Hasdrubal had indeed in the succeeding year (538), after obtaining reinforcements from Africa, made an attempt in accordance with his brother's orders to conduct an army over the Pyrenees; but the Scipios opposed his passage of the Ebro, and totally defeated him, nearly at the same time that Hannibal conquered at Cannae. The powerful tribe of the Celtiberians and numerous other Spanish tribes had joined the Scipios; they commanded the sea, the passes of the Pyrenees, and, by means of the trusty Massiliots, the Gallic coast also. Now therefore support to Hannibal was less than ever to be looked for from Spain.

Reinforcements From Spain

On the part of Carthage as much had hitherto been done in support of her general in Italy as could be expected. Phoenician squadrons threatened the coasts of Italy and of the Roman islands and guarded Africa from a Roman landing, and there the matter ended. More substantial assistance was prevented not so much by the uncertainty as to where Hannibal was to be found and the want of a port of disembarkation in Italy, as by the fact that for many years the Spanish army had been accustomed to be self-sustaining, and above all by the murmurs of the peace party. Hannibal severely felt the consequences of this unpardonable inaction; in spite of all his saving of his money and of the soldiers whom he had brought with him, his chests were gradually emptied, the pay fell into arrear, and the ranks of his veterans began to thin. But now the news of the victory of Cannae reduced even the factious opposition at home to silence. The Carthaginian senate resolved to place at the disposal of the general considerable assistance in money and men, partly from Africa, partly from Spain, including 4000 Numidian horse and 40 elephants, and to prosecute the war with energy in Spain as well as in Italy.

Alliance Between Carthage And Macedonia

The long-discussed offensive alliance between Carthage and Macedonia had been delayed, first by the sudden death of Antigonus, and then by the indecision of his successor Philip and the unseasonable war waged by him and his Hellenic allies against the Aetolians (534-537). It was only now, after the battle of Cannae, that Demetrius of Pharos found Philip disposed to listen to his proposal to cede to Macedonia his Illyrian possessions--which it was necessary, no doubt, to wrest in the first place from the Romans--and it was only now that the court of Pella came to terms with Carthage. Macedonia undertook to land an invading army on the east coast of Italy, in return for which she received an assurance that the Roman possessions in Epirus should be restored to her.

Alliance Between Carthage And Syracuse

In Sicily king Hiero had during the years of peace maintained a policy of neutrality, so far as he could do so with safety, and he had shown a disposition to accommodate the Carthaginians during the perilous crises after the peace with Rome, particularly by sending supplies of corn. There is no doubt that he saw with the utmost regret a renewed breach between Carthage and Rome; but he had no power to avert it, and when it occurred he adhered with well-calculated fidelity to Rome. But soon afterwards (in the autumn of 538) death removed the old man after a reign of fifty-four years. The grandson and successor of the prudent veteran, the young and incapable Hieronymus, entered at once into negotiations with the Carthaginian diplomatists; and, as they made no difficulty in consenting to secure to him by treaty, first, Sicily as far as the old Carthagino-Sicilian frontier, and then, when he rose in the arrogance of his demands, the possession even of the whole island, he entered into alliance with Carthage, and ordered the Syracusan fleet to unite with the Carthaginian which had come to threaten Syracuse. The position of the Roman fleet at Lilybaeum, which already had to deal with a second Carthaginian squadron stationed near the Aegates, became all at once very critical, while at the same time the force that was in readiness at Rome for embarkation to Sicily had, in consequence of the defeat at Cannae, to be diverted to other and more urgent objects.

Capua And Most Of The Communities Of Lower Italy Pass Over To Hannibal

Above all came the decisive fact, that now at length the fabric of the Roman confederacy began to be unhinged, after it had survived unshaken the shocks of two severe years of war. There passed over to the side of Hannibal Arpi in Apulia, and Uzentum in Messapia, two old towns which had been greatly injured by the Roman colonies of Luceria and Brundisium; all the towns of the Bruttii--who took the lead--with the exception of the Petelini and the Consentini who had to be besieged before yielding; the greater portion of the Lucanians; the Picentes transplanted into the region of Salernum; the Hirpini; the Samnites with the exception of the Pentri; lastly and chiefly, Capua the second city of Italy, which was able to bring into the field 30,000 infantry and 4000 horse, and whose secession determined that of the neighbouring towns Atella and Caiatia. The aristocratic party, indeed, attached by many ties to the interest of Rome everywhere, and more especially in Capua, very earnestly opposed this change of sides, and the obstinate internal conflicts which arose regarding it diminished not a little the advantage which Hannibal derived from these accessions. He found himself obliged, for instance, to have one of the leaders of the aristocratic party in Capua, Decius Magius, who even after the entrance of the Phoenicians obstinately contended for the Roman alliance, seized and conveyed to Carthage; thus furnishing a demonstration, very inconvenient for himself, of the small value of the liberty and sovereignty which had just been solemnly assured to the Campanians by the Carthaginian general. On the other hand, the south Italian Greeks adhered to the Roman alliance--a result to which the Roman garrisons no doubt contributed, but which was still more due to the very decided dislike of the Hellenes towards the Phoenicians themselves and towards their new Lucanian and Bruttian allies, and their attachment on the other hand to Rome, which had zealously embraced every opportunity of manifesting its Hellenism, and had exhibited towards the Greeks in Italy an unwonted gentleness.

From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States Page 53

Italian Authors

Italian Books

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book