The Passage Over The Alps
The sight of these mountains, whose tops seem to touch the skies, and were covered with snow, and where nothing appeared to the eye but a few pitiful cottages, scattered here and there, on the sharp tops of inaccessible rocks; nothing but meagre flocks, almost perishing with cold, and hairy men of a savage and fierce aspect; this spectacle renewed the terror which the distant prospect had raised, and chilled with fear the hearts of the soldiers. ^816 When they began to climb up, they perceived the mountaineers, who had seized upon the highest cliffs, and prepared to oppose their passage. They therefore were forced to halt. Had the mountaineers, says Polybius, only lain in ambuscade and suffered Hannibal's troops to strike into some narrow passage, and then charged them on a sudden, the Carthaginian army would have been irrecoverably lost. Hannibal, being informed that they kept those posts only in the daytime, and quitted them in the evening, possessed himself of them by night. The Gauls, returning early in the morning, were very much surprised to find their posts in the enemy's hands; but still they were not disheartened. Being used to climb up those rocks, they attacked the Carthaginians who were upon their march, and harassed them on all sides. The latter were obliged, at the same time, to engage with the enemy, and struggle with the ruggedness of the paths of the mountains, where they could hardly stand. But the greatest disorder was caused by the horses and beasts of burden laden with the baggage, that were frighted by the cries and howling of the Gauls, which echoed dreadfully among the mountains; and being sometimes wounded by the mountaineers, came tumbling on the soldiers, and dragged them headlong with them down the precipices which skirted the road. Hannibal, being sensible that the loss of his baggage alone was enough to destroy his army, ran to the assistance of his troops who were thus embarrassed, and having put the enemy to flight, continued his march without molestation or danger, and came to a castle, which was the most important fortress in the whole country. He possessed himself of it, and of all the neighboring villages, in which he found a large quantity of corn, and sufficient cattle to subsist his army for three days.
[Footnote 816: Polyb. l. iii. pp. 203-208. Liv. l. xxi. n. 32-37.]
Although their march was for a short time uninterrupted, the Carthaginians were to encounter a new danger. The Gauls, feigning to take advantage of the misfortunes of their neighbors, who had suffered for opposing the passage of Hannibal's troops, came to pay their respects to that general, brought him provisions, offered to be his guides, and left him hostages, as pledges of their fidelity. Hannibal, however, placed no great confidence in them. The elephants and horses marched in the front, while himself followed with the main body of his foot, keeping a vigilant eye over all. They came at length to a very steep and narrow pass, which was commanded by an eminence, where the Gauls had placed an ambuscade. These rushing out on a sudden assailed the Carthaginians on every side, rolling down stones upon them of a prodigious size. The army would have been entirely routed, had not Hannibal exerted himself, in an extraordinary manner, to extricate them out of this difficulty.
At last, on the ninth day, they reached the summit of the Alps. Here the army halted two days, to rest and refresh themselves after their fatigue, after which they continued their march. As it was now autumn, a great quantity of snow had lately fallen, and covered all the roads, which caused a consternation among the troops, and disheartened them very much. Hannibal perceived it, and halting on a hill, from whence there was a prospect of all Italy, he showed them the fruitful plains of Piedmont, watered by the river Po, which they had nearly reached, adding that they had but one more effort to make, before they arrived at them. He represented to them, that a battle or two would put a glorious period to their toils, and enrich them for ever, by giving them possession of the capital of the Roman empire. This speech, full of such pleasing hopes, and enforced by the sight of Italy, inspired the dejected soldiers with fresh vigor and alacrity. They therefore pursued their march. But still the road was more craggy and troublesome than ever, and as they were now on a descent, the difficulty and danger increased. For the ways were narrow, steep, and slippery, in most places; so that the soldiers could neither keep their feet as they marched, nor recover themselves when they made a false step, but stumbled, and beat down one another.
They were now come to a place worse than any they had yet met with. This was a path naturally very steep and craggy, which being made more so by the late falling in of the earth, terminated in a frightful precipice more than a thousand feet deep. Here the cavalry stopped short. Hannibal, wondering at this sudden halt, ran to the place, and saw that it would really be impossible for the troops to advance. He therefore was for making a circuitous route, but this also was found impracticable. As upon the old snow, which was growing hard by lying, there was some lately fallen that was of no great depth, the feet, at first, by their sinking into it, found a firm support; but this snow being soon dissolved by the treading of the foremost troops and beasts of burden, the soldiers marched on nothing but ice, which was so slippery that they had no firm footing; and where, if they made the least false step, or endeavored to save themselves with their hands or knees, there were no boughs or roots to catch hold of. Besides this difficulty, the horses striking their feet forcibly into the ice to keep themselves from falling, could not draw them out again, but were caught as in a gin. They therefore were forced to seek some other expedient.
Hannibal resolved to pitch his camp, and to give his troops some days' rest on the summit of this hill, which was of a considerable extent, after they should have cleared the ground, and removed all the old as well as the new fallen snow, which was a work of immense labor. He afterwards ordered a path to be cut into the rock itself, and this was carried on with amazing patience and labor. To open and enlarge this path, all the trees thereabout were cut down, and piled round the rock, and there set on fire. The wind, fortunately blowing hard, a fierce flame soon broke out, so that the rock glowed like the very coals with which it was surrounded. Then Hannibal, if Livy may be credited, for Polybius says nothing of this matter, caused a great quantity of vinegar to be poured on the rock, ^817 which piercing into the veins of it, that were now cracked by the intense hear of the fire, calcined and softened it. In this manner, making a large circuit, in order that the descent might be easier, they cut a way along the rock, which opened a free passage to the forces, the baggage, and even to the elephants. Four days were employed in this work, during which the beasts of burden had no provender, there being no food for them on mountains buried under eternal snows. At last they came into cultivated and fruitful spots, which yielded plenty of forage for the horses, and all kinds of food for the soldiers.
[Footnote 817: Many reject this incident as fictitious. Pliny takes notice of a remarkable quality in vinegar, viz.: its being able to break rocks and stones. - Saxa rumpit infusum, quae non ruperit ignis antecedens, l. xxiii. c. 1. He therefore calls it, Succus rerum domitor. l. xxxiii. c. 2. Dion, speaking of the siege of Eleuthra, says, that the walls of it were made to fall by the force of vinegar, l. xxxvi. p. 8. Probably the circumstances that seems improbable on this occasion, is the difficulty of Hannibal's procuring, in those mountains, a quantity of vinegar sufficient for this purpose.]
Hannibal Enters Italy
When Hannibal marched into Italy, his army was far less numerous than when he left Spain, where we find it amounted to nearly sixty thousand men. ^818 He had sustained great losses during the march, either in the battles he was forced to fight, or in the passage of rivers. At his departure from the Rhone, it consisted of thirty-eight thousand foot, and above eight thousand horse. The march over the Alps destroyed nearly half this number, so that Hannibal had now remaining only twelve thousand Africans, eight thousand Spanish foot, and six thousand horse. This account he himself caused to be engraved on a pillar near the promontory called Licinium. It was five months and a half since his first setting out from New Carthage, including the fortnight he employed in marching over the Alps, when he set up his standard in the plains of the Po, at the entrance of Piedmont. It might then have been September.
[Footnote 818: Polyb. l. iii. pp. 299, 212-214. Liv. l. xxi. n. 39.]
His first care was to give his troops some rest, which they very much wanted. When he perceived that they were fit for action, the inhabitants of all the territories of Turin ^819 refusing to conclude an alliance with him, he marched and encamped before their chief city, carried it in three days, and put all who had opposed him to the sword. This expedition struck the barbarians with so much dread, that they all came voluntarily and surrendered at discretion. The rest of the Gauls would have done the same, had they not been awed by the terror of the Roman arms, which were now approaching. Hannibal thought, therefore, that he had no time to lose; that it was his interest to march up into the country, and attempt some great exploit, such as might induce those who should have an inclination to join him to rely on his valor.
[Footnote 819: Taurini.]
The rapid progress which Hannibal had made greatly alarmed Rome, and caused the utmost consternation throughout the city. Sempronius was ordered to leave Sicily, and hasten to the relief of his country; and P. Scipio, the other consul, advanced with the utmost diligence towards the enemy, crossed the Po, and pitched his camp near the Ticinus. ^820
[Footnote 820: A small river, now called Tesino, in Lombardy.]
Battle Of The Cavalry Near The Ticinus
The armies being now in sight, the generals on each side made a speech to their soldiers, before they engaged in battle. ^821 Scipio, after having represented to his forces the glory of their country, and the noble achievements of their ancestors, observed to them, that victory was in their hands, since they were to combat only with Carthaginians, a people who had been so often defeated by them, as well as forced to be their tributaries for twenty years, and long accustomed to be almost their slaves: that the advantage they had gained over the flower of the Carthaginian horse, was a sure omen of their success during the rest of the war: that Hannibal, in marching over the Alps, had just before lost the best part of his army, and that those who survived were exhausted with hunger, cold, and fatigue: that the bare sight of the Romans was sufficient to put to flight a parcel of soldiers, who had the aspect of ghosts rather than of men: in a word, that victory was become necessary, not only to secure Italy, but to save Rome itself, whose fate the present battle would decide, that city having no other army wherewith to oppose the enemy.
[Footnote 821: Polyb. l. iii. pp. 214-218. Liv. l. xxi. n. 39-47.]
Hannibal, that his words might make the stronger impression on the rude minds of his soldiers, addressed himself to their eyes, before he addressed their ears; and did not attempt to persuade them by arguments, till he had first moved them by the following spectacle. He armed some of the prisoners he had taken in the mountains, and obliged them to fight, two and two, in the sight of his army, promising to reward the conquerors with their liberty and rich presents. The alacrity and vigor wherewith these barbarians engaged upon these motives, gave Hannibal an occasion of exhibiting to his soldiers a lively image of their present condition; which, by depriving them of all means of returning back, put them under an absolute necessity either of conquering or dying, in order to avoid the endless evils prepared for those that should be so base and cowardly as to submit to the Romans. He displayed to them the greatness of their reward, viz.: the conquest of all Italy; the plunder of the rich and wealthy city of Rome; an illustrious victory, and immortal glory. He spoke contemptibly of the Roman power, the false lustre of which, he observed, ought not to dazzle such warriors as themselves, who had marched from the pillars of Hercules, through the fiercest nations into the very centre of Italy. As for his own part, he scorned to compare himself with Scipio, a general of but six months' standing: himself, who was almost born, at least brought up, in the tent of Hamilcar, his father; the conqueror of Spain, of Gaul, of the inhabitants of the Alps, and, what was still more remarkable, of the Alps themselves. He roused their indignation against the insolence of the Romans, who had dared to demand that himself, and the rest who had taken Saguntum, should be delivered up to them; and excited their jealousy against the intolerable pride of those imperious masters, who imagined that all things ought to obey them, and that they had a right to give laws to the world.
After these speeches, both sides prepared for battle. Scipio, having thrown a bridge across the Ticinus, marched his troops over it. Two ill omens had filled his army with consternation and dread. ^822 As for the Carthaginians, they were inspired with the boldest courage. Hannibal animated them with fresh promises; and cleaving with a stone the skull of the lamb he was sacrificing, he prayed to Jupiter to dash his head in pieces in like manner, in case he did not give his soldiers the rewards he had promised them.
[Footnote 822: These two ill omens were, first, a wolf had stole into the camp of the Romans and cruelly mangled some of the soldiers, without receiving the least harm from those who endeavored to kill it; and, secondly, a swarm of bees had pitched upon a tree near the praetorium, or general's tent. - Liv. l. xxi. c. 46.]
Scipio posted in the first line, the troops armed with missile weapons, and the Gaulish horse; and forming his second line of the flower of the confederate cavalry, he advanced slowly. Hannibal advanced with his whole cavalry, in the centre of which he had posted the troopers who rode with bridles, and the Numidian horse on the wings, in order to surround the enemy. ^823 The officers and cavalry, being eager to engage, the battle commenced. At the first onset, Scipio's light-armed soldiers discharged their darts, but frightened at the Carthaginian cavalry, which came pouring upon them, and fearing lest they should be trampled under the horses' feet, they gave way, and retired through the intervals of the squadrons. The fight continued a long time with equal success. Many troopers on both sides dismounted; so that the battle was carried on between infantry as well as cavalry. In the mean time, the Numidians surrounded the enemy, and charged the rear of the light-armed troops, who at first had escaped the attack of the cavalry, and trod them under their horses' feet. The centre of the Roman forces had hitherto fought with great bravery. Many were killed on both sides, and even more on that of the Carthaginians. But the Roman troops were thrown into disorder by the Numidians, who attacked them in the rear: and especially by a wound the consul received, which disabled him. This general, however, was rescued out of the enemy's hands by the bravery of his son, then but seventeen years old, and who afterwards was honored with the surname of Africanus, for having put a glorious period to this war.
[Footnote 823: The Numidians used to ride without saddle or bridle.]
The consul, though dangerously wounded, retreated in good order, and was conveyed to his camp by a body of horse, who covered him with their arms and bodies: the rest of the army followed him thither. He hastened to the Po, which he crossed with his army, and then broke down the bridge, whereby he prevented Hannibal from overtaking him.
It was agreed, that Hannibal owed this first victory to his cavalry; and it was judged from thenceforth, that the main strength of his army consisted in his horse; and therefore, that it would be proper for the Romans to avoid large open plains like those between the Po and the Alps.
Immediately after the battle of the Ticinus, all the neighboring Gauls seemed to contend who should submit themselves first to Hannibal, furnish him with ammunition, and enlist in his army. And this, as Polybius has observed, was what chiefly induced that wise and skilful general, notwithstanding the small number and weakness of his troops, to hazard a battle; which he indeed was now obliged to venture, from the impossibility of marching back whenever he should desire to do it, because nothing but a battle would oblige the Gaul's to declare for him: their assistance being the only refuge he then had left.
Battle Of Trebia
Sempronius the consul, upon the orders he had received from the senate, was returned from Sicily to Ariminum. ^824 From thence he marched towards Trebia, a small river of Lombardy, which falls into the Po a little above Placentia, where he joined his forces to those of Scipio. Hannibal advanced towards the camp of the Romans, from which he was separated only by that small river. The armies lying so near one another, gave occasion to frequent skirmishes, in one of which Sempronius, at the head of a body of horse, gained but a very small advantage over a party of Carthaginians, which nevertheless very much increased the good opinion this general naturally entertained of his own merit.
