Sidor som bilder



I SHAĻL conclude the particulars which relate to the second Punic war, with a reflection of " Polybius, which will show the difference between the two commonwealths. It may be affirmed, in some measure, that at the beginning of the second Punic war, and in Hannibal's time, Carthage was in its decline. The Power of its youth, and its sprightly vigor, were already diminished. It had begun to fall from its exalted pitch of power, and was inclining towards its ruin: whereas, Rome was then, as it were, in its bloom and strength of life, and swiftly advancing to the conquest of the universe. The reason of the declension of the one, and the rise of the other, is taken, by Polybius, from the different form of government established in these commonwealths, at the time we are now speak. ing of. At Carthage, the common people had seized upon the sovereign authority with regard to public affairs, and the advice of their ancient men or magistrates were no longer listened to; all affairs were transacted by intrigue and cabal, To take no notice of the artifices which the faction opposite to Hannibal employed, during the whole time of his command, to perplex him, the single instance of burning the Roman vessels during a truce, a perfidious action to which the common people compelled the senate to lend their name and assistance, is a proof of Polybius' assertion. On the contrary, at this very time, the Romans paid the highest regard to their senate, that is, to a body composed of the greatest sages; and their old mep

• Lib. vi. p. 493, 494.

were listened to and revered as oracles. It is well known that the Roman people were exceedingly jealous of their authority, and especially in that part of it which related to the election of magistrates. "A century of young men, who by lot were to give the first vote, which generally directed all the rest, had nominated two consuls. On the bare remonstrance of Fabi. us," who represented to the people, that in a tempest, like that with which Rome was then struggling, the ablest pilots ought to be chosen to steer their common ship, the republic; upon this, I say, the century returned to their suffrages, and nominated other consuls. Polybius, from this disparity of government, infers, that a people, thus guided by the prudence of old men, could not fail of prevailing over a state which was governed wholly by the giddy multitude. And indeed the Romans, under the guidance of the wise counsels of their senate, gained at last the superiority with regard to the war considered in general, though they were defeated in several particular engagements, and established their power and grandeur on the ruin. of their rivals.

"Liv. I. xxiv. n. 8, 9. w Quilibet nautarum rectorumque tranquillo mari gubernare potest : Ubi sæva orta tempestas est, ac turbato mari rapitur vento navis, tum viro et gubernatore opus est. Non tranquillo navigamus, sed jam aliquot percellis submersi pene sumuş. Itaque quis ad gubernacula sedeat, summa cura providendum ac præcavendum nobis est.



This interval, though considerable enough with regard to its duration, since it took up above fifty years,


little remarkable as to the events which relate to Carthage. They may be reduced to two heads; of which the one relates to the person of Hannibal, and the other to some particular differences between the Carthaginians and Masinissa king of the Numidians. We shall treat both separately, but with no great extent.



When the second Punic war was ended, by the treaty of peace concluded with Scipio, Hannibal, as he himself observed in the Carthaginian senate, was forty five years of age.

What we have further to say of this great man, includes the space of twenty five years.



After the conclusion of the peace, Hannibal, at least in the beginning, was greatly respected in Carthage, where he filled the first employments of the state with honour and applause. "He headed the Carthaginian forces in some wars against the Africans : but the Romans, to whom the very name of Hannibal gave uneasiness, not being able to see him in arms, made complaints on that account; and accordingly he was recalled to Carthage.

* Corn. Nep. in Annib. c.7.

y On his return he was appointed praetor, which seems to have been a very considerable employment, as well as of great authority. Carthage is therefore going to be, with regard to him, a new theatre, as it were, on which he will display virtues and qualities of a quite different nature from those we have hitherto admired in him, and which will finish the picture of this illustrious man.

Eagerly desirous of restoring the affairs of his afflicted country to their former happy condition, he was persuaded, that the two most powersul methods to make a state flourish, were, an exact and equal distribution of justice to all people in general, and a faithful management of the public finances. The former, by preserving an equality among the citizens, and making them enjoy such a delightful, undisturbed liberty, under the protection of the laws, as fully secures their honour, their lives; and properties, unites the individuals of the commonwealth more closely together, and attaches them more firmly to the state, to which they owe the preservation of all that is most dear and valuable to them. The latter, by a faithful administration of the public revenues, supplies punctually the several wants and necessities of the state ; keeps in reserve a never failing resource for sudden emergencies, and prevents the people from being burdened with new taxes, which are rendered necessary by extravagant profusion, and which chiefly contribute to make men harbour an aversion for a government.

Hannibal saw, with great concern, the irregularities which had crept equally into the administration of

Y A. M. 3810. A. Rom. 554.

justice, and the management of the finances. Upon his being nominated praetor, as his love for regularity and order made him uneasy at every deviation from it, and prompted him to use his utmost endeavours to restore it, he had the courage to attempt the reformation of this double abuse, which drew after it a numberless multitude of others, without dreading either the animosity of the old faction that opposed him, or the new enmity which his zeal for the republic must necessarily raise.

? The judges exercised the most cruel rapine with impunity. They were so many petty tyrants, who disposed, in an arbitrary manner, of the lives and fortunes of the citizens ; without there being the least possibilty of putting a stop to their injustice, because they held their commissions for life, and mutually supported one another. Hannibal, as praetor, summoned before his tribunal an officer, belonging to the bench of judges, who openly abused his power. Livy tells us that he was a questor. This officer, who was in the opposite faction to Hannibal, and had already assumed all the pride and haughtiness of the judges, among whom he was to be admitted at the expiration of his present office, insolently refused to obey the summons. Hannibal was not of a disposition to suffer an affront of this nature tamely. Accordingly he caused him to be seized by a lictor, and brought him before an assembly of the people. There, not satisfied with levelling his resentment against this single officer, he impeached the whole bench of judges, whose insupportable and tyrannical pride was not restrained, either by the fear of the laws, or a reverence for the

z Liv. l. xxxiii. n. 46.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »