and, even at the end, the Senate did not sanction the proposal for the reason given above, considering that the objection on the score of inconsistency was equal in weight to the advantage to be derived from intervention. The commons, however, worn out as they were by the recent wars and in need of any and every kind of restorative, listened readily to the military commanders, who, besides giving the reasons above stated for the general advantageousness of the war, pointed out the great benefit in the way of plunder which each and every one would evidently derive from it. They were therefore in favour of sending help; and when the measure had been passed by the people they appointed to the command one of the Consuls, Appius Claudius, who was ordered to cross to Messene. The Mamertines, partly by menace and partly by stratagem, dislodged the Carthaginian commander, who was already established in the citadel, and then invited Appius to enter, placing the city in his hands. The Carthaginians crucified their general, thinking him guilty of a lack both of judgement and of courage in abandoning their citadel. Acting for themselves they stationed their fleet in the neighbourhood of Cape Pelorias, and with their land forces pressed Messene close in the direction of Sunes. Hiero now, thinking that present circumstances were favourable for expelling from Sicily entirely the foreigners who occupied Messene, made an alliance with the Carthaginians, and quitting Syracuse with his army marched towards that city. Pitching his camp near the Chalcidian mountain on the side opposite to the Carthaginians he cut off this means of exit from the city as well. Appius, the Roman consul, at the same time succeeded at great risk in crossing the Straits by night and entering the city. Finding that the enemy had strictly invested Messene on all sides and regarding it as both inglorious and perilous for himself to be besieged, as they commanded both land and sea, he at first tried to negotiate with both, desiring to deliver the Mamertines from the war. But when neither paid any attention to him, have decided perforce to risk an engagement and in the first place to attack the Syracusans. Leading out his forces he drew them up in order of battle, the king of Syracuse readily accepting the challenge. After a prolonged struggle Appius was victorious and drove the whole hostile force back to their camp. After despoiling the dead he returned to Messene. Hiero, divining the final issue of the whole conflict, retreated in haste after nightfall to Syracuse. On the following day Appius, learning of the result of this action and encouraged thereby, decided not to delay but to attack the Carthaginians. He ordered his troops to be in readiness early and sallied forth at break of day. Engaging the enemy he slew many of them and compelled the rest to retreat in disorder to neighbouring cities. Having raised the siege by these successes, he advanced fearlessly, devstating the territory of the Syracusans and of their allies, no one disputing the open country with him. Finally he sat down before Syracuse and commenced to besiege it.
Such then was the occasion and motive of this the first crossing of the Romans from Italy with an armed force, an event which I take to be the most natural starting-point of this whole work. I have therefore made it my serious base, but went also somewhat further back in order to leave no possible obscurity in my statements of general causes. To follow out this previous history — how and when the Romans after the disaster to Rome itself began their progress to better fortunes, and again how and when after conquering Italy they entered on the path of foreign enterprise — seemed to me necessary for anyone who hopes to gain a proper general survey of their present supremacy. My readers need not therefore be surprised if, even in the further course of this work, I occasionally give them in addition some of the earlier history of the most famous states; for I shall do so in order to establish such a fundamental view as will make it clear in the sequel starting from what origins and how and when they severally reached their present position. This is exactly what I have just done about the Romans.
Enough of such explanations. It is now time to come to my subject after a brief summary of the events included in these introductory Books. To take them in order we have first the incidents of the war between Rome and Carthage for Sicily. Next follows the war in Libya and next the achievements of the Carthaginians under Hamilcar and after under Hasdrubal. At the same time occurred the first crossing of the Romans to Illyria and these parts of Europe, and subsequently to the preceding events their struggle with the Italian Celts. Contemporary with this the so-called Cleomenic war was proceeding in Greece, and with this war I wind up my Introduction as a whole and my second Book.
Now to recount all these events in detail is neither incumbent on me nor would it be useful to my readers; for it is not my purpose to write their history but to mention them summarily as introductory to the events which are my real theme. I shall therefore attempt by such summary treatment of them in their proper order to fit in the end of the Introduction to the beginning of the actual History. Thus there will be no break in the narrative and it will be seen that I have been justified in touching on events which have been previously narrated by others, while this arrangement will render the approach to what follows intelligible and easy for students. I shall, however, attempt to narrate somewhat more carefully the first war between Rome and Carthage for the possession of Sicily; since it is not easy to name any war which lasted longer, nor one which exhibited on both sides more extensive preparations, more unintermittent activity, more battles, and greater changes of fortune. The two states were also at this period still uncorrupted in morals, moderate in fortune, and equal in strength, so that a better estimate of the peculiar qualities and gifts of each can be formed by comparing their conduct in this war than in any subsequent one.
