9. P. Cornelius
Scipio, the son of No. 7, was consul, with Ti. Sempronius Longus, in the first year of the Punic War, B. C. 218. Scipio, having received Spain as his province, set sail with his army from Pisae to Massilia. On his arrival at the latter place, he found that Hannibal had already crossed the Pyrenees, and was advancing towards the Rhone; but as his men had suffered much from sea-sickness, he allowed them a few days' rest, thinking that he had abundance of time to prevent Hannibal's crossing the Rhone.
But the rapidity of Hannibal's movements were greater than the consul had anticipated. The Carthaginian army crossed the Rhone in safety, while the Romans were at the mouth of the river; and when Scipio marched up the left bank of the river, he found that Hannibal had advanced into the interior of Gaul, and had already got the start of him by a three days' march. Despairing, therefore, of overtaking him, he resolved to sail back to Italy, and await his arrival in Cisalpine Gaul.
But as the Romans had an army of 25,000 men in Cisalpine Gaul, under the command of the two praetors, Scipio resolved to send into Spain the army which he had brought with him, under the command of his brother and legate, Cn. Scipio, and to take back with him only a small portion of his forces to Italy.
This wise resolution of Scipio probably saved Rome; for if the Carthaginians had maintained the undisputed command of Spain, they would have been able to have concentrated all their efforts to support Hannibal in Italy. and might have sent him such strong reinforcements after the battle of Cannae as would have compelled Rome to submit.
After Scipio had landed at Pisae, he took the command of the praetor's army, and forthwith hastened to meet Hannibal, before he might be able to collect reinforcements among the Cisalpine Gauls.
He crossed the Po at Placentia, and then advanced along the left bank of the river in search of Hannibal. Soon after crossing the Ticinus, over which he had thrown a bridge, his cavalry and light-armed troops, which he was leading in person in advance of the rest of his forces, fell in with the cavalry of the Carthaginians, also commanded by Hannibal himself.
An engagement took place, in which the Romans were defeated.
The consul himself received a severe wound, and was only saved from death by the courage of his young son, Publius, the future conqueror of Hannibal; though, according to other accounts, he owed his life to a Ligurian slave (Liv. xxi 46; Plb. 10.3
). Scipio now retreated across the Ticinus, breaking the bridge behind him.
He then crossed the Po also, and took up his quarters at Placentia. Here Hannibal, who had likewise crossed the Po, offered him battle, which was declined by Scipio, whose wound prevented him from taking the command of his army, and who had moreover determined to wait the arrival of his colleague, Sempronius Longus, who had been summoned from Sicily to join him. Upon the arrival of Sempronius, Scipio was encamped upon the banks of the Trebia, having abandoned his former position at Placentia. As Scipio still continued disabled by his wound, the command of the army devolved upon Sempronius.
The latter, who was anxious to obtain the glory of conquering Hannibal, resolved upon a battle, in opposition to the advice of his colleague.
The result was the complete defeat of the Roman army, Which was obliged to take refuge within the walls of Placentia. [HANNIBAL, p. 335b.]
In the following year, B. C. 217, Scipio, whose imperium had been prolonged, crossed over into Spain with a fleet of twenty ships and eight thousand foot-soldiers. Scipio and his brother Cneius continued in Spain till their death in B. C. 211 ; but the history of their campaigns, though important in their results, is full of such confusions and contradictions, that a brief description of them is quite sufficient. Livy found great discrepancies in his authorities, which are in themselves not worthy of much confidence.
It is even impossible to state with certainty the years in which most of the events occurred (Niebuhr, Lectures on Roman History
vol. i. pp. 206, 207). Upon the arrival of Publius in Spain, he found that his brother Cneius had already obtained a firm footing in the country. Soon after Cneius had landed at Emporium in the preceding year, B. C. 218, most of the chiefs on the sea-coast joined him, attracted by his affability and kindness, which formed a striking contrast with the severity and harshness of the Carthaginian commanders.
In the course of the same year he gained a victory near the town of Scissis or Cissa, in which Hanno, the Carthaginian general, was taken prisoner, and which made him master of nearly the whole of northern Spain from the Pyrenees to the Iberus. Hasdrubal advanced by rapid marches from the north of Spain to retrieve the Carthaginian cause in the north, but arrived too late in the year to accomplish any thing of importance, and accordingly recrossed the Iberus, after burning part of the Roman fleet. Scipio wintered at Tarraco.
In the following year, B. C. 217, he defeated the Carthaginian fleet at the mouth of the Iberus, and thus obtained for the Romans the command of the sea. Publius arrived shortly afterwards in the middle of the summer, and the two brothers now advanced against Saguntum, where Hannibal had deposited the hostages, whom he had obtained from the various Spanish tribes.
The treachery of a Spaniard of the name of Abelux or Abilyx surrendered them to the Scipios, who restored them to their own people, and thus gained the support of a large number of the Spanish tribes.
In the course of the next two or three years Livy gives a description of several brilliant victories gained by the Scipios, but as these were evidently followed by no results, there is clearly great exaggeration in his account. Thus, they are said to have defeated Hasdrubal in B. C. 216 with such loss, near the passage of the Iberus, that he escaped from the field with only a few followers.
This victory was gained after the battle of Cannae, when Hasdrubal was attempting to march into Italy to support his victorious brother Hannibal.
In the following year, B. C. 215, Hasdrubal, having received reinforcements from Carthage, under the command of his brother Mago, laid siege to the town of Illiturgi; but their united forces were defeated by the two Scipios, who are also said to have gained another decisive victory over them in the course of the same year near Intibili. Next year, B. C. 214, another Carthaginian army arrived under Hasdrubal, the son of Gisco. The Roman accounts again speak of two successive victories gained by Cn. Scipio, but followed as usual by no results. About this time Hasdrubal, Hannibal's brother, was recalled to Africa to oppose Syphax, one of the Numidian kings, who was carrying on war against Carthage. The Scipios availed themselves of his absence to strengthen their power; they gained over new tribes to the Roman cause, took 20,000 Celtiberians into their pay, and felt themselves so strong by the beginning of B. C. 212 or 211, that they resolved to cross the Iberus, and to make a vigorous effort to drive the Carthaginians out of Spain. They accordingly divided their forces. P. Scipio was to attack Mago and Hasdrubal, the son of Gisco, who were supported by Masinissa and the Spanish chief Indibilis, while his brother Cneius was to attack Hasdrubal the son of Barca, who had already returned from Africa, after bringing the war against Syphax to a successful termination.
But the result was fatal. Publius was destroyed, with the greater part of his forces, and Mago and Hasdrubal, son of Gisco, now joined Hasdrubal, son of Barca, to crush Cneius. Meantime Cneius had been at once paralysed by the defection of the 20,000 Celtiberians, who had been gained over by the Carthaginian general; and being now surrounded by the united forces of the three generals, his camp was taken, and he himself fell, twenty-nine days after the death of his brother.
The remains of his army were collected by L. Marcius Septimus, a Roman eques. [HASDRUBAL, No. 6.] The year in which the Scipios perished is rather doubtful. Livy says (25.36) that it was in the eighth year after Cn. Scipio had come into Spain ; but Becker (Vorarbeiten zu einer Geschichte des zweiten Punisches Krieges
in Dahlman's Forschungen,
vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 113) brings forward several reasons, which make it probable that they did not fall till the spring of B. C. 211. (Liv. libb. xxi.-xxv. ; Polyb. lib. iii.; Appian, Annib. 5-8, Hisp. 14-16.