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Both Sides Are in the Wrong

These things being so, they argued that it was beyond controversy that Saguntum had accepted the protection of Rome, several years before the time of Hannibal. The strongest proof of this, and one which would not be contested by the Carthaginians themselves, was that, when political disturbances broke out at Saguntum, the people chose the Romans, and not the Carthaginians, as arbitrators to settle the dispute and restore their constitution, although the latter were close at hand and were already established in Iberia.

I conclude, then, that if the destruction of Saguntum is to

Mutual provocation.
be regarded as the cause of this war, the Carthaginians must be acknowledged to be in the wrong, both in view of the treaty of Lutatius, which secured immunity from attack for the allies of both parties, and in view of the treaty of Hasdrubal, which disabled the Carthaginians from passing the Iber with arms.1 If on the other hand the taking Sardinia from them, and imposing the heavy money fine which accompanied it, are to be regarded as the causes, we must certainly acknowledge that the Carthaginians had good reason for undertaking the Hannibalian war: for as they had only yielded to the pressure of circumstances, so they seized a favourable turn in those circumstances to revenge themselves on their injurers.

1 Saguntum of course is south of the Iber, but the attack on it by Hannibal was a breach of the former of the two treaties. Livy (21, 2) seems to assert that it was specially exempted from attack in the treaty with Hasdrubal.

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 21, 1
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