Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

that relates rather to the Roman history, which I shall only transiently and occasionally touch upon. My business is to relate such facts only as may give the reader a just idea of the republic whose history lies before me; and this I may do, by confining myself to those particulars which relate chiefly to the Carthaginians, such as their transactions in Sicily, Spain, and Africa, which are sufficiently extensive.

I have already observed, that from the first Punic war to the ruin of Carthage, there were one hundred and eighteen years. This whole time may be divided into five parts, or intervals.

1. The first Punic war lasted twenty four years. 24 2. The interval betwixt the first and second Punic war, is also twenty four years.

24 3. The second Punic war took up seventeen years.

17 4. The interval betwixt the second and third, is forty nine years.

49 5. The third Punic war, terminated by the de

struction of Carthage, continued but four
years, and some months.

4

118

ARTICLE I.

THE FIRST PUNIC WAR.

* The first Punic war, arose from the following

Some Campanian soldiers in the service of Agathocles, the Sicilian tyrant, having entered as friends into Messina, they soon after murdered part of the townsmen, drove out the rest, married their wives, seized their effects, and remained sole masters of that important city. They then assumed the name of Mamertines. In imitation of them, and by their assistance, a Roman legion treated in the same cruel manner the city of Rhegium, lying directly opposite to Messina, on the other side of the strait. These two perfidious cities, supporting one another, became at last formidable to their neighbours; and especially Messina, which being very powerful, gave great umbrage and uneasiness both to the Syracusans and Carthaginians, who possessed one part of Sicily. After the Romans had got rid of the enemies they had so long contended with, and particularly of Pyrrhus, they began to think it time to call their citizens to account, who had settled themselves near two years, in Rhe. gium, in so cruel and treacherous a manner. Accord ingly they took the city, and killed in the attack the greatest part of the inhabitants, who, armed with despair, had fought to the last gasp: three hundred only were left, who were carried to Rome, whipped, and then publicly beheaded in the forum. The view which the Romans had in making this bloody execution, was, to prove to their allies their own sincerity and innocence. Rhegium was immediately restored to its lawful possessors. The Mamertines, who were considerably weakened, as well by the ruin of their confederate city, as by the losses sustained from the Syracusans, who had lately placed Hiero at their head, thought it time to provide for their own safety. But divisions arising among them, one part surrendered

cause.

k A. M. 3724. Gronos.

A. Rom. 468. Ant. J. G. 280. Polyb. I. i. p. 8, edit.

the citadel to the Carthaginians, whilst the other called in the Romans to their assistance, and resolved to put them in possession of their city,

1 The affair was debated in the Roman senate, where, being considered in all its lights, it appeared to have some difficulties. On one hand, it was thought base, and altogether unworthy of the Roman virtue, for them to undertake openly the defence of traitors, whose per. fidy was exactly the same with that of the Rhegians, whom the Romans had punished with so exemplary a severity. On the other hand, it was of the utmost consequence to stop the progress of the Carthaginians, who, not satisfied with their conquests in Africa and Spain, had also made themselves masters of almost all the islands of the Sardinian and Hetrurian seas, and would certainly get all Sicily into their hands, if they should be suffered to possess themselves of Mes. sina. From thence into Italy the passage was very short; and it was in some manner to invite an enemy to come over, to leave him that entrance open. These reasons, though so strong, could not prevail with the senate to declare in favour of the Mamertines ; and accordingly, motives of honour and justice prevailed over those of interest and policy. “But the people were not so scrupulous ; for, in an assembly held on this subject, it was resolved that the Mamertines should be assisted. The consul, Appius Claudius, imme. diately set forward with his army, and boldly crossed the strait, after he had, by an ingenious stratagem, eluded the vigilance of the Carthaginian general. The Carthaginians, partly by art, and partly by force, were driven

I Polyb. I. i. p. 12, 13, 14, 15, edit. Gronov. * A. M. 3741. A. Carth. 583. A. Rom. 485. Ant. J. G. 263. Frontin. VOL. I.

54

out of the citadel ; and the city was by this means surrendered immediately to the consul. The Carthaginians hanged their general, for having given up the citadel in so cowardly a manner, and prepared to be. siege the town with all their forces. Hiero joined them with his own. But the consul having defeated them separately, raised the siege, and laid waste at pleasure the neighbouring country, the enemy not daring to face him. This was the first expedition which the Romans made out of Italy.

It is doubted," whether the motives which prompted the Romans to undertake this expedition were very upright, and exactly conformable to the rules of strict justice. However this be, their passage into Sicily, and the succour they gave to the inhabitants of Messina, may be said to have been the first steps by which they ascended to that height of glory and grandeur they afterwards attained.

°Hiero, having reconciled himself to the Romans, and entered into an alliance with them, the Carthaginians bent all their thoughts on Sicily, and sent nume. rous armies into that island. PAgrigentum was their place of arms; which, being attacked by the Romans, was won by them, after they had besieged it seven months, and gained one battle.

4 Notwithstanding the advantage of this victory, and the conquest of so important a city, the Romans still were not satisfied. They were sensible, that whilst the Carthaginians should continue masters at sea, the marÁthne places in the island would always side with them, and put it out of their power ever to drive them out of Sicily. Besides, they could not with any patience see Africa enjoy a profound tranquillity, at a time that Italy was infested by so many incursions of its enemies. They now first formed the design of having a fleet, and of disputing the empire of the sea with the Carthaginians. The undertaking was bold, and in outward appearance rash ; but argued the courage and grandeur of the Roman genius. The Romans were not then possessed of a single vessel which they could call their own ; and the ships which had transported their forces into Sicily had been borrowed of their neighbours, They were unexperienced in sea affairs ; had no carpenters for the building of ships; and knew nothing of the quinqueremes, or fiveoared galleys, in which the chief strength of feets at that time consisted. But happily, the year before, one had been taken upon the coasts of Italy, which served as a model to build others by. The Romans now applied themselves with ardour and incredible industry to the building of ships in the same form; and in the mean time they got together a set of rowers, who were taught an exercise and discipline utterly unknown to them before, in the following manner : Benches were made on the shore, in the same order and fashion with those of galleys. The rowers were seated on these benches, and taught, as if they had been furnished with oars, to throw themselves backwards, with their arms drawn to their breasts; and then to throw their bodies and arms forward, in one regular motion, the instant their commanding officer gave the signal. In two months, one hun

o The chevalier Folard examines this question in his remarks upon Polybius, I. i. p. 16. • Polyb. k i. p. 15–19.

PA. M. 3743. A. Rom. 487. 9 Polyb. I. i. p. 20,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »