Book 21: From Saguntum to the Trebia
[21.1]I consider myself at liberty to commence what is only a section of my history with a prefatory remark such as most writers have placed at the very beginning of their works, namely, that the war I am about to describe is the most memorable of any that have ever been waged, I mean the war which the Carthaginians, under Hannibal's leadership, waged with Rome. No states, no nations ever met in arms greater in strength or richer in resources; these Powers themselves had never before been in so high a state of efficiency or better prepared to stand the strain of a long war; they were no strangers to each other's tactics after their experience in the first Punic War; and so variable were the fortunes and so doubtful the issue of the war that those who were ultimately victorious were in the earlier stages brought nearest to ruin. And yet, great as was their strength, the hatred they felt towards each other was almost greater. The Romans were furious with indignation because the vanquished had dared to take the offensive against their conquerors; the Carthaginians bitterly resented what they regarded as the tyrannical and rapacious conduct of Rome. The prime author of the war was Hamilcar. There was a story widely current that when, after bringing the African War to a close, he was offering sacrifices before transporting his army to Spain, the boy Hannibal, nine years old, was coaxing his father to take him with him, and his father led him up to the altar and made him swear with his hand laid on the victim that as soon as he possibly could he would show himself the enemy of Rome. The loss of Sicily and Sardinia vexed the proud spirit of the man, for he felt that the cession of Sicily had been made hastily in a spirit of despair, and that Sardinia had been filched by the Romans during the troubles in Africa, who, not content with seizing it, had imposed an indemnity as well.
[21.2]Smarting under these wrongs, he made it quite clear from his conduct of the African War which followed immediately upon the conclusion of peace with Rome, and from the way in which he strengthened and extended the rule of Carthage during the nine years' war with Spain, that he was meditating a far greater war than any he was actually engaged in, and that had he lived longer it would have been under his command that the Carthaginians effected the invasion of Italy, which they actually carried out under Hannibal. The death of Hamilcar, occurring as it did most opportunely, and the tender years of Hannibal delayed the war. Hasdrubal, coming between father and son, held the supreme power for eight years. He is said to have become a favourite of Hamilcar's owing to his personal beauty as a boy; afterwards he displayed talents of a very different order, and became his son-in-law. Through this connection he was placed in power by the influence of the Barcine party, which was unduly preponderant with the soldiers and the common people, but his elevation was utterly against the wishes of the nobles. Trusting to policy rather than to arms, he did more to extend the empire of Carthage by forming connections with the petty chieftains and winning over new tribes by making friends of their leading men than by force of arms or by war. But peace brought him no security. A barbarian whose master he had put to death murdered him in broad daylight, and when seized by the bystanders he looked as happy as though he had escaped. Even when put to the torture, his delight at the success of his attempt mastered his pain and his face wore a smiling expression. Owing to the marvellous tact he had shown in winning over the tribes and incorporating them into his dominions, the Romans had renewed the treaty with Hasdrubal. Under its terms, the River Ebro was to form the boundary between the two empires, and Saguntum, occupying an intermediate position between them, was to be a free city.
[21.3]There was no hesitation shown in filling his place. The soldiers led the way by bringing the young Hannibal forthwith to the palace and proclaiming him their commander-in-chief amidst universal applause. Their action was followed by the plebs. Whilst little more than a boy, Hasdrubal had written to invite Hannibal to come to him in Spain, and the matter had actually been discussed in the senate. The Barcines wanted Hannibal to become familiar with military service; Hanno, the leader of the opposite party, resisted this. "Hasdrubal's request," he said, "appears a reasonable one, and yet I do not think we ought to grant it" This paradoxical utterance aroused the attention of the whole senate. He continued: "The youthful beauty which Hasdrubal surrendered to Hannibal's father he considers he has a fair claim to ask for in return from the son. It ill becomes us, however, to habituate our youths to the lust of our commanders, by way of military training. Are we afraid that it will be too long before Hamilcar's son surveys the extravagant power and the pageant of royalty which his father assumed, and that there will be undue delay in our becoming the slaves of the despot to whose son-in-law our armies have been bequeathed as though they were his patrimony? I, for my part, consider that this youth ought to be kept at home and taught to live in obedience to the laws and the magistrates on an equality with his fellow-citizens; if not, this small fire will some day or other kindle a vast conflagration."
[21.4]Hanno's proposal received but slight support, though almost all the best men in the council were with him, but as usual, numbers carried the day against reason. No sooner had Hannibal landed in Spain than he became a favourite with the whole army. The veterans thought they saw Hamilcar restored to them as he was in his youth; they saw the same determined expression the same piercing eyes, the same cast of features. He soon showed, however, that it was not his father's memory that helped him most to win the affections of the army. Never was there a character more capable of the two tasks so opposed to each other of commanding and obeying; you could not easily make out whether the army or its general were more attached to him. Whenever courage and resolution were needed Hasdrubal never cared to entrust the command to any one else; and there was no leader in whom the soldiers placed more confidence or under whom they showed more daring. He was fearless in exposing himself to danger and perfectly self-possessed in the presence of danger. No amount of exertion could cause him either bodily or mental fatigue; he was equally indifferent to heat and cold; his eating and drinking were measured by the needs of nature, not by appetite; his hours of sleep were not determined by day or night, whatever time was not taken up with active duties was given to sleep and rest, but that rest was not wooed on a soft couch or in silence, men often saw him lying on the ground amongst the sentinels and outposts, wrapped in his military cloak. His dress was in no way superior to that of his comrades; what did make him conspicuous were his arms and horses. He was by far the foremost both of the cavalry and the infantry, the first to enter the fight and the last to leave the field. But these great merits were matched by great vices - inhuman cruelty, a perfidy worse than Punic, an utter absence of truthfulness, reverence, fear of the gods, respect for oaths, sense of religion. Such was his character, a compound of virtues and vices. For three years he served under Hasdrubal, and during the whole time he never lost an opportunity of gaining by practice or observation the experience necessary for one who was to be a great leader of men.
[21.5]From the day when he was proclaimed commander-in-chief, he seemed to regard Italy as his assigned field of action, and war with Rome as a duty imposed upon him. Feeling that he ought not to delay operations, lest some accident should overtake him as in the case of his father and afterwards of Hasdrubal, he decided to attack the Saguntines. As an attack on them would inevitably set the arms of Rome in motion, he began by invading the Olcades, a tribe who were within the boundaries but not under the dominion of Carthage. He wished to make it appear that Saguntum was not his immediate object, but that he was drawn into a war with her by the force of circumstances, by the conquest, that is, of all her neighbours and the annexation of their territory. Cartala, a wealthy city and the capital of the tribe, was taken by storm and sacked; the smaller cities, fearing a similar fate, capitulated and agreed to pay an indemnity. His victorious army enriched with plunder was marched into winter quarters in New Carthage. Here, by a lavish distribution of the spoils and the punctual discharge of all arrears of pay, he secured the allegiance of his own people and of the allied contingents.
At the beginning of spring he extended his operations to the Vaccaei, and two of their cities, Arbocala and Hermandica, were taken by assault. Arbocala held out for a considerable time, owing to the courage and numbers of its defenders; the fugitives from Hermandica joined hands with those of the Olcades who had abandoned their country - this tribe had been subjugated the previous year - and together they stirred up the Carpetani to war. Not far from the Tagus an attack was made upon Hannibal as he was returning from his expedition against the Vaccaei, and his army, laden as it was with plunder, was thrown into some confusion. Hannibal declined battle and fixed his camp by the side of the river; as soon as there was quiet and silence amongst the enemy, he forded the stream. His entrenchments had been carried just far enough to allow room for the enemy to cross over, and he decided to attack them during their passage of the river. He instructed his cavalry to wait until they had actually entered the water and then to attack them; his forty elephants he stationed on the bank. The Carpetani together with the contingents of the Olcades and Vaccaei numbered altogether 100,000 men, an irresistible force had they been fighting on level ground. Their innate fearlessness, the confidence inspired by their numbers, their belief that the enemy's retreat was due to fear, all made them look on victory as certain, and the river as the only obstacle to it. Without any word of command having been given, they raised a universal shout and plunged, each man straight in front of him, into the river. A huge force of cavalry descended from the opposite bank, and the two bodies met in mid-stream. The struggle was anything but an equal one. The infantry, feeling their footing insecure, even where the river was fordable, could have been ridden down even by unarmed horsemen, whereas the cavalry, with their bodies and weapons free and their horses steady even in the midst of the current, could fight at close quarters or not, as they chose. A large proportion were swept down the river, some were carried by cross currents to the other side where the enemy were, and were trampled to death by the elephants. Those in the rear thought it safest to return to their own side, and began to collect together as well as their fears allowed them, but before they had time to recover themselves Hannibal entered the river with his infantry in battle order and drove them in flight from the bank. He followed up his victory by laying waste their fields, and in a few days was able to receive the submission of the Carpetani There was no part of the country beyond the Ebro which did not now belong to the Carthaginians, with the exception of Saguntum.
[21.6]War had not been formally declared against this city, but there were already grounds for war. The seeds of quarrel were being sown amongst her neighbours, especially amongst the Turdetani. When the man who had sown the seed showed himself ready to aid and abet the quarrel, and his object plainly was not to refer the question to arbitration, but to appeal to force, the Saguntines sent a deputation to Rome to beg for help in a war which was inevitably approaching. The consuls for the time being were P. Cornelius Scipio and Tiberius Sempronius Longus. After introducing the envoys they invited the senate to declare its opinion as to what policy should be adopted. It was decided that commissioners should be sent to Spain to investigate the circumstances, and if they considered it necessary they were to warn Hannibal not to interfere with the Saguntines, who were allies of Rome; then they were to cross over to Africa and lay before the Carthaginian council the complaints which they had made. But before the commission was despatched news came that the siege of Saguntum had, to every one's surprise, actually commenced. The whole position of affairs required to be reconsidered by the senate; some were for assigning Spain and Africa as separate fields of action for the two consuls, and thought that the war ought to be prosecuted by land and sea; others were for confining the war solely to Hannibal in Spain; others again were of opinion that such an immense task ought not to be entered upon hastily, and that they ought to await the return of the commission from Spain. This latter view seemed the safest and was adopted, and the commissioners, P. Valerius Flaccus and Q. Baebius Tamphilus, were despatched without further delay to Hannibal. If he refused to abandon hostilities they were to proceed to Carthage to demand the surrender of the general to answer for his breach of treaty.
[21.7]During these proceedings in Rome the siege of Saguntum was being pressed with the utmost vigour. That city was by far the most wealthy of all beyond the Ebro; it was situated about a mile from the sea. It is said to have been founded by settlers from the island of Zacynthus, with an admixture of Rutulians from Ardea. In a short time, however, it had attained to great prosperity, partly through its land and sea-borne commerce, partly through the rapid increase of its population, and also through the maintenance of a high standard of political integrity which led it to act with a loyalty towards its allies that brought about its ruin. After carrying his ravages everywhere throughout the territory, Hannibal attacked the city from three separate points. There was an angle of the fortifications which looked down on a more open and level descent than the rest of the ground surrounding the city, and here he decided to bring up his vineae to allow the battering rams to be placed against the walls. But although the ground to a considerable distance from the walls was sufficiently level to admit of the vineae being brought up, they found when they had succeeded in doing this that they made no progress. A huge tower overlooked the place, and the wall, being here more open to attack, had been carried to a greater height than the rest of the fortifications. As the position was one of especial danger, so the resistance offered by a picked body of defenders was of the most resolute character. At first they confined themselves to keeping the enemy back by the discharge of missiles and making it impossible for them to continue their operations in safety. As time went on, however, their weapons no longer flashed on the walls or from the tower, they ventured on a sortie and attacked the outposts and siege works of the enemy. In these irregular encounters the Carthaginians lost nearly as many men as the Saguntines. Hannibal himself, approaching the wall somewhat incautiously, fell with a severe wound in his thigh from a javelin, and such was the confusion and dismay that ensued that the vineae and siege works were all but abandoned.
[21.8]For a few days, until the general's wound was healed, there was a blockade rather than an active siege, and during this interval, though there was a respite from fighting, the construction of siege works and approaches went on uninterruptedly. When the fighting was resumed it was fiercer than ever. In spite of the difficulties of the ground the vineae were advanced and the battering rams placed against the walls. The Carthaginians had the superiority in numbers - there were said to have been 150,000 fighting men - whilst the defenders, obliged to keep watch and ward everywhere, were dissipating their strength and finding their numbers unequal to the task. The walls were now being pounded by the rams, and in many places had been shaken down. One part where a continuous fall had taken place laid the city open; three towers in succession, and the whole of the wall between them fell with a tremendous crash. The Carthaginians looked upon the town as already captured after that fall, and both sides rushed through the breach as though the wall had only served to protect them from each other. There was nothing of the desultory fighting which goes on when cities are stormed, as each side gets an opportunity of attacking the other. The two bodies of combatants confronted one another in the space between the ruined wall and the houses of the city in as regular formation as though they had been in an open field. On the one side there was the courage of hope, on the other the courage of despair. The Carthaginians believed that with a little effort on their part the city would be theirs; the Saguntines opposed their bodies as a shield for their fatherland now stripped of its walls; not a man relaxed his foothold for fear of letting an enemy in through the spot which he had left open. So the hotter and closer the fighting became the greater grew the number of wounded, for no missile fell ineffectively amongst the crowded ranks. The missile used by the Saguntines was the phalarica, a javelin with a shaft smooth and round up to the head, which, as in the pilum, was an iron point of square section. The shaft was wrapped in tow and then smeared with pitch; the iron head was three feet long and capable of penetrating armour and body alike. Even if it only stuck in the shield and did not reach the body it was a most formidable weapon, for when it was discharged with the tow set on fire the flame was fanned to a fiercer heat by its passage through the air, and it forced the soldier to throw away his shield and left him defenceless against the sword thrusts which followed.
[21.9]The conflict had now gone on for a considerable time without any advantage to either side; the courage of the Saguntines was rising as they found themselves keeping up an unhoped-for resistance, whilst the Carthaginians, unable to conquer, were beginning to look upon themselves as defeated. Suddenly the defenders, raising their battle-shout, forced the enemy back to the debris of the ruined wall; there, stumbling and in disorder, they were forced still further back and finally driven in rout and flight to their camp. Meantime it was announced that envoys had arrived from Rome. Hannibal sent messengers down to the harbour to meet them and inform them that it would be unsafe for them to advance any further through so many wild tribes now in arms, and also that Hannibal in the present critical position of affairs had no time to receive embassies. It was quite certain that if they were not admitted they would go to Carthage. He therefore forestalled them by sending messengers with a letter addressed to the heads of the Barcine party, to warn his supporters and prevent the other side from making any concessions to Rome.
