A complete history of ancient Carthage from its founding to its collapse including its leaders, generals, philosophies and contribution to civilization

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The Story of Hannibal

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Ancient Carthage

Author: Rollin, Charles

Part Two

 

The Carthaginians were not discouraged by their late disaster, but

continued their enterprises on Sicily.  Mago, their general, and one of the

suffetes, lost a great battle, in which he was slain.  The Carthaginian chiefs

demanded a peace, which was granted, on condition of their evacuating all

Sicily, and defraying the expenses of the war.  They pretended to accept the

terms; but representing that it was not in their power to deliver up the

cities, without first obtaining an order from their republic, they obtained so

long a truce, as gave them time sufficient for sending to Carthage.  They took

advantage of this interval, to raise and discipline new troops, over which

Mago, son of him who had been lately killed, was appointed general.  He was

very young, but of great abilities and reputation.  As soon as he arrived in

Sicily, at the expiration of the truce, he gave Dionysius battle; in which

Leptinus, ^696 one of the generals of the latter, was killed, and upwards of

fourteen thousand Syracusans left dead on the field.  By this victory the

Carthaginians obtained an honorable peace, which left them in possession of

all they had in Sicily, and even the addition of some strongholds besides a

thousand talents, ^697 which were paid to them for defraying the expenses of

the war.

 

[Footnote 696: This Leptinus was brother to Dionysius.]

 

[Footnote 697: About $914,640.]

 

     About this time a law was enacted at Carthage, by which its inhabitants

were forbidden to learn to write or speak the Greek language; in order to

deprive them of the means of corresponding with the enemy, either by word of

mouth or in writing. ^698 This was occasioned by the treachery of a

Carthaginian, who had written in Greek to Dionysius, to give him advice of the

departure of the army from Carthage.

 

[Footnote 698: Justin. l, xx. c. 5.]

 

     Carthage had soon after another calamity to struggle with. ^699 The

plague spread in the city and made terrible havoc.  Panic terrors, and violent

fits of frenzy seized on a sudden the heads of the distempered; who, sallying

sword in hand out of their houses, as if the enemy had taken the city, killed

or wounded all who unhappily came in their way.  The Africans and Sardinians

would very willingly have taken this opportunity to shake off a yoke which was

so hateful to them; but both were subjected and reduced to their allegiance.

Dionysius formed at this time an enterprise in Sicily, with the same views,

which was equally unsuccessful. ^700 He died, some time after, and was

succeeded by his son of the same name.

 

[Footnote 699: Diod. l. xv. p. 344.]

 

[Footnote 700: This is the Dionysius who invited Plato to his court; and who,

being afterwards offended with his freedom, sold him for a slave. Some

philosophers came from Greece to Syracuse, in order to redeem their brother,

which having done, they sent him home with this useful lesson - that

philosophers ought very rarely or very obligingly to converse with tyrants.

This prince had learning, and affected to pass for a poet; but could not gain

that name at the Olympic games, whither he had sent his verses, to be repeated

by his brother Thearides.  It had been happy for Dionysius, had the Athenians

entertained no better an opinion of his poetry; for on their pronouncing him

victor, when his poems were repeated in their city, he was raised to such a

transport of joy and intemperance, that both together killed him; and thus,

perhaps, was verified the prediction of the oracle viz.; that he should die

when he had overcome his betters.]

 

     We have already taken notice of the first treaty which the Carthaginians

concluded with the Romans.  There was another, which, according to Orosius,

was concluded in the 402d year of the foundation of Rome, and consequently

about the time we are now speaking of.  This second treaty was nearly the same

with the first, except that the inhabitants of Tyre and Utica were expressly

comprehended in it, and joined with the Carthaginians.

 

     After the death of the elder Dionysius, Syracuse was involved in great

troubles. ^701 Dionysius the younger, who had been expelled, restored himself

by force of arms, and exercised great cruelties there.  One part of the

citizens implored the aid of Icetes, tyrant of the Leontines, and by descent a

Syracusan.  This seemed a very favorable opportunity for the Carthaginians to

seize upon all Sicily, and accordingly they sent a mighty fleet thither.  In

this extremity, such of the Syracusans as loved their country best, had

recourse to the Corinthians, who often assisted them in their dangers, and

were, of all the Grecian nations, the most professed enemies to tyranny, and

the most avowed and most generous assertors of liberty.  Accordingly the

Corinthians sent over Timoleon, a man of great merit, and who had signalized

his zeal for the public welfare, by freeing his country from tyranny, at the

expense of his own family.  He set sail with only ten ships, and arriving at

Rhegium, he eluded, by a happy stratagem, the vigilance of the Carthaginians;

who, having been informed, by Icetes, of his voyage and design, wanted to

intercept him in his passage to Sicily.

 

[Footnote 701: A. M. 3656.  A. Carth. 498.  A. Rome, 400. Ant. J. C. 348.

Diod. l. xvi. p. 252, Polyb. l. iii. p. 178.  Plut. in Timol.]

 

     Timoleon had scarce above a thousand soldiers under his command; and yet,

with this handful of men, he marched boldly to the relief of Syracuse.  His

small army increased in proportion as he advanced.  The Syracusans were now in

a desperate condition and quite hopeless.  They saw the Carthaginians masters

of the port; Icetes of the city, and Dionysius of the citadel.  Happily, on

Timoleon's arrival, Dionysius having no refuge left, put the citadel into his

hands, with all the forces, arms, and ammunition in it, and escaped by his

assistance to Corinth. ^702 Timoleon had, by his emissaries, artfully

represented to the foreign forces in Mago's army (which, by an error in the

constitution of Carthage, before taken notice of, was chiefly composed of

such, and even the greatest part of whom were Greeks), that it was astonishing

to see Greeks using their endeavors to to make barbarians masters of Sicily,

from whence they in a very little time, would pass over into Greece.  For

could they imagine, that the Carthaginians were come so far, with no other

view than to establish Icetes tyrant of Syracuse?  Such discourses being

spread among Mago's soldiers, gave this general very great uneasiness; and, as

he wanted only a pretence to retire, he was glad to have it believed that his

forces were going to betray and desert him, and upon this he sailed with his

fleet out of the harbor, and steered for Carthage.  Icetes, after his

departure, could not hold out long against the Corinthians; so that they now

got entire possession of the whole city.

 

[Footnote 702: Here he preserved some resemblance of his former tyranny, by

turning schoolmaster, and exercising a discipline over boys, when he could no

longer tyrannize over men.  He had learning, and was once a scholar to Plato,

whom he caused to come again into Sicily, notwithstanding the unworthy

treatment he had met with from Dionysius' father.  Philip, king of Macedon,

meeting him in the streets at Corinth, and asking him how he came to lose so

considerable a principality as had been left him by his father; he answered

that his father had indeed left him the inheritance, but not the fortune which

had preservd both himselfand that. - However, fortune did him no great injury,

in replacing him on the dunghill, from which she had raised his father.]

 

     Mago, on his arrival at Carthage, was impeached; but he prevented the

execution of the sentence passed upon him, by a voluntary death.  His body was

hung upon a gallows, and exposed as a public spectacle to the people. New

forces were levied at Carthage, and a greater and more powerful fleet than the

former was sent to Sicily. ^703 It consisted of two hundred ships of war,

besides a thousand transports; and the army amounted to upwards of seventy

thousand men.  They landed at Lilybaeum, under the command of Hamilcar and

Hannibal, and resolved to attack the Corinthians first. Timoleon did not wait

for, but marched out to meet them.  But, such was the consternation of

Syracuse, that of all the forces which were in that city, only three thousand

Syracusans, and four thousand mercenaries, followed him; and a thousand of the

latter deserted upon the march, through fear of the danger they were going to

encounter.  Timoleon, however, was not discouraged, but exhorting the

remainder of his forces to exert themselves courageously for the safety and

liberties of their allies, he led them against the enemy, whose rendezvous he

had been informed was on the banks of the little river Crimisa.  It appeared

at the first reflection inexcusable folly to attack an army so numerous as

that of the enemy, with only four or five thousand foot, and a thousand horse;

but Timoleon, who knew that bravery, conducted by prudence, is superior to

numbers, relied on the courage of his soldiers, who seemed resolved to die

rather than yield, and with ardor demanded to be led against the enemy. The

event justified his views and hopes.  A battle was fought; the Carthaginians

were routed, and upwards of ten thousand of them slain, full three thousand of

whom were Carthaginian citizens, which filled their city with mourning and the

greatest consternation.  Their camp was taken, and with it immense riches, and

a great number of prisoners.

 

[Footnote 703: Plut. p. 248-250.]

 

     Timoleon, ^704 at the same time that he despatched the news of this

victory to Corinth, sent thither the finest arms found among the plunder. For

he was passionately desirous of having this city applauded and admired by all

men, when they should see that Corinth alone, among all the Grecian cities,

adorned its finest temples, not with the spoils of Greece, and offerings dyed

in the blood of its citizens, the sight of which could tend only to preserve

the sad remembrance of their losses; but with those of barbarians, which by

fine inscriptions, displayed at once the courage and religious gratitude of

those who had won them.  For these inscriptions imported, That the

Corinthians, and Timoleon their general, after having freed the Greeks,

settled in Sicily, from the Carthaginian yoke, had hung up these arms in their

temples, as an eternal acknowledgment of the favor and goodness of the gods.

 

[Footnote 704: Plut. 248-250.]

 

     After this, Timoleon, leaving the mercenary troops in the Carthaginian

territories, to waste and destroy them, returned to Syracuse. On his arrival

there he banished the thousand soldiers who had deserted him; and took no

other revenge, than commanding them to leave Syracuse before sunset.

 

     This victory gained by the Corinthians, was followed by the capture of

many cities, which obliged the Carthaginians to sue for peace.

 

     In proportion as the appearance of success made the Carthaginians

vigorously exert themselves to raise powerful armies both by land and sea, and

prosperity led them to make an insolent and cruel use of victory; so their

courage would sink in unforeseen adversities, their hopes of new resources

vanish, and their grovelling souls condescend to ask quarter of the most

inconsiderable enemy, and without sense of shame, accept the hardest and most

mortifying conditions.  Those now imposed were, that they should possess only

the lands lying beyond the river Halycus; ^705 that they should give all the

natives liberty to retire to Syracuse with their families and effects; and

that they should neither continue in the alliance, nor hold any correspondence

with the tyrants of that city.

