"If it is permitted to repeat what we have already said to you, Romans, we would speak once more, not as though we were contending for rights (since disputation is never timely for the unfortunate), but that you may perceive that pity on your part toward us is not without excuse and not without reason. We were once the rulers of Africa and of the greater part of the sea, and we contended with yourselves for empire. We desisted from this in the time of Scipio, when we gave up to you all the ships and elephants we had. We agreed to pay you tribute and we pay it at the appointed time. Now, in the name of the gods who witnessed the oaths, spare us, respect the oath sworn by Scipio that the Romans and Carthaginians should be allies and friends. We have not violated the treaty. We have no ships, no elephants. The tribute is not in default. On the contrary, we have fought on your side against three kings. You must not take offence at this recital, although we mentioned it before when you demanded our arms. Our calamities make us verbose, and nothing gives more force to an appeal than the terms of a treaty. Nor can we take refuge in anything else than words, since we have given all other power over to you. Such, Romans, were the former conditions, for which Scipio was our surety. Of the present ones you, consuls, are yourselves the doers and the witnesses. You asked hostages, and we gave you our best. You asked for our arms, and you have received them all, which even captured cities do not willingly give up. We had confidence in your habits and your character. Your Senate sent us word, and you confirmed it, when the hostages were demanded, that if they were delivered, Carthage should be left free and autonomous. If it was added that we should endure your further commands it was not to be expected that in the matter of the hostages you would, in your distinct demand, promise that the city should be independent, and then besides the hostages would make a further demand that Carthage itself be destroyed. If it is right for you to destroy it, how can you leave it free and autonomous as you said you would?
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THE PUNIC WARS
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