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Hasdrubal's Conduct in His Last Battle

Hasdrubal had behaved on this occasion, as throughout
Hasdrubal falls in the battle.
his whole life, like a brave man, and died fighting: and he deserves not to be passed over without remark. I have already stated that Hannibal was his brother, and on his departure to Italy entrusted the command in Iberia to him. I have also described his many contests with the Romans, and the many embarrassing difficulties with which he had to struggle, caused by the generals sent from Carthage to Iberia; and how in all these matters he had supported these vicissitudes and reverses in a noble spirit worthy of a son of Barcas. But I will now speak of his last contest, and explain why he seems to me pre-eminently to deserve respectful attention and imitation. Most generals and kings, when entering upon decisive battles, place before their eyes the glory and advantages to be obtained from victory, and frequently consider and contrive what use they will make of every success; but they do not go on to review the chances of failure, nor contemplate the plan to be adopted, or the action to be taken, in the case of reverse. Yet the former is obvious, the latter requires foresight. Therefore it is that most of them, though in many instances their soldiers have fought nobly, by their own folly and imprudence in this respect have added dishonour to defeat: have disgraced their previous achievements, and rendered themselves, during the remainder of their lives, objects of reproach and contempt. It is easy to see that many leaders make this fatal mistake, and that the difference between one man and another in these points is most signal; for history is full of such instances. Hasdrubal, on the contrary, as long as there was reasonable hope of being able to accomplish anything worthy of his former achievements, regarded his personal safety in battle as of the highest consequence; but when Fortune deprived him of all hopes for the future, and reduced him to the last extremities, though neglecting nothing either in his preparations or on the field that might secure him the victory, nevertheless considered how, in case of total overthrow, he might face his fate and suffer nothing unworthy of his past career.

These remarks are meant for those engaged in active operations, that they may neither dash the hopes of those who rely upon them by a heedless seeking of danger, nor by an unworthy clinging to life add disgrace and shame to the catastrophies which befall them.

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