[Footnote 824: Polyb. l. xxiii. pp. 220-227. Liv. l. xxi. pp. 51-56]
This inconsiderable success seemed to him a complete victory. He boasted his having vanquished the enemy in the same kind of fight in which his colleague had been defeated, and that he thereby had revived the courage of the dejected Romans. Being now resolutely bent to come, as soon as possible, to a decisive battle, he thought it proper, for decency sake, to consult Scipio, whom he found to be of a quite different opinion from himself. Scipio represented, that in case time should be allowed for disciplining the new levies during the winter, they would be much more fit for service in the ensuing campaign; that the Gauls, who were naturally fickle and inconstant, would disengage themselves insensibly from Hannibal; that as soon as his wounds should be healed, his presence might be of some use in an affair of such general concern; in a word, he besought him earnestly not to proceed any farther.
These reasons, though so just, made no impression upon Sempronius. He saw himself at the head of sixteen thousand Romans, and twenty thousand allies, exclusive of cavalry, which number, in those ages, formed a complete army, when both consuls joined their forces. The troops of the enemy amounted to near the same number. He thought the juncture extremely favorable for him. He declared publicly, that all the officers and soldiers were desirous of a battle, except his colleague, whose mind, he observed, being more affected by his wound than his body, could not for that reason bear to hear of an engagement. But still, continued Sempronius, is it just to let the whole army droop and languish with him? What could Scipio expect more? Did he flatter himself with the hopes that a third consul, and a new army, would come to his assistance? Such were the expressions he employed, both among the soldiers, and even about Scipio's tent. The time for the election of new generals drawing near, Sempronius was afraid a successor would be sent before he had put an end to the war; and therefore it was his opinion, that he ought to take advantage of his colleague's illness to secure the whole honor of the victory to himself. As he had no regard, says Polybius, to the time proper for action, and only to that which he thought suited his own interest, he could not fail of taking wrong measures. He therefore ordered his army to prepare for battle.
This was the very thing Hannibal desired, holding it for a maxim, that when a general has entered a foreign country, or one possessed by the enemy, and has formed some great design, that such an one has no other refuge left, but continually to raise the expectation of his allies by some fresh exploits. Besides, knowing that he should have to deal only with new-levied and inexperienced troops, he was desirous of taking every advantage possible of the ardor of the Gauls, who were extremely desirous of fighting; and of Scipio's absence, who, by reason of his wound, could not be present in the battle. Mago was therefore ordered to lie in ambush with two thousand men, consisting of horse and foot, on the steep banks of a small rivulet, which ran between the two camps, and to conceal himself among the bushes, that were very thick there. An ambuscade is often safer in a smooth open country, but full of thickets, as this was, than in woods, because such a spot is less apt to be suspected. He afterwards caused a detachment of Numidian cavalry to cross the Trebia, with orders to advance at break of day as far as the very barriers of the enemy's camp, in order to provoke them to fight; and then to retreat and repass the river, in order to draw the Romans after them. What he had foreseen, came exactly to pass. The fiery Sempronius immediately detached his whole cavalry against the Numidians, and then six thousand light-armed troops, who were soon followed by the rest of the army. The Numidians fled designedly; upon which the Romans pursued with great eagerness, and crossed the Trebia without resistance, but not without great difficulty, being forced to wade up to their very arm-pits through the rivulet, which was swollen with the torrents that had fallen in the night from the neighboring mountains. It was then about the winter-solstice, that is, in December. It happened to snow that day, and the cold was excessively piercing. The Romans had left their camp fasting, and without taking the least precaution; whereas the Carthaginians had, by Hannibal's order, eat and drank plentifully in their tents; had got their horses in readiness, rubbed themselves with oil, and put on their armor by the fire-side.
They were thus prepared when the fight began. The Romans defended themselves valiantly for a considerable time, though they were half spent with hunger, fatigue, and cold; but their cavalry was at last broken and put to flight by that of the Carthaginians, which much exceeded theirs in numbers and strength. The infantry also were soon in great disorder. The soldiers in ambuscade sallying out at a proper time, rushed suddenly upon their rear, and completed the overthrow. A body of about ten thousand men fought their way resolutely through the Gauls and Africans, of whom they made a dreadful slaughter; but as they could neither assist their friends, nor return to their camp, the way to it being cut off by the Numidian horse, the river and the rain, they retreated in good order to Placentia. Most of the rest lost their lives on the banks of the river, being trampled to pieces by the elephants and horses. Those who escaped, joined the body above mentioned. The next night Scipio also retired to Placentia. The Carthaginians gained a complete victory, and their loss was inconsiderable, except that a great number of their horses were destroyed by the cold, the rain, and the snow: and that, of all their elephants, they saved but one.
In Spain, the Romans had better success, in this and the following campaign, ^825 for Cn. Scipio extended his conquests as far as the river Iberus, ^826 defeated Hanno, and made him prisoner.
[Footnote 825: Polyb. l. iii. pp. 228, 229. Liv. l. xxi. n. 60, 61.]
[Footnote 826: Or Ebro.]
Hannibal took the opportunity, while he was in winterquarters, to refresh his troops, and gain the affection of the natives. For this purpose, after having declared to the prisoners he had taken from the Roman allies, that he was not come with the view of making war upon them, but to restore the Italians to their liberty, and protect them against the Romans, he sent them all home to their own countries without requiring the least ransom. ^827
[Footnote 827: Polyb. l. iii. p. 229.]
The winter was no sooner over, than he set off towards Tuscany, whither he hastened his march for two important reasons. ^828 First, to avoid the ill effects which would arise from the ill-will of the Gauls, who were tired with the long stay of the Carthaginian army in their territories; and impatient of bearing the whole burden of a war, in which they had engaged with no other view than to carry it into the country of their common enemy. Secondly, that he might increase, by some bold exploit, the reputation of his arms in the minds of all the inhabitants of Italy, by carrying the war to the very gates of Rome, and at the same time, reanimate his troops, and the Gauls his allies, by the plunder of the enemy's territories. But in his march over the Appenines, he was overtaken with a dreadful storm, which destroyed great numbers of his men. The cold, the rain, the wind and hail, seemed to conspire his ruin; so that the fatigues which the Carthaginians had undergone in crossing the Alps, seemed less dreadful than these they now suffered. He therefore marched back to Placentia, where he again fought Sempronius, who had returned from Rome. The loss on both sides was very nearly equal.
[Footnote 828: Liv. l. xxi. n. 52.]
While Hannibal was in these winter-quarters, he hit upon a stratagem truly Carthaginian. ^829 He was surrounded with fickle and inconstant nations; the friendship he had contracted with them was but of recent date. He had reason to apprehend a change in their disposition, and consequently that attempts would be made upon his life. To secure himself, therefore, he got perukes made, and clothes suited to every age. Of these he sometimes wore one, sometimes another; and disguised himself so often, that not only those who saw him transiently, but even his intimate acquaintance, could scarcely know him.
[Footnote 829: Polyb. l. xxii. n. 1 Appian. in Bell. Annib. p. 316.]
At Rome, Cn. Servilius and C. Flaminius had been appointed consuls. ^830 Hannibal having advice that the latter was advanced already as far as Arretium, a town of Tuscany, resolved to go and engage him as soon as possible. Two ways being shown him, he chose the shortest, though the most troublesome, nay, almost impassable, by reason of a fen which he was forced to go through. Here the army suffered incredible hardships. During four days and three nights, they marched half leg deep in water, and consequently could not get a moment's sleep. Hannibal himself who rode upon the only elephant he had left, could hardly get through. His long want of sleep, and the thick vapors which exhaled from that marshy place, together with the unhealthfulness of the season, cost him one of his eyes.
[Footnote 830: A. M. 3788. A. Rome, 532. Polyb. pp. 230, 231. Liv. 1. xxii. n. 2.]
Battle Of Thrasymene
Hannibal thus extricated, almost unexpectedly, out of this dangerous situation, refreshed his troops, and then marched and pitched his camp between Arretium and Fesulae, in the richest and most fruitful part of Tuscany. ^831 His first endeavors were, to discover the genius and character of Flaminius, in order that he might take advantage of his errors, which, according to Polybius, ought to be the chief study of a general. He was told that Flaminius was very self-conceited, bold, enterprising, rash, and fond of glory. To plunge him the deeper into these excesses, to which he was naturally prone, ^832 he inflamed his impetuous spirit, by laying waste and burning the whole country in his sight.
[Footnote 831: Polyb. l. iii. pp. 231-238.]
[Footnote 832: Apparebat ferociter omnia ac praepropere acturem. Quoque pronioz esset in sua vitia, agitare eum atque irritare Poepus parat. - Liv. l. xxii. n. 5.]
Flaminius was not of a disposition to remain inactive in his camp, though Hannibal should have lain still. But when he saw the territories of his allies laid waste before his eyes, he thought it would reflect dishonor upon him should he suffer Hannibal to ravage Italy without control, and even advance to the very walls of Rome, without meeting any resistance. He rejected with scorn the prudent counsels of those who advised him to wait the arrival of his colleague; and to be satisfied for the present with putting a stop to the devastation of the enemy.
In the mean time Hannibal was still advancing towards Rome, having Cortona on the left hand, and the lake Thrasymene on his right. When he saw that the consul followed close after him, with the design to give him battle, by stopping him in his march; having observed that the ground was convenient for that purpose, he also began to prepare himself for battle. The lake Thrasymene and the mountains of Cortona form a narrow defile, which leads into a large valley, lined on both sides with hills of considerable height, and closed at the outlet by a steep hill of difficult access. On this hill, Hannibal, after having crossed the valley, came and encamped with the main body of his army; posting his light-armed infantry in ambuscade upon the hills on the right, and part of his cavalry behind those on the left, as far almost as the entrance of the defile, through which Flaminius was obliged to pass. Accordingly, this general, who followed him very eagerly, with the resolution to fight him, having reached the defile near the lake, was forced to halt, because night was coming on; but he entered it the next morning at daybreak.
Hannibal having permitted him to advance with all his forces more than half way through the valley, and seeing the Roman vanguard pretty near him, he sounded the charge, and commanded his troops to come out of their ambuscade, that he might attack the enemy, at the same time, from all quarters. The reader may guess at the consternation with which the Romans were seized.
They were not yet drawn up in order of battle, neither had they got their arms in readiness, when they found themselves attacked in front, in rear, and in flank. In a moment all the ranks were put in disorder. Flaminius, alone undaunted in so universal a consternation, animated his soldiers both with hishand and voice; and exhorted them to cut themselves a passage with their swords through the midst of the enemy. But the tumult which reigned everywhere, the dreadful shouts of the enemy, and a heavy fog prevented his being seen or heard. When the Romans, however, saw themselves surrounded on all sides, either by the enemy or the lake, and the impossibility of saving their lives by flight, it roused their courage, and both parties began the fight with astonishing animosity. Their fury was so great, that not a soldier in either army perceived an earthquake which happened in that country, and buried whole cities in ruins. In this confusion, Flaminius being slain by one of the Insubrian Gauls, the Romans began to give ground, and at last turned and fled. Great numbers, to save themselves, leaped into the lake; while others, directing their course to the mountains, fell into the enemy's hands whom they strove to avoid. Only six thousand cut their way through the conquerors, and retreated to a place of safety; but the next day they were taken prisoners. In this battle fifteen thousand Romans were killed, and about ten thousand escaped to Rome, by different roads. Hannibal sent back the Latins, who were allies of the Romans, into their own country, without demanding the least ransom. He commanded search to be made for the body of Flaminius in order to give it burial but it could not be found. He afterwards put his troops into quarters of refreshment, and solemnized the funerals of thirty of his chief officers, who were killed in the battle. He lost in all but fifteen hundred men, most of whom were Gauls.
Immediately after, Hannibal despatched a courier to Carthage, with the news of the success in Italy. This caused the greatest joy for the present, raised the most promising hopes with regard to the future, and revived the courage of all the citizens. They now prepared, with incredible ardor, to send into Italy and Spain all necessary succors.
Rome, on the contrary, was filled with universal grief and alarm, as soon as the praetor had pronounced from the rostra the following words, We have lost a great battle. The senate, studious of nothing but the public welfare, thought that in so great a calamity, and so imminent a danger, recourse must be had to extraordinary remedies. They therefore appointed Quintus Fabius dictator, a person as conspicuous for his wisdom as his birth. It was the custom at Rome that the moment a dictator was nominated, all authority ceased, that of the tribunes of the people excepted. M. Minucius was appointed his general of horse. We are now in the second year of the war.
Hannibal's Conduct With Respect To Fabius
Hannibal, after the battle of Thrasymene, not thinking it yet proper to march directly to Rome, contented himself, in the mean time, with laying waste the country. ^833 He crossed Umbria and Picenum; and after ten days' march, arrived in the territory of Adria. ^834 He got a very considerable booty in this march. Out of his implacable enmity to the Romans, he commanded, that all who were able to bear arms should be put to the sword; and meeting no obstacle anywhere, he advanced as far as Apulia, plundering the countries which lay in his way, and carrying desolation wherever he came, in order to compel the nations to disengage themselves from their alliance with the Romans, and to show all Italy, that Rome itself, now quite dispirited, yielded him the victory.
[Footnote 833: Polyb. l. xxiii. pp. 239-255. Liv. l. xxii. n. 9-30.]
[Footnote 834: A small town, which gave name to the Adriatic sea.]
Fabius, followed by Minucius and four legions, had marched from Rome in quest of the enemy, but with a firm resolution not to let him take the least advantage, nor to advance one step till he had first reconnoitred every place; nor hazard a battle, till he should be sure of success.
As soon as both armies were in sight, Hannibal, to terrify the Roman forces, offered them battle, by advancing almost to the intrenchments of their camp. But finding every thing quiet there, he retired; blaming in appearance the outward cowardice of the enemy, whom he upbraided with having at last lost that valor so natural to their ancestors; but fretting inwardly, to find he had to act with a general of so different a genius from Sempronius and Flaminius; and that the Romans, instructed by their defeat, had at last made choice of a commander capable of opposing Hannibal.
From this moment he perceived that the dictator would not be formidable to him by the boldness of his attacks, but by the prudence and regularity of his conduct, which might perplex and embarrass him very much. The only circumstance he now wanted to know was, whether the new general had resolution enough to pursue steadily the plan he seemed to have laid down. He endeavored, therefore, to rouse him, by his frequent removals from place to place, by laying waste the lands, plundering the cities, and burning the villages and towns. He, at one time, would raise his camp with the utmost precipitation; and at another, stop short in some valley out of the common route, to try whether he could not surprise him in the plain. However, Fabius still kept his troops on the hills, but without losing sight of Hannibal; never approaching near enough to come to an engagement, nor yet keeping at such a distance, as might give him an opportunity of escaping him. He never suffered his soldiers to stir out of the camp, except to forage, and not even on those occasions without a numerous convoy. If ever he engaged, it was only in slight skirmishes, and so very cautiously, that his troops had always the advantage. This conduct revived, by insensible degrees, the courage of the soldiers, which the loss of three battles had entirely damped; and enabled them to rely, as they had formerly done, on their valor and success.
