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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXI Chapter 11: No peace. The siege continues.[218 BC]
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|When Hanno had concluded, there was no occasion for any one to contend with him in debate, to such a decreed were almost all the senators devoted to Hannibal; and they accused Hanno of having spoken with more malignity than Flaccus Valerius, the Roman ambassador. It was then said in answer to the Roman ambassadors, "that the war had been commenced by the Saguntines, not by Hannibal; and that the Roman people acted unjustly if they preferred the Saguntines to the most ancient [Footnote: Alluding to the first treaty made in the year that the kings were expelled from Rome.] alliance of the Carthaginians." Whilst the Romans waste time in sending embassies, Hannibal, because his soldiers were fatigued with the battles and the works, allowed them rest for a few days, parties being stationed to guard the vineae and other works. In the mean time he inflames their minds, now by inciting their anger against the enemy, now with the hope of reward. But when he declared before the assembled army, that the plunder of the captured city should be given to the soldiers, to such a degree were they all excited, that if the signal had been immediately given, it appeared that they could not have been resisted by any force. The Saguntines, as they had a respite from fighting, neither for some days attacking nor attacked, so they had not, by night or day, ever ceased from toiling, that they might repair anew the wall in the quarter where the town had been exposed by the breach. A still more desperate storming than the former then assailed them; nor whilst all quarters resounded with various clamours, could they satisfactorily know where first or principally they should lend assistance. Hannibal, as an encouragement, was present in person, where a movable tower, exceeding in height all the fortifications of the city, was urged forward. When being brought up it had cleared the walls of their defenders by means of the catapultae and ballistae ranged through all its stories, then Hannibal, thinking it a favourable opportunity, sends about five hundred Africans with pickaxes to undermine the wall: nor was the work difficult, since the unhewn stones were not fastened with lime, but filled in their interstices with clay, after the manner of ancient building. It fell, therefore, more extensively than it was struck, and through the open spaces of the ruins troops of armed men rushed into the city. They also obtain possession of a rising ground; and having collected thither catapultae and ballistae, so that they might have a fort in the city itself, commanding it like a citadel, they surround it with a wall: and the Saguntines raise an inner wall before the part of the city which was not yet taken. On both sides they exert the utmost vigour in fortifying and fighting: but the Saguntines, by erecting these inner defences, diminish daily the size of their city. At the same time, the want of all supplies increased through the length of the siege, and the expectation of foreign aid diminished, since the Romans, their only hope, were at such a distance, and all the country round was in the power of the enemy. The sudden departure of Hannibal against the Oretani and Carpetani [Footnote: The Carpetani have already been mentioned, chap. v. The Oretani, then neighbours, occupied the country lying between the sources of the Baetis and the Anas, or what are now called the Guadalquiver and Guadiana. In a part of Orospeda they deduced their name from a city called Oretum, the site of which has been brought to light in a paltry village to which the name of Oreto still remains. -- _D'Anville_.] revived for a little their drooping spirits; which two nations, though, exasperated by the severity of the levy, they had occasioned, by detaining the commissaries, the fear of a revolt, having been suddenly checked by the quickness of Hannibal, laid down the arms they had taken up.||
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Vineae:Movable shelters, open at both ends, pushed along on wheels, and made of stout wattling, covered with leather. As the name suggests, the earliest were probably constructed of interlaced vine stems. Under their protection battering-rams could be worked, mines commenced, and other siege operations conducted.
Balista:Large military engine to throw missiles.