Hannibal advises their Acceptance -- Another Embassy to Rome -- Debate in the Senate -- Views of Scipio's Friends -- The Counsels of Clemency and of Prudence -- Views of Scipio's Rivals -- The Crimes of Carthage -- Call for Vengeance -- The Senate ratifies Scipio's Treaty -- Scipio's Return -- Form of a Roman Triumph
When Scipio had finished speaking the envoys bore his conditions to Carthage, where the people debated them in the Assembly for several days. The chief men thought that it was best to accept the offer and not, by refusing a part, to run the risk of losing all; but the vulgar crowd, not considering the instant peril rather than the draft, great as it was, upon their resources, and being the majority, refused compliance. They were angry that their rulers, in time of famine, should send provisions away to the Romans instead of supplying their own citizens during the armistice, and they banded together, threatening to plunder and burn the houses of every one of them. Finally, they decided to take counsel with Hannibal, who now had 60000 infantry and 500 cavalry stationed at the town of Marthama. He came and, although moderate citizens feared lest a man so fond of war should excite the people to renewed exertions, he very gravely advised them to accept peace. But the people, mad with rage, reviled him also, and threatened everybody, until some of the notables, despairing of the city, took refuge with Masinissa, and others with the Romans themselves.
The remaining Carthaginians, hearing that a large quantity of provisions had been stored by Hannibal at a certain place, sent a number of transports and war-ships thither, being resolved, if they could obtain food, to continue the war and to endure everything rather than accept 361 servitude to the Romans. But after a storm had shattered 362 their ships, despairing of everything, they accused the gods of conspiring against them, assented to the agreement with Scipio, and sent an embassy to Rome. Scipio also sent counsellors to confirm the agreement. It was said that Scipio was moved by two considerations. He thought that peace would be for the advantage of the city. He knew also that the consul, C. Cornelius Lentulus, would grasp at his command, and he was not willing that another should reap the glory of bringing the war to an end. At all events he enjoined upon his messengers to say that if there should be delay at Rome he would conclude peace himself.
There was great rejoicing at Rome that this mighty city, which had brought so many calamities upon them and had been the second or third in the leadership of the world, had been completely vanquished. But there were differences of opinion as to what should be done. Some were exceedingly bitter toward the Carthaginians. Others had pity on them, thinking that this was a more becoming attitude to take respecting other people's misfortunes. One of Scipio's friends rose and said: "Gentlemen, this is not so much a question of saving Carthage as it is of preserving our faith with the gods and our reputation among men -- lest it be said that we, who have so often charged the carthaginians with cruelty, behave with greater cruelty than they, and that we, who always exercise moderation in small matters, neglect it wholly in large ones, which, on account of their very magnitude, cannot escape notice. The deed will be sounded through all the earth, now and hereafter, if we destroy this famous city, former mistress of the seas, ruler of so many islands, and of the whole expanse of water, and more than half of Africa, and which in contests with ourselves has exhibited such wonderful success and power. While they were in arms it was necessary to fight them; now that they have fallen they should be spared, just as athletes refrain from striking a fallen antagonist, and as many wild beasts spare the enemies they have thrown down. It is fitting, in the hour of success, to beware of the indignation of the gods and of the envy of mankind. If we consider closely what they have done to us, that is itself a most fearful example of the fickleness of fortune, that they are now asking us simply to save them from destruction, they who have been able to inflict so many and so great evils upon us, and not long ago were contending on even terms with us for the possession of Sicily and Spain. But, for these things they have already been punished. For their later transgressions blame the pangs of hunger, the most painful suffering that can afflict mankind, a torture that may easily dethrone the reasoning powers of men.
"I do not speak for the Carthaginians; that would not be fitting. Nor do I forget that they violated other treaties before those which are now under review. What our fathers did in like circumstances (and by which means they arrived at the summit of fortune) I will recall to your minds for you know them already. Although the neighboring peoples round about us often revolted and were continually breaking treaties, our ancestors did not disdain them -- the Latins, the Etruscans, the Sabines, for example. Afterward, the qui, the Volsci, the Campanians, also our neighbors, and various other peoples of Italy, committed a breach of their treaties, and our fathers met it magnanimously. Moreover, the Samnite race, after betraying friendship and agreements three times and waging the most desperate war against us for eighty years, were not destroyed, nor were those others who called Pyrrhus into Italy. Nor did we destroy those Italians who lately joined forces with Hannibal, not even the Bruttians, who remained with him to the last. We took from them a part of their lands and allowed them to keep the remainder. Thus it was esteemed both generous to them and useful to us not to exterminate a whole race, but to bring them into a better state of mind.
