READING HALL "THIRD MILLENNIUM LIBRARY"

 

 

ROME AND THE MEDITERRANEAN. 218-133 BC

 

CHAPTER IV

SCIPIO AND VICTORY

I.

NOVA CARTHAGO

 

AFTER the terrible disaster of the two Roman armies in 211 BC the Romans lost their hold upon Spain south of the Ebro except for the fortified cities of Castulo and Saguntum. The Carthaginians were able to cross the Ebro and succeeded in detaching from the Romans the fickle prince Indibilis, chief of the powerful tribe of the Ilergeti. But an able knight L. Marcius collected a small force from the survivors of the recent battle and the garrison troops of Emporium and Tarraco, and prevented the Carthaginians through the rest of the summer from further exploiting their victory by forming a base north of the Ebro. In the autumn the Romans sent fresh forces to Spain, one full legion and the nucleus of a second to be formed by the addition of the troops of Marcius. The new commander was C. Claudius Nero, who had commanded an army in Italy for two years in Picenum and at the siege of Capua. He had been well schooled in Fabian tactics, and through 210 BC he maintained a strict defensive. Nor do we hear that Hasdrubal attempted or achieved any operation of importance against the strong Roman position on the coast, since without the command of the seas the Carthaginians could not hope to reduce Emporium or Tarraco. Yet the Senate must have been aware that the Carthaginians were steadily recruiting fresh troops amongst the Celtiberians and that a purely defensive policy would end by failing to prevent a second Carthaginian army from marching from Spain in 209 or 208 to invade Italy. The situation, in fact, was one which called for a commander of genius, since none of the experienced commanders in Italy were anxious to attempt the reconquest of Spain. The Senate acted with a boldness and independence which must excite the highest admiration. Recognizing the outstanding personal qualities of the younger P. Scipio, though he was only 25 years of age and had hitherto only held the curule aedileship (213 BC), the Senate, waiving constitutional precedent, supported his election to proconsular command in Spain amid scenes of popular enthusiasm. The appointment was the more notable in view of the influence of the Claudian family, which is attested by the commands held by members of that grim house. For Scipio’s appointment was a criticism of Claudius Nero. We need not, however, suppose that the Senatorial policy was the plaything of noble cliques, whose very existence is far from proved, M. Junius Silanus was appointed as colleague with imperium minus, and a force of 10,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry was allotted to them, so that Scipio would have at his disposal in Spain an army of four weak legions. Scipio landed at Emporium towards the end of 210 and made preparations for an exploit of no less daring than the capture of the chief Carthaginian fortress in Spain, Nova Carthago. His magnetic personality rapidly raised the morale of the Spanish legions and began to mould them into an invincible army. For, in the first place, his boundless self-confidence was part of a genuinely religious and mystic nature which the rationalism of Polybius has quite failed to understand; long vigils in prayer gave his utterances the true quality of inspired fanaticism; Poseidon himself, he declared, when launching the attack on Nova Carthago, had appeared to him in his sleep and suggested the plan of the assault, so that on every soldier’s lips was the battle-cry “Neptunus dux itineris”. The fervor of the troops was fanned by the burning enthusiasm of their general, an enthusiasm which later the cold skepticism of the hellenized circle of Scipio Aemilianus could only misinterpret as assumed deliberately by his great ancestor. At the same time Polybius is right in pointing out that the chief factor in the success of this exploit was the carefully premeditated plan of operations, evidence for which he quotes from an actual letter of Scipio to Philip of Macedon. For the strategic conception of the campaign was masterly. The three Carthaginian armies had taken up winter quarters at great distances from each other; Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, near the mouth of the Tagus, Mago the Samnite near the pillars of Hercules and Hasdrubal Barca in central Spain amongst the Carpetani more than ten days’ march from Nova Carthago. The way lay open for a swift descent on the city before the enemy armies could be recalled to its defence. In addition, accurate topographical information gleaned from fishermen on the coast enabled Scipio to plan a tactical surprise which promised great hopes of success.

The natural position of Nova Carthago was one of immense strength. In the middle of a stretch of coastline which faces almost due south a long bottle-shaped inlet ran northward into the land from a neck of little more than half a mile wide. The inlet was divided into two halves by the fortress, which lay at the end of an isthmus jutting out from the eastern side to form a partition. The inner half was a shallow lagoon joined to the outer half by a narrow tidal canal crossed by a bridge. The walls of the city followed the steep rocky slopes of five distinct hills protected on all sides, except for the narrow isthmus, by water; the lagoon on the north, the canal on the west and the gulf on the south. Scipio appeared suddenly in the early spring of 209 by forced marches from Tarraco. He built a fortified camp across the end of the isthmus and blocked the neck of the gulf with his fleet under his friend Laelius. Next day, after a sortie had been driven in and severe losses inflicted, Scipio launched about noon an attack with scaling ladders from the isthmus. The attack was renewed in the afternoon, and when the defence was fully engaged on this side he sent picked troops to wade across the shallow water of the lagoon according to the fishermen’s information; and, crossing with speed and safety, this new force was able to surprise a weaker undefended portion of the northern walls. Taken in the rear the defenders were rapidly swept off the walls, and the isthmus gate was opened to the main attack. In a moment the key fortress of the Carthaginian domination in south-eastern Spain and their best base for communications with Africa was in the hands of the Romans. Immense quantities of military stores and war treasure were captured, as well as hostages who had guaranteed to Carthage the loyalty of many of the Spanish tribes. The moral effect was no less great among the natives than in the Roman army and at one blow most of the ill effects of the disaster of two years previously were repaired.

The defenses reconstructed and the affairs of Nova Carthago settled, Scipio dispatched Laelius with the news and the chief prisoners to Rome and himself returned to Tarraco. The rest of the summer of 209 he spent in training his troops in the use of the gladius hispaniensis, the finely tempered cut-and-thrust sword, which in future became the standard equipment of the legionary, replacing the shorter stabbing sword. At the same time he endeavored by diplomacy and the effect of his winning personality to detach from the Carthaginians the warlike Spanish tribes, a potential reservoir of troops for either side. North of the Ebro the two kings of the Ilergeti, Mandontus and Indibilis, once again came over to Rome, and between the Ebro and the Sucro Edesco king of the Edetani followed suit. Meanwhile the Carthaginian generals pursued a policy of inaction, too jealous of each other to combine, and content, while they protected the mineral and agricultural wealth of the Tagus, Anas, and Baetis valleys, to abandon the eastern littoral to the Romans. None of them had shown any constructive or organizing ability in developing the empire which the three great chiefs of the Barcid family had created. No improvements or benefits compensated for their unabashed exploiting of the country’s resources, and the tribes of the interior only submitted so long as large armies were in their vicinity. Except in these three river valleys the Punic domination of Spain was as flimsy as a house of cards. Finally, there can be little doubt that Hasdrubal was by now devoting himself to recruiting the Celtiberians in the central plateau for the project he had already formed of marching to Italy. But at this stage of the war, though perhaps he could not realize it, the defence of Spain was of greater importance to Carthage than the sending of a new army to Italy.

 

II.

BAECULA, ILIPA, THE CONQUEST OF SPAIN

 

Scipio’s spies must have brought him information which enabled him to guess Hasdrubal’s intentions. For in the very early spring of 208 Scipio marched rapidly south in order to force a decisive battle. From Polybius’ account it seems clear that Hasdrubal was surprised in the upper Baetis valley near Castulo and retreated to a very strong position at Baecula, where he intended to await the coming of the second army from Gades. Scipio, at first daunted by the strength of Hasdrubal’s position, but then spurred on by the danger of the arrival of the other Carthaginian armies, took the initiative. His light-armed troops, supported by some picked legionaries, attacked on a wide front to fix the attention of Hasdrubal while the main force, divided into two, scaled the hill on either flank. Scipio’s army cannot have numbered less than 35,ooo since the accession of Indibilis and a force of the Ilergeti, whereas Hasdrubal’s army perhaps amounted to little more than 25,000. Outnumbered by troops definitely superior in quality to his own, Hasdrubal abandoned his strong position directly he saw the flank attacks succeeding and, aided by the lie of the ground to the north, safely withdrew the main portion of his army with his treasure and baggage.

