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Appian's History of Rome: The Hannibalic War §§56-61


Legionary standard (of XXX Ulpia Traiana reenactment group). Photo Jona Lendering.
Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165) is the author of a Roman History and one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians. Although only his books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of other books have also come down to us. Although his account of the War against Hannibal contains not much information that can not be found in other sources (Polybius of Megalopolis and Livy), it is fortunately well-preserved and certainly accessible.

The translation was made by Horace White; footnotes and additions in green by Jona Lendering. 


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  [§56] [205] During the same time [consul Publius Licinius] Crassus detached Consentia, a large town of Bruttium, and six others, from Hannibal. As certain direful prodigies sent by Jupiter had appeared in Rome, the decemviri, having consulted the Sibylline books, said that something would soon fall from heaven at Pessinus in Phrygia (where the mother of the gods is worshipped by the Phrygians), which ought to be brought to Rome.

Not long after, the news came that it had fallen and the image of the goddess was brought to Rome, and still to this day they keep holy to the mother of the gods the day that it arrived. It is said that the ship which bore it stuck in the mud of the river Tiber, and could by no means be moved until the soothsayers proclaimed that it would follow only when drawn by a woman who had never committed adultery.

Claudia Quintia, who was under accusation of that crime but not yet tried (being suspected of it on account of fast living), vehemently called the gods to witness her innocence, and fastened her girdle to the ship, whereupon the goddess followed. Thus Claudia acquired the greatest fame in place of her previous bad reputation.

[206] But before this affair of Claudia the Romans had been admonished by the Sibylline books to send their best man to bring the image from Phrygia. [Publius Cornelius] Scipio Nasica, son of Gnaeus [Cornelius] Scipio, who had been general in Spain and had lost his life there, and cousin of Scipio Africanus the elder, was judged to be their best man. In this way was the goddess brought to Rome by the best of their men and women.

[§57] [205] When the Carthaginians were continually beaten by Scipio in Africa, those of the Bruttians who heard of it revolted from Hannibal, some of them slaying their garrisons and others expelling them. Those who were not able to do either of these things sent messengers to Rome secretly to explain the necessity under which they had acted and to declare their good will.

Hannibal came with his army to Petelia, which was not now occupied by the Petelians, as he had expelled them and given the town to the Bruttians. He accused the latter of sending an embassy to Rome. When they denied it he pretended to believe them, but in order, as he said, that there might be no ground for suspicion, he delivered their principal citizens over to the Numidians, who were ordered to guard each one of them separately. He also disarmed the people, armed the slaves, and stationed them as guards over the city. He did the same to the other cities that he visited. He removed 3,000 citizens of Thurii, who were particularly friendly to the Carthaginians, and 500 others from the country, but gave the goods of the remainder as spoils to his soldiers. Leaving a strong garrison in the city he settled these 3,500 people at Croton, which he found to be well situated for his operations and where he established his magazines and his headquarters against the other towns.

[§58] [203] When the Carthaginians summoned him to hasten to the aid of his own country, which was in danger from Scipio, and sent Hasdrubal, their admiral, to him that there might be no delay, he lamented the perfidious and ungrateful conduct of the Carthaginians toward their generals, of which he had had long experience. Moreover, he had apprehensions for himself touching the cause of this great war, which had been begun by himself in Spain.

Nevertheless, he recognized the necessity of obeying, and accordingly he built a fleet, for which Italy supplied abundant timber. Despising the cities still allied to him now as foreigners, he resolved to plunder them all, and thus, by enriching his army, render himself secure against his calumniators in Carthage.

But being ashamed of such a breach of faith, he sent Hasdrubal, the admiral, about, on pretense of inspecting the garrisons. The latter, as he entered each city, ordered the inhabitants to take what things they and their slaves could carry, and move away. Then he plundered the rest. Some of them, learning of these proceedings before Hasdrubal came, attacked the garrisons, overcoming them in some places and being overcome by them in others. Indiscriminate slaughter, accompanied by the violation of wives and the abduction of virgins, and all the horrors that usually take place when cities are captured, ensued.

[§59] Hannibal himself, knowing that the Italians in his army were extremely well-drilled soldiers, sought to persuade them by lavish promises to accompany him to Africa. Those of them who had been guilty of crimes against their own countries willingly expatriated themselves and followed him. Those who had committed no such wrong hesitated. Collecting together those who had decided to remain, as though he wished to say something to them, or to reward them for their services, or to give them some command as to the future, he surrounded them with his army unexpectedly, and directed his soldiers to choose from among them such as they would like to have for slaves. Some made their selections accordingly. Others were ashamed to reduce their comrades in so many engagements to servitude. All the rest Hannibal put to death with darts in order that the Romans might not avail themselves of such a splendid body of men. With them he slaughtered also about 4,000 horses and a large number of pack animals, which he was not able to transport to Africa.

[§60] Thereupon he embarked his army and waited for a wind, having left a few garrisons on the land. These the Petalians and other Italians set upon, slew some of them, and then ran away. Hannibal passed over to Africa, having devastated Italy for sixteen successive years, and inflicted countless evils upon the inhabitants, and reduced Rome several times to the last extremity, and treated his own subjects and allies with contumely as enemies. For, just as he had made use of them for a time, not from any good will but from necessity, so now that they could be of no further service to him he scorned them and considered them enemies.

[§61] When Hannibal had departed from Italy the Senate pardoned all the Italian peoples who had sided with him, and voted a general amnesty except as to the Bruttians, who remained most zealous for him to the end. From these they took away a considerable part of their land, also their arms, if there were any that Hannibal had not taken. They were also forbidden to be enrolled in the military forces thereafter, as being no longer free persons, and they were required to attend as servants upon the consuls and praetors who went about inspecting the affairs of government and the public works of the provinces. Such was the end of Hannibal's invasion of Italy.

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