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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 VI - The War under Hannibal from Cannae to Zama


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Page 93

Scipio thought otherwise; and we have no reason and therefore no right to assume that the Roman was in this instance influenced by vulgar motives rather than by the noble and magnanimous impulses which formed part of his character. It was not the consideration of his own possible recall or of the mutability of fortune, nor was it any apprehension of the outbreak of a Macedonian war at certainly no distant date, that prevented the self-reliant and confident hero, with whom everything had hitherto succeeded beyond belief, from accomplishing the destruction of the unhappy city, which fifty years afterwards his adopted grandson was commissioned to execute, and which might indeed have been equally well accomplished now.

It is much more probable that the two great generals, on whom the decision of the political question now devolved, offered and accepted peace on such terms in order to set just and reasonable limits on the one hand to the furious vengeance of the victors, on the other to the obstinacy and imprudence of the vanquished. The noble-mindedness and statesmanlike gifts of the great antagonists are no less apparent in the magnanimous submission of Hannibal to what was inevitable, than in the wise abstinence of Scipio from an extravagant and insulting use of victory.

Is it to be supposed that one so generous, unprejudiced, and intelligent should not have asked himself of what benefit it could be to his country, now that the political power of the Carthaginian city was annihilated, utterly to destroy that ancient seat of commerce and of agriculture, and wickedly to overthrow one of the main pillars of the then existing civilization? The time had not yet come when the first men of Rome lent themselves to destroy the civilization of their neighbours, and frivolously fancied that they could wash away from themselves the eternal infamy of the nation by shedding an idle tear.

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