[21.10]The result was that, beyond being received and heard by the Carthaginian senate, the embassy found its mission a failure. Hanno alone, against the whole senate, spoke in favour of observing the treaty, and his speech was listened to in silence out of respect to his personal authority, not because his hearers approved of his sentiments. He appealed to them in the name of the gods, who are the witnesses and arbiters of treaties, not to provoke a war with Rome in addition to the one with Saguntum. "I urged you," he said, "and warned you not to send Hamilcar's son to the army. That man's spirit, that man's offspring cannot rest; as long as any single representative of the blood and name of Barca survives our treaty with Rome will never remain unimperilled. You have sent to the army, as though supplying fuel to the fire, a young man who is consumed with a passion for sovereign power, and who recognises that the only way to it lies in passing his life surrounded by armed legions and perpetually stirring up fresh wars. It is you, therefore, who have fed this fire which is now scorching you. Your armies are investing Saguntum, which by the terms of the treaty they are forbidden to approach; before long the legions of Rome will invest Carthage, led by the same generals under the same divine guidance under which they avenged our breach of treaty obligations in the late war. Are you strangers to the enemy, to yourselves, to the fortunes of each nation? That worthy commander of yours refused to allow ambassadors who came from allies, on behalf of allies, to enter his camp, and set at naught the law of nations. Those men, repulsed from a place to which even an enemy's envoys are not refused access, have come to us; they ask for the satisfaction which the treaty prescribes; they demand the surrender of the guilty party in order that the State may clear itself from all taint of guilt. The slower they are to take action, the longer they are in commencing war, so much the more persistence and determination, I fear, will they show when war has begun. Remember the Aegates and Eryx, and all you had to go through for four-and-twenty years. This boy was not commanding then, but his father, Hamilcar - a second Mars as his friends would have us believe. But we broke the treaty then as we are breaking it now; we did not keep our hands off Tarentum or, which is the same thing, off Italy then any more than we are keeping our hands off Saguntum now, and so gods and men combined to defeat us, and the question in dispute, namely, which nation had broken the treaty, was settled by the issue of the war, which, like an impartial judge, left the victory on the side which was in the right. It is against Carthage that Hannibal is now bringing up his vineae and towers, it is Carthage whose walls he is shaking with his battering rams. The ruins of Saguntum - would that I might prove a false prophet - will fall on our heads, and the war which was begun with Saguntum will have to be carried on with Rome.
"'Shall we then surrender Hannibal?' some one will say. I am quite aware that as regards him my advice will have little weight, owing to my differences with his father, but whilst I was glad to hear of Hamilcar's death, for if he were alive we should already be involved in war with Rome, I feel nothing but loathing and detestation for this youth, the mad firebrand who is kindling this war. Not only do I hold that he ought to be surrendered as an atonement for the broken treaty, but even if no demand for his surrender were made I consider that he ought to be deported to the farthest corner of the earth, exiled to some spot from which no tidings of him, no mention of his name, could reach us, and where it would be impossible for him to disturb the welfare and tranquillity of our State. This then is what I propose: 'That a commission be at once despatched to Rome to inform the senate of our compliance with their demands, and a second to Hannibal ordering him to withdraw his army from Saguntum and then surrendering him to the Romans in accordance with the terms of the treaty, and I also propose that a third body of commissioners be sent to make reparation to the Saguntines.'"
[21.11]When Hanno sat down no one deemed it necessary to make any reply, so completely was the senate, as a body, on the side of Hannibal. They accused Hanno of speaking in a tone of more uncompromising hostility than Flaccus Valerius, the Roman envoy, had assumed. The reply which it was decided to make to the Roman demands was that the war was started by the Saguntines not by Hannibal, and that the Roman people would commit an act of injustice if they took the part of the Saguntines against their ancient allies, the Carthaginians. Whilst the Romans were wasting time in despatching commissioners, things were quiet round Saguntum. Hannibal's men were worn out with the fighting and the labours of the siege, and after placing detachments on guard over the vineae and other military engines, he gave his army a few days' rest. He employed this interval in stimulating the courage of his men by exasperating them against the enemy, and firing them by the prospect of rewards. After he had given out in the presence of his assembled troops that the plunder of the city would go to them, they were all in such a state of excitement that had the signal been given then and there it seemed impossible for anything to withstand them. As for the Saguntines, though they had a respite from fighting for some days, neither meeting attacks nor making any, they worked at their defences so continuously by day and night that they completed a fresh wall at the place where the fall of the former wall had laid the town open.
The assault was recommenced with greater vigour than ever. In every direction confused shouts and clamour resounded, so that it was difficult to ascertain where to render assistance most promptly or where it was most needed. Hannibal was present in person to encourage his men, who were bringing up a tower on rollers which overtopped all the fortifications of the city. Catapults and ballistae had been put in position on each of the stories, and after it had been brought up to the walls it swept them clear of the defenders. Seizing his opportunity, Hannibal told off about 500 African troops to undermine the wall with pick-axes, an easy task, as the stones were not fixed with cement but with layers of mud between the courses in the ancient fashion of construction. More of it consequently fell than had been dug away, and through the gaping ruin the columns of armed warriors marched into the city. They seized some high ground, and after massing their catapults and ballistae there they enclosed it with a wall so as to have a fortified position actually within the city which could dominate it like a citadel. The Saguntines on their side carried an inside wall round the portion of the city not yet captured. Both sides kept up their fortifying and fighting with the utmost energy, but by having to defend the interior portion of the city the Saguntines were continually reducing its dimensions. In addition to this there was a growing scarcity of everything as the siege was prolonged, and the anticipations of outside help were becoming fainter; the Romans, their one hope, were so far away, whilst all immediately round them was in the hands of the enemy. For a few days their drooping spirits were revived by the sudden departure of Hannibal on an expedition against the Oretani and the Carpetani. The rigorous way in which troops were being levied in these two tribes had created great excitement, and they had kept the officers who were superintending the levy practically prisoners. A general revolt was feared, but the unexpected swiftness of Hannibal's movements took them by surprise and they abandoned their hostile attitude.
[21.12]The attack on Saguntum was not slackened; Maharbal, the son of Himilco, whom Hannibal had left in command, carried on operations with such energy that the general's absence was not felt by either friends or foes. He fought several successful actions, and with the aid of three battering rams brought down a considerable portion of the wall, and on Hannibal's return showed him the place all strewn with the newly-fallen wall. The army was at once led to an assault on the citadel; a desperate fight began, with heavy losses on both sides, and a part of the citadel was captured. Attempts were now made in the direction of peace, though with but faint hopes of success. Two men undertook the task, Alco, a Saguntine, and Alorcus, a Spaniard. Alco, thinking that his prayers might have some effect, crossed over without the knowledge of the Saguntines to Hannibal at night. When he found that he gained nothing by his tears, and that the conditions offered were such as a victor exasperated by resistance would insist upon, harsh and severe, he laid aside the character of a pleader and remained with the enemy as a deserter, alleging that any one who advocated peace on such terms would be put to death. The conditions were that restitution should be made to the Turdetani, all the gold and silver should be delivered up, and the inhabitants should depart with one garment each and take up their abode wherever the Carthaginians should order them. As Alco insisted that the Saguntines would not accept peace on these terms, Alorcus, convinced, as he said, that when everything else has gone courage also goes, undertook to mediate a peace on those conditions. At that time he was one of Hannibal's soldiers, but he was recognised as a guest friend by the city of Saguntum. He started on his mission, gave up his weapon openly to the guard, crossed the lines, and was at his request conducted to the praetor of Saguntum. A crowd, drawn from all classes of society, soon gathered, and after a way had been cleared through the press, Alorcus was admitted to an audience of the senate. He addressed them in the following terms:
[21.13]"If your fellow-townsman, Alco, had shown the same courage in bringing back to you the terms on which Hannibal will grant peace that he showed in going to Hannibal to beg for peace, this journey of mine would have been unnecessary. I have not come to you either as an advocate for Hannibal or as a deserter. But as he has remained with the enemy either through your fault or his own - his own if his fears were only feigned, yours if those who report what is true have to answer for their lives - I have come to you out of regard to the old ties of hospitality which have so long subsisted between us, that you may not be left in ignorance of the fact that there do exist terms on which you can secure peace and the safety of your lives. Now, that it is for your sake alone and not on behalf of any one else that I say what I am saying before you is proved by the fact that as long as you had the strength to maintain a successful resistance, and as long as you had any hopes of help from Rome, I never breathed a word about making peace. But now that you have no longer anything to hope for from Rome, now that neither your arms nor your walls suffice to protect you, I bring you a peace forced upon you by necessity rather than recommended by the fairness of its conditions. But the hopes, faint as they are, of peace rest upon your accepting as conquered men the terms which Hannibal as conqueror imposes and not looking upon what is taken from you as a positive loss, since everything is at the victor's mercy, but regarding what is left to you as a free gift from him. The city, most of which he has laid in ruins, the whole of which he has all but captured, he takes from you; your fields and lands he leaves you; and he will assign you a site where you can build a new town. He orders all the gold and silver, both that belonging to the State and that owned by private individuals, to be brought to him; your persons and those of your wives and children he preserves inviolate on condition that you consent to leave Saguntum with only two garments apiece and without arms. These are the demands of your victorious enemy, and heavy and bitter as they are, your miserable plight urges you to accept them. I am not without hope that when everything has passed into his power he will relax some of these conditions, but I consider that even as they are you ought to submit to them rather than permit yourselves to be butchered and your wives and children seized and carried off before your eyes."
[21.14]A large crowd had gradually collected to listen to the speaker, and the popular Assembly had become mingled with the senate, when without a moment's warning the leading citizens withdrew before any reply was given. They collected all the gold and silver from public and private sources and brought it into the forum, where a fire had already been kindled, and flung it into the flames, and most of them thereupon leaped into the fire themselves. The terror and confusion which this occasioned throughout the city was heightened by the noise of a tumult in the direction of the citadel. A tower after much battering had fallen, and through the breach created by its fall a Carthaginian cohort advanced to the attack and signalled to their commander that the customary outposts and guards had disappeared and the city was unprotected. Hannibal thought that he ought to seize the opportunity and act promptly. Attacking it with his full strength, he took the place in a moment. Orders had been given that all the adult males were to be put to death; a cruel order, but under the circumstances inevitable, for whom would it have been possible to spare when they either shut themselves up with their wives and children and burnt their houses over their heads, or if they fought, would not cease fighting till they were killed?
[21.15]An enormous amount of booty was found in the captured city. Although most of it had been deliberately destroyed by the owners, and the enraged soldiers had observed hardly any distinctions of age in the universal slaughter, whilst all the prisoners that were taken were assigned to them, still, it is certain that a considerable sum was realised by the sale of the goods that were seized, and much valuable furniture and apparel was sent to Carthage. Some writers assert that Saguntum was taken in the eighth month of the siege, and that Hannibal led his force from there to New Carthage for the winter, his arrival in Italy occurring five months later. In this case it is impossible for P. Cornelius and Ti. Sempronius to have been the consuls to whom the Saguntine envoys were sent at the beginning of the siege and who afterwards, whilst still in office, fought with Hannibal, one of them at the Ticinus, both shortly afterwards at the Trebia. Either all the incidents occurred within a much shorter period or else it was the capture of Saguntum, not the beginning of the siege, which occurred when those two entered upon office. For the battle of the Trebia cannot have fallen so late as the year when Cn. Servilius and C. Flaminius were in office, because C. Flaminius entered upon his consulship at Ariminum, his election taking place under the consul Tiberius Sempronius, who came to Rome after the battle of the Trebia to hold the consular elections, and, after they were over, returned to his army in winter quarters.
[21.16]The commissioners who had been sent to Carthage, on their return to Rome, reported that everything breathed a hostile spirit. Almost on the very day they returned the news arrived of the fall of Saguntum, and such was the distress of the senate at the cruel fate of their allies, such was their feeling of shame at not having sent help to them, such their exasperation against the Carthaginians and their alarm for the safety of the State - for it seemed as though the enemy were already at their gates - that they were in no mood for deliberating, shaken as they were by so many conflicting emotions. There were sufficient grounds for alarm. Never had they met a more active or a more warlike enemy, and never had the Roman republic been so lacking in energy or so unprepared for war. The operations against the Sardinians, Corsicans, and Histrians, as well as those against the Illyrians, had been more of an annoyance than a training for the soldiers of Rome; whilst with the Gauls there had been desultory fighting rather than regular warfare. But the Carthaginians, a veteran enemy which for three-and-twenty years had seen hard and rough service amongst the Spanish tribes, and had always been victorious, trained under a general of exceptional ability, were now crossing the Ebro fresh from the sack of a most wealthy city, and were bringing with them all those Spanish tribes, eager for the fray. They would rouse the various Gaulish tribes, who were always ready to take up arms; there would be the whole world to fight against; the battleground would be Italy; the struggle would take place before the walls of Rome.
[21.17]The seat of the campaigns had already been decided; the consuls were now ordered to draw lots. Spain fell to Cornelius, Africa to Sempronius. It was resolved that six legions should be raised for that year, the allies were to furnish such contingents as the consuls should deem necessary, and as large a fleet as possible was to be fitted out; 24,000 Roman infantry were called up and 1800 cavalry; the allies contributed 40,000 infantry and 4400 cavalry, and a fleet of 220 ships of war and 20 light galleys was launched. The question was then formally submitted to the Assembly, Was it their will and pleasure that war should be declared against the people of Carthage? When this was decided, a special service of intercession was conducted; the procession marched through the streets of the city offering prayers at the various temples that the gods would grant a happy and prosperous issue to the war which the people of Rome had now ordered. The forces were divided between the consuls in the following way: To Sempronius two legions were assigned, each consisting of 4000 infantry and 300 cavalry, and 16,000 infantry and 1800 cavalry from the allied contingents. He was also provided with 160 warships and 12 light galleys. With this combined land and sea force he was sent to Sicily, with instructions to cross over to Africa if the other consul succeeded in preventing the Carthaginian from invading Italy. Cornelius, on the other hand, was provided with a smaller force, as L. Manlius, the praetor, was himself being despatched to Gaul with a fairly strong detachment. Cornelius was weakest in his ships; he had only 60 warships, for it was never supposed that the enemy would come by sea or use his navy for offensive purposes. His land force was made up of two Roman legions, with their complement of cavalry, and 14,000 infantry from the allies with 1600 cavalry. The province of Gaul1 was held by two Roman legions and 10,000 allied infantry with 600 Roman and 1000 allied cavalry. This force was ultimately employed in the Punic War.
