Sources on Hannibal's statesmanship


Few of these are set-texts - they are simply so you can read about Hannibal's actions as a statesman in the accounts of Polybius and Livy. 
Text in black is the Board's set text.  Text in light blue I have added.
Mouse-over the emboldened words to read the glosses. 
Where words are blue and underlined, there is also a hyperlink to another site.



The Roman Embassy about Saguntum
3.15.1 But the Saguntines sent repeated messages to Rome, as on the one hand they were alarmed for their own safety and foresaw what was coming, and at the same time they wished to keep the Romans informed how well things went with the Carthaginians in Spain. 2 The Romans, who had more than once paid little attention to them, sent on this occasion legates to report on the situation. Hannibal at the same time, having reduced the tribes he intended, arrived with his forces to winter at New Carthage, which was in a way the chief ornament and capital of the Carthaginian empire in Spain. 4 Here he found the Roman legates, to whom he gave audience and listened to their present communication. 5 The Romans protested against his attacking Saguntum, which they said was under their protection, or crossing the Ebro, contrary to the treaty engagements entered into in Hasdrubal's time. 6 Hannibal, being young, full of martial ardour, encouraged by the success of his enterprises, and spurred on by his long-standing enmity to Rome, 7 in his answer to the legates affected to be guarding the interests of the Saguntines and accused the Romans of having a short time previously, when there was a party quarrel at Saguntum and they were called in to arbitrate, unjustly put to death some of the leading men. The Carthaginians, he said, would not overlook this violation of good faith for it was from of old the principle of Carthage never to neglect the cause of the victims of injustice. 8 To Carthage, however, he sent, asking for instructions, since the Saguntines, relying on their alliance with Rome, were wronging some of the peoples subject to Carthage. 9 Being wholly under the influence of unreasoning and violent anger, he did not allege the true reasons, but took refuge in groundless pretexts, as men are wont to do who disregard duty because they are prepossessed by passion … 12 The Roman legates, seeing clearly that war was inevitable, took ship for Carthage to convey the same protest to the Government there.

[21.9] ‘Meantime it was announced that envoys had arrived [at Saguntum] from Rome. Hannibal sent messengers down to the harbour to meet them and inform them that it would be unsafe for them to advance any further through so many wild tribes now in arms, and also that Hannibal in the present critical position of affairs had no time to receive embassies.

The Carthaginians support Hannibal
3.20.6  The Romans, on hearing of the calamity that had befallen Saguntum, at once appointed ambassadors and sent them post-haste to Carthage, giving the Carthaginians the option of two alternatives, 7 the one of which, if they accepted it, entailed disgrace and damage, while the other would give rise to extreme trouble and peril...  9 On the Roman envoys arriving and appearing before the Senate and delivering their message the Carthaginians listened with indignation to this choice of alternatives, 10 but putting up their most able member to speak, they entered upon their justification … 33.1 ... After listening to the Carthaginians' statement of their case, they made no other reply but the following. 2 The oldest member of the embassy, pointing to the bosom of his toga, told the Senate that it held both war and peace for them: therefore he would let fall from it and leave with them whichever of the two they bade him. 3 The Carthaginian Suffete bade him let fall whichever the Romans chose, 4 and when the envoy said he would let fall war, many of the senators cried out at once, "We accept it." The ambassadors and the Senate parted on these terms.

[21.9] It was quite certain that if they were not admitted the ambassadors would go to Carthage. Hannibal therefore forestalled them by sending messengers with a letter addressed to the heads of the Barcine party, to warn his supporters and prevent the other side from making any concessions to Rome. [21.10] The result was that, beyond being received and heard by the Carthaginian senate, the embassy found its mission a failure. Hanno alone, against the whole senate, spoke in favour of observing the treaty, and his speech was listened to in silence out of respect to his personal authority, not because his hearers approved of his sentiments…. ‘The ruins of Saguntum - would that I might prove a false prophet - will fall on our heads’…‘When Hanno sat down no one deemed it necessary to make any reply, so completely was the senate, as a body, on the side of Hannibal.’

