The Interview Between Hannibal And Scipio In Africa, Followed By A Battle

 

Author:      Rollin, Charles

Date:        1731

 

Section III.

 

 

 

 

     These two generals, who were not only the most illustrious of their own

age, but worthy of being ranked with the most renowned princes and warriors

that had ever lived, meeting at the place appointed, maintained for some time

a deep silence, as though they were astonished, and struck with mutual

admiration at the sight of each other. ^879 At last Hannibal spoke; and, after

having praised Scipio in the most artful and delicate manner, he gave a very

lively description of the ravages of the war, and the calamities in which it

had involved both the victors and the vanquished.  He conjured him not to

suffer himself to be dazzled by the splendor of his victories.  He represented

to him, that however successful he might have hitherto been, he ought to

tremble at the inconstancy of fortune; that without going far back for

examples, he himself, who was then speaking to him, was a glaring proof of

this: that Scipio was at that time what himself, Hannibal, had been at

Thrasymene and Cannae: that he ought to make a better use of opportunity than

himself had done, and consent to peace, now when it was in his power to

propose the conditions of it.  He concluded with declaring, that the

Carthaginians would willingly resign Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and all the

islands between Africa and Italy, to the Romans.  That they must be forced,

since such was the will of the gods, to confine themselves to Africa; while

they should see the Romans extending their conquests in the most remote

regions, and obliging all nations to pay obedience to their laws.

 

[Footnote 879: A. M. 3803.  A. Rome, 547.  Polyb. 1. xv. pp. 694-703. Liv. l.

xxx. n. 29, 35.]

 

     Scipio answered in a few words, but not with less dignity.  He reproached

the Carthaginians for their perfidy, in plundering the Roman galleys before

the truce was expired.  He imputed to them only, and to their injustice, all

the calamities with which the two wars had been attended.  After thanking

Hannibal for the admonition he gave him, with regard to the uncertainty of

human events, he concluded with desiring him to prepare for battle, unless he

chose rather to accept of the conditions that had been already proposed; to

which he observed, some others would be added, in order to punish the

Carthaginians for having violated the truce.

 

     Hannibal could not prevail upon himself to accept these conditions, and

the generals separated with the resolution to decide the fate of Carthage by a

general battle.  Each commander exhorted his troops to fight valiantly.

Hannibal enumerated the victories he had gained over the Romans, the generals

he had slain, the armies he had cut to pieces. Scipio represented to his

soldiers, the conquests of both the Spains, his successes in Africa, and the

tacit confession their enemies themselves made of their weakness, by thus

coming to sue for peace.  All this he spoke with the tone and air of a

conqueror. ^880 Never were motives more calculated to excite troops to behave

gallantly.  This day was to complete the glory of the one or the other of the

generals, and to decide whether Rome or Carthage should prescribe laws to all

other nations.

 

[Footnote 880: Celsus haec corpore, vultuque ita laeto, ut vicisse jam

crederes, dicebat.  Liv. l. xxx. n. 32.]

 

     I shall not undertake to describe the order of the battle, nor the valor

of the forces on both sides.  The reader will naturally suppose, that two such

experienced generals did not forget any circumstance which could contribute to

the victory.  The Carthaginians after a very obstinate fight, were obliged to

fly, leaving twenty thousand men on the field of battle, and the like number

of prisoners were taken by the Romans. Hannibal escaped in the tumult, and

entering Carthage, owned that he was irrecoverably overthrown, and that the

citizens had no other choice left, but to accept of peace on any conditions.

Scipio bestowed great eulogiums on Hannibal, chiefly with regard to his

capacity in taking advantages, his manner of drawing up his army, and giving

his orders in the engagement; and affirmed, that Hannibal had this day

surpassed himself, although fortune had not answered his valor and conduct.

 

     With regard to himself, he well knew how to make a proper advantage of

his victory, and the consternation with which he had filled the enemy. He

commanded one of his lieutenants to march his land army to Carthage, and

prepared in person to conduct the fleet thither.

