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[10] It is said that at one of their meetings in the gymnasium Scipio and Hannibal had a conversation on the subject of generalship, in the presence of a number of
B.C. 192
bystanders, and that Scipio asked Hannibal whom he considered the greatest general, to which the latter replied, "Alexander of Macedon." To this Scipio assented since he also yielded the first place to Alexander. Then he asked Hannibal whom he placed next, and he replied, "Pyrrhus of Epirus," because he considered boldness the first qualification of a general; "for it would not be possible," he said, "to find two kings more enterprising than these." Scipio was rather nettled by this, but nevertheless he asked Hannibal to whom he would give the third place, expecting that at least the third would be assigned to him; but Hannibal replied, "To myself; for when I was a young man I conquered Spain and crossed the Alps with an army, the first after Hercules. I invaded Italy and struck terror into all of you, laid waste 400 of your towns, and often put your city in extreme peril, all this time receiving neither money nor re├źnforcements from Carthage." As Scipio saw that he was likely to prolong his self-laudation he said, laughing, "Where would you place yourself, Hannibal, if you had not been defeated by me?" Hannibal, now perceiving his jealousy, replied, "In that case I should have put myself before Alexander." Thus Hannibal continued his self-laudation, but flattered Scipio in a delicate manner by suggesting that he had conquered one who was the superior of Alexander.1


1 This tale is considered by most modern critics a fiction. It is, however, found in Plutarch and Livy. The latter (xxxv. 14), gives the authority for it, viz: "Claudius, following the Greek history of Acilins, says that Africanus was in that embassy," etc. But in his own account of the embassy Livy does not include Africanus as a member of it.

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