Titus Livius.

The History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 online

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and lopped a number of large trees which grew around, they make a huge
pile of timber; and as soon as a strong wind fit for exciting the
flames arose, they set fire to it, and, pouring vinegar on the heated
stones, they render them soft and crumbling. They then open a way with
iron instruments through the rock thus heated by the fire, and soften
its declivities by gentle windings, so that not only the beasts of
burden, but also the elephants could be led down it. Four days were
spent about this rock, the beasts nearly perishing through hunger: for
the summits of the mountains are for the most part bare, and if there
is any pasture the snows bury it. The lower parts contain valleys, and
some sunny hills, and rivulets flowing beside woods, and scenes more
worthy of the abode of man. There the beasts of burden were sent out
to pasture, and rest given for three days to the men, fatigued with
forming the passage: they then descended into the plains, the country
and the dispositions of the inhabitants being now less rugged.

38. In this manner chiefly they came to Italy in the fifth month (as
some authors relate) after leaving New Carthage, having crossed the
Alps in fifteen days. What number of forces Hannibal had when he had
passed into Italy is by no means agreed upon by authors. Those who
state them at the highest, make mention of a hundred thousand foot and
twenty thousand horse; those who state them at the lowest, of twenty
thousand foot and six thousand horse. Lucius Cincius Alimentus, who
relates that he was made prisoner by Hannibal, would influence me most
as an authority, did he not confound the number by adding the Gauls
and Ligurians. Including these, (who, it is more probable, flocked to
him afterwards, and so some authors assert,) he says, that eighty
thousand foot and ten thousand horse were brought into Italy; and that
he had heard from Hannibal himself, that after crossing the Rhone he
had lost thirty-six thousand men, and an immense number of horses, and
other beasts of burden, among the Taurini, the next nation to the
Gauls, as he descended into Italy. As this circumstance is agreed on
by all, I am the more surprised that it should be doubtful by what
road he crossed the Alps; and that it should commonly be believed that
he passed over the Pennine mountain, and that thence [Footnote: from
Paenus, Carthaginian.] the name was given to that ridge of the Alps.
Coelius says, that he passed over the top of Mount Cremo; both which
passes would have brought him, not to the Taurini, but through the
Salasian mountaineers to the Libuan Gauls. Neither is it probable that
these roads into Gaul were then open, especially once those which,
lead to the Pennine mountain would have been unlocked up by nations
half German; nor by Hercules (if this argument has weight with any
one) do the Veragri, the inhabitants of this ridge, know of the name
being given to these mountains from the passage of the Carthaginians,
but from the divinity, whom the mountaineers style Penninus,
worshipped on the highest summit.

39. Very opportunely for the commencement of his operations, a war had
broken out with the Taurini, the nearest nation, against the
Insubrians; but Hannibal could not put his troops under arms to assist
either party, as they very chiefly felt the disorders they had before
contracted, in remedying them; for ease after toil, plenty after want,
and attention to their persons after dirt and filth, had variously
affected their squalid and almost savage-looking bodies. This was the
reason that Publius Cornelius, the consul, when he had arrived at Pisa
with his fleet, hastened to the Po, though the troops he received from
Manlius and Atilius were raw and disheartened by their late disgraces,
in order that he might engage the enemy when not yet recruited. But
when the consul came to Placentia, Hannibal had already moved from his
quarters, and had taken by storm one city of the Taurini, the capital
of the nation, because they did not come willingly into his alliance;
and he would have gained over to him, not only from fear, but also
from inclination, the Gauls who dwell beside the Po, had not the
arrival of the consul suddenly checked them while watching for an
opportunity of revolt. Hannibal at the same time moved from the
Taurini, thinking that the Gauls, uncertain which side to choose,
would follow him if present among them. The armies were now almost in
sight of each other, and their leaders, though not at present
sufficiently acquainted, yet met each other with a certain feeling of
mutual admiration. For the name of Hannibal, even before the
destruction of Saguntum, was very celebrated among the Romans; and
Hannibal believed Scipio to be a superior man, from the very
circumstance of his having been specially chosen to act as commander
against himself. They had increased too their estimation of each
other; Scipio, because, being left behind in Gaul, he had met Hannibal
when he had crossed into Italy; Hannibal, by his daring attempt of
crossing the Alps and by its accomplishment. Scipio, however, was the
first to cross the Po, and having pitched his camp at the river
Ticinus, he delivered the following oration for the sake of
encouraging his soldiers before he led them out to form for battle:

40. "If, soldiers, I were leading out that army to battle which I had
with me in Gaul, I should have thought it superfluous to address you;
for of what use would it be to exhort either those horsemen who so
gloriously vanquished the cavalry of the enemy at the river Rhone, or
those legions with whom, pursuing this very enemy flying before us, I
obtained in lieu of victory, a confession of superiority, shown by his
retreat and refusal to fight? Now because that army, levied for the
province of Spain, maintains the war under my auspices [Footnote:
Because Spain was his proper province as consul.] and the command of
my brother Cneius Scipio, in the country where the senate and people
of Rome wished him to serve, and since I, that you might have a consul
for your leader against Hannibal and the Carthaginians, have offered
myself voluntarily for this contest, few words are required to be
addressed from a new commander to soldiers unacquainted with him. That
you may not be ignorant of the nature of the war nor of the enemy, you
have to fight, soldiers, with those whom in the former war you
conquered both by land and sea; from whom you have exacted tribute for
twenty years; from whom you hold Sicily and Sardinia, taken as the
prizes of victory. In the present contest, therefore, you and they
will have those feelings which are wont to belong to the victors and
the vanquished. Nor are they now about to fight because they are
daring, but because it is unavoidable; except you can believe that
they who declined the engagement when their forces were entire, should
have now gained more confidence when two-thirds of their infantry and
cavalry have been lost in the passage of the Alps, and when almost
greater numbers have perished than survive. Yes, they are few indeed,
(some may say,) but they are vigorous in mind and body; men whose
strength and power scarce any force may withstand. On the contrary,
they are but the resemblances, nay, are rather the shadows of men;
being worn out with hunger, cold, dirt, and filth, and bruised and
enfeebled among stones and rocks. Besides all this, their joints are
frost-bitten, their sinews stiffened with the snow, their limbs
withered up by the frost, their armour battered and shivered, their
horses lame and powerless. With such cavalry, with such infantry, you
have to fight: you will not have enemies in reality, but rather their
last remains. And I fear nothing more than that when you have fought
Hannibal, the Alps may appear to have conquered him. But perhaps it
was fitting that the gods themselves should, without any human aid,
commence and carry forward a war with a leader and a people that
violate the faith of treaties; and that we, who next to the gods have
been injured, should finish the contest thus commenced and nearly
completed."

