Riots in Carthage -- Second Armistice broken -- Preparations for Battle -- Speeches of Hannibal and Scipio -- Battle of Zama -- Personal Encounter of Hannibal and Scipio -- Hannibal's Defeat and Flight
The Carthaginian council warmly welcomed the agreement and exhorted the people to adhere to its terms, explaining all their misfortunes and their immediate want of soldiers, money, and provisions. But the people, like a mere mob, behaved like fools. They thought that their generals had made this arrangement for their own private ends, so that, relying upon the Romans, they might hold the power in their own country. They said that Hannibal was doing now what had been done before by Hasdrubal, who had betrayed his camp to the enemy by night, and a little later wanted to surrender to Scipio, having approached him for that purpose, and was now concealed in the city. Thereupon there was a great clamor and tumult, and some of them left the assembly and went in search of Hasdrubal. He had anticipated them by taking refuge in his father's tomb, where he destroyed himself with poison. But they pulled his corpse out, cut off his head, put it on a pike, and carried it about the city. Thus was Hasdrubal first banished unjustly, next falsely slandered by Hanno, and then driven to his death by the Carthaginians, and loaded with indignities after his death.
Then the Carthaginians ordered Hannibal to break the truce and begin war against Scipio, and to fight as soon as possible on account of the scarcity of provisions. Accordingly he sent word that the truce was at an end. Scipio marched immediately, and took the great city of Partha and encamped near Hannibal. The latter moved off, but he sent three spies into the Roman camp who were captured by Scipio. The latter did not put them to death, however, according to the custom of dealing with spies, but ordered that they should be taken around and shown the camp, the arsenals, the engines, and the army under review. He then set them free so that they might inform Hannibal concerning all these things. The latter deemed it advisable to have a parley with Scipio, and when it was granted he said that the Carthaginians had rejected the former treaty on account of the money indemnity. If he would remit that, and if the Romans would content themselves with Sicily, Spain, and the islands they now held, the agreement would be lasting. "Hannibal's escape from Italy would be a great gain to him," said Scipio, "if he could obtain these terms in addition." He then forbade Hannibal to send any more messages to him. After indulging in some mutual threats they departed, each to his own camp.
The town of Cilla was in the neighborhood and near it was a hill well adapted for a camp. Hannibal, perceiving this, sent a detachment forward to seize it and lay out a camp. Then he started and moved forward as though he were already in possession of it. Scipio having anticipated him and seized it beforehand, Hannibal was cut off in the midst of a plain without water and was engaged all night digging wells. His army, by toiling in the sand, with great difficulty obtained a little muddy water to drink, and so they passed the night without food, without care for their bodies, and some of them without removing their arms. Scipio, mindful of these things, moved against them at day-light while they were exhausted with marching, with want of sleep, and want of water. Hannibal was troubled, since he did not wish to join battle in that plight. Yet he saw that if he should remain there his army would suffer severely from want of water, while if he should retreat the enemy would take fresh courage and fall upon his rear. For these reasons it was necessary for him to fight. He speedily put in battle array about 50,000 men and eighty elephants. He placed the elephants in the front line at intervals, in order to strike terror into the enemy's ranks. Next to them he placed the third part of his army, composed of Celts and Ligurians, and mixed with them everywhere Moorish and Balearic archers and slingers. Behind these was his second line, composed of Carthaginians and Africans. The third line consisted of Italians who had followed him from their own country, in whom he placed the greatest confidence, since they had the most to apprehend from defeat. The cavalry were placed on the wings. In this way Hannibal arranged his forces.
Scipio had about 23,000 foot and 1500 Italian and Roman horse. He had as allies Masinissa with a large number of Numidian horse, and another prince, named Dacamas, with 1600 horse. He drew up his infantry, like those of Hannibal, in three lines. He placed all his cohorts in straight lines with open spaces so that the cavalry might readily pass between them. In front of each cohort he stationed men armed with heavy stakes two cubits long, mostly shod with iron, for the purpose of assailing the oncoming elephants by hand, as with catapult bolts. He ordered these and the other foot-soldiers to avoid the impetus of these beasts by turning aside and continually hurling javelins at them, and by darting around them to hamstring them whenever they could. In this way Scipio disposed his infantry. He stationed his Numidian horse on his wings because they were accustomed to the sight and smell of elephants. As the Italian horse were not so, he placed them all in the rear, ready to charge through the intervals of the foot-soldiers when the latter should have checked the first onset of the elephants. To each horseman was assigned an attendant armed with plenty of darts with which to ward off the attack of these beasts. In this way was his cavalry disposed. Llius commanded the right wing and Octavius the left. In the middle both Hannibal and himself took their stations, out of respect for each other, each having a body of horse in order to send renforcements wherever they might be needed. Of these Hannibal had 4000 and Scipio 2000, besides the 300 Italians whom he had armed in Sicily.
When everything was ready each one rode up and down encouraging his soldiers. Scipio, in the presence of his army, invoked the gods, whom the Carthaginians had offended by their frequent violation of treaties. He told the soldiers not to think of the numbers of the enemy but of their own valor, by which aforetime these same enemies, in even greater numbers, had been overcome in this same country. If fear, anxiety, and doubt oppress those who have hitherto been victorious, how much more, he said, must these feelings weigh upon the vanquished. Thus did Scipio encourage his forces and console them for their inferiority in numbers. Hannibal reminded his men of what they had done in Italy, their great and brilliant victories won, not over Numidians, but over those who were all Italians, and throughout Italy. He pointed out, in plain sight, the smallness of the enemy's force, and exhorted them not to show themselves inferior to a less numerous body in their own country. Each general magnified to his own men the consequences of the coming engagement. Hannibal said that the battle would decide the fate of Carthage and all Africa; if vanquished, they would be enslaved forthwith, if victorious, they would have universal supremacy hereafter. Scipio said that there was no safe refuge for his men if they were vanquished, but if victorious there would be a great increase of the Roman power, a rest from their present labors, a speedy return home, and glory forever after.
