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The Descent Into Italy

But by this time, it being nearly the period of the setting of the Pleiads,
9th November.
the snow was beginning to be thick on the heights; and seeing his men in low spirits, owing both to the fatigue they had gone through, and that which still lay before them, Hannibal called them together and tried to cheer them by dwelling on the one possible topic of consolation in his power, namely the view of Italy: which lay stretched out in both directions below those mountains, giving the Alps the appearance of a citadel to the whole of Italy. By pointing therefore to the plains of the Padus, and reminding them of the friendly welcome which awaited them from the Gauls who lived there, and at the same time indicating the direction of Rome itself, he did somewhat to raise the drooping spirits of his men.

Next day he began the descent, in which he no longer

The descent.
met with any enemies, except some few secret pillagers; but from the dangerous ground and the snow he lost almost as many men as on the ascent. For the path down was narrow and precipitous, and the snow made it impossible for the men to see where they were treading, while to step aside from the path, or to stumble, meant being hurled down the precipices. The troops however bore up against the fatigue, having now grown accustomed to such hardships; but when they came to a place where the path was too narrow for the elephants or beasts of burden to pass,—and which, narrowed before by landslips extending about a stade and a half, had recently been made more so by another landslip,—then once more despondency and consternation fell upon the troops. Hannibal's first idea was to avoid this mauvais pas by a detour, but this route too being made impossible by a snow-storm, he abandoned the idea.

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