[21.18]When these preparations were completed, the formalities necessary before entering upon war required that a commission should be despatched to Carthage. Those selected were men of age and experience - Q. Fabius, M. Livius, L. Aemilius, C. Licinius, and Q. Baebius. They were instructed to inquire whether it was with the sanction of the government that Hannibal had attacked Saguntum, and if, as seemed most probable, the Carthaginians should admit that it was so and proceed to defend their action, then the Roman envoys were to formally declare war upon Carthage. As soon as they had arrived in Carthage they appeared before the senate. Q. Fabius had, in accordance with his instructions, simply put the question as to the responsibility of the government, when one of the members present said: "The language of your previous deputation was peremptory enough when you demanded the surrender of Hannibal on the assumption that he was attacking Saguntum on his own authority, but your language now, so far at least, is less provocative, though in effect more overbearing. For on that occasion it was Hannibal whose action you denounced and whose surrender you demanded, now you are seeking to extort from us a confession of guilt and insist upon obtaining instant satisfaction, as from men who admit they are in the wrong. I do not, however, consider that the question is whether the attack on Saguntum was an act of public policy or only that of a private citizen, but whether it was justified by circumstances or not. It is for us to inquire and take proceedings against a citizen when he has done anything on his own authority; the only point for you to discuss is whether his action was compatible with the terms of the treaty. Now, as you wish us to draw a distinction between what our generals do with the sanction of the State and what they do on their own initiative, you must remember that the treaty with us was made by your consul, C. Lutatius, and whilst it contained provisions guarding the interests of the allies of both nations, there was no such provision for the Saguntines, for they were not your allies at the time. But, you will say, by the treaty concluded with Hasdrubal, the Saguntines are exempted from attack. I shall meet that with your own arguments. You told us that you refused to be bound by the treaty which your consul, C. Lutatius, concluded with us, because it did not receive the authorisation of either the senate or the Assembly. A fresh treaty was accordingly made by your government. Now, if no treaties have any binding force for you unless they have been made with the authority of your senate or by order of your Assembly, we, on our side, cannot possibly be bound by Hasdrubal's treaty, which he made without our knowledge. Drop all allusions to Saguntum and the Ebro, and speak out plainly what has long been secretly hatching in your minds." Then the Roman, gathering up his toga, said, "Here we bring you war and peace, take which you please." He was met by a defiant shout bidding him give whichever he preferred, and when, letting the folds of his toga fall, he said that he gave them war, they replied that they accepted war and would carry it on in the same spirit in which they accepted it.
[21.19]This straightforward question and threat of war seemed to be more consonant with the dignity of Rome than a wordy argument about treaties; it seemed so previous to the destruction of Saguntum, and still more so afterwards. For had it been a matter for argument, what ground was there for comparing Hasdrubal's treaty with the earlier one of Lutatius? In the latter it was expressly stated that it would only be of force if the people approved it, whereas in Hasdrubal's treaty there was no such saving clause. Besides, his treaty had been silently observed for many years during his lifetime, and was so generally approved that, even after its author's death, none of its articles were altered. But even if they took their stand upon the earlier treaty - that of Lutatius - the Saguntines were sufficiently safeguarded by the allies of both parties being exempted from hostile treatment, for nothing was said about "the allies for the time being" or anything to exclude "any who should be hereafter taken into alliance." And since it was open to both parties to form fresh alliances, who would think it a fair arrangement that none should be received into alliance whatever their merits, or that when they had been received they should not be loyally protected, on the understanding that the allies of the Carthaginians should not be induced to revolt, or if they deserted their allies on their own accord were not to be received into alliance by the others?
The Roman envoys in accordance with their instructions went on to Spain for the purpose of visiting the different tribes and drawing them into alliance with Rome, or at least detaching them from the Carthaginians. The first they came to were the Borgusii, who were tired of Punic domination and gave them a favourable reception, and their success here excited a desire for change amongst many of the tribes beyond the Ebro. They came next to the Volciani, and the response they met with became widely known throughout Spain and determined the rest of the tribes against an alliance with Rome. This answer was given by the senior member of their national council in the following terms: "Are you not ashamed, Romans, to ask us to form friendship with you in preference to the Carthaginians, seeing how those who have done so have suffered more through you, their allies, cruelly deserting them than through any injury inflicted on them by the Carthaginians? I advise you to look for allies where the fall of Saguntum has never been heard of; the nations of Spain see in the ruins of Saguntum a sad and emphatic warning against putting any trust in alliances with Rome." They were then peremptorily ordered to quit the territory of the Volciani, and from that time none of the councils throughout Spain gave them a more favourable reply. After this fruitless mission in Spain they crossed over into Gaul.
[21.20]Here a strange and appalling sight met their eyes; the men attended the council fully armed, such was the custom of the country. When the Romans, after extolling the renown and courage of the Roman people and the greatness of their dominion, asked the Gauls not to allow the Carthaginian invaders a passage through their fields and cities, such interruption and laughter broke out that the younger men were with difficulty kept quiet by the magistrates and senior members of the council. They thought it a most stupid and impudent demand to make, that the Gauls, in order to prevent the war from spreading into Italy, should turn it against themselves and expose their own lands to be ravaged instead of other people's. After quiet was restored the envoys were informed that the Romans had rendered them no service, nor had the Carthaginians done them any injury to make them take up arms either on behalf of the Romans or against the Carthaginians. On the other hand, they heard that men of their race were being expelled from Italy, and made to pay tribute to Rome, and subjected to every other indignity. Their experience was the same in all the other councils of Gaul, nowhere did they hear a kindly or even a tolerably peaceable word till they reached Massilia. There all the facts which their allies had carefully and honestly collected were laid before them; they were informed that the interest of the Gauls had already been secured by Hannibal, but even he would not find them very tractable, with their wild and untamable nature, unless the chiefs were also won over with gold, a thing which as a nation they were most eager to procure. After thus traversing Spain and the tribes of Gaul the envoys returned to Rome not long after the consuls had left for their respective commands. They found the whole City in a state of excitement; definite news had been received that the Carthaginians had crossed the Ebro, and every one was looking forward to war.
[21.21]After the capture of Saguntum, Hannibal withdrew into winter quarters at New Carthage. Information reached him there of the proceedings at Rome and Carthage, and he learnt that he was not only the general who was to conduct the war, but also the sole person who was responsible for its outbreak. As further delay would be most inexpedient, he sold and distributed the rest of the plunder, and calling together those of his soldiers who were of Spanish blood, he addressed them as follows: "I think, soldiers, that you yourselves recognise that now that we have reduced all the tribes in Spain we shall either have to bring our campaigns to an end and disband our armies or else we must transfer our wars to other lands. If we seek to win plunder and glory from other nations, then these tribes will enjoy not only the blessings of peace, but also the fruits of victory. Since, therefore, there await us campaigns far from home, and it is uncertain when you will again see your homes and all that is dear to you, I grant a furlough to every one who wishes to visit his friends. You must reassemble at the commencement of spring, so that we may, with the kindly help of the gods, enter upon a war which will bring us immense plunder and cover us with glory." They all welcomed the opportunity, so spontaneously offered, of visiting their homes after so long an absence, and in view of a still longer absence in the future. The winter's rest, coming after their past exertions, and soon to be followed by greater ones, restored their faculties of mind and body and strengthened them for fresh trials of endurance.
In the early days of spring they reassembled according to orders. After reviewing the whole of the native contingents, Hannibal left for Gades, where he discharged his vows to Hercules, and bound himself by fresh obligations to that deity in case his enterprise should succeed. As Africa would be open to attack from the side of Sicily during his land march through Spain and the two Gauls into Italy, he decided to secure that country with a strong garrison. To supply their place he requisitioned troops from Africa, a light-armed force consisting mainly of slingers. By thus transferring Africans to Spain and Spaniards to Africa, the soldiers of each nationality would be expected to render more efficient service, as being practically under reciprocal obligations. The force he despatched to Africa consisted of 13,850 Spanish infantry furnished with ox-hide bucklers, and 870 Balearic slingers, with a composite body of 1200 cavalry drawn from numerous tribes. This force was destined partly for the defence of Carthage, partly to hold the African territory. At the same time recruiting officers were sent to various communities; some 4000 men of good family were called up who were under orders to be conveyed to Carthage to strengthen its defence, and also to serve as hostages for the loyalty of their people.
[21.22]Spain also had to be provided for, all the more so as Hannibal was fully aware that Roman commissioners had been going all about the country to win over the leading men of the various tribes. He placed it in charge of his energetic and able brother, Hasdrubal, and assigned him an army mainly composed of African troops - 11,850 native infantry, 300 Ligurians, and 500 Balearics. In addition to this body of infantry there were 450 Libyphoenician cavalry - these are a mixed race of Punic and aboriginal African descent - some 1800 Numidians and Moors, dwellers on the shore of the Mediterranean, and a small mounted contingent of 300 Ilergetes raised in Spain. Finally, that his land force might be complete in all its parts, there were twenty-one elephants. The protection of the coast required a fleet, and as it was natural to suppose that the Romans would again make use of that arm in which they had been victorious before, Hasdrubal had assigned to him a fleet of 57 warships, including 50 quinqueremes, 2 quadriremes, and 5 triremes, but only 32 quinqueremes and the 5 triremes were ready for sea. From Gades he returned to the winter quarters of his army at New Carthage, and from New Carthage he commenced his march on Italy. Passing by the city of Onusa, he marched along the coast to the Ebro. The story runs that whilst halting there he saw in a dream a youth of god-like appearance who said that he had been sent by Jupiter to act as guide to Hannibal on his march to Italy. He was accordingly to follow him and not to lose sight of him or let his eyes wander. At first, filled with awe, he followed him without glancing round him or looking back, but as instinctive curiosity impelled him to wonder what it was that he was forbidden to gaze at behind him, he could no longer command his eyes. He saw behind him a serpent of vast and marvellous bulk, and as it moved along trees and bushes crashed down everywhere before it, whilst in its wake there rolled a thunder-storm. He asked what the monstrous portent meant, and was told that it was the devastation of Italy; he was to go forward without further question and allow his destiny to remain hidden.
[21.23]Gladdened by this vision he proceeded to cross the Ebro, with his army in three divisions, after sending men on in advance to secure by bribes the good-will of the Gauls dwelling about his crossing-place, and also to reconnoitre the passes of the Alps. He brought 90,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry over the Ebro. His next step was to reduce to submission the Ilergetes, the Bargusii, and the Ausetani, and also the district of Lacetania, which lies at the foot of the Pyrenees. He placed Hanno in charge of the whole coast-line to secure the passes which connect Spain with Gaul, and furnished him with an army of 10,000 infantry to hold the district, and 1000 cavalry. When his army commenced the passage of the Pyrenees and the barbarians found that there was truth in the rumour that they were being led against Rome, 3000 of the Carpetani deserted. It was understood that they were induced to desert not so much by the prospect of the war as by the length of the march and the impossibility of crossing the Alps. As it would have been hazardous to recall them, or to attempt to detain them by force, in case the quick passions of the rest of the army should be roused, Hannibal sent back to their homes more than 7000 men who, he had personally discovered, were getting tired of the campaign, and at the same time he gave out that the Carpetani had also been sent back by him.
[21.24]Then, to prevent his men from being demoralised by further delay and inactivity, he crossed the Pyrenees with the remainder of his force and fixed his camp at the town of Iliberri. The Gauls were told that it was against Italy that war was being made, but as they had heard that the Spaniards beyond the Pyrenees had been subjugated by force of arms, and strong garrisons placed in their towns, several tribes, fearing for their liberty, were roused to arms and mustered at Ruscino. On receiving the announcement of this movement, Hannibal, fearing delay more than hostilities, sent spokesmen to their chiefs to say that he was anxious for a conference with them, and either they might come nearer to Iliberri, or he would approach Ruscino to facilitate their meeting, for he would gladly receive them in his camp or would himself go to them without loss of time. He had come into Gaul as a friend not a foe, and unless the Gauls compelled him he would not draw his sword till he reached Italy. This was the proposal made through the envoys, but when the Gauls had, without any hesitation, moved their camp up to Iliberri, they were effectually secured by bribes and allowed the army a free and unmolested passage through their territory under the very walls of Ruscino.
[21.25]No intelligence, meanwhile, had reached Rome beyond the fact reported by the Massilian envoys, namely that Hannibal had crossed the Ebro. No sooner was this known than the Boii, who had been tampering with the Insubres, rose in revolt, just as though he had already crossed the Alps, not so much in consequence of their old standing enmity against Rome as of her recent aggressions. Bodies of colonists were being settled on Gaulish territory in the valley of the Po, at Placentia and Cremona, and intense irritation was produced. Seizing their arms they made an attack on the land, which was being actually surveyed at the time, and created such terror and confusion that not only the agricultural population, but even the three Roman commissioners who were engaged in marking out the holdings, fled to Mutina, not feeling themselves safe behind the walls of Placentia. The commissioners were C. Lutatius, C. Servilius, and M. Annius. There is no doubt as to the name Lutatius, but instead of Annius and Servilius some annalists have Manlius Acilius and C. Herennius, whilst others give P. Cornelius Asina and C. Papirius Maso. There is also doubt as to whether it was the envoys who had been sent to the Boii to remonstrate with them that were maltreated, or the commissioners upon whom an attack was made whilst surveying the ground. The Gauls invested Mutina, but as they were strangers to the art of conducting sieges, and far too indolent to set about the construction of military works, they contented themselves with blockading the town without inflicting any injury on the walls. At last they pretended that they were ready to discuss terms of peace, and the envoys were invited by the Gaulish chieftains to a conference. Here they were arrested, in direct violation not only of international law but of the safe-conduct which had been granted for the occasion. Having made them prisoners the Gauls declared that they would not release them until their hostages were restored to them.
When news came that the envoys were prisoners and Mutina and its garrison in jeopardy, L. Manlius, the praetor, burning with anger, led his army in separate divisions to Mutina. Most of the country was uncultivated at that time and the road went through a forest. He advanced without throwing out scouting parties and fell into an ambush, out of which, after sustaining considerable loss, he made his way with difficulty on to more open ground. Here he entrenched himself, and as the Gauls felt it would be hopeless to attack him there, the courage of his men revived, though it was tolerably certain that as many as 500 had fallen. They recommenced their march, and as long as they were going through open country there was no enemy in view; when they re-entered the forest their rear was attacked and great confusion and panic created. They lost 700 men and six standards. When they at last got out of the trackless and entangled forest there was an end to the terrifying tactics of the Gauls and the wild alarm of the Romans. There was no difficulty in repelling attacks when they reached the open country and made their way to Tannetum, a place near the Po. Here they hastily entrenched themselves, and, helped by the windings of the river and assisted by the Brixian Gauls, they held their ground against an enemy whose numbers were daily increasing.