Hannibal, having got immensely rich spoils in Campania, where he had resided a considerable time, left there with his army, that he might not consume the provisions he had laid up, and which he reserved for the winter season. Besides, he could no longer continue in a country of gardens and vineyards, which were more agreeable to the eye, than useful for the subsistance of an army; a country where he would have been forced to take up his winter-quarters among marshes, rocks and sands; whereas the Romans would have drawn plentiful supplies from Capua, and the richest parts of Italy. He therefore resolved to settle elsewhere.
Fabius naturally supposed that Hannibal would be obliged to return the same way he came, and that he might easily annoy him during his march. He began by throwing a considerable body of troops into Casilinum, thereby securing that small town, situated on the Vulturnus, which separated the territories of Falernum from those of Capua; he afterwards detached four thousand men, to seize the only narrow pass through which Hannibal could come out; and then, according to his usual custom, posted himself with the remainder of the army on the hills adjoining the road.
The Carthaginians arrived, and encamped in the plain at the foot of the mountains. And now, the crafty Carthaginians fell into the same snare he had laid for Flaminius at the defile of Thrasymene; and it seemed impossible for him ever to extricate himself out of this difficulty, there being but one outlet, of which the Romans were possessed. Fabius, fancying himself sure of his prey, was only contriving how to seize it. He flattered himself with the probable hopes of putting an end to the war by this single battle. Nevertheless, he thought fit to defer the attack till the next day.
Hannibal perceived that his own artifices were now employed against him. ^835 It is in such junctures as these, that a general has need of great presence of mind, and unusual fortitude, to view danger in its utmost extent, without being struck with the least dread; and to find out sure and instant expedients, without deliberating. The Carthaginian general immediately caused two thousand oxen to be collected, and ordered small bundles of vine branches to be tied to their horns. He then commanded the branches to be set on fire in the dead of night, and the oxen to be driven with violence to the top of the hills, where the Romans were encamped. As soon as these creatures felt the flame, the pain putting them in a rage, they flew up and down on all sides, and set fire to the shrubs and bushes they met in their way. This squadron, of a new kind, was sustained by a good number of light-armed soldiers, who had orders to seize upon the summit of the mountain, and to charge the enemy in case they should meet them. All things happened which Hannibal had foreseen. The Romans, who guarded the defile, seeing the fires spread over the hills which were above them, and imagining that it was Hannibal making his escape by torchlight, quit their posts and run to the mountains to oppose his passage. The main body of the army not knowing what to think of all this tumult, and Fabius himself not daring to stir, as it was excessively dark, for fear of a surprise, waited for the return of the day. Hannibal seized this opportunity, marched his troops and the spoils through the defile, which was now unguarded, and rescued his army out of a snare, in which, had Fabius been but a little more vigorous, it would either have been destroyed, or at least very much weakened. It is glorious for a man to turn his very errors to his advantage, and make them subservient to his reputation.
[Footnote 835: Nec Annibalem fefellit suis se artibus peti. - Liv.]
The Carthaginian army returned to Apulia, still pursued and harassed by the Romans. The dictator being obliged to take a journey to Rome, on account of some religious ceremonies, earnestly entreated his general of horse, before his departure, not to fight during his absence. Minucius however did not regard either his advice or his entreaties, but the very first opportunity he had, while part of Hannibal's troops were foraging, charged the rest, and gained some advantage. He immediately sent advice of this to Rome, as if he had obtained a considerable victory. The news of this, with what had just before happened at the passage of the defile, raised complaints and murmurs against the slow and timorous circumspection of Fabius. In a word, matters were carried so far, that the Roman people gave his general of horse an equal authority with him; a thing unheard of before. The dictator was upon the road when he received advice of this, for he had left Rome, that he might not be an eye-witness of what was contriving against him. His constancy, however was not shaken. He was very sensible, that though his authority in the command was divided, yet his skill in the art of war was not so. ^836 This soon became manifest.
[Footnote 836: Satis fidens handquaquam cum imperii jure artem imperandi aequatam. - Liv. l. xxii. n. 26.]
Minucius, grown arrogant with the advantage he had gained over his colleague, proposed that each should command a day alternately, or even a longer time. But Fabius rejected this proposal, as it would have exposed the whole army to danger while under the command of Minucius. He therefore chose to divide the troops, in order that it might be in his power to preserve, at least, that part which should fall to his share.
Hannibal, fully informed of all that passed in the Roman camp, was overjoyed to hear of this dissension of the two commanders. He therefore laid a snare for the rash Minucius, who accordingly plunged headlong into it, and engaged the enemy on an eminence, in which an ambuscade was concealed. But his troops, being soon put into disorder, were just on the point of being cut to pieces, when Fabius, alarmed by the sudden outcries of the wounded, called aloud to his soldiers, "Let us hasten to the assistance of Minucius; let us fly and snatch the victory from the enemy, and extort from our fellow-citizens a confession of their fault." This succor was very seasonable, and compelled Hannibal to sound a retreat. The latter, as he was retiring, said, "That the cloud which had been long hovering on the summit of the mountains, had at last burst with a loud crack, and caused a mighty storm." So important and seasonable a service rendered by the dictator, opened the eyes of Minucius. He accordingly acknowledged his error, returned immediately to his duty and obedience, and showed that it is sometimes more glorious to know how to atone for a fault, than to have committed it.
The State Of Affairs In Spain
In the beginning of this campaign, Cn. Scipio having suddenly attacked the Carthaginian fleet, commanded by Hamilcar, defeated it, and took twenty-five ships, with a great quantity of rich spoils. ^837 This victory made the Romans sensible that they ought to be particularly attentive to the affairs of Spain, because Hannibal could draw considerable supplies both of men and money from that country. Accordingly they sent a fleet thither, the command of which was given to P. Scipio, who, after his arrival in Spain, having joined his brother, did the commonwealth very great service. Till that time the Romans had never ventured beyond the Ebro. They then were satisfied with having gained the friendship of the nations situated between that river and Italy, and confirming it by alliances; but under Publius, they crossed the Ebro, and carried their arms much further up into the country.
[Footnote 837: Polyb. l. iii. pp. 245-250. Liv. l. xxii, n. 19-22.]
The circumstance which contributed most to promote their affairs, was the treachery of a Spaniard in Saguntum. Hannibal had left there the children of the most distinguished families in Spain, whom he had taken as hostages. Abelox (for so this Spaniard was called), persuaded Bostar, the governor of the city, to send back these young men into their country, in order, by that means, to attach the inhabitants more firmly to the Carthaginian interest. He himself was charged with this commission; but he carried them to the Romans, who afterwards delivered them to their relations, and by so acceptable a present, acquired their amity.
The Battle Of Cannae
The next spring, C. Terentius Varro, and L. Aemilius Paulus, were chosen consuls at Rome. ^838 In this campaign, which was the third of the second Punic war, the Romans did what had never been practised before, viz.; they composed the army of eight legions, each consisting of five thousand men, exclusive of the allies. For, as we have already observed, the Romans never raised but four legions, each of which consisted of about four thousand foot, and three hundred horse. ^839 They never, except on the most important occasions, made them consist of five thousand of the one, and four hundred of the other. As for the troops of the allies, the number of their infantry was equal to that of the legions, but they had three times as many horse. Each of the consuls had commonly half the troops of the allies, with two legions, that they might act separately; and all these forces were very seldom used at the same time, and in the same expedition. Here the Romans had not only four, but eight legions, so important did the affair appear to them. The senate even thought proper that the two consuls of the foregoing year, Servilius and Attilius, should serve in the army as proconsuls; but the latter could not go into the field, in consequence of his great age.
[Footnote 838: A. M. 3789. A. Rome, 533. Polyb. l. iii. pp. 255-268. Liv. l. xxii. n. 34-54.]
[Footnote 839: Polybius supposes only two hundred horse in each legion; but J. Lipsius thinks that this is a mistake either of the author or transcriber.]
Varro, at his setting out from Rome, had declared openly that he would fall upon the enemy the very first opportunity, and put an end to the war; adding, that it would never be terminated, as long as men of the character of Fabius should be at the head of the Romans armies. An advantage which he gained over the Carthaginians, of whom near seventeen hundred were killed, greatly increased his boldness and arrogance. As for Hannibal, he considered this loss as a real advantage, being persuaded that it would serve as a bait to the consul's rashness, and urge him on to a battle, which he anxiously desired. It was afterwards known, that Hannibal was reduced to such a scarcity of provisions, that he could not possibly have subsisted ten days longer. The Spaniards were already meditating to leave him. So that there would have been an end of Hannibal and his army, if his good fortune had not thrown a Varro in his way.
Both armies, having often removed from place to place, came in sight of each other near Cannae, a little town in Apulia, situated on the river Aufidus. As Hannibal was encamped in a level, open country, and his cavalry much superior to that of the Romans, Aemilius did not think proper to engage in such a place. He was for drawing the enemy into an irregular spot, where the infantry might have the greatest share in the action. But his colleague, who was wholly inexperienced, was of a contrary opinion. Such is the disadvantage of a divided command; jealousy, a difference of disposition, or a diversity of views, seldom failing to create a dissension between the two generals.
The troops on either side were, for some time, contented with slight skirmishes. But at last, one day when Varro had the command, for the two consuls took it by turns, preparations were made on both sides for battle. Aemilius had not been consulted; yet, though he extremely disapproved the conduct of his colleague, as it was not in his power to prevent it, he seconded him to the utmost.
Hannibal, after having pointed out to his soldiers that being superior in cavalry, they could not possibly have pitched upon a better spot for fighting, had it been left to their choice, thus addressed them: "Return thanks to the gods for having brought the enemy hither, that you may triumph over them; and thank me also for having reduced the Romans to the necessity of coming to an engagement. After three great victories, won successively, is not the remembrance of your own actions sufficient to inspire you with courage? By former battles, you are become masters of the open country, but this will put you in possession of all the cities, and, I presume to say it, of all the riches and power of the Romans. It is not words that we want, but actions. I trust in the gods that you shall soon see my promises verified."
The two armies were very unequal in number. That of the Romans, including the allies, amounted to fourscore thousand foot, and a little more than six thousand horse, and that of the Carthaginians consisted but of forty thousand foot, all well disciplined, and of ten thousand horse. Aemilius commanded the right wing of the Romans, Varro the left, and Servilius, one of the consuls of the last year, was posted in the centre. Hannibal, who had the art of taking all advantages, had posted himself so that the wind Vulturnus, ^840 which rises at certain stated times, should blow directly in the faces of the Romans during the fight, and cover them with dust; then keeping the river Aufidus on his left, and posting his cavalry in the wings, he formed his main body of the Spanish and Gallic infantry, which he posted in the centre, with half the African heavy armed foot on their right, and half on the left, on the same line with the cavalry. His army being thus drawn up, he put himself at the head of the Spanish and Gallic infantry; and having drawn them out of the line, advanced to begin the battle, rounding his front as he advanced nearer the enemy; and extending his flanks in the shape of a half-moon, in order that he might leave no interval between his main body and the rest of the line, which consisted of the heavy-armed infantry, who had not moved from their posts.
[Footnote 840: A violent burning wind, blowing south south-east, which, in this flat and sandy country, raised clouds of hot dust, and blinded and choked the Romans.]
The fight soon began, and the Roman legions that were in the wings, seeing their centre warmly attacked, advanced to charge the enemy in flank. Hannibal's main body, after a brave resistance, finding themselves furiously attacked on all sides, gave way, being overpowered by numbers, and retired through the interval they had left in the centre of the line. The Romans having pursued them thither with eager confusion, the two wings of the African infantry, which were fresh, well armed, and in good order, wheeled about on a sudden towards that void space in which the Romans, who were already fatigued, had thrown themselves in disorder, and attacked them vigorously on both sides, without leaving them time to recover themselves, or leaving them ground to form. In the mean time, the two wings of the cavalry, having defeated those of the Romans, which were much inferior to them, and, in order to pursue the broken and scattered squadrons, having left only as many forces as were necessary to keep them from rallying, advanced and charged the rear of the Roman infantry, which, being surrounded at once on every side by the enemy's horse and foot, was all cut to pieces, after having fought with unparalleled bravery. Aemilius, being covered with the wounds he had received in the fight, was afterwards killed by a body of the enemy, to whom he was not known; and with him two quaestors, one-and-twenty military tribunes, many who had been either consuls or praetors; Servilius, one of the last year's consuls, Minucius, the late general of horse to Fabius, and fourscore senators. Above seventy thousand men fell in this battle; ^841 and the Carthaginians, so great was their fury, ^842 did not give over the slaughter, till Hannibal, in the very heat of it, called out to them several times, Stop, soldiers; spare the vanquished. Ten thousand men, who had been left to guard the camp, surrendered themselves prisoners of war after the battle. Varro, the consul, retired to Venusia, with only seventy horse; and about four thousand men escaped into the neighboring cities. Thus Hannibal remained master of the field, he being chiefly indebted for this, as well as for his former victories, to the superiority of his cavalry over that of the Romans. He lost four thousand Gauls, fifteen hundred Spaniards and Africans, and two hundred horse.
[Footnote 841: Livy lessens very much the number of the slain, making them amount but to about forty-three thousand. But Polybius ought rather to be believed.]
[Footnote 842: Duo maximi exercitus caesi ad hostium satietatem, donec Annibal diceret militi suo, Parce ferro. - Flor l. 1, c. 6.]
Maharbal, one of the Carthaginian generals, advised Hannibal to march directly to Rome, promising him, that within five days they should sup in the capitol. Hannibal answering, that it was an affair which required mature examination, "I see," replied, Maharbal, "that the gods have not endowed the same man with every talent. You, Hannibal, know how to conquer but not to make the best use of a victory." ^843
[Footnote 843: Tum Maharbal: Non omnra nimirum eidem Dii dedere. Vincere scis, Anni bal, victoria uti nescis. - Liv. l. xxii. n. 51.]
It is pretended that this delay saved Rome and the empire. Many authors, and among them Livy, charge Hannibal, on this occasion, with being guilty of a capital error. But others, more reserved, are not for condemning, without evident proofs, so renowned a general, who, in the rest of his conduct, was never wanting, either in prudence to make choice of the best expedients or in readiness to put his designs in execution. They are, moreover, inclined to judge favorably of him, from the authority, or at least the silence, of Polybius, who, speaking of the memorable consequences of this celebrated battle, says, that the Carthaginians were firmly persuaded, that they should possess themselves of Rome at the first assault; but, then, he does not mention how this could possibly have been effected, as that city was very populous, warlike, strongly fortified, and defended with a garrison of two legions; nor does he anywhere give the least hint that such a project was feasible, or that Hannibal did wrong in not attempting to put it in execution.
