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Polybius, Histories, book 3, Previous Histories of this March either False or Inconsistent (search)
eption of distance; as his idea, of the Rhone flowing always west, does of the general lie of the country. and flowing westward, eventually discharges itself into the Sardinian Sea. It flows for the most part through a deep valley, to the north of which lives the Celtic tribe of the Ardyes; while its southern side is entirely walled in by the northern slopes of the Alps, the ridges of which, beginning at Marseilles and extending to the head of the Adriatic, separate it from the valley of the Padus, of which I have already had occasion to speak at length. It was these mountains that Hannibal now crossed from the Rhone valley into Italy. Some historians of this passage of the Alps, in their desire to produce a striking effect by their descriptions of the wonders of this country, have fallen into two errors which are more alien than anything else to the spirit of history,—perversion of fact and inconsistency. Introducing Hannibal as a prodigy of strategic skill and boldness, they yet re
Polybius, Histories, book 3, Absurd Premises of Other Historians (search)
themselves and their forces to an unknown country. And so, too, what they say about the desolation of the district, and its precipitous and inaccessible character, only serves to bring their untrustworthiness into clearer light. For first, they pass over the fact that the Celts of the Rhone valley had on several occasions before Hannibal came, and that in very recent times, crossed the Alps with large forces, and fought battles with the Romans in alliance with the Celts of the valley of the Padus, as I have already stated. And secondly, they are unaware of the fact that a very numerous tribe of people inhabit the Alps. Accordingly in their ignorance of these facts they take refuge in the assertion that a hero showed Hannibal the way. They are, in fact, in the same case as tragedians, who, beginning with an improbable and impossible plot, are obliged to bring in a deus ex machina to solve the difficulty and end the play. The absurd premises of these historians naturally require some
Polybius, Histories, book 3, Hannibal Reaches the Plains (search)
e third day after passing the precipitous path just described he reached the plains. From the beginning of his march he had lost many men by the hands of the enemy, and in crossing rivers, and many more on the precipices and dangerous passes of the Alps; and not only men in this last way, but horses and beasts of burden in still greater numbers. The whole march from New Carthage had occupied five months, the actual passage of the Alps fifteen days; and he now boldly entered the valley of the Padus, and the territory of the Insubres, with such of his army as survived, consisting of twelve thousand Libyans and eight thousand Iberians, and not more than six thousand cavalry in all, as he himself distinctly states on the column erected on the promontory of Lacinium to record the numbers. At the same time, as I have before stated, Publius having left his legions under the command of his brother Gnaeus, with orders to prosecute the Iberian campaign and offer an energetic resistance to Hasdr
Polybius, Histories, book 3, A Skirmish Near the Trebia (search)
ng them any harm, being desirous of showing by an example the policy he meant to pursue; that those whose present position towards Rome was merely the result of circumstances should not be terrified, and give up hope of being spared by him. The man who betrayed Clastidium to him he treated with extraordinary honour, by way of tempting all men in similar situations of authority to share the prospects of the Carthaginians. But afterwards, finding that certain Celts who lived in the fork of the Padus and the Trebia, while pretending to have made terms with him, were sending messages to the Romans at the same time, believing that they would thus secure themselves from being harmed by either side, he sent two thousand infantry with some Celtic and Numidian cavalry with orders to devastate their territory. This order being executed, and a great booty obtained, the Celts appeared at the Roman camp beseeching their aid. A skirmish favourable to the Romans. Tiberius had been all along looking
Polybius, Histories, book 3, Better Success in Spain (search)
announce that a battle had taken place, but that the storm had deprived them of the victory. For the moment this news was believed at Rome; but when soon afterwards it became known that the Carthaginians were in possession of the Roman camp, and that all the Celts had joined them: while their own troops had abandoned their camp, and, after retiring from the field of battle, were all collected in the neighbouring cities; and were besides being supplied with necessary provisions by sea up the Padus, the Roman people became only too certain of what had really happened in the battle. Winter of B.C. 218-217. Great exertions at Rome to meet the danger. It was a most unexpected reverse, and it forced them at once to urge on with energy the remaining preparations for the war. They reinforced those positions which lay in the way of the enemy's advance; sent legions to Sardinia and Sicily, as well as garrisons to Tarentum, and other places of strategical importance; and, moreover, fitted out a