[21.26]When the intelligence of this sudden outbreak reached Rome and the senate became aware that they had a Gaulish war to face in addition to the war with Carthage, they ordered C. Atilius, the praetor, to go to the relief of Manlius with a Roman legion and 5000 men who had been recently enlisted by the consul from among the allies. As the enemy, afraid to meet these reinforcements, had retired, Atilius reached Tannetum without any fighting. After raising a fresh legion in place of the one which had been sent away with the praetor, P. Cornelius Scipio set sail with sixty warships and coasted along by the shores of Etruria and Liguria, and from there past the mountains of the Salyes until he reached Marseilles. Here he disembarked his troops at the first mouth of the Rhone to which he came - the river flows into the sea through several mouths - and formed his entrenched camp, hardly able yet to believe that Hannibal had surmounted the obstacle of the Pyrenees. When, however, he understood that he was already contemplating crossing the Rhone, feeling uncertain as to where he would meet him and anxious to give his men time to recover from the effects of the voyage, he sent forward a picked force of 300 cavalry accompanied by Massilian guides and friendly Gauls to explore the country in all directions and if possible to discover the enemy.
Hannibal had overcome the opposition of the native tribes by either fear or bribes and had now reached the territory of the Volcae. They were a powerful tribe, inhabiting the country on both sides of the Rhone, but distrusting their ability to stop Hannibal on the side of the river nearest to him, they determined to make the river a barrier and transported nearly all the population to the other side, on which they prepared to offer armed resistance. The rest of the river population and those of the Volcae even, who still remained in their homes, were induced by presents to collect boats from all sides and to help in constructing others, and their efforts were stimulated by the desire to get rid as soon as possible of the burdensome presence of such a vast host of men. So an enormous number of boats and vessels of every kind, such as they used in their journeys up and down the river, was got together; new ones were made by the Gauls by hollowing out the trunks of trees, then the soldiers themselves, seeing the abundance of timber and how easily they were made, took to fashioning uncouth canoes, quite content if only they would float and carry burdens and serve to transport themselves and their belongings.
[21.27]Everything was now ready for the crossing, but the whole of the opposite bank was held by mounted and unmounted men prepared to dispute the passage. In order to dislodge them Hannibal sent Hanno, the son of Bomilcar, with a division, consisting mainly of Spaniards, a day's march up the river. He was to seize the first chance of crossing without being observed, and then lead his men by a circuitous route behind the enemy and at the right moment attack them in the rear. The Gauls who were taken as guides informed Hanno that about 25 miles up-stream a small island divided the river in two, and the channel was of less depth in consequence. When they reached the spot they hastily cut down the timber and constructed rafts on which men and horses and other burdens could be ferried across. The Spaniards had no trouble; they threw their clothes on to skins and placing their leather shields on the top they rested on these and so swam across. The rest of the army was ferried over on rafts, and after making a camp near the river they took a day's rest after their labours of boat-making and the nocturnal passage, their general in the meantime waiting anxiously for an opportunity of putting his plan into execution. The next day they set out on their march, and lighting a fire on some rising ground they signalled by the column of smoke that they had crossed the river and were not very far away. As soon as Hannibal received the signal he seized the occasion and at once gave the order to cross the river. The infantry had prepared rafts and boats, the cavalry mostly barges on account of the horses. A line of large boats was moored across the river a short distance up-stream to break the force of the current, and consequently the men in the smaller boats crossed over in smooth water. Most of the horses were towed astern and swam over, others were carried in barges, ready saddled and bridled so as to be available for the cavalry the moment they landed.
[21.28]The Gauls flocked together on the bank with their customary whoops and war songs, waving their shields over their heads and brandishing their javelins. They were somewhat dismayed when they saw what was going on in front of them; the enormous number of large and small boats, the roar of the river, the confused shouts of the soldiers and boatmen, some of whom were trying to force their way against the current, whilst others on the bank were cheering their comrades who were crossing. Whilst they were watching all this movement with sinking hearts, still more alarming shouts were heard behind them; Hanno had captured their camp. Soon he appeared on the scene, and they were now confronted by danger from opposite quarters - the host of armed men landing from the boats and the sudden attack which was being made on their rear. For a time the Gauls endeavoured to maintain the conflict in both directions, but finding themselves losing ground they forced their way through where there seemed to be least resistance and dispersed to their various villages. Hannibal brought over the rest of his force undisturbed, and, without troubling himself any further about the Gauls, formed his camp.
In the transport of the elephants I believe different plans were adopted; at all events, the accounts of what took place vary considerably. Some say that after they had all been collected on the bank the worst-tempered beast amongst them was teased by his driver, and when he ran away from it into the water the elephant followed him and drew the whole herd after it, and as they got out of their depth they were carried by the current to the opposite bank. The more general account, however, is that they were transported on rafts; as this method would have appeared the safest beforehand so it is most probable that it was the one adopted. They pushed out into the river a raft 200 feet long and 50 feet broad, and to prevent it from being carried down-stream, one end was secured by several stout hawsers to the bank. It was covered with earth like a bridge in order that the animals, taking it for solid ground, would not be afraid to venture on it. A second raft, of the same breadth but only 100 feet long and capable of crossing the river, was made fast to the former. The elephants led by the females were driven along the fixed raft, as if along a road, until they came on to the smaller one. As soon as they were safely on this it was cast off and towed by light boats to the other side of the river. When the first lot were landed others were brought over in the same way. They showed no fear whilst they were being driven along the fixed raft; their fright began when they were being carried into mid-channel on the other raft which had been cast loose. They crowded together, those on the outside backing away from the water, and showed considerable alarm until their very fears at the sight of the water made them quiet. Some in their excitement fell overboard and threw their drivers, but their mere weight kept them steady, and as they felt their way into shallow water they succeeded in getting safely to land.
[21.29]While the elephants were being ferried across, Hannibal sent 500 Numidian horse towards the Romans to ascertain their numbers and their intentions. This troop of horse encountered the 300 Roman cavalry who, as I have already stated, had been sent forward from the mouth of the Rhone. It was a much more severe fight than might have been expected from the number of combatants. Not only were there many wounded but each side lost about the same number of killed, and the Romans, who were at last completely exhausted, owed their victory to a panic among the Numidians and their consequent flight. Of the victors as many as 160 fell, not all Romans, some were Gauls; whilst the vanquished lost more than 200. This action with which the war commenced was an omen of its final result, but though it portended the final victory of Rome it showed that the victory would not be attained without much bloodshed and repeated defeats. The forces drew off from the field and returned to their respective commanders. Scipio found himself unable to form any definite plans beyond what were suggested to him by the movements of the enemy. Hannibal was undecided whether to resume his march to Italy or to engage the Romans, the first army to oppose him. He was dissuaded from the latter course by the arrival of envoys from the Boii and their chief, Magalus. They came to assure Hannibal of their readiness to act as guides and take their share in the dangers of the expedition, and they gave it as their opinion that he ought to reserve all his strength for the invasion of Italy and not fritter any of it away beforehand. The bulk of his army had not forgotten the previous war and looked forward with dismay to meeting their old enemy, but what appalled them much more was the prospect of an endless journey over the Alps, which rumour said was, to those at all events who had never tried it, a thing to be dreaded.
[21.30]When Hannibal had made up his mind to go forward and lose no time in reaching Italy, his goal, he ordered a muster of his troops and addressed them in tones of mingled rebuke and encouragement. "I am astonished," he said, "to see how hearts that have been always dauntless have now suddenly become a prey to fear. Think of the many victorious campaigns you have gone through, and remember that you did not leave Spain before you had added to the Carthaginian empire all the tribes in the country washed by two widely remote seas. The Roman people made a demand for all who had taken part in the siege of Saguntum to be given up to them, and you, to avenge the insult, have crossed the Ebro to wipe out the name of Rome and bring freedom to the world. When you commenced your march, from the setting to the rising sun, none of you thought it too much for you, but now when you see that by far the greater part of the way has been accomplished; the passes of the Pyrenees, which were held by most warlike tribes, surmounted; the Rhone, that mighty stream, crossed in the face of so many thousand Gauls, and the rush of its waters checked - now that you are within sight of the Alps, on the other side of which lies Italy, you have become weary and are arresting your march in the very gates of the enemy. What do you imagine the Alps to be other than lofty mountains? Suppose them to be higher than the peaks of the Pyrenees, surely no region in the world can touch the sky or be impassable to man. Even the Alps are inhabited and cultivated, animals are bred and reared there, their gorges and ravines can be traversed by armies. Why, even the envoys whom you see here did not cross the Alps by flying through the air, nor were their ancestors native to the soil. They came into Italy as emigrants looking for a land to settle in, and they crossed the Alps often in immense bodies with their wives and children and all their belongings. What can be inaccessible or insuperable to the soldier who carries nothing with him but his weapons of war? What toils and perils you went through for eight months to effect the capture of Saguntum! And now that Rome, the capital of the world, is your goal, can you deem anything so difficult or so arduous that it should prevent you from reaching it? Many years ago the Gauls captured the place which Carthaginians despair of approaching; either you must confess yourselves inferior in courage and enterprise to a people whom you have conquered again and again, or else you must look forward to finishing your march on the ground between the Tiber and the walls of Rome."
[21.31]After this rousing appeal he dismissed them with orders to prepare themselves by food and rest for the march. The next day they advanced up the left bank of the Rhone towards the central districts of Gaul, not because this was the most direct route to the Alps, but because he thought that there would be less likelihood of the Romans meeting him, for he had no desire to engage them before he arrived in Italy. Four days' marching brought him to the "Island." Here the Isere and the Rhone, flowing down from different points in the Alps, enclose a considerable extent of land and then unite their channels; the district thus enclosed is called the "Island." The adjacent country was inhabited by the Allobroges, a tribe who even in those days were second to none in Gaul in power and reputation. At the time of Hannibal's visit a quarrel had broken out between two brothers who were each aspiring to the sovereignty. The elder brother, whose name was Brancus, had hitherto been the chief, but was now expelled by a party of the younger men, headed by his brother, who found an appeal to violence more successful than an appeal to right. Hannibal's timely appearance on the scene led to the question being referred to him; he was to decide who was the legitimate claimant to the kingship. He pronounced in favour of the elder brother, who had the support of the senate and the leading men. In return for this service he received assistance in provisions and supplies of all kinds, especially of clothing, a pressing necessity in view of the notorious cold of the Alps. After settling the feud amongst the Allobroges, Hannibal resumed his march. He did not take the direct course to the Alps, but turned to the left towards the Tricastini; then, skirting the territory of the Vocontii, he marched in the direction of the Tricorii. Nowhere did he meet with any difficulty until he arrived at the Durance. This river, which also takes its rise in the Alps, is of all the rivers of Gaul the most difficult to cross. Though carrying down a great volume of water, it does not lend itself to navigation, for it is not kept in by banks, but flows in many separate channels. As it is constantly shifting its bottom and the direction of its currents, the task of fording it is a most hazardous one, whilst the shingle and boulders carried down make the foothold insecure and treacherous. It happened to be swollen by rain at the time, and the men were thrown into much disorder whilst crossing it, whilst their fears and confused shouting added considerably to their difficulties.
[21.32]Three days after Hannibal had left the banks of the Rhone, P. Cornelius Scipio arrived at the deserted camp with his army in battle order, ready to engage at once. When, however, he saw the abandoned lines and realised that it would be no easy matter to overtake his opponent after he had got such a long start, he returned to his ships. He considered that the easier and safer course would be to meet Hannibal as he came down from the Alps. Spain was the province allotted to him, and to prevent its being entirely denuded of Roman troops he sent his brother Cneius Scipio with the greater part of his army to act against Hasdrubal, not only to keep the old allies and win new ones, but to drive Hasdrubal out of Spain. He himself sailed for Genoa with a very small force, intending to defend Italy with the army lying in the valley of the Po. From the Durance Hannibal's route lay mostly through open level country, and he reached the Alps without meeting with any opposition from the Gauls who inhabited the district. But the sight of the Alps revived the terrors in the minds of his men. Although rumour, which generally magnifies untried dangers, had filled them with gloomy forebodings, the nearer view proved much more fearful. The height of the mountains now so close, the snow which was almost lost in the sky, the wretched huts perched on the rocks, the flocks and herds shrivelled and stunted with the cold, the men wild and unkempt, everything animate and inanimate stiff with frost, together with other sights dreadful beyond description - all helped to increase their alarm.
As the head of the column began to climb the nearest slopes, the natives appeared on the heights above; had they concealed themselves in the ravines and then rushed down they would have caused frightful panic and bloodshed. Hannibal called a halt and sent on some Gauls to examine the ground, and when he learnt that advance was impossible in that direction he formed his camp in the widest part of the valley that he could find; everywhere around the ground was broken and precipitous. The Gauls who had been sent to reconnoitre got into conversation with the natives, as there was little difference between their speech or their manners, and they brought back word to Hannibal that the pass was only occupied in the daytime, at nightfall the natives all dispersed to their homes. Accordingly, at early dawn he began the ascent as though determined to force the pass in broad daylight, and spent the day in movements designed to conceal his real intentions and in fortifying the camp on the spot where they had halted. As soon as he observed that the natives had left the heights and were no longer watching his movements, he gave orders, with the view of deceiving the enemy, for a large number of fires to be lighted, larger in fact than would be required by those remaining in camp. Then, leaving the baggage with the cavalry and the greater part of the infantry in camp, he himself with a specially selected body of troops in light marching order rapidly moved out of the defile and occupied the heights which the enemy had held.