The battle itself was a brilliant tactical success for Scipio, but it was not decisive because Hasdrubal had secured his retreat. Nor could Scipio follow in the wake of the retreating army towards the Tagus valley through hostile territory without grave difficulty of commissariat, the certainty of facing two Carthaginian armies and the possibility of being surrounded by three. Yet the escape of Hasdrubal has been, both in ancient and modern times, the subject of censorious judgments upon Scipio’s action. The censure ignores the lesson of all campaigning in Spain. One army might follow another along one of the rich river valleys where provisions were plentiful, but across the two plateaux which separate the three great rivers of south-western Spain this meant privations for the leader and starvation for the follower. From the Tagus, with drafts from the other armies, Hasdrubal set forth for Italy, doubtless marching up the Douro valley to the northern tributaries and then slipping through the Pyrenees along the Atlantic seaboard, thus avoiding the eastern passes which Scipio sought to block by detaching troops from the Roman strongholds north of the Ebro. Hasdrubal’s escape from Spain was finely executed, but it had always been a possibility by this route, and it is difficult to see how Scipio could prevent it once he had left the upper Ebro valley to campaign in southern Spain. One Carthaginian army had left Spain for Italy, and it was certain that the next year (207 BC) would witness a decisive effort on the part of Scipio to destroy the base of Carthaginian power in Baetica. Fully alive to the danger, the Carthaginian home government sent at the beginning of 207 a fresh army under Hanno. This army marched into central Spain to join Mago, who was, according to the usual plan, endeavoring to recruit Celtiberians. Scipio detached Silanus with 10,000 foot and 500 horse, and he succeeded in surprising the camp where Hanno was training the native troops, but though he captured Hanno he could not prevent Mago and the main army from getting away to join Hasdrubal Gisgo near Gades. However, the operation was of considerable importance in deciding the loyalty of the wavering tribes of central Spain, and Scipio gave generous praise to his second-in-command for the exploit.

Meanwhile Scipio himself concentrating his forces near Castulo and Baecula marched down the Baetis and encamped opposite Hasdrubal Gisgo and Mago near Ilipa. The Carthaginians had collected all their own troops in the peninsula and their Spanish levies for a decisive battle and may have numbered 50,000 infantry and 4500 cavalry, as Livy says. Scipio’s army was probably somewhat smaller, perhaps 40,000, of whom little more than 25,000 were Roman troops. While the Romans were building their usual fortified camp with ditch and palisade, Mago made a cavalry attack upon the lines, but the foresight of Scipio had stationed a body of cavalry in concealment on the flank, and the attack was repulsed with considerable loss. For several days the opposing armies were content to make a demonstration in battle order in the evening when no engagement could follow. Scipio deliberately drew up his own army with his Roman legionaries in the center opposite the African troops and elephants of Hasdrubal, and his Spaniards on both wings. At last Scipio ordered his troops to take their morning meal before sunrise and, leading them into the plain as the sun rose, drew the army up in a new battle order with the Spaniards in the centre and the legions on either flank. Hasdrubal was surprised by the attacks of the Roman cavalry and light-armed troops on his outposts and was compelled hastily to throw his army into their usual battle formation before they could breakfast. After the outpost action had continued for some time indecisively, Scipio advanced wheeling his flanks outwards and well in front of his thinned center. The Roman legionaries fell with overwhelming force upon the Spanish levies of Hasdrubal’s wings and decided the battle almost before the centers were engaged, for Hasdrubal made no attempt to cut through the weak Roman center which was held back. Scipio, at the risk of disaster, had successfully adapted Hannibal’s battle tactics and won a striking victory, though, without a considerable force of cavalry, he could only outflank and could not surround and annihilate the Carthaginian army. The battle decided the fate of the Carthaginian empire in Spain. The Spaniards in the Punic army, after resisting stoutly despite their hunger and the heat, now broke up in flight and dispersed. Hasdrubal and his African troops attempted to make a stand at his camp, but then retreated, closely pursued, to the sea. He himself and Mago escaped on shipboard, but most of the army was cut off and surrendered. The battle and the close pursuit alike exhibit the brilliance of Scipio’s generalship.

After the battle Scipio sent his brother Lucius to capture an important town, Orongis, probably in the mining regions of Castulo, with orders to proceed thence to Rome to announce the tidings of his victorious campaign. No Carthaginian army remained in the field to dispute the Roman advance in Spain but there were many towns with strong defenses and desperate defenders. The reduction of these strongholds was the task of the final year’s campaign (206 BC). In the Segura valley Ilurgia and Castax were taken, the latter by treachery, the former after a prolonged defence punished by a massacre; and farther west Astapa surrendered, but only after the warriors had immolated their wives and children and rushing out in a sortie had themselves been killed to a man. An attempt was immediately made to get into touch with Roman sympathizers inside the city of Gades and a Roman fleet under Laelius sailed towards the straits to cooperate. But while Mago was in command of the garrison the movement in the city had no success, and Laelius retired to Nova Carthago. For there was serious news from the Roman base. North of the Ebro the two powerful chieftains Indibilis and Mandonius were once more in revolt, Scipio was reported ill, and a mutiny had broken out amongst the garrison troops stationed on the Sucro. Scipio, recovering quickly from his indisposition, removed the grievance by distributing arrears of pay, and by astute management and the effect of his sudden appearance in the Sucro camp, isolated the ringleaders and with exemplary severity had them executed. A rapid campaign followed north of the Ebro which ended, for the time being, in the defeat and surrender of the recalcitrant tribes.

In the meantime the Carthaginians still held one point of vantage at Gades. But it was clear that the siege of the town by the Romans was imminent. Consequently, while Scipio was engaged north of the Ebro, Mago, embarking his best troops on transports, sailed through the straits to make a sudden landing and surprise attack on Nova Carthago. It was the last Carthaginian attempt to avert the inevitable in Spain. The attack, however, was easily repulsed by the watchful garrison and on his return Mago was shut out from Gades and sailed off to the Balearic islands, where the capital of Minorca (Mahon) still bears his name. This was the end of the Carthaginian domination in Spain. Gades surrendered to the Romans the more readily because Mago had by an act of treachery put to death their chief citizens when they went out to treat with him. In return, the Romans when making their settlement of Spain gave Gades the position of a free city. And Strabo attests the great prosperity enjoyed by Gaditane merchants in succeeding centuries. Meanwhile Masinissa,  the Numidian whose genius was to mold the destines of North Africa for the next sixty years, was given an opportunity to meet Scipio. By his accession to the Roman side an ally was gained of supreme importance for the final stage of the war.

Thus by the autumn of 206 BC the conquest of Spain was complete. In four years of campaigning Scipio had wrested from Carthage her real military base for the war and had won for Rome a region of immense potential wealth. For the remainder of the war the transference from Carthage to Rome of the mineral wealth of Spain was as decisive in the realm of financial resources as the loss of Spanish tribal alliances was fatal to Carthaginian armies. Polybius tells us that in his own day the mines of Nova Carthago produced 1500 talents a year and there was a tradition about a mine called Baebelo started by Hannibal which produced 1350 talents yearly. The inadequacy of our evidence leaves the military events of these four years veiled in partial obscurity. But though it sterns evident that the Carthaginian generalship was much to blame in the loss of Spain, nothing can dim the grandeur of Scipio’s achievement. After founding the first Roman colony in Spain, Italica, and leaving a garrison army under Marcius and Silanus, he returned to Rome to stand for the consulship of 205 BC.

 

III.

