But Hannibal had started from New Carthage and was
leading his army straight against Saguntum.
This city is situated on the sea-ward foot of
the mountain chain on which the frontiers of Iberia
Celtiberia converge, and is about seven stades from the sea.
The district cultivated by its inhabitants is exceedingly
productive, and has a soil superior to any in all Iberia
Under the walls of this town Hannibal pitched his camp
and set energetically to work on the siege, foreseeing many
advantages that would accrue if he could take it. Of these
the first was that he would thereby disappoint the Romans
in their expectation of making Iberia
the seat of war: a
second was that he would thereby strike a general terror,
which would render the already obedient tribes more submissive, and the still independent ones more cautious of
offending him: but the greatest advantage of all was that
thereby he would be able to push on his advance, without
leaving an enemy on his rear. Besides these advantages, he
calculated that the possession of this city would secure him
abundant supplies for his expedition, and create an enthusiasm
in the troops excited by individual acquisitions of booty;
while he would conciliate the goodwill of those who remained
by the spoils which would be sent home. With
these ideas he pressed on the siege with energy: sometimes
setting an example to his soldiers by personally sharing in the
fatigues of throwing up the siege works; and sometimes cheering on his men and recklessly exposing himself to danger.
After a siege extending to the eighth month, in the course of
which he endured every kind of suffering and
anxiety, he finally succeeded in taking the town.
An immense booty in money, slaves, and property fell into
his hands, which he disposed of in accordance with his original
design. The money he reserved for the needs of his projected expedition; the slaves were distributed according to
merit among his men; while the property was at once sent
entire to Carthage
. The result answered his expectations: the
army was rendered more eager for action; the home populace
more ready to grant whatever he asked; and he himself was
enabled, by the possession of such abundant means, to carry
out many measures that were of service to his expedition.