 

     He was not far from the city, when he met a vessel covered with streamers

and olive-branches, bringing ten of the most considerable persons of the

state, as ambassadors to implore his clemency.  He however dismissed them

without making any answer, and bid them come to him at Tunis, where he should

halt.  The deputies of Carthage, being thirty in number, came to him at the

place appointed, and sued for peace in the most submissive terms.  He then

called a council, the majority of which was for razing Carthage, and treating

the inhabitants with the utmost severity. But the consideration of the time

which must necessarily be employed before a city so strongly fortified could

be taken, and Scipio's fear that a successor to him might be appointed while

he should be employed in the siege, made him incline to clemency.

 

A Peace Concluded Between The Carthaginians And The Romans.  The End Of

The Second Punic War

 

     The conditions of the peace dictated by Scipio to the Carthaginians were

"that the Carthaginians were to continue free, and preserve their laws, their

territories, and the cities they possessed in Africa before the war; ^881 that

they should deliver up to the Romans all deserters, slaves, and captives

belonging to them; all their ships, except ten triremes; all their tame

elephants, and that they should not train up any more for war; that they

should not make war out of Africa, nor even in that country, without first

obtaining leave for that purpose from the Roman people; should restore to

Masinissa all they had taken from him or his ancestors; should furnish money

and corn to the Roman auxiliaries, till their ambassadors should be returned

from Rome; should pay to the Romans ten thousand Euboic talents ^882 of

silver, in fifty annual payments; and give a hundred hostages, who should be

nominated by Scipio. And in order that they might have time to send to Rome,

it was agreed to grant them a truce, upon condition that they should restore

the ships taken during the former war, without which they were not to expect

either a truce or a peace."

 

[Footnote 881: Polyb. l. xv. pp. 704-707.  Liv. 1. xxx. n, 36-44.]

 

[Footnote 882: Ten thousand Attic talents make thirty millions French money.

Ten thousand Euboic talents make something more than twenty-eight millions,

thirty-three thousand livres; because, according to Budaeus, the Euboic talent

is equivalent but to fifty-six Minae and something more, whereas the Attic

talent is worth sixty Minae.  Or otherwise thus calculated in English money:

 

 

[See Table 1: Euboic Talent]

 

     When the deputies returned to Carthage, they laid before the senate the

conditions dictated by Scipio.  But they appeared so intolerable to Gisco,

that rising up, he made a speech, in order to dissuade the citizens from

accepting a peace on such shameful terms.  Hannibal, provoked at the calmness

with which such an orator was heard, took Gisco by the arm, and dragged him

from his seat.  A behavior so outrageous, and so remote from the manners of a

free city, like Carthage, raised a universal murmur. Hannibal was vexed with

himself when he reflected on what he had done, and immediately made an apology

for it.  "As I left," says he, "your city at nine years of age, and did not

return to it till after thirty-six years' absence, I had full leisure to learn

the arts of war, and flatter myself that I have made some improvement in them.

As for your laws and customs, it is no wonder I am ignorant of them, and I

therefore desire you to instruct me in them." He then expatiated on the

necessity they were under of concluding a peace.  He added, that they ought to

thank the gods for having prompted the Romans to grant them a peace even on

these conditions. He urged on them the importance of their uniting in opinion,

and of not giving an opportunity, by their divisions, for the people to take

an affair of this nature under their cognizance.  The whole city came over to

his opinion, and accordingly the peace was accepted.  The senate made Scipio

satisfaction with regard to the ships demanded by him, and after obtaining a

truce for three months, sent ambassadors to Rome.

 

     These Carthaginians, who were all venerable for their years, and dignity,

were admitted immediately to an audience.  Asdrubal, surnamed Hoedus, who was

still an irreconcilable enemy to Hannibal and his faction, spoke first: and

after having excused, to the best of his power, the people of Carthage, by

imputing the rupture to the ambition of some particular persons, he added,

that had the Carthaginians listened to his counsels, and those of Hanno, they

would have been able to grant the Romans the peace for which they now were

obliged to sue.  "But," continued he, "wisdom and prosperity are very rarely

found together.  The Romans are invincible, because they never suffer

themselves to be blinded by good fortune.  And it would be surprising should

they act otherwise.  Success dazzles those only to whom it is new and unusual,

whereas the Romans are so much accustomed to conquer, that they are almost

insensible to the charms of victory; and it may be said for their glory, that

they have extended their empire, in some measure, more by the humanity they

have shown to the conquered, than by conquest itself." ^883 The other

ambassadors spoke with a more plaintive tone of voice, and represented the

calamitous state to which Carthage was about to be reduced, and the grandeur

and power from which she had fallen.