THE METAURUS

 

In the previous chapter the narrative of the war in Italy has been carried down to the recapture of Tarentum in 209. Grave signs of disaffection or at least war-weariness had appeared, when twelve Latin colonies refused their annual contingents. In Etruria particularly there was serious unrest, and the two legions which were stationed there were reinforced by a third. The people clamored for a more vigorous offensive in order to end the war in Italy. Consequently, Marcellus was once more elected consul for 208, since he at least was not content with sieges and had dared to cross swords with Hannibal. His colleague was T. Quinctius Crispinus, who had served under him at the siege of Syracuse and had lately been commanding in Campania. Crispinus marched south to assist in the siege of Locri which had been recently undertaken; but he soon moved back into Apulia to join Marcellus near Venusia, since Hannibal had encamped close by and was offering battle. It may well be that with the double consular army of four legions Marcellus thought of risking a battle, if by maneuvering he could gain an advantageous position. But while both consuls were reconnoitering with a small force they were cut off by the Carthaginians, Crispinus was severely wounded and Marcellus  was killed. So ended in a skirmish a soldier, whose vigor and bravery had played a large part in leading the Roman resistance after Cannae. Not inappositely did Posidonius name Marcellus “the sword” of Rome beside “her shield”  Fabius. His conduct of the siege of Syracuse was masterly; only when matched against Hannibal was his genius rebuked. Indeed, the fact that the annalist historians attributed to him the majority of their legendary victories against Hannibal in Italy suggests that he stood far above the average level of Roman commanders. A strong tradition affirms that Hannibal with the magnanimity which recognized a courageous adversary buried his body with full funeral honors. For the rest of the year the renewed fear of Hannibal’s invincible skill prevented any further offensive. Other reverses, too, were suffered. The commander of the garrison at Tarentum, Q. Claudius, was surprised near Petelia when marching along the coast with a small army towards Locri and suffered severe losses in a disorderly retreat. Finally, after failing to take Salapia, Hannibal himself marched south, and, surprising the Roman besiegers of Locri, drove them to their ships and relieved the city. There seemed no hope or prospect of defeating Hannibal and expelling him from Italy.

The war in Greece, despite the intervention of Attalus of Pergamum with his fleet, had on the whole gone in favor of Philip, but the Carthaginians had not been daring enough to risk their ships to help him, and, though the Aetolians had cause enough for anxiety, Rome had, for the moment, little to fear in the East. From other quarters, however, came better news. In a raid on Africa M. Valerius Laevinus with 100 quinqueremes met the Punic navy 83 strong and won a victory, capturing 18 ships (summer 208). It was the most important naval engagement in the war, and it enabled the Romans later to land in Africa unopposed at sea, and keep open their communications with Italy. In Spain the brilliant capture of Nova Carthago was followed by the victory at Baecula, and once again the prospects of the conquest of Carthaginian Spain were promising. But suddenly a new danger threatened Italy. In the autumn news came from Massilia that Hasdrubal had left Spain with an army which perhaps numbered 20,000 men and that he was wintering in Gaul.

At Rome the winter of 208—7 must have been one of great anxiety in anticipation of the invasion of another Carthaginian army. At the elections experienced commanders were chosen as consuls, C. Claudius Nero, who had commanded an army before Capua and in Spain; and M. Livius Salinator, who, though for ten years he had been out of favor, had commanded with Aemilius Paullus in the brilliant Illyrian campaign of 219 BC. His support by the Senate at this critical moment was an act of wise policy, since his ability had been proved and the campaigns of the coming year needed more adventurous handling than either Fabius or Q. Fulvius Flaccus would be likely to show. Once again the number of the legions was raised to twenty-three: outside Italy there were four in Spain, two in Sardinia and two in Sicily; in the south of Italy there was one legion at Capua and two in garrison at Tarentum, two taken over as a field-army by the new consul Claudius Nero and two by Fulvius Flaccus to operate against Hannibal. Meanwhile, the remaining eight legions were assigned to the defence of North Italy against the invading army: besides two legiones urbanae at Rome and two watching Etruria under Terentius Varro, the praetor L. Porcius Licinus advanced to Ariminum with two legions, and Livius with his regular consular army took up a position near Narnia, ready to march into Etruria or Picenum according to the route which the invader took. The Roman plan of defence was the same as in the spring of 217 but improved by this linking army; and the total array of fifteen legions serving in Italy represented the greatest exertions to meet the crisis of the Italian campaign.

Hasdrubal crossed the Alps in the early spring directly the snows had melted, probably by the same pass which Hannibal had taken eleven years before. His march was attended with no difficulties owing to the Carthaginian alliance with the Celtic tribes on both sides of the Alps. Arrived in the Po valley, he proceeded to recruit Gauls for his army, perhaps raising his total force by a third to 30,000s, and at the same time he made an unsuccessful attempt to capture Placentia. Then he pushed cautiously till he arrived near Fanum at the Apennine exit of the Via Flaminia and brushed against the outposts of the combined armies of the praetor Porcius, and the consul Livius now encamped in front of Sena Gallica. Meanwhile, in South Italy Hannibal moved late from his winter quarters in Bruttium since he knew that Hasdrubal could not be in Italy before April. His intention no doubt was to effect a junction with Hasdrubal in Central Italy, keeping a watch all the time to prevent an attack on his last remaining bases in Bruttium and especially Locri. Near Grumentum he was lightly engaged with the combined armies of Claudius Nero and Q. Fulvius Flaccus, and then, moving again south to Venusia, he fought another small action in which the Romans as usual claimed the victory. Indeed they were operating with vigor and determination and constantly threatened to attack Locri with a force from Tarentum. Consequently Hannibal did not find it possible to move farther from his southern base than Canusium, where he awaited news from Hasdrubal.

The news had overshot the mark. Four Gauls and two Numidians had ridden in safety to the south of Italy, but then as they turned north again on the track of Hannibal they fell into the hands of Q. Claudius. The consul Nero was swiftly informed that Hasdrubal proposed to cross the Apennines and meet his brother in Umbria. Nero made an instant decision of great boldness and strategic insight. The interception of the message gave him the opportunity to move while Hannibal waited still uncertain. With 6000 picked infantry and 1000 cavalry he hastened by forced marches up the Adriatic coast to join Livius and Porcius, at the same time suggesting to the Senate that the legion at Capua should be withdrawn for the garrison at Rome and the legiones urbanae sent forward to Narnia. In this way large forces were concentrated in the northern area, and after the arrival of Claudius Nero the army at Sena Gallica numbered 40,000 men.

The position of the Roman army made it impossible for Hasdrubal to march down the coast to join Hannibal without fighting a pitched engagement. Whether or not Hasdrubal was on the point of making this decision, the sudden discovery from the duplicated bugle-calls of the arrival of the second Roman consul caused him to alter his plans. Avoiding battle against a force so superior to his own, he attempted to slip away by the Via Flaminia.  It was a very hazardous move, due in part perhaps to defective information about the natural difficulties of the route, and his army fell into the trap prepared by the Roman strategy.

As Hasdrubal moved up the Metaurus valley by night the Roman army started in pursuit, crossing to the left bank where the road lay. Next morning Hasdrubal was compelled, owing to the disorderliness of his Gallic contingent and the attacks of the Roman vanguard, of cavalry, to arrest his march and prepare for battle. He chose a position where a steep ridge lying back from the river protected his left, and here he placed the Gauls. He deliberately massed African and Spanish troops into a close formation, hoping to break through the Roman left wing. The battle hung in the balance so long as the whole of the right wing of the Roman army was out of action owing to the steep intervening hill. But Nero succeeded in detaching part of these troops and leading them behind the Roman center to pass up the river bed on the left flank and so take the Carthaginian phalanx in the rear. The elephants very quickly got out of hand and becoming more dangerous to the Carthaginians than to their adversaries were felled by the mahout's blow of mallet on chisel behind the ear. When Hasdrubal saw his army surrounded he rode into the thick of the battle and as Livy describes it “fell fighting—a death worthy of Hamilcar’s son and Hannibal’s brother”.

It was the most decisive victory hitherto won by the Romans in the war. When the news arrived at Rome the relief was accompanied by scenes of extravagant joy, and a three days thanksgiving was decreed “because the consuls, M. Livius and C. Claudius, had preserved their own armies in safety and destroyed the army of the enemy and its commander”.

Hannibal learnt the news of the disaster when Nero marched south to rejoin the rest of his own consular army. He retired to Bruttium, his proud spirit for a time daunted by disappointment. For the disaster had ended the last desperate hope of breaking the Roman hold on Italy. Confidence in the qualities of the Roman troops was restored, and the loyalty of Rome’s allies henceforward was assured. Four legions were disbanded so that in 206 the number was reduced to twenty. Even so there were still thirteen legions in Italy, but the new consuls for 206, L. Veturius Philo and Q. Caecilius Metellus, did not dare either to attack Hannibal in Bruttium or to lay siege to Locri and Croton, so great was the fear which he still inspired. The Romans were content to await the return of the victorious Scipio from Spain to lead them to final victory, and that not against Hannibal in Italy but against Carthage.

 

IV.