An equally powerful motive with me for paying particular attention to this war is that, to my mind, the truth has not been adequately stated by those historians who are reputed to be the best authorities on it, Philinus and Fabius. I do not indeed accuse them on intentional falsehood, in view of their character and principles, but they seem to me to have been much in the case of lovers; for owing to his convictions and constant partiality Philinus will have it that the Carthaginians in every case acted wisely, well, and bravely, and the Romans otherwise, whilst Fabius takes the precisely opposite view. In other relations of life we should not perhaps exclude all such favouritism; for a good man should love his friends and his country, he should share the hatreds and attachments of his friends; but he who assumes the character of a historian must ignore everything of the sort, and often, if their actions demand this, speak good of his enemies and honour them with the highest praises while criticizing and even reproaching roundly his closest friends, should the errors of their conduct impose this duty on him. For just as a living creature which has lost its eyesight is wholly incapacitated, so if History is stripped of her truth all that is left is but an idle tale. We should therefore not shrink from accusing our friends or praising our enemies; nor need we be shy of sometimes praising and sometimes blaming the same people, since it is neither possible that men in the actual business of life should always be in the right, nor is it probable that they should be always mistaken. We must therefore disregard the actors in our narrative and apply to the actions such terms and such criticism as they deserve.
The truth of what I have just said is evident from what follows. Philinus, in commencing his narrative at the outset of his second Book, tells us that the Carthaginians and Syracusans were besieging Messene, that the Romans reaching the city by sea, at once marched out against the Syracusans, but after being severely handled returned to Messene. They next sallied out against the Carthaginians and were not only worsted but lost a considerable number of prisoners. After making these statements he says that Hiero after the engagement so far lost his wits as not only to burn his camp and tents and take flight to Syracuse the same night, but to withdraw all his garrisons from the forts which menaced the territory of Messene. The Carthaginians, likewise, he tells us, after the battle at once quitted their camp and distributed themselves among the towns, not even daring to dispute the open country further: their leaders, he says, seeing how dispirited the ranks were, resolved not to risk a decisive engagement, and the Romans following up the enemy not only laid waste the territory of the Carthaginians and Syracusans, but sat down before Syracuse and undertook its siege. This account is, it seems to me, full of inconsistencies and does not require a lengthy discussion. For those whom he introduced as besieging Messene and victorious in the engagements, he now represents as in flight and abandoning the open country and finally besieged and dispirited, while those whom he represented as defeated and besieged are now stated to be in pursuit of their foes, and at once commanding the open country and finally besieging Syracuse. It is absolutely impossible to reconcile the two assertions, and either his initial statements or his account of what followed must be false. But the latter is true; for as a fact the Carthaginians and Syracusans abandoned the open country, and the Romans at once began to lay siege to Syracuse and, as he says, even to Echetla too, which lies between the Syracusan and Carthaginian provinces. We must therefore concede that Philinus's initial statements are false, and that, while the Romans were victorious in the engagements before Messene, this author announces that they were worsted.
We can trace indeed the same fault throughout the whole work of Philinus and alike through that of Fabius, as I shall show when the occasion arises. Now that I have said what is fitting on the subject of this digression, I will return to facts and attempt in a narrative that strictly follows the order of events to guide my readers by a short road to a true notion of this war.
When news of the successes of Appius and his legions reached Rome, they elected Manius Otacilius and Manius Valerius Consuls, and dispatched their whole armed force and both commanders to Sicily. The Romans have four legions of Roman citizens in all apart from the allies. These they enrol annually, each legion comprising four thousand foot and three hundred horse. On their arrival in Sicily most of the cities revolted from the Carthaginians and Syracusans and joined the Romans. Hiero, observing both the confusion and consternation of the Sicilians, and at the same time the numbers and the powerful nature of the Roman forces, reached from all this the conclusion that the prospects of the Romans were more brilliant than those of the Carthaginians. His conviction therefore impelling him to side with the Romans, he sent several messages to the Consuls with proposals for peace and alliance. The Romans accepted his overtures, especially for the sake of their supplies; for since the Carthaginians commanded the sea they were apprehensive lest they should be cut off on all sides from the necessities of life, in view of the fact that the armies which had previously crossed to Sicily had run very short of provisions. Therefore, supposing that Hiero would be of great service to them in this respect, they readily accepted his friendly advances. Having made a treaty by which the king bound himself to give up his prisoners to the Romans without ransom, and in addition to this to pay them a hundred talents, the Romans henceforth treated the Syracusans as allies and friends. King Hiero having placed himself under the protection of the Romans, continued to furnish them with the resources of which they stood in urgent need, and ruled over Syracuse henceforth in security, treating the Greeks in such a way as to win from them crowns and other honours. We may, indeed, regard him as the most illustrious of princes and the one who reaped longest the fruits of his own wisdom in particular cases and in general policy.