 

[Footnote 883: Raro simul hominibus bonam fortunam bonamque mentem dari.

Populum Romanum eo invictum esse quod in secundis rebus sapere et consulere

meminerit.  Et hercle mirandum fuisse si aliter facerent.  Ex insolentia,

quibus nova bona fortuna sit, impotentes laetitiae insanire; populo Romano

usitata ac prope obsoleta ex victoria gaudia esse; ac plus pene parcendo

victis, quam vincendo, imperiam auxisse. - Liv. l. xxx. n. 42.]

 

     The senate and people, being equally inclined to peace, sent full powers

to Scipio to conclude it, left the conditions to that general, and permitted

him to march back his army, after the treaty should be ratified.

 

     The ambassadors desired to leave to enter the city to redeem some of

their prisoners, and they found about two hundred whom they desired to ransom.

But the senate sent them to Scipio, with orders that they should be restored

without any pecuniary consideration, in case a peace should be concluded.

 

     The Carthaginians, on the return of the ambassadors, concluded a peace

with Scipio on the terms he himself had prescribed.  They then delivered up to

him more than five hundred ships, all which he burnt in sight of Carthage; a

lamentable sight to the inhabitants of that ill-fated city!  He struck off the

heads of the allies of the allies of the Latin name, and hanged all the

citizens who were surrendered to him, as deserters.

 

     When the time for the payment of the first tax imposed by the treaty was

expired, as the funds of the government were exhausted by this long and

expensive war, the difficulty which would be found in levying so great a sum,

threw the senate into a melancholy silence, and many could not refrain even

from tears.  It is said, that at this Hannibal laughed, and when reproached by

Asdrubal Hoedus, for thus insulting his country in the affliction which he had

brought upon it, "were it possible," says Hannibal, "for my heart to be seen,

and that as clearly as my countenance, you would then find that this laughter,

which offends so much, flows not from an intemperate joy, but from a mind

almost distracted with the public calamities.  But is this laughter more

unreasonable than your unbecoming tears?  Then, ought you to have wept, when

your arms were ingloriously taken from you, your ships burned, and you were

forbidden to engage in any foreign wars.  This was the mortal blow which laid

us prostrate.  We are sensible of the public calamity so far only as we have a

personal concern in it, and the loss of our money gives us the most poignant

sorrow.  Hence it was, that when our city was made the spoil of the victor;

when it was left disarmed and defenceless amidst so many powerful nations of

Africa, who had at that time taken the field, not a groan, not a sigh was

heard. But now, when you are called on for a poll-tax you weep and lament, as

if all were lost.  Alas!  I only wish that the subject of this day's fear do

not soon appear to you the least of your misfortunes."

 

     Scipio, after all things were concluded, embarked to return to Italy. He

arrived at Rome through crowds of people, whom curiosity had drawn together to

behold his march.  The most magnificent triumph that Rome had ever seen was

decreed him, and the surname of Africanus was bestowed upon that great man;

and honor till then unknown, no person before him having assumed the name of a

vanquished nation.  Such was the conclusion of the second Punic war, after

having lasted seventeen years. ^884

 

[Footnote 884: A. M. 3804.  A. Carth. 646. A. Rome, 548.  Ant. J. C. 200.]

 

A Short Reflection On The Government Of Carthage In The Time Of The Second

Punic War

 

     I shall conclude the particulars which relate to the second Punic war,

with a reflection of Polybius, which will show the difference between the two

commonwealths. ^885 If may be affirmed, in some measure, that at the beginning

of the second Punic war, and in Hannibal's time, Carthage was in its decline.

