Meanwhile some of the Carthaginians were watching from the walls the return of the ambassadors, and tore their hair with impatience at their delay. Others, not waiting, ran to meet them in order to learn the news; and when they saw them coming with downcast eyes they smote their own foreheads and questioned them, now all together, now one by one, as each chanced to meet a friend or acquaintance, seizing hold of them and asking questions. When no one answered they wept aloud as though certain destruction awaited them. When those on the walls heard them they joined in the lamentations, not knowing why, but as though some great evil were impending. At the gates the crowd almost crushed the envoys, rushing upon them in such number. They would have been torn in pieces had they not said that they must make their first communication to the senate. Then some of the crowd turned aside, and others opened a path for them, in order to learn the news sooner. When they were come into the senate-chamber the senators turned the others out and sat down alone by themselves, and the crowd remained standing outside. Then the envoys announced first of all the order of the consuls. Immediately there was a great outcry in the senate which was echoed by the people outside. When the envoys went on to tell what arguments and prayers they had used to get permission to send an embassy to Rome, there was again profound silence among the senators, who listened to the end; and the people kept silence also. When they learned that they were not even allowed to send an embassy, they raised a loud and mournful outcry, and the people rushed in among them.
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THE PUNIC WARS
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