 

[Footnote 705: This river is not far from Agrigentum.  It is called Lycus by

Diodorns and Plutarch, but this is thought a mistake.]

 

     About this time, in all probability, there happened at Carthage a

memorable incident, related by Justin. ^706 Hanno, one of its most powerful

citizens, formed a design of seizing upon the republic, by destroying the

whole senate.  He chose, for the execution of this bloody plan, the day on

which his daughter was to be married, on which occasion he designed to invite

the senators to an entertainment, and there poison them all.  The conspiracy

was discovered, but Hanno had such influence, that the government did not dare

to punish so execrable a crime; the magistrates contended themselves with only

preventing it, by an order which forbade, in general, too great a magnificence

at weddings, and limited the expense on those occasions.  Hanno, seeing his

stratagem defeated, resolved to employ open force, and for that purpose armed

all the slaves.  However, he was again discovered; and to escape punishment,

retired, with twenty thousand armed slaves, to a castle that was very strongly

fortified; and there endeavored, but without success, to engage in his

rebellion the Africans, and the king of Mauritania.  He afterwards was taken

prisoner, and carried to Carthage, where, after being whipped, his eyes were

put out, his arms and thighs broken, he was put to death in presence of the

people, and his body, all torn with stripes, was hung on a gibbet.  His

children and all his relations, though they had not joined in his guilt,

shared in his punishment.  They were all sentenced to die, in order that not a

single person of his family might be left, either to imitate his crime or

revenge his death.  Such was the temper of the Carthaginians; ever severe and

violent in their punishments, they carried them to the extremes of rigor, and

made them extend even to the innocent, without showing the least regard to

equity, moderation, or gratitude.

 

[Footnote 706: Justin, lib. xxi, c. 4.]

 

     I now come to the wars sustained by the Carthaginians in Africa itself,

as well as in Sicily, against Agathocles, which exercised their arms during

several years. ^707

 

[Footnote 707: A. M. 3685.  A. Carth. 527.  A. Rome, 429.  Ant. J. C. 319.

Diod. l. xix. p 651-656, 710-712, 737-743, 760.  Justin. l. ii. c. 1-6.]

 

     This Agathocles was a Sicilian, of obscure birth and low fortune. ^708

Supported at first by the forces of the Carthaginians, he had invaded the

sovereignty of Syracuse, and made himself tyrant over it.  In the infancy of

his power, the Carthaginians kept him within bounds, and Hamilcar, their

chief, forced him to agree to a peace, which restored tranquillity to Sicily.

But he soon infringed the articles of it, and declared war against the

Carthaginians themselves, who, under the conduct of Hamilcar, obtained a

signal victory over him, ^709 and forced him to shut himself up in Syracuse.

The Carthaginians pursued him thither, and laid siege to that important city,

the capture of which would have given them possession of all Sicily.

 

[Footnote 708: He was, according to most historians, the son of a potter, but

all allow him to have worked at the trade.  From the obscurity of his birth

and condition, Polybius uses an argument to prove his capacity and talents, in

opposition to the standers of Timaeus.  But his greatest eulogium was the

praise of Scipio.  That illustrious Roman being asked, who, in his opinion,

were the most prudent in the conduct of their affairs and most judiciously

bold in the execution of their designs; answered Agathocles and Dionysius. -

Polyb. l. xv. p. 1003.  Edit Gronov.  However, let his capacity have been ever

so great, it was exceeded by his cruelties.]

 

[Footnote 709: The battle was fought near the river and city of Hymera.]

 

     Agathocles, whose forces were greatly inferior to theirs and who saw

himself deserted by all his allies, from their detestation of his horrid

cruelties, meditated a design of so daring, and, to all appearance, of so

impracticable a nature, that even after success, it yet appears almost

incredible.  This design was no less than to make Africa the seat of war, and

to besiege Carthage, at a time when he could neither defend himself in Sicily,

nor sustain the siege of Syracuse.  His profound secrecy in the execution is

as astonishing as the design itself.  He communicated his thoughts on this

affair to no person whatsoever, but contented himself with declaring, that he

had found out an infallible way to free the Syracusans from the dangers that

surrounded them; that they had only to endure with patience, for a short time,

the inconveniences of a siege; but that those who could not bring themselves

to this resolution, might freely depart the city.  Only sixteen hundred

persons quitted it.  He left his brother Antander there with forces and

provisions sufficient for him to make a stout defence.  He set at liberty all

slaves who were of age to bear arms, and, after obliging them to take an oath,

joined them to his forces.  He carried with him only fifty talents ^710 to

supply his present wants; well assured that he should find in the enemy's

country whatever was necessary to his subsistence.  He therefore set sail with

two of his sons, Archagathus and Heraclides, without letting any one person

know whither he intended his course.  All who were on board his fleet believed

that they were to be conducted either to Italy or Sardinia, in order to

plunder those countries, or to lay waste those coasts of Sicily which belonged

to the enemy.  The Carthaginians, surprised at so unexpected a departure,

endeavored to prevent it; but Agathocles eluded their pursuit, and made for

the main ocean.

 

[Footnote 710: 50,000 French crowns, or $55,000.]

 

     He did not discover his design till he had landed in Africa.  There

assembling his troops, he told them, in a few words, the motives which had

prompted him to this expedition.  He represented, that the only way to free

their country, was to carry the war into the territories of their enemies:

that he led them, who were inured to war and of intrepid dispositions, against

a parcel of enemies who were softened and enervated by ease and luxury: that

the natives of tha country, oppressed with the yoke of servitude, equally

cruel and ignominious, would run in crowds to join them on the first news of

their arrival: that the boldness of their attempt would alone disconcert the

Carthaginians, who had no expectation of seeing an enemy at their gates: in

short, that no enterprise could possibly be more advantageous or honorable

than this, since the whole wealth of Carthage would become the prey of the

victors, whose courage would be praised and admired by the latest posterity.

The soldiers fancied themselves already masters of Carthage, and received his

speech with applause and acclamations.  One circumstance alone gave them

uneasiness, and that was, an eclipse of the sun happening just as they were

setting sail.  In these ages, even the most civilized nations understood very

little the reason of these extraordinary phenomena of nature; and used to draw

from them (by their soothsayer) superstitious and arbitrary conjectures, which

frequently would either suspend or hasten the most important enterprises.

However, Agathocles revived the drooping courage of his soldiers, by assuring

them that these eclipses always foretold some instant change: that, therefore,

good fortune was taking its leave of Carthage, and coming over to them.

 

     Finding his soldiers in the good disposition he wished them, he executed,

almost at the same time, a second enterprise, which was even more daring and

hazardous than his first, of carrying them over into Africa; and this was, the

burning every ship in his fleet.  Many reasons determined him to so desperate

an action.  He had not one good harbor in Africa where his ships could lie in

safety.  As the Carthaginians were masters of the sea, they would not have

failed to possess themselves immediately of his fleet, which was incapable of

making the least resistance.  In case he had left as many hands as were

necessary to defend it, he would have weakened his army, which was

inconsiderable at the best, and put it out of his power to gain any advantage

by this unexpected diversion, the success of which depended entirely on the

swiftness and vigor of the execution.  Lastly, he was desirous of putting his

soldiers under a necessity of conquering, by leaving them no other refuge than

victory.  Much courage was necessary to adopt such a resolution.  He had

already prepared all his officers, who were entirely devoted to his service,

and received every impression he gave them.  He then came suddenly into the

assembly, with a crown upon his head, dressed in a magnificent habit, and,

with the air and behavior of a man who was going to perform some religious

ceremony, and addressing himself to the assembly, "When we," says he, "left

Syracuse, and were warmly pursued by the enemy, in this fatal necessity, I

addressed myself to Ceres and Proserpine, the tutelar divinities of Sicily;

and promised, that if they would free us from this imminent danger, I would

burn all our ships in their honor, at our first landing here.  Aid me,

therefore, O soldiers, to discharge my vow; for the goddesses can easily make

us amends for this sacrifice." At the same time, taking a flambeau in his

hand, he hastily led the way on board his own ship, and set it on fire.  All

the officers did the like, and were cheerfully followed by the soldiers.  The

trumpets sounded from every quarter, and the whole army echoed with joyful

shouts and acclamations.  The fleet was soon consumed.  The soldiers had not

been allowed time to reflect on the proposal made to them.  They had all been

hurried on by a blind and impetuous ardor; but when they had a little

recovered their reason, and, surveying in their minds the vast extent of ocean

which separated them from their own country, saw themselves in that of the

enemy, without the least resource, or any means of escaping out of it, a sad

and melancholy silence succeeded the transport of joy and acclamations, which,

but a moment before, had been so general in the army.

 

     Here again Agathocles left no time for reflection.  He marched his army

towards a place called the Great City, which was part of the domain of

Carthage.  The country through which they marched to this place afforded the

most delicious and agreeable prospect in the world.  On each side were seen

large meads watered by beautiful streams, and covered with innumerable flocks

of all kinds of cattle; country seats built with extraordinary magnificence;

delightful avenues planted with olive and all sorts of fruit-tress; gardens of

a prodigious extent, and kept with a care and elegance which delighted the

eye.  This prospect reanimated the soldiers.  They marched full of courage to

the Great City, which they took, sword in hand, and enriched themselves with

the plunder of it, which was entirely abandoned to them.  Tunis, which was not

far distant from Carthage, made as little resistance.

 

     The Carthaginians were in prodigious alarm, when it was known that the

enemy was in the country, advancing by hasty marches.  This arrival of

Agathocles made the Carthaginians conclude, that their army before Syracuse

had been defeated, and their fleet lost.  The people ran in disorder to the

great square of the city, while the senate assembled in haste, and in a

tumultuous manner.  Immediately they deliberated on the means for preserving

the city.  They had no army in readiness to oppose the enemy, and their

imminent danger did not permit them to wait the arrival of those forces which

might be raised in the country, and among the allies.  It was therefore

resolved, after several different opinions had been heard, to arm the

citizens.  The number of the forces thus levied amounted to forty thousand

foot, a thousand horse, and two thousand armed chariots.  Hanno and Bomilcar,

though divided between themselves by some family quarrels, were, however,

joined in the command of these troops. They marched immediately to meet the

enemy, and on sight of them, drew up their forces in order of battle.

