The camp was then pitched near Tunis in the same place as before, and thirty ambassadors came to Scipio from Carthage.
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
As they were proceeding thence to Tunis, they received intelligence that Vermina, the son of Syphax, with a greater number of horse than foot, was coming to the assistance of the Carthaginians. A part of his infantry with all the cavalry having attacked them on their march on the first day of the Saturnalia, routed the Numidians with little opposition, and as every way by which they could escape in flight was blocked up, for the cavalry surrounded them on all sides, fifteen thousand men were slain, twelve hundred were taken alive, with fifteen hundred Numidian horses and seventy-two military standards. The prince himself fled from the field with a few attendants during the confusion. The camp was then pitched near Tunis in the same place as before, and thirty ambassadors came to Scipio from Carthage. These behaved in a manner even more calculated to excite compassion than the former, in proportion as their situation was more pressing; but from the recollection of their recent perfidy, they were heard with considerably less pity. In the council, though all were impelled by just resentment to demolish Carthage, yet, when they reflected upon the magnitude of the undertaking and the length of time which would be consumed in the siege of so well fortified and strong a city, while Scipio himself was uneasy in consequence of the expectation of a successor, who would come in for the glory of having terminated the war, though it was accomplished already by the exertions and danger of another, the minds of all were inclined to peace.
The next day the ambassadors being called in again, and with many rebukes of their perfidy, warned that instructed by so many disasters they would at length believe in the existence of the gods and the obligation of an oath, these conditions of the peace were stated to them: “That they should enjoy their liberty and live under their own laws; that they should possess such cities and territories as they had enjoyed before the war, and with the same boundaries, and that the Romans should on that day desist from devastation. That they should restore to the Romans all deserters and fugitives, giving up all their ships-of-war except ten triremes, with such tamed elephants as they had, and that they should not tame any more. That they should not carry on war in or out of Africa without the permission of the Roman people. That they should make restitution to Masinissa, and form a league with him. That they should furnish corn, and pay for the auxiliaries until the ambassadors had returned from Rome. That they should pay ten thousand talents of silver in equal annual installments distributed over fifty years. That they should give a hundred hostages, according to the pleasure of Scipio, not younger than fourteen nor older than thirty. That he would grant them a truce on condition that the transports, together with their cargoes, which had been seized during the former truce, were restored. Otherwise they would have no truce, nor any hope of a peace.” When the ambassadors who were ordered to bear these conditions home reported them in an assembly, and Gisgo had stood forth to dissuade them from the terms, and was being listened to by the multitude, who were at once indisposed for peace and unfit for war, Hannibal, indignant that such language should be held and listened to at such a juncture, laid hold of Gisgo with his own hand and dragged him from his elevated position.
This unusual sight in a free State having raised a murmur among the people, the soldier, disconcerted at the liberties which the citizens took, thus addressed them: “Having left you when nine years old, I have returned after a lapse of thirty-six years. I flatter myself I am well acquainted with the qualifications of a soldier, having been instructed in them from my childhood, sometimes by my own situation and sometimes by that of my country. The privileges, the laws, and customs of the city and the forum you ought to teach me.” Having thus apologized for his indiscretion, he discoursed largely concerning the peace, showing how inoppressive the terms were, and how necessary it was. The greatest difficulty was that of the ships which had been seized during the truce nothing was to be found except the ships themselves, nor was it easy to collect the property, because those who were charged with having it were opposed to the peace. It was resolved that the ships should be restored and that the men at least should be looked up; and as to whatever else was missing, that it should be left to Scipio to put a value upon it, and that the Carthaginians should make compensation accordingly in money. There are those who say that Hannibal went from the field of battle to the sea-coast; whence he immediately sailed in a ship, which he had ready for the purpose, to king Antiochus; and that when Scipio demanded above everything that Hannibal should be given up to him, answer was made that Hannibal was not in Africa.
After the ambassadors returned to Scipio, the quaestors were ordered to give in an account, made out from the public registers, of the public property which had been in the ships; and the owners to make a return of the private property. For the amount of the value twenty-five thousand pounds of silver were required to be paid down; and a truce for three months was granted to the Carthaginians. It was added that during the time of the truce they should not send ambassadors anywhere else than to Rome; and that whatever ambassadors came to Carthage, they should not dismiss them before informing the Roman general who they were and what they sought. With the Carthaginian ambassadors, Lucius Veturius Philo, Marcus Marcius Ralla, and Lucius Scipio, brother of the general, were sent to Rome.
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