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the East. When he expressed his intention of meeting the wish of the people of Tarentum, one of his friends and counsellors, named Cineas, remarked, "The Romans, O king, are said to be brave warriors, and rule over many nations. Of what use
will it be to us, if the gods grant us the victory over them?" Pyrrhus replied, "The use is evident; for if we have once conquered the Romans, we become masters of Italy." Cineas held his peace for a time, and then proceeded: "And when we have conquered Italy, what, then, shall we undertake?" Pyrrhus answered, "Close by Italy is Sicily, a populous and fruitful island, with many flourishing cities; that will then be an easy conquest for us, because disorder and division prevail there." "That is quite possible," said Cineas; "but what would happen after the subduing of Sicily?" "From Sicily," proceeded Pyrrhus, we can easily pass over to Africa, and conquer Carthage, and then no one on earth can any longer resist us.' "I do not doubt that," said Cineas; "but if, when all the countries which thou hast named-and besides them, Macedonia, Greece, and Asia obey us, what shall we then undertake?" "Then," replied Pyrrhus, smiling, "we will give ourselves up to an agreeable repose, let the wine-goblet circulate, and pass our days in confidential conversation and joyous festivals." "Good," said Cineas; "but what prevents us from beginning this joyous life at once, as we have all we require for it, and it has not to be purchased with much blood, and after unspeakable misery, that we shall bring on others?" Pyrrhus felt the truth of this observation, nevertheless he adhered to his first resolution.
When the preparations were completed, he embarked with. 20,000 foot, 3000 horse, and twenty elephants, and landed near Tarentum, after he had lost by the way part of his forces. At Tarentum he caused at once all places of amusement to be closed, the gates to be guarded, and the citizens to be exercised with arms, to their infinite disgust. Then he marched against the Romans. Even before the first engagement took place, Pyrrhus admired the admirable order and tactics of the hostile forces, and he was still more astonished at the courage with which they were animated. The Romans renewed the attack seven times; but the unaccustomed aspect of the elephants, which occasioned great confusion among the men and horses, brought about their defeat. Pyrrhus himself had been in the greatest danger, and his best officers and soldiers lay dead on the battle-field. When, after the action, he saw all the dead of the Romans lying with wounds in front, he exclaimed, "With such soldiers, the world.
would be mine, and it would belong to the Romans if I were their general."
Notwithstanding this defeat, the Romans did not lose heart; on the contrary, they quickly filled up the number of their legions, and entered the field again. Pyrrhus could then easily see that he would not succeed in subduing such a people, and he sent his friend Cineas to Rome, with proposals of peace. Cineas visited, in the first instance, the most distinguished men, and gave their wives and children presents, in the name of the king; but they were universally declined. He next appeared in the senate, promised, on the part of the king, the restoration of conquests and of prisoners, without ransom, and asked for nothing but a friendly alliance for himself and the people of Tarentum. But answer was made to him that there could be no talk of peace till Pyrrhus had quitted Italy. Cineas brought this reply to the king; but he spoke at the same time with the greatest admiration of the Romans. "The senate," he said, “resembled an assembly of kings, and the people were like the Lernæan hydra,* for already they have under arms a host twice as large as that we have beaten."
Soon after, a Roman embassy arrived to treat respecting the exchange of prisoners, having at its head Fabricius, a poor man, who, however, had a great reputation for justice, courage, and experience. Pyrrhus had heard so much of the renown of this man, that he begged the Roman to accept of a rich present as an earnest of his high respect and hospitality. This was refused by Fabricius. On the following day, Pyrrhus wished to put to the proof the presence of mind for which the man was so highly renowned. Accordingly, he caused his greatest elephant to be placed behind a curtain, then gave a sign during the conversation, and thereupon the elephant threw its trunk, with a dreadful roar, over the head of Fabricius.
Fabricius had never seen an elephant before; yet he turned quite coolly to the king, and said, smiling, "Your beast frightens me as little to-day as your gold attracted me yesterday." After these words the two parted. Pyrrhus had indeed declined the exchange of prisoners; but, to give Fabricius an evidence of his regard, he permitted the Roman prisoners to attend the Saturnalia at Rome, to enjoy themselves with their friends, and then to return to captivity. All returned at the appointed time; the senate having even made it a capital crime for them to stay longer at Rome.
* See "History of Greece," in this scries,
In the second battle Pyrrhus was again successful by the aid of his elephants; but the king's loss was so considerable, that he replied to those who felicitated him on his victory, "Another such triumph, and we are lost!"
In the following year, Fabricius commanded the Roman army, as consul. When he had arrived near the enemy, the personal physician of Pyrrhus wrote to him, that he was willing to poison his master for a stated sum. Fabricius immediately sent the letter to Pyrrhus; but the king, astonished at the unshakable honesty of the great Roman, sent back all his prisoners without ransom, and renewed his proposals for peace through Cineas. Thereupon the Romans restored to the king as many prisoners as he had given back of captive Romans; but they repeated their previous declaration on the score of peace. Pyrrhus went to Sicily, conquered that island rapidly, and then returned to Italy, called back by the Tarentines, who were hard pressed; for the Romans had learned by this time to fight against elephants. When they encountered the king in battle, near Beneventum, they gained a brilliant victory; so that Pyrrhus embarked in great haste, and the Tarentines, as well as the other populations of Magna Græcia, were obliged to submit to Rome.
After this unfortunate expedition, Pyrrhus made another attempt to subdue Greece; but met with an inglorious end, as he fell at the taking of Argos, by the hand of a woman, who cast a tile on his head, from the roof of a house.
THE FIRST PUNIC WAR (B.C. 264-241).
On the north coast of Africa, in the region now forming the regency of Tunis, was situated one of the richest and most powerful commercial cities of antiquity-Carthage. This city was a Phoenician colony, and probably founded in the ninth century B.C., and the origin of Carthage, like that of most ancient states, has been singularly embellished by fables. It was related that a Phoenician princess, Dido, after her husband Sychæus had been killed by her brother Pygmalion, had fled from his cruelty, taking her treasures with her, and had landed on the north coast of Africa. Arrived there, she bought of the natives
as much land on the coast as could be encompassed by an ox's hide.
As soon as this compact had been agreed to, and the purchase money paid, she caused the ox's hide to be cut into small strips, surrounded with them a considerable piece of land, and built on it a city and a citadel, which soon grew to be an important commercial emporium.
The Carthaginians, also named Puni or Poni, from their Phoenician origin, gradually subdued the whole of the circumjacent territory, and eventually extended their dominions over Sardinia, Corsica, and a part of Sicily, founding also numerous colonies on the coasts of Spain and Africa for the security of their commerce.
The constitution of Carthage was peculiar. It is difficult to obtain a satisfactory notion of the character and institutions of Rome's great rival, from the glimmering light supplied by classical authors, but we can ascertain that she was far inferior to Rome in military resources, and far less fitted to become the founder of centralized and centralizing dominion, which was to fuse into unity the divided nationalities of ancient races that lived round the Mediterranean basin.
Carthage was now the most ancient, and the most powerful of the Phoenician colonies. Her position and the excellence of her constitution gave her the command over Hippo, Utica, Leptis, and other Phoenician cities on the African coast.
The inhabitants consisted of Phoenicians, Lybo-Phoenicians, and Libyans; the bulk of the population hating the Carthaginians intensely. They were a subject class, without franchise or political rights. The half-caste Lybo-Phoenicians were sometimes sent out as colonists, but they had not the right of citizenship at Carthage.
The constitution of Carthage was a mixture of royalty, aristocracy, and democracy, but without that equilibrium between those powers which makes the excellence of mixed governments. Two suffetes, chosen among the most distinguished families, were the first magistrates of the republic. After them came the senate, in which all the great houses had representatives. To facilitate the executive power, a council of centumvirs had been taken out of the senate. These centumvirs gradually usurped the authority, and the suffetes, hitherto chosen for life, were henceforth annual, and, deprived of the command of the troops, were only presidents of that council.
The centumvirs could call the generals to account for their
conduct, and they used this authority to make the army subservient to them. In the course of time the other magistrates, and even the senate, were subject to the control of the centumvirs; but the populace, so numerous in large towns, would not always submit to this usurpation. The wars against Rome developed. the democratic element. "Among the Carthaginians," says Polybius, "before the First Punic War, it was the people who had the chief voice in affairs; at Rome it was the senate."
Commerce was the life of Carthage; but though essentially a mercantile and a sea-faring people, the Carthaginians by no means neglected agriculture. Their pasture-lands, abundant harvests, luxuriant vineyards, fig and olive plantations, thriving villages, populous towns, and splendid villas struck every invader with admiration.
As regards navigation, Hanno, one of their admirals, had sailed along West Africa as far as Sierra Leone, and Himilco had explored the north-western shores of Europe, including the lands of the Hiberni and Albioni, but especially the Cornish coast. The boldness and skill of the mariners of Carthage may be paralleled with any achievement in the history of modern navigation.
Carthaginian armies were composed of mercenaries; the life of a Carthaginian trader was too precious to be risked while substitutes could be found in Numidia, Spain, and Gaul. The colonies of Carthage were chiefly in Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia. By the extension of her colonies and foreign possessions, Carthage became eventually mistress of the sea, while her wealth increased immensely, in proportion as her commerce enlarged.
The Carthaginians saw with anxiety and jealousy that the Romans were subduing all the coasts of Italy; and when the great Italian conquerors passed into Sicily, it was unavoidable that the jealousy of these two powerful states should lead to a bloody war, though its first declaration emanated from the Romans.
The two nations were radically different in character. The Carthaginians were occupied almost exclusively with trade and manufactures, and their fleets were manned by slaves, the leaders only being Carthaginians. On the other hand, the Roman legions were formed entirely of citizens, greatly surpassing most of the Carthaginian mercenaries in bravery, endurance, and discipline, though an exception must be made in favour of the Numidian cavalry of the Carthaginians, which was noted for its excellence, and the Balearic slingers, the first in their art