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Book XII

This webpage reproduces a Book of
Roman History

Cassius Dio

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Book XIV

Cassius Dio
Roman History

Thayer's Note: Before e-mailing me with questions, comments, or corrections involving the numbering of Books, chapters, and sections in this text, please read the orientation page.

 p55  Fragments of Book XIII

Zonaras 8,21

21 1 In the following year the Romans became openly hostile to the Carthaginians, and this war, though of far shorter duration than the previous one, proved to be both greater and severer in its exploits and its disasters. It was brought on chiefly by Hannibal, the general of the Carthaginians. This Hannibal was a son of Hamilcar Barca, and from his earliest boyhood had been trained to fight against the Romans. For Hamilcar said he was rearing all his sons like so many whelps to fight against them, and when he saw that this one had by far the best nature, he made him take an oath that he would wage war upon them; accordingly he was engaged in giving him a careful training, particularly in warfare, at the time of his own death, when the boy was fifteen years of age. Because of his youth Hannibal was unable to succeed then to the general­ship; upon the death of Hasdrubal, however, he delayed no longer, being now twenty-six years of age, but at once took possession of the army in Spain, and after being acclaimed general by the soldiers, brought it about that the command was confirmed to him also by those in authority at home. After accomplishing this he required a plausible excuse for his enterprise against the Romans, and this he found in the Saguntines of Spain. These people,  p57 dwelling not far from the river Iberus, and a short distance from the sea, were dependents of the Romans, who held them in honour, and in the treaty with the Carthaginians had made a special exception of them. Hence, for this reason Hannibal began war with them, knowing that the Romans would either assist the Saguntines or avenge them if they suffered injury. From this motive, then, as well as because he knew that they possessed great wealth, which he particularly needed, and from various other considerations that promised him advantages against the Romans, he made an attack upon the Saguntines.

Zonaras 8, 21 (continued)
Tzetzes in Lycophr. Alex. 516

Spain, in which the Saguntines dwell, and all the adjoining land is in the western part of Europe. It extends for a great distance along the inner sea, past the Pillars of Hercules, and along the Ocean itself; furthermore, it includes the regions inland for a very great distance, even to the Pyrenees. This range, beginning at the sea called anciently the sea of the Bebryces, but later the sea of the Narbonenses, reaches to the great outer sea, and contains many diverse nationalities; it also separates the whole of Spain from the neighbouring land of Gaul. The tribes were neither of one speech, nor did they have a common government. As a result, they were not known by one name: the Romans  p59 called them Spaniards, but the Greeks Iberians, from the river Iberus.

Dio Cocceianus calls the Narbonenses Bebryces, writing thus: "To those who were of old Bebryces, but now Narbonenses, belongs the Pyrenees range. This range is the boundary between Spain and Gaul."

These Saguntines, then, upon being besieged, sent to their neighbours and to the Romans, asking for aid. But Hannibal checked any local movement, while the Romans sent ambassadors to him commanding him not to come near the Saguntines, and threatening, in case he should not obey, to sail to Carthage at once and lay accusation against him. When the envoys were now close at hand, Hannibal sent some of the natives who were to pretend that they were kindly disposed to them and who were instructed to say that the general was not there, but had gone some distance away into parts unknown; and they advised the Romans to depart as quickly as possible, before their presence should be reported, lest in the disorder prevailing because of the absence of the general they should lose their lives. The envoys, accordingly, believed them and set out for Carthage. And when an assembly had been called, some of the Carthaginians counselled maintaining peace with the Romans, but the party attached to Hannibal affirmed that the Saguntines were guilty of wrongdoing, and that the Romans were meddling with what did not concern them. Finally those who urged them to make war won the day.

Meanwhile Hannibal in the course of the siege was conducting vigorous assaults, in which many of his men fell and many more were wounded. One day the Carthaginians succeeded in battering down a portion of the wall, and had been daring enough to enter through the breach, when the Saguntines made a sortie and drove them away. As a result the besieged were strengthened, and the Carthaginians gave  p61 way to discouragement. Yet they did not leave the city till they had captured it, though the siege dragged on to the eighth month. Many untoward incidents happened during that time, one of which was the dangerous wounding of Hannibal. The place was taken in the following manner. They brought to bear against the wall an engine much higher than the fortifications, and carrying heavy-armed soldiers, some visible, some concealed. While the Saguntines, therefore, were vigorously fighting against the men they saw, believing them to be the only ones, those concealed from view dug through the wall from below and found their way inside. The Saguntines, overwhelmed by the unexpectedness of the event, ran up to the citadel​a and held a conference, to see whether by any reasonable concessions they might be saved. But as Hannibal held out no moderate terms and no assistance came to them from the Romans, they begged for a cessation of the assaults, on the plea that they wished to deliberate a little about their present situation. During this respite they gathered together the most highly prized of their treasures and cast them into the flames; then such as were incapable of fighting took their own lives, and those who were in the prime advanced in a body against their opponents, and fighting zealously, were cut down.