SCIPIO’S PREPARATIONS FOR THE INVASION OF AFRICA

 

The return of the conqueror of Spain happened towards the close of a year in which the war in South Italy had been pursued with a notable lack of energy and success. No attempt had been made to attack the remaining strongholds of Hannibal, Locri and Croton. At the elections for 205 the admiration and gratitude of the people were shown in the unanimous support of Scipio for the consulship, since he had held no office which entitled him to celebrate a triumph for his victories. As his colleague P. Licinius Crassus was chosen, who by reason of his office of Pontifex Maximus could not leave Italy, so as to ensure for Scipio unhampered sole command. For he made public that he proposed, notwithstanding the presence of Hannibal in Italy, to invade Africa. His ambition and confidence had grown with his victories, and he had learnt the weakness of the Carthaginian armies and imperial system. The enterprise itself was favored by every chance of success and could alone bring to Rome decisive and complete victory. Furthermore, it was a reversion to the strategy with which Rome had begun the war. The spirits of the people, long mesmerized by the genius of Hannibal, soared in the hopes inspired by this new leader. Yet in the Senate it is clear that there was strenuous opposition to Scipio's policy on the part of Q. Fabius and Q. Fulvius Flaccus, though the tradition which Livy followed has probably exaggerated it in order to glorify Scipio. “Let there be peace in Italy before there is war in Africa”. But Scipio saw clearly how difficult it might be to persuade the Romans, weary of the unending war, to launch an attack on Africa once Hannibal had been expelled from Italy. In his speeches he took care to rouse a passionate desire for revenge, a desire to inflict upon the citizens of Carthage in Africa a portion of what Italy had suffered from the army of Hannibal.

The result was that the opposition was so far overcome that Scipio was allotted the province of Sicily with leave to cross over to Africa if he saw fit. But he was given no more than the command of the two legions in Sicily and had to augment his armament by volunteers. The Sicilian legions of the survivors of Cannae had already been brought up to full strength by drafts from Marcellus’ veteran army. Eager to wipe out their disgrace and inured to long years of iron discipline in Sicily, they were ideal troops to form the backbone of the army of invasion. The cities of Etruria and Umbria were foremost in providing timber and equipment for a fleet of thirty ships to be built, and in forging weapons and accoutrements for the 7000 volunteers who enlisted. Scipio crossed to Sicily to train his new army in the tactics which he had devised in Spain.

During the summer of 205 Scipio suddenly saw a chance of recovering Locri. A plot had been secretly hatched between exiled Locrian nobles at Rhegium and some Locrian artisans who had been made prisoners by the Romans and had then returned to their city under ransom. One of the two rocky citadels of the town was to be betrayed and Scipio promised to send a force to assist, although it was beyond the limits of his sphere of command in Sicily. The plan was completely successful, and the town now lay between two citadels, one held by the Romans and the other by the Carthaginians. On hearing the news Hannibal moved to the town hoping to catch the Romans off their guard. But instead he found the population hostile and encountered determined resistance from a considerable force which Scipio had just landed from his fleet. The chance of surprise was gone, and the danger of being taken in the rear by the four legions of the Roman army in Bruttium under Metellus and Crassus remained. Unwillingly Hannibal was forced to abandon the town and the Carthaginian citadel quickly surrendered. It was a final indication of the desperate weakness of his position in Italy.

Until the Senate should decide upon the fate of Locri Scipio left as governor the propraetor Q. Pleminius, who had commanded the attack. Scipio was in urgent need of money for his African war-chest and may very well have instigated his lieutenant to fleece these renegade Greeks, for whom he can have felt no pity. He certainly upheld Pleminius in a quarrel which broke out over the partition of booty and condoned the plundering of the treasure of the temple of Persephone, which Hannibal himself had spared. But the oppression of Pleminius was carried to such lengths that a Locrian embassy of suppliants went to Rome. The superstitions of the populace were excited by the story of the desecration of the temple, and Fabius gladly saw an opportunity for attacking Scipio in the Senate. After a heated discussion a commission was appointed of ten senators headed by a praetor with an aedile and two tribunes to investigate the whole matter. The commission made the expiatory sacrifices due to the goddess and condemned Pleminius, but wisely contented themselves with accompanying Scipio in a review of his army. Such seems to be the bare outline of these strange events, but it is extremely improbable that, as our evidence suggests, the Romans took this drastic action from an outraged sense of justice. The utmost severity to revolted allies was such a normal thing with the Romans that one can only guess that political faction was the real cause for which Pleminius seems to have been sacrificed. Scipio’s own position, however, remained unassailable by such methods.

In Spain L. Cornelius Lentulus and L. Manlius Acidinus with proconsular power commanded an army of occupation reduced to two legions. They were faced in the summer of 205 by a renewed rebellion of the tribes north of the Ebro, incompletely subdued the year before owing to Scipio’s haste to return to Rome. The rebellion was completely crushed, and Mandonius was put to death. In the same summer Hannibal’s brother Mago made a bold descent on Liguria from the Balearic isles with a fleet of thirty warships and an army of 14,000 men. He captured Genoa by surprise and opened communication with the tribes of the Po valley. It was a desperate attempt to prolong the war in Italy and to divert the Romans from the invasion of Africa. The Romans were content, however, with measures for the defence of central Italy. M. Valerius Laevinus commanded two legions at Arretium and M. Livius Salinator added his two legions to two others under a praetor at Ariminum. Meanwhile Mago was reinforced from Carthage by twenty-five ships, 6000 infantry and 800 cavalry and seven elephants and money. But even with this addition to his forces he did not feel strong enough for the next two years to invade Italy, for he was unable to gain any considerable accession of troops from the Gauls, who had not forgotten the terrible losses they had suffered at the Metaurus. Thus the expedition failed to have any effect upon the Roman plans for the invasion of Africa. Equally ineffective was the Carthaginian attempt to send supplies and money to Hannibal in Bruttium whence the smallness of his forces prevented him from moving. For the fleet of one hundred transports was caught in a storm and driven off Sardinia where the Roman praetor Cn. Octavius had no difficulty in capturing sixty and sinking twenty (summer 215). Finally, as is described elsewhere, operations in Greece, which the Romans since the winter of 208—7 had found it convenient to neglect, ended in the Peace of Phoenice, which at the price of concessions to Macedon freed Rome from this preoccupation. By timidity at sea Carthage had forfeited whatever chance she had of keeping Philip in the field, and now with no allies outside Africa except a few Gauls she had herself to face a Roman invasion.

 

V.

THE INVASION OF AFRICA

 

By the end of 205 preparations for the invasion were complete. Laelius had been sent in the summer with a fleet to prepare the way by diplomacy. His report of the tribes of north Africa gave considerable hopes for the coming expedition. The only unfavorable information concerned Syphax, who ruled over a large kingdom of the Masaesyli in Numidia between the Ampsaga and the Muluchat rivers with his capitals at Cirta and Siga. His rising against Carthage in the year after the battle of Cannae had greatly assisted the advance of the Scipios in Spain. Tradition, indeed, affirms that a Roman centurion Statorius was sent over from Spain to introduce Roman military discipline into his army. Although defeated by Hasdrubal Gisgo and driven from his kingdom, he had contrived to return with the help of the Mauri, so that in 212 BC the Carthaginians were compelled once again to recognize his sovereignty. In the following years Carthaginian and Roman diplomacy competed for his alliance; in fact a story of doubtful value stages a meeting between Hasdrubal and Scipio at his court. The issue was decided by his marriage with Hasdrubal’s beautiful daughter Sophonisba, and, when Laelius sent envoys to him in 205, he declared his intention of opposing the Romans in Africa with all his forces. But Syphax was not the only prince to be reckoned with. Between his borders and the domains of Carthage lay a smaller kingdom of the Massyli, who were perpetually at war with the Masaesyli. This had been weakened by dynastic factions following upon the death of its king Gaias, until at last his younger son, Masinissa, leaving Spain in 206 BC, had obtained help from Mauretania, defeated the rival faction, and won for himself his father’s throne. His reign was short indeed, since in the following year Laelius found him once more on his travels. Yet Masinissa even in exile was a very valuable ally for the Romans. His ancestral kingdom might easily be regained and would then be a sharp thorn in the side of Carthage. His tribesmen would provide the cavalry which hitherto all the Roman armies had lacked. Lastly, the young prince was a fine leader, who had gained experience in Spain, and was ideally fitted for the delicate task of winning the African tribes from their allegiance to Carthage. Laelius showed his proverbial wisdom by making a firm alliance which was destined to have results extending far beyond its immediate scope and aim.

In the spring of 204 BC Scipio set sail from Lilybaeum with a squadron of forty quinqueremes to cover the transports which carried his army, probably amounting  25,000  men. The Carthaginian naval strength had sunk so low since their defeat in 208 BC that there was little danger of any hindrance to the Roman invasion or to the army’s communications with Sicily. A landing was effected at Cape Farina near Utica, which was the first objective of attack, and it was easy for Masinissa with a band of cavalry to join the Romans. Scipio advanced his camp close to the town on the hills to the south. Meanwhile Syphax was marching with a large Numidian army to join forces with Hasdrubal Gisgo near Carthage. However, an advance-guard of cavalry under Hasdrubal’s son Hanno ventured near the Roman army and was cleverly lured by Masinissa into an ambush and destroyed. After this initial success Scipio at once pressed on the siege of Utica by land and sea. But the city withstood the Roman assaults until the approach of Hasdrubal and Syphax compelled Scipio to give up the siege and retreat to a rocky peninsula jutting out into the sea some two miles east of the city, where he formed a fortified “Castra Cornelia” for the winter.

So ended the first campaign in Africa. Apart from the successful landing it could hardly seem otherwise than a failure. The position of an army on this sea-girt tongue of land was precarious enough, dependent as it was upon provisions brought from over­seas and unable to move a step inland without confronting the powerful forces of Hasdrubal and Syphax encamped six miles away. It was perhaps fortunate that by sending to Rome the booty captured in the cavalry engagement, accompanied by exaggerated accounts of the success, Scipio was able to disguise from the Senate the desperate state of affairs. Nor did his enemies fully realize his plight. During the winter Syphax took upon himself the role of mediator and brought an offer of peace terms of which no doubt Hasdrubal had approved. They were that after the evacuation of Italy by Hannibal and Africa by Scipio both powers should agree to a treaty on the status quo. To Scipio the offer was welcome not as a road to peace without victory but as a screen for treachery. He deliberately prolonged the negotiations, gaining accurate and detailed information as to the dispositions of the enemy camps through the constant interchange of envoys whose function was more truly that of spies. Officers of experience were sent to accompany them, disguised as slaves, so that those in command of the units of the Roman army became thoroughly familiar with the lie of the ground. And this knowledge the Roman commander did not propose to waste.

At length the spring of 203 BC opened and Scipio prepared his siege-engines and launched his ships as though to force a quicker agreement by threatening to renew his assault on Utica. A force was sent to occupy the hills on the east of the town from which he had attacked in the previous year, while, at the same time, he encouraged the enemy’s false security by suggesting that his consilium was on the point of agreeing to the conditions. Finally, according to Polybius, to absolve himself from the charge of treachery, he sent word that his consilium would not accept the peace though he himself favored it. When the message reached the enemy orders had already been given for a night attack. Laelius and Masinissa with half the army were sent to fire the camp of Syphax, whose soldiers’ hutments were built of thatched reed and osiers without the use of earth or solid timber, while Scipio himself stood ready to attack the Carthaginians. The plan succeeded completely. Those who escaped from the conflagration were cut down by Masinissa’s Numidians; Syphax himself barely escaped from the destruction of his army. Heavy losses were also inflicted upon the Carthaginian army in the panic retreat, and Hasdrubal, after attempting to stand his ground at the town of Anda, was forced to retreat farther, leaving Scipio undisputed master of the country round Utica. It was a great disaster for Carthage which, perhaps, did more than anything else to decide the last stage of the war. Indeed Scipio’s admirers, incurious of Romana fides in their allegations against Punica fides, regarded this victory as his most brilliant exploit.

Not wholly daunted, the Carthaginians took energetic measures to form a new army to save Utica, which Scipio proceeded to besiege. Four thousand brave and well-armed Celtiberian mercenaries had landed in Africa and marched direct to join Hasdrubal and Syphax who were busy reorganizing their shaken forces in the Great Plains on the Bagradas river seventy-five miles south of Utica. Scipio realized that he must strike before the effect of their defeat wore off and before Syphax could be reinforced. Taking perhaps one legion in light marching order and all his cavalry, he made a forced march of four days and offered battle. Trusting to the Spaniards and perhaps fearing the moral effect of further retreat, Hasdrubal stood his ground. The Carthaginians faced Laelius and the Italian cavalry, Syphax faced Masinissa, and the Celtiberian mercenaries were opposed to the Roman legionaries of the centre. The battle was won, for the first time in Roman history, by a victorious charge of cavalry on both wings. It was made more decisive by tactics which reveal the maturity of Scipio’s skill. Having a numerical superiority in infantry, he held the Spaniards in play with his hastati, while the principes and triarii were deployed outwards and, as at Ilipa, fell on the exposed flanks of the enemy’s foot . The valiant Spaniards fought and died where they stood. Laelius and Masinissa with all the cavalry of the Roman army and some infantry were sent to pursue Syphax and to reconquer Masinissa’s ancestral domains, where the Massyli hastened to acclaim him as their ruler. Finally, Syphax was brought to battle on the borders of his kingdom and taken prisoner. The victorious army was able to push on and occupy his eastern capital Cirta. Thus in a single campaign Numidia with its immense resources had been lost to Carthage, and formidable accessions to the strength of the Roman army would be drawn in the future from the kingdom of Masinissa.

The situation of Carthage was indeed desperate. For Scipio had marched unopposed to within fifteen miles of Carthage and captured Tunes. Men hurried to repair the walls of the capital as if the siege were about to begin. At the same time it was decided to recall Hannibal from Italy, and to consider the offer of fresh proposals for peace. However, in the midst of these resolutions of despair one enterprise stands out. A surprise attack was planned by the small Carthaginian fleet upon Scipio’s ships which were still engaged in the siege of Utica. But his vigilance detected the fleet leaving the harbor of Carthage and by a forced march he arrived before Utica in time to form a barricade of transports to protect his own warships, which, burdened with the heavy siege-engines, were quite unprepared to fight at sea. These defenses saved the fleet from the loss of more than a few transports, so that the Carthaginian ships returned without having broken through the blockade of the town.

In Italy, too, Carthage could record no successes in the campaigns of 204 and 203. When in the latter year Mago finally crossed the Apennines from Liguria and invaded the Po valley, the Roman armies abandoned their cautious defence and marched to meet him. No fewer than seven legions were in the field against him. He had been compelled for greater security to move his base to Savona, and the Romans had thrown one legion into Genoa under Sp. Lucretius. Once he had passed the Apennines, two legions under C. Servilius also crossed from Etruria and prevented the Boii from joining him. Meanwhile, the main army of four legions under M. Cornelius Cethegus and P. Quintilius Varus advanced from Ariminum. Mago could not avoid battle even if he would, but his army which may have numbered 30ooo men contained a formidable nucleus of African and Spanish veteran troops. In the engagement which followed the Roman legionaries worsted his infantry, but the elephants and cavalry routed the Roman wings, so that the whole Carthaginian army was able to retreat in good order to the Ligurian coast. Here Mago found orders to return to Africa and on the voyage he died of a wound which he had received in the battle. So ended the last threat of invasion from the north, which had succeeded only in so far as large Roman forces, which might have been sent to Africa, were kept busy in North Italy for two years.

Against Hannibal himself in the course of these years four legions under the consul P. Sempronius Tuditanus and P. Licinius Crassus recovered Pandosia, Consentia and other small towns in Bruttium. Our record contains the notice of a success in a skirmish with Hannibal near Croton, for which a temple was dedicated in 194 BC to Fortuna Primigenia. But it is clear that neither army wished to fight a pitched battle. Since Metaurus Hannibal with dwindling forces had been at bay in South Italy, outnumbered three to one and forced to lose gradually the towns whose inhabitants were alienated from him, as they found neither profit nor safety in the Carthaginian alliance. He must long since have despaired of breaking the Roman power in Italy. Before the loss of Spain, he had still hoped to force Rome to peace through the exhaustion of her efforts. But for the last two years he had maintained a stubborn defence in the heel of Italy, only in the hope of preventing the Romans from sending large forces to Africa and to give his home government an asset in bargaining for peace. Now, at the end of 203 BC, he received a message of recall to defend Carthage reduced to desperate straits by a small Roman army through the incompetence of her generals. In bitter disappointment at the failure of his magnificent enterprise he had set up a memorial of what he had achieved. The bilingual inscription written in Phoenician and Greek letters on an altar near the temple of Juno on the promontory of Lacinium recorded in detail how he had led an army from Nova Carthago across the Pyrenees and the Alps to Italy. The monument survived the malice of Rome to be read by Polybius: but no monument was needed beyond the simple fact that for fifteen years he had maintained himself in the enemy’s country, unbeaten at the head of his troops—Africans, Spaniards, Gauls—whose loyalty never wavered.

In the autumn of 203 the Carthaginians had made a fresh attempt to conclude peace. The peace party of merchants had obtained the upper hand, and an armistice was made with Scipio at the price of a donative to his troops. The following terms offered by Scipio were accepted by the Carthaginian Senate. Carthage was to retain her status as an independent power in Africa, keeping intact her own territory. But she was to recognize Masinissa as king of the Massyli, and he would be left free to extend his kingdom westward into Numidia. On the south-east, while keeping her ancient colonies as far as Leptis Magna, Carthage was to respect the autonomy of the native tribes of Libya and Cyrenaica. She was to renounce all interference in Italy, Gaul and Spain, pay a war indemnity of 5000 talents and surrender all her ships except twenty. The terms were severe, for Carthage would cease to be a great power and she had no security from the growing power of Masinissa. A Carthaginian embassy sailed to Rome where the Senate and the people ratified the peace.

Hannibal transported his army to Africa while the peace terms were being ratified at Rome, and, landing at Leptis, marched to Hadrumetum. The army may have numbered 15,000 men, but he no longer had any cavalry and the corps of veterans probably did not amount to more than 8000 after fifteen years of war in Italy. But the loyalty of long service made it of far greater worth than numbers alone can express; and a general who had never suffered defeat was not likely to accept tamely such degrading conditions for Carthage. Then, when Mago’s army from Italy also arrived in Africa, there was a revulsion of feeling at Carthage; the peace party was overthrown, and it was clear that a final struggle must decide the future of Carthage. The actual breaking of the armistice followed from a chance event. A convoy of 200 Roman ships sailing with provisions from Sicily was driven by a storm into the Gulf of Tunes. The people of Carthage, no doubt already suffering considerable privations due to the presence of the Roman army in Africa, fell upon the ships and appropriated their cargoes. Envoys sent by Scipio to demand redress were rebutted, and their ship was treacherously attacked on its return journey. And so the war broke out anew.

 

VI.

ZAMA

 

Masinissa was meanwhile engaged upon a campaign against Vermina the son of Syphax, conquering the most westerly regions of Numidia, where it borders on Mauretania. Scipio sent urgent messages to him in the spring of 202 to recall him for the coming campaign against Hannibal. Then he marched up the valley of the Bagradas river ravaging the countryside. Hannibal seems to have waited at Hadrumetum through the early summer hoping for cavalry reinforcements, above all the Numidian horsemen of Vermina. At last another Numidian prince Tychaeus did join him with 2000 cavalry. In the early autumn, when the heat of the African summer had abated, Hannibal suddenly broke camp and moved to Zama, five days’ march from Carthage between Scipio and the coast. He was too late to prevent Scipio’s junction with Masinissa and his long-awaited Numidian cavalry. For Scipio moved farther inland to Naraggara and there joined Masmissa, who brought 4000 Numidian cavalry and. 6000 infantry. Hannibal followed, and the two armies at last faced each other in the battle which was to decide the war.

Each army numbered about 40,000 men, but Hannibal for the first time was greatly inferior in cavalry. His dispositions aimed at the converse of Cannae: for he must win in the center if at all. First stood the elephants, more than eighty in number, then the front line formed of the experienced mercenaries of Mago’s army, troops recruited from Mauretania, Liguria, Gaul and the Balearic isles, with a nucleus of Libyans. The weak Carthaginian citizen troops and Africans, upon whom he could place no reliance, were stationed behind them, and some distance in the rear he held his own veteran army in reserve. This reserve he intended to keep disengaged in the opening stages of the battle ready either to oppose a breakthrough or to repulse any enveloping of his wings. Scipio disposed the maniples of his legions in three lines, but the third line, the triarii, were held back without being deployed as in the battle of the Great Plains, ready to be thrown in on the flanks. At the same time a more open order was adopted for the hastati and principes, the maniples of the second line being placed behind those of the first and not in échelon, the spaces between being loosely occupied by the velites. Thus when the battle started there were lanes through the Roman lines to lessen the damage done by the charge of elephants. Laelius was on the left wing with the Italian cavalry and Masinissa on the right, opposing the Carthaginians and their Numidian cavalry.

In the beginning of the battle the elephants rapidly became unmanageable; a few charged through the Roman lines, but most were driven off to the flanks and some of them fell back upon their own wings, frightening the horses and making the task of Laelius and Masinissa all the easier. The Carthaginian and allied cavalry were swept from the field. The struggle of the infantry was more evenly balanced, until, as the mercenaries began to give ground before the legionaries, the second line broke in panic and could not be forced to fight even when the veterans in their rear killed those who tried to fly. The mercenaries believing themselves deserted at last scattered in flight. Scipio’s victorious legionaries were suddenly confronted by Hannibal’s veteran army in perfect order. With the instinct of sound generalship Scipio, assisted by the fine discipline of the Roman army, halted and reformed his legions. This act frustrated the last hope of Hannibal that the charge of his reserve might catch the Roman army in disorder and turn defeat into victory. He was soon surrounded by the cavalry of Masinissa and Laelius, and, though he himself escaped to Hadrumetum, his army was entirely destroyed. In the final battle of the war Hannibal had met a general who, if not his equal in tactical skill, yet by experience and cool judgment used his superior resources so wisely that the issue of the battle was never in doubt. Polybius is moved to admiration of the skill of Hannibal in his last battle and concludes that everything which a great general could do he did. It was the end of a struggle in which the greater strength and resources of Rome had at length prevailed. But the duration and equality of the contest had been due to the genius of Hannibal.

To antiquity Hannibal ranked above Scipio Africanus as a general, and there is no reason to reverse a verdict formed after the claims of the Roman had received full weight. The tactical skill of Scipio was in the main derived from the study of Hannibal’s tactical triumphs. It is true that Africanus towers above the Roman generals of the day—in boldness surpassing Fabius, in subtlety surpassing Marcellus. His diplomatic address and freedom from the trammels of Roman military tradition deserve the praise of Polybius, who added to the picture features which belong rather to a Hellenistic statecraft than to the nature of a Roman aristocrat. A generous magnanimity did not preclude occasional barbarity or the treachery which made possible his first victory over Syphax and Hasdrubal. Even if he pressed through his projects of invading Africa in despite of a powerful section of the Senate, he had behind him the overmastering material forces of Rome. His figure is lit up by the dawn of Rome’s imperial greatness, but yet more brilliant is the figure of his opponent which by the fire of genius lit the darkness that was settling upon Carthage.

As a general Hannibal raised to a higher power the tactical conceptions of Alexander. He was deeply versed in the history of Hellenistic warfare and had a Hellenistic appreciation of the value of cavalry. To this he added the power of coordinating the action of infantry, and a love of ambushes which well suited an African who had fought in Spain. At Cannae he took the extremest risk to make possible the most decisive victory: at Zama he all but succeeded in thwarting a general who could add the tactics of Cannae to superiority both in foot and horse. Not less notable than his tactical virtuosity was the patient resource with which he delayed for so long the attrition of his army in Italy. Indeed, the great qualities of Hannibal as a consummate strategist and tactician, gifted with a power of leadership which held firm the loyalty of a mercenary army through the years in which, victory was dimmed into defeat, are not disputed, and are little diminished by the degree of truth which may attach to the charges of avarice and cruelty which were leveled at him by the Roman tradition. Had perfidy, cruelty and avarice governed his nature, he could not have achieved what he did. That he hated Rome may well be true: what is certain is that his hatred did not rise above his throat. For neither can it be said that he dragged Carthage into a hopeless struggle from study of revenge nor that he was deluded by fantastic hopes. If we are right in crediting him with the wider sweep of policy which followed Cannae, he cannot be denied the title of a statesman, and the years in which he served Carthage after Zama show him to be more than a great general only. Yet it may be doubted whether a Carthaginian victory which forced Rome back on herself could have been lasting, and still more whether even Hannibal desired or could have brought about the union of the chief power of the West with the Hellenistic world in which lay, as by destiny, the future of Mediterranean civilization. In the fictitious interview with Scipio at Ephesus he is made to give the answer that had he overcome at Zama he would have surpassed Alexander, Pyrrhus and all the commanders of the world. The dexterous subtlety reveals only half a truth: what we cannot say is whether he possessed the greatness which would have made him the equal of Alexander as well as the superior of Pyrrhus.

