At almost the same time the ambassadors who had returned from Carthage brought back word to Rome that all was hostile in that quarter, and the fall of Saguntum was announced.
And so great was the grief of the senators, and their pity at the unmerited doom of their allies, and their shame at having failed to help them, and their wrath against the Carthaginians and fear for the safety of the commonwealth —as though the enemy were already at their gates —that, confounded with so many simultaneous emotions, they rather trembled than deliberated.
For they felt that they had never encountered a fiercer or more warlike foe, and that Rome had never been so torpid and unwarlike. The Sardinians and Corsicans, the Histrians and Illyrians, had provoked but had hardly exercised the Roman arms;
while against the Gauls there had been desultory fighting rather than real war.1
But the Phoenician was an old and experienced enemy, who in the hardest kind of service amongst the Spanish tribes had for three and twenty years2
invariably got the victory;
he was accustomed to the keenest of commanders, was flushed with the conquest of a very wealthy city, and crossing the Ebro and drawing after him the many Spanish peoples which he [p. 47]
had enlisted, would be rousing up the Gallic tribes —3
always eager to unsheathe the sword —and the Romans would have to contend in war with all the world, in Italy and under the walls of Rome.