22 1 On their account the Romans and the Carthaginians went to war; for Hannibal, after adding numerous allies to his force, was hastening toward Italy.

52 1 The Romans were at the height of their military power and enjoyed absolute harmony among themselves. Thus, unlike most people, who are led by unalloyed good fortune to audacity, but by  p63 strong fear to forbearance, they at this time had a very different experience in these matters. For the greater their successes, the more were they sobered; against their enemies they displayed that daring which is a part of bravery, but toward one another they showed the forbearance which goes hand in hand with good order. 2 They used their power for the exercise of safe moderation and their orderliness for the acquirement of true bravery; and they did not allow either their good fortune to develop into arrogance or their forbearance into cowardice. They believed that in the latter case sobriety was ruined by bravery and boldness by fear; whereas with them moderation was rendered more secure by bravery and good fortune surer by good order. It was due to this in particular that they carried through so successfully the wars that came upon them and administered both their own affairs and those of the allies so well.

54 1 All who dwelt on the near side of the Alps revolted to join the Carthaginians, not because they preferred the Carthaginians to the Romans as leaders, but because they hated the power that ruled them and welcomed the untried. The Carthaginians had allies against the Romans from every one  p65 of the tribes that then existed; but all of them taken together were scarcely Hannibal's equal. He could comprehend matters most clearly and plan out most promptly every project that he concerned, notwithstanding the fact that, as a rule, sureness is the result of deliberation and instability the result of a hasty disposition. 2 He was most resourceful in the suddenest emergency, and most steadfast to the point of utter trustworthiness. Not only did he safely handle the affair of the moment, but he accurately read the future beforehand; he proved himself a most capable counsellor in ordinary events and a most accurate judge of the unusual. By these powers he not only handled the situation immediately confronting him most readily and in the briefest time, but also by calculation anticipated the future afar off and considered it as though it were actually present. 3 Consequently he, above all other men, met each occasion with suitable words and acts, because he viewed the expected and the actual in the same light. He was able to manage matters thus for the reason that in addition to his natural capacity he was versed in much Phoenician learning common to his country, and likewise in much Greek learning, and furthermore he understood divination by the inspection of entrails.

 p67  4 In addition to such mental qualities he was also equipped with a physique that had been brought to a state of equal perfection, partly by nature and partly by his manner of life, so that he could carry out easily everything that he undertook. He kept his body agile and at the same time as compact as possible; and he could with safety, therefore, run, or stand his ground, or ride at furious speed. He never burdened himself with overmuch food, nor suffered through lack of it, but took more or less with equal readiness, feeling that either was satisfactory. Hardship made him rugged, and on loss of sleep he grew strong.

5 Possessing these advantages of mind and body, he managed affairs in general as follows. Since he saw that most men were trustworthy only in what concerned their own interest, he himself dealt with them on this principle and expected the same treatment of them, so that he very often succeeded by deceiving persons and very seldom failed by being the object of a plot. 6 He regarded as enemies all who could gain an advantage, whether foreigners or his own countrymen, and did not wait to learn their intentions from their acts, but treated them very harshly, assuming that they were desirous of doing whatever injury they could; he thought it better to be the first to act than the first to suffer, and resolved that others should be in his power rather than he in theirs. 7 In short, he paid attention to the real nature of things, rather than to the good things  p69 said of them, as often as the two did not happen to coincide. However, he showed excessive honour to any of whom he stood in need; for he considered that most men are slaves to such distinction, and saw that they were willing to encounter danger for the sake of it, even contrary to their own interest. 8 For these reasons he often refrained himself from opportunities for gain and other most delightful pleasures, but gave a share ungrudgingly to them. Hence he could get them to be zealous partners in hard work also. Furthermore, he subjected himself not only to the same conditions of living as these men, but also to the same dangers, and was the first to perform every task that he demanded of them. For he believed that thus they in their turn would give him unhesitating and eager support in all his projects, since they saw on his part something more than empty words. Towards the rest he always behaved very haughtily; 9 and the whole multitude, in consequence, felt either good-will or fear toward him because of their similar conditions of life in the one case, and because of his haughtiness in the other. Consequently, he was fully able to bring low the lofty, to exalt the humble, and in the briefest time to inspire any whom he pleased, now with hesitation, now with boldness, with hope also and despair, regarding the most important matters.

