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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


III. From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter IV - Hamilcar and Hannibal


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Page 27

We may form some idea of the views and counsels that would prevail in Carthage from the impression produced in certain circles by York's capitulation. All "respectable men," it was said, disapproved an attack made "without orders"; there was talk of disavowal, of surrendering the daring officer.

But whether it was that dread of the army and of the multitude nearer home outweighed in the Carthaginian council the fear of Rome; or that they perceived the impossibility of retracing such a step once taken; or that the mere -vis inertiae- prevented any definite action, they resolved at length to resolve on nothing and, if not to wage war, to let it nevertheless be waged. Saguntum defended itself, as only Spanish towns know how to conduct defence: had the Romans showed but a tithe of the energy of their clients, and not trifled away their time during the eight months' siege of Saguntum in the paltry warfare with Illyrian brigands, they might, masters as they were of the sea and of places suitable for landing, have spared themselves the disgrace of failing to grant the protection which they had promised, and might perhaps have given a different turn to the war. But they delayed, and the town was at length taken by storm.

When Hannibal sent the spoil for distribution to Carthage, patriotism and zeal for war were roused in the hearts of many who had hitherto felt nothing of the kind, and the distribution cut off all prospect of coming to terms with Rome. Accordingly, when after the destruction of Saguntum a Roman embassy appeared at Carthage and demanded the surrender of the general and of the gerusiasts present in the camp, and when the Roman spokesman, interrupting an attempt at justification, broke off the discussion and, gathering up his robe, declared that he held in it peace and war and that the gerusia might choose between them, the gerusiasts mustered courage to reply that they left it to the choice of the Roman; and when he offered war, they accepted it (in the spring of 536).

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