 

VII.

PEACE: THE EFFECTS OF THE WAR ON ROME

 

After sacking the Carthaginian camp, Scipio marched down to the coast. He found that a new fleet of fifty ships had arrived under P. Cornelius Lentulus with a convoy of provisions. Without delay he ordered the fleet and legions to move to the investment of Carthage. But the Carthaginians were not willing to stand a siege, and Hannibal used all his influence to persuade them to accept the best terms they could obtain. Nothing could be gained by prolonging the war in Africa, since no fresh troops could be raised from the African tribes. News had come that his last ally, Vermina, arriving too late for the battle, had been overwhelmed by Scipio. His hopes were possibly already centered upon the great Hellenistic kingdoms of Syria and Macedon and he saw the prosper of a conflict between Rome and the powers of the eastern Mediterranean. Consequently he voted for the acceptance of any terms, however severe, which would not involve the destruction of Carthage itself.

An armistice was made for three months, while negotiations were pursued on condition that Carthage paid in full at once the value of the damage done to the shipwrecked convoy in the previous winter, and in addition supplied the whole of the Roman army with provisions and probably double pay for the three months. The conditions finally concluded left Carthage in possession of her own territory in Africa. But the Libyan tribes of her protectorate beyond the Phoenician Bounds on the south-east were to become independent in alliance with Rome. On the west she was to restore to Masinissa “all the cities and territory which he or his ancestors had possessed”. All her elephants and the whole of the fleet except ten ships were to be surrendered. A hundred hostages chosen by the Romans were to be sent to Rome and an indemnity of 10,000 talents paid in fifty years. Finally, she was to be a client state of Rome promising to wage no war outside Africa and only within Africa by the consent of Rome. Herein lay the chief burden added to the terms which Rome was willing to accept before Zama. The peace put an end to the career of Carthage as one of the great powers of the Mediterranean. But worse still, the terms gave her no security for the future against the aggression of her neighbors.

The war was won. The struggle for supremacy in the Mediterranean was over, and no rival would henceforward contest on equal terms the victorious progress of Rome to worldwide dominion. Scipio, now Africanus, was the hero of the hour and the Cornelii for nearly two decades were to hold a preponderating influence at Rome. He had dealt the coup de grace but it was not he that had made victory possible. The conquest of Spain and the successful conclusion of the war in Africa were military feats which Romans would have appreciated at their true value. But Sicily had been recovered and Hannibal checkmated in Italy by the wise direction of the Senate and the tenacity of the Roman people. While the colossal genius of Hannibal seemed almost to personify Carthage in the war and certainly accounted both for the equality and the duration of the struggle, on the Roman side victory had been achieved by the stubborn resistance of Romans and Central Italians fighting shoulder to shoulder with unshaken trust in themselves, in each other and in their political system. And so though Scipio emerged from the war with great glory, an omnipotent Senate held and continued to hold the reins of government.

The temper of the Roman people has been felt in the narrative of the successive stages of the war as an undercurrent of vital force. Polybius pauses after Cannae to note with the natural wonder and admiration of a Greek that the Romans were more dangerous in defeat than in victory, and to Livy the Second Punic War marked the moment when Roman virtus reached its peak before the long decline began. It is indeed a spectacle full of grandeur—the triumph of the Roman character in this supreme ordeal, and inevitably the mind turns to contrast with it the tragic picture drawn by Thucydides of the progressive demoralization of the Athenian character in the stress of war and of the utter failure of the Athenian democracy to direct the war which it had provoked. Many considerations may weaken the force of the comparison and invalidate conclusions based upon it, yet one indisputable and decisive superiority the Romans had in the soundness of their constitution for the direction of the wars which imperialism invites. It remains, therefore, to investigate how the Roman constitution was molded in the war to suit the exigencies of the situation.

In 287 BC the Lex Hortensia had asserted, in theory at least, the sovereignty of the people so strongly that the possibility of the development of the Roman constitution into a modified form of democracy cannot have seemed very remote. Progress in this direction was for a time arrested by the war against Pyrrhus and the First Punic War, since wars need instantaneous decisions, which a popular assembly is particularly unfitted to make, and in the Senate composed of ex-magistrates with military experience an ideal body was ready at hand to take control. But in the period between the two Punic Wars Flaminius, a popular leader of great political ability, had so ably championed the cause of the people against the Senate and the great families, that in 232 a redistribution of the Ager Picenus had been made viritim to the poorer citizens in direct opposition to the Senate’s will and some fourteen years later the Lex Claudia forbade senators to engage in maritime commerce. The carrying through of these measures reaffirmed the unfettered sovereignty of the people in legislation.

In the first three years of the Second Punic War the popular movement provided strong opposition to the direction of the war by the Senate and after the failures at Ticinus and Trebia secured the election of Flaminius to the consulship of 217, although his military record in the Gallic War had been none too good. In the same year in which Fabius was made dictator his magister equitum, whose appointment according to precedent had been in the hands of the dictator himself, was elected by popular vote. The election of Minucius Rufus, like an ephor to watch the Spartan king, stultified the whole conception of the absolute powers of temporary dictatorship in a crisis. The co-dictatorship which followed as a logical result sealed by its absurdity the fate of this magistracy. The last dictator cum imperio belongs to the months after Cannae. The office continued to be used in the war sine imperio for special work of a censorial character, but after 202 BC the magistracy ceased to exist even in this shadowy form. An office of such unlimited powers, which had only been tolerated in times of great danger, had become so repugnant to the Roman spirit that other methods were found to respond to the cry for efficiency. However, the popular movement did not end with the co-dictatorship. In the election of the consuls for 216 the people pushed forward Terentius Varro the son of a butcher. But the disaster which followed shattered the people’s faith in novi homines, and for the rest of the war the popular will expressed at elections is no longer a criticism but a steady support of the Senate, intervening only to elevate the young Scipio to command. In the 100 years from 233 to 133 out of 200 consulships (omitting supplementary elections) 159 were held by twenty-six noble families and one half by ten families. Thus the Roman constitution became an oligarchy based on popular election and on the immense prestige which the Senate won in the Second Punic War. The sovereignty of the Roman people both as an electorate and in legislation became in practice subordinated to the will of the Senate.

But most of all war magnifies the executive power. The meetings of popular assemblies were too infrequent and clumsy for the passing of urgent war measures. It was the Senate which had directed the diplomacy of Rome to a point at which the decision of the people to go to war became almost the recognition of a fait accompli. In the war the continuity of the Senate as a supreme war council removed the need for legislation by the popular assembly. Apart from the Lex Claudia, we only hear of three new laws: the Lex Minucia of 216, a financial measure, the Lex Oppia of 215, a sumptuary enactment, and the Lex Cincia of 204, a judicial statute forbidding patrons to receive presents from their clients. In military matters armies were decreed, supplies were granted, and commanders allocated to their duties and spheres of action by the Senate. Police regulations such as the restriction of public mourning after Cannae and the delicate but firm treatment of the Roman allies in Italy were left to the patres. The senatus consultum became a war ordinance which needed no further ratification.

