Hannibal at Saguntum

The Roman ambassadors appeared at Carthage, and were admitted to an audience before the senate. They stated their case, representing that Hannibal had made war upon Saguntum in violation of the treaty, and had refused even to receive the communication which had been sent him by the Roman senate through them. They demanded that the Carthaginlan government should disavow his acts, and deliver him up to them, in order that he might receive the punishment which his violation of the treaty, and his aggressions upon an ally of the Romans, so justly deserved. The party of Hannibal in the Carthaginian senate were, of course, earnest to have these proposals reflected with scorn. The other side, with Hanno at tie head, maintained that they were reasonable defends. Hanno, in a very energetic and powerful speech, told the senate that he had warned them not to send Hannibal into Spain. He had foreseen that such a hot and turbulent spirit as his would involve them in inextricable difficulties with the Roman power. Hannibal had, he said, plainly violated the treaty. He had invested and besieged Saguntum, which they were solemnly bound not to molest, and they had nothing to expect in return but that the Roman legions would soon be investing and besieging their own city. In the mean time, the Romans, he added, had been moderate and forbearing. They had brought nothing to the charge of the Carthaginians. They accused nobody but Hannibal, who, thus far, alone was guilty. The Carthaginians, by disavowing his acts, could save themselves from the responsibility of them. He urged, therefore, that an embassage of apology should be sent to Rome, that Hannibal should be deposed and delivered up to the Romans, and that ample restitution should be made to the Saguntines for the injuries they had received.

On the other hand, the friends of Hannibal urged in the Carthaginian senate their defense of the general. They reviewed the history of the transactions in which the war had originated, and showed, or attempted to show, that the Saguntines themselves commenced hostilities, and that consequently they, and not Hannibal, were responsible for all that followed; that, under those circumstances, the Romans Ought not to take their part, and if they did so, it proved that they preferred the friendship of Sagunturn to that of Carthage; and that it would be cowardly and dishonorable in the extreme for them to eliver the general whom they had placed in power, and who had shown himself so worthy of their choice by his courage and energy, into the hands of their ancient and implacable foes.

Thus Hannibal was waging at the same time two Wars, one in the Carthaginian senate, where the weapons were arguments and eloquence, and the other under the walls of Saguntum, which was fought with battering rams and fiery javelins. He conquered in both. The senate decided to send the Roman ambassadors home without acceding to their demands, and the walls of Saguntum were battered down by Hannibal’s engines. The inhabitants refused all terms of compromise, and resisted to the last, so that, when the- victorious soldiery broke over the prostrate walls, and poured into the city, it was given up to them to plunder, and they killed and destroyed all that came (n their way. The disappointed ambassadors returned 14, Rome with the news that Saguntum had been taken and destroyed by Hannibal, and that the Carthaginians, far from offering any satisfaction for the wrong, assumed the responsibility of it themselves, and were preparing for war.

Thus Hannibal accomplished his purpose of opening the way for waging war against the Roman power. He prepared to enter into the contest with the utmost energy and zeal. The conflict that ensued lasted seventeen years, and is known in history as the second Punic war. It was one of the most dreadful struggles between rival and hostile nations which the gloomy history of mankind exhibits to view.