[21.33]The following day the rest of the army broke camp in the grey dawn and commenced its march. The natives were beginning to assemble at their customary post of observation when they suddenly became aware that some of the enemy were in possession of their stronghold right over their heads, whilst others were advancing on the path beneath. The double impression made on their eyes and imagination kept them for a few moments motionless, but when they saw the column falling into disorder mainly through the horses becoming frightened, they thought that if they increased the confusion and panic it would be sufficient to destroy it. So they charged down from rock to rock, careless as to whether there were paths or not, for they were familiar with the ground. The Carthaginians had to meet this attack at the same time that they were struggling with the difficulties of the way, and as each man was doing his best for himself to get out of the reach of danger, they were fighting more amongst themselves than against the natives. The horses did the most mischief; they were terrified at the wild shouts, which the echoing woods and valleys made all the louder, and when they happened to be struck or wounded they created terrible havoc amongst the men and the different baggage animals. The road was flanked by sheer precipices on each side, and in the crowding together many were pushed over the edge and fell an immense depth. Amongst these were some of the soldiers; the heavily-laden baggage animals rolled over like falling houses. Horrible as the sight was, Hannibal remained quiet and kept his men back for some time, for fear of increasing the alarm and confusion, but when he saw that the column was broken and that the army was in danger of losing all its baggage, in which case he would have brought them safely through to no purpose, he ran down from his higher ground and at once scattered the enemy. At the same time, however, he threw his own men into still greater disorder for the moment, but it was very quickly allayed now that the passage was cleared by the flight of the natives. In a short time the whole army had traversed the pass, not only without any further disturbance, but almost in silence. He then seized a fortified village, the head place of the district, together with some adjacent hamlets, and from the food and cattle thus secured he provided his army with rations for three days. As the natives, after their first defeat, no longer impeded their march, whilst the road presented little difficulty, they made considerable progress during those three days.
[21.34]They now came to another canton which, considering that it was a mountain district, had a considerable population. Here he narrowly escaped destruction, not in fair and open fighting, but by the practices which he himself employed - falsehood and treachery. The head men from the fortified villages, men of advanced age, came as a deputation to the Carthaginian and told him that they had been taught by the salutary example of other people's misfortunes to seek the friendship of the Carthaginians rather than to feel their strength. They were accordingly prepared to carry out his orders; he would receive provisions and guides, and hostages as a guarantee of good faith. Hannibal felt that he ought not to trust them blindly nor to meet their offer with a flat refusal, in case they should become hostile. So he replied in friendly terms, accepted the hostages whom they placed in his hands, made use of the provisions with which they supplied him on the march, but followed their guides with his army prepared for action, not at all as though he were going through a peaceable or friendly country. The elephants and cavalry were in front, he himself followed with the main body of the infantry, keeping a sharp and anxious look-out in all directions. Just as they reached a part of the pass where it narrowed and was overhung on one side by a wall of rock, the barbarians sprang up from ambush on all sides and assailed the column in front and rear, at close quarters, and at a distance by rolling huge stones down on it. The heaviest attack was made in the rear, and as the infantry faced round to meet it, it became quite obvious that if the rear of the column had not been made exceptionally strong, a terrible disaster must have occurred in that pass. As it was, they were in the greatest danger, and within an ace of total destruction. For whilst Hannibal was hesitating whether to send his infantry on into the narrow part of the pass - for whilst protecting the rear of the cavalry they had no reserves to protect their own rear - the mountaineers, making a flank charge, burst through the middle of the column and held the pass so that Hannibal had to spend that one night without his cavalry or his baggage.
[21.35]The next day, as the savages attacked with less vigour, the column closed up, and the pass was surmounted, not without loss, more, however, of baggage animals than of men. From that time the natives made their appearance in smaller numbers and behaved more like banditti than regular soldiers; they attacked either front or rear just as the ground gave them opportunity, or as the advance or halt of the column presented a chance of surprise. The elephants caused considerable delay, owing to the difficulty of getting them through narrow or precipitous places; on the other hand, they rendered that part of the column safe from attack where they were, for the natives were unaccustomed to the sight of them and had a great dread of going too near them. Nine days from their commencing the ascent they arrived at the highest point of the Alps, after traversing a region mostly without roads and frequently losing their way either through the treachery of their guides or through their own mistakes in trying to find the way for themselves. For two days they remained in camp on the summit, whilst the troops enjoyed a respite from fatigue and fighting. Some of the baggage animals which had fallen amongst the rocks and had afterwards followed the track of the column came into camp. To add to the misfortunes of the worn-out troops, there was a heavy fall of snow - the Pleiads were near their setting - and this new experience created considerable alarm. In the early morning of the third day the army recommenced its heavy march over ground everywhere deep in snow. Hannibal saw in all faces an expression of listlessness and despondency. He rode on in front to a height from which there was a wide and extensive view, and halting his men, he pointed out to them the land of Italy and the rich valley of the Po lying at the foot of the Alps. "You are now," he said, "crossing the barriers not only of Italy, but of Rome itself. Henceforth all will be smooth and easy for you; in one or, at the most, two battles, you will be masters of the capital and stronghold of Italy." Then the army resumed its advance with no annoyance from the enemy beyond occasional attempts at plunder. The remainder of the march, however, was attended with much greater difficulty than they had experienced in the ascent, for the distance to the plains on the Italian side is shorter, and therefore the descent is necessarily steeper. Almost the whole of the way was precipitous, narrow, and slippery, so that they were unable to keep their footing, and if they slipped they could not recover themselves; they kept falling over each other, and the baggage animals rolled over on their drivers.
[21.36]At length they came to a much narrower pass which descended over such sheer cliffs that a light-armed soldier could hardly get down it even by hanging on to projecting roots and branches. The place had always been precipitous, and a landslip had recently carried away the road for 1000 feet. The cavalry came to a halt here as though they had arrived at their journey's end, and whilst Hannibal was wondering what could be causing the delay he was informed that there was no passage. Then he went forward to examine the place and saw that there was nothing for it but to lead the army by a long circuitous route over pathless and untrodden snow. But this, too, soon proved to be impracticable. The old snow had been covered to a moderate depth by a fresh fall, and the first comers planted their feet firmly on the new snow, but when it had become melted under the tread of so many men and beasts there was nothing to walk on but ice covered with slush. Their progress now became one incessant and miserable struggle. The smooth ice allowed no foothold, and as they were going down a steep incline they were still less able to keep on their legs, whilst, once down, they tried in vain to rise, as their hands and knees were continually slipping. There were no stumps or roots about for them to get hold of and support themselves by, so they rolled about helplessly on the glassy ice and slushy snow. The baggage animals as they toiled along cut through occasionally into the lowest layer of snow, and when they stumbled they struck out their hoofs in their struggles to recover themselves and broke through into the hard and congealed ice below, where most of them stuck as though caught in a gin.
[21.37]At last, when men and beasts alike were worn out by their fruitless exertions, a camp was formed on the summit, after the place had been cleared with immense difficulty owing to the quantity of snow that had to be removed. The next thing was to level the rock through which alone a road was practicable. The soldiers were told off to cut through it. They built up against it an enormous pile of tall trees which they had felled and lopped, and when the wind was strong enough to blow up the fire they set light to the pile. When the rock was red hot they poured vinegar upon it to disintegrate it. After thus treating it by fire they opened a way through it with their tools, and eased the steep slope by winding tracks of moderate gradient, so that not only the baggage animals but even the elephants could be led down. Four days were spent over the rock, and the animals were almost starved to death, for the heights are mostly bare of vegetation and what herbage there is is buried beneath the snow. In the lower levels there were sunny valleys and streams flowing through woods, and spots more deserving of human inhabitants. Here the beasts were turned loose to graze, and the troops, worn out with their engineering, were allowed to rest. In three days more they reached the open plains and found a pleasanter country and pleasanter people living in it
[21.38]Such, in the main, was the way in which they reached Italy, five months, according to some authorities, after leaving New Carthage, fifteen days of which were spent in overcoming the difficulties of the Alps. The authorities are hopelessly at variance as to the number of the troops with which Hannibal entered Italy. The highest estimate assigns him 100,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry; the lowest puts his strength at 20,000 infantry and 6000 cavalry. L. Cincius Alimentus tells us that he was taken prisoner by Hannibal, and I should be most inclined to accept his authority if he had not confused the numbers by adding in the Gauls and Ligurians; if these are included there were 80,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry. It is, however, more probable that these joined Hannibal in Italy, and some authorities actually assert this. Cincius also states that he had heard Hannibal say that subsequently to his passage of the Rhone he lost 36,000 men, besides an immense number of horses and other animals. The first people he came to were the Taurini, a semi-Garlic tribe. As tradition is unanimous on this point I am the more surprised that a question should be raised as to what route Hannibal took over the Alps, and that it should be generally supposed that he crossed over the Poenine range, which is said to have derived its name from that circumstance. Coelius asserts that he crossed by the Cremonian range. These two passes, however, would not have brought him to the Taurini but through the Salassi, a mountain tribe, to the Libuan Gauls. It is highly improbable that those routes to Gaul were available at that time, and in any case the Poenine route would have been closed by the semi-German tribes who inhabited the district. And it is perfectly certain, if we accept their authority, that the Seduni and Veragri, who inhabit that range, say that the name of Poenine was not given to it from any passage of the Carthaginians over it but from the deity Poeninus, whose shrine stands on the highest point of the range.
[21.39]It was a very fortunate circumstance for Hannibal at the outset of his campaign that the Taurini, the first people he came to, were at war with the Insubres. But he was unable to bring his army into the field to assist either side, for it was whilst they were recovering from the ills and misfortunes which had gathered upon them that they felt them most. Rest and idleness instead of toil, plenty following upon starvation, cleanliness and comfort after squalor and emaciation, affected their filthy and well-nigh bestialised bodies in various ways. It was this state of things which induced P. Cornelius Scipio, the consul, after he had arrived with his ships at Pisa and taken over from Manlius and Atilius an army of raw levies disheartened by their recent humiliating defeats, to push on with all speed to the Po that he might engage the enemy before he had recovered his strength. But when he reached Placentia Hannibal had already left his encampment and taken by storm one of the cities of the Taurini, their capital, in fact, because they would not voluntarily maintain friendly relations with him. He would have secured the adhesion of the Gauls in the valley of the Po, not by fear but by their own choice, if the sudden arrival of the consul had not taken them by surprise whilst they were waiting for a favourable moment to revolt. Just at the time of Scipio's arrival, Hannibal moved out of the country of the Taurini, for, seeing how undecided the Gauls were as to whose side they should take, he thought that if he were on the spot they would follow him. The two armies were now almost within sight of one another, and the commanders who were confronting each other, though not sufficiently acquainted with each other's military skill, were even then imbued with mutual respect and admiration. Even before the fall of Saguntum the name of Hannibal was on all men's lips in Rome, and in Scipio Hannibal recognised a great leader, seeing that he had been chosen beyond all others to oppose him. This mutual esteem was enhanced by their recent achievements; Scipio, after Hannibal had left him in Gaul, was in time to meet him on his descent from the Alps; Hannibal had not only dared to attempt but had actually accomplished the passage of the Alps. Scipio, however, made the first move by crossing the Po and shifting his camp to the Ticinus. Before leading his men into battle he addressed them in a speech full of encouragement, in the following terms:
[21.40]"If, soldiers, I were leading into battle the army which I had with me in Gaul, there would have been no need for me to address you. For what encouragement would those cavalry need who had won such a brilliant victory over the enemy's cavalry at the Rhone or those legions of infantry with whom I pursued this same enemy, who by his running away and shirking an engagement acknowledged that I was his conqueror? That army, raised for service in Spain, is campaigning under my brother, Cn. Scipio, who is acting as my deputy in the country which the senate and people of Rome have assigned to it. In order, therefore, that you might have a consul to lead you against Hannibal and the Carthaginians, I have volunteered to command in this battle, and as I am new to you and you to me I must say a few words to you. "Now as to the character of the enemy and the kind of warfare which awaits you. You have to fight, soldiers, with the men whom you defeated in the former war by land and sea, from whom you have exacted a war indemnity for the last twenty years, and from whom you wrested Sicily and Sardinia as the prizes of war. You, therefore, will go into this battle with the exultation of victors, they with the despondency of the vanquished. They are not going to fight now because they are impelled by courage but through sheer necessity; unless indeed you suppose that, after shirking a contest when their army was at its full strength, they have gained more confidence now that they have lost two-thirds of their infantry and cavalry in their passage over the Alps, now that those who survive are fewer than those who have perished. "'Yes,' it may be said, 'they are few in number, but they are strong in courage and physique, and possess a power of endurance and vigour in attack which very few can withstand.' No, they are only semblances or rather ghosts of men, worn out with starvation, cold, filth, and squalor, bruised and enfeebled amongst the rocks and precipices, and, what is more, their limbs are frostbitten, their thews and sinews cramped with cold, their frames shrunk and shrivelled with frost, their weapons battered and shivered, their horses lame and out of condition. This is the cavalry, this the infantry with whom you are going to fight; you will not have an enemy but only the last vestiges of an enemy to meet. My only fear is that when you have fought it will appear to be the Alps that have conquered Hannibal. But perhaps it was right that it should be so, and that the gods, without any human aid, should begin and all but finish this war with a people and their general who have broken treaties, and that to us, who next to the gods have been sinned against, it should be left to complete what they began.
[21.41]"I am not afraid of any one thinking that I am saying this in a spirit of bravado for the sake of putting you in good heart, whilst my real feelings and convictions are far otherwise. I was at perfect liberty to go with my army to Spain, for which country I had actually started, and which was my assigned province. There I should have had my brother to share my plans and dangers; I should have had Hasdrubal rather than Hannibal as my foe, and undoubtedly a less serious war on my hands. But as I was sailing along the coast of Gaul I heard tidings of this enemy, and at once landed, and after sending on cavalry in advance moved up to the Rhone. A cavalry action was fought - that was the only arm I had the opportunity of employing - and I defeated the enemy. His infantry were hurrying away like an army in flight, and as I could not come up with them overland, I returned to my ships with all possible speed, and after making a wide circuit by sea and land have met this dreaded foe almost at the foot of the Alps. Does it seem to you that I have unexpectedly fallen in with him whilst I was anxious to decline a contest and not rather that I am meeting him actually on his track and challenging and dragging him into action? I shall be glad to learn whether the earth has suddenly within the last twenty years produced a different breed of Carthaginans, or whether they are the same as those who fought at the Aegates, and whom you allowed to depart from Eryx on payment of eighteen denarii a head, and whether this Hannibal is, as he gives out, the rival of Hercules in his journeys, or whether he has been left by his father to pay tax and tribute and to be the slave of the Roman people. If his crime at Saguntum were not driving him on, he would surely have some regard, if not for his conquered country, at all events for his house and his father, and the treaties signed by that Hamilcar who at the order of our consul withdrew his garrison from Eryx, who with sighs and groans accepted the hard conditions imposed on the conquered Carthaginians, and who agreed to evacuate Sicily and pay a war indemnity to Rome. And so I would have you, soldiers, fight not merely in the spirit which you are wont to show against other foes, but with feelings of indignant anger as though you saw your own slaves bearing arms against you. When they were shut up in Eryx we might have inflicted the most terrible of human punishments and starved them to death; we might have taken our victorious fleet across to Africa, and in a few days destroyed Carthage without a battle. We granted pardon to their prayers, we allowed them to escape from the blockade, we agreed to terms of peace with those whom we had conquered, and afterwards when they were in dire straits through the African war we took them under our protection, To requite us for these acts of kindness they are following the lead of a young madman and coming to attack our fatherland. I only wish this struggle were for honour alone and not for safety. It is not about the possession of Sicily and Sardinia, the old subjects of dispute, but for Italy that you have to fight. There is no second army at our back to oppose the enemy if we fall to win, there are no more Alps to delay his advance while a fresh army can be raised for defence. Here it is, soldiers, that we have to resist, just as though we were fighting before the walls of Rome. Every one of you must remember that he is using his arms to protect not himself only but also his wife and little children; nor must his anxiety be confined to his home, he must realise, too, that the senate and people of Rome are watching our exploits today. What our strength and courage are now here, such will be the fortune of our City yonder and of the empire of Rome."
