No action with Hannibal took place this year; for neither did he present himself after the public and personal calamity so recently inflicted, and the Romans did not provoke him while he remained quiet, such power did they consider that single general possessed, though every thing else around him was falling into ruin.
Indeed I know not whether he was not more deserving of admiration in adversity than in prosperity;
inasmuch as though he carried on a war in the territory of enemies through a period of thirteen years, at so great a distance from home, with varying success, and with an army not composed of his own countrymen, but made up of the offscouring of all nations, without communion of laws, customs, or language, different in their appearance, their dress, their arms, their religious ceremonies and observances, and I had almost said, their gods;
yet he so effectually united them by some one bond, that no disturbance ever arose either among the soldiers themselves, or between them and their general, though he often wanted money to pay them, and provisions, as being in
a hostile country, through want of which, in the former Punic war, many dreadful transactions had occurred between the generals and their soldiers.
But after the destruction of Hasdrubal and his army, in which all hopes of victory had been treasured up; and after retiring from the possession of every other part of Italy by withdrawing into Bruttium, one corner of it; to whom does it not appear wonderful that no disturbance arose in the camp?
For to other circumstances this also was added, that he had no hope of subsisting his army, except from the lands of Bruttium, which, though they were all cultivated, would be very [p. 1178]
insufficient for the maintenance of so large an army.
Besides, many of the youth were drawn off from the cultivation of the fields, and engaged in the war; and a custom also prevailed among the people of that nation, grafted on a naturally depraved inclination, of carrying on a predatory kind of warfare.
Nor did he receive any supplies from home, where they were anxious about the retention of Spain, as if every thing was going on prosperously in Italy. In Spain the state of affairs was in one respect similar, but in another widely different;
similar in that the Carthaginians, having been defeated with the loss of their general, had been driven to the remotest coast of that country, even to the ocean;
but different, because Spain, both from the nature of the country and the genius of its inhabitants, was better adapted not only than Italy, but than any other part of the world, for renewing a war.
And accordingly, therefore, though this was the first of the provinces on the continent which the Romans entered, it was the last which was at length reduced, in the present age, under the conduct and auspices of Augustus Caesar.
Here Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, the greatest and most renowned general concerned in the war, next to the Barcine family, returning from Gades, and encouraged in his hopes of reviving the war by Mago, son of Hamilcar, by means of levies made throughout the Farther Spain, armed as many as fifty thousand foot and four thousand five hundred horse.
With regard to his mounted force, authors are pretty much agreed, but some state that seventy thousand infantry were led to the city Silpia.
Here the two Carthaginian generals sat down on open plains, with a determination not to avoid a battle.