Hamilcar and Hannibal

Situation of Carthage after the Peace

The treaty with Rome in 513 gave to the Carthaginians peace, but they paid for it dearly. That the tribute of the largest portion of Sicily now flowed into the enemy's exchequer instead of the Carthaginian treasury, was the least part of their loss. They felt a far keener regret when they not merely had to abandon the hope of monopolizing all the sea-routes between the eastern and the western Mediterranean —just as that hope seemed on the eve of fulfilment—but also saw their whole system of commercial policy broken up, the south-western basin of the Mediterranean, which they had hitherto exclusively commanded, converted since the loss of Sicily into an open thoroughfare for all nations, and the commerce of Italy rendered completely independent of the Phoenician. Nevertheless the quiet men of Sidon might perhaps have prevailed on themselves to acquiesce in this result. They had met with similar blows already; they had been obliged to share with the Massiliots, the Etruscans, and the Sicilian Greeks what they had previously possessed alone; even now the possessions which they retained, Africa, Spain, and the gates of the Atlantic Ocean, were sufficient to confer power and prosperity. But in truth, where was their security that these at least would continue in their hands? The demands made by Regulus, and his very near approach to the obtaining of what he asked, could only be forgotten by those who were willing to forget; and if Rome should now renew from Lilybaeum the enterprise which she had undertaken with so great success from Italy, Carthage would undoubtedly fall, unless the perversity of the enemy or some special piece of good fortune should intervene to save it No doubt they had peace for the present; but the ratification of that peace had hung on a thread, and they knew what public opinion in Rome thought of the terms on which it was concluded. It might be that Rome was not yet meditating the conquest of Africa and was as yet content with Italy; but if the existence of the Carthaginian state depended on that contentment, the prospect was but a sorry one; and where was the security that the Romans might not find it even convenient for their Italian policy to extirpate rather than reduce to subjection their African neighbour?

War Party and Peace Party in Carthage

In short, Carthage could only regard the peace of 513 in the light of a truce, and could not but employ it in preparations for the inevitable renewal of the war; not for the purpose of avenging the defeat which she had suffered, nor even with the primary view of recovering what she had lost, but in order to secure for herself an existence that should not be dependent on the good-will of the enemy. But when a war of annihilation is surely, though in point of time indefinitely, impending over a weaker state, the wiser, more resolute, and more devoted men—who would immediately prepare for the unavoidable struggle, accept it at a favourable moment, and thus cover their defensive policy by a strategy of offence—always find themselves hampered by the indolent and cowardly mass of the money- worshippers, of the aged and feeble, and of the thoughtless who are minded merely to gain time, to live and die in peace, and to postpone at any price the final struggle. So there was in Carthage a party for peace and a party for war, both, as was natural, associating themselves with the political distinction which already existed between the conservatives and the reformers. The former found its support in the governing boards, the council of the Ancients and that of the Hundred, led by Hanno the Great, as he was called; the latter found its support in the leaders of the multitude, particularly the much-respected Hasdrubal, and in the officers of the Sicilian army, whose great successes under the leadership of Hamilcar, although they had been otherwise fruitless, had at least shown to the patriots a method which seemed to promise deliverance from the great danger that beset them. Vehement feud had probably long subsisted between these parties, when the Libyan war intervened to suspend the strife. We have already related how that war arose. After the governing party had instigated the mutiny by their incapable administration which frustrated all the precautionary measures of the Sicilian officers, had converted that mutiny into a revolution by the operation of their inhuman system of government, and had at length brought the country to the verge of ruin by their military incapacity—and particularly that of their leader Hanno, who ruined the army—Hamilcar Barcas, the hero of Ercte, was in the perilous emergency solicited by the government itself to save it from the effects of its blunders and crimes. He accepted the command, and had the magnanimity not to resign it even when they appointed Hanno as his colleague. Indeed, when the indignant army sent the latter home, Hamilcar had the self-control a second time to concede to him, at the urgent request of the government, a share in the command; and, in spite of his enemies and in spite of such a colleague, he was able by his influence with the insurgents, by his dexterous treatment of the Numidian sheiks, and by his unrivalled genius for organization and generalship, in a singularly short time to put down the revolt entirely and to recall rebellious Africa to its allegiance (end of 517).

During this war the patriot party had kept silence; now it spoke out the louder. On the one hand this catastrophe had brought to light the utterly corrupt and pernicious character of the ruling oligarchy, their incapacity, their coterie-policy, their leanings towards the Romans. On the other hand the seizure of Sardinia, and the threatening attitude which Rome on that occasion assumed, showed plainly even to the humblest that a declaration of war by Rome was constantly hanging like the sword of Damocles over Carthage, and that, if Carthage in her present circumstances went to war with Rome, the consequence must necessarily be the downfall of the Phoenician dominion in Libya. Probably there were in Carthage not a few who, despairing of the future of their country, counselled emigration to the islands of the Atlantic; who could blame them? But minds of the nobler order disdain to save themselves apart from their nation, and great natures enjoy the privilege of deriving enthusiasm from circumstances in which the multitude of good men despair. They accepted the new conditions just as Rome dictated them; no course was left but to submit and, adding fresh bitterness to their former hatred, carefully to cherish and husband resentment—that last resource of an injured nation. They then took steps towards a political reform.(1) They had become sufficiently convinced of the incorrigibleness of the party in power: the fact that the governing lords had even in the last war neither forgotten their spite nor learned greater wisdom, was shown by the effrontery bordering on simplicity with which they now instituted proceedings against Hamilcar as the originator of the mercenary war, because he had without full powers from the government made promises of money to his Sicilian soldiers. Had the club of officers and popular leaders desired to overthrow this rotten and wretched government, it would hardly have encountered much difficulty in Carthage itself; but it would have met with more formidable obstacles in Rome, with which the chiefs of the government in Carthage already maintained relations that bordered on treason. To all the other difficulties of the position there fell to be added the circumstance, that the means of saving their country had to be created without allowing either the Romans, or their own government with its Roman leanings, to become rightly aware of what was doing.

Hamilcar Commander-in-Chief

So they left the constitution untouched, and the chiefs of the government in full enjoyment of their exclusive privileges and of the public property. It was merely proposed and carried, that of the two commanders-in-chief, who at the end of the Libyan war were at the head of the Carthaginian troops, Hanno and Hamilcar, the former should be recalled, and the latter should be nominated commander-in-chief for all Africa during an indefinite period. It was arranged that he should hold a position independent of the governing corporations —his antagonists called it an unconstitutional monarchical power, Cato calls it a dictatorship—and that he could only be recalled and placed upon his trial by the popular assembly.(2) Even the choice of a successor was to be vested not in the authorities of the capital, but in the army, that is, in the Carthaginians serving in the array as gerusiasts or officers, who were named in treaties also along with the general; of course the right of confirmation was reserved to the popular assembly at home. Whether this may or may not have been a usurpation, it clearly indicates that the war party regarded and treated the army as its special domain.

