ROME-THE PUNIC WARS,
them, and went over to Antigonus of Macedonia. Believing that the struggle
between Rome and Carthage must soon be renewed, he sought to secure his own
interests by entering into friendship with a new master. To signalize his
defection, he organized a fleet, put to sea, and began in the character of
a pirate to prey upon the commerce of Rome and her allies; but he had
mistaken the men with whom he had to deal. The consul Lucius Aemilius
Paullus was sent against him, and Demetrius was glad to escape with his
life. Fleeing into Macedonia, he endeavored to persuade the young King
Philip to declare war against the Romans; but that discreet monarch was
wary of such an antagonist, and Demetrius found opportunity to repent in
The time was now at hand when the smoldering enmity between Carthage and
Rome was destined again to break forth in the flames of war. The
Carthaginians had in the mean time succeeded in reducing their mercenaries
to obedience, and in restoring order in the dependencies. The civil
condition of the state, however, was by no means happy. There had been a
division of parties, which had destroyed the political unity and disturbed
the peace of the commonwealth. The old Carthaginian aristocracy, claiming,
as such bodies always do, the exclusive privileges which they had
inherited, refusing to recognize the principles of progress and the natural
growth of the state, had arrayed themselves, under the leadership of Hanno,
against the party of the people led by the great soldier, Hamilcar Barcas.
The baleful influence of this division was manifested in the factious
opposition of the Senate to the war measures of the generals in the field.
The latter were frequently thwarted in their movements and plans by the
refusal of the aristocratic party to support them with men and means. This
opposition of the civil authorities of Carthage to the proceedings of the
party of war had been felt disastrously during the progress of the first
struggle of Carthage with Rome, and was now destined to distract the state
in a still more alarming degree.
It was under the influence of these disturbing political conditions that
the veteran Hamilcar, after the suppression of the mutineers' rebellion,
gladly retired from Carthage, and undertook the conquest of Spain. This
country now offered the finest possible field for military adventure. The
possession of Hispania indeed had become almost essential to the Western
nations. The gold mines of the East-notably those of Asia Minor-as well as
the silver mines of Greece and of other countries, were well-nigh
exhausted. In both of these great resources of wealth, the Spanish
peninsula was especially rich. Her stores of gold and silver surpassed
those of all of the rest of Europe combined. The country, moreover, was
beautiful and varied in climate and product, and the people were among the
most brave and hardy of the West.
For nine years (B. C. 236-228) Hamilcar waged successful war in the
southern part of the peninsula. In that portion of the country between the
Ebro and the strait the authority of Carthage was thoroughly established.
But in the midst of these successes Hamilcar was killed in battle, and the
command was devolved upon his son-in-law, Hasdrubal. The latter was also an
able and prudent general, who maintained and promoted the cause of his
country, both at home and in Spain.
The Romans now became alarmed at the progress of the Carthaginian arms to
the north, and in order to prevent the further extension of the power of
her rival declared themselves to be the protectors of the Greek cities in
the Spanish peninsula, as well as those of the Mediterranean islands. An
alliance was made with the towns of Saguntum and Emporiae, and Carthage was
notified that any aggression on the countries north of the river Ebro would
be resented as an act. of hostility done to the allies of the Roman people.
Hasdrubal was obliged to assent to this declaration of policy.
Hamilcar Barcas left to his country and the world a son greater than
himself. This was Hannibal, to whom any historians other than his enemies
would have conceded the title of Great. From his youth he had been schooled
in the discipline of the camp. At the age of nine he was taken by his
father-then about to depart for Spain-to an altar in Carthage, and there
made to swear eternal enmity to the Romans. He afterwards accompanied his