And, indeed, if we examine matters more narrowly, we shall find, that according to the common maxims of war, it could not be undertaken. It is certain that Hannibal's whole infantry, before the battle, amounted but to forty thousand men; and as six thousand of these had been slain in the action, and doubtless many more either wounded or disabled, there could remain but six or seven-and-twenty thousand foot for service. Now this number was not sufficient to invest so large a city as Rome, which had a river running through it; nor to attack it in form, because they had neither engines, ammunition, nor any other things necessary for carrying on a siege. ^844 For want of these, Hannibal, even after his victory at Thrasymene, miscarried in his attempt upon Spoletum; and soon after the battle of Cannae, was forced to raise the siege of Casilinum, though a city of little note or strength. It cannot be denied, that, had he miscarried on the present occasion, nothing less could have been expected, than that he must have been irrecoverably lost. However, to form a judgment of this matter, a man ought to be a soldier, and should perhaps have been upon the spot. This is an old dispute, on which none but those who are perfectly well skilled in the art of war should pretend to give their opinion.
[Footnote 844: Liv. l. xxii. n. 9. Ibid. l. xxiii. n. 18.]
Soon after the battle of Cannae, Hannibal despatched his brother Mago to Carthage, with the news of his victory; ^845 and at the same time to demand succors, in order that he might be enabled to put an end to the war. Mago, on his arrival, made, in full senate, a lofty speech, in which he extolled his brother's exploits, and displayed the great advantages he had gained over the Romans. And, to give a more lively idea of the greatness of the victory, by speaking in some measure to the eye, he poured out in the middle of the senate a bushel of gold rings, ^846 which had been taken from the fingers of such of the Roman nobility as had fallen in the battle of Cannae. He concluded with demanding money, provisions, and fresh troops. All the spectators were struck with an extraordinary joy, upon which Imilcon, a warm advocate for Hannibal, fancying he now had a fair opportunity to insult Hanno, the chief of the opposite faction, asked him, whether he was still dissatisfied with the war they were carrying on against the Romans, and was for having Hannibal delivered up to them? Hanno, without discovering the least emotion, replied, that he was still of the same mind, and that the victories they so much boasted, supposing them real, could not give him joy, but only in proportion as they should be made subservient to an advantageous peace; he then undertook to prove, that the mighty exploits, on which they insisted so much, were wholly chimerical and imaginary. "I have cut to pieces," says he, continuing Mago's speech, "the Roman armies; send me some troops. What more could you ask, had you been conquered? I have twice seized upon the enemy's camp, full, no doubt, of provisions of every kind. - Send me provisions and money. Could you have talked otherwise, had you lost your camp?" He then asked Mago, whether any of the Latin nations were come over to Hannibal, and whether the Romans had made him any proposals of peace? To this, Mago answering in the negative; "I then perceive," replied Hanno, "that we are no farther advanced than when Hannibal first landed in Italy." The inference he drew from hence was, that neither men nor money ought to be sent. But Hannibal's faction prevailing at that time, no regard was paid to Hanno's remonstrances, which were considered merely as the effect of prejudice and jealousy; and accordingly, orders were given for levying the supplies of men and money which Hannibal required. Mago set out immediately for Spain, to raise twenty-four thousand foot, and four thousand horse, in that country; but these levies were afterwards stopped, and sent another way, so eager was the opposite faction to counteract the designs of a general whom they utterly abhorred. In Rome, a consul who had fled was thanked because he had not despaired of the commonwealth; but at Carthage, people were almost angry with Hannibal for being victorious. ^847 Hanno could never forgive him the advantages he had gained in this war, because he had undertaken it in opposition to his counsel. Thus, being more jealous for the honor of his own opinions than for the good of his country, and a greater enemy to the Carthaginian general than to the Romans, he did all that lay in his power to prevent future successes, and to frustrate those already acquired.
[Footnote 845: Liv. l. xxiii. n. 11-14.]
[Footnote 846: Piiny, l. xxxiii. c. 1, says, that there were three bushels sent to Carthage. Livy observers, that some authors make, them amount to three bushels and a half, but he thinks it most probable that there was but one, l. xxxiii. c. 12. - Florus, l. ii. c. 16, makes it two bushels.]
[Footnote 847: De St. Evremond.]
Hannibal Takes Up His Winter-Quarters In Capua
The battle of Cannae subjected the most powerful nations of Italy to Hannibal, ^848 drew over to his interest Graecia Magna, ^849 with the city of Tarentum; and so wrested from the Romans their most ancient allies, among whom the Capuans held the first rank. This city, by the fertility of its soil, its advantageous situations, and the blessings of a long peace, had risen to great wealth and power. Luxury, and a flow of pleasures, the usual attendants on wealth, had corrupted the minds of its citizens, who from their natural disposition, were but too much inclined to voluptuousness and all excesses.
[Footnote 848: Liv. l. xxiii. n. 4-13.]
[Footnote 849: Caeterum quum Graeci omnem fere oram maritimam coloniis suis e Graecia deductis, obsidirent, &c. But after the Greeks had, by their colonies, possessed themselves of almost all the maritime coast, this very country, together with Sicily, was called Graecia Magna, &c. - Cluver. Geograph. l. iii. c.30.]
Hannibal made choice of this city for his winter-quarters. ^850 Here it was that his soldiers, who had sustained the most grievous toils, and braved the most formidable dangers, were overthrown by delights and a profusion of all things, into which they plunged with the greater eagerness, as they, till then, had been strangers to them. Their courage was so greatly enervated in this bewitching retirement, that all their after efforts were owing rather to the fame and splendor of their former victories, than to their present strength. When Hannibal marched his forces out of the city, they would have been taken for other men, and the reverse of those who had so lately marched into it. Accustomed, during the winter season, to commodious lodgings, to case and plenty, they were no longer able to bear hunger, thirst, long marches, watchings, and the other toils of war; not to mention, that all obedience, all discipline, were entirely laid aside.
[Footnote 850: Ibi partem majorem hiemis exercitum in tectis habuit: adverus omnia humaua mala saepeiac diu durantem, bonis inexpertum atque insuetum. Itaque quos nulla mali vicerat vis, perdidere, nimia bona ac voluptates immodicae, et co impensidus, quo avidius ex insolentia in eas se merserant. - Liv. l. xxiii. n. 12.]
I only transcribe on this occasion from Livy, who, if he may be credited, thinks Hannibal's stay at Capua a reproach to his conduct; and pretends that there he was guilty of an infinitely greater error, than when he neglected to march directly to Rome after the battle of Cannae. For this delay, says Livy, might seem only to have retarded his victory whereas this last misconduct rendered him absolutely incapable of ever defeating the enemy. ^851 In a word, as Marcellas afterwards judiciously observed, Capua was to the Carthaginians and their general, what Cannae had been to the Romans. ^852 There their martial genius, their love of discipline, were lost: there their former fame, and their almost certain hopes of future glory, vanished at once. And, indeed, from thenceforth the affairs of Hannibal rapidly advanced to their decline; fortune declared in favor of prudence, and victory seemed now reconciled to the Romans.
[Footnote 851: Illa enim cunctatio distulisse modo victoriam videri potuit, hic error vires ademisse ad vincendum. - Liv. l. xxiii. n. 18.]
[Footnote 852: Capuam Annibali Cannas fuisse: ibi virtutem bellicam, ibi militarem disciplinam, ibi praeteriti temporis fumam, ibi spem futuri extinctam. - Liv. l. xxiii. n. 45.]
I know not whether Livy has reason to impute all these fatal consequences to the delicious abode of Capua. If we examine carefully all the circumstances of this history, we shall be hardly able to persuade ourselves, that the little progress which was afterwards made by the arms of Hannibal ought to be ascribed to Capua. It might, indeed, have been one cause, but this would be a very inconsiderable one: and the bravery with which the forces of Hannibal afterwards defeated the armies of consuls and praetors; the towns they took even in sight of the Romans; their maintaining their conquests so vigorously, and staying fourteen years after this in Italy, in spite of the Romans; all these circumstances may induce us to believe, that Livy lays too great a stress on the delights of Capua.
The real cause of the decay of Hannibal's affairs was owing to his want of necessary recruits and succors from Carthage. After Mago's speech, the Carthaginian senate had judged it necessary, in order to carry on the conquests in Italy, to send thither a considerable reinforcement of Numidian horse, forty elephants, and a thousand talents; and to hire, in Spain, twenty thousand foot, and four thousand horse, to reinforce their armies in Spain and Italy. ^853 Mago however, could obtain an order but for twelve thousand foot, and two thousand five hundred horse: and even when he was just going to march to Italy with an army so much inferior to that which had been promised him, he was countermanded and sent to Spain. ^854 So that Hannibal, after these mighty promises, had neither infantry, cavalry, elephants, nor money sent him, but was left to his own resources. His army was now reduced to twenty-six thousand foot, and nine thousand horse. How could it be possible for him, with so inconsiderable an army, to seize, in an enemy's country, on all the advantageous posts; to awe his new allies, to preserve his old conquests, and form new ones; and to keep the field with advantage against two armies of the Romans, which were recruited every year? This was the true cause of the declension of Hannibal's affairs, and of the ruin of those of Carthage. Were the part where Polybius treats of this subject extant, we doubtless should find, that he lays a greater stress on this cause, than on the luxurious delights of Capua.
[Footnote 853: Liv. l. xxxiii. n. 13.]
[Footnote 854: Ibid. n. 32.]
The Transactions Relating To Spain And Sardinia
The two Scipios continued in the command of Spain, and their arms were making a considerable progress there, when Asdrubal, who alone seemed able to cope with them, received orders from Carthage to march into Italy to the relief of his brother. ^855 Before he left Spain, he wrote to the senate to convince them of the absolute necessity of their sending a general in his stead, who possessed abilities adequate to oppose the Romans. Imilcon was therefore sent thither with an army; and Asdrubal commenced his march in order to join his brother. The news of his departure was no sooner known than the greatest part of Spain was subdued by the Scipios. These two generals, animated by such signal success, resolved to prevent him, if possible, from leaving Spain. They considered the danger to which the Romans would be exposed, if, being scarce able to resist Hannibal only, they should be attacked by the two brothers at the head of two powerful armies. They therefore pursued Asdrubal, and coming up with him forced him to fight against his inclination. Asdrubal was overcome; and so far from being able to continue his march for Italy, he found that it would be impossible for him to continue with any safety in Spain.
[Footnote 855: A. M. 8790. A. Rome, 534. Liv. xxiii. n. 26-30, 32, 40, 41.]
The Carthaginians had no better success in Sardinia. Designing to take advantage of some rebellions they had fomented in that country, they lost twelve thousand men in a battle fought with the Romans, who took a still greater number of prisoners, among whom were Asdrubal, surnamed Calvus, Hanno, and Mago. ^856 who were distinguished by their birth as well as military exploits.
[Footnote 856: Not Hannibal's brother.]
The Ill Success Of Hannibal: The Sieges Of Capua And Rome
From Hannibal's abode in Capua, the Carthaginian affairs in Italy no longer supported their reputation. ^857 M. Marcellus, first as praetor, and afterwards as consul, had contributed very much to this revolution. He harassed Hannibal's army on every occasion, seized upon his quarters, forced him to raise sieges, and even defeated him in several engagements; so that he was called the sword of Rome, as Fabius had before been called its buckler.
[Footnote 857: A. M. 3791. A. Rome, 535. Liv. l. xxiii. n. 41-46; 1. xxvi. n. 5-16].
But what most affected the Carthaginian general, was to see Capua besieged by the Romans. ^858 In order, therefore, to preserve his reputation among his allies, by a vigorous support of those who held the chief rank as such, he flew to the relief of that city, brought forward his forces, attacked the Romans, and fought several battles to oblige them to raise the siege. At last, seeing all his measures defeated, he marched hastily towards Rome, in order to make a powerful diversion. ^859 He had some hopes, in case he could have an opportunity, in the first consternation, to storm some part of the city, of drawing the Roman generals, with all their forces, from the siege of Capua, to the relief of their capital; he flattered himself, at least, that if for the sake of continuing the siege, they should divide their forces, their weakness might then offer an occasion, either to the Capuans or himself, of engaging and defeating them. Rome was struck, but not confounded. A proposal being made by one of the senators, to recall all the armies to succor Rome; Fabius declared that it would be a disgrace for them to be terrified, and forced to change their measures, upon every motion of Hannibal. ^860 They therefore contented themselves with only recalling part of the army, and one of the generals, Q. Fulvius, the proconsul, from the siege. Hannibal, after making some devastations, drew up his army in order of battle before the city, and the consul did the same. Both sides were preparing to signalize themselves in a battle, of which Rome was to be the recompense when a violent storm obliged them to separate. They were no sooner returned to their respective camps, than the face of the heavens grew calm and serene. The same happened frequently afterwards, insomuch that Hannibal, believing that there was something supernatural in the event, said, according to Livy, that sometimes his own will, and sometimes fortune, would not suffer him to take Rome. ^861
[Footnote 858: A. M. 3793. A. Rome, 537.]
[Footnote 859: A. M. 3794. A. Rome, 538.]
[Footnote 860: Flagitiosum esse terreri ac circumagi ad omnes Annibalis comminationes. Liv. l. xxvi. n. 8.]
[Footnote 861: Audita vox Annibalis fertur, potiundae sibi urbis Romae, modo mentem nondari, modo fortunam. - Liv. l. xxxvi. xxvi, n. 11.]
But the circumstance which most surprised and intimidated him, was the news that while he lay encamped at one of the gates of Rome, the Romans had sent out recruits for the army in Spain at another gate; and at the same time disposed of the ground whereon he was encamped, notwithstanding which it had been sold for its full value, such open contempt stung Hannibal to the quick: he, therefore, on the other hand, exposed to sale the shops of the goldsmiths round the forum. After this bravado he retired, and, in his march, plundered the rich temple of the goddess Feronia. ^862
[Footnote 862: Feronia was the goddess of groves, and there was one with a temple in it dedicated to her, at the foot of the mountain Soracte. Strabo, speaking of the grove where this goddess was worshipped, says, that a sacrifice was offered annually to her in it; and that her votaries, inspired by this goddess, walked unhurt over burning coals. There are still extant some medals of Augustus, in which this goddess is represented with a crown on her head.]
Capua, thus left to itself, held out but very little longer. After such of its senators as had been principals in the revolt, and consequently could not expect any quarter from the Romans, had put themselves to a truly tragical death, ^863! the city surrendered at discretion. The success of this siege, which, by the happy consequences attending it, proved decisive, and gave the Romans a visible superiority over the Carthaginians, displayed at the same time, how formidable the power of the Romans was, ^864 when they undertook to punish their perfidious allies; and the feeble protection which Hannibal could afford his friends, at a time when they most wanted it.
