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LIVIUS, Titus



Ab urbe condita

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XXI 4

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A few, and these included nearly all the best men, supported Hanno, but, as often happens, the larger party prevailed over the better. Hannibal was sent to Spain, where he was no sooner come than he won the favour of the entire army. The old soldiers thought that Hamilcar was restored to them as he had been in his youth; they beheld the same lively expression and piercing eye, the same cast of countenance and features. But he soon brought it to pass that his likeness to his father was the least consideration in gaining him support. Never was the same nature more adaptable to things the most diverse —obedience and command. And so one could not readily have told whether he were dearer to the general or the army. When any bold or difficult deed was to be done, there was no one whom Hasdrubal liked better to entrust with it, nor did any other leader inspire his men with greater confidence or daring. To reckless courage in incurring dangers he united the greatest judgment when in the midst of them. No toil could exhaust his body or overcome his spirit. Of heat and cold he was equally tolerant. His consumption of meat and drink was determined by natural desire, not by pleasure. His times of waking and sleeping were not marked off by day or night: hat time remained when his work was done he gave to sleep, which he did not court with a soft bed or stillness, but was seen repeatedly by many lying on the ground wrapped in a common soldier's cloak amongst the sentinels and outguards. His dress was in no way superior to that of his fellows, but his arms and horses were conspicuous. Both of horsemen and of foot-soldiers he was undoubtedly the first —foremost to enter battle, and last to leave it when the fighting had begun. These admirable qualities of the man were equalled by his monstrous vices: his cruelty was inhuman, his perfidy worse than Punic; he had no regard for truth, and none for sanctity, no fear of the gods, no reverence for an oath, no religious scruple. With this endowment of good and evil traits he served for the space of three years under Hasdrubal, omitting nothing that should be done or seen by one who was to become a great commander.

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XXI 32

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Hannibal, leaving the Druentia, and advancing for the most part through a champaign country, reached the Alps without being molested by the Gauls who inhabited those regions. Then, though report, which is wont to exaggerate uncertain dangers, had already taught them what to expect, still, the near view of the lofty mountains, with their snows almost merging in the sky; the shapeless hovels perched on crags; the frost-bitten flocks and beasts of burden; the shaggy, unkempt men; animals and inanimate objects alike stiff with cold, and all more dreadful to look upon than words can tell, renewed their consternation. those very heights which the enemy had held.

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XXI 35

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On the ninth day they arrived at the summit of the Alps, having come for the most part over trackless wastes and by roundabout routes, owing either to the dishonesty of their guides, or —when they would not trust the guides —to their blindly entering some valley, guessing at the way. For two days they lay encamped on the summit. The soldiers, worn with toil and fighting, were permitted to rest; and a number of baggage animals which had fallen among the rocks made their way to the camp by following the tracks of the army. Exhausted and discouraged as the soldiers were by many hardships, a snow-storm —for the constellation of the Pleiades was now setting —threw them into a great fear. The ground was everywhere covered deep with snow when at dawn they began to march, and as the column moved slowly on, dejection and despair were to be read in every countenance. Then Hannibal, who had gone on before the standards, made the army halt on a certain promontory which commanded an extensive prospect, and pointing out Italy to them, and just under the Alps the plains about the Po, he told them that they were now scaling the ramparts not only of Italy, but of Rome itself; the rest of the way would be level or downhill; and after one, or, at the most, two battles, they would have in their hands and in their power the citadel and capital of Italy.

The column now began to make some progress, and even the enemy had ceased to annoy them, except to make a stealthy raid, as occasion offered. But the way was much more difficult than the ascent had been, as indeed the slope of the Alps on the Italian side is in general more precipitous in proportion as it is shorter. For practically every road was steep, narrow, and treacherous, so that neither could they keep from slipping, nor could those who had been thrown a little off their balance retain their footing, but came down, one on top of the other, and the beasts on top of the men.

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