This straightforward demand and declaration of war seemed more in keeping with the dignity of the Roman People than to bandy words regarding the rights involved in treaties, especially at that moment, when Saguntum had been destroyed.
Though for that matter, had it been proper to debate the question, what comparison could there be between Hasdrubal's treaty and the earlier treaty of Lutatius, which was altered?
For in the treaty of Lutatius it had been expressly added that it should be valid only if the people ratified it; but in Hasdrubal's treaty no such proviso had been made, and by the silence of so many years the treaty had during his lifetime been so sanctioned that even on its author's death no slightest change was made in it.
And yet, even if the earlier treaty were adhered to, the Saguntines had been sufficiently protected by the provision made concerning the allies of both the parties; for there had been no specification of “those who were then allies,” nor exception of “such as might [p. 55]
afterwards be received.”
And since they were permitted1
to take new allies, who would think it fair either that they should admit no one, however deserving, to their friendship, or that, having once taken people under their protection, they should not defend them —provided only that allies of the Carthaginians should not be tempted to desert them nor be made welcome if they left them voluntarily?
The ambassadors, conformably to the instructions given them in Rome, crossed over from Carthage into Spain for the purpose of approaching the different states and winning them to an alliance, or at least detaching them from the Phoenicians.
The Bargusii were the first they visited, and being warmly welcomed by them, for men were wearying of the Punic sway,2
they aroused in many nations south of the Ebro a desire to revolt.
From there they came to the Volciani, who gave them an answer that was carried all over Spain and turned all the other states against an alliance with the Romans.
For the eldest of them replied as follows in their council: “With what face, Romans, can you ask us to prefer your friendship to the Carthaginian, when those who did so have been more cruelly betrayed by you, their allies, than destroyed by their enemy, the Phoenician? You must seek allies, in my opinion, only where the disaster of Saguntum is unknown.
To the Spanish peoples the ruins of Saguntum will constitute a warning, no less emphatic than deplorable, that none should trust to the honour or alliance of the Romans.”
Being then bidden straightway to depart out of the borders of the Volciani, they received from that day forth [p. 57]
no kinder response from any Spanish council.3
Accordingly, having traversed that country to no purpose, they passed over into Gaul.