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HANNIBAL PREPARES TO INVADE ITALY
 THE Romans thought it would be an easy matter to send an
army to Spain to punish the young general for his
daring defiance of the Senate. But as they soon found,
it was not so simple as they had deemed.
Hannibal had ambitions beyond the wildest imaginations
of the Romans, and before they had sent an army to
Spain, he had left the country to invade Italy, for
this was his great ambition.
In order to reach Italy, he determined to lead his army
across the Alps, a feat that no one without the genius
and the daring of the Carthaginian general could have
ever hoped to accomplish.
The Gauls, who had so lately been at war with Rome,
promised to join Hannibal's forces. When he was
assured of the help of the barbarians, Hannibal called
his soldiers together and told them his plans.
"The Romans," he said, "have demanded that I and my
principal officers should be delivered up to them as
malefactors. Soldiers, will you suffer such an
indignity? The Gauls are holding out their arms to
us, inviting us to come to them and to assist them in
revenging their manifold injuries. And the country
which we shall invade, so rich in corn and wine and
oil, so full of flocks and herds, so covered with
flourishing cities, will be the richest prize that
could be offered by the gods to reward your valour."
As you know, Hannibal was the idol of his men, and
 when he had spoken a loyal shout arose. It was plain
that his soldiers would follow him to death.
Hannibal thanked his troops for their devotion, told
them the day on which they were to march, and then
He himself went to the temple to pray to the gods for
the success of his invasion of Italy.
Day and night he brooded over his plans, so that even
when he slept his mind was possessed by them.
One night he dreamed that he was in the presence of the
gods of Carthage. The deities bade him invade Italy,
and one of them, they promised, would be with him as
In his dream he and his divine leader then set out. "See
that thou look not behind thee," said the god. But
in spite of this command Hannibal looked back and a
terrible dragon, covered with innumerable scales, met
his gaze. As the monster moved, it dragged in its
path, woods, orchards, houses.
"What is this that I see?" asked Hannibal.
"Thou seest the desolation of Italy," answered his
guide. "Go thy way straight forward and cast no look
Thus encouraged by his dream, Hannibal went back to his
army more confident than before, and marched into Italy
to perform his boyhood's vow.