IN this preface to a part of my history I may1
properly assert what many an historian has declared at the outset of his entire work,2
to wit, that the war which I am going to describe was the most memorable of all wars ever waged —the war, that is, which, under the leadership of Hannibal, the Carthaginians waged with the Roman People.
For neither have states or nations met in arms possessed of ampler resources, nor was their own might and power ever so great. Nor yet were they strangers to one another's modes of fighting, which the First Punic War had made them understand. And so variable were the fortunes of the war and so uncertain was its outcome that those who ultimately conquered had been nearer ruin.
The animosity, too, with which they fought was almost greater than their strength: the Romans were enraged that the conquered should be actually drawing sword upon their conquerors; the Phoenicians, because they believed that the conquered had been treated with domineering arrogance and greed.
It is said moreover that when Hannibal, then3
about nine years old, was childishly teasing his father Hamilcar to take him with him into Spain, his father, who had finished the African war and was sacrificing, before crossing over with his army, led the boy up to the altar and made him touch the offerings and bind himself with an oath that so soon as he should be able he would be the declared enemy of the Roman People.
The loss of Sicily and4
Sardinia was a continual torture to the proud spirit of Hamilcar. For he maintained that they had surrendered Sicily5
in premature despair, and that the Romans had wrongfully appropriated Sardinia — and even imposed an indemnity on them besides —in the midst of their African disturbances.