Agathocles had, at most, but thirteen or fourteen thousand men. ^711 The

signal was given, and an obstinate fight ensued.  Hanno, with his sacred

cohort, the flower of the Carthaginian forces, long sustained the fury of the

Greeks, and sometimes even broke their ranks; but at last, overwhelmed with a

shower of stones, and covered with wounds, he fell dead on the field.

Bomilcar might have changed the face of things, but he had private and

personal reasons not to obtain a victory for his country.  He therefore

thought proper to retire with the forces under his command, and was followed

by the whole army, which by that means was forced to leave the field to

Agathocles.  After pursuing the enemy some time, he returned and plundered the

Carthaginian camp. Twenty thousand pair of manacles were found in it, with

which the Carthaginian had furnished themselves, in the firm persuasion of

their taking many prisoners.  The result of this victory was the capture of a

great number of strongholds, and the defection of many of the natives of the

country, who joined the victor.

 

[Footnote 711: Agathocles, wanting arms for many of his soldiers, provided

them with such as were counterfeit, which looked well at a distance.  And

perceiving the discouragement his forces were under on sight of the enemy's

horse, he let fly a great many owls, privately procured for that purpose,

which his soldiers interpreted as an omen and assurance of victory. - Diod.

Ad. Ann. 3 Olymp. p. 117.]

 

     This descent of Agathocles into Africa, doubtless gave birth to Scipio's

design of making a like attempt upon the same republic, and from the same

place. ^712 Wherefore, in his answer to Fabius, who ascribed to temerity his

design of making Africa the seat of the war, he forgot not to mention the

example of Agathocles, as an instance in favor of his enterprise, and to show,

that frequently there is no other way to get rid of an enemy, who presses too

closely upon us, than by carrying the war into his own country; and that men

are much more courageous when they act upon the offensive, than when they

stand only upon the defensive.

 

[Footnote 712: Liv. l. xxxviii. n. 43.]

 

     While the Carthaginians were thus warmly attacked by their enemies,

ambassadors came to them from Tyre. ^713 They came to implore their succor

against Alexander the Great, who was upon the point of taking their city,

which he had long besieged.  The extremity to which their countrymen, for so

they called them, were reduced, touched the Carthaginians as sensibly as their

own danger.  Though they were unable to relieve them, they at least thought it

their duty to comfort them; and deputed thirty of their principal citizens, to

express their grief that they could not spare them any troops, because of the

present melancholy situation of their own affairs.  The Tyrians, though

disappointed of the only hope they had left, did not however despond.  They

committed their wives, children, ^714 and old men, to the care of those

deputies; and, being delivered from all inquietude with regard to persons who

were dearer to them than any thing in the world, they thought only of making a

resolute defence, prepared for the worst that might happen.  Carthage received

this afflicted company with all possible mark of amity, and paid to guests who

were so dear and worthy of compassion, all the services which they could have

expected from the most affectionate and tender parents.

 

[Footnote 713: Diod. l. xvii. p. 519.  Quint. Curt. l. iv. c. 3.]

 

[Footnote 714: Some of their wives and children, - Diod xvii.- xli.]

 

     Quintus Curtius places this embassy from Tyre to the Carthaginians at the

same time that the Syracusans were ravaging Africa, and had advanced to the

very gates of Carthage.  But the expedition of Agathocles against Africa

cannot agree in time with the siege of Tyre, which was more than twenty years

before it.

 

     At the same time, Carthage was solicitous how to extricate itself from

the difficulties with which it was surrounded.  The present unhappy state of

the republic was considered as the effect of the wrath of the gods; and it was

acknowledged to be justly deserved, particularly with regard to two deities

towards whom the Carthaginians had been remiss in the discharge of certain

duties prescribed by their religion, and which had once been observed with

great exactness.  It was a custom, coeval with the city itself, in Carthage,

to send annually to Tyre, the mother city, the tenth of all the revenues of

the republic, as an offering to Hercules, the patron and protector of both

cities.  The domain, and consequently the revenues of Carthage, having

increased considerably, the portion on the contrary, of the god, had been

lessened, and they were far from remitting the whole tenth to him.  They were

seized with a scruple in this respect, they made an open and public confession

of their insincerity, and sacrilegious avarice; and to expiate their guilt,

they sent to Tyre a great number of presents, and small shrines of their

deities, all of gold, which amounted to a prodigious value.

 

     Another violation of religion, which to their inhuman superstition seemed

as flagrant as the former, gave them no less uneasiness. Anciently, children

of the best families in Carthage used to be sacrificed to Saturn.  They now

reproached themselves with having failed to pay to the god the honors which

they thought were due to him; and with having used fraud and dishonest dealing

towards him, by having substituted in their sacrifices, children of slaves or

beggars, bought for that purpose, in the room of those nobly born.  To expiate

the guilt of so horrid an impiety, a sacrifice was made to this bloodthirsty

god, of two hundred children of the first rank; and upwards of three hundred

persons, from a sense of this terrible neglect, offered themselves voluntarily

as victims to pacify, by the effusion of their blood, the wrath of the gods.

 

     After these expiations, expresses were despatched to Sicily, with the

news of what had happened in Africa and, at the same time, to request

immediate succors.  Hamilcar, on receiving this disastrous intelligence,

commanded the deputies to observe the strictest silence on the victory of

Agathocles, and spread a contrary report, that he had been entirely defeated,

his forces all cut off, and his whole fleet taken by the Carthaginians; and in

confirmation of this report, he showed the irons of the vessels pretended to

be taken, which had been carefully sent to him. The truth of this report was

not at all doubted in Syracuse; the majority were for capitulating, ^715 when

a galley of thirty oars, built in haste by Agathocles, arrived in the port,

and through great difficulties and dangers forced its way to the besieged.

The news of Agathocles' victory immediately flew through the city, and

restored life and resolution to the inhabitants.  Hamilcar made a last effort

to storm the city, but was beaten off with loss.  He then raised the siege,

and sent five thousand men to the relief of his distressed country.  Some time

after, having resumed the siege, and hoping to surprise the Syracusans, by

attacking them in the night, ^716 his design was discovered, and falling alive

into the enemy's hands, he was put to death with most exquisite tortures. ^717

Hamilcar's head was sent immediately to Agathocles, who, advancing to the

enemy's camp, threw it into a general consternation, by displaying to them the

head of their general, which manifested the melancholy situation of their

affairs in Sicily.

 

[Footnote 715: And the most forward of all the rest was Antander, the brother

of Agathocles, left commander in his absence, who was so terrified with the

report, that he was eager for having the city surrendered, and expelled out of

it eight thousand inhabitants who were of a contrary opinion.]

 

[Footnote 716: Diod. p. 767-769.]

 

[Footnote 717: He was cruelly tortured till he died, and so met with the fate

which his fellow-citizens, offended at his conduct in Sicily, had probably

allotted for him at home.  He was too formidable to be attacked at the head of

his army, and therefore the votes of the senate, whatever they were, being

according to custom cast into a vessel, it was immediately closed, with an

order not to uncover it till he was returned, and had thrown up his

commission, - Justin. l. xxii. c. 3.]

 

     To these foreign enemies was joined a domestic one, which was more to be

feared, as being more dangerous than the others; this was Bomilcar, their

general, who was then in possession of the first post in Carthage. ^718 He had

long meditated how to make himself tyrant, and attain the sovereignty of

Carthage, and imagined that the present troubles offered him the wished-for

opportunity.  He therefore entered the city, and being seconded by a small

number of citizens, who were the accomplices of his rebellion, and a body of

foreign soldiers, he proclaimed himself tyrant, and made himself literally

such, by cutting the throats of all the citizens whom he met with in the

streets.  A tumult arising immediately in the city, it was at first thought

that the enemy had taken it by some treachery; but when it was known that

Bomilcar caused all this disturbance, the young men took up arms to repel the

tyrant, and from the tops of the houses discharged whole volleys of darts and

stones upon the heads of his soldiers.  When he saw an army marching in order

against him, he retired with his troops to an eminence, with design to make a

vigorous defence, and to sell his life as dear as possible.  To spare the

blood of the citizens, a general pardon was proclaimed for all who would lay

down their arms.  They surrendered upon this proclamation, and all enjoyed the

benefit of it, Bomilcar, their chief excepted; for he, notwithstanding the

general indemnity promised by oath, was condemned to die, and fixed to a

cross, where he suffered the most exquisite torments.  From the cross, as from

a rostrum, he harangued the people, and thought himself justly empowered to

reproach them for their injustice, their ingratitude, and perfidy, which he

did by enumerating many illustrious generals, whose services they had rewarded

with an ignominious death.  He expired on the cross while uttering these

reproaches. ^719

 

[Footnote 718: Diod. p. 779-781.  Justin. l. xxii. c. 7.]

 

[Footnote 719: It would seem incredible, that any man could so far triumph

over the pains of the cross, as to talk with any coherence in his discourse,

had not Seneca assured us, that some have so far despised and insulted its

tortures, that they spit contemptuously upon the spectators. Quidam ex

patibulo suos spectatores con puerant. - De Vita Beata, c. 19.]

 

     Agathocles had won over to his interest a powerful king of Cyrene, named

Ophellas, ^720 whose ambition he had flattered with the most splendid hopes,

by leading him to understand that, contenting himself with Sicily, he would

leave to Ophellas the empire of Africa.  But as Agathocles did not scruple to

commit the most horrid crimes to promote his ambition and interest, the

credulous prince had no sooner put himself and his army in his power, than, by

the blackest perfidy, he caused him to be murdered, in order that Ophellas'

army might be entirely at his devotion.  Many nations were now joined in

alliance with Agathocles, and several strongholds were garrisoned by his

forces.  As he now saw the affairs of Africa in a flourishing condition, he

thought it proper to look after those of Sicily; accordingly, he sailed back

thither, having left the command of his army to his son Archagathus.  His

renown, and the report of his victories, flew before him.

 

[Footnote 720: Diod, p. 777-779, 791-802.  Justin. l. xxii. c. 7, 8.]

 

     On the news of his arrival in Sicily, many towns revolted to him; but bad

news soon recalled him to Africa.  His absence had quite changed the face of

things; and all his endeavors were incapable of restoring them to their former

condition.  All his strongholds had surrendered to the enemy; the Africans had

deserted him; some of his troops were lost, and the remainder were unable to

make head against the Carthaginians: he had no way to transport them into

Sicily, as he was destitute of ships; the enemy were masters at sea, and he

could not hope for either peace or treaty with the barbarians, since he had

insulted them in so outrageous a manner, by his being the first who had dared

to make a descent on their country.  In this extremity, he thought only of

providing for his own safety.

