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Distress at Carthage

The Carthaginians were now indeed in evil case. It
Distress at Carthage, which is heightened by an inroad of Numidians.
was not long since they had sustained a disaster at sea: and now they had met with one on land, not from any failure of courage on the part of their soldiers, but from the incompetency of their commanders. Simultaneously with these misfortunes, they were suffering from an inroad of the Numidians, who were doing even more damage to the country than the Romans. The terror which they inspired drove the country folk to flock for safety into the city; and the city itself had to face a serious famine as well as a panic, the former from the numbers that crowded into it, the latter from the hourly expectation of a siege.
Spring of B. C. 255. Regulus proposes harsh terms.
But Regulus had different views. The double defeat sustained by the Carthaginians, by land as well as by sea, convinced him that the capture of Carthage was a question of a very short time; and he was in a state of great anxiety lest his successor in the Consulship should arrive from Rome in time to rob him of the glory of the achievement. He therefore invited the Carthaginians to make terms. They were only too glad of the proposal, and sent their leading citizens to meet him. The meeting took place: but the commissioners could not bring their minds to entertain his proposals; they were so severe that it was almost more than they could bear to listen to them at all. Regulus regarded himself as practically master of the city, and considered that they ought to regard any concession on his part as a matter of favour and pure grace.
The terms rejected.
The Carthaginians on the other hand concluded that nothing worse could be imposed on them if they suffered capture than was now enjoined. They therefore returned home without accepting the offers of Regulus, and extremely exasperated by his unreasonable harshness. When the Carthaginian Senate heard the conditions offered by the Roman general, though they had almost relinquished every hope of safety, they came to the gallant and noble resolution that they would brave anything, that they would try every possible means and endure every extremity, rather than submit to terms so dishonourable and so unworthy of their past history.

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