Hannibal, after the capture of Saguntum,1
had withdrawn his army into winter quarters at New Carthage. There he learned what had been done in Rome and Carthage and what had been decreed, and that he was not only commander in the war, but the cause of it as well.
So, having divided or sold off what was left of the plunder, he thought best to defer his plans no longer, and, calling together the soldiers of Spanish blood, thus addressed them:
“My allies, I doubt not that you yourselves perceive how, having conquered every tribe in Spain, we must either bring our campaigning to a close and disband our armies, or shift the seat of war to other countries.2
For these nations here will enjoy the blessings not merely of peace, but also of victory, only if we look to other nations for spoils and glory.
Since, therefore, you are on the eve of an expedition that will carry [p. 61]
you far afield, and it is uncertain when you will3
see again your homes and what there is dear to each of you, if any of you desires to visit his friends, I grant him furlough.
Be at hand, I charge you, with the first signs of spring, that with Heaven's good help we may begin a war that shall bring us vast renown and booty.”
There were very few who did not welcome the opportunity thus freely proffered of visiting their homes, for they were already homesick and looked forward to an even longer separation from their friends.
The full winter's rest between the labours already undergone and those that were presently to come gave them new strength and courage for a fresh encounter with every hardship.
Early in the spring they assembled in obedience to their orders.
When Hannibal had reviewed the contingents4
sent in by all the nations, he went to Gades5
and discharged his vows to Hercules, binding himself with fresh ones, in case he should be successful in the remainder of his undertaking.
Then, with equal concern for attack and defence, lest while he should be himself advancing upon Italy by an overland march through Spain and Gaul, Africa might lie exposed and open to a Roman invasion on the side of Sicily, he resolved to garrison that country with a powerful force.
To supply its place he requisitioned troops for himself from Africa —lightarmed slingers chiefly —so that Africans might serve in Spain and Spaniards in Africa, and both be the better soldiers for being far from home, as though mutually pledged to loyalty.
Thirteen thousand eight hundred and fifty targeteers6
and eight [p. 63]
hundred and seventy Baliaric slingers,7
hundred horsemen drawn from many nations, he sent to Africa.
A part of these troops were to be a garrison for Carthage, a part to be distributed through the country. At the same time he directed that recruiting officers be sent out into the states,9
and that four thousand picked men be brought to Carthage, to serve at once as defenders and as hostages.