Skip to main content



Scipio is the name of two ancient Roman generals - Scipio Africanus Major, or 'the Elder' (about 234 - 183 BC), and his adopted grandson, the younger Scipio (about 185 - 129 BC).

The campaigns of Scipio the Elder against the Carthaginians in Spain and north Africa were recounted by Livy, and by Petrarch (1304 - 1374) in his epic poem Africa. The most famous incident from these sources is 'The Continence of Scipio'. The general captured New Carthage and was given a maiden as a prize; but when he discovered that she was betrothed he returned her to her fiance.

Cicero in his 'Somnium Scipionis' (Dream of Scipio) relates a dream in which the younger Scipio in which he sees his grandfather, who describes the abode to which the honourable are admitted. This theme was later amplified by the writer Macrobius, who outlined the appropriate heroic virtues which were later allegorised by artists.