10 Now that this is not idle report about him, but truthful tradition, his deeds are proof. He won over many new districts of Spain in a short time, and from  p71 there carried the war into Italy through the country of the Gauls, most of whom were not only not in league with him, but actually unknown to him. He was the first of non-Europeans, so far as we know, to cross the Alps with an army, and after that he made a campaign against Rome itself, sundering from it almost all its allies, some by force and others by persuasion. 11 This, however, he achieved by himself without the aid of the Carthaginian government. He was not sent forth in the beginning by the magistrates at home, nor did he later obtain any great assistance from them. For although they were to enjoy no slight glory and benefit from his efforts, they wished rather not to appear to be leaving him in the lurch than to coöperate effectively in any enterprise.

Text, 55 1 
Zonaras 8, 22 (cont.)

Peace not only creates wealth but also preserves it, whereas war both expends it and destroys it.1

All mankind is so constituted as to desire to lord it over such as yield, and to employ the turn of Fortune's scale against those who are willing to be enslaved.

2 But do you, who have knowledge of this fact and  p73 who have had experience with these men, believe that forbearance and mildness are sufficient for our safety? And can you regard with indifference all the wrongs they may do us by stealth or deceit, or even by violence? Will you not rather bestir yourselves, be on your guard in season, and defend yourselves? And, indeed, you have never reflected that such behaviour is in place for you toward one another, while toward the Carthaginians it is cowardly and base. Our citizens we must treat in a manner both gentle and worthy of citizens; for if one be saved unexpectedly, it is our gain. But the enemy we must treat unsparingly; for we shall save ourselves, not by the defeats we incur as a result of sparing them, but by the victories we win as a result of humbling them.

3 War both preserves men's own possessions and wins those of others, whereas peace destroys not only what has been bestowed by war, but itself in addition.

 p75  3a Thus it is disgraceful to seem either to have taken the wrong course in the beginning or to have repented later when there was no necessity; for serious as it is to make a mistake in one's haste at the outset, it is yet more serious to give up in dismay the plan once approved.

3b Those whose lives are upright and noble and who are concerned with affairs must consider ahead of time what needs to be done, and then adopt the course which has met their approval; 4 for it is base to proceed to action before there has been discussion of the matter. In such a case, if successful, you will appear to have enjoyed good fortune rather than to have used good judgment, and if defeated, to be making your investigation at a time when there is no longer any profit in it. And yet who does not know that to heap up reproaches and to accuse people who have once warred against us is very easy — any man can do it — whereas, to state what is advantageous for the state, not in anger over other men's deeds, but with a view to the benefit of the state, is the duty of the advising class? 5 Do not arouse us, Lentulus, nor persuade us to go to war, until you show us that it will be really to our advantage. Reflect particularly — though there are other considerations — that speaking here about deeds  p77 of war is not the same thing as actually doing them.

6 Men are often set on their feet by disasters, and many who make a wise use of them far better than those who are altogether fortunate and for that reason arrogant. Somehow adversity seems to contain no inconsiderable portion of benefit, because it does not permit men to lose their senses or to indulge in extreme arrogance. It is most desirable, of course, to have a natural inclination toward all the best things, and to make not possibility, but reason, the measure of desire. But if a man be unable to admire the more excellent way, it will still pay him to learn moderation, even against his will, so as to regard occasional ill success as good fortune.

57 12 Now is it not absurd for us to be zealous for success in foreign and remote enterprises before we set the city itself upon a firm foundation? And is it not rash to be eager to conquer the enemy before we set our own affairs well in order?

55 7 It is imperative to be on one's guard against any  p79 similar experience again; this is the only benefit that one can receive from disasters. Successes occasionally ruin those who unthinkingly base their hopes upon them, believing they are sure of another victory, whereas failures compel every one as a result of his past experiences to provide securely for the future.

8 For securing either the favour of the gods or a good reputation among men it is no small thing to avoid the appearance of beginning war, and to seem forced rather to defend oneself against aggression.

9 After speeches of this character on both sides they decided to prepare for war; they would not vote for this, however, but decided to send envoys to Carthage and denounce Hannibal. Then, if the Carthaginians did not approve his deeds, they would arbitrate the matter, or if the responsibility were put upon him, they would present a  p81 demand for his surrender; and if he were given up, well and good; otherwise they would declare war upon them.

