Hispaniam, cum perfecto Africo bello exercitum eo traiecturus sacrificaret, altaribus admotum tactis sacris iure iurando adactum se cum primum posset hostem fore populo Romano. 5angebant ingentis spiritus virum Sicilia Sardiniaque amissae: nam et Siciliam nimis celeri desperatione rerum concessam et Sardiniam inter motum Africae fraude Romanorum, stipendio etiam insuper imposito, interceptam.
2. His anxius curis ita se Africo bello quod fuit sub recentem Romanam pacem per quinque annos, ita deinde novem annis in Hispania augendo Punico imperio gessit, 2ut appareret maius eum quam quod gereret agitare in animo bellum et, si diutius vixisset, Hamilcare duce Poenos arma Italiae inlaturos fuisse, quae1 Hannibalis ductu intulerunt.
3Mors Hamilcaris peropportuna et pueritia Hannibalis distulerunt bellum. Medius Hasdrubal inter patrem ac filium octo ferme annos imperium obtinuit, flore aetatis,
Hamilcar to take him to Spain. Hamilcar, who had finished off the war in Africa,4 was offering sacrifice when about to take his army across to Spain, and he brought Hannibal to the altar and there made him touch the sacred objects and swear to make himself an enemy of Roman people at the earliest possible opportunity.5 Hamilcar, a man of great pride, was greatly vexed by the loss of Sicily and Sardinia. He thought that Sicily had been ceded only because the Carthaginians had too quickly abandoned hope, and also that Sardinia had been dishonestly filched from them by the Romans6—who had, in addition, even imposed an indemnity on them—during the upheavals in Africa.
2. He was tormented by such concerns, and for the five years of the African War that closely followed the peace treaty with Rome, and the nine years he then spent extending Punic authority in Spain, his conduct was such as to make it clear that he had ambitions beyond the war he was fighting,7 and that had he lived longer the Carthaginians would have launched under Hamilcar’s command the invasion that they launched under Hannibal’s leadership.
Hamilcar’s timely death and Hannibal being just a boy deferred hostilities, and in the interval between father and son Hasdrubal8 held office for some eight years. Hasdrubal had initially attracted Hamilcar’s interest, they say,
- 4The so-called “truceless war,” fought against Carthage’s foreign mercenaries, who rebelled when they did not receive payment after the First Punic War. It lasted from that war’s end to 238. See further Hoyos, Truceless War, and for Hamilcar’s achievements in Spain, Hannibal’s Dynasty, 1–74.
- 5Polybius’ version (loc. cit.) is somewhat different. He claims that Hamilcar actually asked Hannibal if he wished to go to Spain with him and made the boy swear never to be a friend of the Romans (see Introduction, xxxvi).
- 6The Carthaginian evacuation of Sicily followed the defeat of a fleet of theirs off the Aegates Islands west of Drepanon (mod. Trapani) by L. Lutatius Catulus in 241. Sardinia fell to the Romans in 238.
- 7Hamilcar had established a prosperous Carthaginian province in southern Spain after his arrival in 233, but he then died from drowning (late 229/early 228) as he was retreating from the siege of Helike (mod. Elche) in southeastern Spain (Barr. 27 E3).
- 8Hamilcar’s son-in-law: OCD s.v. Hasdrubal (1).