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The First Punic War; Plan of the First Two Books

It is time to have done with these explanations, and
Subjects of the two first books of the Histories. 1. War in Sicily or first Punic war, B. C. 264-241. 2. The Mercenary or "inexpiable" war, B. C. 240-237. 3. Carthaginian movements in Spain, B. C. 241-218. 4. Illyrian war, B.C. 229-228. 5. Gallic war, B. C. 225-221. 6. Cleomenic war, B. C. 227-221.
to come to my subject, after a brief and summary statement of the events of which my introductory books are to treat. Of these the first in order of time are those which befell the Romans and Carthaginians in their war for the possession of Sicily. Next comes the Libyan or Mercenary war; immediately following on which are the Carthaginian achievements in Spain, first under Hamilcar, and then under Hasdrubal. In the course of these events, again, occurred the first expedition of the Romans into Illyria and the Greek side of Europe; and, besides that, their struggles within Italy with the Celts. In Greece at the same time the war called after Cleomenes was in full action. With this war I design to conclude my prefatory sketch and my second book.

To enter into minute details of these events is unnecessary, and would be of no advantage to my readers. It is not part of my plan to write a history of them: my sole object is to recapitulate them in a summary manner by way of introduction to the narrative I have in hand. I will, therefore, touch lightly upon the leading events of this period in a comprehensive sketch, and will endeavour to make the end of it dovetail with the commencement of my main history. In this way the narrative will acquire a continuity; and I shall be shown to have had good reason for touching on points already treated by others: while by such an arrangement the studiously inclined will find the approach to the story which has to be told made intelligible and easy for them.

The first Punic war deserves more detailed treatment, as furnishing a better basis for comparing Rome and Carthage than subsequent wars.
I shall, however, endeavour to describe with somewhat more care the first war which arose between the Romans and Carthaginians for the possession of Sicily. For it would not be easy to mention any war that lasted longer than this one; nor one in which the preparations made were on a larger scale, or the efforts made more sustained, or the actual engagements more numerous, or the reverses sustained on either side more signal. Moreover, the two states themselves were at the precise period of their history when their institutions were as yet in their original integrity, their fortunes still at a moderate level, and their forces on an equal footing. So that those who wish to gain a fair view of the national characteristics and resources of the two had better base their comparison upon this war rather than upon those which came after.

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