previous next

Scipio's reply

In reply to this speech of Hannibal, Scipio said "That neither in the Sicilian nor Iberian war were the Romans the aggressors, but notoriously the Carthaginians, which no one knew better than Hannibal himself. That the gods themselves had confirmed this by giving the victory, not to those who struck the first and unprovoked blow, but to those who only acted in self-defence. That he was as ready as any one to keep before his eyes the uncertainty of Fortune, and tried his best to confine his efforts within the range of human infirmity. But if," he continued, "you had yourself quitted Italy before the Romans crossed to Libya with the offer of these terms in your hands, I do not think that you would have been disappointed in your expectation. But now that your departure from Italy has been involuntary, and we have crossed into Libya and conquered the country, it is clear that matters stand on a very different footing. But above all, consider the point which affairs have reached now. Your countrymen have been beaten, and at their earnest prayer we arranged a written treaty, in which, besides the offer now made by you, it was provided that the Carthaginians should restore prisoners without ransom, should surrender all their decked vessels, pay five thousand talents, and give hostages for their performance of these articles. These were the terms which I and they mutually agreed upon; we both despatched envoys to our respective Senates and people,—we consenting to grant these terms, the Carthaginians begging to have them granted. The Senate agreed: the people ratified the treaty. But though they had got what they asked, the Carthaginians annulled the compact by an act of perfidy towards us. What course is left to me? Put yourself in my place and say. To withdraw the severest clauses of the treaty? Are we to do this, say you, not in order that by reaping the reward of treachery they may learn in future to outrage their benefactors, but in order that by getting what they ask for they may be grateful to us? Why, only the other day, after obtaining what they begged for as suppliants, because your presence gave them a slender hope of success, they at once treated us as hated foes and public enemies. In these circumstances, if a still severer clause were added to the conditions imposed, it might be possible to refer the treaty back to the people; but, if I were to withdraw any of these conditions, such a reference does not admit even of discussion. What then is the conclusion of my discourse? It is, that you must submit yourselves and your country to us unconditionally, or conquer us in the field."

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: