The Third Punic War
IT may occur to some to ask why I have not given a
The dramatic representation of debates though convenient is not history.
dramatic turn to my narrative, now that I have
so striking a theme and a subject of such importance, by recording the actual speeches
delivered; a thing which the majority of
historians have done, by giving the appropriate
arguments used on either side. That I do not reject this
method altogether I have shown in several parts of my work,
in which I have recorded popular harangues and expositions
delivered by statesmen; but that I am not inclined to employ
it on every occasion alike will now be made clear; for it
would not be easy to find a subject more remarkable than
this, nor material more ample for instituting a comparison of
such a character. Nor indeed could any form of composition
be more convenient to me. Still, as I do not think it becoming in statesmen to be ready with argument and exposition on
every subject of debate without distinction, but rather to adapt
their speeches to the nature of the particular occasion, so neither
do I think it right for historians to practise their skill or
show off their ability upon their readers: they ought on the
contrary to devote their whole energies to discover and record
what was really and truly said, and even of such words only
those that are the most opportune and essential. . . .
The Romans Find a Justification for War
This idea having been firmly fixed in the minds of all,
The Romans were careful to have a fair pretext for war.
they looked out for a suitable opportunity and
a decent pretext to justify them in the eyes of
the world. For indeed the Romans were
quite rightly very careful on this point. For
instance, the general impression that they were justified in
entering upon the war with Demetrius enhances the value of
their victories, and diminishes the risks incurred by their defeats; but if the pretext for doing so is lame and
poor the contrary effects are produced.
Accordingly, as they differed as to the sentiments of the outer world
on the subject, they were very nearly abandoning the war. . .
The policy of Rome in Africa of constantly supporting Massanissa against
Carthage was mentioned in 32, 2. Frequent
complaints came to Rome from the Numidian King, and the
Carthaginians were said to be collecting an army contrary to
treaty. Commissioners were sent over in 154 B. C. on the advice
of Cato, who were roughly treated at Carthage; and when, in
B. C. 151, Massanissa sent his son Gulussa with similar complaints to Rome,
Cato urged immediate war. The Senate, however, again sent commissioners, among whom was Cato himself,
to examine into the matter. They reported that the Carthaginians had an army and navy. An ultimatum was therefore
sent, that the army and navy were to be broken up within the
year, or that the next consuls should bring the question of war
before the Senate (B. C. 150). Just at this crisis Utica, in
enmity with Carthage, placed itself under the protection of
Rome. Livy, Ep. 48; Appian, Pun. 75.
War With Carthage Resolved Upon
When the Carthaginians had been some time deliberating
B. C. 149. Utica puts itself under the protection of Rome.
how they should meet the message from Rome
they were reduced to a state of the utmost
embarrassment by the people of Utica anticipating
their design by putting themselves under the protection of Rome. This seemed their only hope of safety left:
and they imagined that such a step must win them favour at
Rome: for to submit to put themselves and their country
under control was a thing which they had never done even in
their darkest hour of danger and defeat, with the enemy at
their very walls.
Carthaginian plenipotentiaries at Rome.
And now they had lost all the fruit of this
resolve by being anticipated by the people of
Utica; for it would appear nothing novel or
strange to the Romans if they only did the same
as that people. Accordingly, with a choice of two evils only
left, to accept war with courage or to surrender their independence, after a long and anxious discussion held secretly in the
Senate-house, they appointed two ambassadors with plenary
powers, and instructed them, that, in view of the existing state
of things, they should do what seemed for the advantage of
their country. The names of these envoys were Gisco
Strytanus, Hamilcar, Misdes, Gillimas, and Mago. When
they reached Rome from Carthage, they found war already
decreed and the generals actually started with their forces.
Circumstances, therefore, no longer giving them any power of
deliberating, they offered an unconditional surrender.
Meaning of Surrender
I have spoken before about what this implies, but I
What is implied by their surrender. See 20, 9-10.
must in this place also briefly remind my readers
of its import. Those who thus surrender themselves to the Roman authority, surrender all
territory and the cities in it, together with all men and women
in all such territory or cities, likewise rivers, harbours, temples,
and tombs, so that the Romans should become actual lords of
all these, and those who surrender should remain lords of
nothing whatever. On the Carthaginians making a surrender
to this effect, they were summoned into the Senate-house and
the Praetor delivered the Senate's decision, which was to this
effect: "They had been well advised, and
therefore the Senate granted them freedom and
the enjoyment of their laws; and moreover, all
their territory and the possession of their other
property, public or private."
The Senate re-grant their liberty and territory to the Carthaginians,
The Carthaginian envoys were
much relieved when they heard this; thinking that, where the
alternatives were both miserable, the Senate had treated
them well in conceding their most necessary and important
but on condition of giving 300 hostages, and obeying certain orders not yet expressed.