When the terms of the treaty were referred to Rome, and when the people had accepted and ratified this agreement with Hiero, the Romans decided not to continue to employ all their forces in the expedition, but only two legions, thinking on the one hand that, now the king had joined them, the war had become a lighter task and calculating that their forces would be better off for supplies. The Carthaginians, on the contrary, when they saw that Hiero had become their enemy, and that the Romans were becoming more deeply involved in the enterprise in Sicily, considered that they themselves required stronger forces in order to be able to confront their enemies and control Sicilian affairs. They therefore enlisted foreign mercenaries from the opposite coasts, many of them Ligurians, Celts, and still more Iberians, and dispatched them all to Sicily. Perceiving that the city of Agrigentum had the greatest natural advantages for making their preparations, it being also the most important city in their province, they collected their troops and supplies there and decided to use it as a base in the war.
Meanwhile the Roman Consuls who had made the treaty with Hiero had left, and their successors, Lucius, Postumius and Quintus Mamilius, had arrived in Sicily with their legions. On taking note of the plan of the Carthaginians, and their activity at Agrigentum, they decided on a bolder initiative. Abandoning therefore other operations they brought all their forces to bear on Agrigentum itself, and encamping at a distance of eight stades from the city, shut the Carthaginians up within the walls. It was the height of the harvest, and as a long siege was foreseen, the soldiers began gathering corn with more venturesomeness than was advisable. The Carthaginians, observing that the enemy were dispersed about the country, made a sortie and attacked the foragers. Having easily put these to flight, some of them pressed on to plunder the fortified camp while others advanced on the covering force. But on this occasion and often on previous ones it is the excellence of their institutions which has saved the situation for the Romans; for with them death is the penalty incurred by a man who deserts the post or takes flight in any way from such a supporting force.Therefore on this occasion as on others they gallantly faced opposites who largely outnumbered them, and, though they suffered heavy loss, killed still more of the enemy. Finally surrounding them as they were on the point of tearing up the palisade, they dispatched some on the spot and pressing hard on the rest pursued them with slaughter to the city.
After this the Carthaginians were more inclined to be cautious in taking the offensive, while the Romans were more on their guard in foraging. As the Carthaginians did not advance beyond skirmishing range, the Roman generals divided their force into two bodies, remaining with one near the temple of Asclepius outside the walls and encamping with the other on that side of the city that is turned towards Heraclea. They fortified the ground between their camps on each side of the city, protecting themselves by the inner trench from sallies from within and encircling themselves with an outer one to guard against attacks from outside, and to prevent that secret introduction of supplies and men which is usual in the case of beleaguered cities. On the spaces between the trenches and their camps they placed pickets, fortifying suitable places at some distance from each other. Their supplies and other material were collected for them by all the other members of the alliance, and brought to Herbesus, and they themselves constantly fetching in live stock and provisions from this city which was at no great distance, kept themselves abundantly supplied with what they required. So for five months or so matters were at a standstill, neither side being able to score any decisive advantage, nothing in fact beyond incidental success in their exchange of shots; but when the Carthaginians began to be pressed by famine owing to the number of people cooped up in the city — fifty thousand at least in number — Hannibal, the commander of the besieged forces, found himself in a difficult situation and sent constant messages to Carthage explaining his position and begging for reinforcements. The Carthaginian government shipped the troops they had collected and their elephants and sent them to Sicily to Hanno their other general. Hanno concentrated his troops and material of war at Heraclea and in the first place surprised and occupied Herbesus, cutting off the enemy's camps from their provisions and necessary supplies. The result of this was that the Romans were as a fact both besieged and besiegers at the same time; for they were so hard pressed by want of food and scarcity of the necessities of life, that they often contemplated raising the siege, and would in the end have done so, had not Hiero, by using every effort and every device, provided them with a moderate amount of strictly necessary supplies. In the next place Hanno, perceiving that the Romans were weakened by disease and privation, owing to an epidemic having broken out among them, and thinking that his own troops were in fit fighting condition, took with him all his elephants, about fifty in number, and all the rest of his force, and advanced rapidly from Heraclea. He had ordered the Numidian horse to precede him, and approaching the enemy's fortified camp to provoke him and attempt to draw his cavalry out, after which they were to give way and retired until they rejoined himself. The Numidians acting on these orders advanced up to one of the camps, and the Roman cavalry at once issued forth and boldly attacked them. The Libyans retreated as they had been ordered until they joined Hanno's army and then, wheeling round and encircling the enemy, they attacked them, killing many and pursuing the rest as far as the camp. After this Hanno encamped opposite the Romans, occupying the hill called Torus, at a distance of about ten stades from the enemy. For two months they remained stationary, without any action more decisive than shooting at each other every day: but as Hannibal kept on announcing to Hanno by fire-signals and messengers from the city that the population could not support the famine, and that deserters to the enemy were numerous owing to privation, the Carthaginian general decided to risk battle, the Romans being no less eager for this owing to the reasons I stated above. Both therefore led out their forces to the space between the camps and engaged. The battle lasted for long, but at the end the Romans put to flight the advanced line of Carthaginian mercenaries, and as the latter fell back on the elephants and the other divisions in their rear, the whole Phoenician army was thrown into disorder. A complete rout ensued, and most of them were put to the sword, some escaping to Heraclea. The Romans captured most of the elephants and all the baggage. But after nightfall, while the Romans, partly from joy at their success and partly from fatigue, had relaxed the vigilance of their watch, Hannibal, regarding his situation as desperate, and thinking for the above reasons that this was a fine opportunity for saving himself, broke out of the city about midnight with his mercenaries. By filling up the trenches with baskets packed tightly with straw he managed to withdraw his force in safety unperceived by the enemy. When day broke the Romans became aware of what had happened, and, after slightly molesting Hannibal's rear-guard, advanced with their whole force to the gates. Finding nobody to oppose them they entered the city and plundered it, possessing themselves of many slaves and a quantity of booty of every description.
When the news of what had occurred at Agrigentum reached the Roman Senate, in their joy and elation they no longer confined themselves to their original designs and were no longer satisfied with having saved the Mamertines and with what they had gained in the war itself, but, hoping that it would be possible to drive the Carthaginians entirely out of the island and that if this were done their own power would be much augmented, they directed their attention to this project and to plans that would serve their purpose. As regards their land force at least they noted that at progressed satisfactorily; for the Consuls appointed after those who had reduced Agrigentum, Lucius Valerius Flaccus and Titus Otacilius Crassus, seemed to be managing Sicilian affairs as well as possible; but as the Carthaginians maintained without any trouble the command of the sea, the fortunes of the war continued to hang in the balance. For in the period that followed, now that Agrigentum was in their hands, while many inland cities joined the Romans from dread of their land forces, still more seaboard cities deserted their cause in terror of the Carthaginian fleet. Hence when they saw that the balance of the war tended more and more to shift to this side or that for the above reasons, and that while Italy was frequent ravaged by naval forces, Libya remained entirely free from damage, they took urgent steps to get on the sea like the Carthaginians. And one of the reasons which induced me to narrate the history of the war named above at some length is just this, that my readers should, in this case too, not be kept in ignorance of the beginning — how, when, and for what reasons the Romans first took to the sea.
When they saw that the war was dragging on, they undertook for the first time to build ships, a hundred quinqueremes and twenty triremes. As their shipwrights were absolutely inexperienced in building quinqueremes, such ships never having been in use in Italy, the matter caused them much difficulty, and this fact shows us better than anything else how spirited and daring the Romans are when they are determined to do a thing. It was not that they had fairly good resources for it, but they had none whatever, nor had they ever given a thought to the sea; yet when they once had conceived the project, they took it in hand so boldly, that before gaining any experience in the matter they at once engaged the Carthaginians who had held for generations undisputed command of the sea. Evidence of the truth of what I am saying and of their incredible pluck is this. When they first undertook to send their forces across to Messene not only had they not any decked ships, but no long warships at all, not even a single boat, and borrowing fifty-oared boats and triremes from the Tarentines and Locrians, and also from the people of Elea and Naples thet took their troops across in these at great hazard. On this occasion the Carthaginians put to sea to attack them as they were crossing the straits, and one of their decked ships advanced too far in its eagerness to overtake them and running aground fell into the hands of the Romans. This ship they now used as a model, and built their whole fleet on its pattern; so that it is evident that if this had not occurred they would have been entirely prevented from carrying out their design by lack of practical knowledge.