« PreviousContinue »
me? let them envy, likewise, my labours, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country, by which I have acquired them. But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honours you can bestow; whilst they aspire to honours as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They lay claim to the rewards of activity, for their having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury. Yet none can be more lavish than they are in praise of their ancestors. And they imagine they honour themselves by celebrating their forefathers; whereas they do the very contrary; for, as much as their ancestors were distinguished for their virtues, so much are they disgraced by their vices. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity; but it only serves to show what the descendants are. It alike exhibits to public view, their degeneracy and their worth. I own, I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers; but I hope I may answer the cavils of the Patricians, by standing up in defence of what I have myself done.
Observe now, my countrymen, the injustice of the Patricians. They arrogate to themselves honours, on account of the exploits done by their forefathers, whilst they will not allow me the due praise, for performing the very same sort of actions in my own person. He has no statues, they cry, of his family. He can trace no venerable line of ancestors. What then? Is it matter of more praise to disgrace one's illustrious ancestors, than to become illustrious by one's own good behaviour? What if I can show no statues of my family! I can show the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished: I can show the scars of those wounds which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my statues. These are the honours I boast of. Not left me by inheritance, as theirs; but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valour; amidst clouds of dust and seas of blood; scenes of action, where those effeminate Patricians, who endeavour, by indirect means, to depreciate me in your esteem, have never dared to show their faces.
VI-Speech of Publius Scipio to the Roman Army, before the Battle of Ticin.
WERE you, Soldiers, the same army which I had with me in Gaul, I might well forbear saying any thing to you at this time for what occasion could there be to use exhor.
tation to a cavalry that had so signally vanquished the squadrons of the enemy upon the Rhone; or to legions, by whom that same enemy, flying before them to avoid a battle, did in effect, confess themselves conquered? But as these troops, having been enrolled for Spain, are there with my brother Cneius, making war under my auspices, (as) was the will of the senate and people of Rome,) I, that you might have a consul for your captain against Hannibal and the Carthagenians, have freely offered myself for this You then, have a new general, and I a new army. On this account, a few words from me to you will be neither improper nor unseasonable.
That you may not be unapprised of what sort of enemies you are going to encounter, or what is to be feared from them, they are the very same, whom, in a former war, you vanquished both by land and sea; the same from whom you took Sicily and Sardinia, and who have been these twenty years your tributaries. You will not, I presume, march against these men with only that courage with which you are wont to face other enemies: but with a certain anger and indignation, such as you would feel if you saw your slaves on a sudden rise up in arms against you. Conquered and enslaved, it is not boldness, but necessity, that urges them to battle; unless you could believe that those who avoided fighting when their army was entire, have acquired better hope by the loss of two thirds of their horse and foot in the passage of the Alps.
But you have heard, perhaps, that though they are few in number, they are men of stout hearts and robust bodies: heroes of such strength and vigour, as nothing is able to resist-Mere effigies! Nay, shadows of men; wretches emaciated with hunger, and benumbed with cold! bruised and battered to pieces among the rocks and craggy cliffs! -their weapons broken, and their horses weak and foundered! Such are the cavalry, and such the infantry with which you are going to contend; not enemies, but the fragments of enemies. There is nothing which I more apprehend, than that it will be thought Hannibal was vanquished by the Alps, before we had any conflict with him but perhaps, it was fitting it should be so; and that, with a people and a leader who had violated leagues and covenants, the gods themselves, without man's help, should begin the war, and bring it to a near conclusion; and that we, who, next to the gods, have been injured and offended, should happily finish what they have begun.
I need not be in any fear, that you should suspect me of saying these things merely to encourage you, while inwardly I have a different sentiment. What hindered me from going into Spain? That was my province, where I should have had the less dreaded Asdrubal, not Hannibal, to deal with. But hearing, as I passed along the coast of Gaul, of this enemy's march, I landed my troops, sent my horse forward, and pitched my camp upon the Rhone. A part of my cavalry encountered and defeated that of the enemy. My infantry not being able to overtake theirs, which fled before us, I returned to my fleet; and with all the expedition I could use in so long a voyage by sea and land, am come to meet them at the foot of the Alps. Was it, then, my inclination to avoid a contest with this tremendous Hannibal ? and have I met with him only by accident and unawares? or am I come on purpose to challenge him to the combat? I would gladly try, whether the earth, within these twenty years, has brought forth a new kind of Carthagenians; or whether they be the same sort of men who fought at the Ægates, and whom at Eryx, you suffered to redeem themselves at eighteen denarii per head: whether this Hannibal, for labours and journeys, be, as he would be thought, the rival of Hercules; or whether he be, what his father left him, a tributary, a vassal, a slave to the Roman people. Did not the consciousness of his wicked deed at Saguntum torment him and make him desperate, he would have some regard, if not to his conquered country, yet surely to his own family, to his father's memory, to the treaty written with Amilcar's own hand. We might have starved him in Eryx; we might have passed into Africa with our victorious fleet, and in a few days, have destroyed Carthage. At their humble supplication, we pardoned them; we released them, when they were closely shut up without a possibility of escaping; we made peace with them when they were conquered. When they were distressed by the African war, we considered them, we treated them as a people under our protection. And what is the return they make us for all these favours? Under the conduct of a hairbrained young man, they come hither to overturn our state, and lay waste our country.-I could wish, indeed, that it were not so; and that the war we are now engaged in, concerned only our own glory, and not our preservation. But the contest at present, is not for the possession of Sicily and Sardinia, but of Italy itself: nor is there behind us ano
ther army, which, if we should not prove the conquerors, may make head against our victorious enemies. There are no more Alps for them to pass, which might give us leisure to raise new forces. No, Soldiers; here you must make your stand, as if you were just now before the walls of Rome. Let every one reflect, that he has now to defend, not only his own person, but his wife, his children, his helpless infants. Yet, let not private considerations alone possess our minds: let us remember that the eyes of the senate and people of Rome are upon us and that, as our force and courage shall now prove, such will be the fortune of that city and of the Roman empire.
VII.-Speech of Hannibal to the Cathagenian Army, on the
I KNOW not, Soldiers, whether you or your prisoners be encompassed by fortune with the stricter bonds and necessities. Two seas enclose you on the right and left; not a ship to fly to for escaping. Before you is the Po, a river broader and more rapid than the Rhone; behind you are the Alps; over which, even when your numbers were undiminished, you were hardly able to force a passage. Here then, soldiers, you must either conquer or die, the very first hour you meet the enemy.
But the same fortune which has thus laid you under the necessity of fighting, has set before your eyes' the most glorious reward of victory. Should we, by our valour, recover only Sicily and Sardinia, which were ravished from our fathers, those would be no inconsiderable prizes. Yet, what are those? The wealth of Rome; whatever riches she has heaped together in the spoils of nations; all these, with the masters of them, will be yours. The time is now come to reap the full recompense of your toilsome marches, over so many mountains and rivers, and through so many nations, all of them in arms. This is the place which fortune has appointed to be the limits of your labour; it is here that you will finish your glorious warfare, and receive an ample recompense of your completed service. For I would not have you imagine, that victory will be as difficult as the name of a Roman war is great and sounding. It has often happened, that a despised enemy has given a bloody battle; and the most renowned kings and nations have by a small force Deen overthrown. And, if you but take away the glitter of the Roman name, what is there wherein they may stand in
competition with you? For (to say nothing of your service in war, for twenty years together, with so much valour and success) from the very pillars of Hercules, from the ocean, from the utmost bounds of the earth, through so many warlike nations of Spain and Gaul, are you not come hither victorious? And with whom are you now to fight? With raw soldiers, an undisciplined army, beaten, vanquished, besieged by the Gauls the very last summer; an army unknown to their leader, and unacquainted with him.
Or shall I, who was born, I might almost say, but certainly brought up, in the tent of my father, that most excellent general; shall I, the conquerer of Spain and Gaul, and not only of the Alpine nations, but, which is greater still, of the Alps themselves; shall I compare myself with this half-year's captain? a captain, before whom should one place the two armies without their ensigns, I am persuaded he would not know to which of them he is consul. I esteem it no small advantage, Soldiers, that there is not one among you, who has not often been an eye-witness of my exploits in war; not one, of whose valour I myself have not been a spectator, so as to be able to name the times and places of his noble achievements; that with soldiers, whom I have a thousand times praised and rewarded, and whose pupil 1 was before I became their general, I shall march against an army of men strangers to one another.
On what side soever I turn my eyes, I behold all full of courage and strength. A veteran infantry; a most gallant cavalry: you, my Allies, most faithful and valiant; you, Carthagenians, whom not only your country's cause, but the justest anger impels to battle. The hope, the courage of assailants, is always greater than of those who act upon the defensive. With hostile banners displayed, you are come down upon Italy: you bring the war. Grief, injuries, indignities, fire your minds, and spur you forward to revenge. First, they demand me, that I, your general, should be delivered up to them; next, all of you who had fought at the siege of Saguntum: and we were to be put to death by the extremest tortures. Proud and cruel nation! Every thing must be yours, and at your disposal! You are to prescribe to us with whom we shall make war, with whom we shall make peace! You are to set us bounds; to shut us up within hills and rivers; but you, you are not to observe the limits which yourselves have fixed!" Pass not the Iberus." What next? Touch not the Saguntines; Saguntum is