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Treason of Abilyx

Here an event occurred which produced a decisive
Treason of Abilyx.
change in their favour. When Hannibal was about to start for Italy, from the Iberian towns whose loyalty he suspected he took the sons of their leading men as hostages, and placed them all in Saguntum, because of the strength of that town and his confidence in the fidelity of those who were left in charge of it. Now there was a certain Iberian there named Abilyx, who enjoyed the highest character and reputation with his countrymen, and was believed to be especially well disposed and loyal to the Carthaginians. Seeing how affairs were going, and believing that the fortune of the Romans was in the ascendant, he formed in his own mind a scheme, worthy of an Iberian and barbarian, for giving up the hostages. Convinced that he might obtain a high place in the favour of Rome, if he gave a proof of his fidelity at a critical moment, he made up his mind to turn traitor to Carthage and put the hostages in the hands of the Romans. He began his machinations by addressing himself to Bostar, the Carthaginian general who had been despatched by Hasdrubal to prevent the Romans from crossing the river, but, not venturing to do this, had retreated, and was now encamped in the region of Saguntum next the sea. To this man, who was of a guileless and gentle character, and quite disposed to trust him, Abilyx now introduced the subject of the hostages. He argued that "the Romans having now crossed the Iber, the Carthaginians could no longer hold Iberia by terror, but stood now in need of the good feeling of their subjects: seeing then that the Romans had actually approached Saguntum and were besieging it, and that the city was in danger,—if he were to take the hostages and restore them to their parents and cities, he would not only frustrate the ambitious scheme of the Romans, who wished above all things by getting possession of the hostages to have the credit of doing this; but would also rouse a feeling of goodwill towards Carthage in all the cities, for having taken thought for the future and provided for the safety of the hostages. He would, too, much enhance the favour by personally managing this business: for if he restored these boys to their homes, he would provoke the gratitude, not only of their parents, but of the people at large also, by giving a striking instance of the magnanimous policy of Carthage towards her allies. He might even expect large rewards for himself from the families that recovered their children; for all those, who thus unexpectedly got into their hands the dearest objects of their affection, would vie with each other in heaping favours on the author of such a service." By these and similar arguments he persuaded Bostar to fall in with his proposals.

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