« FöregåendeFortsätt »
For five years, nothing memorable was performed on either side. The Romans were once of opinion that their land forces would alone be capable of finishing the siege of Lilybeum ; but the war being protracted beyond their expectation, they returned to their first plan, and made extraordinary efforts to fit out a new fleet. The public treasury was at a low ebb; but this want was supplied by private purses; so ardent was the love which the Romans bore their country. Every man, according to his circumstances, contributed to the common expense ; and, upon public security, advanced money without the least scruple, for an expedition on which the glory and safety of Rome depended. One man fitted out a ship at his own charge ; another was equipped by the contributions of two or three ; so that in a very little time two hundred were ready for sailing. * The command was given to Lutatius, the consul, who immediately put to sea. The enemy's fleet had retired into Africa, by which means the consul easily seized upon all the advantageous posts in the neighbourhood of Lilybeum ; and foreseeing that he should soon be forced to fight, he did all that lay in his power to assure himself of success, and employed the interval in exercising his soldiers and seamen at sea.
He was soon informed that the Carthaginian fleet drew near, under the command of Hanno, who landed in a small island called Hiera, opposite to Drepanum. His design was to reach Eryx undiscovered by the Romans, in order to supply the army there, and to reinforce his troops, and take Barcha on board to assist
him in the expected engagement. But the consul, suspecting his intention, was beforehand with him ; and having assembled all his best forces, sailed for the small island Egusa," which lay near the other. He acquainted his officers with the design he had of attacking the enemy on the morrow. Accordingly at daybreak, he put all things in readiness, when unfortunately the wind was favourable to the enemy, which made him hesitate whether he should give them battle. But considering that the Carthaginian fleet, when unloaded of its provision, would become lighter and more fit for action, and besides would be considerably strengthened by the forces and presence of Barcha, he came to a resolution at once ; and notwithstanding the foul weather, made directly to the enemy. The consul had choice forces, able seamen, and excellent ships, built after the model of a galley that had been lately taken from the enemy; and which was the completest in its kind that had ever been seen. The Carthaginians, on the other hand, were destitute of all these advantages. As they had been the entire masters at sea for some years,
and the Romans did not once dare to face them, they had them in the highest contempt, and looked upon themselves as invincible.
On the first report of the motion of the enemy, the Carthaginians had put to sea a fleet fitted out in haste, as appeared from every circumstance of it: the soldiers and seamen being all mercenaries, newly levied, without the least experience, resolution, or zeal, since it was not for their own country they were going to fight. This soon appeared in the engagement. They could not sustain the first
attack. Fifty of their vessels were sunk, and seventy taken with their whole crews. The rest, favoured by a wind which rose very seasonably for them, made the best of their way to the little island from whence they had sailed. There were upwards of ten thousand taken prisoners. The consulsailed immediately for Lilybeum, and joined his forces to those of the besiegers.
When the news of this defeat arrived at Carthage, it occasioned so much the greater surprise and terror, as it was less expected. The senate, however, did not lose their courage, though they saw themselves quite unable to continue the war. As the Romans were now masters of the sea, it was not possible for the Carthaginians to send cither provisions or reinforcements to the armies in Sicily. An express was therefore immediately dispatched to Barcha, the general there, empowering him to act as he should think proper. Barcha, so long as he had room to entertain the least hopes, had done every thing that could be expected from the most intrepid courage, and the most consummate wisdom. But having now no resource left, he sent a deputation to the consul, in order to treat about a peace. Prudence, says Polybius, consists in knowing how to resist and yield at a seasonable juncture. Lutatius was not insensible how tired the Romans were grown of a war which had exhausted them both of men and money; and the dreadful consequences which had attended on Regulus's inexorable and imprudent obstinacy, were fresh in their memories. He therefore complied without difficulty, and dictated the following treaty :
“ There shall be peace between Rome and Carthage (in case the Roman people approve of it), on the
following conditions : The Carthaginians shall evacuate entirely all Sicily ; shall no longer make war upon Hiero, the Syracusans, or their allies. They shall restore to the Romans, without ransom, all the prisoners which they have taken from them; and pay them, within twenty years, 'two thousand two hundred Euboic talents of silver." It is worth the reader's remarking by the way, the exact and clear terms in which this treaty is expressed ; that, in so short a compass, adjusts the interests both by sea and land, of two powerful republics and their allies.
When these conditions were brought to Rome, the people, not approving of them, sent ten commissioners to Sicily, to terminate the affair.
a These made no alteration as to the substance of the treaty ; only shortening the time appointed for the payment, reducing it to ten years. A thousand talents were added to the sum that had been stipulated, which was to be paid immediately; and the Carthaginians were required to depart out of all the islands situated between Italy and Sicily. Sardinia was not comprehended in this treaty, but they gave it up, some years after, by a treaty.
• Such was the conclusion of this war, the longest mentioned in history, since it continued twenty four years without intermission. The obstinacy, in disputing for empire, was equal on either side : the same resolution, the same greatness of soul, in forming as well as in executing of projects, being conspicuous
y This sum amounts to near 6,180,000 French livres.
Polyb. I. iii. p. 182. *A. M. 3763. A. Carth. 605. A. Rom. 507. Ant. J. C. 241.
on both sides.
The Carthaginians had the superi. ority over them with regard to experience in naval affairs ; in the strength and swiftness of their vessels ; the working of them; the skill and capacity of their pilots; the knowledge of coasts, shallows, roads, and winds; and in the inexhaustible fund of wealth, which furnished all the expenses of so long and obstinate a
The Romans had none of these advantages; but their courage, zeal for the public good, love for their country, and a noble emulation of glory, supplied all of them. We are astonished to see a nation so raw and inexperienced in naval affairs, not only disputing the empire of the sea with a people, who were best skilled in them, and more powerful than any that had ever been before, but even gaining several victories over them at sea. No difficulties or calamities could discourage them. They certainly would not have thought of peace, in the circumstances in which the Carthaginians demanded it. One unfortunate campaign dispirits the latter ; whereas the Romans are not shaken by a succession of them.
As-to the soldiers, though there was no comparison between those of Rome and Carthage, the former be. ing infinitely superior in point of courage, among
the generals who commanded in this war, Hamilcar, surnamed Barcha, was doubtless the most conspicuous for his bravery and prudence. ,
THE LIBYAN WAR;
OR AGAINST THE MERCENARIES,
¢ The war which the Carthaginians waged against the Romans, was a sucčéeded immediately by another
< Polyb. 1. 1. p. 65–89.