[Footnote 863: Villius Virius, the chief of this conspiracy, after having represented to the Capuan senate, the severe treatment which his country might expect from the Romans, prevailed upon twenty-seven senators to go with him to his own house, where, after eating a plentiful dinner, and heating themselves with wine, they all drank poison. Then, taking their last farewell, some withdrew to their own houses, others stayed with Virius; and all expired before the gates were opened to the Romans. - Liv. l. xxvi. n. 16.]
[Footnote 864: Confessio expressa hosti, quanta vis in Romanis ad expetendas poenas ab infidelibus sociis, et quam nihil in Annibale auxilii ad receptos in fidem tuendo esset. - Liv. l. xxvi. n. 16.]
The Defeat And Death Of The Two Scipios In Spain
The face of affairs was very much changed in Spain. ^865 The Carthaginians had three armies in that country, one commanded by Asdrubal, the son of Gisco; the second by Asdrubal, son of Hamilcar; and a third under Mago, who had joined the first Asdrubal. The two Scipios, Cneus and Publius, were for dividing their forces, and attacking the enemy separately, which was the cause of their ruin; it accordingly was agreed that Cneus, with a small number of Romans, and thirty thousand Celtiberians, should march against Asdrubal the son of Hamilcar; while Publius, with the remainder of the forces, composed of Romans and the allies of Italy, should advance against the other two generals.
[Footnote 865: A. M. 3793. A. Rome, 537. Liv. l. xxv. n. 32-39.]
Publius was vanquished first. Masinissa, elated with the victories he had lately obtained over Syphax, had joined the two leaders whom Publius was to oppose; and was to be soon followed by Indibilis, a powerful Spanish prince. The armies came to an engagement. The Romans, being thus attacked on all sides at once, made a brave resistance as long as they had their general at their head; but the moment he fell, the few troops which had escaped the slaughter, secured themselves by flight.
The three victorious armies marched immediately in quest of Cneus, in order to put an end to the war by his defeat. He was already more than half vanquished, by the desertion of his allies, who all forsook him, and left to the Roman generals this important instruction, viz.: never to let their own forces be exceeded in number by those of foreigners. ^866 He had reason to believe that his brother was slain, and his army defeated, on seeing such great bodies of the enemy arrive. He survived him but a short time, being killed in the engagement. These two great men were equally lamented by their citizens and allies; and the Spaniards bewailed their memory on account of the justice and moderation of their conduct.
[Footnote 866: Id quidem cavendum semper Romanis ducibus erit, exemplaque haec vere pro documentis habenda. Ne ita externis credant auxilliis, ut non plus sui roboris suarumque proprie virium in castris habeant. - Liv. n. 33.]
These extensive countries seemed now inevitably lost, but the valor of L. Marcius, ^867 a private officer of the equestrian order, preserved them to the Romans. Shortly after this, the younger Scipio was sent thither, who fully avenged the death of his father and uncle, and restored the affairs of the Romans in Spain to their former flourishing condition.
[Footnote 867: He attacked the Carthaginians, who had divided themselves into two camps, and were secure, as they thought, from any immediate attempt of the Romans; killed thirty-seven thousand of them; took one thousand eight hundred prisoners, and brought off immense plunder. - Liv. l. xxv. n. 39.]
The Defeat And Death Of Asdrubal
One unforeseen defeat ruined all the measures, and blasted all the hopes of Hannibal with regard to Italy. ^868 The consuls of this year, which was the eleventh of the second Punic war (for I pass over several events for brevity's sake), were C. Claudius Nero and M. Livius. The latter had for his province Cisalpine Gaul, where he was to oppose Asdrubal, who, it was reported, was preparing to pass the Alps. The former commanded in the country of the Brutians and in Lucania, that is, in the opposite extremity of Italy, and was there making head against Hannibal.
[Footnote 868: A. M. 3798. A. Rome, 542. Polyb. l. xi. pp. 622-625. Liv. l. xxvii. pp. 35-39, 51.]
The passage of the Alps gave Asdrubal very little trouble, because his brother had cleared the way for him, and all the nations were disposed to receive him. Some time after this he despatched couriers to Hannibal, but they were intercepted. Nero found by their letters, that Asdrubal was hastening to join his brother in Umbria. In a conjuncture of so delicate and important a nature as this, when the safety of Rome lay at stake, he thought himself at liberty to dispense with the established rules of his duty, for the welfare of his country. ^869 In consequence of this, it was his opinion, that such a bold and unexpected blow ought to be struck, as might be capable of terrifying the enemy, by marching to the relief of his colleague, in order to charge Asdrubal unexpectedly with their united forces. This design, if the several circumstances of it be thoroughly examined, will appear exceedingly remote from imprudence. To prevent the two brothers from joining their armies, was to save the state. Very little would be hazarded, even though Hannibal should be informed of the absence of the consul. From his army, which consisted of forty-two thousand men, he drew out but seven thousand for his own detachment, which indeed were the flower of his troops, but at the same time, a very inconsiderable part of them. The rest remained in the camp, which was advantageously situated, and strongly fortified. Now, could it be supposed that Hannibal would attack, and force a camp, defended by thirtyfive thousand men?
[Footnote 869: No general was allowed to leave his own province, to go into that of another.]
Nero set out, without giving his soldiers the least notice of his design. When he advanced so far, that it might be communicated without any danger, he told them, that he was leading them to certain victory; that in war all things depended upon reputation; that the bare rumor of their arrival would disconcert all the measures of the Carthaginians; and that the whole honor of this battle would fall to them.
They marched with extraordinary diligence, and joined the other consul in the night, but did not encamp separately the better to impose upon the enemy. The troops on their arrival joined those of Livius. The army of Portius the praetor was encamped near that of the consul, and in the morning a council of war was held. Livius was of opinion, that it might be proper to allow the troops some days to refresh themselves, but Nero besought him not to ruin, by delay, an enterprise to which despatch could only give success; and to take advantage of the error of the enemy, absent as well as present. This advice was complied with, and accordingly the signal for battle was given. Asdrubal, advancing to his foremost ranks, discovered by several circumstances, that fresh troops were arrived; and he did not doubt but that they belonged to the other consul. This made him conjecture that his brother had sustained a considerable loss, and, at the same time, fear that he was come too late to his assistance.
After making these reflections, he caused a retreat to be sounded and his army began to march in great disorder. Night overtaking him, and his guides deserting, he was uncertain which way to go. He marched at random along the banks of the river Metaurus, ^870 and was preparing to cross it, when the three armies of the enemy came up with him. In this extremity, he saw it would be impossible for him to avoid coming to an engagement; and therefore did every thing which could be expected from the presence of mind and valor of a great captain. He seized an advantageous post, and drew up his forces on a narrow spot, which gave him an opportunity of posting his left wing, the weakest part of his army, in such a manner, that it could neither be attacked in front, nor charged in flank; and of giving to his main battle and right wing a greater depth than front. After this hasty disposition of his forces, he posted himself in the centre, and first marched to attack the enemy's left wing; well knowing that all was at stake, and that he must either conquer or die. The battle lasted a long time, and was obstinately disputed on both sides. Asdrubal, especially signalized himself in this engagement, and added new glory to that he had already acquired by a series of brilliant actions. He led on his soldiers, trembling and quite dispirited, against an enemy superior to them both in numbers and resolution. He animated them by his words, supported them by his example, and, with entreaties and menaces, endeavored to bring back those who fled; till, at last, seeing that victory declared for the Romans, and being unable to survive the loss of so many thousand men, who had quit their country to follow his fortune, he rushed at once into the midst of a Roman cohort, and there died in a manner worthy the son of Hamilcar, and the brother of Hannibal.
[Footnote 870: Now called Metaro.]
This was the most bloody battle the Carthaginians had fought during this war; and, whether we consider the death of the general, or the slaughter made of the Carthaginian forces, it may be looked upon as a retaliation for the battle of Cannae. The Carthaginians lost fifty-five thousand men, ^871 and six thousand prisoners. The Romans lost eight thousand, and were so weary of slaughter, that some person telling Livius, that he might very easily cut to pieces a body of the enemy who were flying; It is fit, says he, that some should survive, that they may carry the news of this defeat to the Carthaginians.
[Footnote 871: According to Polybius, the loss amounted to but ten thousand men, and that of the Romans to two thousand. - L. xi. p. 870. Edit. Gronov.]
Nero set out upon his march on the very night which followed the engagement. Through all places where he passed, in his return, he was welcomed by shouts of joy and loud acclamations, instead of those fears and uneasiness which his coming had occasioned. He arrived in his camp the sixth day. Asdrubal's head being thrown into that of the Carthaginians, informed Hannibal of his brother's unhappy fate. Hannibal perceived, by this cruel stroke, the fortune of Carthage: It is finished, says he; I will no longer send triumphant messages to Carthage. In losing Asdrubal, I have lost at once all my hope, all my good fortune. ^872 He afterwards retired to the extremities of the country of the Brutians, where he assembled all his forces, who found it a very difficult matter to subsist there, as no provisions were sent them from Carthage.
[Footnote 872: Horace makes him speak thus, in the beautiful ode where this defeat is described.
Carthagini jam non ego nuntios
Mittam superbos. Occidit, occidit
Spes omnis, et fortuna nostri
Nominis, Asdrubale interempto. - Lib. vi. Od. 4.
Scipio Conquers All Spain; Is Appointed Consul, And Sails Into Africa Hannibal Is Recalled
The affairs of the Carthaginians were equally unfortunate in Spain. ^873 The prudent activity of young Scipio had restored the Roman affairs in that country to their former flourishing state, as the courageous delay of Fabius had before done in Italy. The three Carthaginian generals in Spain, Asdrubal, son of Gisco, Hanno, and Mago, having been defeated with their numerous armies by the Romans, in several engagements, Scipio at last possessed himself of Spain, and subjected it entirely to the Roman power. It was at this time that Masinissa, a very powerful African prince, went over to the Romans; and Syphax, on the contrary, to the Carthaginians.
[Footnote 873: A. M. 3799. A. Rome, 543. Polyb. l. xi. p. 650, et l. xiv. pp. 677-687, et l. xv. pp. 689-694. Liv. l. xxviii. n. 1-4, 16, 38, 40-46, l. xxix. n. 24-36, l. xxx. n. 20-28]
Scipio, on his return to Rome, was declared consul, being then thirty years of age. ^874 He had P. Licinius Crassus for his colleague. Sicily was allotted to Scipio, with permission to cross into Africa, if he found it convenient. He set out will all imaginable expedition for his province; while his colleague was to command in the country to which Hannibal had retired.
[Footnote 874: A. M. 3800. A. Rome, 544.]
The taking of New Carthage, where Scipio had displayed all the prudence, the courage, and capacity which could have been expected from the greatest generals, and the complete conquest of Spain, were more than sufficient to immortalize his name: but he had considered these as only so many steps by which to climb to a nobler enterprise, and this was the conquest of Africa. Accordingly he cross over thither, and made it the seat of war.
The devastation of the country; the siege of Utica, one of the strongest cities of Africa; the entire defeat of the two armies under Syphax and Asdrubal, whose camp was burnt by Scipio; and afterwards the taking of Syphax himself prisoner, who was the most powerful resource the Carthaginians had left; all these things forced them at last to turn their thoughts to peace. They thereupon deputed thirty of their principal senators, who were selected for that purpose, out of the powerful body at Carthage, called the council of the hundred. Being introduced into the Roman general's tent, they threw themselves prostrate on the earth (such was the custom of their country), spoke to him in terms of great submission, accusing Hannibal as the author of all their calamities, and promising, in the name of the senate, an implicit obedience to whatever the Romans should please to ordain. Scipio answered, that though he was come into Africa, not for peace but conquest, he would however grant them a peace, upon condition that they should deliver up all the prisoners and deserters to the Romans; that they should recall their armies out of Italy and Gaul; should never set foot again in Spain; should retire out of all the islands between Italy and Africa; should deliver up all their ships, except twenty, to the victor; should give the Romans five hundred thousand bushels of wheat, three hundred thousand of barley, and pay fifteen thousand talents: that in case they were pleased with these conditions, they then might send ambassadors to the senate. The Carthaginians feigned a compliance, but this was only to gain time till Hannibal should be returned. A truce was then granted to the Carthaginians, who immediately sent deputies to Rome; and at the same time, an express to Hannibal, to order his return into Africa.
He was then, as was observed before, in the extremity of Italy. ^875 Here he received the orders from Carthage, which he could not listen to without groans, and almost tears; and was exasperated almost to madness, to see himself thus forced to quit his prey. An exile could not have shown more regret at leaving his native country, than Hannibal did in quitting that of an enemy. ^876 He often turned his eyes wistfully to Italy, accusing gods and men of his misfortunes, and calling down a thousand curses, says Livy, upon himself, for not having marched directly to Rome after the battle of Cannae, while his soldiers were still reeking with the blood of its citizens. ^877
[Footnote 875: A. M. 3802. A. Rome, 546.]
[Footnote 876: Raro quenquam alium patriam exilii causa relinguentem magis moestum abusse ferunt, quam Annibalem hostium terra excedentem. Respexisset saepe Italiae littora, et deos hominesque accusantem, in se quoque ac suum ipsius caput execratum, "Quod non cruentum ab Cannensi victoria militem Romam duxisset." - Liv. l. xxx. n. 20.]
[Footnote 877: Livy supposes, however, that this delay was a capital error in Hannibal, which he himself afterwards regretted.]
At Rome, the senate, greatly dissatisfied with the excuses made by the Carthaginian deputies, in justification of their republic, and the ridiculous offer of their adhering, in its name, to the treaty of Lutatius, thought proper to refer the decision of the whole to Scipio, who, being on the spot, could best judge what conditions the welfare of the state required.
About the same time, Octavius the praetor, sailing from Sicily with two hundred vessels of burden, was attacked near Carthage by a violent storm, which dispersed his fleet. The citizens, unwilling to see so rich a prey escape them, demanded importunately that the Carthaginian fleet might sail out and seize it. The senate, after a faint resistance, complied. Asdrubal, sailing out of the harbor, seized the greatest part of the Roman ships, and brought them to Carthage, although the truce was still subsisting.
Scipio sent deputies to the Carthaginian senate, to complain of this, but they were slightly regarded. Hannibal's approach had revived their courage, and filled them with great hopes. The deputies were even in great danger of being ill-treated by the populace. They therefore demanded a convoy, which was granted, and accordingly two ships of the republic attended them; but the magistrates, who were absolutely against peace, and determined to renew the war, gave private orders to Asdrubal, who was with the fleet near Utica, to attack the Roman galley when it should arrive in the river Bagrada, near the Roman camp, where the convoy was ordered to leave them. He obeyed the order, and sent out two galleys against the ambassadors, who, nevertheless, made their escape, but with difficulty and danger.
This was a fresh subject for a war between the two nations, who were now more animated, or rather more exasperated, one against the other, than ever; the Romans, from the strong desire they had to revenge so base a perfidy, and the Carthaginians, from a firm persuasion that they were not now to expect a peace.
At the same time, Laelius and Fulvius, who carried the full powers with which the senate and people of Rome had invested Scipio, arrived in the camp, accompanied by the deputies of Carthage. As the Carthaginians had not only infringed the truce, but violated the law of nations, in the persons of the Roman ambassadors, it was natural that their principals should order the Carthaginian deputies to be seized by way of reprisal. Scipio, however, ^878 more attentive to the Roman generosity than to the demerits of the Carthaginians, in order not to deviate from the principles and maxims of his own countrymen, nor his own character, dismissed the deputies, without offering them the least injury. So astonishing an instance of moderation, and at such a juncture, terrified the Carthaginians, and even put them to the blush; and made Hannibal himself entertain a still higher idea of a general, who, to the dishonorable practices of his enemies, opposed a rectitude and magnanimity, still more worthy of admiration than all his military virtues.
[Footnote 878: - Polyb. l. xv. p. 965 Edit. Gronov. Quibus Scipio; Etsi non induciarum modo fides, sed etiam jus gentium in legatis violatum esset; tamen nec nihil nec institutis populi Romani nec sui moribus indignum in iis facturum esse. - Liv. l. xxx. n. 25.]
In the mean time, Hannibal, being strongly importuned by his fellow-citizens, advanced into the country; and arriving at Zama, which is five days' march from Carthage, encamped there. He then sent out spies to observe the posture of the Romans. Scipio having seized these, so far from punishing them, only commanded them to be led about the Roman camp, that they might take an exact survey of it, and then sent them back to Hannibal. The latter knew very well whence so noble an assurance flowed. After the strange reverses he had met with, he no longer expected that fortune would be again propitious. While every one was exciting him to give battle, he alone meditated a peace. He flattered himself that the conditions of it would be more honorable for him, as he was at the head of an army, and as the fate of war might still appear uncertain. He therefore sent to desire an interview with Scipio, which accordingly was agreed to, and the time and place fixed.
The Interview Between Hannibal And Scipio In Africa, Followed By A Battle
These two generals, who were not only the most illustrious of their own age, but worthy of being ranked with the most renowned princes and warriors that had ever lived, meeting at the place appointed, maintained for some time a deep silence, as though they were astonished, and struck with mutual admiration at the sight of each other. ^879 At last Hannibal spoke; and, after having praised Scipio in the most artful and delicate manner, he gave a very lively description of the ravages of the war, and the calamities in which it had involved both the victors and the vanquished. He conjured him not to suffer himself to be dazzled by the splendor of his victories. He represented to him, that however successful he might have hitherto been, he ought to tremble at the inconstancy of fortune; that without going far back for examples, he himself, who was then speaking to him, was a glaring proof of this: that Scipio was at that time what himself, Hannibal, had been at Thrasymene and Cannae: that he ought to make a better use of opportunity than himself had done, and consent to peace, now when it was in his power to propose the conditions of it. He concluded with declaring, that the Carthaginians would willingly resign Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and all the islands between Africa and Italy, to the Romans. That they must be forced, since such was the will of the gods, to confine themselves to Africa; while they should see the Romans extending their conquests in the most remote regions, and obliging all nations to pay obedience to their laws.
[Footnote 879: A. M. 3803. A. Rome, 547. Polyb. 1. xv. pp. 694-703. Liv. l. xxx. n. 29, 35.]
Scipio answered in a few words, but not with less dignity. He reproached the Carthaginians for their perfidy, in plundering the Roman galleys before the truce was expired. He imputed to them only, and to their injustice, all the calamities with which the two wars had been attended. After thanking Hannibal for the admonition he gave him, with regard to the uncertainty of human events, he concluded with desiring him to prepare for battle, unless he chose rather to accept of the conditions that had been already proposed; to which he observed, some others would be added, in order to punish the Carthaginians for having violated the truce.
Hannibal could not prevail upon himself to accept these conditions, and the generals separated with the resolution to decide the fate of Carthage by a general battle. Each commander exhorted his troops to fight valiantly. Hannibal enumerated the victories he had gained over the Romans, the generals he had slain, the armies he had cut to pieces. Scipio represented to his soldiers, the conquests of both the Spains, his successes in Africa, and the tacit confession their enemies themselves made of their weakness, by thus coming to sue for peace. All this he spoke with the tone and air of a conqueror. ^880 Never were motives more calculated to excite troops to behave gallantly. This day was to complete the glory of the one or the other of the generals, and to decide whether Rome or Carthage should prescribe laws to all other nations.
[Footnote 880: Celsus haec corpore, vultuque ita laeto, ut vicisse jam crederes, dicebat. Liv. l. xxx. n. 32.]
I shall not undertake to describe the order of the battle, nor the valor of the forces on both sides. The reader will naturally suppose, that two such experienced generals did not forget any circumstance which could contribute to the victory. The Carthaginians after a very obstinate fight, were obliged to fly, leaving twenty thousand men on the field of battle, and the like number of prisoners were taken by the Romans. Hannibal escaped in the tumult, and entering Carthage, owned that he was irrecoverably overthrown, and that the citizens had no other choice left, but to accept of peace on any conditions. Scipio bestowed great eulogiums on Hannibal, chiefly with regard to his capacity in taking advantages, his manner of drawing up his army, and giving his orders in the engagement; and affirmed, that Hannibal had this day surpassed himself, although fortune had not answered his valor and conduct.
With regard to himself, he well knew how to make a proper advantage of his victory, and the consternation with which he had filled the enemy. He commanded one of his lieutenants to march his land army to Carthage, and prepared in person to conduct the fleet thither.
He was not far from the city, when he met a vessel covered with streamers and olive-branches, bringing ten of the most considerable persons of the state, as ambassadors to implore his clemency. He however dismissed them without making any answer, and bid them come to him at Tunis, where he should halt. The deputies of Carthage, being thirty in number, came to him at the place appointed, and sued for peace in the most submissive terms. He then called a council, the majority of which was for razing Carthage, and treating the inhabitants with the utmost severity. But the consideration of the time which must necessarily be employed before a city so strongly fortified could be taken, and Scipio's fear that a successor to him might be appointed while he should be employed in the siege, made him incline to clemency.
A Peace Concluded Between The Carthaginians And The Romans. The End Of The Second Punic War
The conditions of the peace dictated by Scipio to the Carthaginians were "that the Carthaginians were to continue free, and preserve their laws, their territories, and the cities they possessed in Africa before the war; ^881 that they should deliver up to the Romans all deserters, slaves, and captives belonging to them; all their ships, except ten triremes; all their tame elephants, and that they should not train up any more for war; that they should not make war out of Africa, nor even in that country, without first obtaining leave for that purpose from the Roman people; should restore to Masinissa all they had taken from him or his ancestors; should furnish money and corn to the Roman auxiliaries, till their ambassadors should be returned from Rome; should pay to the Romans ten thousand Euboic talents ^882 of silver, in fifty annual payments; and give a hundred hostages, who should be nominated by Scipio. And in order that they might have time to send to Rome, it was agreed to grant them a truce, upon condition that they should restore the ships taken during the former war, without which they were not to expect either a truce or a peace."
[Footnote 881: Polyb. l. xv. pp. 704-707. Liv. 1. xxx. n, 36-44.]
[Footnote 882: Ten thousand Attic talents make thirty millions French money. Ten thousand Euboic talents make something more than twenty-eight millions, thirty-three thousand livres; because, according to Budaeus, the Euboic talent is equivalent but to fifty-six Minae and something more, whereas the Attic talent is worth sixty Minae. Or otherwise thus calculated in English money:
[See Table 1: Euboic Talent]
When the deputies returned to Carthage, they laid before the senate the conditions dictated by Scipio. But they appeared so intolerable to Gisco, that rising up, he made a speech, in order to dissuade the citizens from accepting a peace on such shameful terms. Hannibal, provoked at the calmness with which such an orator was heard, took Gisco by the arm, and dragged him from his seat. A behavior so outrageous, and so remote from the manners of a free city, like Carthage, raised a universal murmur. Hannibal was vexed with himself when he reflected on what he had done, and immediately made an apology for it. "As I left," says he, "your city at nine years of age, and did not return to it till after thirty-six years' absence, I had full leisure to learn the arts of war, and flatter myself that I have made some improvement in them. As for your laws and customs, it is no wonder I am ignorant of them, and I therefore desire you to instruct me in them." He then expatiated on the necessity they were under of concluding a peace. He added, that they ought to thank the gods for having prompted the Romans to grant them a peace even on these conditions. He urged on them the importance of their uniting in opinion, and of not giving an opportunity, by their divisions, for the people to take an affair of this nature under their cognizance. The whole city came over to his opinion, and accordingly the peace was accepted. The senate made Scipio satisfaction with regard to the ships demanded by him, and after obtaining a truce for three months, sent ambassadors to Rome.
These Carthaginians, who were all venerable for their years, and dignity, were admitted immediately to an audience. Asdrubal, surnamed Hoedus, who was still an irreconcilable enemy to Hannibal and his faction, spoke first: and after having excused, to the best of his power, the people of Carthage, by imputing the rupture to the ambition of some particular persons, he added, that had the Carthaginians listened to his counsels, and those of Hanno, they would have been able to grant the Romans the peace for which they now were obliged to sue. "But," continued he, "wisdom and prosperity are very rarely found together. The Romans are invincible, because they never suffer themselves to be blinded by good fortune. And it would be surprising should they act otherwise. Success dazzles those only to whom it is new and unusual, whereas the Romans are so much accustomed to conquer, that they are almost insensible to the charms of victory; and it may be said for their glory, that they have extended their empire, in some measure, more by the humanity they have shown to the conquered, than by conquest itself." ^883 The other ambassadors spoke with a more plaintive tone of voice, and represented the calamitous state to which Carthage was about to be reduced, and the grandeur and power from which she had fallen.
[Footnote 883: Raro simul hominibus bonam fortunam bonamque mentem dari. Populum Romanum eo invictum esse quod in secundis rebus sapere et consulere meminerit. Et hercle mirandum fuisse si aliter facerent. Ex insolentia, quibus nova bona fortuna sit, impotentes laetitiae insanire; populo Romano usitata ac prope obsoleta ex victoria gaudia esse; ac plus pene parcendo victis, quam vincendo, imperiam auxisse. - Liv. l. xxx. n. 42.]
The senate and people, being equally inclined to peace, sent full powers to Scipio to conclude it, left the conditions to that general, and permitted him to march back his army, after the treaty should be ratified.
The ambassadors desired to leave to enter the city to redeem some of their prisoners, and they found about two hundred whom they desired to ransom. But the senate sent them to Scipio, with orders that they should be restored without any pecuniary consideration, in case a peace should be concluded.
The Carthaginians, on the return of the ambassadors, concluded a peace with Scipio on the terms he himself had prescribed. They then delivered up to him more than five hundred ships, all which he burnt in sight of Carthage; a lamentable sight to the inhabitants of that ill-fated city! He struck off the heads of the allies of the allies of the Latin name, and hanged all the citizens who were surrendered to him, as deserters.
When the time for the payment of the first tax imposed by the treaty was expired, as the funds of the government were exhausted by this long and expensive war, the difficulty which would be found in levying so great a sum, threw the senate into a melancholy silence, and many could not refrain even from tears. It is said, that at this Hannibal laughed, and when reproached by Asdrubal Hoedus, for thus insulting his country in the affliction which he had brought upon it, "were it possible," says Hannibal, "for my heart to be seen, and that as clearly as my countenance, you would then find that this laughter, which offends so much, flows not from an intemperate joy, but from a mind almost distracted with the public calamities. But is this laughter more unreasonable than your unbecoming tears? Then, ought you to have wept, when your arms were ingloriously taken from you, your ships burned, and you were forbidden to engage in any foreign wars. This was the mortal blow which laid us prostrate. We are sensible of the public calamity so far only as we have a personal concern in it, and the loss of our money gives us the most poignant sorrow. Hence it was, that when our city was made the spoil of the victor; when it was left disarmed and defenceless amidst so many powerful nations of Africa, who had at that time taken the field, not a groan, not a sigh was heard. But now, when you are called on for a poll-tax you weep and lament, as if all were lost. Alas! I only wish that the subject of this day's fear do not soon appear to you the least of your misfortunes."
Scipio, after all things were concluded, embarked to return to Italy. He arrived at Rome through crowds of people, whom curiosity had drawn together to behold his march. The most magnificent triumph that Rome had ever seen was decreed him, and the surname of Africanus was bestowed upon that great man; and honor till then unknown, no person before him having assumed the name of a vanquished nation. Such was the conclusion of the second Punic war, after having lasted seventeen years. ^884
[Footnote 884: A. M. 3804. A. Carth. 646. A. Rome, 548. Ant. J. C. 200.]
A Short Reflection On The Government Of Carthage In The Time Of The Second Punic War
I shall conclude the particulars which relate to the second Punic war, with a reflection of Polybius, which will show the difference between the two commonwealths. ^885 If may be affirmed, in some measure, that at the beginning of the second Punic war, and in Hannibal's time, Carthage was in its decline. The flower of its youth, and its sprightly vigor, were already diminished. It had begun to fall from its exalted pitch of power, and was inclining towards its ruin; whereas Rome was then, as it were, in its bloom and strength of life, and rapidly advancing to the conquest of the universe. The reason of the declension of the one, and the rise of the other, is taken by Polybius from the different form of government established in these commonwealths, at the time we are now speaking of. At Carthage, the common people had seized upon the sovereign authority with regard to public affairs, and the advice of their ancient men or magistrates, was no longer listened to; all affairs were transacted by intrigue and cabal. Not to mention the artifices which the faction opposed to Hannibal employed, during the whole time of his command, to perplex him; the single instance of burning the Roman vessels during a truce, a perfidious action to which the common people compelled the senate to lend their name and assistance, is a proof of Polybius' assertion. On the contrary, at this very time, the Romans paid the highest regard to their senate, that is, to a body composed of the greatest sages; and their old men were listened to and revered as oracles. It is well known that the Roman people were exceedingly jealous of their authority, and especially in that part of it which related to the election of magistrates. ^886 A century of young men, who by lot were to give the first vote, which generally directed all the rest, had nominated two consuls. On the bare remonstrance of Fabius, ^887 who represented to the people, that in a tempest, like that with which Rome was then struggling, the most able pilots ought to be chosen to steer their common ship, the republic; the century returned to their suffrages, and nominated other consuls. Polybius, from this disparity of government, infers that a people, thus guided by the prudence of old men, could not fail of prevailing over a state which was governed wholly by the giddy multitude. And indeed, the Romans, under the guidance of the wise counsels of their senate, gained at last the superiority with regard to the war considered in general, though they were defeated in several particular engagements, and established their power and grandeur on the ruin of their rivals.
