When Hanno had concluded, not a single person found it necessary to oppose his arguments, so nearly unanimous was the senate in supporting Hannibal. They declared that Hanno had spoken more bitterly than Valerius Flaccus, the Roman envoy.
They then gave their answer to the envoys, to the effect that the war had been begun by the Saguntines, not by Hannibal, and that the Roman People would be doing wrong if they preferred the Saguntines to their very ancient alliance with the Carthaginians.
While the Romans were wasting time in dispatching embassies, Hannibal had allowed his soldiers, exhausted as they were with fighting and constructing works, to rest for a few days, after posting outguards to look to the pent-houses and other engines. [p. 33]
Meanwhile he kindled their ardour, now by inciting1
them to rage against their enemies, again by holding out hopes of rewards.
But when he made a speech proclaiming that the spoils of the captured city should go to the soldiers, they were so excited, one and all, that if the signal had been given instantly, it seemed as if no force could have withstood them.
The Saguntines, though they had had a rest from fighting, neither attacking nor being attacked for several days, had laboured incessantly, both day and night, to replace the wall where its collapse had exposed the town.
The assault was now resumed, with far greater fury than before, and it was hard for the inhabitants to know, when shouts and cries were resounding on every hand, to what point they should first, or preferably, bring up supports.
Hannibal was present in person to urge on his men, where they were pushing up a movable tower that surpassed in height all the defences of the city.
As soon as it had been brought up, and the catapults and ballistae2
distributed through all its platforms had stripped the ramparts of defenders, Hannibal, believing that he now had his opportunity, sent about five hundred Africans with pickaxes to undermine the wall. This was no hard task, for the rubble had not been solidified with mortar, but filled in with mud, after an ancient mode of building.
It therefore fell for wider stretches than were actually hacked away, and through the breaches bands of armed men passed into the city.
They even seized an elevation, and setting up catapults and ballistae
there, built a wall around it, so as to have within the town itself a stronghold that commanded it like a citadel.
The [p. 35]
Saguntines too built a wall within the old one, to3
protect that part of the city that was not yet taken. On both sides the soldiers worked and fought with the utmost energy; but the Saguntines, contracting their defences, were bringing their city day by day within a smaller compass.
At the same time there was an increasing scarcity of everything, on account of the long blockade; and the prospect of help from without was growing less,
since the Romans, their only hope, were so far away, and all the country round about was in the possession of their enemies.
Yet their drooping spirits were revived for a little while by the sudden departure of Hannibal for the territories of the Oretani and the Carpetani. These two nations, exasperated by a rigorous conscription, had seized the recruiting officers and thereby given rise to fears of a revolt, but were caught unprepared by Hannibal's celerity, and laid down the arms they had taken up.