10 When the Carthaginians made no definite answer to the envoys and actually showed contempt for them, Marcus​2 Fabius thrust his hands beneath  p83 his toga, and holding them with palms upward, exclaimed: "I bring you here, Carthaginians, both war and peace; choose once for all whichever of them you wish." Upon their replying then and there to this challenge that they chose neither, but would readily accept whichever the Romans left with them, he declared war upon them.

56 1 The Romans invited the Narbonenses to an alliance. But these people declared that they had never suffered any harm from the Carthaginians nor received any favour from the Romans that they should war against the one or defend the other, and were quite angry with them; for they accused them of having done their kinsmen many wrongs.

The Romans, ascertaining this, assembled in the senate-house, and many speeches were delivered. Lucius Cornelius Lentulus in his address declared they must not delay, but must vote for war against the Carthaginians, and must separate the consuls and armies into two detachments, sending one to Spain and the other to Africa, in order that at one and this time the enemy's land might be desolated and their allies injured; thus their foes would be unable either to assist Spain or to receive assistance from there themselves. To this Quintus Fabius Maximus replied that is was not so absolutely necessary to vote for war, but that they ought first to send an embassy, and then, if the Carthaginians persuaded them that they were guilty of wrong, they should remain quiet, but if they were convicted of wrongdoing, they should then wage war upon them — "in order," he added, "that we may also cast the responsibility for the war upon them." The opinions of the two men were substantially these. The senate decided to prepare, indeed, for the struggle, but to send envoys to Carthage and denounce Hannibal; and if the Carthaginians did not approve his deeds, they would arbitrate the matter, or if the responsibility were put upon him, they would demand his surrender, and if he were not given up, they would declare war upon the nation.

The envoys accordingly set out, and the Carthaginians considered what must be done. Now a certain Hasdrubal, one of those who had been primed by Hannibal, counselled them that they ought to win back their ancient freedom and shake off, by means of money and troops and allies combined, the slavery imposed by peace, adding: "If you will but permit Hannibal to act by himself as he wishes, the proper thing will be done, and you will have no trouble yourselves." After such words on Hasdrubal's part the great Hanno, in opposing this argument, expressed the opinion that they ought not to draw war upon themselves lightly nor for small complaints concerning foreigners, when it was in their power to settle some of the complaints and divert the rest upon the heads of those who were responsible. With these remarks he ceased, and the elder Carthaginians, who remembered the former war, sided with him; but the younger men, and especially all the partisans of Hannibal, violently opposed him. When, then, they made no definite answer and showed contempt for the envoys, Marcus Fabius, thrusting his hands beneath his toga, and holding them with palms upward, exclaimed: "I bring you here, Carthaginians, both war and peace: choose whichever of them you wish." Upon their replying that they chose neither, but would readily accept whichever the Romans should leave, he immediately declared war upon them.

In this way, then, and for these reasons the Romans and the Carthaginians went to war for the second time. Now Heaven had indicated beforehand what was to come to pass. For in Rome an ox talked with a human voice, and another at the Ludi Romani hurled himself out of a house into the Tiber and perished, many thunderbolts fell, and blood in one case was seen issuing from sacred statues, whereas in another it dripped from the shield of a soldier, and the sword of another soldier was carried off by a wolf from the very midst of the camp. And in the case of Hannibal, many unknown wild beasts went before him leading the way, as he was crossing the Iberus, and a vision appeared to him in a dream. He thought once that the gods, sitting in assembly, sent for him and bade him march with all speed into Italy and that by this guide he was commanded to follow without turning around. He did turn, however, and saw a great tempest moving along and an immense serpent following in its wake. In surprise he asked his conductor what these were; and the guide said: "Hannibal, these are on their way to help you in the sack of Italy."

The Editor's Notes:

1 This and the following fragments (§§ 1‑8) seem to be taken from speeches delivered in the senate — § 1 by an unknown individual, opposing war, §§ 2 and 3 by Lentulus, urging war, and §§ 3a‑8 by Fabius, in reply to Lentulus.

2 See note on Greek text.

Which reads:

Willems suggests that Μᾶρκος is here a corruption of Μάξιμος.

Thayer's Note:

a the citadel: The word used in the Greek text is ἀκρόπολιν, acropolis: an innermost fortress. For further details, see the articles Arx and Acropolis in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

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