 

     After many adventures, this base deserter of his army, and perfidious

betrayer of his own children, who were left by him to the wild fury of his

disappointed soldiers, stole away from the dangers which threatened him, and

arrived at Syracuse with very few followers.  His soldiers, seeing themselves

thus betrayed, murdered his sons, and surrendered to the enemy. Himself died

miserably soon after, and ended, by a cruel death, ^721 a life that had been

polluted with the blackest crimes.

 

[Footnote 721: He was poisoned by one Maenon, whom he had unnaturally abused.

His tooth were putrefied by the violence of the poison, and his body tortured

all over with the most racking pains.  Maenon was excited to this deed by

Archagathus, grandson of Agathocles, whom he designed to defeat of the

succession. in favor of his other son Agathocles.  Before his death, he

restored the democracy to the people.  It is observable that Justin, or rather

Trogus, and Diodorus, disagree in all the material parts of this tyrant's

history.]

 

     In this period may be placed another incident related by Justin. ^722 The

fame of Alexander's conquests made the Carthaginians fear that he might think

of turning his arms towards Africa.

 

[Footnote 722: Justin. l. xxi. c. 6]

 

     The disastrous fate of Tyre, whence they drew their origin, and which he

had so lately destroyed; the building of Alexandria upon the confines of

Africa and Egypt, as if he intended it as a rival city to Carthage; the

uninterrupted successes of that prince, whose ambition and good fortune were

boundless; all this justly alarmed the Carthaginians.  To sound his

inclinations, Hamilcar, surnamed Rhodanus, pretending to have been driven from

his country by the cabals of his enemies, went over to the camp of Alexander,

to whom he was introduced by Parmenio, and offered him his services.  The king

received him graciously, and had several conferences with him.  Hamilcar did

not fail to transmit to his country whatever discoveries he made from time to

time, of Alexander's designs. Nevertheless, on his return to Carthage, after

Alexander's death, he was considered as a betrayer of his country to that

prince, and accordingly was put to death by a sentence, which displayed

equally the ingratitude and cruelty of his countrymen.

 

     I am now to speak of the wars of the Carthaginians in Sicily, in the time

of Pyrrhus, king of Epirus.  The Romans, to whom the designs of that ambitious

prince were not unknown, to strengthen themselves against any attempts he

might make upon Italy, had renewed their treaties with the Carthaginians, who,

on their side, were no less afraid of his crossing into Sicily.  To the

articles of the preceding treaties, there was added an engagement of mutual

assistance, in case either of the contracting powers should be attacked by

Pyrrhus. ^723

 

[Footnote 723: A. M. 3727.  A. Carth. 569.  Rome 471.  Ant. J. C. 277. Polyb.

l. iii. p. 250.]

 

     The foresight of the Romans was well founded: Pyrrhus turned his arms

against Italy, and gained many victories.  The Carthaginians, in consequence

of the last treaty, thought themselves obliged to assist the Romans, and

accordingly sent them a fleet of sixscore sail, under the command of Mago.

This general, in an audience before the senate, signified to them the concern

his superiors took in the war which they heard was carrying on against the

Romans, and offered them their assistance.  The senate returned thanks for the

obliging offer of the Carthaginians, but at present thought fit to decline it.

^724

 

[Footnote 724: Edit. Gronov.  Justin l. xviii. c. 2.]

 

     Mago, some days after, repaired to Pyrrhus, upon pretence of offering the

mediation of Carthage for terminating his quarrel with the Romans, but in

reality to sound him, and discover, if possible, his designs with regard to

Sicily, which common fame reported he was going to invade. ^725 The

Carthaginians were afraid that either Pyrrhus or the Romans would interfere in

the affairs of that island, and transport forces thither for the conquest of

it.  And indeed the Syracusans, who had been besieged for some time by the

Carthaginians, had sent pressingly for succor to Pyrrhus. This prince had a

particular reason to espouse their interests, having married Lanassa, daughter

of Agathocles, by whom he had son, named Alexander.

 

[Footnote 725: Ibid.]

 

     He at last sailed from Tarentum, passed the strait, and arrived in

Sicily.  His conquests at first were so rapid, that he left the Carthaginians,

in the whole island, only the single town of Lilybaeum.  He laid siege to it,

but meeting with a vigorous resistance, was obliged to retire, and the urgent

necessity of his affairs called him back to Italy, where his presence was

absolutely necessary.  Nor was it less so in Sicily, which, on his departure,

returned to the obedience of its former masters.  Thus he lost this island

with the same rapidity that he had won it.  As he was embarking, turning his

eyes back to Sicily, What a fine field of oattle, ^726 said he to those about

him, do we leave the Carthaginians and Romans! ^727 His prediction was soon

verified.

 

[Footnote 726: Plut. in Pyrrh. p. 398.]

 

[Footnote 727: The Greek expression is beautiful.  Indeed Sicily was a kind of

Palaestra, where the Carthaginians and Romans exercised themselves in war, and

for many years seemed to play the part of wrestlers with each other.  The

English language as well as the French, has no word to express the Greek

term.]

 

     After his departure, the chief magistracy of Syracuse was conferred on

Hiero, who afterwards obtained the name and dignity of king, by the united

suffrages of the citizens, so greatly had his government pleased. He was

appointed to carry on the war against the Carthaginians, and obtained several

advantages over them.  But now a common interest reunited them against a new

enemy, who began to appear in Sicily, and justly alarmed both; these were the

Romans, who having crushed all the enemies who had hitherto exercised their

arms in Italy itself, were now powerful enough to carry them out of it; and to

lay the foundation of that vast power there, to which they afterwards

attained, and of which it was probable they had even then formed the design.

Sicily lay too commodious for them, not to form a resolution of establishing

themselves in it.  They therefore eagerly snatched this opportunity for

crossing into it, which caused the rupture between them and the Carthaginians,

and give rise to the first Punic war.  This I shall treat of more at large by

relating the causes of that war.

 

From The First Punic War To Its Destruction

 

     The plan which I have laid down does not allow me to enter into an exact

detail of the wars between Rome and Carthage, since that relates rather to the

Roman history, which I shall only transiently and occasionally touch upon.  My

business is to relate such facts only as may give the reader a just idea of

the republic, whose history lies before me; by confining myself to those

particulars which relate chiefly to the Carthaginians, such as their

transactions in Sicily, Spain, and Africa, which are sufficiently extensive.

 

     I have already observed, that from the first Punic war to the ruin of

Carthage, a hundred and eighteen years elapsed.  This whole time may be

divided into five parts or intervals.

 

     I.  The first Punic war lasted twenty-four years.  24

 

     II. The interval between the first and second Punic war is also

         twenty-four years.  24

 

    III. The second Punic war took up seventeen years.  17

 

     IV. The interval between the second and third, is forty-nine years. 49

 

      V. The third Punic war, terminated by the destruction of Carthage,

         continued but four years and some months.  4

 

Article I: The First Punic War

 

     The first Punic war arose from the following cause.  Some Campanian

soldiers in the service of Agathocles, the Sicilian tyrant, having entered as

friends into Messina, they soon after murdered part of the townsmen, drove out

the rest, married their wives, seized their effects, and remained sole masters

of that important city. ^728 They then assumed the name of Mamertines.  In

imitation of them, and by their assistance, a Roman legion treated in the same

cruel manner the city of Rhegium, lying directly opposite to Messina, on the

other side of the strait.  These two perfidious cities, supporting one

another, became at last formidable to their neighbors; and especially Messina,

which, being very powerful, gave great umbrage and uneasiness both to the

Syracusans and Carthaginians, who possessed one part of Sicily.  After the

Romans had got rid of the enemies they had so long contended with, and

particularly of Pyrrhus, they began to think it time to call their citizens to

account, who had settled themselves, near two years, at Rhegium, in so cruel

and treacherous a manner.  Accordingly they took the city, and killed, in the

attack, the greatest part of the inhabitants, who, armed with despair, had

fought to the last gasp: three hundred only were left, who were carried to

Rome, whipped, and then publicly beheaded in the forum.  The view which the

Romans had in making this bloody execution, was, to prove to their allies

their own sincerity and innocence.  Rhegium was immediately restored to its

lawful possessors.  The Mamertines, who were considerably weakened, as well by

the ruin of their confederate city, as by the losses sustained from the

Syracusans, who had lately placed Hiero at their head, thought it time to

provide for their own safety.  But divisions arising among them, one part

surrendered the citadel to the Carthaginians, while the other called in the

Romans to their assistance, and resolved to put them in possession of their

city.

 

[Footnote 728: A. M. 3724.  A. Carth. 566.  A. Rome, 468.  Ant. J. C. 280.

Polyb. l. i. p. 8 Edit. Gronov.]

 

     The affair was debated in the Roman senate, where, being considered in

all its lights, it appeared to have some difficulties. ^729 On one hand, it

was thought base, and altogether unworthy of the Roman virtue, for them to

undertake openly the defence of traitors, whose perfidy was exactly the same

with that of the Rhegians, whom the Romans had recently punished with so

exemplary a severity.  On the other hand, it was of the utmost consequence to

stop the progress of the Carthaginians, who, not satisfied with their

conquests in Africa and Spain, had also made themselves masters of almost all

the islands of the Sardinian and Hetrurian seas; and would certainly get all

Sicily into their hands, if they should be suffered to possess themselves of

Messina.  From thence into Italy the passage was very short; and it was in

some manner to invite an enemy to come over, to leave the entrance open.

These reasons, though so strong, could not prevail with the senate to declare

in favor of the Mamertines; and accordingly, motives of honor and justice

prevailed over those of interest and policy.  But the people were not so

scrupulous; for, in an assembly held on this subject, it was resolved that the

Mamertines should be assisted. ^730 The consul Appius Claudius immediately set

forward with his army, and boldly crossed the strait, after he had, by an

ingenious stratagem, eluded the vigilance of the Carthaginian general.  The

Carthaginians, partly by art and partly by force, were driven out of the

citadel; and the city was surrendered immediately to the consul.  The

Carthaginians hanged their general, for having given up the citadel in so

cowardly a manner and prepared to besiege the town with all their forces.

Hiero joined them with his own.  But the consul having defeated them

separately, raised the siege, and laid waste at pleasure the neighboring

country, the enemy not daring to face him.  This was the first expedition

which the Romans made out of Italy.