The commission which Hamilcar thus received sounded but little liable to exception. Wars with the Numidian tribes on the borders never ceased; only a short time previously the "city of a hundred gates," Theveste (Tebessa), in the interior had been occupied by the Carthaginians. The task of continuing this border warfare, which was allotted to the new commander-in-chief of Africa, was not in itself of such importance as to prevent the Carthaginian government, which was allowed to do as it liked in its own immediate sphere, from tacitly conniving at the decrees passed in reference to the matter by the popular assembly; and the Romans did not perhaps recognize its significance at all.

Hamilcar's War Projects
The Army
The Citizens

Thus there stood at the head of the army the one man, who had given proof in the Sicilian and in the Libyan wars that fate had destined him, if any one, to be the saviour of his country. Never perhaps was the noble struggle of man with fate waged more nobly than by him. The army was expected to save the state; but what sort of army? The Carthaginian civic militia had fought not badly under Hamilcar's leadership in the Libyan war; but he knew well, that it is one thing to lead out the merchants and artisans of a city, which is in the extremity of peril, for once to battle, and another to form them into soldiers. The patriotic party in Carthage furnished him with excellent officers, but it was of course almost exclusively the cultivated class that was represented in it. He had no citizen- militia, at most a few squadrons of Libyphoenician cavalry. The task was to form an army out of Libyan forced recruits and mercenaries; a task possible in the hands of a general like Hamilcar, but possible even for him only on condition that he should be able to pay his men punctually and amply. But he had learned, by experience in Sicily, that the state revenues of Carthage were expended in Carthage itself on matters much more needful than the payment of the armies that fought against the enemy. The warfare which he waged, accordingly, had to support itself, and he had to carry out on a great scale what he had already attempted on a smaller scale at Monte Pellegrino. But further, Hamilcar was not only a military chief, he was also a party leader. In opposition to the implacable governing party, which eagerly but patiently waited for an opportunity of overthrowing him, he had to seek support among the citizens; and although their leaders might be ever so pure and noble, the multitude was deeply corrupt and accustomed by the unhappy system of corruption to give nothing without being paid for it. In particular emergencies, indeed, necessity or enthusiasm might for the moment prevail, as everywhere happens even with the most venal corporations; but, if Hamilcar wished to secure the permanent support of the Carthaginian community for his plan, which at the best could only be carried out after a series of years, he had to supply his friends at home with regular consignments of money as the means of keeping the mob in good humour. Thus compelled to beg or to buy from the lukewarm and venal multitude the permission to save it; compelled to bargain with the arrogance of men whom he hated and whom he had constantly conquered, at the price of humiliation and of silence, for the respite indispensable for his ends; compelled to conceal from those despised traitors to their country, who called themselves the lords of his native city, his plans and his contempt—the noble hero stood with few like-minded friends between enemies without and enemies within, building upon the irresolution of the one and of the other, at once deceiving both and defying both, if only he might gain means, money, and men for the contest with a land which, even were the army ready to strike the blow, it seemed difficult to reach and scarce possible to vanquish. He was still a young man, little beyond thirty, but he had apparently, when he was preparing for his expedition, a foreboding that he would not be permitted to attain the end of his labours, or to see otherwise than afar off the promised land. When he left Carthage he enjoined his son Hannibal, nine years of age, to swear at the altar of the supreme God eternal hatred to the Roman name, and reared him and his younger sons Hasdrubal and Mago—the "lion's brood," as he called them—in the camp as the inheritors of his projects, of his genius, and of his hatred.

Hamilcar Proceed to Spain
Spanish Kingdom of the Barcides

The new commander-in-chief of Libya departed from Carthage immediately after the termination of the mercenary war (perhaps in the spring of 518). He apparently meditated an expedition against the free Libyans in the west. His army, which was especially strong in elephants, marched along the coast; by its side sailed the fleet, led by his faithful associate Hasdrubal. Suddenly tidings came that he had crossed the sea at the Pillars of Hercules and had landed in Spain, where he was waging war with the natives—with people who had done him no harm, and without orders from his government, as the Carthaginian authorities complained. They could not complain at any rate that he neglected the affairs of Africa; when the Numidians once more rebelled, his lieutenant Hasdrubal so effectually routed them that for a long period there was tranquillity on the frontier, and several tribes hitherto independent submitted to pay tribute. What he personally did in Spain, we are no longer able to trace in detail. His achievements compelled Cato the elder, who, a generation after Hamilcar's death, beheld in Spain the still fresh traces of his working, to exclaim, notwithstanding all his hatred of the Carthaginians, that no king was worthy to be named by the side of Hamilcar Barcas. The results still show to us, at least in a general way, what was accomplished by Hamilcar as a soldier and a statesman in the last nine years of his life (518-526)—till in the flower of his age, fighting bravely in the field of battle, he met his death like Scharn-horst just as his plans were beginning to reach maturity—and what during the next eight years (527-534) the heir of his office and of his plans, his son-in-law Hasdrubal, did to prosecute, in the spirit of the master, the work which Hamilcar had begun. Instead of the small entrepot for trade, which, along with the protectorate over Gades, was all that Carthage had hitherto possessed on the Spanish coast, and which she had treated as a dependency of Libya, a Carthaginian kingdom was founded in Spain by the generalship of Hamilcar, and confirmed by the adroit statesmanship of Hasdrubal. The fairest regions of Spain, the southern and eastern coasts, became Phoenician provinces. Towns were founded; above all, "Spanish Carthage" (Cartagena) was established by Hasdrubal on the only good harbour along the south coast, containing the splendid "royal castle" of its founder. Agriculture flourished, and, still more, mining in consequence of the fortunate discovery of the silver-mines of Cartagena, which a century afterwards had a yearly produce of more than 360,000 pounds (36,000,000 sesterces). Most of the communities as far as the Ebro became dependent on Carthage and paid tribute to it. Hasdrubal skilfully by every means, even by intermarriages, attached the chiefs to the interests of Carthage. Thus Carthage acquired in Spain a rich market for its commerce and manufactures; and not only did the revenues of the province sustain the army, but there remained a balance to be remitted to Carthage and reserved for future use. The province formed and at the same time trained the army; regular levies took place in the territory subject to Carthage; the prisoners of war were introduced into the Carthaginian corps. Contingents and mercenaries, as many as were desired, were supplied by the dependent communities. During his long life of warfare the soldier found in the camp a second home, and found a substitute for patriotism in fidelity to his standard and enthusiastic attachment to his great leaders. Constant conflicts with the brave Iberians and Celts created a serviceable infantry, to co-operate with the excellent Numidian cavalry.

