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Rome's Reaction to the Fall of Saguntum

But when news came to Rome of the fall of Saguntum,
Indignation at Rome at the fall of Saguntum.
there was indeed no debate on the question of war, as some historians assert; who even add the speeches delivered on either side. But nothing could be more ridiculous. For is it conceivable that the Romans should have a year before proclaimed war with the Carthaginians in the event of their entering the territory of Saguntum, and yet, when the city itself had been taken, should have debated whether they should go to war or no? Just as absurd are the wonderful statements that the senators put on mourning, and that the fathers introduced their sons above twelve years old into the Senate House, who, being admitted to the debate, refrained from divulging any of its secrets even to their nearest relations. All this is as improbable as it is untrue; unless we are to believe that Fortune, among its other bounties, granted the Romans the privilege of being men of being men of the world from their cradles. I need not waste any more words upon such compositions as those of Chaereas and Sosilus;1 which, in my judgment, are more like the gossip of the barber's shop and the pavement than history.

The truth is that, when the Romans heard of the disaster

Envoys sent to Carthage to demand surrender of Hannibal.
at Saguntum, they at once elected envoys, whom they despatched in all haste to Carthage with the offer of two alternatives, one of which appeared to the Carthaginians to involve disgrace as well as injury if they accepted it, while the other was the beginning of a great struggle and of great dangers. For one of these alternatives was the surrender of Hannibal and his staff to Rome, the other was war. When the Roman envoys arrived and declared their message to the Senate, the choice proposed to them between these alternatives was listened to by the Carthaginians with indignation. Still they selected the most capable of their number to state their case, which was grounded on the following pleas.

1 Of Chaereas nothing seems known; a few fragments of an historian of his name are given in Müller, vol. iii. Of Sosilus, Diodorus (26, fr. 6) says that he was of Ilium and wrote a history of Hannibal in seven books. Nepos (Hann. 13) calls him a Lacedaemonian, and says that he lived in Hannibal's camp and taught him Greek.

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