menses periculi, quid laboris exhaustum esse?10 Romam, caput orbis terrarum, petentibus quicquam adeo asperum atque arduum videri quod inceptum moretur?11 cepisse quondam Gallos ea quae adiri posse Poenus desperet; proinde aut cederent animo atque virtute genti per eos dies totiens ab se victae aut itineris finem sperent campum interiacentem Tiberi ac moenibus Romanis.
31. His adhortationibus incitatos corpora curare atque ad iter se parare iubet. 2postero die profectus adversa ripa Rhodani mediterranea Galliae petit, non quia rectior ad Alpes via esset, sed quantum a mari recessisset minus obvium fore Romanum credens, 3cum quo priusquam in Italiam ventum foret non erat in animo manus conserere.
4Quartis castris ad Insulam pervenit. ibi Isara27 Rhodanusque amnes diversis ex Alpibus decurrentes, agri aliquantum amplexi confluunt in unum mediis campis;28 “Insulae” nomen inditum. 5incolunt prope Allobroges, gens iam inde nulla Gallica gente opibus aut fama inferior.
and hardship to take Saguntum! With Rome, capital of the world, now their objective, can any challenge seem sufficiently daunting or difficult to delay that enterprise? The Gauls had once captured those very places the Carthaginians were losing hope of approaching!123 So, he concluded, they must either yield now in spirit and courage to a people so often defeated by them in recent days or expect the end of their journey to be the plain lying between the Tiber and the walls of Rome.124
31. Having energized the men with such words of encouragement, Hannibal told them to take food and rest and prepare for the march. The next day he set off upstream along the bank of the Rhone, heading for the interior of Gaul, not because it was a more direct route to the Alps but because he thought that the further he moved from the sea the less likely he was to meet the Romans—his intention was not to engage them before reaching Italy.
On the fourth day’s march, he reached the Island. There, in the middle of the plains, is the confluence of the Isère125 and Rhone rivers, which run down from different Alpine ranges, enclosing a considerable amount of land; and the name given to it is “the Island.”126 The Allobroges live close by,127 a tribe that in those days was already second to none of the Gallic tribes in wealth or reputation.
- 123A reference to the famous sack of Rome by the Gauls, probably in 387/6.
- 124That is, the Campus Martius.
- 125The river’s name (Isara) depends on emendation (see textual note), but for its identification cf. Walbank 1.387 (“whatever name stood in the original source common to P. [Polybius] and Livy, the river indicated is the Isère”). For the confluence, Barr. 17 E4.
- 126Cf. Polyb. 3.49.5: “Hannibal, marching steadily from the crossing place for four days, reached a place called the ‘Island,’ a populous district producing abundance of corn and deriving its name from its situation; for the Rhone and Isère running along each side of it meet at its point. It is similar in size and shape to the Egyptian Delta” (Loeb trans.). The passage is important for those trying to trace Hannibal’s route over the Alps (see Hoyos HW, 620–30).
- 127East of the Isere: Barr. 17 E3.