[Footnote 885: Lib. vi. pp. 493, 494.]
[Footnote 886: Liv. 1. xxiv. n. 8, 9.]
[Footnote 887: Quilibet nautarum rectorumque tranquillo mari gubernare potest; ubi saeva orta tempestas est, ac turbato mari rapitur vento navis, tum viro et gubernatore opus est. Non tranquillo navigamus, sed jam aliquot procellis submersi pene sumus. Itaque quis ad gubernacula sedeat summa cura providendum ae praecuvendum nobis est.]
The Interval Between The Second And Third Punic Wars
The events relating to Carthage during this period, are not very remarkable, although it includes more than fifty years. They may be reduced to two heads, one of which relates to the person of Hannibal, and the other to some particular differences between the Carthaginians and Masinissa, king of the Numidians. We shall treat both separately, but not extensively.
Section I: - Continuation Of The History Of Hannibal
When the second Punic war was ended, by the treaty of peace concluded with Scipio, Hannibal, as he himself observed in the Carthaginian senate, was forty-five years of age. What we have further to say of this great man, includes the space of twenty-five years.
Hannibal Undertakes And Completes The Reformation Of The Courts Of Justice, And The Treasury Of Carthage
After the conclusion of the peace, Hannibal, at least in the beginning, was greatly respected in Carthage, where he filled the first employments of the state with honor and applause. He headed the Carthaginian forces in some wars against the Africans: but the Romans, to whom the very name of Hannibal gave uneasiness, discontented at seeing him in arms, made complaints on that account, and accordingly he was recalled to Carthage. ^888
[Footnote 888: Corn. Nep. in Annib. c. 7.]
On his return he was appointed praetor, which seems to have been a very considerable employment, as well as of great authority. ^889 Carthage is therefore, with regard to him, becoming a new theatre, as it were, on which he will display virtues and qualities of a quite different nature from those we have hitherto admired in, and which will finish the picture of this illustrious man.
[Footnote 889: A. M. 3810. A. Rome, 554.]
Eagerly desirous of restoring the affairs of his afflicted country to their former happy condition, he was persuaded that the two most powerful methods to make a state flourish were, an exact and equal distribution of justice to the people in general, and a faithful management of the public finances. The former, by preserving an equality among the citizens, and making them enjoy such a delightful, undisturbed liberty, under the protection of the laws, as fully secures their honor, their lives and properties, unites the individuals of the commonwealth more closely together, and attaches them more firmly to the state, to which they owe the preservation of all that is most dear and valuable to them. The latter, by a faithful administration of the public revenues, supplies punctually the several wants and necessities of the state, keeps in reserve a never-failing resource for sudden emergencies, and prevents the people from being burdened with new taxes, which are rendered necessary by extravagant profusion, and which chiefly contribute to make men harbor an aversion for government.
Hannibal saw with great concern the irregularities which had crept equally into the administration of justice and the management of the finances. Upon his being nominated praetor, as his love for regularity and order made him uneasy at every deviation from it, and prompted him to use his utmost endeavors for its restoration; he had the courage to attempt the reformation of this double abuse, which drew after it a numberless multitude of others, without dreading either the animosity of the old faction that opposed him, or the new enmity which his zeal for the republic must necessarily create.
The judges exercised the most cruel rapine with impunity. ^890 They were so many petty tyrants, who disposed, in an arbitrary manner, of the lives and fortunes of the citizens, without there being the least possibility of putting a stop to their injustice. Because they held their commissions for life, and mutually supported one another. Hannibal, a praetor, summoned before his tribunal an officer belonging to the bench of judges, who openly abused his power. Livy tells us that he was a quaestor. This officer, who was in the opposite faction to Hannibal, and had already assumed all the pride and haughtiness of the judges among whom he was to be admitted at the expiration of his present office, insolently refused to obey the summons. Hannibal was not of a disposition to suffer an affront of this nature tamely. Accordingly, he caused him to be seized by a lictor, and brought him before the assembly of the people. There, not satisfied with levelling his resentment against this single officer, he impeached the whole bench of judges; whose insupportable and tyrannical pride was not restrained, either by the fear of the laws, or a reverence for the magistrates. And, as Hannibal perceived that he was heard with pleasure, and that the lowest and most inconsiderable of the people discovered on this occasion that they were no longer able to bear the insolent pride of these judges, who seemed to have a design upon their liberties; he proposed a law, which accordingly passed, by which it was enacted, that new judges should be chosen annually; with a clause that none should continue in office beyond that term. This law, at the same time that it acquired him the friendship and esteem of the people, drew upon him proportionably the hatred of the greatest part of the grandees and nobility.
[Footnote 890: Liv. l. xxxiii. n. 46.]
He attempted another reformation, which created him new enemies, but gained him great honor. ^891 The public revenues were either squandered away by the negligence of those who had the management of them, or were plundered by the chief men of the city, and the magistrates; so that money being wanted to pay the annual tribute due to the Romans, the Carthaginians were going to levy it upon the people in general. Hannibal, entering into a full detail of the public revenues, ordered an exact estimate to be laid before him; inquired in what manner they had been applied to the employments and ordinary expenses of the state; and having discovered by this inquiry, that the public funds had been in a great measure embezzled by the fraud of the officers who had the management of them, he declared and promised, in a full assembly of the people, that without laying any new taxes upon individuals, the republic should hereafter be enabled to pay the tribute due to the Romans; and he was as good as his word. The farmers of the revenues, whose plunder and rapine he had publicly detected, having accustomed themselves hitherto to fatten upon the spoils of their country, exclaimed vehemently against these regulations, ^892 as if their own property had been forced out of their hands, and not the sums of which they had defrauded the public.
[Footnote 891: Liv. l. xxxiii. n. 46, 47.]
[Footnote 892: Tum vero isti quos paverat per aliquot annos publicus peculatus, velut bonis ereptis, non furto eorum manibus extorto, incensi et irati, Romanos in Annibalem, et ipsos causam odii quaerentes, instigabant. - Liv.]
The Retreat And Death Of Hannibal
This double reformation of abuses raised great clamor against Hannibal. ^893 His enemies were writing incessantly to the chief men, or their friends, at Rome, to inform them, that he was carrying on a secret correspondence with Antiochus, king of Syria; that he frequently received couriers from him; and that this prince had privately despatched agents to Hannibal, to concert with him measures for carrying on the war he was meditating: that as some animals are so extremely fierce, that it is impossible ever to tame them; in like manner, this man was of so turbulent and implacable a spirit that he could not brook ease, and therefore would, sooner or later, break out again. These informations were listened to at Rome; and as the transactions of the preceding war had been begun and carried on almost solely by Hannibal, they appeared the more probable. However, Scipio strongly opposed the violent measures which the senate were about to take on their receiving this intelligence, by representing it as derogatory to the dignity of the Roman people, to countenance the hatred and accusations of Hannibal's enemies; to support, with their authority, their unjust passions; and obstinately to pursue him even to the very heart of his country; as though the Romans had not humbled him sufficiently, in driving him out of the field, and forcing him to lay down his arms.
[Footnote 893: Liv. l. xxxiii. n. 45-49]
But, notwithstanding these prudent remonstrances, the senate appointed three commissioners to go and make their complaints to Carthage, and to demand that Hannibal should be delivered up to them. On their arrival in that city, though other things were speciously pretended, yet Hannibal was perfectly sensible that he only was the object. The evening being come, he conveyed himself on board a ship, which he had secretly provided for that purpose; on which occasion he bewailed his country's fate more than his own. Soepius patrioe quam suos eventus miseratus. This was the eighth year after the conclusion of the peace. The first place he landed at was Tyre, where he was received as in his second country, and had all the honors paid him which were due to his exalted merit. After staying some days here, he set out for Antioch, which the king had lately left, and from thence waited upon him at Ephesus. ^894 The arrival of so renowned a general gave great pleasure to the king, and did not a little contribute to determine him to engage in war against Rome; for hitherto he had appeared wavering and uncertain on that head. In this city, a philosopher, who was looked upon as the greatest orator of Asia, had the imprudence to harangue before Hannibal on the duties of a general, and the rules of the military art. ^895 The speech charmed the whole audience. But Hannibal, being asked his opinion of it, "I have seen," says he, "many old dotards in my life, but this exceeds them all." ^896
[Footnote 894: A. M. 3812. A. Rome, 556.]
[Footnote 895: Cic. de Orat. l. ii. n. 75, 76.]
[Footnote 896: Hic Poenus libere respondisse fertur, multos se deliros senes saepe vidisse: sed qui magis quam Phormio deliraret vidisse neminem. Stobaeus, Serm. lii. gives the following account of this matter: i. e., Hannibal, hearing a Stoic philosopher undertake to prove that the wise man was the only general, laughed, as thinking it impossible for a man to have any skill in war, without being long practised in it.]
The Carthaginians, justly fearing that Hannibal's escape would certainly draw upon them the arms of the Romans, sent them advice that Hannibal was withdrawn to Antiochus. ^897 The Romans were very much disturbed at this news, and the king might have turned it extremely to his advantage, had he known how to make a proper use of it.
[Footnote 897: They did more, for they sent two ships to pursue Hannibal, and bring him back; they sold off his goods, razed his house, and, by a public decree, declared him an exile. Such was the gratitude the Carthaginians showed to the greatest general they ever had. - Corn. Nep. in Vita Annib. c. 7.]
The first counsel that Hannibal gave him at this time, and which he frequently repeated afterwards, was, to make Italy the seat of war. ^898 He required a hundred ships, eleven or twelve thousand land-forces, and offered to take upon himself the command of the fleet; to cross into Africa, in order to engage the Carthaginians in the war; and afterwards to make a descent upon Italy, during which the king himself should be ready to cross over with his army into Italy, whenever it should be thought convenient. This was the only thing proper to be done, and the king very much approved the proposal at first.
[Footnote 898: Liv. l. xxxiv. n. 60.]
Hannibal thought it would be expedient to prepare his friends at Carthage, in order to engage them the more strongly in his interest. ^899 The communication by letters is not only unsafe, but also gives an imperfect idea of things, and is never sufficiently particular. He therefore despatched a trusty person with ample instructions to Carthage. This man had no sooner arrived in the city than his business was suspected. Accordingly he was watched and followed; and at last orders were issued for his being seized. He, however, prevented the vigilance of his enemies, and escaped in the night; after having fixed, in several public places, papers which fully declared the occasion of his coming among them. The senate immediately sent advice of this to the Romans.
[Footnote 899: Ibid. n. 61.]
Villius, one of the deputies who had been sent into Asia to inquire into the state of affairs there, and, if possible, to discover the real designs of Antiochus, found Hannibal in Ephesus. ^900 He had many conferences with him, paid him several visits, and speciously affected to show him a particular esteem on all occasions. But his chief aim, by all this artificial behavior, was to make him be suspected, and to lessen his credit with the king, in which he succeeded but too well. ^901
[Footnote 900: A. M. 3813. A. Rome. 557. Liv. l. xxxv. n. 14. Polyb. l. iii. pp. 166, 167]
[Footnote 901: Polybius represents this application of Villius to Hannibal, as a premeditated design, in order to render him suspected to Antiochus, because of his intimacy with a Roman. Livy owns, that the affair succeeded as if it had been designed; but, at the same time, he gives, for a very obvious reason, another turn to this conversation, and says that no more was intended by it than to sound Hannibal, and to remove any fears or apprehensions he might be under from the Romans.]
Some authors affirm that Scipio was joined in this embassy; and they even relate the conversation which that general had with Hannibal. ^902 They tell us that the Roman having asked him who, in his opinion, was the greatest captain that had ever lived; he answered, Alexander the Great, because, with a handful of Macedonians, he had defeated numberless armies, and carried his conquests into countries so very remote that it seemed scarcely possible for any man only to travel so far. Being afterwards asked to whom he gave the second rank, he answered, to Pyrrhus, for this king, says Hannibal, first understood the art of pitching a camp to advantage; no commander had ever made a more judicious choice of his posts, was better skilled in drawing up his forces, or was more happy in winning the affection of foreign soldiers; insomuch that even the people of Italy were more desirous to have him for their governor than the Romans themselves, though they had so long been subject to them. Scipio proceeding, asked him next whom he looked upon as the third captain; on which decision Hannibal made no scruple to give the preference to himself. Here Scipio could not forbear laughing: "but what would you have said," continued Scipio, "had you conquered me?" - "I would," replied Hannibal, "have ranked myself above Alexander, Pyrrhus, and all the generals the world ever produced." Scipio was not insensible to so refined and delicate a flattery, which he by no means expected; and which, by giving him no rival, seemed to insinuate that no captain was worthy of being put in comparison with him.
[Footnote 902: Liv. l.xxxv. n. 24. Plutarch, in Vita Flamin. &c.]
The answer, as told by Plutarch, ^903 is less witty, and not so probable. In this author, Hannibal gives Pyrrhus the first place, Scipio the second, and himself the third.
[Footnote 903: Plut. in Pyrrho, p. 687.]
Hannibal, sensible of the coldness with which Antiochus received him ever since his conferences with Villius or Scipio, took no notice of it for some time, and seemed insensible of it. But at last he thought it advisable to come to an explanation with the king, and to open his mind freely to him. "The hatred," says he, "which I bear to the Romans, is known to the whole world. I bound myself to it by an oath, from my most tender infancy. It was this hatred that made me draw the sword against Rome during thirty-six years. It was that, even in times of peace, which drove me from my native country, and forced me to seek an asylum in your dominions. For ever guided and fired by the same passion, should my hopes be eluded, I will fly to every part of the globe, and rouse up all nations against the Romans. I hate them, will hate them eternally; and know that they bear me no less animosity. So long as you shall continue in the resolution to take up arms against that people, you may rank Hannibal in the number of your best friends. But if other counsels incline you to peace, I declare to you once for all, address yourself to others for counsel, and not to me." Such a speech, which came from his heart, and expressed the greatest sincerity, struck the king, and seemed to remove all his suspicious; so that he now resolved to give Hannibal command of part of his fleet. ^904
[Footnote 904: Liv. lib. xxxv. n. 19.]