[21.42]Such was the language which the consul used towards the Romans. Hannibal thought that the courage of his men ought to be roused by deeds first rather than by words. After forming his army into a circle to view the spectacle, he placed in the centre some Alpine prisoners in chains, and when some Gaulish arms had been thrown down at their feet he ordered an interpreter to ask if any one of them was willing to fight if he were freed from his chains and received arms and a horse as the reward of victory. All to a man demanded arms and battle, and when the lot was cast to decide who should fight, each wished that he might be the one whom Fortune should select for the combat. As each man's lot fell, he hastily seized his arms full of eagerness and exultant delight, amidst the congratulations of his comrades and danced after the custom of his country. But when they began to fight, such was the state of feeling not only amongst the men who had accepted this condition, but amongst the spectators generally that the good fortune of those who died bravely was lauded quite as much as that of those who were victorious.
[21.43]After his men had been impressed by watching several pairs of combatants Hannibal dismissed them, and afterwards summoned them round him, when he is reported to have made the following speech: "Soldiers, you have seen in the fate of others an example how to conquer or to die. If the feelings with which you watched them lead you to form a similar estimate of your own fortunes we are victors. That was no idle spectacle but a picture, as it were, of your own condition. Fortune, I am inclined to think has bound you in heavier chains and imposed upon you a sterner necessity than on your captives. You are shut in on the right hand and on the left by two seas, and you have not a single ship in which to make your escape; around you flows the Po, a greater river than the Rhone and a more rapid one; the barrier of the Alps frowns upon you behind, those Alps which you could hardly cross when your strength and vigour were unimpaired. Here, soldiers, on this spot where you have for the first time encountered the enemy you must either conquer or die. The same Fortune which has imposed upon you the necessity of fighting also holds out rewards of victory, rewards as great as any which men are wont to solicit from the immortal gods. Even if we were only going to recover Sicily and Sardinia, possessions which were wrested from our fathers, they would be prizes ample enough to satisfy us. Everything that the Romans now possess, which they have won through so many triumphs, all that they have amassed, will become yours, together with those who own it. Come then, seize your arms and with the help of heaven win this splendid reward. You have spent time enough in hunting cattle on the barren mountains of Lusitania and Celtiberia, and finding no recompense for all your toils and dangers; now the hour has come for you to enter upon rich and lucrative campaigns and to earn rewards which are worth the earning, after your long march over all those mountains and rivers, and through all those nations in arms. Here Fortune has vouchsafed an end to your toils, here she will vouchsafe a reward worthy of all your past services.
"Do not think because the war, being against Rome, bears a great name, that therefore victory will be correspondingly difficult. Many a despised enemy has fought a long and costly fight; nations and kings of high renown have been beaten with a very slight effort. For, setting aside the glory which surrounds the name of Rome, what point is there in which they can be compared to you? To say nothing of your twenty years' campaigning earned on with all your courage, all your good fortune, from the pillars of Hercules, from the shores of the ocean, from the furthest corners of the earth, through the midst of all the most warlike peoples of Spain and Gaul, you have arrived here as victors. The army with which you will fight is made up of raw levies who were beaten, conquered, and hemmed in by the Gauls this very summer, who are strangers to their general, and he a stranger to them. I, reared as I was, almost born, in the headquarters tent of my father, a most distinguished general, I, who have subjugated Spain and Gaul, who have conquered not only the Alpine tribes, but, what is a much greater task, the Alps themselves - am I to compare myself with this six months' general who has deserted his own army, who, if any one were to point out to him the Romans and the Carthaginians after their standards were removed, would, I am quite certain, not know which army he was in command of as consul? I do not count it a small matter, soldiers, that there is not a man amongst you before whose eyes I have not done many a soldierly deed, or to whom I, who have witnessed and attested his courage, could not recount his own gallant exploits and the time and place where they were performed. I was your pupil before I was your commander, and I shall go into battle surrounded by men whom I have commended and rewarded thousands of times against those who know nothing of each other, who are mutual strangers.
[21.44]"Wherever I turn my eyes I see nothing but courage and strength, a veteran infantry, a cavalry, regular and irregular alike, drawn from the noblest tribes, you, our most faithful and brave allies, you, Carthaginians, who are going to fight for your country, inspired by a most righteous indignation. We are taking the aggressive, we are descending in hostile array into Italy, prepared to fight more bravely and more fearlessly than our foe because he who attacks is animated by stronger hopes and greater courage than he who meets the attack. Besides, we are smarting from a sense of injustice and humiliation. First they demanded me, your general, as their victim, then they insisted that all of you who had taken part in the siege of Saguntum should be surrendered; had you been given up they would have inflicted upon you the most exquisite tortures. That outrageously cruel and tyrannical nation claims everything for itself, makes everything dependent on its will and pleasure; they think it right to dictate with whom we are to make war or peace. They confine and enclose us within mountains and rivers as boundaries, but they do not observe the limits which they themselves have fixed. 'Do not cross the Ebro, see that you have nothing to do with the Saguntines.' 'But Saguntum is not on the Ebro.' 'You must not move a step anywhere.' 'Is it a small matter, your taking from me my oldest provinces, Sicily and Sardinia? Will you cross over into Spain as well, and if I withdraw from there, will you cross over into Africa? Do I say, will cross over? You have crossed over.' They have sent the two consuls for this year, one to Africa, the other to Spain. There is nothing left to us anywhere except what we claim by force of arms. Those may be allowed to be cowards and dastards who have something to fall back upon, whom their own land, their own territory will receive as they flee through its safe and peaceful roads; you must of necessity be brave men, every alternative between victory and death has been broken off by the resolve of despair, and you are compelled either to conquer, or if Fortune wavers, to meet death in battle rather than in flight. If you have all made up your minds to this, I say again you are victors, no keener weapon has been put into men's hands by the immortal gods than a contempt for death."
[21.45]After the fighting spirit of both armies had been roused by these harangues, the Romans threw a bridge over the Ticinus and constructed a blockhouse for its defence. Whilst they were thus occupied, the Carthaginian sent Maharbal with a troop of 500 Numidian horse to ravage the lands of the allies of Rome, but with orders to spare those of the Gauls as far as possible, and to win over their chiefs to his side. When the bridge was completed the Roman army crossed over in the territory of the Insubres and took up a position five miles from Ictumuli, where Hannibal had his camp. As soon as he saw that a battle was imminent, he hastily recalled Maharbal and his troopers. Feeling that he could never say enough by way of admonition and encouragement to his soldiers, he ordered an assembly, and before the whole army offered definite rewards in the hope of which they were to fight. He said that he would give them land wherever they wished, in Italy, Africa, or Spain, which would be free from all taxation for the recipient and for his children; if any preferred money to land, he would satisfy his desires; if any of the allies wished to become Carthaginian citizens he would give them the opportunity; if any preferred to return to their homes he would take care that their circumstances should be such that they would never wish to exchange them with any of their countrymen. He even promised freedom to the slaves who followed their masters, and to the masters, for every slave freed, two more as compensation. To convince them of his determination to carry out these promises, he held a lamb with his left hand and a flint knife in his right and prayed to Jupiter and the other gods, that, if he broke his word and forswore himself they would slay him as he had slain the lamb. He then crushed the animal's head with the flint. They all felt then that the gods themselves would guarantee the fulfilment of their hopes, and looked upon the delay in bringing on an action as delay in gaining their desires; with one mind and one voice they clamoured to be led into battle.
[21.46]The Romans were far from showing this alacrity. Amongst other causes of alarm they had been unnerved by some portents which had happened lately. A wolf had entered the camp and after worrying all it met had got away unhurt. A swarm of bees, too, had settled on a tree which overhung the headquarters tent. After the necessary propitiation had been made Scipio moved out with a force of cavalry and light-armed javelin men towards the enemy's camp to get a nearer view and to ascertain the number and nature of his force. He fell in with Hannibal who was also advancing with his cavalry to explore the neighbourhood. Neither body at first saw the other; the first indication of a hostile approach was given by the unusually dense cloud of dust which was raised by the tramp of so many men and horses. Each party halted and made ready for battle. Scipio placed the javelin men and the Gaulish cavalry in the front, the Roman horse and the heavy cavalry of the allies as reserves. Hannibal formed his centre with his regular cavalry, and posted the Numidians on the flanks. Scarcely had the battle shout been raised before the javelin men retired to the second line amongst the reserves. For some time the cavalry kept up an equal fight, but as the foot-soldiers became mixed up with the mounted men they made their horses unmanageable, many were thrown or else dismounted where they saw their comrades in difficulty, until the battle was mainly fought on foot. Then the Numidians on the flanks wheeled round and appeared on the rear of the Romans, creating dismay and panic amongst them. To make matters worse the consul was wounded and in danger; he was rescued by the intervention of his son who was just approaching manhood. This was the youth who afterwards won the glory of bringing this war to a close, and gained the soubriquet of Africanus for his splendid victory over Hannibal and the Carthaginians. The javelin men were the first to be attacked by the Numidians and they fled in disorder, the rest of the force, the cavalry, closed round the consul, shielding him as much by their persons as by their arms, and returned to camp in orderly retirement. Caelius assigns the honour of saving the consul to a Ligurian slave, but I would rather believe that it was his son; the majority of authors assert this and the tradition is generally accepted.
[21.47]This was the first battle with Hannibal, and the result made it quite clear that the Carthaginian was superior in his cavalry, and consequently that the open plains which stretch from the Po to the Alps were not a suitable battlefield for the Romans. The next night accordingly, the soldiers were ordered to collect their baggage in silence, the army moved away from the Ticinus and marched rapidly to the Po, which they crossed by the pontoon bridge which was still intact, in perfect order and without any molestation by the enemy. They reached Placentia before Hannibal knew for certain that they had left the Ticinus; however, he succeeded in capturing some 600, who were loitering on his side of the Po, and were slowly unfastening the end of the bridge. He was unable to use the bridge for crossing, as the ends had been unfastened and the whole was floating down-stream. According to Caelius, Mago with the cavalry and Spanish infantry at once swam across, whilst Hannibal himself took his army across higher up the river where it was fordable, the elephants being stationed in a row from bank to bank to break the force of the current. Those who know the river will hardly believe this for it is highly improbable that the cavalry could have stood against so violent a river without damage to their horses and arms, even supposing that the Spaniards had been carried across by their inflated skins, and it would have required a march of many days to find a ford in the Po where an army loaded with baggage could be taken across. I attach greater weight to those authorities who state that it took them at least two days to find a spot where they could throw a bridge over the river, and that it was there that Mago's cavalry and the Spanish light infantry crossed. Whilst Hannibal was waiting near the river to give audience to deputations from the Gauls, he sent his heavy infantry across, and during this interval Mago and his cavalry advanced a day's march from the river in the direction of the enemy at Placentia. A few days later Hannibal entrenched himself in a position six miles from Placentia, and the next day he drew out his army in battle order in full view of the enemy and gave him the opportunity of fighting.
[21.48]The following night a murderous outbreak took place amongst the Gaulish auxiliaries in the Roman camp; there was, however, more excitement and confusion than actual loss of life. About 2000 infantry and 200 horsemen massacred the sentinels and deserted to Hannibal. The Carthaginian gave them a kind reception and sent them to their homes with the promise of great rewards if they would enlist the sympathies of their countrymen on his behalf. Scipio saw in this outrage a signal of revolt for all the Gauls, who, infected by the madness of this crime, would at once fly to arms, and though still suffering severely from his wound, he left his position in the fourth watch of the following night, his army marching in perfect silence, and shifted his camp close to the Trebia on to higher ground where the hills were impracticable for cavalry. He was less successful in escaping the notice of the enemy than he had been at the Ticinus, Hannibal sent first the Numidians, then afterwards the whole of his cavalry in pursuit and would have inflicted disaster upon the rear of the column at all events, had not the Numidians been tempted by their desire for plunder to turn aside to the deserted Roman camp. Whilst they were wasting their time in prying into every corner of the camp, without finding anything worth waiting for, the enemy slipped out of their hands, and when they caught sight of the Romans they had already crossed the Trebia and were measuring out the site for their camp. A few stragglers whom they caught on their side the river were killed. Unable any longer to endure the irritation of his wound, which had been aggravated during the march, and also thinking that he ought to wait for his colleague - he had already heard that he had been recalled from Sicily - Scipio selected what seemed the safest position near the river, and formed a standing camp which was strongly entrenched. Hannibal had encamped not far from there, and in spite of his elation at his successful cavalry action he felt considerable anxiety at the shortness of supplies which, owing to his marching through hostile territory where no stores were provided, became more serious day by day. He sent a detachment to the town of Clastidium where the Romans had accumulated large quantities of corn. Whilst they were preparing to attack the place they were led to hope that it would be betrayed to them. Dasius, a Brundisian, was commandant of the garrison, and he was induced by a moderate bribe of 400 gold pieces to betray Clastidium to Hannibal. The place was the granary of the Carthaginians while they were at the Trebia. No cruelty was practiced on the garrison, as Hannibal was anxious to win a reputation for clemency at the outset.
