on to that of their ancestors. Their capital Iltirta (Ilerda), the City of the Wolf, is situated on a promontory upon the River Sicoris, and is surrounded by fruit trees and fertile fields. To Illtirta and the other oppida of the Ilergetes come valuable commodities such as ceramics and weapons, and above all the knowledge of the Greeks, from the Hellenic colonies of Emporion and Rhodes.
The Ilergetes bend all the neighbouring tribes to their will. They plunder and pillage their lands, for they are a warlike people that rejoice in battle. They do not just fight as do the other Iberians, but also form tight serried phalanxes, and thrust spear over shield rim in the manner of the Greeks. Their valour is well known to their Carthaginian allies, to whose crescent standard the young men of the Ilergetes have long rallied, while calling upon their god, Neto, to aid them. Wolves always run with wolves, even though they may have come from across the sea, in grim-prowed ships.
The Greek bards sing of how, when Helios is born each day above the Garden of the Hesperides, the first city that his fiery face illuminates is Edeta. This is the capital of the Edetani, and it is from this city that they derive their name. They are the richest of the Iberians, save the Turdetani alone. Their land stretches between the Ilergavones and the River Sucro, that separates them from the rebels, keeping the first steps of the Iduobeda behind them. Nonetheless, their coast is dotted with channels, coves and natural harbours, so that it is not rare to see ships of many nations,laboriously trading their wares along the length of their coast, exchanging their wine, olive oil and finest goods for the produce of the Edetani.
Alongside their cousins in the South they rule all the east coast. The fortified city of Arse, Saguntum to the Romans, guards against the incursions of the highlanders and bandits that are always eager for plunder. The Edetani are devoted men: they venerate their gods and respect their chieftains, whom they follow valorously into battle, with their bodies daubed with strange black mud that protects them as well as the finest leather, and grasping their curved, single edged swords. They hold their great shields before them, adorned with the images of the most savage animals and strange, intricate plant designs. Yet there are many that fight as mercenaries for booty. The Carthaginians greatly appreciate their expert use of the sword and there are those that say that a swarm of furious Edetani warriors is a spectacle worthy of song... as long as it not coming towards you!
When Kolaios of Samos was forced by a storm to sail in the waters beyond the Pillars of Hercules (the Strait of Gibraltar), the rich city of Turta, which he called Tarsis, held the mouth of the River Baetis (Guadalquivir). Much time has passed since its civilised inhabitants, possessors of just laws inscribed in stone, controlled the gold and silver of the whole valley. Tarsis had fallen, and memory of its lineage has failed, but the Turdetani and Turduli have replaced the subjects of the mythical king Argantonius ("the Silver Man"), and, although diminished in power, they are still able farmers, herdsmen and skilful miners.
Lusitanian bandits raze their harvest and livestock year in year out. Yet the Turdetani remain proud of their ancient lineage, and are able to defend themselves: by trade, by laws, or by arms - one way or another. Andalusian mothers still pray to their gods when their sons parade through the streets of Ipolka, with falcatas in their swordbelts, dressed in immaculate red tunics trimmed with purple, and carrying shields adorned with images of stern sphinxes and menacing griffins, while they shake the strange crests of their leather helmets.
Like their kin, they are adept at throwing javelins and much effort is required to defeat them, while the goddess Artemis, she whom the Phocian sailors call Potnia Theron ("the Mistress of Wild Animals"), loves them and bolsters their courage.