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TIIE SECOND PUNIC WAR.
The second Punic war, which I am now going to relate, is one of the most memorable recorded in his. tory, and most worthy the attention of an inquisitive reader ; whether we consider the boldness of the enter. prises ; the wisdom employed in the execution; the obstinate efforts of two rival nations, and the ready resources they found in their lowest ebb of fortune ; the variety of uncommon events, and the uncertain issue of so long and bloody a war ; or lastly, the assemblage of the most perfect models in every kind of merit, and the most instructive lessons that occur in history, either with regard to war, policy, or government. Never did two more powerful, or at least more warlike states or nations make war against each other, and never had these in question seen themselves raised to a more exalted pitch of power and glory. Rome and Carthage were doubtless the two first states of the world. Having already tried their strength in the first Punic war, and thereby made an essay of each other's power, they knew perfectly well what either could do. In this second war, the fate of arms was so equally balanced, and the success so intermixed with vicissitudes and varieties, that that party triumphed which had been most exposed to ruin. Great as the forces of these two nations were, it may almost be said that their mutual hatred was still greater. The Romans, on one side, could not with any patience see the vanquished presuming to attack them; and the Carthaginians, on the other, were exasperated at the equally rapacious and mean treatment which they pretended to have received from the victor.
k Liv. l. xxi. n. 1.
The plan which I have laid down, does not permit me to enter into an exact detail of this war, whereof Italy, Sicily, Spain, and Africa were the several seats; and which has a still closer connection with the Roman history than with that I am now writing. I shall confine myself therefore, principally, to such transactions as relate to the Carthaginians; and endeavour, as far as I am able, to give my reader an idea of the genius and character of Hannibal, who perhaps was the greatest warrior that antiquity has to boast of.
The remote and more immediate causes of the second Punic war. Before I come to speak of the declaration of war betwixt the Romans and Carthaginians, I think it necessary to lay down the true causes of it, and to point out by what steps this rupture betwixt these two nations was so long preparing, before it broke out into
an open flame.
That man would be grossly mistaken, says Polybius,' who should look upon the taking of Saguntum by Hannibal as the true cause of the second Punic war. The regret of the Carthaginians, for their having so tamely given up Sicily, by the treaty which terminated the first Punic war ; the injustice and violence of the Romans, who took advantage, from the troubles excited in Africa, to dispossess the Carthaginians of Sardinia, and to impose a new tribute on them; and the success and conquests of the latter in Spain : these were the true causes of the violation of the treaty, as
"Lib. iii. p. 162–168.
Livy," agreeing here with Polybius, insinuates in few words, in the beginning of his history of the second Punic war.
"And indeed Hamilcar, surnamed Barcha, was highly exasperated on account of the last treaty which the necessity of the times had compelled the Carthaginians to submit to; and he therefore meditated the design of taking just, though distant measures, for breaking it the first favourable opportunity that should offer.
When the troubles of Africa were appeased, he was sent upon an expedition against the Numidians ; în which, giving fresh proofs of his courage and abilities, his merit raised him to the command of the army which was to act in Spain. Hannibal his son, at that time but nine years of age, begged with the utmost importunity to attend him on this occasion ; and for that purpose employed all the soothing arts so common to children of his age, and which have so much power over a tender father. Hamilcar could not refuse him; and after having made him swear upon the altar that he would declare himself an enemy to the Romans as soon as his age would allow him to do it, he took his son with him.
Hamilcar possessed all the qualities which constitute the great general. To an invincible courage, and the most consummate prudence, he added a most popular and insinuating behaviour. He subdued, in a very short time, the greatest part of the nations of Spain, either by the terror of his arms, or his engaging
Angebant ingentis spiritûs virum Sicilia Sardiniaque amissæ : Nain et Siciliam nimis celeri desperatione rerum concessum ; et Sara diniam inter motum Africæ fraude Romanorum, stipendio etiam su perimposito, interceptam. Liv. I. xxi. n. 1. + Polyb. 1. ii. p. 90.
Ibid. 1. i. p. 127. Liv. I. xxi. n. 1.
conduct; and after enjoying the command there nine years, came to an end worthy his exalted character, dying gloriously in arms for the cause of his country.
The Carthaginians appointed Asdrubal, his son in law, to succeed him. This general, to secure the country, built a city, which, by the advantage of its situation, the commodiousness of its harbour, its fortifications, and flow of wealth through its great commerce, became one of the most considerable cities in the world. It was called New Carthage, and to this day is known by the name of Carthagena.
From the several steps of these two great generals, it was easy to perceive that they were meditating some mighty design, which they had always in view, and laid their schemes at a great distance for the putting it in execution. The Romans were sensible of this, and reproached themselves for their indolence and sloth, which had thrown them into a kind of lethargy, at a time when the enemy were rapidly pursuing their victories in Spain, which might one day be turned against them. They would have been very well pleased to attack them by open force, and to wrest their conquests out of their hands ; but the fear of another, not less formidable enemy, the Gauls, kept them from showing their resentments. They therefore had recourse to negociations, and concluded a treaty with Asdrubal, in which, without taking any notice of the rest of Spain, they contented themselves with introducing an article, by which the Carthaginians were not allowed to make any conquests beyond the Iberus.
PA. M. 3776. A. Rom. 520. Polyb. I. ii p. 101.
9 Asdrubal, in the mean time, still pushed on his conquests, but took care not to pass beyond the limits stipulated by the treaty; and sparing no endeavours to win the chiefs of the several nations, by a courteous and engaging behaviour, he brought them over to the interest of Carthage, more by persuasive methods than by force of arms. But unhappily, after having governed Spain eight years, he was treacherously murdered by a Gaul, who took so barbarous a revenge for a private grudge he bore him."
* Three years before his death, he had written to Carthage, to desire that Hannibal, then twenty two years of age, might be sent to him. The proposal met with some difficulty, as the senate was divided betwixt two powerful factions, which, from Hamilcar's time, had begun to follow opposite views, in the administration and affairs of the state. One faction was headed by Hanno, whose birth, merit, and zeal for the public welfare, gave him great influence in the public deliberations. . This faction proposed, on every occasion, the conclud. ing of a safe peace, and the preserving the conquests in Spain, as being preferable to the uncertain events of an expensive war, which the members of it foresaw would one day occasion the ruin of Carthage. The other, called the Barcinian faction, because it supported the interest of Barcha and his family, had, to its ancient merit and credit in the city, added the reputa
9 Polyb. I. ii. p. 123. Liv. I. xxi. n. 2. * The murder was an effect of the extraordinary fidelity of this Gaul, whose master had fallen by the hand of Asdrubal. It was perpetrated in public ; and the murderer being seized by the guards, and put to the torture, expressed so strong a satisfaction in the thoughts of his having executed his revenge so successfully, that he seemed to insult all the terror of his torments. Eo fuit habitu oris, ut superante lætitia dolores, ridentis etiam speciem præbuerit. Liv. I. xxi. n. 1.
* A. M. 3783. A. Rom. 530. Liv. I. zsi. n. 3, 4.