The flower of its youth, and its sprightly vigor, were already diminished.  It

had begun to fall from its exalted pitch of power, and was inclining towards

its ruin; whereas Rome was then, as it were, in its bloom and strength of

life, and rapidly advancing to the conquest of the universe.  The reason of

the declension of the one, and the rise of the other, is taken by Polybius

from the different form of government established in these commonwealths, at

the time we are now speaking of.  At Carthage, the common people had seized

upon the sovereign authority with regard to public affairs, and the advice of

their ancient men or magistrates, was no longer listened to; all affairs were

transacted by intrigue and cabal.  Not to mention the artifices which the

faction opposed to Hannibal employed, during the whole time of his command, to

perplex him; the single instance of burning the Roman vessels during a truce,

a perfidious action to which the common people compelled the senate to lend

their name and assistance, is a proof of Polybius' assertion.  On the

contrary, at this very time, the Romans paid the highest regard to their

senate, that is, to a body composed of the greatest sages; and their old men

were listened to and revered as oracles.  It is well known that the Roman

people were exceedingly jealous of their authority, and especially in that

part of it which related to the election of magistrates. ^886 A century of

young men, who by lot were to give the first vote, which generally directed

all the rest, had nominated two consuls. On the bare remonstrance of Fabius,

^887 who represented to the people, that in a tempest, like that with which

Rome was then struggling, the most able pilots ought to be chosen to steer

their common ship, the republic; the century returned to their suffrages, and

nominated other consuls. Polybius, from this disparity of government, infers

that a people, thus guided by the prudence of old men, could not fail of

prevailing over a state which was governed wholly by the giddy multitude.  And

indeed, the Romans, under the guidance of the wise counsels of their senate,

gained at last the superiority with regard to the war considered in general,

though they were defeated in several particular engagements, and established

their power and grandeur on the ruin of their rivals.

 

[Footnote 885: Lib. vi. pp. 493, 494.]

 

[Footnote 886: Liv. 1. xxiv. n. 8, 9.]

 

[Footnote 887: Quilibet nautarum rectorumque tranquillo mari gubernare potest;

ubi saeva orta tempestas est, ac turbato mari rapitur vento navis, tum viro et

gubernatore opus est.  Non tranquillo navigamus, sed jam aliquot procellis

submersi pene sumus.  Itaque quis ad gubernacula sedeat summa cura providendum

ae praecuvendum nobis est.]

 

The Interval Between The Second And Third Punic Wars

 

     The events relating to Carthage during this period, are not very

remarkable, although it includes more than fifty years.  They may be reduced

to two heads, one of which relates to the person of Hannibal, and the other to

some particular differences between the Carthaginians and Masinissa, king of

the Numidians.  We shall treat both separately, but not extensively.

 

Section I: - Continuation Of The History Of Hannibal

 

     When the second Punic war was ended, by the treaty of peace concluded

with Scipio, Hannibal, as he himself observed in the Carthaginian senate, was

forty-five years of age.  What we have further to say of this great man,

includes the space of twenty-five years.

 

Hannibal Undertakes And Completes The Reformation Of The Courts Of

Justice, And The Treasury Of Carthage

 

     After the conclusion of the peace, Hannibal, at least in the beginning,

was greatly respected in Carthage, where he filled the first employments of

the state with honor and applause.  He headed the Carthaginian forces in some

wars against the Africans: but the Romans, to whom the very name of Hannibal

gave uneasiness, discontented at seeing him in arms, made complaints on that

account, and accordingly he was recalled to Carthage. ^888

 

[Footnote 888: Corn. Nep. in Annib. c. 7.]

 

     On his return he was appointed praetor, which seems to have been a very

considerable employment, as well as of great authority. ^889 Carthage is

therefore, with regard to him, becoming a new theatre, as it were, on which he

will display virtues and qualities of a quite different nature from those we

have hitherto admired in, and which will finish the picture of this

illustrious man.

 

[Footnote 889: A. M. 3810.  A. Rome, 554.]