41. "I do not fear lest any one should think that I say this
ostentatiously for the sake of encouraging you, while in my own mind I
am differently affected. I was at liberty to go with my army into
Spain, my own province, whither I had already set out; where I should
have had a brother as the bearer of my councils and my dangers, and
Hasdrubal, instead of Hannibal, for my antagonist, and without
question a less laborious war: nevertheless, as I sailed along the
coast of Gaul, having landed on hearing of this enemy, and having sent
forward the cavalry, I moved my camp to the Rhone. In a battle of
cavalry, with which part of my forces the opportunity of engaging was
afforded, I routed the enemy; and because I could not overtake by land
his army of infantry, which was rapidly hurried away, as if in flight,
having returned to the ships with all the speed I could, after
compassing such an extent of sea and land, I have met him at the foot
of the Alps. Whether do I appear, while declining the contest, to have
fallen in unexpectedly with this dreaded foe, or encounter him in his
track? to challenge him and drag him out to decide the contest? I am
anxious to try whether the earth has suddenly, in these twenty years,
sent forth a new race of Carthaginians, or whether these are the same
who fought at the islands Aegates, and whom you permitted to defeat
from Eryx, valued at eighteen denarii a head; and whether this
Hannibal be, as he himself gives out, the rival of the expeditions of
Hercules, or one left by his father the tributary and taxed subject
and slave of the Roman people; who, did not his guilt at Saguntum
drive him to frenzy, would certainly reflect, if not upon his
conquered country, at least on his family, and his father, and the
treaties written by the hand of Hamilcar; who, at the command of our
consul, withdrew the garrison from Eryx; who, indignant and grieving,
submitted to the harsh conditions imposed on the conquered
Carthaginians; who agreed to depart from Sicily, and pay tribute to
the Roman people. I would, therefore, have you fight, soldiers, not
only with that spirit with which you are wont to encounter other
enemies, but with a certain indignation and resentment, as if you saw
your slaves suddenly taking up arms against you. We might have killed
them when shut up in Eryx by hunger, the most dreadful of human
tortures; we might have carried over our victorious fleet to Africa,
and in a few days have destroyed Carthage without any opposition. We
granted pardon to their prayers; we released them from the blockade;
we made peace with them when conquered; and we afterwards considered
them under our protection when they were oppressed by the African war.
In return for these benefits, they come under the conduct of a furious
youth to attack our country. And I wish that the contest on your side
was for glory, and not for safety: it is not about the possession of
Sicily and Sardinia, concerning which the dispute was formerly, but
for Italy, that you must fight: nor is there another army behind,
which, if we should not conquer, can resist the enemy; nor are there
other Alps, during the passage of which fresh forces may be procured:
here, soldiers, we must make our stand, as if we fought before the
walls of Rome. Let every one consider that he defends with his arms
not only his own person, but his wife and young children: nor let him
only entertain domestic cares and anxieties, but at the same time let
him revolve in his mind, that the senate and people of Rome now
anxiously regard our efforts; and that according as our strength and
valour shall be, such henceforward will be the fortune of that city
and of the Roman empire."

42. Thus the consul addressed the Romans. Hannibal, thinking that his
soldiers ought to be roused by deeds rather than by words, having
drawn his army around for the spectacle, placed in their midst the
captive mountaineers in fetters; and after Gallic arms had been thrown
at their feet, he ordered the interpreter to ask, "whether any among
them, on condition of being released from chains, and receiving, if
victorious, armour and a horse, was willing to combat with the sword?"
When they all, to a man, demanded the combat and the sword, and lots
were cast into the urn for that purpose, each wished himself the
person whom fortune might select for the contest. As the lot of each
man came out, eager and exulting with joy amidst the congratulations
of his comrades, and dancing after the national custom, he hastily
snatched up the arms: but when they fought, such was the state of
feeling, not only among their companions in the same circumstances,
but among the spectators in general, that the fortune of those who
conquered was not praised more than that of those who died bravely.