The Carthaginian Government and the Barcides

So far as Carthage was concerned, the Barcides were allowed to go on. Since the citizens were not asked for regular contributions, but on the contrary some benefit accrued to them and commerce recovered in Spain what it had lost in Sicily and Sardinia, the Spanish war and the Spanish army with its brilliant victories and important successes soon became so popular that it was even possible in particular emergencies, such as after Hamilcar's fall, to effect the despatch of considerable reinforcements of African troops to Spain; and the governing party, whether well or ill affected, had to maintain silence, or at any rate to content themselves with complaining to each other or to their friends in Rome regarding the demagogic officers and the mob.

The Roman Government and the Barcides

On the part of Rome too nothing took place calculated seriously to alter the course of Spanish affairs. The first and chief cause of the inactivity of the Romans was undoubtedly their very want of acquaintance with the circumstances of the remote peninsula—which was certainly also Hamilcar's main reason for selecting Spain and not, as might otherwise have been possible, Africa itself for the execution of his plan. The explanations with which the Carthaginian generals met the Roman commissioners sent to Spain to procure information on the spot, and their assurances that all this was done only to provide the means of promptly paying the war-contributions to Rome, could not possibly find belief in the senate. But they probably discerned only the immediate object of Hamilcar's plans, viz. to procure compensation in Spain for the tribute and the traffic of the islands which Carthage had lost; and they deemed an aggressive war on the part of the Carthaginians, and in particular an invasion of Italy from Spain—as is evident both from express statements to that effect and from the whole state of the case—as absolutely impossible. Many, of course, among the peace party in Carthage saw further; but, whatever they might think, they could hardly be much inclined to enlighten their Roman friends as to the impending storm, which the Carthaginian authorities had long been unable to prevent, for that step would accelerate, instead of averting, the crisis; and even if they did so, such denunciations proceeding from partisans would justly be received with great caution at Rome. By degrees, certainly, the inconceivably rapid and mighty extension of the Carthaginian power in Spain could not but excite the observation and awaken the apprehensions of the Romans. In fact, in the course of the later years before the outbreak of war, they did attempt to set bounds to it. About the year 528, mindful of their new-born Hellenism, they concluded an alliance with the two Greek or semi-Greek towns on the east coast of Spain, Zacynthus or Saguntum (Murviedro, not far from Valencia), and Emporiae (Ampurias); and when they acquainted the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal that they had done so, they at the same time warned him not to push his conquests over the Ebro, with which he promised compliance. This was not done by any means to prevent an invasion of Italy by the land-route—no treaty could fetter the general who undertook such an enterprise—but partly to set a limit to the material power of the Spanish Carthaginians which began to be dangerous, partly to secure the free communities between the Ebro and the Pyrenees whom Rome thus took under her protection, a basis of operations in case of its being necessary to land and make war in Spain. In reference to the impending war with Carthage, which the senate did not fail to see was inevitable, they hardly apprehended any greater inconvenience from the events that had occurred in Spain than that they might be compelled to send some legions thither, and that the enemy would be somewhat better provided with money and soldiers than, without Spain, he would have been; they were at any rate firmly resolved, as the plan of the campaign of 536 shows and as indeed could not but be the case, to begin and terminate the next war in Africa, —a course which would at the same time decide the fate of Spain. Further grounds for delay were suggested during the first years by the instalments from Carthage, which a declaration of war would have cut off, and then by the death of Hamilcar, which probably induced friends and foes to think that his projects must have died with him. Lastly, during the latter years when the senate certainly began, to apprehend that it was not prudent long to delay the renewal of the war, there was the very intelligible wish to dispose of the Gauls in the valley of the Po in the first instance, for these, threatened with extirpation, might be expected to avail themselves of any serious war undertaken by Rome to allure the Transalpine tribes once more to Italy, and to renew those Celtic migrations which were still fraught with very great peril. That it was not regard either for the Carthaginian peace party or for existing treaties which withheld the Romans from action, is self-evident; moreover, if they desired war, the Spanish feuds furnished at any moment a ready pretext. The conduct of Rome in this view is by no means unintelligible; but as little can it be denied that the Roman senate in dealing with this matter displayed shortsightedness and slackness—faults which were still more inexcusably manifested in their mode of dealing at the same epoch with Gallic affairs. The policy of the Romans was always more remarkable for tenacity, cunning, and consistency, than for grandeur of conception or power of rapid organization—qualities in which the enemies of Rome from Pyrrhus down to Mithradates often surpassed her.


Thus the smiles of fortune inaugurated the brilliantly conceived project of Hamilcar. The means of war were acquired—a numerous army accustomed to combat and to conquer, and a constantly replenished exchequer; but, in order that the right moment might be discovered for the struggle and that the right direction might be given to it, there was wanted a leader. The man, whose head and heart had in a desperate emergency and amidst a despairing people paved the way for their deliverance, was no more, when it became possible to carry out his design. Whether his successor Hasdrubal forbore to make the attack because the proper moment seemed to him to have not yet come, or whether, more a statesman than a general, he believed himself unequal to the conduct of the enterprise, we are unable to determine. When, at the beginning of 534, he fell by the hand of an assassin, the Carthaginian officers of the Spanish army summoned to fill his place Hannibal, the eldest son of Hamilcar. He was still a young man—born in 505, and now, therefore, in his twenty-ninth year; but his had already been a life of manifold experience. His first recollections pictured to him his father fighting in a distant land and conquering on Ercte; he had keenly shared that unconquered father's feelings on the peace of Catulus, on the bitter return home, and throughout the horrors of the Libyan war. While yet a boy, he had followed his father to the camp; and he soon distinguished himself. His light and firmly-knit frame made him an excellent runner and fencer, and a fearless rider at full speed; the privation of sleep did not affect him, and he knew like a soldier how to enjoy or to dispense with food. Although his youth had been spent in the camp, he possessed such culture as belonged to the Phoenicians of rank in his day; in Greek, apparently after he had become a general, he made such progress under the guidance of his confidant Sosilus of Sparta as to be able to compose state papers in that language. As he grew up, he entered the army of his father, to perform his first feats of arms under the paternal eye and to see him fall in battle by his side. Thereafter he had commanded the cavalry under his sister's husband, Hasdrubal, and distinguished himself by brilliant personal bravery as well as by his talents as a leader. The voice of his comrades now summoned him—the tried, although youthful general—to the chief command, and he could now execute the designs for which his father and his brother-in-law had lived and died. He took up the inheritance, and he was worthy of it. His contemporaries tried to cast stains of various sorts on his character; the Romans charged him with cruelty, the Carthaginians with covetousness; and it is true that he hated as only Oriental natures know how to hate, and that a general who never fell short of money and stores can hardly have been other than covetous. But though anger and envy and meanness have written his history, they have not been able to mar the pure and noble image which it presents. Laying aside wretched inventions which furnish their own refutation, and some things which his lieutenants, particularly Hannibal Monomachus and Mago the Samnite, were guilty of doing in his name, nothing occurs in the accounts regarding him which may not be justified under the circumstances, and according to the international law, of the times; and all agree in this, that he combined in rare perfection discretion and enthusiasm, caution and energy. He was peculiarly marked by that inventive craftiness, which forms one of the leading traits of the Phoenician character; he was fond of taking singular and unexpected routes; ambushes and stratagems of all sorts were familiar to him; and he studied the character of his antagonists with unprecedented care. By an unrivalled system of espionage—he had regular spies even in Rome—he kept himself informed of the projects of the enemy; he himself was frequently seen wearing disguises and false hair, in order to procure information on some point or other. Every page of the history of this period attests his genius in strategy; and his gifts as a statesman were, after the peace with Rome, no less conspicuously displayed in his reform of the Carthaginian constitution, and in the unparalleled influence which as a foreign exile he exercised in the cabinets of the eastern powers. The power which he wielded over men is shown by his incomparable control over an army of various nations and many tongues—an army which never in the worst times mutinied against him. He was a great man; wherever he went, he riveted the eyes of all.

