The subject of the poem is the Second Punic War (1–20). The cause of the war was Juno’s hatred of Rome. She chooses Hannibal as her instrument (21–55). Hannibal’s character, and the oath he swore in boyhood (56–139). Hasdrubal succeeds Hamilcar as commander in Spain: his character, conquests, and death (140–181). Hannibal is chosen to succeed Hasdrubal by all the army in Spain, both
Ordior arma, quibus caelo se gloria tollit Aeneadum patiturque ferox Oenotria iura Carthago. da, Musa, decus memorare laborum antiquae Hesperiae, quantosque ad bella crearit 5et quot Roma viros, sacri cum perfida pacti gens Cadmea super regno certamina movit, quaesitumque diu, qua tandem poneret arce terrarum Fortuna caput. ter Marte sinistro iuratumque Iovi foedus conventaque patrum 10Sidonii fregere duces, atque impius ensis ter placitam suasit temerando rumpere pacem.
Carthaginians and Spaniards (182–238). Character of Hannibal (239–267). He resolves to attack Saguntum: position and history of the city (268–295). The siege of Saguntum (296–ii. 695). The Saguntines send an embassy to Rome: the speech of Sicoris (564–671). In the Senate Cn. Cornelius Lentulus and Q. Fabius Maximus express different views: envoys are sent to Hannibal (672–694).
Here I begin the war by which the fame of the Aeneadae was raised to heaven and proud Carthage submitted to the rule of Italy.a Grant me, Ο Muse, to record the splendid achievements of Italy in ancient days, and to tell of all those heroes whom Rome brought forth for the strife, when the people of Cadmusb broke their solemn bond and began the contest for sovereignty; and for long it remained uncertain, on which of the two citadels Fortune would establish the capital of the world. Thrice over with unholy warfare did the Carthaginian leaders violate their compact with the Senate and the treaty they had sworn by Jupiter to observe; and thrice over the lawless sword induced them wantonly to break the peace they had approved. But in the
- aOenotria, the Greek name of an ancient kingdom in S. Italy, is one of the many synonyms for Italy which occur in the poem: see p. xiii.
- bSidonians, Tyrians, Cadmeans, and other names are used by Silius to denote the Carthaginians.