Then, in proof of this such joyful news, he ordered the golden rings to be poured out in the vestibule of the senate-house, of which there was such a heap that some have taken upon themselves to say that on being measured they [p. 848]
filled three pecks and a half.
The statement has obtained and is more like the truth, that there were not more than a peck. He then added, by way of explanation, to prove the greater extent of the slaughter, that none but knights, and of these the principal only, wore that ornament.
The main drift of his speech was, “that the nearer the prospect was of bringing the war to a conclusion, the more should Hannibal be aided by every means, for that the seat of war was at a long distance from home and in the heart of the enemy's country.
That a great quantity of corn was consumed and money expended; and that so many pitched battles, as they had annihilated the armies of the enemy, had also in some degree diminished the forces of the victor.
That a reinforcement therefore ought to be sent; and money for the pay, and corn for the soldiers, who had deserved so well of the Carthaginian name.” After this speech of Mago's, all being elated with joy, Himilco, a member of the Barcine faction, conceiving this a good opportunity for inveighing against Hanno, said to him, “What think you now, Hanno?
do you now also regret that the war against the Romans was entered upon?
Now urge that Hannibal should be given up; yes, forbid the rendering of thanks to the immortal gods amidst such successes; let us hear a Roman senator in the senate-house of the Carthaginians.”
Upon which Hanno replied, “I should have remained silent this day, conscript fathers, lest, amid the general joy, I should utter any thing which might be too gloomy for you.
But now, to a senator, asking whether I still regret the undertaking of the war against the Romans, if I should forbear to speak, I should seem either arrogant or servile, the former of which is the part of a man who is forgetful of the independence of others, the latter of his own.
I may answer therefore to Himilco, that I have not ceased to regret the war, nor shall I cease to censure your invincible general until I see the war concluded on some tolerable terms; nor will any thing except a new peace put a period to my regret for the loss of the old one.
Accordingly those achievements, which Mago has so boastingly recounted, are a source of present joy to Himilco and the other adherents of Hannibal; to me they may become so; because successes in war, if we have a mind to make the best use of fortune, will afford us a peace on more equitable terms;
for if we allow this opportunity to pass by, on which [p. 849]
we have it in our power to appear to dictate rather than to receive terms of peace, I fear lest even this our joy should run into excess, and in the end prove groundless.
However, let us see of what kind it is even now. I have slain the armies of the enemy, send me soldiers.
What else would you ask if you had been conquered? I have captured two of the enemy's camps, full, of course, of booty and provisions; supply me with corn and money. What else would you ask had you been plundered and stripped of your camp?
And that I may not be the only person perplexed, I could wish that either Himilco or Mago would answer me, for it is just and fair that I also should put a question, since I have answered Himilco.
Since the battle at Cannae annihilated the Roman power, and it is a fact that all Italy is in a state of revolt; in the first place, has any one people of the Latin confederacy come over to us? In the next place, has any individual of the five and thirty tribes deserted to Hannibal?”
When Mago had answered both these questions in the negative, he continued: “there remains then still too large a body of the enemy. But I should be glad to know what degree of spirit and hope that body possesses.”