Rupture between Rome and Carthage

Hannibal resolved immediately after his nomination (in the spring of 534) to commence the war. The land of the Celts was still in a ferment, and a war seemed imminent between Rome and Macedonia: he had good reason now to throw off the mask without delay and to carry the war whithersoever he pleased, before the Romans began it at their own convenience with a descent on Africa. His army was soon ready to take the field, and his exchequer was filled by some razzias on a great scale; but the Carthaginian government showed itself far from desirous of despatching the declaration of war to Rome. The place of Hasdrubal, the patriotic national leader, was even more difficult to fill in Carthage than that of Hasdrubal the general in Spain; the peace party had now the ascendency at home, and persecuted the leaders of the war party with political indictments. The rulers who had already cut down and mutilated the plans of Hamilcar were by no means inclined to allow the unknown young man, who now commanded in Spain, to vent his youthful patriotism at the expense of the state; and Hannibal hesitated personally to declare war in open opposition to the legitimate authorities. He tried to provoke the Saguntines to break the peace; but they contented themselves with making a complaint to Rome. Then, when a commission from Rome appeared, he tried to drive it to a declaration of war by treating it rudely; but the commissioners saw how matters stood: they kept silence in Spain, with a view to lodge complaints at Carthage and to report at home that Hannibal was ready to strike and that war was imminent. Thus the time passed away; accounts had already come of the death of Antigonus Doson, who had suddenly died nearly at the same time with Hasdrubal; in Cisalpine Gaul the establishment of fortresses was carried on by the Romans with redoubled rapidity and energy; preparations were made in Rome for putting a speedy end in the course of the next spring to the insurrection in Illyria. Every day was precious; Hannibal formed his resolution. He sent summary intimation to Carthage that the Saguntines were making aggressions on the Torboletes, subjects of Carthage, and he must therefore attack them; and without waiting for a reply he began in the spring of 535 the siege of a town which was in alliance with Rome, or, in other words, war against Rome. We may form some idea of the views and counsels that would prevail in Carthage from the impression produced in certain circles by York's capitulation. All "respectable men," it was said, disapproved an attack made "without orders"; there was talk of disavowal, of surrendering the daring officer. But whether it was that dread of the army and of the multitude nearer home outweighed in the Carthaginian council the fear of Rome; or that they perceived the impossibility of retracing such a step once taken; or that the mere -vis inertiae- prevented any definite action, they resolved at length to resolve on nothing and, if not to wage war, to let it nevertheless be waged. Saguntum defended itself, as only Spanish towns know how to conduct defence: had the Romans showed but a tithe of the energy of their clients, and not trifled away their time during the eight months' siege of Saguntum in the paltry warfare with Illyrian brigands, they might, masters as they were of the sea and of places suitable for landing, have spared themselves the disgrace of failing to grant the protection which they had promised, and might perhaps have given a different turn to the war. But they delayed, and the town was at length taken by storm. When Hannibal sent the spoil for distribution to Carthage, patriotism and zeal for war were roused in the hearts of many who had hitherto felt nothing of the kind, and the distribution cut off all prospect of coming to terms with Rome. Accordingly, when after the destruction of Saguntum a Roman embassy appeared at Carthage and demanded the surrender of the general and of the gerusiasts present in the camp, and when the Roman spokesman, interrupting an attempt at justification, broke off the discussion and, gathering up his robe, declared that he held in it peace and war and that the gerusia might choose between them, the gerusiasts mustered courage to reply that they left it to the choice of the Roman; and when he offered war, they accepted it (in the spring of 536).

Preparations for Attacking Italy

Hannibal, who had lost a whole year through the obstinate resistance of the Saguntines, had as usual retired for the winter of 535-6 to Cartagena, to make all his preparations on the one hand for the attack of Italy, on the other for the defence of Spain and Africa; for, as he, like his father and his brother-in-law, held the supreme command in both countries, it devolved upon him to take measures also for the protection of his native land. The whole mass of his forces amounted to about 120,000 infantry and 16,000 cavalry; he had also 58 elephants, 32 quinqueremes manned, and 18 not manned, besides the elephants and vessels remaining at the capital. Excepting a few Ligurians among the light troops, there were no mercenaries in this Carthaginian army; the troops, with the exception of some Phoenician squadrons, consisted mainly of the Carthaginian subjects called out for service—Libyans and Spaniards. To insure the fidelity of the latter the general, who knew the men with whom he had to deal, gave them as a proof of his confidence a general leave of absence for the whole winter; while, not sharing the narrow-minded exclusiveness of Phoenician patriotism, he promised to the Libyans on his oath the citizenship of Carthage, should they return to Africa victorious. This mass of troops however was only destined in part for the expedition to Italy. Some 20,000 men were sent to Africa, the smaller portion of them proceeding to the capital and the Phoenician territory proper, the majority to the western point of Africa. For the protection of Spain 12,000 infantry, 2500 cavalry, and nearly the half of the elephants were left behind, in addition to the fleet stationed there; the chief command and the government of Spain were entrusted to Hannibal's younger brother Hasdrubal. The immediate territory of Carthage was comparatively weakly garrisoned, because the capital afforded in case of need sufficient resources; in like manner a moderate number of infantry sufficed for the present in Spain, where new levies could be procured with ease, whereas a comparatively large proportion of the arms specially African—horses and elephants—was retained there. The chief care was bestowed in securing the communications between Spain and Africa: with that view the fleet remained in Spain, and western Africa was guarded by a very strong body of troops. The fidelity of the troops was secured not only by hostages collected from the Spanish communities and detained in the stronghold of Saguntum, but by the removal of the soldiers from the districts where they were raised to other quarters: the east African militia were moved chiefly to Spain, the Spanish to Western Africa, the West African to Carthage. Adequate provision was thus made for defence. As to offensive measures, a squadron of 20 quinqueremes with 1000 soldiers on board was to sail from Carthage for the west coast of Italy and to pillage it, and a second of 25 sail was, if possible, to re-establish itself at Lilybaeum; Hannibal believed that he might count upon the government making this moderate amount of exertion. With the main army he determined in person to invade Italy; as was beyond doubt part of the original plan of Hamilcar. A decisive attack on Rome was only possible in Italy, as a similar attack on Carthage was only possible in Libya; as certainly as Rome meant to begin her next campaign with the latter, so certainly ought Carthage not to confine herself at the outset either to any secondary object of operations, such as Sicily, or to mere defence—defeat would in any case involve equal destruction, but victory would not yield equal fruit.

