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The Passage of the Rhone

Meanwhile Hannibal had reached the river and was
Hannibal reaches the Rhone.
trying to get across it where the stream was single, at a distance of four days' march from the sea. He did all he could to make the natives living by the river friendly to him, and purchased from them all their canoes of hollow trunks, and wherries, of which there were a large number, owing to the extensive sea traffic of the inhabitants of the Rhone valley. He got from them also the timber suited to the construction of these canoes; and so in two days had an innumerable supply of transports, every soldier seeking to be independent of his neighbour, and to have the means of crossing in his own hands. But now a large multitude of barbarians collected on the other side of the stream to hinder the passage of the Carthaginians. When Hannibal saw them, he came to the conclusion that it would be impossible either to force a passage in the face of so large a body of the enemy, or to remain where he was, for fear of being attacked on all sides at once: and he accordingly, on the third night, sent forward a detachment of his army with native guides, under the command of Hanno, the son of the Suffete1 Bomilcar.
A detachment crosses higher up the river.
This force marched up stream along the bank for two hundred stades, until they arrived at a certain spot where the stream is divided by an eyot, and there halted. They found enough wood close at hand to enable them, by nailing or tying it together, to construct within a short time a large number of rafts good enough for temporary use; and on these they crossed in safety, without any one trying to stop them. Then, seizing upon a strong position, they kept quiet for the rest of the day: partly to refresh themselves after their fatigues, and at the same time to complete their preparations for the service awaiting them, as they had been ordered to do. Hannibal was preparing to proceed much in the same way with the forces left behind with himself; but his chief difficulty was in getting the elephants across, of which he had thirty-seven.

1 See on ch. 33, note 2.

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