Hannibal recalled -- Negotiations for Peace -- Hannibal lands at Hadrumetum -- The Armistice violated -- Hannibal sent for -- He proposes a Renewal of the Armistice
The Carthaginians, depressed by their ill success, chose Hannibal as their commanding general and sent an admiral with ships to hasten his coming. At the same time they sent ambassadors to Scipio to negotiate for peace, thinking to gain one of two things, either peace or a delay until Hannibal should arrive. Scipio consented to an armistice, and having thus gained sufficient supplies for his army allowed them to send their ambassadors to Rome. They did so, but they were received there as enemies and required to lodge outside the walls. When the Senate gave them audience they asked pardon. Some of the senators adverted to the faithlessness of the Carthaginians, and told how often they had made treaties and broken them, and what injuries Hannibal had inflicted on the Romans and their allies in Spain and Italy. Others represented that the Carthaginians were not more in need of peace than themselves, Italy being exhausted by so many wars; and they showed how much danger was to be feared from the great armies moving together against Scipio, that of Hannibal from Italy, that of Mago from Liguria, and that of Hanno at Carthage.
The Senate was not able to agree, but sent counsellors to Scipio with whom he should advise, and then do whatever he should deem best. Scipio made peace with the Carthaginians on these terms: That Mago should depart from Liguria forthwith, and that hereafter the Carthaginians should hire no mercenaries; that they should not keep more than thirty long galleys; that they should restrict themselves to the territory within the so-called Phnician trenches"; that they should surrender to the Romans all captives and deserters, and that they should pay 6000 talents of silver within a certain time; also that Masinissa should have the kingdom of the Massylians and as much of the dominion of Syphax as he could take. Having made this agreement, ambassadors on both sides set sail, some to Rome to take the oaths of the consuls, and others from Rome to Carthage to receive those of the Carthaginian magistrates. The Romans gave to Masinissa, as a reward for his alliance, a crown of gold, a signet ring of gold, a chair of ivory, a purple robe, a horse with gold trappings, and a suit of armor.
In the meantime Hannibal set sail for Africa against his will, knowing the untrustworthy character of the people of Carthage, their bad faith toward their magistrates, and their general recklessness. He did not believe that a treaty would be made, and if made he well knew that it would not last long. He landed at the city of Hadrumetum, in Africa, and began to collect corn and buy horses. He made an alliance with the chief of a Numidian tribe called the Areacid. He slew with arrows 4000 horsemen who had come to him as deserters. These had formerly been Syphax's men and afterward Masinissa's, and he suspected them. He gave their horses to his own army. Mesotulus, another chieftain, came to him with 1000 horse; also Verminia, another son of Syphax, who ruled the greater part of his father's dominions. He gained some of Masinissa's towns by surrender and some by force. He took the town of Narce by stratagem in this way. Dealing in their market he sent to them as to friends, and when he thought the time had come to spring the trap he sent in a large number of men carrying concealed daggers, and ordered them not to do any harm to the traders until the trumpet should sound, and then to set upon all they met, and hold the gates for him. In this way was Narce taken.
The common people of Carthage, although the treaty had been so lately concluded, and Scipio was still there, and their own ambassadors had not yet returned from Rome, plundered some of Scipio's stores that had been driven into the port of Carthage by a storm, and put the carriers in chains, in spite of the threats of their own council and of their admonitions not to violate the treaty so recently made. The people found fault with the treaty, and said that hunger was more dangerous to them than treaty-breaking. Scipio did not deem it best to renew the war after the treaty, but he demanded reparation as from friends who were in the wrong. The people attempted to seize his messengers, intending to hold them until their own ambassadors should return from Rome, but Hanno the Great and Hasdrubal Eriphus [the Kid] rescued them from the mob and sent them away in two galleys. Some others, however, sent word to Hasdrubal, the admiral, who was moored near the promontory of Apollo, that when the escort should leave them he should set upon Scipio's galleys. This he did, and some of the messengers were killed with arrows. The others were wounded, and the rowers darted into the harbor of their own camp and sprang from the ship which was just being seized. So narrowly did they escape being taken prisoners.
When the Romans at home learned these things they ordered the Carthaginian ambassadors, who were still there treating for peace, to depart immediately as enemies. They accordingly set sail, and were driven by a tempest to Scipio's camp. To his admiral, who asked what he should do with them, Scipio said: "We shall not imitate Carthaginian bad faith; send them away unharmed." When the Carthaginian Senate learned this they chided the people for the contrast between their behavior and Scipio's, and advised them to beg Scipio to adhere to the agreement and to accept reparation for the Carthaginian wrong-doing. But the people had been finding fault with the Senate a long time for their ill success, because they had not sufficiently foreseen what was for their advantage, and being pushed on by demagogues and excited by vain hopes, they summoned Hannibal and his army.
Hannibal, in view of the magnitude of the war, 359 asked them to call in Hasdrubal and the force he had in hand. Hasdrubal was accordingly forgiven for his offence, and he delivered his army over to Hannibal. Yet he did not dare to show himself to the Carthaginians, but concealed himself in the city. Now Scipio blockaded Carthage with his fleet and cut off their supplies by sea, while from the land they were poorly supplied by reason of the war. About this time there was a cavalry engagement between the forces of Hannibal and those of Scipio near Zama, in which the latter had the advantage. On the succeeding days they had sundry skirmishes until Scipio, learning that Hannibal was very short of supplies and was expecting a convoy, sent the military tribune, Thermus, by night to attack the supply train. Thermus took a position on the crest of a hill at a narrow pass, where he killed 4000 Africans, took as many more prisoners, and brought the supplies to Scipio.
Hannibal, being reduced to extremity for want of provisions and considering how he might arrange for the present, sent messengers to Masinissa reminding him of his early life and education at Carthage, and asking that he would persuade Scipio to renew the treaty, saying that the former infractions of it were the work of the common people, and of fools who had stirred them up. Masinissa, who had in fact been brought up and educated at Carthage, and who had a high respect for the dignity of the city, and was the friend of many of the inhabitants, besought Scipio to comply, and brought them to an agreement on the following
terms: That the Carthaginians should surrender the men and ships bringing provisions to the Romans, which they had taken, also all plunder, or the value of it, which Scipio would estimate, and pay 1000 talents as a penalty for the wrong done. These things were agreed upon. An armistice was concluded until the Carthaginians should be made acquainted with the details; and thus Hannibal was saved in an unexpected way.