But presently the Praetor went
on to state that they would enjoy these concessions on condition of sending three hundred
hostages to Lilybaeum within thirty days, sons
of members of the Hundred1
or the Senate, and
obeying such commands as should be imposed on them by the
consuls. This dashed their satisfaction for a time, because
they had no means of knowing what orders were to be given
them through the consuls; however, they started at once,
being anxious to report what had occurred to their countrymen
with all speed. When they arrived in Carthage and stated the
facts, the citizens considered that the envoys had in all respects
acted with proper caution; but they were greatly alarmed and
distressed by the fact that in the answer no mention was made
of the city itself.
Speech of Mago Brettius
At this juncture they say that Mago Brettius delivered a
manly and statesmanlike speech. He said:
"The Carthaginians had two opportunities of
taking counsel in regard to themselves and their
country, one of which they had let pass; for in good truth it
was no use now to question what was going to be enjoined on them by the consuls, and why it was that the
Senate had made no mention of the city: they should have
done that when they made the surrender. Having once made
that, they must clearly make up their mind to the necessity of
submitting to every possible injunction, unless it should prove
to be something unbearably oppressive or beyond what they
could possibly expect. If they would not do this, they must
now consider whether they preferred to stand an invasion and
all its possible consequences, or, in terror of the attack of the
enemy, accept without resistance every order they might impose
The hostages are sent to Lilybaeum.
But as the imminence of war and
the uncertainty of the future made every one
inclined to submit to these injunctions, it
was decided to send the hostages to Lilybaeum. Three
hundred young men were forthwith selected and sent to Lilybaeum amidst loud expressions of sorrow and tears, each of
them being escorted by his nearest friends and relations, the
whole scene being made especially moving by the lamentations
of the women. On landing at Lilybaeum the hostages were
at once handed over by the consuls to Quintus Fabius
Maximus, who had been appointed to the command in Sicily
at that time. By him they were safely conveyed to Rome and
confined in the dockyard of the six-benched ships.
The Roman Army In Africa
The hostages being thus disposed of, the consuls
brought their fleet to the citadel of Utica. When news of this
reached Carthage, the city was in the utmost excitement and panic, not knowing what to expect
The Consuls, L. Marcius Censorinus, M'. Manilius, land in Africa. B. C. 149.
However, it was decided to send envoys
to ask the consuls what they were to do, and to
state that they were all prepared to obey orders.
The envoys arrived at the Roman camp: the general's council was
summoned: and they delivered their commission.
They demand the disarming of the Carthaginians.
Consul thereupon, after complimenting them on
their policy and readiness to obey, bade them
hand over all arms and missiles in their possession without subterfuge or concealment. The envoys answered
that they would carry out the directions, but begged the Consul
to consider what would happen if the Carthaginians surrendered
all their arms, and the Romans took them and sailed away from
the country. However, they gave them up. . . .
It was clearly shown that the resources of the city were
enormous, for they surrendered to the Romans more than
two hundred thousand stands of arms and two thousand
catapults. . . .
This was followed by a second injunction of the consuls that
the whole people of Carthage should remove to some other spot, to
be not less than ten miles from the sea, and there build a new
city. Livy, Ep. 49.
Panic at the Envoys' Report
The people had no idea what the announcement was going to be, but suspecting it from
Return of the envoys with the last orders from the Consuls.
the expression of the envoys' countenances, they
immediately burst into a storm of cries and
lamentations. . . .
Then all the Senators,2
uttering a cry
of horror, remained as though paralysed by the shock. But
the report having quickly spread among the
people, the general indignation at once found expression.
Some made an attack on the envoys, as the guilty authors of
their misfortunes, while others wreaked their wrath upon all
Italians caught within the city, and others rushed to the town
gates. . . .
The Carthaginians determine to resist, and the consuls, who
had not hurried themselves, because they believed that resistance
from an unarmed populace was impossible, found, when they
approached Carthage, that it was prepared to offer a vigorous
resistance. The scene which followed the announcement of the
Consul's orders, and the incidents of the siege, are chiefly known
to us from Appian, Pun. 91 sq. Livy, Ep. 49. Scipio was
serving as military Tribune, B. C. 149-148; consul, B. C. 147.
Character of Hamilcar Phameas
was the general of the
Hamilcar Phameas, the commander of the Punic cavalry. Appian, Pun. 100.
Carthaginians, a man in the very prime of life
and of great physical strength. What is of the
utmost importance too for service in the field,
he was an excellent and bold horseman. . . .
When he saw the advanced guard, Phameas, though not at
all deficient in courage, avoided coming to close quarters with
Scipio: and on one occasion when he had come near his
reserves, he got behind the cover of the brow of a hill and
halted there a considerable time. . . .
The Roman maniples fled to the top of a hill; and when
all had given their opinions, Scipio said, "When men are consulting what measures to take at first, their object should be to
avoid disaster rather than to inflict it."4
. . .
It ought not to excite surprise that I am
Polybius's personal knowledge of Scipio.
more minute than usual in my account of Scipio
and that I give in detail everything which he
said. . . .
When Marcius Porcius Cato heard in Rome of the glorious
achievements of Scipio he uttered a palinode to his criticisms
of him: "What have you heard? He alone has the breath
of wisdom in him: the rest are but flitting phantoms."5