43. When he had dismissed the soldiers, thus affected after viewing
several pairs of combatants, having then summoned an assembly, he is
said to have addressed them in these terms: "If, soldiers, you shall
by and by, in judging of your own fortune, preserve the same feelings
which you experienced a little before in the example of the fate of
others, we have already conquered; for neither was that merely a
spectacle, but as it were a certain representation of your condition.
And I know not whether fortune has not thrown around you still
stronger chains and more urgent necessities than around your captives.
On the right and left two seas enclose you, without your possessing a
single ship even for escape. The river Po around you, the Po larger
and more impetuous than the Rhone, the Alps behind, scarcely passed by
you when fresh and vigorous, hem you in. Here, soldiers, where you
have first met the enemy, you must conquer or die; and the same
fortune which has imposed the necessity of fighting, holds out to you,
if victorious, rewards, than which men are not wont to desire greater,
even from the immortal gods. If we were only about to recover by our
valour Sicily and Sardinia, wrested from our fathers, the recompence
would be sufficiently ample; but whatever, acquired and amassed by so
many triumphs, the Romans possess, all, with its masters themselves,
will become yours. To gain this rich reward, hasten, then, and seize
your arms with the favour of the gods. Long enough in pursuing cattle
among the desert mountains of Lusitania [Footnote: The ancient name
of Portugal.] and Celtiberia, you have seen no emolument from so many
toils and dangers: it is time to make rich and profitable campaigns,
and to gain the great reward of your labours, after having
accomplished such a length of journey over so many mountains and
rivers, and so many nations in arms. Here fortune has granted you the
termination of your labours; here she will bestow a reward worthy of
the service you have undergone. Nor, in proportion as the war is great
in name, ought you to consider that the victory will be difficult. A
despised enemy has often maintained a sanguinary contest, and renowned
states and kings been conquered by a very slight effort. For, setting
aside only the splendour of the Roman name, what remains in which they
can be compared to you? To pass over in silence your service for
twenty years, distinguished by such valour and success you have made
your way to this place from the pillars of Hercules, [Footnote:
Calpe, a mountain or rather rock in Spain, and Abyla in Africa, fabled
to have been placed by Hercules as marks of his most distant voyage,
are now well known as Gibraltar and Ceuta.] from the ocean, and the
remotest limits of the world advancing victorious through so many of
the fiercest nations of Gaul and Spain: you will fight with a raw
army, which this very summer was beaten, conquered, and surrounded by
the Gauls, as yet unknown to its general, and ignorant of him. Shall I
compare myself, almost born, and certainly bred in the tent of my
father, that most illustrious commander, myself the subjugator of
Spain and Gaul, the conqueror too not only of the Alpine nations, but
what is much more, of the Alps themselves, with this six months'
general, the deserter of his army? To whom, if any one, having taken
away their standards, should show to-day the Carthaginians and Romans,
I am sure that he would not know of which army he was consul. I do not
regard it, soldiers, as of small account, that there is not a man
among you before whose eyes I have not often achieved some military
exploit; and to whom, in like manner, I the spectator and witness of
his valour, could not recount his own gallant deeds, particularized by
time and place. With soldiers who have a thousand times received my
praises and gifts, I, who was the pupil of you all before I became
your commander, will march out in battle-array against those who are
unknown to and ignorant of each other."

44. "On whatever side I turn my eyes I see nothing but what is full of
courage and energy; a veteran infantry; calvary, both those with and
those without the bridle, composed of the most gallant nations, you
our most faithful and valiant allies, you Carthaginians, who are about
to fight as well for the sake of your country as from the justest
resentment. We are the assailants in the war, and descend into Italy
with hostile standards, about to engage so much more boldly and
bravely than the foe, as the confidence and courage of the assailant
are greater than those of him who is defensive. Besides suffering,
injury and indignity inflame and excite our minds: they first demanded
me your leader for punishment, and then all of you who had laid siege
to Saguntum; and had we been given up they would have visited us with
the severest tortures. That most cruel and haughty nation considers
every thing its own, and at its own disposal; it thinks it right that
it should regulate with whom we are to have war, with whom peace: it
circumscribes and shuts us up by the boundaries of mountains and
rivers, which we must not pass; and then does not adhere to those
boundaries which it appointed. Pass not the Iberus; have nothing to do
with the Saguntines. Saguntum is on the Iberus; you must not move a
step in any direction. Is it a small thing that you take away my most
ancient provinces Sicily and Sardinia? will you take Spain also? and
should I withdraw thence, you will cross over into Africa - will cross,
did I say? they have sent the two consuls of this year one to Africa,
the other to Spain: there is nothing left to us in any quarter, except
what we can assert to ourselves by arms. Those may be cowards and
dastards who have something to look back upon; whom, flying through
safe and unmolested roads, their own lands and their own country will
receive: there is a necessity for you to be brave; and since all
between victory and death is broken off from you by inevitable
despair, either to conquer, or, if fortune should waver, to meet death
rather in battle than flight. If this be well fixed and determined in
the minds of you all, I will repeat, you have already conquered: no
stronger incentive to victory has been given to man by the immortal
gods."

