Hasdrubal succeeds Hamilcar -- Rise of Hannibal -- He attacks Saguntum -- The Saguntines appeal to Rome
The Carthaginians, enjoying the gains they had received from Spain, sent another army thither and appointed Hasdrubal, the son-in-law of Hamilcar, who was still in Spain, commander of all their forces there. He had with him in Spain Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar and brother of his own wife, a young man zealous in war, beloved by the army, and who soon after became famous for his military exploits. Him he appointed lieutenant-general. Hasdrubal brought many Spanish tribes to his support by persuasion, for he was attractive in personal intercourse, and where force was needed he made use of the young man. In this way he pushed forward from the Western ocean to the interior as far as the river Iberus (Ebro), which divides Spain about in the centre, and at a distance of about five days' journey from the Pyrenees flows down to the Northern ocean.186
The Saguntines, a colony of the island of Zacynthus, who lived about midway between the Pyrenees and the river Iberus,187 and other Greeks who dwelt in the neighborhood of Emporia and other Spanish towns, having apprehensions for their safety, sent ambassadors to Rome. The Senate, who were unwilling to see the Carthaginian power augmented, sent an embassy to Carthage. It was agreed between them that the limit of the Carthaginian power in Spain should be the river Iberus; that beyond that river the Romans should not carry war against the subjects of Carthage, nor should the Carthaginians cross it for a similar purpose; and that the Saguntines and the other Greeks in Spain should remain free and autonomous. So these agreements were added to the treaties between Rome and Carthage.
Some time later, while Hasdrubal was governing that 189 part of Spain belonging to Carthage, a slave whose master he had cruelly put to death killed him secretly in a hunting expedition. Hannibal convicted him of this crime and put him to death with dreadful tortures. Now the army proclaimed Hannibal, although still very young, yet greatly beloved by the soldiers, their general, and the Carthaginian Senate confirmed the appointment. Those of the opposite faction, who had feared the power of Hamilcar and Hasdrubal, when they learned of their death, despised Hannibal on account of his youth and prosecuted their friends and partisans with the old charges. The people took sides with the accusers, bearing a grudge against those now prosecuted, because they remembered the old severities of the times of Hamilcar and Hasdrubal, and ordered them to turn into the public treasury the large gifts that Hamilcar and Hasdrubal had bestowed upon them, as being enemy's spoils. The prosecuted parties sent messengers to Hannibal asking him to assist them, and admonished him that, if he should neglect those who were able to assist him at home, he would be thoroughly despised by his father's enemies.
He had foreseen all this and he knew that the persecution of his friends was the beginning of a plot against himself. He determined that he would not endure this enmity as a perpetual menace, as his father and brother-in-law had done, nor put up forever with the fickleness of the Carthaginians, who usually repaid benefits with ingratitude. It was said also that when he was a boy he had taken an oath upon the altar, at his father's instance, that when he should arrive at man's estate he would be the implacable enemy of Rome. For these reasons he thought that, if he could involve his country in arduous and protracted undertakings and plunge it into doubts and fears, he would place his own affairs and those of his friends in a secure position. He beheld Africa, however, and the subject parts of Spain in peace. But if he could stir up a war with Rome, which he strongly desired, he thought that the Carthaginians would have enough to think about and to be afraid of, and that if he should be successful, he would reap immortal glory by gaining for his country the government of the habitable world (for when the Romans were conquered there would be no other rivals), and if he should fail, the attempt itself would bring him great renown.
Conceiving that if he should cross the Iberus that would constitute a brilliant beginning, he suborned the Turbuletes, neighbors of the Saguntines, that they should complain to him that the latter were overrunning their country and doing them many other wrongs. They made this complaint. Then Hannibal sent their ambassadors to Carthage, and wrote private letters saying that the Romans were inciting Carthaginian Spain to revolt, and that the Saguntines were coperating with the Romans for this purpose. Nor did he desist from this deception, but kept sending messages of this kind until the Carthaginian Senate authorized him to deal with the Saguntines as he saw fit. Since he had a pretext, he arranged that the Turbuletes should come again to make complaints against the Saguntines, and that the latter should send legates also. When Hannibal commanded them to explain their differences to him, they replied that they should refer the matter to Rome. Hannibal thereupon 190 ordered them out of his camp, and the next night crossed 191 the Iberus with his whole army, laid waste the Saguntine territory, and planted engines against their city. Not being able to take it, he surrounded it with a wall and ditch, stationed plenty of guards, and pushed the siege at intervals.
The Saguntines, oppressed by this sudden and unheralded attack, sent an embassy to Rome. The Senate commissioned its own ambassadors to go with them. They were instructed first to remind Hannibal of the agreement, and if he should not obey to proceed to Carthage and complain against him. When they arrived in Spain and were approaching his camp from the sea, Hannibal forbade their coring. Accordingly they sailed for Carthage with the Saguntine ambassadors, and reminded the Carthaginians of the agreement. The latter accused the Saguntines of committing many wrongs on their subjects. When the Saguntines offered to submit the whole question to the Romans as arbitrators, the Carthaginians replied that there was no use of an arbitration because they were able to avenge themselves. When this reply was brought to Rome some advised senting aid to the Saguntines. Others favored delay, saying that the Saguntines were not inscribed as allies in the agreement with them, but merely as free and autonomous, and that they were still free although besieged. The latter opinion prevailed.
The Saguntines, when they despaired of help from Rome, and when famine weighed heavily upon them, and Hannibal kept up the siege without intermission (for he had heard that the city was very prosperous and wealthy, and for this reason relaxed not the siege), issued an edict to bring all the silver and gold, public and private, to the forum, where they melted it with lead and brass, so that it should be useless to Hannibal. Then, thinking that it was better to die fighting than starve to death, they made a sally by night upon the besiegers while they were asleep and not expecting an attack, and killed some as they were getting out of bed, others as they were clumsily arming themselves, and still others who were actually fighting. The battle continued until many of the Africans and all the Saguntines were slain. When the women witnessed the slaughter of their husbands from the walls, some of them threw themselves from the housetops, others hanged themselves, and others slew their children and then themselves. Such was the end of Saguntum, once a great and powerful city. When Hannibal learned what had been done with the gold he was angry, and put all the surviving adults to death with torture. Observing that the city was not far from Carthage and with good land about it situated on the sea, he rebuilt it and made it a Carthaginian colony, and I think it is now called Spartarian Carthage.192