Important changes also occurred in the powers of the executive magistracies. The censorship and the tribunate, impressive or effective offices in a time of peace, suffered eclipse during the war. The praetors were often taken from legal business to command armies. But five praetors (since 227) and two consuls were not enough to fill the commands in the many areas of the war. In 212 there were no less than fifteen Roman commanders. Efficiency also necessitated the continuance of tried generals in their commands. Traditional constitutional practice which enforced intervals between different offices and before reelection to the same office, later formulated in the Lex Villia Annalis, was broken down. Q. Fabius Maximus was consul in 215, 214 and 209, M. Claudius Marcellus in 215, 214, 210 and 208. Secondly, the commands of consuls and praetors were continued as proconsuls and propraetors: thus the Scipios, Publius and Gnaeus, commanded continuously from 218 to 212; Marcellus was in Sicily for the four years 214—211 without a break, and then after a short interval in Italy till his death in 208 P. Scipio Africanus was practically in command for ten years, 210—201. Still more contrary to constitutional practice was the appointment by a popular vote of privati cum imperio, although the candidate had previously held no curule magistracy, as was the case when Publius Scipio was sent to Spain in 210 or when T. Quinctius Flamininus was appointed propraetor extra ordinem to command the garrison at Tarentum in 205 and 204 in recognition of distinguished services at the age of twenty as a military tribune under Marcellus in 208 BC.

In general the effect of the war upon the magistracies was to free them from the hampering control of a colleague’s vote. War commands were often in distant provinces where instant decisions had to be taken on the individual responsibility of the magistrate. He was frequently drawn into close personal relations with allies and subject peoples. Scipio in Spain is the forerunner of the great commanders with long tenures of office of the last century of the Republic. But throughout this war the Senate contrived to maintain a strong measure of control over the magistrates even in Spain and presents the spectacle of a supreme war council directing all the operations of the war.

It was not alone in the general direction of strategy that the Senate discharged a heavy responsibility. The war, conducted largely in an Italy which suffered from the active presence of an invader, strained to the breaking point the financial resources of the state. It was the Senate’s duty to mobilize these and it was the duty of its members to set an example of self-sacrifice. Final victory in the First Punic War had been achieved by the raising of a loan; in this sterner struggle senators took the lead in subscribing to loans and in supplying at their own charges rowers for the fleet. In 215 and succeeding years the property tax (tributum) was doubled. To secure a supply of currency, especially at a time when bronze was a munition of war as well as a raw material of coinage, the as was reduced by a half to one ounce, while about the same time there was a slight reduction in the standard silver coinage, which involved a certain degree of inflation. The punishment of the twelve colonies which had withheld their contingents in 209 included the imposition of direct taxation, which the Roman allies in general were spared. Despite these signs of financial stress the Senate succeeded in maintaining the credit of the state. In 204 BC, even before the war was over, one-third of the loan raised six years before was repaid, and a second repayment was made in 200 BC by the assignment of public land in the neighborhood of Rome.

To raise money was one task: to convert it into supplies was another. Assistance in kind, came from abroad. Sardinia and Sicily had corn to spare to provision the armies; the legions in Spain doubtless were in part supported by the local chiefs and possibly by the wealth of Massilia. The relatively few troops in Illyria cost less than they earned, by their ruthless warfare, and could draw upon allies and clients of the Republic. But apart from their pay, the mere equipment and military supplies of the numerous legions must have taxed the productive resources of the state, especially during the years in which the industrial region of Campania was disputed ground. Rome had no great arsenals and, in any event, her military effort far surpassed what could have been provided for in normal times. Of necessity, therefore, the government had to resort to the private enterprise of contractors and with their syndicates or societates the Senate had to make the best bargains that it could. After Cannae it succeeded in persuading the societates to agree to deferred payment in return for exemptions from military service and for insurance against losses by storms or enemies at sea. The state was well served, for it may reasonably be assumed that the famous scandal caused by frauds perpetrated under the insurance-clause was the exception which proves the rule. Granted the relative simplicity of Roman warfare, the military efforts put forth by Rome could hardly have been possible without good and plentiful supplies, and we may assume that the Senate strove not to bear too hardly on the Allies by requisitions to augment the burden of military service.

The contractors who share with the Senate, the generals and the soldiers, the credit for victory were not themselves senators. Immediately before the war the Lex Claudia had forbidden senators to engage in large commerce; thus the duty of undertaking the contracts fell chiefly on the next social stratum, that of the equites. When the depleted ranks of the Senate were filled up after Cannae the choice of the censors fell upon those who had distinguished themselves in fighting, and it is not impossible that wealthy equites were left to serve the state in their own way. A proposal to recruit senators from the gentry of the Latin towns was rejected, and the rejection reflected a hardening of Roman state-consciousness as well as Roman self-reliance. But among the local aristocracies there were doubtless men who undertook for the Republic and repaid the confidence which it always placed in them. Even when account is taken of these, it remains true that the war promoted the rise to influence at Rome of a self-conscious group of equites, which in later times was to become a political factor and seek to affect the policy of the state which it served. The Senate itself by contrast became more and more aristocratic in tradition, more immersed in the tasks of war and diplomacy and gradually less vigilant about economic problems.

Of common interest to the Senate and the equites were the provinces. Even before the war was ended, the organization of Roman Spain was taken in hand and a reorganization of Sicily had been completed. A new settlement of the island was drawn up by a senatorial commission after the fall of Syracuse. Special privileges were conferred upon certain cities in recognition of their service and loyalty in the war. A preeminent status of independence, autonomy and immunity from taxation was accorded to three cities and ratified in permanent foedera. To five others a second grade of privilege was allotted and ratified by a senatus consultum, which gave them immunity and a certain measure of freedom. The rest of the island was reduced to a condition which Cicero described later as being praedia populi Romani. The area of ager censorius available for distribution in the form of estates to Roman citizens was much enlarged by punitive confiscations for disloyalty in the old province and by considerable expropriation in Hiero’s newly conquered kingdom. All the rest of the island became civitates decumanae, compelled to pay a tax in kind of 10 per cent, of their produce. The tax was the same as had been enforced in Hiero’s kingdom and probably less than what the Carthaginians had exacted. In fact, the seeds of oppression did not lie in this 10 per cent tax but elsewhere in the multiplication of administrative impositions and benevolences and the opportunities for private gain. In these gains senatorial governors and equestrian financiers had their share, but the days of Verres were still distant.

Finally, Livy has preserved from the pontifical records a considerable amount of valuable evidence which throws light upon the effect of the war upon the populace at Rome. The progress of the Roman religion towards stereotyped formalism on the one hand and rationalism on the other was arrested in the violent emotions of hope and fear produced by the war. It is impossible to decide how far the senators and magistrates still believed in the efficacy of the rites which were prescribed, and how far they were content to use any means they could find to allay the increasing fears of the common people. If some of the nobles wavered between rationalism and the old religion, it is clear that the masses received a powerful impulse towards every kind of religious observance in the desperate desire to obtain that pax deorum which the succession of disasters showed had been somehow violated. The streets of the poorer quarters, and particularly the forum boarium and forum olitorium, were full of tales of prodigies—an ox which climbed to the third storey of a house, wolves which ran away with sentinels’ swords, a cock and hen which interchanged sexes—while in one month simultaneous marvels were reported from Praeneste, Arpi, Capena, Caere, Antium, and Falerii. Later, the death of Marcellus was connected with the nibbling by mice of the gilding of an image. The vague sense of terror, of sin and of duties omitted impelled the magistrates to seek new methods of pacifying the gods since the customary rites seemed of none avail. As is described later, recourse was had to the gods of Greece and, finally, the Black stone from Pessinus which was the symbol of the Asiatic Magna Mater was brought in state to Rome.

At last the long strain was over. Yet the war was to have more significance than the repulse and defeat of a rival on the Western Meiiterranean. In Italy the continued active presence of an invader, and the distraction of the peasantry from their farms to the camp, had lasting economic effects. Carthaginian Spain was too rich a prize for Rome to forgo; and its occupation led the Republic to become a power by land beyond the Alps, until finally, to hold the way to Spain, Rome made that Provincia in Southern France whence Caesar was to conquer Gaul and reach the Rhine and the shores of Britain. Finally, as will be seen in the following chapter, the alliance of Carthage and Macedon compelled the Senate for the first time to pay attention to Greece, and, though in itself the war beyond the Adriatic was no more than an accidental episode without lasting political results, none the less, the patres could not banish from their minds the fact that a coalition outside Italy had been conjured up against them, so that the caution natural to experience was complicated by recurring fearsof the half-known. Rome had been driven to think outside Italy and Sicily: Scipio, who had conquered Carthaginian Spain and invaded Carthaginian Africa, was, ten years later to lead the legions through Greece and devise victory on the plains of Asia Minor.

 

 

CHAPTER V

ROME AND MACEDON: PHILIP AGAINST THE ROMANS