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First Cause of the Second Punic War

I do not allude to Fabius and his annals from any fear of their wearing such an air of probability in themselves as to gain any credit,—for the fact is that his assertions are so contrary to reason, that it does not need any argument of mine to help his readers to perceive it,—but I wished to warn those who take up his books not to be misled by the authority of his name, but to be guided by facts. For there is a certain class of readers in whose eyes the personality of the writer is of more account than what he says. They look to the fact that Fabius was a contemporary and a member of the Senate, and assume without more ado that everything he says may be trusted. My view, however, is that we ought not to hold the authority of this writer lightly: yet at the same time that we should not regard it as all-sufficient; but in reading his writings should test them by a reference to the facts themselves.

This is a digression from my immediate subject, which is

The Hannibalian or Second Punic war. First cause.
the war between Carthage and Rome. The cause of this war we must reckon to be the exasperation of Hamilcar, surnamed Barcas, the father of Hannibal. The result of the war in Sicily had not broken the spirit of that commander. He regarded himself as unconquered; for the troops at Eryx which he commanded were still sound and undismayed: and though he yielded so far as to make a treaty, it was a concession to the exigencies of the times brought on by the defeat of the Carthaginians at sea. But he never relaxed in his determined purpose of revenge; and, had it not been for the mutiny of the mercenaries at Carthage, he would at once have sought and made another occasion for bringing about a war, as far as he was able to do so: as it was, he was preoccupied by the domestic war, and had to give his attention entirely to that.

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