 

[Footnote 729: Polyb. l. i. p. 12-15.  Edit. Gronov.]

 

[Footnote 730: A. M. 3741.  A. Carth. 583.  A. Rome, 485.  Ant. J. C. 223.

Frontin.]

 

     It is doubted whether the motives which prompted the Romans to undertake

this expedition were very upright, and exactly conformable to the rules of

strict justice. ^731 Be this as it may, their passage into Sicily, and the

succor they gave to the inhabitants of Messina, may be said to have been the

first steps by which they ascended to that height of glory and grandeur they

afterwards attained.

 

[Footnote 731: The Chevalier Folard examines this question in his remarks upon

Polybius, l, i. p. 16.]

 

     Hiero having reconciled himself to the Romans, and entered into an

alliance with them, the Carthaginians bent all their thoughts on Sicily, and

sent numerous armies into that island. ^732 Agrigentum was their depot of

arms, which, being attacked by the Romans, was won by them, after they had

besieged it seven months, and gained one battle. ^733

 

[Footnote 732: Polyb. l. p. 15-19.]

 

[Footnote 733: A. M. 3743.  A. Rome, 487.]

 

     Notwithstanding the advantage of this victory, and the conquest of so

important a city, the Romans were sensible that while the Carthaginians should

continue masters at sea, the maritime places in the island would always side

with them, and put it out of their power ever to drive them out of Sicily.

^734 Besides, they saw with reluctance Africa enjoy a profound tranquillity,

at a time that Italy was infested by the frequent incursions of its enemies.

They now first formed the design of having a fleet, and of disputing the

empire of the sea with the Carthaginians.  The undertaking was bold, and in

outward appearance rash, but evinces the courage and grandeur of the Roman

genius.  The Romans were not then possessed of a single vessel, which they

could call their own; and the ships which had transported their forces into

Sicily had been borrowed of their neighbors.  They were unexperienced in sea

affairs, had no carpenters acquainted with the building of ships, and knew

nothing of the shape of the quinqueremes, or galleys, with five benches of

oars, in which the chief strength of fleets at that time consisted; but

happily, the year before, one had been taken upon the coasts of Italy, which

served them as a model.  They therefore applied themselves with ardor and

incredible industry to the building of ships in the same form; and in the mean

time they got together a set of rowers, who were taught an exercise and

discipline utterly unknown to them before, in the following manner. Benches

were made, on the shore, in the same order and fashion with those of galleys.

The rowers were seated on these benches, and taught, as if they had been

furnished with oars, to throw themselves backwards with their arms drawn to

their breasts; and then to throw their bodies and arms forward in one regular

motion, the instant their commanding officer gave the signal, In two months,

one hundred galleys of five benches of oars, and twenty galleys of three

benches were built; and after some time had been spent in exercising the

rowers on shipboard, the fleet put to sea, and went in quest of the enemy.

The consul Duillius had the command of it.

 

[Footnote 734: Polyb. l. i. p. 20.]

 

     The Romans, coming up with the Carthaginians near the coast of Myle, they

prepared for an engagement. ^735 As the Roman galleys, by their being clumsily

and hastily built, were neither very nimble nor easy to work, this

inconvenience was supplied by a machine invented for this occasion, and

afterwards known by the name of the Corvus, ^736 crow or crane, by help of

which they grappled the enemy's ships, boarded them, and immediately came to

close engagement.  The signal for fighting was given.  The Carthaginian fleet

consisted of a hundred and thirty sail, under the command of Hannibal. ^737 He

himself was on board a galley of seven benches of oars, which had once

belonged to Pyrrhus.  The Carthaginians, highly despising enemies who were

utterly unacquainted with sea affairs, imagined that their very appearance

would put them to flight, and therefore came forward boldly, with little

expectation of fighting, but firmly imagining they should reap the spoils,

which they had already devoured with their eyes.  They were nevertheless a

little surprised at the sight of the above-mentioned engines, raised on the

prow of every one of the enemy's ships, and which was entirely new to them.

But their astonishment increased when they saw those engines drop down at

once; and being thrown forcibly into their vessels, grapple them in spite of

all resistance. This changed the form of the action, and obliged the

Carthaginians to come to close engagement with their enemies, as though they

had fought them on land.  They soon were unable to sustain the attack of the

Roman vessels, upon which a horrible slaughter ensued; and the Carthaginians

lost fourscore vessels, among which was the admiral's galley, he himself

escaping with difficulty in a small boat.

 

[Footnote 735: A. M. 3745.  A. Rome, 489.  Polyb. l. i. p. 22.]

 

[Footnote 736: Polyb. l. i. p. 31.]

 

[Footnote 737: A different person from the great Hannibal.]

 

     So considerable and unexpected a victory raised the courage of the

Romans, and seemed to redouble their vigor for the continuance of the war.

Extraordinary honors were bestowed on the consul Duillius, who was the first

Roman that had a naval triumph decreed him.  Besides which, a rostral pillar

was erected in his honor, with a noble inscription; which pillar is yet

standing in Rome. ^738

 

[Footnote 738: These pillars were called rostratae, from the beaks of ships

with which they were adorned; rostra.]

 

     During the two following years, the Romans grew insensibly stronger at

sea, by their gaining several naval victories. ^739 But these were considered

by them only as essays preparatory to the great design they meditated of

carrying the war into Africa, and of combating the Carthaginians in their own

country.  There was nothing the latter dreaded more; and to divert so

dangerous a blow they resolved to fight the enemy, whatever might be the

consequence.

 

[Footnote 739: Polyb. l. i. p. 24.]

 

     The Romans had elected M. Atilius Regulus and L. Manlius, consuls for

this year. ^740 Their fleet consisted of three hundred and thirty vessels, on

board of which were one hundred and forty thousand men, each vessel having

three hundred rowers, and a hundred and twenty soldiers.  That of the

Carthaginians, commanded by Hanno and Hamilcar, had twenty vessels more than

the Romans, and a greater number of men in proportion.  The two fleets came in

sight of each other near Ecnomus in Sicily.  No man could behold two such

formidable navies, or be a spectator of the extraordinary preparations they

made for fighting, without being under some concern, on seeing the danger

which menaced two of the most powerful states in the world.  As the courage on

both sides was equal, and no great disparity in the forces, the fight was

obstinate, and the victory long doubtful, but at last the Carthaginians were

overcome.  More than sixty of their ships were taken by the enemy, and thirty

sunk.  The Romans lost twenty-four, not one of which was taken by the

Carthaginians.

 

[Footnote 740: A. M. 3749.  A. Rome, 494.  Polyb. l. i. p. 24.]

 

     The fruit of this victory, as the Romans had designed it, was their

sailing to Africa, after having refitted their ships, and provided them with

all necessaries for carrying on a long war in a foreign country. ^741 They

landed happily in Africa, and began the war by taking a town called Clypea,

which had a commodious haven.  From thence, after having sent an express to

Rome, to give advice of their landing, and to receive orders from the senate,

they overran the open country, in which they made terrible havoc; bringing

away whole flocks of cattle, and twenty thousand prisoners.

 

[Footnote 741: Polyb. l. i. p. 30.]

 

     The express returned in the mean time with the orders of the senate;

which were, that Regulus should continue to command the armies in Africa, with

the title of proconsul; and that his colleague should return with a great part

of the fleet and the forces; leaving Regulus only forty vessels, fifteen

thousand foot, and five hundred horse. ^742 Their leaving the latter with so

few ships and troops, was a visible renunciation of the advantages which might

have been expected from the descent upon Africa.

 

[Footnote 742: A. M. 3756.  A. Rome, 491.]

 

     The people at Rome depended greatly on the courage and abilities of

Regulus, and the joy was universal, when it was known that he was continued in

the command in Africa; but he alone was afflicted on that account. ^743 When

news was brought him of it, he wrote to Rome, and requested; in the strongest

terms, that he might be allowed to resign. His chief reason was, that the

death of the farmer who rented his grounds, having given one of his hirelings

an opportunity of carrying off all the implements of tillage, his presence was

necessary for taking care of the little spot of ground, but seven acres, which

was all the property his family possessed.  But the senate undertook to have

his lands cultivated at the public expense; to maintain his wife and children;

and to indemnify him for the loss of his hireling.  Thrice happy age!  in

which poverty was thus had in honor, and was united with the most rare and

uncommon merit, and the highest employments of the state!  Regulus, thus freed

from his domestic cares, bent his thoughts on discharging the duty of a

general.

 

[Footnote 743: Val. Max. l. iv. c. 4.]

 

     After taking several castles, he laid siege to Adis, one of the strongest

fortifications of the country. ^744 The Carthaginians, exasperated at seeing

their enemies thus laying waste their lands at pleasure, at last took the

field, and marched against them, to force them to raise the siege.  With this

view, they posted themselves on a hill, which overlooked the Roman camp, and

was convenient for annoying the enemy; but at the same time, by its situation,

useless to one part of their army; for the strength of the Carthaginians lay

chiefly in their horses and elephants, which are of no service but in plains.

Regulus did not give them an opportunity of descending from the hill, but

taking advantage of this essential mistake of the Carthaginians generals, he

fell upon them in this post; and after meeting with a feeble resistance, put

the enemy to flight, plundered their camp and laid waste the adjacent

countries.  Then, having taken Tunis, ^745 an important city, and which

brought him near Carthage, he made his army encamp there.

 

[Footnote 744: Polyb. l. i. pp. 31-36.]

 

[Footnote 745: In the interval between the departure of Manlius and the taking

of Tunis, we are to place the memorable combat of Regulus and his whole army,

with a serpent of so prodigious a size, that the fabulous one of Cadmus is

hardly comparable to it.  The story of this serpent was elegantly written by

Livy, but it is now lost.  Valerius Maximus, however, partly repairs that

loss; and in the last chapter of his first book, gives us this account of this

monster from Livy himself.  He (Livy) says, that on the banks of Bagrada, an

African river, lay a serpent, of so enormous a size, that it kept the whole

Roman army from coming to the river.  Several soldiers had been buried in the

wide caverns of its belly, and many pressed to death in the spiral volumes of

its tail.  Its skin was impenetrable to darts; and it was with repeated

endeavors that stones, slung from military engines, at last killed it.  The

serpent then exhibited a sight that was more terrible to the Roman cohorts and

legions, than even Carthage itself.  The streams of the river were dyed with

its blood, and the stench of its putrefied car case infecting the adjacent

country, the Roman army was forced to decamp.  Its skin, one hundred and

twenty feet long, was sent to Rome; and, if Pliny may be credited, was to be

seen, together with the jaw-bone of the same monster, in the temple where they

were first deposited as late as the Numantine war.]