[21.49].The war on the Trebia had for the time being come to a standstill, but military and naval actions were taking place around Sicily and the islands fringing Italy, both under the conduct of Sempronius and also before his arrival. Twenty quinqueremes with a thousand soldiers on board had been despatched by the Carthaginians to Italy, nine of them to Liparae, eight to the island of Vulcanus, and three had been carried by the currents into the Straits of Messana. These were sighted from Messana, and Hiero, the King of Syracuse, who happened to be there at the time waiting for the consul, despatched twelve ships against them, and they were taken without any opposition and brought into the harbour of Messana. It was ascertained from the prisoners, that besides the fleet of twenty ships to which they belonged which had sailed for Italy thirty-five quinqueremes were also on the way to Sicily with the object of stirring up the old allies of Carthage. Their main anxiety was to secure Lilybaeum, and the prisoners were of opinion that the storm which had separated them from the rest had also driven that fleet up to the Aegates. The king communicated this information just as he had received it to M. Aemilius, the praetor, whose province Sicily was, and advised him to throw a strong garrison into Lilybaeum. The praetor at once sent envoys and military tribunes to the neighbouring states to urge them to take measures for self-defence. Lilybaeum especially was engrossed in preparations for war; orders were issued for the seamen to carry ten days' rations on board that there might be no delay in setting sail when the signal was given; and men were despatched along the coast to look out for the approach of the hostile fleet. So it came to pass that although the Carthaginians had purposely lessened the speed of their vessels, so that they might approach Lilybaeum before daylight, they were descried in the offing owing to there being a moon all night, and also because they were coming with their sails set. Instantly the signal was given by the look-out men; in the town there was the cry, "To arms," and the ships were manned. Some of the soldiers were on the walls and guarding the gates, others were on board the ships. As the Carthaginians saw that they would have to deal with people who were anything but unprepared, they stood out from the harbour till daylight, and spent the time in lowering their masts and preparing for action. When it grew light they put out to sea that they might have sufficient room for fighting, and that the enemy's ships might be free to issue from the harbour. The Romans did not decline battle, encouraged as they were by the recollection of their former conflicts in this very place, and full of confidence in the numbers and courage of their men.
[21.50]When they had sailed out to sea the Romans were eager to come to close quarters and make a hand-to-hand fight of it; the Carthaginians, on the other hand, sought to avoid this and to succeed by maneuvering and not by direct attack; they preferred to make it a battle of ships rather than of soldiers. For their fleet was amply provided with seamen, but only scantily manned by soldiers, and whenever a ship was laid alongside one of the enemy's they were very unequally matched in fighting men. When this became generally known, the spirits of the Romans rose as they realised how many of their military were on board, whilst the Carthaginians lost heart when they remembered how few they had. Seven of their ships were captured in a very short time, the rest took to flight. In the seven ships there were 1700 soldiers and sailors, amongst them three members of the Carthaginian nobility. The Roman fleet returned undamaged into port, with the exception of one which had been rammed, but even that was brought in. Immediately after this battle Tiberius Sempronius, the consul, arrived at Messana before those in the town had heard of it. King Hiero went to meet him at the entrance of the Straits with his fleet fully equipped and manned, and went on board the consul's vessel to congratulate him on having safely arrived with his fleet and his army, and to wish him a prosperous and successful passage to Sicily. He then described the condition of the island and the movements of the Carthaginians, and promised to assist the Romans now in his old age with the same readiness which he had shown as a young man in the former war; he should supply the seamen and soldiers with corn and clothing gratis. He also told the consul that Lilybaeum and the cities on the coast were in great danger, some were anxious to effect a revolution. The consul saw that there must be no delay in his sailing for Lilybaeum; he started at once and the king accompanied him with his fleet.
[21.51]At Lilybaeum Hiero and his fleet bade him farewell, and the consul, after leaving the praetor to see to the defence of the coast of Sicily, crossed over to Malta which was held by the Carthaginians. Hamilcar, the son of Gisgo, who was in command of the garrison, surrendered the island and his men, a little under 2000 in number. A few days later he returned to Lilybaeum, and the prisoners, with the exception of the three nobles, were sold by auction. After satisfying himself as to the security of that part of Sicily, the consul sailed to the Insulae Vulcani, as he heard that the Carthaginian fleet was anchored there. No enemy, however, was found in the neighbourhood, for they had left for Italy to ravage the coastal districts, and after laying waste the territory of Vibo they were threatening the city. Whilst he was returning to Sicily the news of these depredations reached the consul, and at the same time a despatch was handed to him from the senate informing him of Hannibal's presence in Italy and ordering him to come to his colleague's assistance as soon as possible. With all these causes for anxiety weighing upon him, the consul at once embarked his army and despatched it up the Adriatic to Ariminum. He furnished Sex. Pomponius, his legate, with twenty-five ships of war, and entrusted to him the protection of the Italian coast and the territory of Vibo, and made up the fleet of M. Aemilius, the praetor, to fifty vessels. After making these arrangements for Sicily, he started for Italy with ten ships, and cruising along the coast reached Ariminum. From there he marched to the Trebia and effected a junction with his colleague.
[21.52]The fact that both consuls and all the available strength that Rome possessed were now brought up to oppose Hannibal, was a pretty clear proof that either that force was adequate for the defence of Rome or that all hope of its defence must be abandoned. Nevertheless, one consul, depressed after his cavalry defeat, and also by his wound, would rather that battle should be deferred. The other, whose courage had suffered no check and was therefore all the more eager to fight, was impatient of any delay. The country between the Trebia and the Po was inhabited by Gauls who in this struggle between two mighty peoples showed impartial goodwill to either side, with the view, undoubtedly, of winning the victor's gratitude. The Romans were quite satisfied with this neutrality if only it was maintained and the Gauls kept quiet, but Hannibal was extremely indignant, as he was constantly giving out that he had been invited by the Gauls to win their freedom. Feelings of resentment and, at the same time, a desire to enrich his soldiers with plunder prompted him to send 2000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, made up of Gauls and Numidians, mostly the latter, with orders to ravage the whole country, district after district, right up to the banks of the Po. Though the Gauls had hitherto maintained an impartial attitude, they were compelled in their need of help to turn from those who had inflicted these outrages to those who they hoped would avenge them. They sent envoys to the consuls to beg the Romans to come to the rescue of a land which was suffering because its people had been too loyal to Rome. Cornelius Scipio did not consider that either the grounds alleged or the circumstances justified his taking action. He regarded that nation with suspicion on account of their many acts of treachery, and even if their past faithlessness could have been forgotten through lapse of time, he could not forget the recent treachery of the Boii. Sempronius, on the other hand, was of opinion that the most effective means of preserving the fidelity of their allies was to defend those who first asked for their help. As his colleague still hesitated, he sent his own cavalry supported by about a thousand javelin men to protect the territory of the Gauls on the other side of the Trebia. They attacked the enemy suddenly whilst they were scattered and in disorder, most of them loaded with plunder, and after creating a great panic amongst them, and inflicting severe losses upon them, they drove them in flight to their camp. The fugitives were driven back by their comrades who poured in great numbers out of the camp, and thus reinforced they renewed the fighting. The battle wavered as each side retired or pursued, and up to the last the action was undecided. The enemy lost more men; the Romans claimed the victory.
[21.53]To no one in the whole army did the victory appear more important or more decisive than to the consul himself. What gave him especial pleasure was that he had proved superior in that arm in which his colleague had been worsted. He saw that the spirits of his men were restored, and that there was no one but his colleague who wished to delay battle; he believed that Scipio was more sick in mind than in body, and that the thought of his wound made him shrink from the dangers of the battlefield. "But we must not be infected by a sick man's lethargy. What will be gained by further delay, or rather, by wasting time? Whom are we expecting as our third consul; what fresh army are we looking for? The camp of the Carthaginians is in Italy, almost in sight of the City. They are not aiming at Sicily and Sardinia, which they lost after their defeats, nor the Spain which lies on this side the Ebro; their sole object is to drive the Romans away from their ancestral soil, from the land on which they were born. What groans our fathers would utter, accustomed as they were to warring round the walls of Carthage, if they could see us, their descendants, with two consuls and two consular armies, cowering in our camp in the very heart of Italy, whilst the Carthaginian is annexing to his empire all between the Alps and the Apennines." This was the way he spoke when sitting by his incapacitated colleague, this the language he used before his soldiers as though he were haranguing the Assembly. He was urged on, too, by the near approach of the time for the elections, and the fear that the war, if delayed, might pass into the hands of the new consuls, as well as by the chance he had of monopolising all the glory of it while his colleague was on the sick list. In spite, therefore, of the opposition of Cornelius he ordered the soldiers to get ready for the coming battle.
Hannibal saw clearly what was the best course for the enemy to adopt, and had very little hope that the consuls would do anything rash or ill-advised. When, however, he found that what he had previously learnt by hearsay was actually the case, namely, that one of the consuls was a man of impetuous and headstrong character, and that he had become still more so since the recent cavalry action, he had very little doubt in his own mind that he would have a favourable opportunity of giving battle. He was anxious not to lose a moment, in order that he might fight whilst the hostile army was still raw and the better of the two generals was incapacitated by his wound, and also whilst the Gauls were still in a warlike mood, for he knew that most of them would follow him with less alacrity the further they were dragged from their homes. These and similar considerations led him to hope that a battle was imminent, and made him desirous of forcing an engagement if there was any holding back on the other side. He sent out some Gauls to reconnoitre - as Gauls were serving in both armies they could be most safely trusted to find out what he wanted - and when they reported that the Romans had prepared for battle, the Carthaginian began to look out for ground which would admit of an ambuscade.
[21.54]Between the two armies there was a stream with very high banks which were overgrown with marshy grass and the brambles and brushwood which are generally found on waste ground. After riding round the place and satisfying himself from personal observation that it was capable of concealing even cavalry, Hannibal, turning to his brother Mago, said, "This will be the place for you to occupy. Pick out of our whole force of cavalry and infantry a hundred men from each arm, and bring them to me at the first watch, now it is time for food and rest." He then dismissed his staff. Presently Mago appeared with his 200 picked men. "I see here," said Hannibal, "the very flower of my army, but you must be strong in numbers as well as in courage. Each of you therefore go and choose nine others like himself, from the squadrons and the maniples. Mago will show you the place where you are to lie in ambuscade, you have an enemy who are blindly ignorant of these practices in war." After sending Mago with his 1000 infantry and 1000 cavalry to take up his position, Hannibal gave orders for the Numidian cavalry to cross the Trebia in the early dawn and ride up to the gates of the Roman camp; then they were to discharge their missiles on the outposts and so goad the enemy on to battle. When the fighting had once started they were gradually to give ground and draw their pursuers to their own side of the river. These were the instructions to the Numidians; the other commanders, both infantry and cavalry, were ordered to see that all their men had breakfast, after which they were to wait for the signal, the men fully armed, the horses saddled and ready. Eager for battle, and having already made up his mind to fight, Sempronius led out the whole of his cavalry to meet the Numidian attack, for it was in his cavalry that he placed most confidence; these were followed by 6000 infantry and at last the whole of his force marched on to the field. It happened to be the season of winter, a snowstorm was raging, and the district, situated between the Alps and the Apennines, was rendered especially cold by the vicinity of rivers and marshes. To make matters worse, men and horses alike had been hurriedly sent forward, without any food, without any protection against the cold, so they had no heat in them and the chilling blasts from the river made the cold still more severe as they approached it in their pursuit of the Numidians. But when they entered the water which had been swollen by the night's rain and was then breast high, their limbs became stiff with cold, and when they emerged on the other side they had hardly strength to hold their weapons; they began to grow faint from fatigue and as the day wore on, from hunger.
[21.55]Hannibal's men, meanwhile, had made fires in front of their tents, oil had been distributed amongst the maniples for them to make their joints and limbs supple and they had time for an ample repast. When it was announced that the enemy had crossed the river they took their arms, feeling alert and active in mind and body, and marched to battle. The Balearic and light-armed infantry were posted in front of the standards; they numbered about 8000; behind them the heavy-armed infantry, the mainstay and backbone of the army; on the flanks Hannibal distributed the cavalry, and outside them, again, the elephants. When the consul saw his cavalry, who had lost their order in the pursuit, suddenly meeting with an unsuspected resistance from the Numidians, he recalled them by signal and received them within his infantry. There were 18,000 Romans, 20,000 Latin allies, and an auxiliary force of Cenomani, the only Gallic tribe which had remained faithful. These were the forces engaged. The Balearics and light infantry opened the battle, but on being met by the heavier legions they were rapidly withdrawn to the wings, an evolution which at once threw the Roman horse into difficulties, for the 4000 wearied troopers had been unable to offer an effective resistance to 10,000 who were fresh and vigorous, and now in addition they were overwhelmed by what seemed a cloud of missiles from the light infantry. Moreover, the elephants, towering aloft at the ends of the line, terrified the horses not only by their appearance but by their unaccustomed smell, and created widespread panic. The infantry battle, as far as the Romans were concerned, was maintained more by courage than by physical strength, for the Carthaginians, who had shortly before been getting themselves into trim, brought their powers fresh and unimpaired into action, whilst the Romans were fatigued and hungry and stiff with cold. Still, their courage would have kept them up had it been only infantry that they were fighting against. But the light infantry, after repulsing the cavalry, were hurling their missiles on the flanks of the legions; the elephants had now come up against the centre of the Roman line, and Mago and his Numidians, as soon as it had passed their ambuscade, rose up in the rear and created a terrible disorder and panic. Yet in spite of all the dangers which surrounded them, the ranks stood firm and immovable for some time, even, contrary to all expectation, against the elephants. Some skirmishers who had been placed where they could attack these animals flung darts at them and drove them off, and rushed after them, stabbing them under their tails, where the skin is soft and easily penetrated.
[21.56]Maddened with pain and terror, they were beginning to rush wildly on their own men, when Hannibal ordered them to be driven away to the left wing against the auxiliary Gauls on the Roman right. There they instantly produced unmistakable panic and flight, and the Romans had fresh cause for .alarm when they saw their auxiliaries routed. They now stood fighting in a square, and about 10,000 of them, unable to escape in any other direction, forced their way through the centre of the African troops and the auxiliary Gauls who supported them and inflicted an immense loss on the enemy. They were prevented by the river from returning to their camp, and the rain made it impossible for them to judge where they could best go to the assistance of their comrades, so they marched away straight to Placentia. Then desperate attempts to escape were made on all sides; some who made for the river were swept away by the current or caught by the enemy while hesitating to cross; others, scattered over the fields in flight, followed the track of the main retreat and sought Placentia; others, fearing the enemy more than the river, crossed it and reached their camp. The driving sleet and the intolerable cold caused the death of many men and baggage animals, and nearly all the elephants perished. The Carthaginians stopped their pursuit at the banks of the Trebia and returned to their camp so benumbed with cold that they hardly felt any joy in their victory. In the night the men who had guarded the camp, and the rest of the soldiers, mostly wounded, crossed the Trebia on rafts without any interference from the Carthaginians, either because the roaring of the storm prevented them from hearing or because they were unable to move through weariness and wounds and pretended that they heard nothing. Whilst the Carthaginians were keeping quiet, Scipio led his army to Placentia and thence across the Po to Cremona, in order that one colony might not be burdened with providing winter quarters for the two armies.
