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Appian's History of Rome: The Punic Wars §§51-55


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. His account of the Punic Wars, which deals with the wars in Africa, is fortunately among these better preserved parts.

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


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  [§51] [202] Hasdrubal Eriphus continued his address of the victorious Roman [proconsul Publius Cornelius Scipio]: "But if you consider us more guilty than unfortunate, we confess our fault and ask pardon for it. Justification belongs to the innocent, entreaty to those who have offended. And much more readily will the fortunate extend pity to others, when they observe the mutability of human affairs, and see people craving mercy today who yesterday were carrying things with a high hand.

Such is the condition of Carthage, the greatest and most powerful city of Africa, in ships and money, in elephants, in infantry and cavalry, and in subject peoples, which has flourished 700 years and held sway over all Africa and so many other nations, islands, and seas, standing for the greater part of this time on an equality with yourselves, but which now places her hope of safety not in her dominion of the sea, her ships, her horses, her subjects (all of which have passed over to you), but in you, whom we have heretofore shamefully treated.

Contemplating these facts, Romans, it is fit that you should beware of the Nemesis which has come upon them and should use your good fortune mercifully, to do deeds worthy of your own magnanimity and of the former fortunes of Carthage, and to deal with the changes which Providence has ordered in our affairs without reproach, so that your conduct may be blameless before the gods and win the praises of all mankind.

[§52] "There need be no fear that the Carthaginians will change their minds again, after being subjected to such repentance and punishment for their past folly. Wise men are prevented from wrong-doing by their wisdom, the wicked by their suffering and repentance. It is reasonable to suppose that those who have been chastised will be more trusty than those who have not had such experience. Be careful that you do not imitate the cruelty and the sinfulness that you lay at the door of the Carthaginians. The misfortunes of the miserable are the source of fresh transgressions arising from poverty. To the fortunate the opportunity for clemency exists in the abundance of their means. It will be neither to the glory nor to the advantage of your government to destroy so great a city as ours, instead of preserving it.

Still, you are the better judges of your own interests. For our safety we rely on these two things: the ancient dignity of the city of Carthage and your well-known moderation, which, together with your arms, has raised you to so great dominion and power. We must accept peace on whatever terms you grant. It is needless to say that we place everything in your hands."

[§53] At the conclusion of his speech [Hasdrubal] Eriphus burst into tears. Then Scipio dismissed them and consulted with his officers a long time. After he had come to a decision, he called the Carthaginian envoys back and addressed them thus: "You do not deserve pardon, you who have so often violated your treaties with us, and only lately abused our envoys in such a public and heaven-defying manner that you can neither excuse yourselves nor deny that you are worthy of the severest punishment. But what is the use of accusing those who confess? And now you take refuge in prayers, you who would have wiped out the very name of Rome if you had conquered. We did not imitate your bad example. When your ambassadors were at Rome, although you had violated the agreement and maltreated our envoys, the city allowed them to go free, and when they were driven into my camp, although the war had been recommenced, I sent them back to you unharmed. Now that you have condemned yourselves, you may consider whatever terms are granted to you in the light of a gain. I will tell you what my views are, and our Senate will vote upon them as it shall think best.

[§54] "We will yet grant you peace, Carthaginians, on condition that you surrender to the Romans all your warships ships except ten, all your elephants, the plunder you have lately taken from us, or the value of what has been lost, of which I shall be the judge, all prisoners and deserters and those whom Hannibal led from Italy. These conditions to be fulfilled within thirty days after peace is declared. Mago to depart from Liguria within sixty days, and your garrisons to be withdrawn from all cities beyond the Phoenician trenches and their hostages to be surrendered. You to pay to Rome the sum of 250 Euboean talents per annum for fifty years. You shall not recruit mercenaries from the Celts or the Ligurians, nor wage war against Massinissa or any other friend of Rome, nor permit any Carthaginians to serve against them with consent of your people. You to retain your city and as much territory inside the Phoenician trenches as you had when I sailed for Africa. You to remain friends of Rome and be her allies on land and sea; all this, if the Senate please, in which case the Romans will evacuate Africa within 150 days. If you desire an armistice until you can send ambassadors to Rome, you shall forthwith give us 150 of your children as hostages whom I shall choose. You shall also give 1,000 talents in addition for the pay of my army, and provisions likewise. When the treaty is ratified we will release your hostages."

[§55] When Scipio had finished speaking the envoys bore his conditions to Carthage, where the people debated them in the Assembly for several days. The chief men thought that it was best to accept the offer and not, by refusing a part, to run the risk of losing all; but the vulgar crowd, not considering the instant peril rather than the draft, great as it was, upon their resources, and being the majority, refused compliance. They were angry that their rulers, in time of famine, should send provisions away to the Romans instead of supplying their own citizens during the armistice, and they banded together, threatening to plunder and burn the houses of every one of them.

Finally, they decided to take counsel with Hannibal, who now had 60,000 infantry and 500 cavalry stationed at the town of Marthama. He came and, although moderate citizens feared lest a man so fond of war should excite the people to renewed exertions, he very gravely advised them to accept peace. But the people, mad with rage, reviled him also, and threatened everybody, until some of the notables, despairing of the city, took refuge with Massinissa, and others with the Romans themselves.

Appian   :   Roman History   :   Punic wars   :   part 12
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