"Why, in dealing with the Carthaginians, should we change our nature, in the exercise of which we have until now so greatly prospered? Is it because their city is large? That is the very reason why it ought to be spared. Is it because they have often violated their treaties with us? So have other nations, almost all of them. Is it because they are now to be subjected to a light punishment? They are to lose all their ships but ten. They are to give up their elephants, which constitute so large a part of their strength. They are to pay 10,000 Euboc talents. They are to yield all the cities and territories outside of the Phnician trenches, and they are forbidden to enlist soldiers. What they took from us when pressed by hunger they are to restore, although they are still hungry. As to all doubtful matters, Scipio, the man who fought against them, is the judge. I praise Scipio the rather for the magnitude and multitude of these things. I think you ought to spare them considering the invidiousness and the mutability of human affairs. They still have (until the treaty is ratified) an abundance of ships and elephants, and Hannibal, that most skilful captain, who still has an army; also Mago, who is leading another considerable force of Celts and Ligurians; also Vermina, the son of Syphax, is allied with them, and other Numidian tribes. They have also a great many slaves. If they despair of pardon from you they will use all these things with a lavish hand. Nothing is more dangerous than desperation in battles, in which also the divine will is both uncertain and vengeful.
"It seems that Scipio was apprehensive of these things when he communicated his own opinion to us, saying that if we delayed he would conclude peace himself. It is reasonable to suppose, too, that he can form a better judgment than ourselves, since the one who presides over the whole business can have the best view of it. If we reject his advice we shall give pain to that ardent patriot, that renowned general, who urged us to carry the war into Africa when we were not in favor of it; and when he could not obtain an army from us, raised it himself, and there achieved for us a success far beyond our expectations. It is astonishing that you who entered upon this war so sluggishly in the beginning, should now prosecute it so fiercely and to such extremity. If any one agrees to this, but fears lest the Carthaginians should break faith again, I answer that it is more likely that they now perceive the necessity of keeping their agreements because they have suffered so much from former violations of them, and that they will observe the claims of religion all the more since their impiety has led only to their ruin. It is not consistent to despise the Carthaginians as being powerless, and in the same breath to fear lest they should have power to rebel. It will be easier for us to keep watch over them, that they do not become too great hereafter, than to destroy them now. They will fight with desperation now, but hereafter they will always be held in check by their fears. Besides, they will have plenty of troubles without us, for all their neighbors, angered by their former tyranny, will press upon them, and Masinissa, our most faithful ally, will always be there lying in wait for them.
"If any one is disposed to treat all these considerations lightly, and is only thinking how he may succeed to Scipio's command and turn it to his own advantage, trusting that the favors of fortune will attend him to the end, what are we going to do with the city after we have taken it -- supposing we do take it? Shall we destroy it utterly because they seized some of our corn and ships, which they are ready to give back, together with many other things? If we do not do this (having regard to the indignation of the gods and the censures of men) shall we give it to Masinissa? Although he is our friend, it is best not to make him too strong. It should rather be considered a public advantage to the Romans that the two should be at strife with each other. Is it said that we might collect rent from their land? The expense of military protection would eat up the rent, for we should need a strong force to ward off so many surrounding tribes, all of them uncivilized. Can we plant colonies in the midst of such a host of Numidians? They would always be exposed to the depredations of these powerful barbarians, and if they should conquer them they might hereafter become objects of fear and jealousy to us, possessing a country so much more fruitful than ours. All of which things, it seems to me, Scipio clearly discerned when he advised us to yield to the prayers of the Carthaginians. Let us then grant their request and that of our general."
When he had thus spoken, Publius Cornelius, a relative of Cornelius Lentulus, who was then consul and who expected to be Scipio's successor, replied thus: "In war, gentlemen, the only thing to be considered is, what is advantageous. We are told that this city is still powerful. So much the more ought we to be on our guard against treachery joined to power, and to crush the power since we cannot extinguish the treachery. No time can be better chosen to free ourselves from all fear of the Carthaginians than the present, when they are weak and stripped of everything, and before they grow again to their former proportions. Not that I would deny the claims of justice, but I do not think that we can be accused of want of moderation toward the Carthaginians, who in their days of prosperity were unjust and insolent to everybody, but have become suppliants in adversity, and will immediately break away from the new treaty if they have a chance. They have neither respect for treaties nor regard for their oaths--these people whom the gentleman thinks we ought to spare, in order that we may avoid the indignation of the gods and the censures of men. I think that the gods themselves have brought Carthage into this plight in order to punish for their former impiety those who in Sicily, in Spain, in Italy, and in Africa itself, with us and with all others, were always making covenants and breaking their oaths, and committing outrage and savagery. Of these things I will give you some foreign examples before I speak of those that concern ourselves, in order that you may know that all men will rejoice over the Carthaginians if they are brought to condign punishment.