[21.57]This defeat so unnerved people in Rome that they believed the enemy was already advancing to attack the City, and that there was no help to be looked for, no hope of repelling him from their walls and gates. After one consul had been beaten at the Ticinus the other was recalled from Sicily, and now both consuls and both consular armies had been worsted. What fresh generals, men asked, what fresh legions could be brought to the rescue? Amidst this universal panic Sempronius arrived. He had slipped through the enemy's cavalry at immense risk while they were dispersed in quest of plunder, and owed his escape rather to sheer audacity than to cleverness, for he had little hope of eluding them or of successful resistance if he failed to do so. After conducting the elections, which was the pressing need for the moment, he returned to winter quarters. The consuls elected were Cneius Servilius and C. Flaminius. Even in their winter quarters the Romans were not allowed much quiet; the Numidian horse were roaming in all directions, or where the ground was too rough for them, the Celtiberians and Lusitanians. They were, therefore, cut off from supplies on every side, except what were brought in ships on the Po. Near Placentia there was a place called Emporium, which had been carefully fortified and occupied by a strong garrison. In the hope of capturing the place, Hannibal approached with cavalry and light-armed troops, and as he trusted mainly to secrecy for success, he marched thither by night. But he did not escape the observation of the sentinels, and such a shouting suddenly arose that it was actually heard at Placentia. By daybreak the consul was on the spot with his cavalry, having given orders for the legions of infantry to follow in battle formation. A cavalry action followed in which Hannibal was wounded, and his retirement from the field discomfited the enemy; the position was admirably defended.
After taking only a few days' rest, before his wound was thoroughly healed Hannibal proceeded to attack Victumviae. During the Gaulish war this place had served as an emporium for the Romans; subsequently, as it was a fortified place, a mixed population from the surrounding country had settled there in considerable numbers, and now the terror created by the constant depredations had driven most of the people from the fields into the town. This motley population, excited by the news of the energetic defence of Placentia, flew to arms and went out to meet Hannibal. More like a crowd than an army they met him on his march, and as on the one side there was nothing but an undisciplined mob, and on the other a general and soldiers who had perfect confidence in each other, a small body routed as many as 35,000 men. The next day they surrendered and admitted a Carthaginian garrison within their walls. They had just completed the surrender of their arms in obedience to orders, when instructions were suddenly given to the victors to treat the city as though it had been carried by storm, and no deed of blood, which on such occasions historians are wont to mention, was left undone, so awful was the example set of every form of licentiousness and cruelty and brutal tyranny towards the wretched inhabitants. Such were the winter operations of Hannibal.
[21.58]The soldiers rested whilst the intolerable cold lasted; it did not, however, last long, and at the first doubtful indications of spring Hannibal left his winter quarters for Etruria with the intention of inducing that nation to join forces with him, either voluntarily or under compulsion. During his passage of the Apennines he was overtaken by a storm of such severity as almost to surpass the horrors of the Alps. The rain was driven by the wind straight into the men's faces, and either they had to drop their weapons or if they tried to struggle against the hurricane it caught them and dashed them to the ground, so they came to a halt. Then they found that it was stopping their respiration so that they could not breathe, and they sat down for a short time with their backs to the wind. The heavens began to reverberate with terrific roar, and amidst the awful din lightning flashed and quivered. Sight and sound alike paralysed them with terror. At last, as the force of the gale increased owing to the rain having ceased, they saw that there was nothing for it but to pitch their camp on the ground where they had been caught by the storm. Now all their labour had to begin over again, for they could neither unroll anything nor fix anything, whatever was fixed did not stand, the wind tore everything into shreds and carried it off. Soon the moisture in the upper air above the cold mountain peaks froze and discharged such a shower of snow and hail that the men, giving up all further attempts, lay down as best they could, buried beneath their coverings rather than protected by them. This was followed by such intense cold that when any one attempted to rise out of that pitiable crowd of prostrate men and beasts it was a long time before he could get up, for his muscles being cramped and stiff with cold, he could hardly bend his limbs. At length, by exercising their arms and legs, they were able to move about, and began to recover their spirits; here and there fires were lighted, and those who were most helpless turned to their colleagues for help. They remained on that spot for two days like a force blockaded; many men and animals perished; of the elephants which survived the battle of the Trebia they lost seven.
[21.59]After descending from the Apennines Hannibal advanced towards Placentia, and after a ten miles' march formed camp. The following day he marched against the enemy with 12,000 infantry and 5000 cavalry. Sempronius had by this time returned from Rome, and he did not decline battle. That day the two camps were three miles distant from each other; the following day they fought, and both sides exhibited the most determined courage, but the action was indecisive. At the first encounter the Romans were so far superior that they not only conquered in the field, but followed the routed enemy to his camp and soon made an attack upon it. Hannibal stationed a few men to defend the rampart and the gates, the rest he massed in the middle of the camp, and ordered them to be on the alert and wait for the signal to make a sortie. It was now about three o'clock; the Romans were worn out with their fruitless efforts as there was no hope of carrying the camp, and the consul gave the signal to retire. As soon as Hannibal heard it and saw that the fighting had slackened and that the enemy were retiring from the camp, he immediately launched his cavalry against them right and left, and sallied in person with the main strength of his infantry from the middle of the camp. Seldom has there been a more equal fight, and few would have been rendered more memorable by the mutual destruction of both armies had the daylight allowed it to be sufficiently prolonged; as it was, night put an end to a conflict which had been maintained with such determined courage. There was greater fury than bloodshed, and as the fighting had been almost equal on both sides, they separated with equal loss. Not more than 600 infantry and half that number of cavalry fell on either side, but the Roman loss was out of proportion to their numbers; several members of the equestrian order and five military tribunes as well as three prefects of the allies were killed. Immediately after the battle Hannibal withdrew into Liguria, and Sempronius to Luca. Whilst Hannibal was entering Liguria, two Roman quaestors who had been ambushed and captured, C. Fulvius and L. Lucretius, together with three military tribunes and five members of the equestrian order, most of them sons of senators, were given up to him by the Gauls in order that he might feel more confidence in their maintenance of peaceful relations, and their determination to give him active support.
[21.60]While these events were in progress in Italy, Cn. Cornelius Scipio, who had been sent with a fleet and an army to Spain, commenced operations in that country. Starting from the mouth of the Rhone, he sailed round the eastward end of the Pyrenees and brought up at Emporiae. Here he disembarked his army, and beginning with the Laeetani, he brought the whole of the maritime populations as far as the Ebro within the sphere of Roman influence by renewing old alliances and forming new ones. He gained in this way a reputation for clemency which extended not only to the maritime populations but to the more warlike tribes in the interior and the mountain districts. He established peaceable relations with these, and more than that, he secured their support in arms and several strong cohorts were enrolled from amongst them. The country on this side the Ebro was Hanno's province, Hannibal had left him to hold it for Carthage. Considering that he ought to oppose Scipio's further progress before the whole province was under Roman sway, he fixed his camp in full view of the enemy and offered battle. The Roman general, too, thought that battle ought not to be delayed; he knew he would have to fight both Hanno and Hasdrubal, and preferred dealing with each singly rather than meeting them both at once.. The battle was not a hard-fought one. The enemy lost 6000; 2000, including those who were guarding the camp, were made prisoners; the camp itself was carried and the general with some of his chiefs was taken; Cissis, a town near the camp, was successfully attacked. The plunder, however, as it was a small place, was of little value, consisting mainly of the barbarians' household goods and some worthless slaves. The camp, however, enriched the soldiers with the property belonging not only to the army they had defeated but also to the one serving with Hannibal in Italy. They had left almost all their valuable possessions on the other side of the Pyrenees, that they might not have heavy loads to carry.
[21.61]Before he had received definite tidings of this defeat, Hasdrubal had crossed the Ebro with 8000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, hoping to encounter the Romans as soon as they landed, but after hearing of the disaster at Cissis and the capture of the camp, he turned his route to the sea. Not far from Tarracona he found our marines and seamen wandering at will through the fields, success as usual producing carelessness. Sending his cavalry in all directions amongst them, he made a great slaughter and drove them pell-mell to their ships. Afraid to remain any longer in the neighbourhood lest he should be surprised by Scipio, he retreated across the Ebro. On hearing of this fresh enemy Scipio came down by forced marches, and after dealing summary punishment to some of the naval captains, returned by sea to Emporiae, leaving a small garrison in Tarracona. He had scarcely left when Hasdrubal appeared on the scene, and instigated the Ilergetes, who had given hostages to Scipio, to revolt, and in conjunction with the warriors of that tribe ravaged the territories of those tribes who remained loyal to Rome. This roused Scipio from his winter quarters, on which Hasdrubal again disappeared beyond the Ebro, and Scipio invaded in force the territory of the Ilergetes, after the author of the revolt had left them to their fate. He drove them all into Antanagrum, their capital, which he proceeded to invest, and a few days later he received them into the protection and jurisdiction of Rome, after demanding an increase in the number of hostages and inflicting a heavy fine upon them. From there he advanced against the Ausetani, who lived near the Ebro and were also in alliance with the Carthaginians, and invested their city. The Laeetani whilst bringing assistance to their neighbours by night were ambushed not far from the city which they intended to enter. As many as 12,000 were killed, almost all the survivors threw away their arms and fled to their homes in scattered groups all over the country. The only thing which saved the invested city from assault and storm was the severity of the weather. For the thirty days during which the siege lasted the snow was seldom less than four feet deep, and it covered up the mantlets and vineae so completely that it even served as a sufficient protection against the firebrands which the enemy discharged from time to time. At last, after their chief, Amusicus, had escaped to Hasdrubal's quarters, they surrendered and agreed to pay an indemnity of twenty talents. The army returned to its winter quarters at Tarracona.
[21.62]During this winter many portents occurred in Rome and the neighbourhood, or at all events, many were reported and easily gained credence, for when once men's minds have been excited by superstitious fears they easily believe these things. A six-months-old child, of freeborn parents, is said to have shouted "Io Triumphe" in the vegetable market, whilst in the Forum Boarium an ox is reported to have climbed up of its own accord to the third story of a house, and then, frightened by the noisy crowd which gathered, it threw itself down. A phantom navy was seen shining in the sky; the temple of Hope in the vegetable market was struck by lightning; at Lanuvium Juno's spear had moved of itself, and a crow had flown down to her temple and settled upon her couch; in the territory of Amiternum beings in human shape and clothed in white were seen at a distance, but no one came close to them; in the neighbourhood of Picenum there was a shower of stones; at Caere the oracular tablets had shrunk in size; in Gaul a wolf had snatched a sentinel's sword from its scabbard and run off with it. With regard to the other portents, the decemvirs were ordered to consult the Sacred Books, but in the case of the shower of stones at Picenum a nine days' sacred feast was proclaimed, at the close of which almost the whole community busied itself with the expiation of the others. First of all the City was purified, and full-grown victims were sacrificed to the deities named in the Sacred Books; an offering of forty pounds' weight of gold was conveyed to Juno at Lanuvium, and the matrons dedicated a bronze statue of that goddess on the Aventine. At Caere, where the tablets had shrunk, a lectisternium was enjoined, and a service of intercession was to be rendered to Fortuna on Algidus. In Rome also a lectisternium was ordered for Juventas and a special service of intercession at the temple of Hercules, and afterwards one in which the whole population were to take part at all the shrines. Five full-grown victims were sacrificed to the Genius of Rome, and C. Atilius Serranus, the praetor, received instructions to undertake certain vows which were to be discharged should the commonwealth remain in the same condition for ten years. These ceremonial observances and vows, ordered in obedience to the Sacred Books, did much to allay the religious fears of the people.
[21.63]One of the consuls elect was C. Flaminius, and to him was assigned by lot the command of the legions at Placentia. He wrote to the consul giving orders for the army to be in camp at Ariminum by the 15th of March. The reason was that he might enter upon his office there, for he had not forgotten his old quarrels with the senate, first as tribune of the people, then afterwards about his consulship, the election to which had been declared illegal, and finally about his triumph. He further embittered the senate against him by his support of C. Claudius; he alone of all the members was in favour of the measure which that tribune introduced. Under its provisions no senator, no one whose father had been a senator, was allowed to possess a vessel of more than 300 amphorae burden. This was considered quite large enough for the conveyance of produce from their estates, all profit made by trading was regarded as dishonourable for the patricians. The question excited the keenest opposition and brought Flaminius into the worst possible odium with the nobility through his support of it, but on the other hand made him a popular favourite and procured for him his second consulship. Suspecting, therefore, that they would endeavour to detain him in the City by various devices, such as falsifying the auspices or the delay necessitated by the Latin Festival, or other hindrances to which as consul he was liable, he gave out that he had to take a journey, and then left the City secretly as a private individual and so reached his province. When this got abroad there was a fresh outburst of indignation on the part of the incensed senate; they declared that he was carrying on war not only with the senate but even with the immortal gods. "On the former occasion," they said, "when he was elected consul against the auspices and we recalled him from the very field of battle, he was disobedient to gods and men. Now he is conscious that he has despised them and has fled from the Capitol and the customary recital of solemn vows. He refuses to approach the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the day of his entrance upon office, to see and consult the senate, to whom he is so odious and whom he alone of all men detests, to proclaim the Latin Festival and offer sacrifice to Jupiter Latiaris on the Alban Mount, to proceed to the Capitol and after duly taking the auspices recite the prescribed vows, and from thence, vested in the paludamentum and escorted by lictors, go in state to his province. He has stolen away furtively without his insignia of office, without his lictors, just as though he were some menial employed in the camp and had quitted his native soil to go into exile. He thinks it, forsooth, more consonant with the greatness of his office to enter upon it at Ariminum rather than in Rome, and to put on his official dress in some wayside inn rather than at his own hearth and in the presence of his own household gods." It was unanimously decided that he should be recalled, brought back if need be by force, and compelled to discharge, on the spot, all the duties he owed to God and man before he went to the army and to his province. Q. Terentius and M. Antistius were delegated for this task, but they had no more influence with him than the despatch of the senate in his former consulship. A few days afterwards he entered upon office, and whilst offering his sacrifice, the calf, after it was struck, bounded away out of the hands of the sacrificing priests and bespattered many of the bystanders with its blood. Amongst those at a distance from the altar who did not know what the commotion was about there was great excitement; most people regarded it as a most alarming omen. Flaminius took over the two legions from Sempronius, the late consul, and the two from C. Atilius, the praetor, and commenced his march to Etruria through the passes of the Apennines.
End of Book 21
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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