If the continuance of the war appeared to the Carthaginians undesirable, they had reason to be satisfied with these terms. It may be that the natural wish to bring to Rome peace as well as triumph, the recollection of Regulus and of the many vicissitudes of the war, the consideration that such a patriotic effort as had at last decided the victory could neither be enjoined nor repeated, perhaps even the personal character of Hamilcar, concurred in influencing the Roman general to yield so much as he did. It is certain that there was dissatisfaction with the proposals of peace at Rome, and the assembly of the people, doubtless under the influence of the patriots who had accomplished the equipment of the last fleet, at first refused to ratify it. We do not know with what view this was done, and therefore we are unable to decide whether the opponents of the proposed peace in reality rejected it merely for the purpose of exacting some further concessions from the enemy, or whether, remembering that Regulus had summoned Carthage to surrender her political independence, they were resolved to continue the war till they had gained that end--so that it was no longer a question of peace, but a question of conquest. If the refusal took place with the former view, it was presumably mistaken; compared with the gain of Sicily every other concession was of little moment, and looking to the determination and the inventive genius of Hamilcar, it was very rash to stake the securing of the principal gain on the attainment of secondary objects. If on the other hand the party opposed to the peace regarded the complete political annihilation of Carthage as the only end of the struggle that would satisfy the Roman community, it showed political tact and anticipation of coming events; but whether the resources of Rome would have sufficed to renew the expedition of Regulus and to follow it up as far as might be required not merely to break the courage but to breach the walls of the mighty Phoenician city, is another question, to which no one now can venture to give either an affirmative or a negative answer. At last the settlement of the momentous question was entrusted to a commission which was to decide it upon the spot in Sicily. It confirmed the proposal in substance; only, the sum to be paid by Carthage for the costs of the war was raised to 3200 talents (790,000 pounds), a third of which was to be paid down at once, and the remainder in ten annual instalments. The definitive treaty included, in addition to the surrender of Sicily, the cession also of the islands between Sicily and Italy, but this can only be regarded as an alteration of detail made on revision; for it is self-evident that Carthage, when surrendering Sicily, could hardly desire to retain the island of Lipara which had long been occupied by the Roman fleet, and the suspicion, that an ambiguous stipulation was intentionally introduced into the treaty with reference to Sardinia and Corsica, is unworthy and improbable.

Thus at length they came to terms. The unconquered general of a vanquished nation descended from the mountains which he had defended so long, and delivered to the new masters of the island the fortresses which the Phoenicians had held in their uninterrupted possession for at least four hundred years, and from whose walls all assaults of the Hellenes had recoiled unsuccessful The west had peace (513).

Remarks On The Roman Conduct Of The War

Let us pause for a moment over the conflict, which extended the dominion of Rome beyond the circling sea that encloses the peninsula. It was one of the longest and most severe which the Romans ever waged; many of the soldiers who fought in the decisive battle were unborn when the contest began. Nevertheless, despite the incomparably noble incidents which it now and again presented, we can scarcely name any war which the Romans managed so wretchedly and with such vacillation, both in a military and in a political point of view. It could hardly be otherwise. The contest occurred amidst a transition in their political system--the transition from an Italian policy, which no longer sufficed, to the policy befitting a great state, which had not yet been found. The Roman senate and the Roman military system were excellently organized for a purely Italian policy. The wars which such a policy provoked were purely continental wars, and always rested on the capital situated in the middle of the peninsula as the ultimate basis of operations, and proximately on the chain of Roman fortresses. The problems to be solved were mainly tactical, not strategical; marches and operations occupied but a subordinate, battles held the first, place; fortress warfare was in its infancy; the sea and naval war hardly crossed men's thoughts even incidentally. We can easily understand--especially if we bear in mind that in the battles of that period, where the naked weapon predominated, it was really the hand- to-hand encounter that proved decisive--how a deliberative assembly might direct such operations, and how any one who just was burgomaster might command the troops. All this was changed in a moment. The field of battle stretched away to an incalculable distance, to the unknown regions of another continent, and beyond a broad expanse of sea; every wave was a highway for the enemy; from any harbour he might be expected to issue for his onward march. The siege of strong places, particularly maritime fortresses, in which the first tacticians of Greece had failed, had now for the first time to be attempted by the Romans. A land army and the system of a civic militia no longer sufficed. It was essential to create a fleet, and, what was more difficult, to employ it; it was essential to find out the true points of attack and defence, to combine and to direct masses, to calculate expeditions extending over long periods and great distances, and to adjust their co-operation; if these things were not attended to, even an enemy far weaker in the tactics of the field might easily vanquish a stronger opponent.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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