CHAPTER IBoundaries of Spain -- King Arganthonius -- Early Carthaginian Occupation -- Hamilcar Barca -- His Death
THE Pyrenees mountains extend from the Tyrrhenian sea to the Northern ocean. The eastern part is inhabited by Celts, otherwise called Galatians, and more lately Gauls. From this part westward, beginning at the Tyrrhenian sea and making a circuit by way of the Pillars of Hercules to the Northern ocean, the Iberians and Celtiberians dwell. Thus the whole of Iberia is sea-girt, except the part embraced by the Pyrenees, the largest and perhaps the most precipitous mountains in Europe. In coasting they follow the Tyrrhenian sea as far as the Pillars of Hercules. They do not traverse the Western and Northern ocean, except in crossing over to Britain, and this they accomplish by availing themselves of the tide, as it is only half a day's journey.1 For the rest, neither the Romans nor any of the subject peoples navigate that ocean. The size of Iberia (now called Hispania by some) is almost incredible for a single country. Its breadth is reckoned at ten thousand stades, and its length is equal to its breadth. Many nations of various names inhabit it, and many navigable rivers flow through it.  What nations occupied it first, and who came after them, it is not very important for me to inquire, in writing merely Roman history. However, I think that the Celts, passing over the Pyrenees at some former time, mingled with the natives, and that the name Celtiberia originated in that way. I think also that from an early time the Phœnicians frequented Spain for purposes of trade, and occupied certain places there. In like manner the Greeks visited Tartessus and its king Arganthonius,2 and some of them settled in Spain; for the kingdom of Arganthonius was in Spain. It is my opinion that Tartessus was then the city on the seashore which is now called Carpessus. I think also that the Phoenicians built the temple of Hercules which stands at the straits. The religious rites performed there are still of Phoenician type, and the god is considered by the worshippers the Tyrian, not the Theban, Hercules. But I will leave these matters to the antiquaries.  This fruitful land, abounding in all good things, the Carthaginians began to exploit before the Romans. A part of it they occupied and another part they plundered, until the Romans expelled them from the part they held, and immediately occupied it themselves. The remainder the Romans acquired with much toil, extending over a long period of time, and in spite of frequent revolts they eventually subdued it and divided it into three parts and appointed a praetor over each. How they subdued each one, and how they contended with the Carthaginians for the possession of them, and afterwards with the Iberians and Celtiberians, this book will show, the first part containing matters relating to the Carthaginians, since it was necessary for me to introduce their relations with Spain in my Spanish history. For the same reason the doings of the Romans and Carthaginians in respect to Sicily from the beginning of the Roman invasion and rule of that island are embraced in the Sicilian history.  The first external war waged by the Romans against the Carthaginians in reference to Sicily was waged in Sicily itself. In like manner the first one concerning Spain was waged in Spain, although in the course of it the combatants sent large forces into, and devastated, both Italy and Africa.