Silius Italicus, Punica

LCL 277: 8-9

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Silius Italicus

60sanguinis humani flagrat sitis. his super, aevi flore virens, avet Aegates abolere, parentum dedecus, ac Siculo demergere foedera ponto. dat mentem Iuno ac laudum spe corda fatigat. iamque aut nocturno penetrat Capitolia visu 65aut rapidis fertur per summas passibus Alpes. saepe etiam famuli turbato ad limina somno expavere trucem per vasta silentia vocem, ac largo sudore virum invenere futuras miscentem pugnas et inania bella gerentem. 70Hanc rabiem in fines Italum Saturniaque arva addiderat laudem puero patrius furor orsus.1 Sarrana prisci Barcae de gente, vetustos a Belo numerabat avos. namque orba marito cum fugeret Dido famulam Tyron, impia diri 75Belides iuvenis vitaverat arma tyranni et se participem casus sociarat in omnes. nobilis hoc ortu et dextra spectatus Hamilcar, ut fari primamque datum distinguere lingua Hannibali vocem, sollers nutrire furores, 80Romanum sevit puerili in pectore bellum.

Urbe fuit media sacrum genetricis Elissae manibus et patria Tyriis formidine cultum, quod taxi circum et piceae squalentibus umbris abdiderant caelique arcebant lumine, templum. 85hoc sese, ut perhibent, curis mortalibus olim


Punica, I

in his inmost heart. Besides all this, his youthful vigour longed to blot out the Aegates,a the shame of the last generation, and to drown the treaty of peace in the Sicilian sea. Juno inspired him and tormented his spirit with ambition. Already, in visions of the night, he either stormed the Capitol or marched at speed over the summits of the Alps. Often too the servants who slept at his door were roused and terrified by a fierce cry that broke the desolate silence, and found their master dripping with sweat, while he fought battles still to come and waged imaginary warfare.

When he was a mere child, his father’s passion had kindled in Hannibal this frenzy against Italy and the realm of Saturn,b and started him on his glorious career. Hamilcar, sprung from the Tyrian house of ancient Barcas, reckoned his long descent from Belus.c For, when Dido lost her husband and fled from a Tyre reduced to slavery, the young scion of Belusd had escaped the unrighteous sword of the dread tyrant,e and had joined his fortunes with hers for weal or woe. Thus nobly born and a proved warrior, Hamilcar, as soon as Hannibal could speak and utter his first distinct words, sowed war with Rome in the boy’s heart; and well he knew how to feed angry passions.

In the centre of Carthage stood a temple, sacred to the spirit of Elissa,f the foundress, and regarded with hereditary awe by the people. Round it stood yew-trees and pines with their melancholy shade, which hid it and kept away the light of heaven. Here, as it was reported, the queen had cast off long ago the ills

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.silius_italicus-punica.1934