"Your ready obedience up to this point, Carthaginians, in the matter of the hostages and the arms, is worthy of all praise. In cases of necessity we must not multiply words. Bear bravely the remaining commands of the Senate. Yield Carthage to us, and betake yourselves where you like within your own territory at a distance of at least ten miles from the sea, for we are resolved to raze your city to the ground." While he was yet speaking, the Carthaginians lifted their hands toward heaven with loud cries, and called on the gods as avengers of violated faith. They heaped reproaches on the Romans, as if willing to die, or insane, or determined to provoke the Romans to sacrilegious violence to ambassadors. They flung themselves on the ground and beat it with their hands and heads. Some of them even tore their clothes and lacerated their flesh as though they were absolutely bereft of their senses. After the first frenzy was past there was great silence and prostration as of men lying dead. The Romans were struck with amazement, and the consuls thought it best to bear with men who were overwhelmed at an appalling command until their indignation should subside, for they well knew that great dangers often bring desperate courage on the instant, which time and necessity gradually subdue. This was the case with the Carthaginians, for when the sense of their calamity came over them, during the interval of silence, they ceased their reproaches and began to bewail, with fresh lamentations, their own fate and that of their wives and children, calling them by name, and also their country, as though she could hear their cries like a human being. The priests invoked their temples, and the gods within them, as though they were present, accusing them of being the cause of their destruction. So pitiable was this mingling together of public and private grief that it drew tears from the Romans themselves.
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THE PUNIC WARS
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