We do not refuse that all those possessions on account of which the war was begun should be yours; Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, with all the islands lying in any part of the sea, between Africa and Italy.
Continuing Scipio Africanus Crushes Hannibal at Zama and Subjugates Carthage,
our selection from History of Rome, Book XII by Livy published in between 27 BC and 9 BC. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in seven easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Scipio Africanus Crushes Hannibal At Zama And Subjugates Carthage.
Time: 202 BC
Place: Zama, Tunisia
Hannibal received none of the circumstances which were reported to him with feelings of joy, for they brought word that, as it happened, Masinissa had joined the enemy that very day with six thousand infantry and four thousand horse; but he was principally dispirited by the confidence of his enemy, which, doubtless, was not conceived without some ground. Accordingly, though he himself was the originator of the war, and by his coming had upset the truce which had been entered into, and cut off all hopes of a treaty, yet concluding that more favorable terms might be obtained if he solicited peace while his strength was unimpaired than when vanquished, he sent a message to Scipio requesting permission to confer with him.
Scipio took up his position not far from the city of Naragara, in a situation convenient not only for other purposes, but also because there was a watering-place within a dart’s throw. Hannibal took possession of an eminence four miles thence, safe and convenient in every respect, except that he had a long way to go for water. Here in the intermediate space a place was chosen open to view from all sides, that there might be no opportunity for treachery.
Their armed attendants having retired to an equal distance, they met, each attended by one interpreter, being the greatest generals not only of their own times, but of any to be found in the records of the times preceding them, and equal to any of the kings or generals of any nation whatever. When they came within sight of each other they remained silent for a short time, thunderstruck, as it were, with mutual admiration. At length Hannibal thus began: “Since fate hath so ordained it that I, who was the first to wage war upon the Romans, and who have so often had victory almost within my reach, should voluntarily come to sue for peace, I rejoice that it is you, above all others, from whom it is my lot to solicit it. To you, also, amid the many distinguished events of your life, it will not be esteemed one of the least glorious that Hannibal, to whom the gods had so often granted victory over the Roman generals, should have yielded to you; and that you should have put an end to this war, which has been rendered remarkable by your calamities before it was by ours.
“Peace is proposed at a time when you have the advantage. We who negotiate it are the persons whom it most concerns to obtain it, and we are persons whose arrangements, be they what they will, our states will ratify. You have recovered Spain, which had been lost, after driving thence four Carthaginian armies. When elected consul, though all others wanted courage to defend Italy, you crossed over into Africa, where having cut to pieces two armies, having at once captured and burnt two camps in the same hour, having made prisoner Syphax, a most powerful king, and seized so many towns of his dominions and so many of ours, you have dragged me from Italy, the possession of which I had firmly held for now sixteen years. While your affairs are in a favorable and ours in a dubious state, you would derive honor and splendor from granting peace; while to us, who solicit it, it would be considered as necessary rather than honorable.
“It is indeed the right of him who grants, and not of him who solicits it, to dictate the terms of peace, but perhaps we may not be unworthy to impose upon ourselves the fine. We do not refuse that all those possessions on account of which the war was begun should be yours; Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, with all the islands lying in any part of the sea, between Africa and Italy. Let us Carthaginians, confined within the shores of Africa, behold you, since such is the pleasure of the gods, extending your empire over foreign nations both by sea and land. I cannot deny that you have reason to suspect the Carthaginian faith, in consequence of their insincerity lately in soliciting a peace and while awaiting the decision. The sincerity with which a peace will be observed depends much, Scipio, on the person by whom it is sought. Your senate, as I hear, refused to grant a peace in some measure because the deputies were deficient in respectability. It is I, Hannibal, who now solicit peace; who would neither ask for it unless I believed it expedient, nor will I fail to observe it for the same reason of expedience on account of which I have solicited it. And in the same manner as I, because the war was commenced by me, brought it to pass that no one regretted it till the gods began to regard me with displeasure; so will I also exert myself that no one may regret the peace procured by my means.”
In answer to these things the Roman general spoke nearly to the following effect: “I was aware that it was in consequence of the expectation of your arrival that the Carthaginians violated the existing faith of the truce and broke off all hope of a peace. Nor, indeed, do you conceal the fact, inasmuch as you artfully withdraw from the former conditions of peace every concession except what relates to those things which have for a long time been in our own power. But as it is your object that your countrymen should be sensible how great a burden they are relieved from by your means, so it is incumbent upon me to endeavor that they may not receive, as the reward of their perfidy, the concessions which they formerly stipulated, by expunging them now from the conditions of the peace. Though you do not deserve to be allowed the same conditions as before, you now request even to be benefited by your treachery.
“Neither did our fathers first make war respecting Sicily, nor did we respecting Spain. In the former case the danger which threatened our allies the Mamertines, and in the present the destruction of Saguntum, girded us with just and pious arms. That you were the aggressors, both you yourselves confess and the gods are witnesses, who determined the issue of the former war, and who are now determining and will determine the issue of the present according to right and justice. As to myself, I am not forgetful of the instability of human affairs, but consider the influence of fortune, and am well aware that all our measures are liable to a thousand casualties. But as I should acknowledge that my conduct would savor of insolence and oppression if I rejected you on your coming in person to solicit peace before I crossed over into Africa, you voluntarily retiring from Italy, and after you had embarked your troops, so now, when I have dragged you into Africa almost by manual force, notwithstanding your resistance and evasions, I am not bound to treat you with any respect. Wherefore, if in addition to those stipulations on which it was considered that a peace would at that time have been agreed upon, and what they are you are informed, a compensation is proposed for having seized our ships together with their stores during a truce, and for the violence offered to our ambassadors, I shall then have matter to lay before my council. But if these things also appear oppressive, prepare for war, since you could not brook the conditions of peace.”
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