 

     The enemy were in the utmost alarm.  All things had succeeded ill with

them; their forces had been defeated by sea and land, and upwards of two

hundred towns had surrendered to the conqueror.  Besides, the Numidians made

greater havoc in their territories than even the Romans. They expected every

moment to see their capital besieged.  And their affliction was increased by

the concourse of peasants, with their wives and children, who flocked from all

parts to Carthage for safety; which gave them melancholy apprehension in case

of a siege.  Regulus, afraid of having the glory of his victories torn from

him by a successor, made some proposal of an accommodation to the vanquished

enemy; but the conditions appeared so hard that they would not listen to them.

As he did not doubt his being soon master of Carthage, he would not abate any

thing in his demands; but, by an infatuation which is almost inseparable from

great and unexpected success, he treated them with haughtiness, and pretended,

that every thing he suffered them to possess ought to be esteemed a favor,

with this farther insult, That they ought either to overcome like brave men,

or learn to submit to the victor. ^746 So harsh, and disdainful a treatment

only fired their resentment, and made them resolve rather to die sword in

hand, than to do any thing which might derogate from the dignity of Carthage.

 

[Footnote 746: - Diod. Eclog. l. xxiii. 9, 10.]

 

     Reduced to this extremity, they received, in the happiest juncture, a

reinforcement of auxiliary troops out of Greece, with Xanthippus the

Lacedaemonian at their head, who had been educated in the discipline of

Sparta, and learned the art of war in that renowned and excellent school. When

he had learned the circumstances of the last battle, which were told him at

his request; had clearly discerned the occasion of its being lost, and

perfectly informed himself of the strength of Carthage, he declared publicly,

and repeated it often in the hearing of the rest of the officers, that the

misfortunes of the Carthaginians were owing entirely to the incapacity of

their generals.  These discourses came at last to the ears of the public

council; the members of it were struck with them, and they requested the favor

of seeing and talking with him.  He then corroborated his opinion with such

strong and convincing reasons that the oversights committed by the generals

were visible to every one; and he proved as clearly to the council, that, by a

conduct opposite to the former, they could not only secure their dominions,

but drive the enemy out of them.  This speech revived the courage and hopes of

the Carthaginians; and Xanthippus was entreated, and in some measure forced,

to accept the command of the army.  When the Carthaginians saw, in his

exercising of their forces near the city, the manner in which he drew them up

in order of battle, made them advance or retreat on the first signal, file off

with order and expedition; in a word, perform all the evolutions and movements

of the military art; they were struck with astonishment, and owned that the

ablest generals which Carthage had hitherto produced, knew nothing in

comparison of Xanthippus.

 

     The officers, soldiers, and every one, were lost in admiration; and, what

is very uncommon, jealousy gave no alloy to it; the fear of the present

danger, and the love of their country, stifling, without doubt, all other

sentiments.  The gloomy consternation, which had before seized the whole army,

was succeeded by joy and alacrity.  The soldiers were urgent to be led against

the enemy, in the firm assurance, they said, of being victorious under their

new leader, and of obliterating the disgrace of former defeats.  Xanthippus

did not suffer their ardor to cool, and the sight of the enemy only inflamed

it.

 

     When he approached within a little more than twelve hundred paces of

them, he thought proper to call a council of war, in order to show a respect

to the Carthaginian generals by consulting them.  All unanimously joined in

opinion with him, upon which they resolved to give the enemy battle the

following day.

 

     The Carthaginian army was composed of twelve thousand foot, four thousand

horse, and about a hundred elephants.  That of the Romans, as near as may be

guessed from what goes before, for Polybius gives no determinate number,

consisted of fifteen thousand foot and three hundred horse.

 

     It must have been a noble sight to see two armies, not overcharged with

numbers, but composed of brave soldiers, and commanded by very able generals,

engaged in battle.  In those tumultuous fights, where two or three hundred

thousand are engaged on both sides, confusion is inevitable; and it is

difficult, amidst a thousand events, where chance generally seems to have

greater share than counsel to discover the true merit of the commanders, and

the real cause of victory.  But in such engagements as this before us, nothing

escapes the curiosity of the reader, for he clearly sees the disposition of

the two armies, imagines he almost hears the orders given out by the generals,

follows all the movements of the army, discovers plainly the faults on both

sides, and is thereby qualified to determine, with certainty, the causes to

which the victory or defeat is owing.  The success of this battle, however

inconsiderable it may appear, from the small number of the combatants, was

nevertheless to decide the fate of Carthage.

 

     The disposition of both armies was as follows.  Xanthippus drew all his

elephants in front.  Behind these, at some distance, he placed the

Carthaginian infantry in one body or phalanx.  The foreign troops in the

Carthaginian service were posted, one part of them on the right, between the

phalanx and the horse; and the other, composed of light-armed soldiers, in

platoons, at the head of the two wings of the cavalry.

 

     On the side of the Romans, as they apprehended the elephants most,

Regulus, to provide against them, posted his light-armed soldiers, on a line,

in the front of the legions.  In the rear of these he placed the cohorts, one

behind another, and the horse on the wings.  In thus straitening the front of

his main battle, to give it more depth, he indeed took a just precaution, says

Polybius, against the elephants, but he did not provide for the inequality of

his cavalry, which was much inferior in numbers to that of the enemy.

 

The First Punic War (Continued)

 

     The two armies being thus drawn up, waited only for the signal.

Xanthippus ordered the elephants to advance, to break the ranks of the enemy;

and commanded the two wings of the cavalry to charge the Romans in flank.  At

the same time, the latter, clashing their arms, and shouting after the manner

of their country, advanced against the enemy.  Their cavalry did not stand the

onset long, it being so much inferior to that of the Carthaginians.  The

infantry of the left wing, to avoid the attacks of the elephants, and show how

little they feared the mercenaries who formed the enemy's right wing, attacks

it, puts it to flight, and pursues it to the camp.  Those in the first ranks,

who were opposed to the elephants, were broken and trodden under foot, after

fighting valiantly; and the rest of the main body stood firm for some time, by

reason of its great depth. But the rear, being attacked in flank by the

enemy's cavalry, and obliged to face about and receive it, and those who had

broken through the elephants, met the phalanx of the Carthaginians, which had

not yet engaged, and which received them in good order, the Romans were routed

on all sides, and entirely defeated.  The greatest part of them were crushed

to death by the enormous weight of the elephants; and the remainder, standing

in their ranks, were shot through and through with arrows from the enemy's

horse.  Only a small number fled, and as they were in an open country, the

horse and elephants killed a great part of them.  Five hundred, or

thereabouts, who went off with Regulus, were taken prisoners with him.  The

Carthaginians, lost, in this battle, eight hundred mercenaries, who were

opposed to the left wing of the Romans: and of the latter only two thousand

escaped, who, by their pursuing the enemy's right wing, had drawn themselves

out of the engagement.  All the rest, Regulus and those who were taken with

him excepted, were left dead in the field. The two thousand who had escaped

the slaughter retired to Clypea, and were saved in an almost miraculous

manner.

 

     The Carthaginians, after having stripped the dead, entered Carthage in

triumph, dragged after them the unfortunate Regulus, and five hundred

prisoners.  Their joy was so much the greater, as, but a very few days before,

they had seen themselves upon the brink of ruin.  The men and women, old and

young, crowded the temples, to return thanks to the gods; and several days

were devoted wholly to festivities and rejoicings.

 

     Xanthippus, who had contributed so much to this happy change, had the

wisdom to withdraw shortly after, from the apprehension lest his glory, which

had hitherto been unsullied, might, after this first blaze, insensibly fade

away, and leave him exposed to the darts of envy and calumny, which are always

dangerous, but most in a foreign country, when a man stands alone, unsupported

by friends, relations, or any other succor.

 

     Polybius tells us, that Xanthippus' departure was related in a different

manner, and he promises to take notice of it in another place, but that part

of his history has not come down to us.  We read in Appian, ^747 that the

Carthaginians, excited by a mean and detestable jealousy of Xanthippus' glory,

and unable to bear the thoughts that they should stand indebted to Sparta for

their safety, upon pretence of conducting him and his attendants back with

honor to his own country, with a numerous convoy of ships, gave private orders

to have them all put to death in their passage; as if, with him, they could

have buried in the waves for ever the memory of his services, and their horrid

ingratitude to him. ^748.

 

[Footnote 747: De Bell. Pun. p. 30.]

 

[Footnote 748: This perfidious action, as it is related by Appian, may

possibly be true, when we consider the character of the Carthaginians, who

were certainly a cruel and treacherous people.  But if it be fact, one would

wonder why Polybius should reserve for another occasion, the relation of an

incident, which comes in most properly here, as it finishes at once the

character and life of Xanthippus.  His silence therefore in this place, makes

me think that he intended to bring Xanthippus again upon the stage, and to

exhibit him to the reader in a different light from that in which he is placed

by Appian.  To this let me add, that it showed no great depth of policy in the

Carthaginians, to take this method of despatching him, when so many others

offered, which were less liable to censure.  In this scheme formed for his

destruction, not only himself, but all his followers, were to be murdered,

without the pretence of even a storm, or loss of one single Carthaginian, to

cover or excuse the perpetration of so horrid a crime.]

 

     This battle, says Polybius, ^749 though not so considerable as many

others, may yet furnish very salutary instructions; which, adds that author,

is the greatest benefit that can be reaped from the study of history.

 

[Footnote 749: Lib. i. p. 36, 37.]

 

     First, should any man promise himself permanent good fortune, after he

has considered the fate of Regulus?  That general, insolent with victory,

inexorable to the conquered, and deaf to all their remonstrances, saw himself

a few days after vanquished by them, and made their prisoner. Hannibal

suggested the same reflection to Scipio, when he exhorted him not to be

dazzled with the success of his arms.  Regulus, said he, would have been

recorded among the few instances of valor and felicity, had he, after the

victory obtained in this very country, granted our fathers the peace which

they sued for.  But, putting no bounds to his ambition and the insolence of

success, the greater his prosperity, the more ignominious was his fall. ^750.

