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Speech of Roman Envoys At Carthage

THE Carthaginians having seized the transports as prizes
Some transports under Cn. Octavius wrecked in the Bay of Carthage, and taken possession of by the Carthaginians in spite of the truce. Autumn of B.C. 203. See Livy, 30, 24.
of war, and with them an extraordinary quantity of provisions, Scipio was extremely enraged, not so much at the loss of the provisions, as by the fact that the enemy had thereby obtained vast supply of necessaries; and still more at the Carthaginians having violated the sworn articles of truce, and commenced the war He therefore at once selected Lucius Sergius, Lucius Baebius, and Lucius Fabius to go to Carthage, to remonstrate on what had taken place, and at the same time to announce that the Roman people had ratified the treaty; for he had lately received a despatch from home to that effect. Upon their arrival in Carthage these envoys first had an audience of the Senate, and then were introduced to a meeting of the people.
Speech of the Roman envoys
On both occasions they spoke with great freedom on the situation of affairs, reminding their hearers that "Their ambassadors who had come to the Roman camp at Tunes, on being admitted to the council of officers, had not been content with appealing to the gods and kissing the ground, as other people do, but had thrown themselves upon the earth, and in abject humiliation had kissed the feet of the assembled officers; and then, rising from the ground, had reproached themselves for breaking the existing treaty between the Romans and Carthaginians, and acknowledged that they deserved every severity at the hands of the Romans; but intreated to be spared the last severities, from a regard to the vicissitudes of human fortune, for their folly would be the means of displaying the generosity of the Romans. Remembering all this, the general and the officers then present in the council were at a loss to understand what had encouraged them to forget what they then said, and to venture to break their sworn articles of agreement.
Hannibal leaves Italy, 23d June, B.C. 203.
Plainly it was this—they trusted in Hannibal and the forces that had arrived with him. But they were very ill advised. All the world knew that he and his army had been driven these two years past from every port of Italy, and had retreated into the neighbourhood of the Lacinian promontory, where they had been so closely shut up and almost besieged, that they had barely been able to get safe away home. Not that, even if they had come back," he added, "as conquerors, and were minded to engage us who have already defeated you in two consecutive battles, ought you to entertain any doubt as to the result, or to speculate on the chance of victory. The certainty of defeat were a better subject for your reflections: and when that takes place, what are the gods that you will summon to your aid? And what arguments will you use to move the pity of the victors for your misfortunes? You must needs expect to be debarred from all hope of mercy from gods and men alike by your perfidy and folly."

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203 BC (2)
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 30, 24
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