« FöregåendeFortsätt »
guish but the ruin of one of the contending powers; som fierce were their mutual hatred and animosity.
* Some years after the conclusion of this first treaty, the Carthaginians made an alliance with Xerxes king of Persia. This prince, who aimed at nothing less than the total extirpation of the Greeks, whom he considered as his irreconcilable enemies, thought it would be impossible for him to succeed in his enterprise, without the assistance of Carthage, whose power made it formidable even at that time. The Carthaginians, who always kept in view the design they entertained of seizing upon the remainder of Sicily, grecdily snatched the favourable opportunity which now presented itself for their completing the reduction of it. A treaty was therefore concluded, whereby the Carthaginians were to invade, with all their forces, those Greeks who were settled in Sicily and Italy, during whích Xerxes should march in person against Greece itself.
The preparations for this war lasted three years. The land army amounted to no less than three hundred thousand men.
The fleet consisted of two thousand ships of war, and upwards of three thousand small vessels of burden. Hamilcar, the most experienced captain of his age, sailed from Carthage with this formidable army. He landed at Palermo,' and, after refreshing his troops, he marched against Hymera, a city not far distant from Palermo, and laid siege to it. Theron, who commanded in it, seeing himself very much straitened, sent to Gelon, who had possessed himself of Syracuse. He flew immediately to his relief, with
k A. M. 3520. J. C. 484. Diod. I. xi. p. 1, 16, & 22.
This city is called in Latin Panormus.
fifty thousand foot, and five thousand horse. His ara rival infused new courage into the besieged, who, from that time, made a very vigorous defence.
Gelon was an able warrior, and excelled in stratagems. A courier was brought to him, who had been dispatched from Selinuntum with a letters Hamil. car, to inform him of the day when he might expect the cavalry, which he had demanded of them. Gelon drew out an equal number of his own, and sent them from his camp about the time agreed on. These being admitted into the enemy's camp, as coming from Selinuntum, rushed upon Hamilcar, killed him, and set fire to his ships. In this critical conjuncture, Gelon attacked, with all his forces, the Carthaginians, who at first made a gallant resistance ; but when the news of their general's death was brought them, and they saw all their fleet in a blaże, their
failed them, and they fled. And now a dreadful slaughter ensued ; upwards of one hundred and fifty thousand being slain. The rest of the army having retired to a place where they were in want of every thing, could not make a long defence, and so were forced to surrender at discretion. This battle was fought the very day of the famous action of Thermopyle, in which three hundred Spartans, with the sacrifice of their lives, disputed Xerxes's entrance into Greece.
When the sad news was brought to Carthage, of the entire defeat of the army, consternation, grief, and despair, threw the whole city into such a confusion and alarm as are not to be expressed. It was imagined
m Besides the three hundred Spartans, the Thessians, a people of Beotia, to the number of seven hundred, fought and died with Leonidas, in this memorable battle. Herod. 1. vii. c. 202—222.
that the enemy was already at the gates. The Carthaginians, in great reverses of fortune, always lost their courage, and sunk into the opposite extreme. Immediately, they sent a deputation to Gelon, by which they desired peace upon any terms.
He heard their envoys with great humanity. The complete victory he had gained, so far from making him haughty and untractable, had only increased his modesty and clemency even towards the enemy.. He therefore granted them a peace, upon no other condition than their
paying two thousand talents" towards the expense of the
He likewise required them to build two temples, where the treaty of this peace should be deposited and exposed at all times to public view. The Carthaginians did not think this a dear purchase of a peace, that was so absolutely necessary to their affairs, and which they hardly durst hope for. Gisgo, the son of Hamilcar, pursuant to the unjust custom of the Carthaginians, of ascribing to the general the ill success of a-war and making him suffer for it, was punished for his father's misfortune, and sent into banishment. He passed the remainder of his days at Selinuntum, a city of Sicily
Gelon, on his return to Syracuse, convened the people, and invited all the citizens to appear under arms. He himself entered the assembly, unarmed and without his guards, and there gave an account of the whole conduct of his life. His speech met with no other interruption but the public testimonies which were given him
gratitude and admiration. So far from
* An Attic silver talent, according to Dr. Bernard, is 2061. 58. conse. quently 2000 talents is 412,5001.=S 1,831,500. VOL. 1.
being treated as a tyrant and the oppressor of his country's liberty, he was considered as its benefactor and deliverer ; all, with an 'unanimous voice, proclaimed him king; and the crown was bestowed, after his death, on his two brothers.
• After the memorable defeat of the Athenians before Syracuse, where Nicias perished with his whole fleet, the Segestans, who had declared in favour of the Athenians against the Syracusans, fearing the resentment of their enemies, and being attacked by the inhabitants of Selinuntum, implored the aid of the Carthaginians, and put themselves and city under their protection. The last mentioned people debated some time what course it would be proper forthem to take, the affair meeting with great difficulties. On one hand, the Carthaginians were very desirous to possess themselves of a city which lay so convenient for them ; on the other, they dreaded the power and forces of Syracuse, which had so lately cut to pieces a numerous army of the Athenians, and become, by so shining a victory, more for. midable than ever. At last, the lust of empire prevailed, and the Segestans were promised succours.
The conduct of this war was committed to Hannibal, who had been invested with the highest dignity of the state, being one of the suffetes. He was grandson to Hamilcar who had been defeated by Gelon, and killed before Hymera ; and son to Gisgo, who had been condemned to exile. He left Carthage, fired with a desire of revenging his family and country, and of wiping away the disgrace of the last lefeat. He had a very great army as well as fleet under his com
• A. M. 3592. A. Carth. 434. Rom. 336. Ant. J. C. 412. Diod. I. xiii. p. 169-171, 179—186.
mand. He landed at a place called the Well of Lilybeum, which gave its name to a city afterwards built on the same spot. His first enterprise was the siege of Selinuntum. The attack and defence were equally vigorous, the very women shewing a resolution and bravery above their sex. The city, after making a long resistance, was taken by storm, and the plunder of it abandoned to the soldiers. The victor exercised the most horrid cruelties, without shewing the least regard either to age or sex. He permitted such inhabitants as had fled, to continue in the city after it had been dismantled, and to till the lands, on condition of their paying a tribute to the Carthaginians. This city had been built two hundred and forty two years.
Hymera, which was next besieged by Hannibal, and likewise taken by storm, and more cruelly treated than Selinuntum, was entirely razed, two hundred and forty years from its foundation. He forced three thousand prisoners to undergo all kinds of ignominy and punishments, and at last murdered them on the very spot where his grandfather had been killed by Gelon's cavalry ; to appease and satisfy his manes, by the blood of these unhappy victims.
These expeditions being ended, Hannibal returned to Carthage, on which occasion the whole city came out to meet him, and received him amidst the most joyful acclamations.
These successes reinflamed the desire, and revived the design which the Carthaginians had ever entertained, of getting possession of all Sicily. Three years after, they appointed Hannibal their general a second time ; and on his pleading his great age, and refusing
P Diod. 1. xiii. p. 201-203, 206-211, 226-231.