Hannibal Fugitive and an Exile

In the mean time, there was a great excitement produced at Carthage by the news which spread every where over the city, the day after his departure, that he was not to be found. Great crowds assembled before his house. Wild and strange rumors circulated in explanation of his disappearance, but they were contradictory and impossible, and only added to the universal excitement. This excitement’ continued until the vessels at last arrived from Cercina, and made the truth known. Hannibal was himself, however, by this time, safe beyond the reach of all possible pursuit. He was sailing prosperously, so far as outward circumstances were concerned, but dejected end wretched in heart, toward Tyre. He landed there in safety, and was kindly received. In a few days he went into the interior, and, after various wanderings, reached Ephesus, where he found Antiochus, the Syrian king. As soon as the escape of Hannibal was made known at Carthage, the people of the city immediately began to fear that the Romans would consider them responsible for it, and that they should thus incur a renewal of Roman hostility.

In order to avert this danger, they immediately sent a deputation to Rome, to make known the fact of Hannibal’s flight, and to express the regret they felt on account of it, in hopes thus to save themselves from the displeasure of their formidable foes. It may at first view seem very ungenerous and ungrateful in the Carthaginians to abandon their general in this manner, in the hour of his misfortune and calamity, and to take part against him with enemies whose displeasure he had incurred only in their service and in executing their will. And this conduct of the Carthaginians would have to be considered as not only ungenerous, but extremely inconsistent, if it had been the same individuals that acted in the two cases. But it was not. The men and the influences which now opposed Hannibal’s projects and plans had opposed them always and from the beginning; only, so long as he went on successfully and well, they were in the minority, and Hannibal’s adherents and friends controlled all the public action of the city. But, now that the bitter fruits of his ambition and of his totally unjustifiable encroachments on the Roman territories and Roman rights began to be realized, the party of his friends was overturned, the power reverted to the hands of those who had always opposed him, and in trying to keep him down when he was once fallen, their action, whether politically right or wrong, was consistent with itself, and can not be considered as at all subjecting them to the charge of ingratitude or treachery.

One might have supposed that all Hannibal’s hopes and expectations of ever again coping with his great Roman enemy would have been now effectually and finally destroyed, a7d that henceforth he would have given up his active hostility and would have contented himself with seeking some refuge where he could spend the remainder of his days in peace, satisfied with securing, after such dangers and escapes, his own personal protection from the vengeance of his enemies. But it is hard to quell and subdue such indomitable perseverance and energy as his. He was very little inclined yet to submit to his fate. As soon as he found himself at the court of Antiochus, he began to form new plans for making war against Rome. He proposed to the Syrian monarch to raise a naval force and put it under his charge. He said that if Antiochus would give him a hundred ships and ten or twelve thousand men, he would take the command of the expedition in person, and he did not doubt that he should be able to recover his lost ground, and once more humble his ancient and formidable enemy. He would go first, he said, with his force to Carthage, to get the co-operation and aid of his countrymen there in his new plans. Then he would make a descent upon Italy, and he had no doubt that he should soon regain the ascendancy there which he had formerly held.