13. General of the Carthaginians in their last fatal struggle with Rome, known by the name of the Third Punic War.
He is first mentioned at the time of the breaking out of the war with Masinissa, which immediately preceded that with Rome, B. C. 150. Hasdrubal at this time held the office called by Appian boetharch (Βοήθαρχος
), the nature of which is very uncertain; but when Masinissa, after the insult offered to his two sons, Gulussa and Micipsa, whom he had sent to Carthage as ambassadors, commenced open hostilities by the siege of Oroscopa, Hasdrubal was sent against him at the head of 25,000 foot and 400 horse, which forces were quickly increased by the accession of 6000 Numidiai cavalry, who deserted from Masinissa.
With this force he did not hesitate to give battle to the Numidian king: the action which ensued was fiercely contested from morning till night, without any decisive advantage on either side; negotiations were then commenced by the intervention of Scipio, who was accidentally present; but these proved abortive, and Masinissa afterwards succeeded in shutting up Hasdrubal in such a position that he was able to cut off his supplies, and finally compelled him by famine to capitulate.
By the terms of the treaty, the Carthaginians were allowed to depart in safety, leaving their arms and baggage; but these conditions were shamefully violated: the Numiidians attacked them on their march in this defenceless state, and cut to pieces by far the greater part of them; very few made their escape, together with Ilasdrubal, to Carthage. (Appian, App. Pun. 70
After this disaster, the Carthaginians, apprehensive of the danger that threatened them from Rome, sought to avert it by casting the responsibility of the late events upon individuals, and accordingly passed sentence of banishment on Hasdrubal, together with all the other leaders in the war against Masinissa.
He thereupon took refuge among the neighbouring Africans, and soon collected around his standard an army of 20,000 men, with which lie awaited the issue of events. The Carthaginians found, when too late, that all concessions were unavailing to conciliate their inexorable enemies; and while they prepared for a desperate resistance within the city, they hastened to recal the sentence of Hasdrubal, and appointed him to the chief command without the walls, B. C. 149. His own army gave him the complete command of the open country, and enabled him to secure abundant supplies to the city, while the Romans with difficulty drew their provisions from a few detached towns on the coast. Hovering in the neighbourhood of Carthage, without approaching close to the enemy, Hasdrubal prevented them from regularly investing the city, and, by means of his light cavalry, harassed and impeded all their movements.
At length the Roman consul, Manilius, was induced to undertake an expedition against Nepheris, a stronghold in the interior, where Hasdrubal had established his headquarters; but far from succeeding in dislodging him from thence, he was repulsed with heavy loss, and suffered severely in his retreat. (Appian, App. Pun. 74
; Liv. Epit.
A second attempt on the part of Manilius having proved equally unsuccessful, Hasdrubal became so elated that he aspired to the sole command, and procured the deposition of the other Hasdrubal, the grandson of Masinissa [No. 14], who had hitherto held the command within the city (Id.
108, 111). On the arrival of Scipio (B. C. 147) to carry on the war, which had been so much mismanaged by his predecessors, Hasdrubal advanced close to the walls of Carthage, and encamped within five stadia of the city, immediately opposite to the camp of the Roman general.
But notwithstanding this proximity, he did not prevent Scipio from surprising by a night attack the quarter of the city called Megara.
By way of revenging himself for this disaster, Hasdrubal, who had now withdrawn his forces within the walls of Carthage, put to death all the Roman prisoners, having previously mutilated them in the most horrible manner, and in this state exposed them on the walls to the eyes of their countrymen.
By this act of wanton barbarity he alienated the minds of many of his fellow-citizens at the same time that he exasperated the enemy; and the clamour was loud against him in the senate of Carthage.
But he now found himself in the uncontrolled direction of the military force within the city, a position of which he availed himself to establish a despotic authority: he put to death many of the senators who were opposed to him, and assumed the garb and manners of royalty. When Scipio had at length succeeded in completely investing the city, and famine began to make itself felt within the walls, Hasdrubal carefully reserved the supplies which from time to time were introduced, and distributed them only among his soldiers and those of the citizens on whom he mainly relied for the defence.
At the same time he opened negotiations with Scipio, through the medium of Gulussa; but that general having offered him terms only for himself with his family and a few friends, he refused to purchase his personal safety by the abandonment of his country. Meanwhile the siege of Carthage was more and more closely pressed, and in the spring of 146 Hasdrubal saw himself compelled to abandon the defence of the port and other quarters of the city, and collect all his forces into the citadel called Byrsa. Against this Scipio now concentrated all his attacks; the ground was contested foot by foot, but the Romans renewed their assaults without ceasing, both by night and day, and gradually advanced by burning and demolishing the houses along all the streets which led to the citadel.
At length the mass of the inhabitants submitted to Scipio, and were received as prisoners; the Roman deserters alone. with a few others who despaired of pardon, took refuge in the sacred precincts of the temple of Aesculapius, and still held out with the fury of desperation. Hasdrubal at first fled thither with his wife and children; but afterwards made his escape secretly to .Scipio, who spared his life.
It is said that his wife, after upbraiding him with his weakness, threw herself and her children into the flames of the burning temple. Scipio carried him prisoner to Rome, where, after adorning the triumph of his conqueror, he spent the rest of his life in an honourable captivity in some one of the provincial towns of Italy. (Appian, App. Pun. 114
; Polyb. Exc. xxxix.; Zonar. ix, 29, 30; Liv. Epit.
li.; Oros. 4.22
; Flor. 2.14
.) Polybius, from whom all our accounts of this war are directly or indirectly derived, has drawn the character of Hasdrubal in the blackest colours, and probably not without prejudice : the circumstances in which he was placed must have palliated, if not excused, many arbitrary acts; and however justly he may be reproached with cruelty, there seems strong evidence of his being a man of much greater ability than the historian is willing to allow. Nor must we forget that he refused to purchase his own personal safety so long as there remained even the slightest chance of obtaining that of his country.