45. When the minds of the soldiers on both sides had been animated to
the contest by these exhortations, the Romans throw a bridge over the
Ticinus, and, for the sake of defending the bridge, erect a fort on
it. The Carthaginian, while the Romans were engaged in this work,
sends Maharbal with a squadron of five hundred Numidian horse, to lay
waste the territories of the allies of the Roman people. He orders
that the Gauls should be spared as much as possible, and the minds of
their chiefs be instigated to a revolt. When the bridge was finished,
the Roman army being led across into the territory of the Insubrians,
took up its station five miles from Victumviae. At this place Hannibal
lay encamped; and having quickly recalled Maharbal and the cavalry,
when he perceived that a battle was approaching, thinking that in
exhorting the soldiers enough could never be spoken or addressed by
way of admonition, he announces to them, when summoned to an assembly,
stated rewards, in expectation of which they might fight. He promised,
"that he would give them land in Italy, Africa, Spain, where each man
might choose, exempt from all burdens to the person who received it,
and to his children: if any one preferred money to land, he would
satisfy him in silver; if any of the allies wished to become citizens
of Carthage, he would grant them permission; if others chose rather to
return home, he would lend his endeavours that they should not wish
the situation of any one of their countrymen exchanged for their own."
To the slaves also who followed their masters he promised freedom, and
that he would give two slaves in place of each of them to their
masters. And that they might know that these promises were certain,
holding in his left hand a lamb, and in his right a flint, having
prayed to Jupiter and the other gods, that, if he was false to his
word, they would thus slay him as he slew the lamb; after the prayer
he broke the skull of the sheep with the stone. Then in truth all,
receiving as it were the gods as sureties, each for the fulfilment of
his own hopes, and thinking that the only delay in obtaining the
object of their wishes arose from their not yet being engaged, with
one mind and one voice demanded the battle.

46. By no means so great an alacrity prevailed among the Romans, who,
in addition to other causes, were also alarmed by recent prodigies;
for both a wolf had entered the camp, and having torn those who met
him, had escaped unhurt; and a swarm of bees had settled on a tree
overhanging the general's tent. After these prodigies were expiated,
Scipio having set out with his cavalry and light-armed spearmen
towards the camp of the enemy, to observe from a near point their
forces, how numerous, and of what description they were, falls in with
Hannibal, who had himself also advanced with his cavalry to explore
the circumjacent country: neither at first perceived the other, but
the dust arising from the trampling of so many men and horses soon
gave the signal of approaching enemies. Both armies halted, and were
preparing themselves for battle. Scipio places his spearmen and Gallic
cavalry in front; the Romans and what force of allies he had with him,
in reserve. Hannibal receives the horsemen who rode with the rein in
the centre, and strengthens his wings with Numidians. When the shout
was scarcely raised, the spearmen fled among the reserve to the second
line: there was then a contest of the cavalry, for some time doubtful;
but afterwards, on account of the foot soldiers, who were
intermingled, causing confusion among the horses, many of the riders
falling off from their horses, or leaping down where they saw their
friends surrounded and hard pressed, the battle for the most part came
to be fought on foot; until the Numidians, who were in the wings,
having made a small circuit, showed themselves on the rear. That alarm
dismayed the Romans, and the wound of the consul, and the danger to
his life, warded off by the interposition of his son, then just
arriving at the age of puberty, augmented their fears. This youth will
be found to be the same to whom the glory of finishing this war
belongs, and to whom the name of Africanus was given, on account of
his splendid victory over Hannibal and the Carthaginians. The flight,
however, of the spearmen, whom the Numidians attacked first, was the
most disorderly. The rest of the cavalry, in a close body, protecting,
not only with their arms, but also with their bodies, the consul, whom
they had received into the midst of them, brought him back to the camp
without any where giving way in disorder or precipitation. Coelius
attributes the honour of saving the consul to a slave, by nation a
Ligurian. I indeed should rather wish that the account about the son
was true, which also most authors have transmitted, and the report of
which has generally obtained credit.

47. This was the first battle with Hannibal; from which it clearly
appeared that the Carthaginian was superior in cavalry; and on that
account, that open plains, such as lie between the Po and the Alps,
were not suited to the Romans for carrying on the war. On the
following night, therefore, the soldiers being ordered to prepare
their baggage in silence, the camp broke up from the Ticinus, and they
hastened to the Po, in order that the rafts by which the consul had
formed a bridge over the river, being not yet loosened, he might lead
his forces across without disturbance or pursuit of the enemy. They



Online LibraryTitus LiviusThe History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 → online text (page 18 of 52)