On hearing and seeing which the old man, as though he were actually present at the transactions which were being
named to him, wild with fear, exclaimed, “I implore, I beseech you, my son, by all the ties which unite children to parents, that you will not resolve to commit and to suffer every thing that is horrible before the eyes of a father.
Did we but a few hours ago, swearing by every deity, and joining right hands, pledge our fidelity to Hannibal, that immediately on separating from the conference we should arm against him the hands which were employed as the sacred pledges of our faith?
Do you rise from the hospitable board to which as one of three of the Campanians you have been admitted by Hannibal, that you may ensanguine that very board with the blood of your host. Could I conciliate Hannibal to my son, and not my son to Hannibal?
But let nothing be held sacred by you, neither our pledges, nor the sense of religion, nor filial duty; let the most horrid deeds be dared, if with guilt they bring not ruin upon us.
Will you singly attack Hannibal? What will that numerous throng of freemen and slaves be doing? What the eyes of all intent on him alone?
What those so many right hands? Will they be torpid amidst your madness? Will you be able to bear the look of Hannibal him- self, which armed hosts cannot sustain, from which the Roman people shrink with horror?
And though other assistance be wanting, will you have the hardihood to strike me when I oppose my body in defence of Hannibal's? But know that through my breast you must strike and transfix him. Suffer yourself to be deterred from your attempt here, rather than to be defeated there. May my entreaties prevail with you, as they did for you this day.”
Upon this, perceiving the youth in tears, he threw his arms around him, and kissing him affectionately, ceased not his entreaties until he prevailed upon him to lay aside his sword and give his promise that he would do no such thing.
The young man then observed, “I will in- [p. 845]
deed pay to my father the debt of duty which I owe to my country, but I am grieved for you on whom the guilt of having thrice betrayed your country rests;
once when you sanctioned the revolt from the Romans; next when you advised the alliance with Hannibal; and thirdly, this day, when you are the delay and impediment of the restoration of Capua to the Romans.
Do thou, my country, receive this weapon, armed with which in thy behalf I would fain have defended this citadel, since a father wrests it from me.”
Having thus said, he threw the sword into the highway over the garden wall, and that the affair might not be suspected, himself returned to the banquet.