Method of Attack

But how could Italy be attacked? He might succeed in reaching the peninsula by sea or by land; but if the project was to be no mere desperate adventure, but a military expedition with a strategic aim, a nearer basis for its operations was requisite than Spain or Africa. Hannibal could not rely for support on a fleet and a fortified harbour, for Rome was now mistress of the sea. As little did the territory of the Italian confederacy present any tenable basis. If in very different times, and in spite of Hellenic sympathies, it had withstood the shock of Pyrrhus, it was not to be expected that it would now fall to pieces on the appearance of the Phoenician general; an invading army would without doubt be crushed between the network of Roman fortresses and the firmly-consolidated confederacy. The land of the Ligurians and Celts alone could be to Hannibal, what Poland was to Napoleon in his very similar Russian campaigns. These tribes still smarting under their scarcely ended struggle for independence, alien in race from the Italians, and feeling their very existence endangered by the chain of Roman fortresses and highways whose first coils were even now being fastened around them, could not but recognize their deliverers in the Phoenician army (which numbered in its ranks numerous Spanish Celts), and would serve as a first support for it to fall back upon—a source whence it might draw supplies and recruits. Already formal treaties were concluded with the Boii and the Insubres, by which they bound themselves to send guides to meet the Carthaginian army, to procure for it a good reception from the cognate tribes and supplies along its route, and to rise against the Romans as soon as it should set foot on Italian ground. In fine, the relations of Rome with the east led the Carthaginians to this same quarter. Macedonia, which by the victory of Sellasia had re-established its sovereignty in the Peloponnesus, was in strained relations with Rome; Demetrius of Pharos, who had exchanged the Roman alliance for that of Macedonia and had been dispossessed by the Romans, lived as an exile at the Macedonian court, and the latter had refused the demand which the Romans made for his surrender. If it was possible to combine the armies from the Guadalquivir and the Karasu anywhere against the common foe, it could only be done on the Po. Thus everything directed Hannibal to Northern Italy; and that the eyes of his father had already been turned to that quarter, is shown by the reconnoitring party of Carthaginians, whom the Romans to their great surprise encountered in Liguria in 524.

The reason for Hannibal's preference of the land route to that by sea is less obvious; for that neither the maritime supremacy of the Romans nor their league with Massilia could have prevented a landing at Genoa, is evident, and was shown by the sequel. Our authorities fail to furnish us with several of the elements, on which a satisfactory answer to this question would depend, and which cannot be supplied by conjecture. Hannibal had to choose between two evils. Instead of exposing himself to the unknown and less calculable contingencies of a sea voyage and of naval war, it must have seemed to him the better course to accept the assurances, which beyond doubt were seriously meant, of the Boii and Insubres, and the more so that, even if the army should land at Genoa, it would still have mountains to cross; he could hardly know exactly, how much smaller are the difficulties presented by the Apennines at Genoa than by the main chain of the Alps. At any rate the route which he took was the primitive Celtic route, by which many much larger hordes had crossed the Alps: the ally and deliverer of the Celtic nation might without temerity venture to traverse it.

Departure of Hannibal

So Hannibal collected the troops, destined for the grand army, in Cartagena at the beginning of the favourable season; there were 90,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry, of whom about two-thirds were Africans and a third Spaniards. The 37 elephants which they took with them were probably destined rather to make an impression on the Gauls than for serious warfare. Hannibal's infantry no longer needed, like that led by Xanthippus, to shelter itself behind a screen of elephants, and the general had too much sagacity to employ otherwise than sparingly and with caution that two-edged weapon, which had as often occasioned the defeat of its own as of the enemy's army. With this force the general set out in the spring of 536 from Cartagena towards the Ebro. He so far informed his soldiers as to the measures which he had taken, particularly as to the connections he had entered into with the Celts and the resources and object of the expedition, that even the common soldier, whose military instincts lengthened war had developed, felt the clear perception and the steady hand of his leader, and followed him with implicit confidence to the unknown and distant land; and the fervid address, in which he laid before them the position of their country and the demands of the Romans, the slavery certainly reserved for their dear native land, and the disgrace of the imputation that they could surrender their beloved general and his staff, kindled a soldierly and patriotic ardour in the hearts of all.

Position of Rome
Their Uncertain Plans for War

The Roman state was in a plight, such as may occur even in firmly- established and sagacious aristocracies. The Romans knew doubtless what they wished to accomplish, and they took various steps; but nothing was done rightly or at the right time. They might long ago have been masters of the gates of the Alps and have settled matters with the Celts; the latter were still formidable, and the former were open. They might either have had friendship, with Carthage, had they honourably kept the peace of 513, or, had they not been disposed for peace, they might long ago have conquered Cartilage: the peace was practically broken by the seizure of Sardinia, and they allowed the power of Carthage to recover itself undisturbed for twenty years. There was no great difficulty in maintaining peace with Macedonia; but they had forfeited her friendship for a trifling gain. There must have been a lack of some leading statesman to take a connected and commanding view of the position of affairs; on all hands either too little was done, or too much. Now the war began at a time and at a place which they had allowed the enemy to determine; and, with all their well-founded conviction of military superiority, they were perplexed as to the object to be aimed at and the course to be followed in their first operations. They had at their disposal more than half a million of serviceable soldiers; the Roman cavalry alone was less good, and relatively less numerous, than the Carthaginian, the former constituting about a tenth, the latter an eighth, of the whole number of troops taking the field. None of the states affected by the war had any fleet corresponding to the Roman fleet of 220 quinqueremes, which had just returned from the Adriatic to the western sea. The natural and proper application of this crushing superiority of force was self-evident. It had been long settled that the war ought to be opened with a landing in Africa. The subsequent turn taken by events had compelled the Romans to embrace in their scheme of the war a simultaneous landing in Spain, chiefly to prevent the Spanish army from appearing before the walls of Carthage. In accordance with this plan they ought above all, when the war had been practically opened by Hannibal's attack on Saguntum in the beginning of 535, to have thrown a Roman army into Spain before the town fell; but they neglected the dictates of interest no less than of honour. For eight months Saguntum held out in vain: when the town passed into other hands, Rome had not even equipped her armament for landing in Spain. The country, however, between the Ebro and the Pyrenees was still free, and its tribes were not only the natural allies of the Romans, but had also, like the Saguntines, received from Roman emissaries promises of speedy assistance. Catalonia may be reached by sea from Italy in not much longer time than from Cartagena by and: had the Romans started, like the Phoenicians, in April, after the formal declaration of war that had taken place in the interval, Hannibal might have encountered the Roman legions on the line of the Ebro.