 

     Eagerly desirous of restoring the affairs of his afflicted country to

their former happy condition, he was persuaded that the two most powerful

methods to make a state flourish were, an exact and equal distribution of

justice to the people in general, and a faithful management of the public

finances.  The former, by preserving an equality among the citizens, and

making them enjoy such a delightful, undisturbed liberty, under the protection

of the laws, as fully secures their honor, their lives and properties, unites

the individuals of the commonwealth more closely together, and attaches them

more firmly to the state, to which they owe the preservation of all that is

most dear and valuable to them.  The latter, by a faithful administration of

the public revenues, supplies punctually the several wants and necessities of

the state, keeps in reserve a never-failing resource for sudden emergencies,

and prevents the people from being burdened with new taxes, which are rendered

necessary by extravagant profusion, and which chiefly contribute to make men

harbor an aversion for government.

 

     Hannibal saw with great concern the irregularities which had crept

equally into the administration of justice and the management of the finances.

Upon his being nominated praetor, as his love for regularity and order made

him uneasy at every deviation from it, and prompted him to use his utmost

endeavors for its restoration; he had the courage to attempt the reformation

of this double abuse, which drew after it a numberless multitude of others,

without dreading either the animosity of the old faction that opposed him, or

the new enmity which his zeal for the republic must necessarily create.

 

     The judges exercised the most cruel rapine with impunity. ^890 They were

so many petty tyrants, who disposed, in an arbitrary manner, of the lives and

fortunes of the citizens, without there being the least possibility of putting

a stop to their injustice.  Because they held their commissions for life, and

mutually supported one another.  Hannibal, a praetor, summoned before his

tribunal an officer belonging to the bench of judges, who openly abused his

power.  Livy tells us that he was a quaestor.  This officer, who was in the

opposite faction to Hannibal, and had already assumed all the pride and

haughtiness of the judges among whom he was to be admitted at the expiration

of his present office, insolently refused to obey the summons.  Hannibal was

not of a disposition to suffer an affront of this nature tamely.  Accordingly,

he caused him to be seized by a lictor, and brought him before the assembly of

the people.  There, not satisfied with levelling his resentment against this

single officer, he impeached the whole bench of judges; whose insupportable

and tyrannical pride was not restrained, either by the fear of the laws, or a

reverence for the magistrates.  And, as Hannibal perceived that he was heard

with pleasure, and that the lowest and most inconsiderable of the people

discovered on this occasion that they were no longer able to bear the insolent

pride of these judges, who seemed to have a design upon their liberties; he

proposed a law, which accordingly passed, by which it was enacted, that new

judges should be chosen annually; with a clause that none should continue in

office beyond that term.  This law, at the same time that it acquired him the

friendship and esteem of the people, drew upon him proportionably the hatred

of the greatest part of the grandees and nobility.

 

[Footnote 890: Liv. l. xxxiii. n. 46.]

 

     He attempted another reformation, which created him new enemies, but

gained him great honor. ^891 The public revenues were either squandered away

by the negligence of those who had the management of them, or were plundered

by the chief men of the city, and the magistrates; so that money being wanted

to pay the annual tribute due to the Romans, the Carthaginians were going to

levy it upon the people in general.  Hannibal, entering into a full detail of

the public revenues, ordered an exact estimate to be laid before him; inquired

in what manner they had been applied to the employments and ordinary expenses

of the state; and having discovered by this inquiry, that the public funds had

been in a great measure embezzled by the fraud of the officers who had the

management of them, he declared and promised, in a full assembly of the

people, that without laying any new taxes upon individuals, the republic

should hereafter be enabled to pay the tribute due to the Romans; and he was

as good as his word.  The farmers of the revenues, whose plunder and rapine he

had publicly detected, having accustomed themselves hitherto to fatten upon

the spoils of their country, exclaimed vehemently against these regulations,

^892 as if their own property had been forced out of their hands, and not the

sums of which they had defrauded the public.

 

[Footnote 891: Liv. l. xxxiii. n. 46, 47.]

 

[Footnote 892: Tum vero isti quos paverat per aliquot annos publicus

peculatus, velut bonis ereptis, non furto eorum manibus extorto, incensi et

irati, Romanos in Annibalem, et ipsos causam odii quaerentes, instigabant. -

Liv.]