Silius Italicus, Punica

LCL 277: 16-17


Silius Italicus

160primus inire manus, postremus ponere Martem; cum rapidum effusis ageret sublimis habenis quadrupedem, non ense virum, non eminus hasta sistere erat; volitabat ovans aciesque per ambas iam Tagus auratis agnoscebatur in armis. 165quem postquam diro suspensum robore vidit deformem leti famulus, clam corripit ensem dilectum domino pernixque irrumpit in aulam atque immite ferit geminato vulnere pectus. at Poeni, succensa ira turbataque luctu 170et saevis gens laeta, ruunt tormentaque portant. non ignes candensque chalybs, non verbera passim ictibus innumeris lacerum scindentia corpus, carnificaeve manus penitusve infusa medullis pestis et in medio lucentes vulnere flammae 175cessavere; ferum visu dictuque, per artem saevitiae extenti, quantum tormenta iubebant, creverunt artus, atque, omni sanguine rupto, ossa liquefactis fumarunt fervida membris. mens intacta manet; superat ridetque dolores, 180spectanti similis, fessosque labore ministros increpitat dominique crucem clamore reposcit.

Haec inter spretae miseranda piacula poenae erepto trepidus ductore exercitus una Hannibalem voce atque alacri certamine poscit. 185hinc studia accendit patriae virtutis imago, hinc fama in populos iurati didita belli,


Punica, I

to enter the battle and last to lay down the sword, when he sat high on his steed and urged it on with loosened reins, no sword could stop him nor spear hurled from far; on he flew in triumph, and the golden armour of Tagus was well known throughout both armies.a Then a servant, when he saw that hideous death and the body of Tagus hanging on the fatal tree, stole his master’s favourite sword and rushed into the palace, where he smote that savage breastb once and again. Carthaginians are cruel; and now, in their anger and grief, they made haste to bring the tortures. Every device was used—fire and white-hot steel, scourges that cut the body to ribbons with a rain of blows past counting, the hands of the torturers, the agony driven home into the marrow, the flame burning in the heart of the wound. Dreadful to see and even to relate, the limbs were expanded by the torturers’ ingenuity and grew as much as the torment required; and, when all the blood had gushed forth, the bones still smoked and burned on, after the limbs were consumed. But the man’s spirit remained unbroken; he was the master still and despised the suffering; like a mere looker-on he blamed the myrmidons of the torturer for flagging in their task and loudly demanded to be crucified like his master.

While this piteous punishment was inflicted on a victim who made light of it, the soldiers, disturbed by the loss of their general, with one voice and with eager enthusiasm demanded Hannibal for their leader. Their favour was due to many causes—the reflection in him of his father’sc valour; the report, broadcast among the nations, that he was the sworn enemy of Rome; his youth eager for action and the fiery spirit

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.silius_italicus-punica.1934