The accusation against Hannibal that he put to death those of his Italian soldiers who refused to follow him to Africa is referred to by Livy (xxx. 20) in these words: "Many of Italian birth who refused to follow him to Africa and withdrew to the shrine of Juno Lacinia, hitherto inviolate, were foully slain in the temple itself." The tale is generally discredited by modern historians as an impossible crime and as inconsistent with the relations that existed between Hannibal and his soldiers as related by Livy himself (xxviii. 12), viz.: --
"No battle was fought with Hannibal that year, for neither did he take the offensive after the recent public and private wound [at the Metaurus], nor did the Romans disturb his quiet, so great a power resided in him, although everything else around him was going to ruin. And I know not whether he was not more wonderful in adversity than in prosperity, because, although he waged war in a hostile country thirteen years, far from home, with varying fortune, not with an army composed of his own citizens but of the mingled riff-raff of all nations, who had no law, custom, or language in common, but were different in character, dress, arms, religious belief and ceremony, and I had almost said in their gods, he held them together by such a bond that no disturbance ever broke out, either among themselves or against their commander, although, in the territory of enemies, he was often in want of money to pay them and of supplies to feed them, the lack of which in the former Punic war had been the cause of many dreadful scenes between the commanders and the soldiers. After the army of Hasdrubal and its chief, in whom all hope of victory had been reposed, had perished, and he had yielded the rest of Italy by retiring to the corner of Bruttium, to whom does it not seem wonderful that no commotion took place in his camp? For, to other things, this also was added, that there was no hope of feeding his soldiers except from the Bruttian territory, which, even if it were all cultivated, would be very scant for supporting so great an army, whereas the war absorbed a large part of the young men, who were drawn away from the tillage of the fields, and a custom ingrafted on a depraved people prevailed of carrying on military operations by robbery. Nor was anything sent to him from home, where they were solicitous about retaining their hold on Spain, as though all their affairs were flourishing in Italy."
The foregoing is in part copied from a passage in Polybius, viz.: "Who can fail to be struck with admiration for the generalship, the courage, the ability of this man in the field, when we think of the length of time the war lasted; when we look at it as a whole, and at the particular battles, sieges, and revolts of cities, and at the turns of fortune; when we contemplate the totality of the design and execution in the course of which Hannibal waged continuous war against the Romans in Italy for sixteen years and never once dismissed his forces from field service, but held them like a good pilot in subjection to himself, and restrained such a multitude from mutiny and from strife with each other, although the forces he made use of were not all of one nation or even of the same race? They were composed of Africans, Spaniards, Ligurians, Gauls, Phoenicians, Italians, and Greeks, who had neither law, custom, speech, nor anything else naturally in common. Yet such was the skill of the general that, notwithstanding these great diversities, he made them all attentive to one command and obedient to one will, although circumstances were not always propitious but varied; although fortune did not always come in favoring but sometimes in adverse gales. In view of these facts one may well be astonished at his commanding ability in military affairs, and may confidently affirm that if he had begun with other parts of the earth and had attacked the Romans last, he would not have failed of any part of his designs. But now, as he began with those who should have been the last, he made both the beginning and the end of his exploits among them." (Fragment xi. 19.)
THE PUNIC WARS
First Phnician Settlement -- First Punic War -- Regulus defeated by Xanthippus -- Fate of Regulus -- The Mercenary War
The Phoenicians settled Carthage, in Africa, fifty years before the capture of Troy. Its founders were either Zorus and Carchedon, or, as the Romans and the Carthaginians themselves think, Dido, a Tyrian woman, whose husband had been slain clandestinely by Pygmalion, the ruler of Tyre. The murder being revealed to her in a dream, she embarked for Africa with her property and a number of men who desired to escape from the tyranny of Pygmalion, and arrived at that part of Africa where Carthage now stands. Being repelled by the inhabitants, they asked for as much land for a dwelling place as they could encompass with an ox-hide. The Africans laughed at this frivolity of the Phoenicians and were ashamed to deny so small a request. Besides, they could not imagine how a town could be built in so narrow a space, and wishing to unravel the mystery they agreed to give it, and confirmed the promise by an oath. The Phoenicians, cutting the hide round and round in one very narrow strip, enclosed the place where the citadel of Carthage now stands, which from this affair was called Byrsa (a hide).