Hannibal paves the way
3.34.1  Hannibal, after taking all precautions for the safety of Africa and Spain, was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the messengers he expected from the Celts.... 4 He cherished high hopes of them, and was careful to send messengers with unlimited promises to the Celtic chiefs both on this side of the Alps and in the mountains themselves, 5 thinking that the only means of carrying the war against the Romans into Italy was, after surmounting, if possible, the difficulties of the route, to reach the above country and employ the Celts as co-operators and confederates in his enterprise.

[21.23]  Gladdened by this vision he proceeded to cross the Ebro, with his army in three divisions, after sending men on in advance to secure by bribes the good-will of the Gauls dwelling about his crossing-place, and also to reconnoitre the passes of the Alps.

Negotiations in the Pyrenees?
3.40.1  While Hannibal was thus attempting to cross the Pyrenees, in great fear of the Celts owing to the natural strength of the passes

[21.24]  The Gauls were told that it was against Italy that war was being made, but as they had heard that the Spaniards beyond the Pyrenees had been subjugated by force of arms, and strong garrisons placed in their towns, several tribes, fearing for their liberty, were roused to arms and mustered at Ruscino. On receiving the announcement of this movement, Hannibal, fearing delay more than hostilities, sent spokesmen to their chiefs to say that he was anxious for a conference with them, and either they might come nearer to Iliberri, or he would approach Ruscino to facilitate their meeting, for he would gladly receive them in his camp or would himself go to them without loss of time. He had come into Gaul as a friend not a foe, and unless the Gauls compelled him he would not draw his sword till he reached Italy. This was the proposal made through the envoys, but when the Gauls had, without any hesitation, moved their camp up to Iliberri, they were effectually secured by bribes and allowed the army a free and unmolested passage through their territory under the very walls of Ruscino.

Southern France
3.41.7  Hannibal, however, who had bribed some of the Celts and forced others to give him passage, unexpectedly appeared with his army at the crossing of the Rhone

[21.26.] Hannibal in the meantime had cowed into submission all the remaining tribes of the area by a mixture of terror and bribery and had already reached the territory of the Volcae, a powerful tribe whose lands occupied both banks of the Rhone [which resulted in the battle of the Rhone].

Negotiations with the Boii
3.44.5  Hannibal then called a meeting of his soldiers and, introducing Magilus and the other chieftains who had come to him from the plain of the Po, made the troops acquainted through a dragoman with what they reported to be the decision of their tribes. 6 What encouraged the soldiers most in their address was firstly the actual and visible presence of those Gauls who were inviting them to Italy and promising to join them in the war against Rome, 7 and secondly the reliance they placed on their promise to guide them by a route which would take them without their being exposed to any privations, rapidly and safely to Italy. 8 In addition to this the Gauls dwelt on the richness and extent of the country they were going to, and the eager spirit of the men by whose side they were about to face the armies of Rome.

[21.29]  Hannibal had a choice between continuing with the invasion of Italy which he had already launched, or seeking an immediate showdown with the first Roman army that had dared to challenge him. The arrival of a delegation of the Boii, led by their chieftain Magalus, dissuaded him from any immediate confrontation. They promised that they would act as guides and share the risks, and recommended that he should concentrate the whole of his war effort on the invasion of Italy without squandering his resources elsewhere first.

Hannibal as Arbitrator
3.49.8 On arriving there he found two brothers disputing the crown and posted over against each other with their armies, 49.9 and on the elder one making overtures to him and begging him to assist in establishing him on the throne, he consented, it being almost a matter of certainty that under present circumstances this would be of great service to him. 49.10 Having united with him therefore to attack and expel the other, he derived great assistance from the victor; 49.11 for not only did he furnish the army with plenty of corn and other provisions but he replaced all their old and worn weapons by new ones, thus freshening up the whole force very opportunely. 49.12 He also supplied most of them with warm clothing and foot-wear, things of the greatest possible service to them in crossing the mountains. 49.13 But the most important of all was, that the Carthaginians being not at all easy on the subject of their passage through the territory of the Allobroges, he protected them in the rear with his own forces and enabled them to reach the foot of the pass in safety. 