Having thus exhorted their men they joined battle. Hannibal ordered the trumpet to sound, and Scipio responded in like manner. The elephants began the fight decked out in fearful panoply and urged on with goads by their riders. The Numidian horse flying around them incessantly thrust darts into them. Being wounded and put to flight and having become unmanageable, their drivers took them out of the combat. This is what happened to the elephants on both wings. Those in the centre trampled down the Roman infantry, who were not accustomed to that kind of fighting and were not able to avoid or to pursue them easily on account of their heavy armor, until Scipio brought up the Italian cavalry, who were in the rear and more lightly armed, and ordered them to dismount from their frightened horses, and run around and stab the elephants. He was himself the first to dismount and wound the front-tramping elephant. The others were encouraged by his example, and they inflicted so many wounds upon the elephants that these also withdrew.
The field being cleared of these beasts the battle was now waged by men and horses only. The Roman right wing, where Llius commanded, put the opposing Numidians to flight, and Masinissa struck down their prince, Massathes, with a dart, but Hannibal quickly came to their rescue and restored the line of battle. On the left wing, where Octavius commanded and where the hostile Celts and Ligurians were stationed, a doubtful battle was going on. Scipio sent the tribune Thermus thither with a renforcement of picked men, but Hannibal, after rallying his left wing, flew to the assistance of the Ligurians and Celts, bringing up at the same time his second line of Carthaginians and Africans. Scipio, perceiving this, brought his second line in opposition. When the two greatest generals of the world thus met, in hand to hand fight, there was, on the part of the soldiers of each, a brilliant emulation and reverence for their commanders, and no lack of zeal on either side in the way of sharp and vehement fighting and cheering.
As the battle was long and undecided, the two generals had compassion on their tired soldiers, and rushed upon each other in order to bring it to a more speedy decision. They threw their javelins at the same time. Scipio pierced Hannibal's shield. Hannibal hit Scipio's horse. The horse, smarting from the wound, threw Scipio over backwards. He quickly mounted another and again hurled a dart at Hannibal, but missed him and struck another horseman near him. At this juncture, Masinissa, hearing of the crisis, came up, and the Romans seeing their general not only serving as a commander but fighting also as a common soldier, fell upon the enemy more vehemently than before, routed them, and pursued them in flight. Nor could Hannibal, who rode by the side of his men and besought them to make a stand and renew the battle, prevail upon them to do so. Therefore, despairing of these, he turned to the Italians who had come with him, and who were still in reserve and not demoralized. These he led into the fight, hoping to fall upon the Romans in disorderly pursuit. But they perceived his intention, and speedily called one another back from the pursuit and restored the line of battle. As their horse were no longer with them and they were destitute of missiles, they now fought sword in hand in close combat. Great slaughter ensued and innumerable wounds, mingled with the shouts of the combatants and the groans of the dying, until, finally, the Romans routed these also and put them to flight. Such was the brilliant issue of this engagement.
Hannibal in his flight seeing a mass of Numidian horse collected together, ran up and besought them not to desert him. Having secured their promise, he led them against the pursuers, hoping still to turn the tide of battle. The first whom he encountered were the Massylians, and now a single combat between Masinissa and Hannibal took place. Rushing fiercely upon each other, Masinissa drove his spear into Hannibal's shield, and Hannibal wounded his antagonist's horse. Masinissa, being thrown, sprang towards Hannibal on foot, and struck and killed a horseman who was advancing towards him in front of the others. At the same time he received in his shield -- made of elephant's hide -- several darts, one of which he pulled out and hurled at Hannibal; but, as it happened, it struck another horseman who was near and killed him. While he was pulling out another, he was wounded in the arm, and withdrew from the fight for a brief space. When Scipio learned this, he feared for Masinissa and hastened to his relief, but he found that the latter had bound up his wound and returned to the fight on a fresh horse. Thus the battle continued doubtful and very severe, the soldiers on either side having the utmost reverence for their commanders, until Hannibal, discovering a body of Spanish and Celtic troops on a hill near by, dashed over to them to bring them into the fight. Those who were still engaged, not knowing the cause of his going, thought that he had fled. Accordingly, they abandoned the fight of their own accord and broke into disorderly rout, not following after Hannibal, but helter skelter. This band having been dispersed, the Romans thought that the fight was over and pursued them in a disorderly way, not perceiving Hannibal's purpose.
Presently Hannibal returned accompanied by the Spanish and Celtic troops from the hill. Scipio hastened to recall the Romans from the pursuit, and formed a new line of battle much stronger than those who were coming against him, by which means he overcame them without difficulty. When this last effort had failed, Hannibal despaired utterly, and fled in plain sight. Many horsemen pursued him, and among others Masinissa, although suffering from his wound, pressed him hard, striving eagerly to take him prisoner and deliver him to Scipio. But night came to his rescue and under cover of darkness, with twenty horsemen who had alone been able to keep pace with him, he took refuge in a town named Thon. Here he found many Bruttian and Spanish horsemen who had fled after the defeat. Fearing the Spaniards because they were fickle barbarians, and apprehending that the Bruttians, as they were Scipio's countrymen, might deliver him up in order to secure pardon for their transgression against Italy, he fled secretly with one horseman in whom he had full confidence. Having accomplished about 3000 stades360 in two nights and days, he arrived at the seaport of Hadrumetum, where a part of his army had been left to guard his supplies. Here he began to collect forces from the adjacent country and from those who had escaped from the recent engagement, and to prepare arms and engines of war.