 

[Footnote 750: Inter pauca felicitatis virtutisque exempla, M. Atilius quondam

in hac Adem terra fuisset, si victor pacem petentibus dedisset patribus

nostris.  Sed bon statuendo tandem felicitati modum, nec cohibende efferentem

se fortunam, quanto altius elatus erat, eo foedius corruit. - Liv. l. xxx. n.

30.]

 

     In the second place, the truth of the saying of Euripides is here seen in

its full extent, That one wise head is worth a great many hands. ^751 A single

man here changes the whole face of affairs.  On one hand, he defeats troops

which were thought invincible; on the other, he revives the courage of a city

and an army, whom he had found in consternation and despair.

 

[Footnote 751: It may not be improper to take notice in this place, as it was

forgotten before, of a mistake of the learned Casaubon, in his translation of

a passage of Polybius, concerning Xanthippus.  The passage is thus rendered by

Casaubon: In queis [militibus sc. Graecia allatis] Xanthippus quidam fuit

Lacedaemonius, vir disciplina Laconica imbutus, et qui rei militaris usum

mediocrem habebat. Whereas, agreeably with the whole character and conduct of

Xanthippus, I take the sense of the passage to be, a man formed by the Spartan

discipline, and proportionably [not moderately] skilled in military affairs.]

 

     Such, as Polybius observes, is the use which ought to be made of the

study of history.  For there being two ways of acquiring improvement and

instruction, first, by one's own experience, and, secondly, by that of other

men; it is much more wise and useful to improve by other men's miscarriages

than by our own.

 

     I return to Regulus, that I may here finish what relates to him;

Polybius, to our great disappointment, taking no farther notice of that

general. ^752

 

[Footnote 752: This silence of Polybius has prejudiced a great many learned

men against many of the stories told of Regulus' barbarous treatment, after he

was taken by the Carthaginians.  Mr. Rollin speaks no farther of this matter,

and therefore I shall give my reader the substance of what is brought against

the general belief of the Roman writers (as well historians as poets), and of

Appian, on this subject.  First, it is urged that Polybius was very sensible

that the story of these cruelties was false; and therefore, that he might not

disoblige the Romans, by contradicting so general a belief, he chose rather to

be silent concerning Regulus after he was taken prisoner, than to violate the

truth of history, of which he was so strict an observer.  This opinion is

farther strengthened, say the adversaries of this belief, by a fragment of

Diodorus, which says, that the wife of Regulus, exasperated at the death of

her husband at Carthage, occasioned, as she imagined, by barbarous usage,

persuaded her sons to revenge the fate of their father, by the cruel treatment

of two Carthaginian captives (thought to be Bostar and Hamilcar), taken in the

sea-fight against Sicily, after the misfortune of Regulus, and put into her

hands for the redemption of her husband.  One of these died by the severity of

his imprisonment; and the other, by the care of the senate, who detested the

cruelty, survived, and was restored to health.  This treatment of the

captives, and the resentment of the senate on that account, form a third

argument or presumption against the truth of this story of Regulus, which is

thus argued: - Regulus dying in his captivity, by the usual course of nature,

his wife, thus frustrated of her hopes of redeeming him by the exchange of her

captives, treated them with the utmost barbarity, in consequence of her belief

of the ill usage which Regulus had received.  The senate being angry with her

for it, to give some color to her cruelties, she gave out among her

acquaintance and kindred, that her husband died in the way generally related.

This, like all other reports, increased gradually; and, from the national

hatred between the Carthaginians and Romans, was easily and generally believed

by the latter.  How far this is conclusive against the testimonies of two such

weighty authors as Cicero and Seneca (to say nothing of the poets), is left to

the judgment of the reader.]

 

     After being kept some years in prison, he was sent to Rome, to propose an

exchange of prisoners. ^753 He had been obliged to take an oath, that he would

return in case he proved unsuccessful.  He then acquainted the senate with the

subject of his voyage; and being invited by them to give his opinion freely,

he answered that he could no longer do it as a senator, having lost both this

quality, and that of a Roman citizen, from the time that he had fallen into

the hands of his enemies; but he did not refuse to offer his thoughts as a

private person.  This was a very delicate affair.  Every one was touched with

the misfortunes of so great a man.  He needed only, says Cicero, to have

spoken one word, and it would have restored him to his liberty, his estate,

his dignity, his wife, his children, and his country; but that word appeared

to him contrary to the honor and welfare of the state.  He therefore plainly

declared that an exchange of prisoners ought not to be so much as thought of;

that such an example would be of fatal consequence to the republic; that

citizens, who had so basely surrendered their arms and persons to the enemy,

were unworthy of the least compassion, and incapable of serving their country;

that with regard to himself, as he was so far advanced in years, his death

ought to be considered as nothing, whereas they had in their hands several

Carthaginian generals, in the flower of their age, and capable of doing their

country great services for many years.  It was with difficulty that the senate

complied with so generous and unexampled a counsel.

 

[Footnote 753: A. M. 3755.  A. Rome, 499.  Appian de Bello Pun. pp. 2, 3. Cic.

de Off. l. iii. n. 99, 100.  Aul. Gel. l. vi. c. 4.  Senec. Ep. 99.]

 

     The illustrious exile therefore left Rome, in order to return to

Carthage, unmoved either with the deep affliction of his friends, or the tears

of his wife and children, although he knew but too well the grievous torments

which were prepared for him. ^754 And, indeed, the moment his enemies saw him

returned without having obtained the exchange of prisoners, they put him to

every kind of torture their barbarous cruelty could invent.  They imprisoned

him for a long time in a dismal dungeon, whence, after cutting off his

eyelids, they drew him at once into the sun, when its beams darted the

strongest heat.  They next put him into a kind of chest stuck full of nails,

whose points wounding him, did not allow him a moment's ease either day or

night.  Lastly, after having been long tormented by being kept for ever awake

in this dreadful torture, his merciless enemies nailed him to a cross, their

usual punishment, and left him to expire on it.  Such was the end of this

great man.  His enemies, by depriving him of some days, perhaps years of life,

brought eternal infamy on themselves.

 

[Footnote 754: Horat. l. iii. Od. 3.]

 

     The blow which the Romans had received in Africa did not discourage them.

They made greater preparations than before to recover their loss; and sent to

sea, the following campaign, three hundred and sixty vessels. ^755 The

Carthaginians sailed out to meet them with two hundred, but were beat in an

engagement fought on the coast of Sicily, and a hundred and fourteen of their

ships were taken by the Romans.  These sailed into Africa, to take in the few

soldiers who had escaped the pursuit of the enemy, after the defeat of

Regulus, and had defended themselves vigorously in Clupea, ^756 where they had

been unsuccessfully besieged.

 

[Footnote 755: Polyb. l. viii. p. 37.]

 

[Footnote 756: Or Clypea.]

 

     Here again we are astonished that the Romans, after so considerable a

victory, and with so large a fleet, should sail into Africa, only to bring

from thence a small garrison; whereas they might have attempted the conquest

of it, since Regulus with much fewer forces, had almost completed it.

 

     The Romans were overtaken by a storm in their return, which almost

destroyed their whole fleet. ^757 The like misfortune befell them also the

following year. ^758 However, they consoled themselves for this double loss,

by a victory which they gained over Asdrubal, from whom they took near a

hundred and forty elephants.  This news being brought to Rome, it filled the

whole city with joy, not only because the strength of the enemy's army was

considerably diminished by the loss of their elephants, but chiefly because

this victory had inspired the land forces with fresh courage, who since the

defeat of Regulus, had not dared to venture upon an engagement, so great was

the terror with which those formidable animals had filled the minds of all the

soldiers.  It was therefore judged proper to make a greater effort than ever,

in order to finish, if possible, a war which had continued fourteen years.

The two consuls set sail with a fleet of two hundred ships, and arriving in

Sicily, formed the bold design of besieging Lilybaeum.  This was the strongest

town in which the Carthaginians possessed in Sicily; and the loss of it would

be attended with that of every part of the island, and open to the Romans a

free passage into Africa.

 

[Footnote 757: Polyb. l. vii. p. 38-40.]

 

[Footnote 758: Polyb. l. vii. p. 41, 42.]

 

     The reader will suppose that the utmost ardor was shown both in the

assault and defence of the place. ^759 Imilcon was governor there, with ten

thousand regular forces, exclusive of the inhabitants; and Hannibal, son of

Hamilcar, soon brought him as many more from Carthage, he having, with the

most intrepid courage, forced his way through the enemy's fleet, and arrived

happily in the port.  The Romans had not lost any time.  Having brought

forward their engines, they beat down several towers with their battering

rams, and gaining ground daily, they made such progress as gave the besieged,

who were now closely pressed, some fears.  The governor saw plainly that there

was no other way left to save the city, but by firing the engines of the

besiegers.  Having therefore prepared his forces for this enterprise, he sent

them out at daybreak, with torches in their hands, tow, and all kinds of

combustible matters, and at the same time attacked all the engines.  The

Romans strove, with unparalleled bravery, to repel them, and the engagement

was very bloody.  Every man, assailant as well as defendant, stood to his post

and chose to die rather than to quit it.  At last, after a long resistance and

dreadful slaughter, the besieged sounded a retreat, and left the Romans in

possession of their works.  This scene being over, Hannibal, embarking in the

night, and concealing his departure from the enemy, sailed for Drepanum, where

Adherbal commanded for the Carthaginians.  Drepanum was advantageously

situated, having a commodious port, and lying about a hundred and twenty

furlongs from Lilybaeum; and was of so much consequence to the Carthaginians,

that they had been always very desirous of preserving it.

 

[Footnote 759: Polyb. l. i. p. 44-59.]

 

     The Romans, animated by their late success, renewed the attack with

greater vigor than ever, the besieged not daring to venture a second time to

burn their machines, because of the ill success they had met with, in their

first attempt.  But a furious wind rising suddenly, some mercenary soldiers

represented to the governer, that now was the favorable opportunity for them

to fire the engines of the besiegers, especially as the wind blew full against

them, and they offered themselves for the enterprise.  The offer was accepted,

and accordingly they were furnished with every thing necessary.  In a moment

the fire catched on all the engines, and the Romans could not possibly

extinguish it, because the flames being instantly spread everywhere, the wind

carried the sparks and smoke full into their eyes, so that they could not see

where to apply relief, whereas their enemies saw clearly where to aim their

strokes, and throw their fire.  This accident made the Romans lose all hopes

of being ever able to carry the place by force.  They therefore turned the

siege into a blockade, raised a line of contravallation round the town, and

dispersing their army in every part of the neighborhood, resolved to effect by

time, what they found themselves absolutely unable to perform in any other

way.