Hannibal on the Ebro

At length, certainly, the greater part of the army and of the fleet was got ready for the expedition to Africa, and the second consul Publius Cornelius Scipio was ordered to the Ebro; but he took time, and when an insurrection broke out on the Po, he allowed the army that was ready for embarkation to be employed there, and formed new legions for the Spanish expedition. So although Hannibal encountered on the Ebro very vehement resistance, it proceeded only from the natives; and, as under existing circumstances time was still more precious to him than the blood of his men, he surmounted the opposition after some months with the loss of a fourth part of his army, and reached the line of the Pyrenees. That the Spanish allies of Rome would be sacrificed a second time by that delay might have been as certainly foreseen, as the delay itself might have been easily avoided; but probably even the expedition to Italy itself, which in the spring of 536 must not have been anticipated in Rome, would have been averted by the timely appearance of the Romans in Spain. Hannibal had by no means the intention of sacrificing his Spanish "kingdom," and throwing himself like a desperado on Italy. The time which he had spent in the siege of Saguntum and in the reduction of Catalonia, and the considerable corps which he left behind for the occupation of the newly-won territory between the Ebro and the Pyrenees, sufficiently show that, had a Roman army disputed the possession of Spain with him, he would not have been content to withdraw from it; and—which was the main point—had the Romans been able to delay his departure from Spain for but a few weeks, winter would have closed the passes of the Alps before Hannibal reached them, and the African expedition would have departed without hindrance for its destination.

Hannibal in Gaul
Scipio at Massilia
Passage of the Rhone

Arrived at the Pyrenees, Hannibal sent home a portion of his troops; a measure which he had resolved on from the first with the view of showing to the soldiers how confident their general was of success, and of checking the feeling that his enterprise was one of those from which there is no return home. With an army of 50,000 infantry and 9000 cavalry, entirely veteran soldiers, he crossed the Pyrenees without difficulty, and then took the coast route by Narbonne and Nimes through the Celtic territory, which was opened to the army partly by the connections previously formed, partly by Carthaginian gold, partly by arms. It was not till it arrived in the end of July at the Rhone opposite Avignon, that a serious resistance appeared to await it. The consul Scipio, who on his voyage to Spain had landed at Massilia (about the end of June), had there been informed that he had come too late and that Hannibal had crossed not only the Ebro but the Pyrenees. On receiving these accounts, which appear to have first opened the eyes of the Romans to the course and the object of Hannibal, the consul had temporarily given up his expedition to Spain, and had resolved in connection with the Celtic tribes of that region, who were under the influence of the Massiliots and thereby under that of Rome, to receive the Phoenicians on the Rhone, and to obstruct their passage of the river and their march into Italy. Fortunately for Hannibal, opposite to the point at which he meant to cross, there lay at the moment only the general levy of the Celts, while the consul himself with his army of 22,000 infantry and 2000 horse was still in Massilia, four days' march farther down the stream. The messengers of the Gallic levy hastened to inform him. It was the object of Hannibal to convey his army with its numerous cavalry and elephants across the rapid stream under the eyes of the enemy, and before the arrival of Scipio; and he possessed not a single boat. Immediately by his directions all the boats belonging to the numerous navigators of the Rhone in the neighbourhood were bought up at any price, and the deficiency of boats was supplied by rafts made from felled trees; and in fact the whole numerous army could be conveyed over in one day. While this was being done, a strong division under Hanno, son of Bomilcar, proceeded by forced marches up the stream till they reached a suitable point for crossing, which they found undefended, situated two short days' march above Avignon. Here they crossed the river on hastily constructed rafts, with the view of then moving down on the left bank and taking the Gauls, who were barring the passage of the main army, in the rear. On the morning of the fifth day after they had reached the Rhone, and of the third after Hanno's departure, the smoke-signals of the division that had been detached rose up on the opposite bank and gave to Hannibal the anxiously awaited summons for the crossing. Just as the Gauls, seeing that the enemy's fleet of boats began to move, were hastening to occupy the bank, their camp behind them suddenly burst into flames. Surprised and divided, they were unable either to withstand the attack or to resist the passage, and they dispersed in hasty flight.

Scipio meanwhile held councils of war in Massilia as to the proper mode of occupying the ferries of the Rhone, and was not induced to move even by the urgent messages that came from the leaders of the Celts. He distrusted their accounts, and he contented himself with detaching a weak Roman cavalry division to reconnoitre on the left bank of the Rhone. This detachment found the whole enemy's army already transported to that bank, and occupied in bringing over the elephants which alone remained on the right bank of the stream; and, after it had warmly engaged some Carthaginian squadrons in the district of Avignon, merely for the purpose of enabling it to complete its reconnaissance—the first encounter of the Romans and Phoenicians in this war—it hastily returned to report at head-quarters. Scipio now started in the utmost haste with all his troops for Avignon; but, when he arrived there, even the Carthaginian cavalry that had been left behind to cover the passage of the elephants had already taken its departure three days ago, and nothing remained for the consul but to return with weary troops and little credit to Massilia, and to revile the "cowardly flight" of the Punic leader. Thus the Romans had for the third time through pure negligence abandoned their allies and an important line of defence; and not only so, but by passing after this first blunder from mistaken slackness to mistaken haste, and by still attempting without any prospect of success to do what might have been done with so much certainty a few days before, they let the real means of repairing their error pass out of their hands. When once Hannibal was in the Celtic territory on the Roman side of the Rhone, he could no longer be prevented from reaching the Alps; but if Scipio had at the first accounts proceeded with his whole army to Italy—the Po might have been reached by way of Genoa in seven days—and had united with his corps the weak divisions in the valley of the Po, he might have at least prepared a formidable reception for the enemy. But not only did he lose precious time in the march to Avignon, but, capable as otherwise he was, he wanted either the political courage or the military sagacity to change the destination of his corps as the change of circumstances required. He sent the main body under his brother Gnaeus to Spain, and returned himself with a few men to Pisae.