Proceeding from this start and getting the upper hand of their neighbors, as they were more adroit, and engaging in traffic by sea, like the Phoenicians, they built a city around Byrsa. Gradually acquiring strength they mastered Africa and the greater part of the Mediterranean, carried war into Sicily and Sardinia and the other islands of that
[figure in text: REDUCED FACSIMILE, VATICAN MS. GR. 134. XIV CENTURY. FIRST PAGE OF THE PUNIC WARS]
sea, and also into Spain. They sent out numerous colonies. They became a match for the Greeks in power, and next to the Persians in wealth. But about 700 years after the foundation of the city the Romans took Sicily and Sardinia away from them, and in a second war Spain also. Then, assailing each the other's territory with immense armies, the Carthaginians, under Hannibal, ravaged Italy for sixteen years in succession, but the Romans, under the leadership of Cornelius Scipio the elder, carried the war into Africa, crushed the Carthaginian power, took their ships and their elephants, and required them to pay tribute for a time. A second treaty was now made between the Romans and the Carthaginians which lasted fifty years, until, upon an infraction of it, the third and last war broke out between them, in which the Romans under Scipio the younger razed Carthage to the ground and forbade the rebuilding of it. But another city was built subsequently by their own people, very near the former one, for convenience in governing Africa. Of these matters the Sicilian part is shown in my Sicilian history, the Spanish in the Spanish history, and what Hannibal did in his Italian campaigns in the Hannibalic history. This book will deal with the operations in Africa from the earliest period.
About the beginning of the Sicilian war the Romans 334 sent 350 ships to Africa, captured a number of towns, and left in command of the army Atilius Regulus, who took some 200 more towns, which gave themselves up to him on account of their hatred of the Carthaginians; and continually advancing he ravaged the territory. Thereupon the Carthaginians, considering that their misfortunes were due to bad generalship, asked the Lacedemonians to send them a commander. The Lacedemonians sent them Xanthippus. Regulus, being encamped in the hot season alongside a lake, marched around it to engage the enemy, his soldiers suffering greatly from the weight of their arms, from dust, thirst, and fatigue, and exposed to missiles from the neigh-boring heights. Toward evening he came to a river which separated the two armies. This he crossed at once, thinking in this way to terrify Xanthippus, but the latter, anticipating an easy victory over an enemy thus harassed and exhausted and having night in his favor, drew up his forces 335 and made a sudden sally from his camp. The expectations 336 of Xanthippus were not disappointed. Of the 30,000 men led by Regulus, only a few escaped with difficulty to the city of Aspis. All the rest were either killed or taken prisoners, and among the latter was the consul Regulus himself.337
Not long afterward the Carthaginians, weary of fighting 339 sent him, in company with their own ambassadors, to Rome to obtain peace or to return if it were not granted. Yet Regulus in private strongly urged the chief magistrates of Rome to continue the war, and then went back to certain torture, for the Carthaginians shut him up in a cage stuck full of spikes and thus put him to death. This success was the beginning of sorrows to Xanthippus, for the Carthaginians, in order that the credit might not seem to be due to the Lacedemonians, pretended to honor him with splendid gifts, sent galleys to convey him back to Lacedemon, but enjoined upon the captains of the ships to throw him and his Lacedemonian comrades overboard.340 In this way he paid the penalty for his successes. Such 341 were the results, good and bad, of the first war of the 342 Romans in Africa, until the Carthaginians surrendered Sicily to them. How this came about has been shown in my Sicilian history.
After this there was peace between the Romans and the Carthaginians, but the Africans, who were subject to the latter and had served them as auxiliaries in the Sicilian war, and certain Celtic mercenaries who complained that their pay had been withheld and that the promises made to them had not been kept, made war against the Carthaginians in a very formidable manner. The latter appealed to the Romans for aid on the score of friendship, and the Romans allowed them for this war only to hire mercenaries in Italy, for even that had been forbidden in the treaty. Nevertheless they sent men to act as mediators between them. The Africans refused the mediation, but offered to become subjects of the Romans if they would take them. 343 The latter would not accept them. Then the Carthaginians 344 blockaded the towns with a great fleet, and cut off their supplies from the sea, and as the land was untilled in consequence of the war they overcame the Africans by the famine, but were driven to supply their own wants by piracy, even taking some Roman ships, killing the crews, and throwing them overboard to conceal the crime. This 345 escaped notice for a long time. When the facts became 346 known and the Carthaginians were called to account they put off the day of reckoning until the Romans voted to make war against them, when they surrendered Sardinia by way of compensation. And this clause was added to the former treaty of peace.