29.31. This lies close to the territory of the Allobroges, then as now the most famous and powerful tribe in Gaul. 31.6. At the time they were in a state of civil disturbance, caused by a dispute between two brothers over the right to rule them. Braneus, the elder brother, had previously ruled the tribe, but his younger brother, supported by a clique of younger nobles, was trying to oust him. Legally he had no right; but his faction was the stronger. 31.7. As luck would have it, the settlement of this dispute was referred to Hannibal, acting as arbitrator, and he awarded the kingship to the elder brother, in accordance with the opinion of the council and elders of the tribe. 31.8. In return for this service, the Allobroges provided him with assistance in the form of food and all sorts of equipment, especially clothing, which was essential protection against the notoriously icy conditions in the Alpine passes. 

Avoiding Treachery in the Alps
3.52.3. The tribesmen who lived in the area of the pass hatched a plot together, and then came out to meet him, with wreaths on their heads and olive branches in their hands. Virtually all barbarians regard this as a symbol of friendly intentions, like the herald’s staff among Greeks. 52.4. Hannibal had his reservations about their good faith, and was extremely careful to find out whether their goodwill was genuine and to investigate their overall intentions. 52.5. They admitted that they were well aware of the capture of the city and the destruction of those who had attacked him, and explained that this was exactly why they had come, since they did not want to inflict or suffer injury. They also promised him hostages from among their number.  52.6. For a long time Hannibal remained as cautious as ever and refused to believe their assurances. But in the end he calculated that, if he accepted their offered friendship, it was just possible that he might perhaps make their representatives more hesitant to attack him and more generally well-disposed. If he rejected their overtures, he would make them openly hostile. So he agreed to their proposals and pretended to accept their offers of friendship.

[21.34]  He then reached another tribe, one that had considerable numbers for a mountainous area. Here he faced no open confrontation but was nearly outwitted by the treachery and deceit which were his own particular specialities. 34.2. The elders of these fortified hill villages came in an embassy to him, claiming that the misfortunes of others had taught them a useful lesson and that they would prefer to gain the friendship of the Carthaginians, rather than test their strength. 34.3. They were happy, therefore, to follow orders and hoped he would accept supplies, guides for the next stage of his journey, and hostages as proof of their goodwill.  34.4. Hannibal was reluctant to trust them, but felt that it would be unwise to reject their overtures in case it would make them openly hostile. So he made a friendly response, accepted the offered hostages, and made excellent use of the food supplies which they had brought with them. He followed their guides, but took good care to keep the column tightly closed up, rather than in open order appropriate to travel through peaceful territory.

Hannibal and the Cisalpine Gauls
3.60.9  Hannibal at first made overtures for their friendship and alliance, but on their rejecting these he encamped round their chief city and reduced it in three days. 10 By massacring those who had been opposed to him he struck such terror into the neighbouring tribes of barbarians that they all came in at once and submitted to him. 11 The remaining Celtic inhabitants of the plains were impatient to join the Carthaginians, as had been their original design,12 but as the Roman legions had advanced beyond most of them and cut them off, they kept quiet, some even being compelled to serve with the Romans. 13 Hannibal, in view of this, decided not to delay, but to advance and try by some action to encourage those who wished to take part in his enterprise…

3.67.1  The Celtic contingents in the Roman army, seeing that the prospects of the Carthaginians were now brighter, had come to an understanding with each other, and while all remaining quiet in their tents were waiting for an opportunity to attack the Romans. 2 All in the entrenched camp had had their supper and retired to rest, and the Celts, letting the greater part of the night go by, armed themselves about the morning watch and fell upon the Romans who were encamped nearest to them. 3 They killed or wounded many, and finally, cutting off the heads of the slain, went over to the Carthaginians, being in number about two thousand foot and rather less than two hundred horse. 4 They were gladly welcomed on their arrival by Hannibal, who at once, after addressing some words of encouragement to them and promising suitable gifts to all, sent them off to their own cities to announce to their countrymen what they had done and urge them to join him. 5 For he was now quite sure that all would take his part on learning of this act of treachery to the Romans on the part of their own countrymen. 6 When at the same time the Boii came to him and delivered up to him the three Roman officials charged with the partition of their lands, whom, as I mentioned above, they had originally captured by treachery, 7 Hannibal welcomed their friendly advances and made a formal alliance with them through the envoys. ..

3.69.1  At about the same time the town of Clastidium was betrayed to Hannibal by a native of Brundisium, to whom the Romans had entrusted it, 2 the garrison and all the stores of grain falling into his hands. The latter he used for his present needs, but he took the men he had captured with them without doing them any hurt, 3 wishing to make a display of leniency, so that those who were overtaken by adversity would not be terrified and give up hope of their lives being spared by him. 4 He conferred high honours on the traitor, as he was anxious to win over those in positions of authority to the Carthaginian cause

3.69.5  After this, on observing that some of the Celts who lived between the Trebia and the Po had made alliance with himself, but were negotiating with the Romans also, under the idea that thus they would be safe from both, 6 he dispatched two thousand foot and about a thousand Celtic and Numidian horse with orders to raid their country. 7 On his orders being executed and a large amount of booty secured, the Celts at once came into the Roman camp asking for help.

[21.39]  Just at the time of Scipio's arrival, Hannibal moved out of the country of the Taurini, for, seeing how undecided the Gauls were as to whose side they should take, he thought that if he were on the spot they would follow him… [After the battle] Hannibal was waiting near the river to give audience to deputations from the Gauls…

[21.48]  The following night a murderous outbreak took place amongst the Gaulish auxiliaries in the Roman camp; there was, however, more excitement and confusion than actual loss of life. About 2000 infantry and 200 horsemen massacred the sentinels and deserted to Hannibal. The Carthaginian gave them a kind reception and sent them to their homes with the promise of great rewards if they would enlist the sympathies of their countrymen on his behalf. Scipio saw in this outrage a signal of revolt for all the Gauls, who, infected by the madness of this crime, would at once fly to arms …

[At Clastidium] No cruelty was practiced on the garrison, as Hannibal was anxious to win a reputation for clemency at the outset.

[21.52] The country between the Trebia and the Po was inhabited by Gauls who in this struggle between two mighty peoples showed impartial goodwill to either side, with the view, undoubtedly, of winning the victor's gratitude. The Romans were quite satisfied with this neutrality if only it was maintained and the Gauls kept quiet, but Hannibal was extremely indignant, as he was constantly giving out that he had been invited by the Gauls to win their freedom. Feelings of resentment and, at the same time, a desire to enrich his soldiers with plunder prompted him to send 2000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, made up of Gauls and Numidians, mostly the latter, with orders to ravage the whole country, district after district, right up to the banks of the Po. Though the Gauls had hitherto maintained an impartial attitude, they were compelled in their need of help to turn from those who had inflicted these outrages to those who they hoped would avenge them. They sent envoys to the consuls to beg the Romans to come to the rescue of a land which was suffering because its people had been too loyal to Rome.

The Italian League
3.118.1  The result of the battle being as I have described, the general consequences that had been anticipated on both sides followed. The Carthaginians by this action became at once masters of almost all the rest of the coast, Tarentum immediately surrendering, while Argyrippa and some Campanian towns invited Hannibal to come to them, and the eyes of all were now turned to the Carthaginians, who had great hopes of even taking Rome itself at the first assault.

[22.58]  After his great success at Cannae, Hannibal made his arrangements more as though his victory were a complete and decisive one than as if the war were still going on. The prisoners were brought before him and separated into two groups; the allies were treated as they had been at the Trebia and at Trasumennus, after some kind words they were dismissed without ransom; the Romans, too, were treated as they had never been before, for when they appeared before him he addressed them in quite a friendly way. He had no deadly feud, he told them, with Rome, all he was fighting for was his country's honour as a sovereign power. His fathers had yielded to Roman courage, his one object now was that the Romans should yield to his good fortune and courage. He now gave the prisoners permission to ransom themselves…

[22.61]  How far that disaster surpassed previous ones is shown by one simple fact. Up to that day the loyalty of our allies had remained unshaken, now it began to waver, for no other reason, we may be certain, than that they despaired of the maintenance of our empire. The tribes who revolted to the Carthaginians were the Atellani, the Calatini, the Hirpini, a section of the Apulians, all the Samnite cantons with the exception of the Pentri, all the Bruttii and the Lucanians. In addition to these, the Uzentini and almost the whole of the coast of Magna Graecia, the people of Tarentum Crotona and Locri, as well as all Cisalpine Gaul.

[Polybius's account of the treaty with Capua has not survived.]

[23.7]  The envoys came to Hannibal and negotiated a peace with him on the following terms: No Carthaginian commander or magistrate was to have any jurisdiction over the citizens of Capua nor was any Campanian citizen to be obliged to serve in any military or other capacity against his will; Capua was to retain its own magistrates and its own laws; and the Carthaginian was to allow them to choose three hundred Romans out of his prisoners of war whom they were to exchange for the Campanian troopers who were serving in Sicily. … [23.10]The following day there was a full meeting of the senate to hear Hannibal. At first his tone was very gracious and winning; he thanked the Capuans for preferring his friendship to alliance with Rome, and amongst other magnificent promises he assured them that Capua would soon be the head of all Italy and that Rome, in common with all the other nationalities, would have to look to her for their laws. Then his tone changed. There was one man, he thundered, who was outside the friendship of Carthage and the treaty they had made with him, a man that was not, and ought not to be called a Campanian - Decius Magius. He demanded his surrender and asked that this matter should be discussed and a decision arrived at before he left the House. They all voted for surrendering the man, though a great many thought that he did not deserve such a cruel fate and felt that a long step had been taken in the abridgment of their rights and liberties.

Hannibal survives another attack by Hanno
[Polybius does not record this incident.] 

[23.12 When Mago reported Hannibal’s success] Himilco, a member of the Barcine party, thought it a favourable moment for attacking Hanno. "Well, Hanno," he began, "do you still disapprove of our commencing a war against Rome?"
Then Hanno spoke to the following effect: "Senators, I would have kept silence on the present occasion, for I did not wish on a day of universal rejoicing to say anything which might damp your happiness. But as a senator has asked me whether I still disapprove of the war ... my reply to Himilco is this: I have never ceased to disapprove of the war, nor shall I ever cease to censure your invincible general until I see the war ended upon conditions that are tolerable. ..."
Very few were influenced by Hanno's speech. His well-known dislike of the Barcas deprived his words of weight and they were too much preoccupied with the delightful news they had just heard. 

The Treaty with Macedon
7.9 1 This is a sworn treaty between us, Hannibal the general, Mago, Myrcan, Barmocar, and all other Carthaginian senators present with him, and all Carthaginians serving under him, on the one side, and Xenophanes the Athenian, son of Cleomachus, the envoy whom King Philip, son of Demetrius, sent to us on behalf of himself, the Macedonians and allies, on the other side. 2 In the presence of Zeus, Hera, and Apollo: in the presence of the Genius of Carthage, of Heracles, and Iolaus: in the presence of Ares, Triton, and Poseidon: in the presence of the gods who battle for us and the Sun, Moon, and Earth; in the presence of Rivers, Lakes, and Waters: 3 in the presence of all the gods who possess Macedonia and the rest of Greece: in the presence of all the gods of the army who preside over this oath.

4 Thus saith Hannibal the general, and all the Carthaginian senators with him, and all Carthaginians serving with him, that as seemeth good to you and to us, so should we bind ourselves by oath to be even as friends, kinsmen, and brothers, on these conditions.
(1) That King Philip and the Macedonians and the rest of the Greeks who are their allies shall protect the Carthaginians, the supreme lords, and Hannibal their general, and those with him, and all under the dominion of Carthage who live under the same laws; likewise the people of Utica and all cities and peoples that are subject to Carthage, and our soldiers and allies and cities and peoples in Italy, Gaul, and Liguria, with whom we are in alliance or with whomsoever in this country we may hereafter enter into alliance.
(2) King Philip and the Macedonians and such of the Greeks as are the allies shall be protected and guarded by the Carthaginians who are serving with us, by the people of Utica and by all cities and peoples that are subject to Carthage, by our allies and soldiers and all peoples and cities in Italy, Gaul, and Liguria, who are our allies, and by such others as may hereafter become our allies in Italy and the adjacent regions.
(3) We will enter into no plot against each other, nor lie in ambush for each other, but with all zeal and good fellowship, without deceit or secret design, we will be enemies of such as war against the Carthaginians, always excepting the kings, cities, and ports with which we have sworn treaties of alliance.
(4) And we, too, will be the enemies of such as war against King Philip, always excepting the Greeks, cities, and people with which we have sworn treaties of alliance.
(5) You will be our allies in the war in which we are engaged with the Romans until the gods vouchsafe the victory to us and to you, and you will give us such help as we have need of or as we agree upon.
(6) As soon as the gods have given us the victory in the war against the Romans and their allies, if the Romans ask us to come to terms of peace, we will make such a peace as will comprise you too, and on the following conditions: that the Romans may never make war upon you; that the Romans shall no longer be masters of Corcyra, Apollonia, Epidamnus, Pharos, Dimale, Parthini, or Atitania: and that they shall return to Demetrius of Pharos all his friends who are in the dominions of Rome.
(7) If ever the Romans make war on you or on us, we will help each other in the war as may be required on either side.
(8) In like manner if any others do so, excepting always kings, cities, and peoples with whom we have sworn treaties of alliance.
(9) If we decide to withdraw any clauses from this treaty or to add any we will withdraw such clauses or add them as we both may agree...

[23.33]  This struggle between the most powerful nations in the world was attracting the attention of all men, kings and peoples alike, and especially of Philip, the King of Macedon, as he was comparatively near to Italy, separated from it only by the Ionian Sea. When he first heard the rumour of Hannibal's passage of the Alps, delighted as he was at the outbreak of war between Rome and Carthage, he was still undecided, till their relative strength had been tested, which of the two he would prefer to have the victory. But after the third battle had been fought and the victory rested with the Carthaginians for the third time, he inclined to the side which Fortune favoured and sent ambassadors to Hannibal…. Xenophanes passed through the Roman troops into Campania and thence by the nearest route reached Hannibal's camp.

He made a treaty of friendship with him on these terms:
• King Philip was to sail to Italy with as large a fleet as possible - he was, it appears, intending to fit out two hundred ships - and ravage the coast, and carry on war by land and sea to the utmost of his power;
• when the war was over the whole of Italy, including Rome itself, was to be the possession of the Carthaginians and Hannibal, and all the plunder was to go to Hannibal;
• when the Carthaginians had thoroughly subdued Italy they were to sail to Greece and make war upon such nations as the king wished;
• the cities on the mainland and the islands lying off Macedonia were to form part of Philip's kingdom.

The Conference with Scipio before the Battle of Zama
[This is one of your set texts and you can study it in detail here.]

Hannibal and the Mighty Ones
15.19.2  On this occasion it is said that when one of the senators was about to oppose the acceptance of the terms and was beginning to speak Hannibal came forward and pulled him down from the tribune. 3 The other members were indignant with him for such a violation of the usage of the house, and Hannibal then rose again and said that he confessed he had been in error, but they must pardon him if he acted contrary to their usage, as they knew that he had left Carthage at the age of nine, and was, now that he had returned, over five and forty. 4 He, therefore, begged them not to consider whether he had transgressed parliamentary custom, but rather to ask this whether or not he really felt for his country; for this was the sentiment which had now made him guilty of this offence.

[30.37] … When the envoys brought these terms back and laid them before the Assembly, Gisgo came forward and protested against any proposals for peace. The populace, alike opposed to peace and incapable of war, were giving him a favourable hearing when Hannibal, indignant at such arguments being urged at such a crisis, seized him and dragged him by main force off the platform. This was an unusual sight in a free community, and the people were loud in their disapproval. The soldier, taken aback by the free expression of opinion on the part of his fellow-citizens, said, "I left you when I was nine years old, and now after thirty-six years' absence I have returned. The art of war which I have been taught from my boyhood, first as a private soldier and then in high command, I think I am fairly well acquainted with. The rules and laws and customs of civic life and of the forum I must learn from you." After this apology for his inexperience, he discussed the terms of peace and showed that they were not unreasonable and that their acceptance was a necessity.

Hannibal's reforms
[Polybius's account of Hannibal's actions as Suffete has not survived.]

[33.45]  A much more pressing question was what Hannibal and Carthage were likely to do in case of war with Antiochus. The members of the party opposed to Hannibal were constantly writing to their friends in Rome. According to their account, messengers and letters were being sent by Hannibal to Antiochus and emissaries from the king were holding secret conferences with him. Just as there were wild beasts which no skill could tame, so this man was untamable and implacable. He complained that his countrymen were becoming enervated through ease and self-indulgence, and slumbering in indolence and sloth, and said that nothing could rouse them but the clash of arms. People were all the more ready to believe these assertions when they remembered that it was this man who was responsible for the beginning quite as much as for the conduct of the late war. His recent action had also called forth strong resentment amongst many of the magnates.

[33.46]  The order of judges exercised supreme power in Carthage at that time, owing mainly to the fact that they held office for life. The property, reputation and life of everyone were in their power. Whoever offended one of the order had an enemy in every member, and when the judges were hostile there was always a prosecutor to be found amongst them. Whilst these men were exercising this unbridled despotism, for they used their power without any regard to the rights of their fellow-citizens, Hannibal, who had been appointed one of the presiding magistrates, ordered the quaestor to be summoned before him. The quaestor paid no attention to the summons; he belonged to the opposite party and, moreover, as the quaestors were generally advanced to the all-powerful order of judges he gave himself the airs of a man who was sure of promotion. Resenting this indignity Hannibal sent an officer to arrest the quaestor, and after he was brought into the assembly Hannibal denounced not only the quaestor but the whole of the judicial order, whose insolence and excessive power utterly subverted the laws and the authority of the magistrates who had to enforce them. When he saw that his words were making a favourable impression and that the insolence and tyranny of that order were recognised as dangerous to the liberty of the meanest citizen, he at once proposed and carried a law enacting that the judges should be elected annually and that none should hold office for two consecutive years. Whatever popularity, however, he gained amongst the masses by his action was counterbalanced by the offence given to a large number of the aristocracy. A further step which he took in the public interest aroused intense hostility to him personally. The public revenues were being frittered away, partly through careless management and partly through being fraudulently appropriated by some of the political leaders and superior magistrates. The result was that there was not money enough to meet the annual payment of the indemnity to Rome, and there seemed every likelihood of a heavy tax being imposed upon the individual citizens.

[33.47]  When Hannibal had informed himself as to the amount of the national income from all sources, the objects for which calls upon it were made, what proportion was absorbed by the regular needs of the State and how much had been embezzled, he stated publicly in the assembly that if the balance were called up the government would be rich enough to meet the demands of Rome without any tax falling on individual citizens. And he was as good as his word. Those who had for years been battening on their pilferings from the national treasury were as furious as if it was the seizure of their personal property and not the forcible recovery of what they had stolen that was contemplated. In their rage they began to urge on the Romans, who were on their own account looking out for an opportunity of visiting their hate upon him. For a long time this policy found an opponent in P. Scipio Africanus. He considered it quite beneath the dignity of the Roman people to support the attacks of Hannibal's accusers or to allow the authority of the government to be mixed up with the party politics of Carthage, or not content with having defeated Hannibal in open war to treat him as though he were a criminal against whom they were to appear as prosecutors. At last, however, his opponents carried their point and delegates were sent to Carthage to point out to the senate there that Hannibal was concerting plans with Antiochus for commencing war. Cn. Servilius, M. Claudius Marcellus and Q. Terentius Culleo formed the delegation. On their arrival in Carthage they were advised by Hannibal's enemies to give out that people who asked the reason of their coming should be told that they had come to adjust the differences between Masinissa and the government of Carthage. This explanation was generally believed. Hannibal alone was not deceived, he knew that he was the object at which the Romans were aiming, and that the underlying motive of the peace with Carthage was that he might be left as the sole victim of their undying hostility. He decided to bow before the storm, and after making every preparation for flight he showed himself during the day in the forum to allay suspicion and as soon as it was dark he went in his official dress to the gate, accompanied by two attendants who were unaware of his design.