Hannibal's Passage of the Alps

Hannibal, who after the passage of the Rhone had in a great assembly of the army explained to his troops the object of his expedition, and had brought forward the Celtic chief Magilus himself, who had arrived from the valley of the Po, to address the army through an interpreter, meanwhile continued his march to the passes of the Alps without obstruction. Which of these passes he should choose, could not be at once determined either by the shortness of the route or by the disposition of the inhabitants, although he had no time to lose either in circuitous routes or in combat. He had necessarily to select a route which should be practicable for his baggage, his numerous cavalry, and his elephants, and in which an army could procure sufficient means of subsistence either by friendship or by force; for, although Hannibal had made preparations to convey provisions after him on beasts of burden, these could only meet for a few days the wants of an army which still, notwithstanding its great losses, amounted to nearly 50,000 men. Leaving out of view the coast route, which Hannibal abstained from taking not because the Romans barred it, but because it would have led him away from his destination, there were only two routes of note leading across the Alps from Gaul to Italy in ancient times:(3) the pass of the Cottian Alps (Mont Genevre) leading into the territory of the Taurini (by Susa or Fenestrelles to Turin), and that of the Graian Alps (the Little St. Bernard) leading into the territory of the Salassi (to Aosta and Ivrea). The former route is the shorter; but, after leaving the valley of the Rhone, it passes by the impracticable and unfruitful river-valleys of the Drac, the Romanche, and the upper Durance, through a difficult and poor mountain country, and requires at least a seven or eight days' mountain march. A military road was first constructed there by Pompeius, to furnish a shorter communication between the provinces of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul.

The route by the Little St. Bernard is somewhat longer; but after crossing the first Alpine wall that forms the eastern boundary of the Rhone valley, it keeps by the valley of the upper Isere, which stretches from Grenoble by way of Chambery up to the very foot of the Little St. Bernard or, in other words, of the chain of the higher Alps, and is the broadest, most fertile and most populous of all the Alpine valleys. Moreover, the pass of the Little St. Bernard, while not the lowest of all the natural passes of the Alps, is by far the easiest; although no artificial road was constructed there, an Austrian corps with artillery crossed the Alps by that route in 1815. And lastly this route, which only leads over two mountain ridges, has been from the earliest times the great military route from the Celtic to the Italian territory. The Carthaginian army had thus in fact no choice. It was a fortunate coincidence, but not a motive influencing the decision of Hannibal, that the Celtic tribes allied with him in Italy inhabited the country up to the Little St. Bernard, while the route by Mont Genevre would have brought him at first into the territory of the Taurini, who were from ancient times at feud with the Insubres.

So the Carthaginian army marched in the first instance up the Rhone towards the valley of the upper Isere, not, as might be presumed, by the nearest route up the left bank of the lower Isere from Valence to Grenoble, but through the "island" of the Allobroges, the rich, and even then thickly peopled, low ground, which is enclosed on the north and west by the Rhone, on the south by the Isere, and on the east by the Alps. The reason of this movement was, that the nearest route would have led them through an impracticable and poor mountain- country, while the "island" was level and extremely fertile, and was separated by but a single mountain-wall from the valley of the upper Isere. The march along the Rhone into, and across, the "island" to the foot of the Alpine wall was accomplished in sixteen days: it presented little difficulty, and in the "island" itself Hannibal dexterously availed himself of a feud that had broken out between two chieftains of the Allobroges to attach to his interests one of the most important of the chiefs, who not only escorted the Carthaginians through the whole plain, but also supplied them with provisions, and furnished the soldiers with arms, clothing, and shoes. But the expedition narrowly escaped destruction at the crossing of the first Alpine chain, which rises precipitously like a wall, and over which only a single available path leads (over the Mont du Chat, near the hamlet Chevelu). The population of the Allobroges had strongly occupied the pass. Hannibal learned the state of matters early enough to avoid a surprise, and encamped at the foot, until after sunset the Celts dispersed to the houses of the nearest town; he then seized the pass in the night Thus the summit was gained; but on the extremely steep path, which leads down from the summit to the lake of Bourget, the mules and horses slipped and fell. The assaults, which at suitable points were made by the Celts upon the army in march, were very annoying, not so much of themselves as by reason of the turmoil which they occasioned; and when Hannibal with his light troops threw himself from above on the Allobroges, these were chased doubtless without difficulty and with heavy loss down the mountain, but the confusion, in the train especially, was further increased by the noise of the combat. So, when after much loss he arrived in the plain, Hannibal immediately attacked the nearest town, to chastise and terrify the barbarians, and at the same time to repair as far as possible his loss in sumpter animals and horses. After a day's repose in the pleasant valley of Chambery the army continued its march up the Isere, without being detained either by want of supplies or by attacks so long as the valley continued broad and fertile. It was only when on the fourth day they entered the territory of the Ceutrones (the modern Tarantaise) where the valley gradually contracts, that they had again greater occasion to be on their guard. The Ceutrones received the army at the boundary of their country (somewhere about Conflans) with branches and garlands, furnished cattle for slaughter, guides, and hostages; and the Carthaginians marched through their territory as through a friendly land. When, however, the troops had reached the very foot of the Alps, at the point where the path leaves the Isere, and winds by a narrow and difficult defile along the brook Reclus up to the summit of the St. Bernard, all at once the militia of the Ceutrones appeared partly in the rear of the army, partly on the crests of the rocks enclosing the pass on the right and left, in the hope of cutting off the train and baggage. But Hannibal, whose unerring tact had seen in all those advances made by the Ceutrones nothing but the design of procuring at once immunity for their territory and a rich spoil, had in expectation of such an attack sent forward the baggage and cavalry, and covered the march with all his infantry. By this means he frustrated the design of the enemy, although he could not prevent them from moving along the mountain slopes parallel to the march of the infantry, and inflicting very considerable loss by hurling or rolling down stones. At the "white stone" (still called -la roche blanche-), a high isolated chalk cliff standing at the foot of the St. Bernard and commanding the ascent to it, Hannibal encamped with his infantry, to cover the march of the horses and sumpter animals laboriously climbing upward throughout the whole night; and amidst continual and very bloody conflicts he at length on the following day reached the summit of the pass. There, on the sheltered table-land which spreads to the extent of two and a half miles round a little lake, the source of the Doria, he allowed the army to rest. Despondency had begun to seize the minds of the soldiers. The paths that were becoming ever more difficult, the provisions failing, the marching through defiles exposed to the constant attacks of foes whom they could not reach, the sorely thinned ranks, the hopeless situation of the stragglers and the wounded, the object which appeared chimerical to all save the enthusiastic leader and his immediate staff—all these things began to tell even on the African and Spanish veterans. But the confidence of the general remained ever the same; numerous stragglers rejoined the ranks; the friendly Gauls were near; the watershed was reached, and the view of the descending path, so gladdening to the mountain-pilgrim, opened up: after a brief repose they prepared with renewed courage for the last and most difficult undertaking, —the downward march. In it the army was not materially annoyed by the enemy; but the advanced season—it was already the beginning of September—occasioned troubles in the descent, equal to those which had been occasioned in the ascent by the attacks of the adjoining tribes. On the steep and slippery mountain- slope along the Doria, where the recently-fallen snow had concealed and obliterated the paths, men and animals went astray and slipped, and were precipitated into the chasms. In fact, towards the end of the first day's march they reached a portion of the path about 200 paces in length, on which avalanches are constantly descending from the precipices of the Cramont that overhang it, and where in cold summers snow lies throughout the year. The infantry passed over; but the horses and elephants were unable to cross the smooth masses of ice, on which there lay but a thin covering of freshly-fallen snow, and the general encamped above the difficult spot with the baggage, the cavalry, and the elephants. On the following day the horsemen, by zealous exertion in entrenching, prepared a path for horses and beasts of burden; but it was not until after a further labour of three days with constant reliefs, that the half-famished elephants could at length be conducted over. In this way the whole army was after a delay of four days once more united; and after a further three days' march through the valley of the Doria, which was ever widening and displaying greater fertility, and whose inhabitants the Salassi, clients of the Insubres, hailed in the Carthaginians their allies and deliverers, the army arrived about the middle of September in the plain of Ivrea, where the exhausted troops were quartered in the villages, that by good nourishment and a fortnight's repose they might recruit from their unparalleled hardships. Had the Romans placed a corps, as they might have done, of 30,000 men thoroughly fresh and ready for action somewhere near Turin, and immediately forced on a battle, the prospects of Hannibal's great plan would have been very dubious; fortunately for him, once more, they were not where they should have been, and they did not disturb the troops of the enemy in the repose which was so greatly needed.(4)