But what mischief is beyond the power of flattery to produce in courts, and in the minds of princes? Antiochus was told "that it was imprudent in him to put so much confidence in Hannibal, an exile, a Carthaginian, whose fortune or genius might suggest, in one day, a thousand different projects to him; that besides, this very fame which Hannibal had acquired in war, and which he considered as his peculiar inheritance, was too great for a man who fought only under the ensigns of another; that none but the king ought to be the general and conductor of the war; and that it was incumbent on him to draw upon himself only the eyes and attention of all men; whereas, should Hannibal be employed, he, a foreigner, would have the glory of all victories ascribed to him." ^905 No minds, says Livy, on this occasion, are more susceptible of envy, than those whose merit is below their birth and dignity; such persons always abhorring virtue and worth in others, for this reason only, because they are strange and foreign in themselves. ^906 This observation was fully verified on this occasion. Antiochus had been taken on his weak side; a low and sordid jealousy, which is the defect and characteristic of little minds, extinguished every generous sentiment in that monarch. Hannibal was now slighted and laid aside; he, however, was greatly revenged on Antiochus by the ill success this prince met with, who showed how unfortunate that king is, whose soul is accessible to envy, and his ears open to the poisonous insinuation of flatterers.
[Footnote 905: Liv. l. xxxv. n. 42, 43.]
[Footnote 906: Nulla ingenia tam prona ad invidiam sunt, quam eorum qui genus ac fortunam suam animis non aequant, in virtutem et bonum alienum oderunt.]
In a council held some time after, to which Hannibal, for form's sake, was admitted, he, when it come to his turn to speak, endeavored chiefly to prove, that Philip of Macedon ought, on any terms, to be invited into the alliance of Antiochus, which was not so difficult as might be imagined. "With regard," says Hannibal, "to the operations of the war, I adhere immovably to my first opinion; and had my counsels been listened to before, Tuscany and Liguria would now be all in a flame, had Hannibal, a name that strikes terror into the Romans, been in Italy. Though I should not be very well skilled as to other matters, yet the good and ill success I have met with, must necessarily have taught me sufficiently how to carry on a war against the Romans. I have nothing now in my power, but to give you my counsel, and offer you my service. May the gods give success to all your undertakings." Hannibal's speech was received with applause, but not one of his counsels were put in execution. ^907
[Footnote 907: Liv. l. xxxvi. n. 7.]
Antiochus, imposed upon and lulled to sleep by his flatterers, remained quiet at Ephesus, after the Romans had driven him out of Greece; not once imagining that they would ever invade his dominions. ^908 Hannibal, who was now restored to favor, was for ever assuring him, that the war would soon be removed into Asia, and that he would see the enemy at his gates: that he must resolve either to abdicate his throne, or vigorously oppose a people who grasped at the empire of the world. This discourse waked, in some measure, the king out of his lethargy, and prompted him to make some weak efforts. But, as his conduct was unsteady, after sustaining a great many considerable losses, he was forced to terminate the war by an ignominious peace; one of the articles of which was, that he should deliver up Hannibal to the Romans. The latter, however, did not give him an opportunity to put it into execution, retiring to the island of Crete, to consider there what course would be best for him to take.
[Footnote 908: Liv. l. xxxvi. n. 41.]
The riches he had brought with him, of which the people of the island had got some notice, had like to have proved his ruin. ^909 Hannibal was never wanting in stratagems, and he had occasion to employ them now, to save both himself and his treasure. He filled several vessels with molten lead, which he just covered with gold and silver. These he deposited in the temple of Diana, in presence of several Cretans, to whose honesty, he said, he confided all his treasure. A strong guard was then posted on the temple, and Hannibal left at full liberty, from a supposition that his riches was secured. But he had concealed them in hollow statues of brass, ^910 which he always carried along with him. And then, embracing a favorable opportunity he had of making his escape, he fled to the court of Prusias, king of Bithynia. ^911
[Footnote 909: Corn. Nep. in Annnib. c. 9, 10. Justin. l. xxxii. c. 4.]
[Footnote 910: These statues were thrown out by him, in a place of public resort, as thing of little value. - Corn. Nep.]
[Footnote 911: A. M. 3820. A. Rome, 564. Corn. Nep. in Annib. c. 10, 11. Justin. l. xxxiii. c. 4.]
It appears from history, that he made some stay in the court of this prince, who soon engaged in war with Eumenes, king of Pergamus, a professed friend to the Romans. By the aid of Hannibal, the troops of king Prusias gained several victories by land and sea.
He employed a stratagem of an extraordinary kind, in a sea fight. ^912 The enemy's fleet consisting of more ships than his, he had recourse to artifice. He put into earthen vessels all kinds of serpents, and ordered these vessels to be thrown into the enemy's ships. His chief aim in this was to destroy Eumenes, and for that purpose it was necessary for him to find out which ship he was on board of. This Hannibal discovered, by sending out a boat, upon pretence of conveying a letter to him. Having gained his point thus far, he ordered his commanders of the respective vessels to direct the greatest force of their attacks against Eumenes' ship. They obeyed, and would have taken it, had he not outsailed his pursuers. The rest of the ships of Pergamus sustained the fight with great vigor, till the earthen vessels had been thrown into them. At first they only laughed at this, and were very much surprised to find such weapons employed against them. But seeing themselves surrounded with serpents which flew out of these vessels when they broke to pieces, they were seized with dread, retired in disorder, and yielded the victory to the enemy.
[Footnote 912: Justin. l. xxxii. c. 4. Corn. Nep. in Vit. Annib.]
Services of so important a nature seemed to secure for ever to Hannibal an undisturbed asylum at that prince's court. The Romans, however, would not suffer him to be easy there, but deputed Q. Flaminius to Prusias, to complain of the protection he gave Hannibal. ^913 The latter readily conjectured the motive of this embassy, and therefore did not wait till his enemies had an opportunity of delivering him up. At first he attempted to secure himself by flight, but perceiving that the seven secret outlets which he had contrived in his palace were all seized by the soldiers of Prusias, who, by this perfidy, was desirous of making his court to the Romans, he ordered the poison, which he had long kept for this melancholy occasion, to be brought him; and, taking it in his hand, "let us," said he, "free the Romans from the disquiet with which they have been so long tortured, since they have not patience to wait for an old man's death. The victory which Flaminius gains over a naked, and betrayed man, will not do him much honor. This single day will be a lasting testimony of the great degeneracy of the Romans. Their fathers sent notice to Pyrrhus, to desire he would beware of a traitor who intended to poison him, and that at a time when this prince was at war with them in the very centre of Italy; but their sons have deputed a person of consular dignity to instigate Prusias impiously to murder one who is not only his friend, but his guest." After calling down curses upon Prusias, and having invoked the gods, the protectors and avengers of the sacred rights of hospitality, he swallowed the poison, and died at seventy years of age. ^914
[Footnote 913: A. M. 3822. A. Rome, 566. Liv. l. xxxix. n. 51.]
[Footnote 914: Plutarch, according to his custom, assigns him three different deaths. Some, says he, relate, that having wrapped his cloak about his neck, he ordered his servant to fix his knees against his buttocks, and not to leave twisting till he had strangled him. Others say, that in imitation of Themistocles and Midas, he drank bull's blood. Livy tells us, that Hannibal drank a poison which he always carried about him; and taking the cup into his hands, cried, "Let us free," &c. - In Vita Flaminii.]
This year was remarkable for the death of three great men, Hannibal, Philopoemen, and Scipio, who it is worthy of notice all died out of their native countries, in a manner far from corresponding to the glory of their actions. The two first died by poison: Hannibal was betrayed by his host; and Philopoemen, being taken prisoner in a battle against the Messinians, and thrown into a dungeon, was forced to swallow a dose of poison. As to Scipio, he banished himself, to avoid an unjust prosecution which was carrying on against him at Rome, and ended his days in a kind of obscurity.
The Character And Eulogium Of Hannibal
This would be the proper place for representing the excellent qualities of Hannibal, who reflected so much glory on Carthage. But, as I have attempted to draw his character elsewhere, ^915 and to give a just idea of him, by making a comparison between him and Scipio, I think it unnecessary to give his eulogium at large in this place.
[Footnote 915: Vol. II. of the method of studying and teaching the Belles Lettres.]
Persons who devote themselves to the profession of arms, cannot spend too much time in the study of this great man, who is looked upon, by the best judges, as the most complete general, in almost every respect, that ever the world produced.
During the whole seventeen years (the time the war lasted), two errors only are objected to him; first, his not marching, immediately after the battle of Cannae, his victorious army to Rome, in order to besiege that city; secondly, his suffering their courage to be softened and enervated, during their winter-quarters in Capua; errors, which only show that great men are not so in all things, summi enim sunt homines tamen; ^916 and which, perhaps, may be partly excused.
[Footnote 916: Quinctil.]
But then, for these two errors, what a multitude of shining qualities appear in Hannibal! How extensive were his views and designs, even in his most tender years! What greatness of soul! what intrepidity! what presence of mind must he have possessed, to be able, even in the fire and heat of action, to take all advantages! With what surprising address must he have managed the minds of men, that amidst so great a variety of nations as composed his army, who often were in want both of money and provisions, his camp was not once disturbed with an insurrection, either against himself or any of his generals! With what equity, what moderation, must he have behaved towards his new allies, to have prevailed so far, as to attach them inviolably to his service, though he was reduced to the necessity of making them sustain almost the whole burden of the war, by a quartering his army upon them, and levying contributions in their several countries! In fine, how fruitful must he have been in expedients, to be able to carry on, for so many years, the war in a remote country, in spite of the violent opposition made by a powerful domestic faction, which refused him supplies of every kind, and thwarted him on all occasions! It may be affirmed, that Hannibal, during the whole series of this war, seemed the only prop of the state, and the soul of every part of the empire of the Carthaginians, who could never believe themselves conquered, till Hannibal confessed that he himself was so.
But that man must know the character of Hannibal very imperfectly, who should consider him only at the head of armies. The particulars we learn from history, concerning the secret intelligence he held with Philip of Macedon; the wise counsels he gave to Antiochus, king of Syria; the double regulation he introduced in Carthage, with regard to the management of the public revenues and the administration of justice, prove that he was a great statesman in every respect. So superior and universal was his genius, that it took in all parts of government; and so great were his natural abilities, that he was capable of acquitting himself in all the various functions of it with glory. Hannibal shone as conspicuously in the cabinet as in the field; equally able to fill civil or military employments. In a word, he united in his own person, the different talents and merits of all professions, the sword, the gown, and the finances.
He had some learning; and though he was so much employed in military labors, and engaged in so many wars, he, however, found leisure to cultivate the muses. ^917 Several smart repartees of Hannibal, which have been transmitted to us, show that he had a great fund of natural wit; and this he improved, by the most polite education that could be bestowed at that time, in such a republic as Carthage. He spoke Greek tolerably well, and wrote several books in that language. His preceptor was a Lacedaemonian (Solsius), who, with Philenius, another Lacedaemonian, accompanied him in all his expeditions. Both these undertook to write the history of this renowned warrior.
[Footnote 917: Atque hic tantus vir, tantisque bellis distractus, nonnihil temporis tribuit literis, &c. - Corn. Nep. in Vita Annib. cap. 13.]
With regard to his religion and moral conduct, he was not so profligate and wicked as he is represented by Livy; "cruel even to inhumanity; more perfidious than a Carthaginian; regardless of truth, of probity, of the sacred ties of oaths; fearless of the gods, and utterly void of religion." Inhumana crudelitas, perfidia plusquam Punica; nihil veri, nihil sancti, nulius deum metus, nullum jus jurandum, nulla religio. ^918 According to Polybius, herejected a barbarous proposal that was made to him, before he entered Italy, of eating human flesh, at a time when his army was in absolute want of provisions. ^919 Some years after, so far from treating with barbarity, as he was advised to do, the dead body of Sempronius Gracchus, which Mago had sent him, he caused his funeral obsequies to be solemnized in presence of the whole army. ^920 We have seen him, on many occasions, showing the highest reverence for the gods; and Justin, who copied Trogus Pompeius, an author worthy of credit, observes that he always showed uncommon wisdom and continence, with regard to the great number of women taken by him during the course of so long a war; insomuch, that no one would have imagined he had been born in Africa, where incontinence is the predominant vice of the country. Pudicitiamque eum tantum inter tot captivas habuisse, ut in Africa natum quivis negaret. ^921
[Footnote 918: Lib. xxi. n. 4]
[Footnote 919: Excerpt. e Polyb. p. 33.]
[Footnote 920: Excerpt l Diod. p. 282. Liv. l, xxv. n. 17.]
[Footnote 921: Lib. xxxiii, c. 4.]
His disregard of wealth at a time when he had so many opportunities to enrich himself, by the plunder of the cities he stormed, and the nations he subdued, shows, that he knew the true and genuine use which a general ought to make of riches, viz.: to gain the affection of his soldiers, and to attach allies to his interest, by diffusing his beneficence on proper occasions, and not being sparing in his rewards; a very essential quality, but very uncommon in a commander. The only use Hannibal made of money was to purchase success; firmly persuaded, that a man who is at the head of affairs is sufficiently recompensed by the glory derived from victory.
He always led a very regular, austere life; and even in times of peace, and in the midst of Carthage, when he was invested with the first dignity of the city, we are told that he never used to recline himself on a bed at meals, as was the custom in those ages, and drank but very little wine. ^922 So regular and uniform a life may serve as an illustrious example to our commanders, who often include among the privileges of war, and the duty of officers, the keeping of splendid tables, and luxurious living.
[Footnote 922: Cibi potionisque, desiderio naturali, nen voluptate, modus finitus. - Liv. l. xxi. n. 4.
Constat Annibalem nec tum cam Romano tonantem bello Italia contremuit, nec cum reversus Carthaginem summum imperium tenuit, aut cubantem coenasse, aut plus quam sextario vini indulsisse. - Justin. l. xxxii. c. 4.]
But, notwithstanding those eulogiums, I do not, however, pretend to justify entirely all the errors and defects with which Hannibal is charged. Though he possessed an assemblage of the most exalted qualities, it cannot be denied that he had some little tincture of the vices of his country: and that it would be difficult to excuse some actions and circumstances of his life. Polybius observes, that Hannibal was accused of avarice in Carthage, and of cruelty in Rome. ^923 He adds, on the same occasion, that people were very much divided in opinion concerning him; and it would be no wonder, as he had made himself so many enemies in both cities, that they should have drawn him in disadvantageous colors. But Polybius is of opinion, that though it should be taken for granted, that all the defects with which he is charged are true, we yet ought to conclude, that they were not so much owing to his nature and disposition, as to the difficulties with which he was surrounded in the course of so long and laborious a war; and to the complacency he was obliged to show to the general officers, whose assistance he absolutely wanted for the execution of his various enterprises; and whom he was not always able to restrain, any more than he could the soldiers who fought under them.
[Footnote 923: Excerpt. e Polyb. pp. 34, 37.]
Author: Rollin, Charles