 

     When the transactions of the siege of Lilybaeum, and the loss of part of

the forces, were known at Rome, the citizens, so far from desponding at this

ill news, seemed to be fired with new vigor. ^760 Every man strove to be

foremost in the muster-roll; so that, in a very little time, an army of ten

thousand men was raised, who, crossing the strait, marched by land to join the

besiegers.

 

[Footnote 760: Polyb. lib. i. p. 50.]

 

     At the same time, P. Claudius Pulcher, the consul, formed a design of

attacking Adherbal in Drepanum. ^761 He thought himself sure of surprising

him, because, after the loss lately sustained by the Romans at Lilybaeum, the

enemy could not imagine that they would venture out again at sea. Flushed with

these hopes, he sailed out with his fleet in the night, the better to conceal

his design.  But he had to do with an active general, whose vigilance he could

not elude, and who did not even give him time to draw up his ships in line of

battle, but fell vigorously upon him, while his fleet was in disorder and

confusion.  The Carthaginians gained a complete victory.  Of the Roman fleet,

only thirty vessels got off, which being in company with the consul, fled with

him, and got away in the best manner they could, along the coast.  All the

rest, amounting to fourscore and thirteen, with the men on board them, were

taken by the Carthaginians; a few soldiers excepted, who had escaped from the

shipwreck of their vessels.  This victory displayed as much the prudence and

valor of Adherbal, as it reflected shame and ignominy on the Roman consul.

 

[Footnote 761: A. M. 3756.  A. Rome, 500.  Polyb. l. i. p. 51.]

 

     Junius, ^762 his colleague, was neither more prudent nor more fortunate

than himself, but lost almost his whole fleet by his ill conduct.  Endeavoring

to atone for his misfortune by some considerable action, he held a secret

correspondence with the inhabitants of Eryx, ^763 and by that means got the

city surrendered to him.  On the summit of the mountain stood the temple of

Venus Erycina, which was certainly the most beautiful, as well as the richest

of all the Sicilian temples.  The city stood a little below the summit of this

mountain, and the road that led to it was very long, and of difficult access.

Junius posted one part of his troops upon the top, and the remainder at the

foot of the mountain, imagining that he now had nothing to fear; but Hamilcar,

surnamed Barcha, father of the famous Hannibal, found means to get into the

city, which lay between the two camps of the enemy, and there fortified

himself.  From this advantageous post, he harassed the Romans incessantly for

two years. One can scarce conceive how it was possible for the Carthaginians

to defend themselves, when thus attacked from both the summit and foot of the

mountain, and unable to get provisions, but from a little port, which was the

only one open to them.  By such enterprises as these, the abilities and

prudent courage of a general are as well, or perhaps better discovered, than

by the winning of a battle.

 

[Footnote 762: Polyb. l. i. p. 54-59.]

 

[Footnote 763: A city and mountain of Sicily.]

 

     For five years, nothing memorable was performed on either side. ^764 The

Romans were once of opinion, that their land forces would alone be capable of

finishing the siege of Lilybaeum: but the war being protracted beyond their

expectation, they returned to their first plan, and made extraordinary efforts

to fit out a new fleet.  The public treasury was at a low ebb; but this want

was supplied by private purses, so ardent was the love which the Romans bore

to their country.  Every man, according to his circumstances, contributed to

the common expense; and upon public security, advanced money, without the

least scruple, for an expedition on which the glory and safety of Rome

depended.  One man fitted out a ship at his own charge; another was equipped

by the contributions of two or three; so that in a very little time, two

hundred were ready for sailing.  The command was given to Lutatius the consul,

who immediately put to sea. ^765 The enemy's fleet had retired into Africa, by

which means the consul easily seized upon all the advantageous posts in the

neighborhood of Lilybaeum: and foreseeing that he should soon be forced to

fight, he did all that lay in his power to assure himself of success, and

employed the interval in exercising his soldiers and seamen at sea.

 

[Footnote 764: Polyb. l. i. p. 59-63.]

 

[Footnote 765: A. M. 3763.  A. Rome, 507.]

 

     He was soon informed that the Carthaginian fleet drew near, under the

command of Hanno, who landed in a small island called Hiera, opposite to

Drepanum.  His design was to reach Eryx undiscovered by the Romans, in order

to supply the army there; to reinforce his troops and take Barcha on board to

assist him in the expected engagement.  But the consul, suspecting his

intention, was beforehand with him; and having assembled all his best forces,

sailed for the small island Aegusa, ^766 which lay near the other.  He

acquainted his officers with the design he had of attacking the enemy on the

morrow.  Accordingly, at daybreak, he prepared to engage; unfortunately the

wind was favorable for the enemy, which made him hesitate whether he should

give them battle.  But considering that the Carthaginian fleet, when unloaded

of its provisions, would become lighter and more fit for action, and besides

would be considerably strengthened by the forces and presence of Barcha, he

came to a resolution at once; and, notwithstanding the foul weather, made

directly to the enemy.  The consul had choice forces, able seamen, and

excellent ships, built after the model of a galley that had been lately taken

from the enemy; and which was the most complete of its kind that had ever been

seen.  The Carthaginians, on the other hand, were destitute of all these

advantages.  As they had been the entire masters at sea for some years, and

the Romans did not once dare to face them, they had them in the high est

contempt, and looked upon themselves as invincible.  On the first report of

the enemy being in motion, the Carthaginians had put to sea a fleet fitted out

in haste, as appeared from every circumstance of it: the soldiers and seamen

being all mercenaries, newly levied, without the least experience, resolution,

or zeal, since it was not for their own country they were going to fight. This

soon appeared in the engagement.  They could not sustain the first attack.

Fifty of their vessels were sunk, and seventy taken, with their whole crews.

The rest, favored by a wind which rose very seasonably for them, made the best

of their way to the little island from whence they had sailed.  There were

upwards of ten thousand taken prisoners.  The consul sailed immediately for

Lilybaeum, and joined his forces to those of the besiegers.

 

[Footnote 766: They are now called Aegates.]

 

     When the news of his defeat arrived at Carthage, it occasioned so much

the greater surprise and terror, as it was less expected.  The senate,

however, did not lose their courage, though they saw themselves quite unable

to continue the war.  As the Romans were now masters of the sea, it was

impossible for the Carthaginians to send either provisions or reinforcements

to the armies in Sicily.  An express was therefore immediately despatched to

Barcha, the general there, empowering him to act as he should think proper.

Barcha, so long as he had room to entertain the least hopes, had done every

thing that could be expected from the most intrepid courage, and the most

consummate wisdom.  But having now no resource left, he sent a deputation to

the consul, in order to treat about a peace.  Prudence, says Polybius,

consists in knowing how to resist or to yield at a seasonable conjuncture.

Lutatius was not insensible how tired the Romans were grown of a war, which

had exhausted them both of men and money; and the dreadful consequences which

had attended on the inexorable and imprudent obstinacy of Regulus was fresh in

his memory.  He therefore complied without difficulty, and dictated the

following treaty:

 

     "There shall be peace between Rome and Carthage (in case the Roman people

approve of it) on the following conditions: The Carthaginians shall entirely

evacuate all Sicily; shall no longer make war upon Hiero, the Syracusans, or

their allies; they shall restore to the Romans without ransom, all the

prisoners which they have taken from them; and pay them, within twenty years,

two thousand two hundred Euboic talents of silver." ^767 It is worth the

reader's remarking, by the way, the simple, exact, and clear terms in which

this treaty is expressed: that, in so short a compass, adjusts the interests,

both by sea and land, of two powerful republics and their allies.

 

[Footnote 767: This sum amounts to near six millions one hundred and eighty

thousand French livres, or $2,286,600.]

 

     When these conditions were brought to Rome, the people, not approving of

them, sent ten commissioners to Sicily, to terminate the affair.  These made

no alteration as to the substance of the treaty; only shortening the time

appointed for the payment, reducing it to ten years: a thousand talents were

added to the sum that had been stipulated, which was to be paid immediately;

and the Carthaginians were required to depart from all the islands situated

between Italy and Sicily. ^768 Sardinia was not comprehended in this treaty,

but they gave it up by another treaty some years after.

 

[Footnote 768: Polyb. l. iii. p. 182.]

 

     Such was the conclusion of this war, the longest mentioned in history,

since it continued twenty-four years without intermission. ^769 The obstinacy,

in disputing for empire, was equal on either side; the same resolution, the

same greatness of soul, in forming as well as in executing projects, being

conspicuous on both sides.  The Carthaginians had the superiority with regard

to experience in naval affairs; in the strength and swiftness of their

vessels; the working of them; the skill and capacity of the pilots; the

knowledge of coasts, shallows, roads, and winds; and in the inexhaustible fund

of wealth, which furnished all the expenses of so long and obstinate a war.

The Romans had none of these advantages; but their courage, zeal for the

public good, love of their country, and a noble emulation of glory, supplied

all other deficiencies. We are astonished to see a nation, so raw and

inexperienced in naval affairs, not only disputing the sea with a people who

were best skilled in them, and more powerful than any that had ever been

before; but even gaining several victories over them at sea.  No difficulties

or calamities could discourage them.  They certainly would not have thought of

peace, in the circumstances under which the Carthaginians demanded it.  One

unfortunate campaign dispirits the next; whereas the Romans were not shaken by

a succession of them.

 

[Footnote 769: A. M. 3736.  A. Carth, 605.  A. Rome, 507.  Ant, J. C. 241.]

 

     As to the soldiers, there was no comparison between those of Rome and of

Carthage, the former being infinitely superior in point of courage; among the

generals who commanded in this war, Hamilcar, surnamed Barcha, was doubtless

the most conspicuous for his bravery and prudence.

 

The Libyan War, Or War Against The Mercenaries

 

     The war which the Carthaginians waged against the Romans was succeeded

immediately by another. ^770 The very same year, ^771 which, though of much

shorter continuance, was infinitely more dangerous; as it was carried on in

the very heart of the republic, and attended with such cruelty and barbarity,

as scarcely to be paralleled in history; I mean the war which the

Carthaginians were obliged to sustain against their mercenary troops, who had

served under them in Sicily, and commonly called the African or Libyan war.

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