John C. Yardley and Dexter Hoyos (eds), Oxford World's Classics: Livy: Hannibal's War: Books Twenty-One to Thirty

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The same year's operations in Spain met with mixed success. Before the Romans could cross the River Ebro, Mago and Hasdrubal routed huge forces of the Spaniards.* In fact, Further Spain would have defected from Rome but for Publius Cornelius, who swiftly took his army across the Ebro and arrived in the nick of time when the allies were still wavering. The Romans first encamped at Castrum Album, which is famed as the spot where the great Hamilcar was killed. Here the citadel had been fortified, and they had stockpiled grain in advance. However, the surrounding areas were completely occupied by hostile forces, and a Roman column had been attacked by enemy cavalry without being able to retaliate—some 2,000 of pg 242them had been killed when they failed to keep up, or were scattered through the countryside. The Romans therefore withdrew to a location closer to more peaceful areas, and established a fortified camp at Mt. Victory.* To this spot Gnaeus Scipio came with his entire force; and so, too, did Hasdrubal, son of Gisgo—he was now the third Carthaginian general—at the head of an army with its full quota of men. All three Carthaginian generals then took up a position across the river from the Roman camp.

Taking some light-armed troops, Publius Scipio set off stealthily to reconnoitre the surrounding area, but he failed to escape the attention of the enemy, who would have crushed him on the open plains, had he not taken over a nearby hillock. Even there he was surrounded, and was only rescued from a siege by his brother's arrival.

Castulo* then went over to the Romans. This was a powerful and famous city, so well connected with Carthage that Hannibal's wife actually came from there. The Carthaginians now proceeded to attack Iliturgi: there was a Roman garrison in the town and, mostly because of food-shortages there, it also seemed likely that they would take the place. To assist the allies, as well as the garrison, Gnaeus Scipio set off with a lightly equipped legion, passed between the two Carthaginian camps, causing heavy enemy casualties in the process, and entered the city. The next day he fought again, making a charge from the city which was equally successful. Upwards of 12,000 men were killed in the two engagements, and more than a thousand taken prisoner, with the capture of thirty-six military standards. The Carthaginians accordingly withdrew from Iliturgi. It was then the turn of the city of Bigerra to come under attack from them—its people were also Roman allies—but Gnaeus Scipio's arrival raised the siege without a fight.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
41 routed huge forces of the Spaniards: presumably the rebel Tartesii, last heard of in 215 when they 'did not long abide by the terms of surrender'; but no details are given (23.27). According to L., the Scipio brothers' response to this Punic victory in 214 was an advance into south-east Spain. But that almost certainly dates to 212. Were L. correct here, then the brothers' successful advance was followed by two years (213 and 212) of inactivity—as he asserts in 25.32—followed by a renewed southern push the year after. Yet this renewed push he narrates under the year 212 itself. Much more likely, L.'s chronology as well as his geography is confused. He or one of his sources may have misdated these events through wrongly inferring that the defeat of the Tartesii imperilled all the Roman alliances in southern Spain and so forced the Scipios to come south. There cannot, in reality, have been many (or any?) such alliances yet. L. optimistically depicted much or most of the Spanish peoples as joining the Romans' side in 215 (23.29), and earlier supposed that Gnaeus Scipio had advanced briefly from the Ebro to the environs of Castulo in 217 (22.20 note), but none of this is plausible. The years 214–213 are much likelier to have been the inactive ones, followed by a drive south in 212 which L. has misdated to this point. His and his source's, or sources', indistinct awareness of Spanish geography has much to answer for.
Editor’s Note
41 Mt. Victory: these places seem to have lain in inland south-eastern Spain, beyond the vast and wild mountain ranges north-west of Cartagena and around the upper reaches of the River Baetis (Guadalquivir). L. mentions that Hamilcar had perished there on campaign in winter 229–228, and this is plausible (the problems with his present chronology do not affect it). The river may have been the Segura, probably the one in which Hamilcar was drowned.
Editor’s Note
Castulo: a wealthy silver-mining city close to modern Linares. The later epic poet Silius Italicus (Punica 3.97–107) names Hannibal's wife as Imilce and claims she was descended from a king named Milichus. These are Punic names, but 'Imilce' could reflect the Phoenician and Carthaginian cultural influences that L. implies. Iliturgi(s) (Mengíbar) was on the River Baetis 12 miles further south; Bigerra is not otherwise known.
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