Titus Quinctius Flamininus went as an ambassador to King Prusias, whom the Romans suspected both because he had given shelter to Hannibal after the flight of Antiochus1
and because he had begun and was carrying on war against Eumenes.
There, whether Prusias was reproached by Flamininus on this ground among others, because [p. 381]
of all living men the one who was most dangerous2
to the Roman people was at his court, the man who had first urged his own country and then, after its defeat, King Antiochus to war upon the Roman people, or whether Prusias himself, in order to do a favour to Flamininus when he came and to the Romans, formed the plan of killing him or giving him into custody;
for whatever reason, immediately after the first conference with Flamininus he sent soldiers to put the house of Hannibal under guard.
Hannibal had always foreseen such an end to his life, both from his knowledge of the insatiable hatred of the Romans for him and from his lack of faith in the loyalty of kings: as for Prusias, he had in fact experienced his fickleness;3
then too the arrival of Flamininus had made him tremble as at the signal for his doom.
Having regard to the dangers which were all around him, in order that he might always have some way of escape in readiness, he had made seven exits from his house, and some of these were secret, lest he might be hemmed in by guards.
But the dread power of kings leaves nothing unexplored when they want it traced down. They surrounded the whole area about the house with guards, so that no one could escape from it.
When the word was brought to him that the king's troops were in the vestibule, Hannibal attempted to escape by a side door which was out of the way and
especially adapted to a stealthy departure, and when he found that this too was blocked by guards stationed around it, he called for the poison which he had long kept ready for such emergencies.
“Let us,” he said, “relieve the Roman people of their long anxiety, since they [p. 383]
find it tedious to wait for the death of an old man.4
Neither magnificent nor memorable will be the victory which Flamininus will win over a man unarmed and betrayed. How much the manners of the Roman people have changed, this day in truth will
prove. Their fathers sent word to King Pyrrhus, an enemy in arms, commanding an army in Italy, warning him to beware of poison: these Romans have sent an ambassador of consular rank to urge upon Prusias the crime of murdering his
guest.” Then, cursing the person and the kingdom of Prusias and calling upon the gods of hospitality to bear witness to his breach of faith, he drained the cup. This was the end of the life of Hannibal.