Hannibal, therefore, when his own resolution was fixed to proceed in his course and advance on Italy, having summoned an assembly, works upon the minds of the soldiers in various ways, by reproof and exhortation.
He said, that “he wondered what sudden fear had seized breasts ever before undismayed: that through so many years they had made their campaigns with conquest; nor had departed from Spain before all the nations and countries which two opposite seas embrace, were subjected to the Carthaginians.
That then, indignant that the Romans demanded those, whosoever had besieged Saguntum, to be delivered up to them, as on account of a crime, they had passed the Iberus to blot out the name of the Romans, and to emancipate the world.
That then the way seemed long to no one, though they were pursuing it from the setting to the rising of the sun.
That now, when they saw by far the greater part of their journey accomplished, the passes of the Pyrenees surmounted, amid the most ferocious nations, the Rhone, that mighty river, crossed, in spite of the opposition of so many thousand Gauls, the fury of the river itself having been overcome, when they had the Alps in sight, the other side of which was Italy, should they halt through weariness at
the very gates of the enemy, imagining the Alps to be —what else than lofty mountains?
That supposing them to be higher than the summits of the Pyrenees, assuredly no part of the earth reached the sky, nor was insurmountable by mankind. The Alps in fact were inhabited and cultivated; —produced and supported living beings.
Were they passable by a few men and impassable to armies? That those very ambassadors whom they saw before them had not crossed the Alps borne aloft through the air on wings; neither [p. 729]
were their ancestors indeed natives of the soil, but settling in Italy from foreign countries, had often as emigrants safely crossed these very Alps in immense bodies, with their wives and children.
To the armed soldier, carrying nothing with him but the instruments of war, what in reality was impervious or insurmountable? That Saguntum might be taken, what dangers, what toils were for eight months undergone!
Now, when their aim was Rome, the capital of the world, could any thing appear so dangerous or difficult as to delay their undertaking?
That the Gauls had formerly gained possession of that very country which the Carthaginian despairs of being able to approach. That they must, therefore, either yield in spirit and valour to that nation which they had so often during those times overcome; or look forward, as the end of their journey, to the plain which spreads between the Tiber and the walls of Rome.”