The object was attained, but at a heavy cost. Of the 50,000 veteran infantry and the 9000 cavalry, which the army had numbered at the crossing of the Pyrenees, more than half had been sacrificed in the conflicts, the marches, and the passages of the rivers. Hannibal now, according to his own statement, numbered not more than 20,000 infantry—of whom three-fifths were Libyans and two-fifths Spaniards—and 6000 cavalry, part of them doubtless dismounted: the comparatively small loss of the latter proclaimed the excellence of the Numidian cavalry no less than the consideration of the general in making a sparing use of troops so select. A march of 526 miles or about 33 moderate days' marching—the continuance and termination of which were disturbed by no special misfortunes on a great scale that could not be anticipated, but were, on the other hand, rendered possible only by incalculable pieces of good fortune and still more incalculable blunders of the enemy, and which yet not only cost such sacrifices, but so fatigued and demoralized the army, that it needed a prolonged rest in order to be again ready for action—is a military operation of doubtful value, and it may be questioned whether Hannibal himself regarded it as successful. Only in so speaking we may not pronounce an absolute censure on the general: we see well the defects of the plan of operations pursued by him, but we cannot determine whether he was in a position to foresee them—his route lay through an unknown land of barbarians—or whether any other plan, such as that of taking the coast road or of embarking at Cartagena or at Carthage, would have exposed him to fewer dangers. The cautious and masterly execution of the plan in its details at any rate deserves our admiration, and to whatever causes the result may have been due —whether it was due mainly to the favour of fortune, or mainly to the skill of the general—the grand idea of Hamilcar, that of taking up the conflict with Rome in Italy, was now realized. It was his genius that projected this expedition; and as the task of Stein and Scharnhorst was more difficult and nobler than that of York and Blucher, so the unerring tact of historical tradition has always dwelt on the last link in the great chain of preparatory steps, the passage of the Alps, with a greater admiration than on the battles of the Trasimene lake and of the plain of Cannae.

Notes for Chapter IV

1. Our accounts as to these events are not only imperfect but one- sided, for of course it was the version of the Carthaginian peace party which was adopted by the Roman annalists. Even, however, in our fragmentary and confused accounts (the most important are those of Fabius, in Polyb. iii. 8; Appian. Hisp. 4; and Diodorus, xxv. p. 567) the relations of the parties appear dearly enough. Of the vulgar gossip by which its opponents sought to blacken the "revolutionary combination" (—etaireia ton ponerotaton anthropon—) specimens may be had in Nepos (Ham. 3), to which it will be difficult perhaps to find a parallel.

2. The Barca family conclude the most important state treaties, and the ratification of the governing board is a formality (Pol. iii. 21). Rome enters her protest before them and before the senate (Pol. iii. 15). The position of the Barca family towards Carthage in many points resembles that of the Princes of Orange towards the States-General.

3. It was not till the middle ages that the route by Mont Cenis became a military road. The eastern passes, such as that over the Poenine Alps or the Great St. Bernard—which, moreover, was only converted into a military road by Caesar and Augustus—are, of course, in this case out of the question.

4. The much-discussed questions of topography, connected with this celebrated expedition, may be regarded as cleared up and substantially solved by the masterly investigations of Messrs. Wickham and Cramer. Respecting the chronological questions, which likewise present difficulties, a few remarks may be exceptionally allowed to have a place here.

When Hannibal reached the summit of the St. Bernard, "the peaks were already beginning to be thickly covered with snow" (Pol. iii. 54), snow lay on the route (Pol. iii. 55), perhaps for the most part snow not freshly fallen, but proceeding from the fall of avalanches. At the St. Bernard winter begins about Michaelmas, and the falling of snow in September; when the Englishmen already mentioned crossed the mountain at the end of August, they found almost no snow on their road, but the slopes on both sides were covered with it. Hannibal thus appears to have arrived at the pass in the beginning of September; which is quite compatible with the statement that he arrived there "when the winter was already approaching" —for —sunaptein ten tes pleiados dusin— (Pol. iii. 54) does not mean anything more than this, least of all, the day of the heliacal setting of the Pleiades (about 26th October); comp. Ideler, Chronol. i. 241.

If Hannibal reached Italy nine days later, and therefore about the middle of September, there is room for the events that occurred from that time up to the battle of the Trebia towards the end of December (—peri cheimerinas tropas—, Pol. iii. 72), and in particular for the transporting of the army destined for Africa from Lilybaeum to Placentia. This hypothesis further suits the statement that the day of departure was announced at an assembly of the army —upo ten earinen oran— (Pol. iii. 34), and therefore towards the end of March, and that the march lasted five (or, according to App. vii. 4, six) months. If Hannibal was thus at the St. Bernard in the beginning of September, he must have reached the Rhone at the beginning of August —for he spent thirty days in making his way from the Rhone thither —and in that case it is evident that Scipio, who embarked at the beginning of summer (Pol. iii. 41) and so at latest by the commencement of June, must have spent much time on the voyage or remained for a considerable period in singular inaction at Massilia.

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