The people of Saguntum, a noble city of Spain, in 363 league with themselves and friendly to us, they slaughtered to the last man, although they had given no offence. Those of Nuceria, a town subject to us, surrendered to them under a sworn agreement that they might depart with two garments each. They shut the senators of Nuceria up in a bath-room and suffocated them with heat. Then they shot the common people with arrows as they were going away. After entering into a treaty with the Senate of Acerra they threw them into wells and buried them alive. Our consul, Marcus Cornelius, they lured by false oaths to an interview with their general, who pretended to be sick. They seized him and carried him prisoner from Sicily into Africa with twenty-two of our ships. They put our other general, Regulus, to death with torture after he had gone back to them in accordance with his oath. The acts perpetrated by Hannibal himself in war, stratagem and perjury, against our cities and armies, and at last against his own allies, destroying their cities and slaughtering their soldiers serving with him, it would take too long to enumerate. In a word, 400 of our towns were depopulated by him. He cast our men, whom he had taken prisoners, into ditches and rivers, making bridges of their bodies to pass over. He had them trodden under foot by elephants. He made them fight with each other, brothers against brothers and fathers against sons. And just now, while they were here treating for peace, and calling the gods to witness, and taking oaths, and while their ambassadors were still among us, they seized our ships in Africa and put our men in chains. To such a pitch of madness have they been brought by the practice of cruelty.
"What pity, therefore, or what moderation is due from others to these Carthaginians, who have never exercised moderation or clemency in anything, and who, as Scipio says, would have expunged the very name of Rome if they had vanquished us? But good faith, you say, and the right hand are reliable. How so? What treaty, what oath, have they not trampled under foot? We should not imitate them, the gentleman says. What treaty can we violate when we have not yet made any? But we should not imitate their cruelty, he says. Ought we to make the most cruel people in the world our friends and allies? 364 Neither of these things is desirable. Let them surrender at discretion, as is the custom of the vanquished, as many others have surrendered to us. Then we shall see what we will do, and whatever we accord to them they shall take in the light of a favor and not of a bargain. There is this difference between the two plans. As long as we treat with them they will violate the treaties as they have heretofore, always making some excuse that they were overreached. They will always find plausible grounds for dispute. But when they surrender at discretion, and we take away their arms, and when their persons are in our possession and they see that there is nothing they can call their own, their spirits will be tamed and they will welcome whatever we allow them to have, as a gratuity bestowed by others. If Scipio thinks differently you have the two opinions to choose from. If he is going to make peace with the Carthaginians without you, what is the need of his sending any word to you? For my part, I have given you the opinion which I hold to be for the advantage of the city, as to judges who are really going to exercise a judgment on the matter in hand."
After Publius had spoken, the Senate took a vote on the question, and the majority agreed with Scipio. Thus a third treaty was made between the Romans and the Carthaginians. Scipio deemed it best to urge this policy upon the Romans, either for the reasons mentioned above, or because he considered it a sufficient success for Rome to have taken the supremacy away from Carthage. There are some who think that in order to preserve the Roman discipline he wished to keep a neighbor and rival as a perpetual menace, so that they might never become intoxicated with success and careless by reason of the greatness of their prosperity. That Scipio had this feeling, Cato, not long after, publicly declared to the Romans when he reproached them for undue severity toward the Rhodians. When Scipio had concluded the treaty, he sailed from Africa to Italy with his whole army, and made a triumphal entry into Rome more glorious than that of any of his predecessors.
The form of the triumph (which the Romans continue to employ) was as follows: All who were in the procession wore crowns. Trumpeters led the advance and wagons laden with spoils. Towers were borne along representing the captured cities, and pictures showing the exploits of the war; then gold and silver coin and bullion, and whatever else they had captured of that kind; then came the crowns that had been given to the general as a reward for his bravery by cities, by allies, or by the army itself. White oxen came next, and after them elephants and the captive Carthaginian and Numidian chiefs. Lictors clad in purple tunics preceded the general; also a chorus of musicians and pipers, in imitation of an Etruscan procession, wearing belts and golden crowns, and they march evenly with song and dance. They call themselves Lydi because, as I think, the Etruscans were a Lydian colony. One of these, in the middle of the procession, wearing a purple cloak and golden bracelets and necklace, caused laughter by making various gesticulations, as though he were insulting the enemy. Next came a lot of incense bearers, and after them the general himself on a chariot embellished with various designs, wearing a crown of gold and precious stones, and dressed, according to the fashion of the country, in a purple toga embroidered with golden stars. He bore a sceptre of ivory, and a laurel branch, which is always the Roman symbol of victory. Riding in the same chariot with him were boys and girls, and on horses on either side of him young men, his own relatives. Then followed those who had served him in the war as secretaries, aids, and armor-bearers. After these came the army arranged in companies and cohorts, all of them crowned and carrying laurel branches, the bravest of them bearing their military prizes. They praised some of their captains, derided others, and reproached others; for in a triumph everybody is free, and is allowed to say what he pleases. When Scipio arrived at the Capitol the procession came to an end, and he entertained his friends at a banquet in the temple.
[figure in text: SCIPIO AFRICANUS]