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819

ROME-THE PUNIC WARS.

posted himself to await his brother's arrival, or, at any rate, news of his

approach.

Meanwhile the other consul, Marcus Livius Salinator, had marched to the

north to confront Hasdrubal and prevent his progress. The two consular

armies were thus interposed between the two of the Carthaginians. In this

situation of affairs Nero, as it appears, grasped the solution of the

problem. He conceived the plan of retiring unnoticed from before Hannibal,

marching quickly to the north, joining his colleague, and crushing

Hasdrubal by a combined attack of both arms. The latter general had in the

mean time laid his plan to advance into Umbria, join his brother, and then

march on Rome.

Nero's scheme was successfully carried out. Selecting his best soldiers he

escaped from his camp without exciting the suspicions of Hannibal. Marching

rapidly northward he joined his colleague at Sena, taking care by a night

entrance into the camp of Livius not to give the enemy notice of his

approach. Nevertheless, Hasdrubal detected by the sound of the trumpets and

the increased numbers in his front that the other consular army, or a

portion of it, was in his front. From this he drew the inference that his

brother had been defeated, perhaps destroyed, and that the whole issue now

depended on himself. He therefore determined to seek a stronger position on

the other side of the river Metaurus, which was just in his rear. But in

attempting to retire across this stream he was pursued by the Romans, and

missing the fords was obliged to give battle on the south side of the

river. The struggle that ensued was one of the most desperate of the war.

Though the Carthaginians were exhausted as well as foiled in their attempt

to retreat to a more defensible position, they fought with almost savage

heroism; but the legionaries gradually drove them back and crowded them

against the river. The slaughter and rout became general. Hasdrubal,

despairing at last of the battle, threw himself upon the Romans and was

slain. His army was well-nigh annihilated; only a few escaped in broken

detachments.

As soon as the victory was complete, Nero began his march to Canusium. He

was the herald of his own triumph. Hannibal had learned nothing of what was

done. On arriving safely in camp, Nero sent to the Carthaginian his

brother's head as an earnest of the news. Two prisoners were also sent to

Hannibal's quarters to tell him in their own way the story of the Metaurus.

"I foresee the doom of Carthage," was the melancholy comment of Hannibal

when his brother's head was thrown over the rampart into the camp.

It is the quality of the greatest not to despair. So did not Hannibal. He

saw that Italy was lost-but perhaps not hopelessly. As for himself, the

Romans had never yet beaten him in an open battle of the field. He would

remember his oath of eternal enmity. Looking around the horizon, he saw

that the best course for him to pursue was to retire into the hill-country

of Southern Italy, and there continue the struggle according to the

suggestions of destiny. He accordingly retired from Canusium, and fell back

into the Bruttian peninsula. Here, on account of the nature of the country

rather than from the now slender forces at his command, he was enabled to

take such positions as to give him comparative immunity from attack.

Meanwhile Publius Cornelius Scipio, having completed the conquest and

pacification of Spain, returned to Italy, and was elected to the

consulship. (1) To him the people now began to look with confidence for the

completion of the war. For himself, he had long entertained the design of

invading Africa, and repaying Carthage in her own dominions for the

devastation of Italy. The conservative and unenthusiastic Senate was little

disposed to favor his plan-indeed, opposed it; but the popular party were

heartily for the daring Scipio. The vote of the popular assemblies was

unanimous for his measures. The Senate, having assigned him Sicily as his

province, gave a reluctant consent to the African invasion, but crippled

the enterprise by voting no adequate support to the proposed expedition.

Scipio was left to the expedient of raising an army by volunteering, and

the first year (B. C. 205) of his ________________________________ 1 It

will be remembered that this remarkable man had never yet held a higher

office than that of aedile.