Such were the chief features of the march to Italy, which they accomplished five months after leaving New Carthage —as certain authorities state —having crossed the Alps in fifteen days.
The strength of Hannibal's forces on his entering Italy is a point on which historians are by no means agreed. Those who put the figures highest give him a hundred thousand foot and twenty thousand horse; the lowest estimate is twenty thousand foot and six thousand horse.1
Lucius Cincius Alimentus,2
who says that he was taken prisoner by Hannibal, would be our weightiest authority, did he not confuse the reckoning by adding in Gauls and Ligurians: including these, he says that Hannibal brought eighty thousand foot and ten thousand horse —but
it is more probable, and certain historians so hold, that these people joined his standard in Italy; he says, moreover, that he had learned from Hannibal's own lips that after crossing the Rhone he lost thirty-six thousand men and a vast number of horses and other animals.3
The Taurine Gauls were the first people he encountered on descending into Italy.
Since all are agreed on this point,4
I am the more astonished at the difference of opinion in regard to his route over the Alps, and that it should be commonly held that he crossed by the Poenine Pass5
and that from this circumstance that ridge of the Alps derived its name —and
that Coelius should state that he crossed by the ridge of Cremo;6
for [p. 113]
both these passes would have brought him down,7
not amongst the Taurini but through the Salassi Montani to the Libuan Gauls.
Neither is it probable that these routes to Gaul8
were open at that time; those leading to the Poenine Pass, at any rate, would have been blocked by tribes of half-German stock.
Nor for that matter —if anyone happens to consider this point of consequence —do the Seduni Veragri, who inhabit those mountains, know of their having been named from any passage of the Phoenicians (or Poeni) but from that deity whose sanctuary is established on their very summit and whom the mountaineers call Poeninus.9