Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

ships than his, he had recourse to artifice. He put into earthen vessels all kinds of serpents, and ordered these vessels to be thrown into the enemy's ships. His chief aim in this was, to destroy Eumenes; and for that purpose, it was necessary for him to find out which ship he was on board of. This Hannibal discovered, by sending out a boat, upon pretence of conveying a letter to him. Having gained his point thus far, he ordered the commanders of the respective vessels to employ the chief force of their attacks against Eumenes's ship. They obeyed, and would have taken it, had he not outsailed his pursuers. The rest of the ships of Pergamus sustained the fight with great vigor, till the earthen vessels had been thrown into them. At first they only laughed at this, and were very much surprised to find such weapons employed against them. But seeing themselves surrounded with serpents, which flew out of these vessels when they flew to pieces, they were seized with dread, retired in disorder, and yielded the victory to the enemy.

y Services of so important a nature seemed to secure for ever to Hannibal an undisturbed asylum at that prince's court. However the Romans would not suffer him to be easy there, but deputed Q. Flaminius to Prusias, to complain of the protection he gave Hannibal. The latter easily guessed the motive of this embassy, and therefore did not wait till his enemies had an opportunity of delivering him up. At first he attempted to secure himself by flight; but perceiving that the seven secret outlets, which he had contrived in his palace, were all seized by the soldiers of Prusias, who,

» A. M. 3822. A. Rom. 566. Liv. I. xxxix. n. 51.

by this perfidy was desirous of making his court to the Romans, he ordered the poison, which he had long kept for this melancholy occasion, to be brought him; and taking it in his hand, “let us,” said he, “free the Romans from the disquiet with which they have so long been tortured, since they have not patience to wait for an old man's death. The victory which Flaminius gains over a naked, betrayed man, will not do him much honour. This single day will be a last. ing testimony of the great degeneracy of the Romans. Their fathers sent notice to Pyrrhus, to desire he would beware of a traitor who intended to poison him, and that at a time when this prince was at war with them in the very centre of Italy; but their sons have deputed a person of consular dignity to spirit up Prusias, impiously to murder one, who is not only his friend, but his guest.” After calling down curses upon Prusias, and having invoked the gods, the protectors and aveng. ers of the sacred rights of hospitality, he swallowed the poison, and died at seventy years of age..

This year was remarkable for the death of three great men, Hannibal, Philopaemen, and Scipio, who had this in common, that they all died out of their native countries, by a death little correspondent to the glory of their actions. The two first died by poison ; Hannibal was betrayed by his host ; and Philopaemen being taken prisoner in a battle against the Messenians, and thrown into a dungeon, was forced to swallow a dose of poison. As to Scipio, he banished himself, to avoid an unjust prosecution, which was carrying on against him at Rome, and ended his days in a kind of obscurity.

z Plutarch, according to his custom, assigns him three different deaths. Some, says he, relate, that having wrapped his cloak about his neck, he ordered his servant to fix his knees against his buttocks, and not to leave twisting till he had strangled him. Others say, that, in imitation of Themistocles and Midas, he drank bull's blood. Livy tells us, that Han. nibal drank a poison which he always carried about him ; and taking the cup into his hands, cried, "sitet us free,” &c. In vita Flaminii.

The character and eulogium of Hannibal. This would be the proper place for representing the excellent qualities of Hannibal, who reflected so much glory on Carthage. But as I have attempted to draw his character · elsewhere, and to give a just idea of him, by making a comparison between him and Scipio, I think myself dispensed from giving his eulogium at large in this place.

Persons who devote themselves to the profession of arms, cannot spend too much time in the study of this great man, who is looked upon, by judges, as the most complete general, in almost every respect, that ever the world produced.

During the whole seventeen years, the time the war lasted, two errors only are objected to him : First, his not marching, immediately after the battle of Cannae, his victorious army to Rome, in order to besiege that city : Secondly, his suffering their courage to be soft. ened and enervated, during their winter quarters in Capua : errors, which only shew that great men are not so in all things; summi enim sunt, homines tamen; and which, perhaps may be partly excused.

But then, for these two errors, what a multitude of shining qualities appear in Hannibal ! How extensive were his views and designs, even in his most tender years! What greatness of soul! What intrepidity! What presence of mind must he have possessed, to be able, even in the fire and heat of action, to take all ad. vantages ! With what surprising address must he have managed the minds of men, that, amidst so great a variety of nations which composed his army, who often were in want of money and provisions, his camp was not once disturbed with any insurrection, either against himself or any of his generals ! With what equity, what moderation must he have behaved towards his new allies, to have prevailed so far as to attach them inviolably to his service, though he was reduced to the necessity of making them sustain almost the .whole burden of the war, by quartering his army upon them, and levying contributions in their several countries ! In fine, how fruitful must he have been in expedients, to be able to carry on, for so many years, a war in a remote country, in spite of the violent opposition made by a powerful domestic faction, which refused him supplies of every kind, and thwarted him on all occasions ! It may be affirmed that Hannibal, during the whole series of this war, seemed the only prop of the state, and the soul of every part of the empire of the Carthaginians, who could never believe themselves conquered, till Hannibal confessed that he himself was so.

- Vol. II. of the method of studying and teaching the Belles Letters.

b Quintil.

But that man must know the character of Hannibal very imperfectly, who should consider him only at the head of armies. The particulars we learn from history concerning the secret intelligence he held with Philip of Macedon ; the wise counsels he gave to Antiochus, king of Syria ; the double regulation he introduced in Carthage, with regard to the management of the public revenues, and the administration of justice,

ments.

prove that he was a great statesman in every respect. So superior and universal was his genius, that it took in all parts of government ; and so great were his natural abilities, that he was capable to acquit himself in all the various functions of it with glory. Hannibal shone as conspicuously in the cabinet as in the field; equally able to fill the civil or the military employ

In a word, he united in his own person the different talents and merits of all professions, the sword, the gown, and the finances.

He had some learning; and though he was so much employed in military labours, and engaged in so many wars, he however found leisure to cultivate the muses. Several smart repartees of Hannibal, which have been transmitted to us, show that he had a great fund of natural wit; and this he improved, by the most polite education that could be bestowed at that time, in such a republic as Carthage. He spoke Greek tolerably well, and wrote some books in that language. His preceptor was a Lacedemonian (Solsius), who, with Philenius, another Lacedemonian, accompanied him in all his expeditions. Both these undertook to write the history of this renowned warrior.

With regard to his religion and moral conduct, he was not so profligate and wicked as he is represented by Livy, “cruel even to inhumanity, more perfidious than a Carthaginian; regardless of truth, of probity, of the sacred ties of oaths; fearless of the gods, and utterly void of religion.Inhumana crudelitas, perfidia

* Atque hic tantus vir, tantisque bellis districtus, non nihil temporis t'ibuit litteris, &c. Corn. Nep. in vita. Annib. cap. 13.

Lib. xxi. n. 4

« FöregåendeFortsätt »