With Hannibal there was no campaigning that year. For neither did he invite attack, owing to his very recent wound, a blow national as well as personal, nor did the Romans provoke him so long as he remained inactive; such power they believed to be present in that one commander, even though everything else round him crashed.
And I am inclined to think he was more marvellous in adversity than in success.
For here he was, carrying on war in the enemy's land for thirteen years, so far from home with varying fortune, having an army not made up of his own citizens but a mixture of the offscourings of all nations, men who had in common no law, no custom, no language, differing from each other in bearing, in garb, in their arms, differing as to religious rites, sacred observances, one might almost say as to their gods.
Yet he somehow bound them together by a single bond, so that no outbreak ensued among the men themselves nor any mutiny against their general.1
Yet in the enemy's country both money to pay them and supplies were often wanting —deficiencies which in the previous Punic war had given rise to many unspeakable acts on the part of commanders and soldiers.
Certainly after the destruction of Hasdrubal's army with its commander-and on them he had rested all his hope of victory —, when by retiring into the remote land of the Bruttii he had given up the rest of Italy, who would not find it a marvel that there was no outbreak in his camp?
For added to everything else was this also, that he had no hope even of feeding his army except from the Bruttian region; and even supposing all of it to be under cultivation, it [p. 53]
was nevertheless too small to feed so large an army.2
Moreover a great part of the young men, drawn off from the farming of the land, had been claimed instead by the war and by their custom of training soldiers through brigandage, a practice viciously inbred in their nation.
Furthermore, nothing was being sent from home, since they were concerned about their hold upon Spain, as though everything was succeeding in Italy.
In Spain the campaign was having an issue in part the same, in part very different: the same in that the Carthaginians, vanquished in battle with the loss of a general, had been forced to the farthest coast of Spain, even to the Ocean;
on the other hand different in that Spain, owing to the nature of the
country and its people, was better adapted not merely than Italy but than any other part of the world to preparing for another war.
In consequence, though the first of the provinces, at least of those on the mainland, to be entered by the Romans, it has been the last of all to be completely conquered, and not until our own times under the command and auspices of Augustus Caesar.3
There Hasdrubal son of Gisgo, being the greatest and most distinguished general after the Barca family in that war, had at that time returned from Gades in the hope of renewing the war. After conducting levies in Farther Spain with the help of Mago the son of Hamilcar, he armed about fifty thousand infantry and four thousand five hundred cavalry.
As to the cavalry forces there is substantial agreement among the authorities, but some writers state that seventy thousand foot-soldiers were [p. 55]
brought to the city of Silpia.4
There in open plains5
the two Carthaginian generals established themselves, resolved not to refuse a battle.