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HANNIBAL LEAVES ITALY
 CARTHAGE might now have despaired, had not Hannibal
been alive. His name, she knew well, could still
inspire the Roman legions with terror, his presence
would, she believed, ensure their defeat. So
messengers were sent to Italy to bid him hasten to
The great general left Italy sorrowfully, for the hopes
with which he had entered her had not been fulfilled.
In spite of all the great victories he had won, Italy
had slipped from his grasp. Perhaps it was true, as
Maharbal had said, "Hannibal knows how to win
victories, but not how to use them."
But if Hannibal left the country reluctantly, the
people rejoiced at his departure. They could never
feel secure while he was in their land. His name,
indeed, still made the Romans tremble.
Before the great general left, he ordered bronze
tablets to be made, and on these he ordered to be
engraved the battles he had fought in Italy, as well as
a full account of the war. These records were written
both in the Greek and the Punic language.
A famous historian, who was a boy when Hannibal was
fighting in Italy, saw these tablets when he grew to be
a man, and so he was able to write a true account of
the second Punic war.
But all the history that Polybius wrote was not
carefully preserved. So that after the battle of
Cannæ we have no records save those given to us by
Roman historians. And
 what they, in their pride, wrote, was not, many people
think, the same as Hannibal recorded on his bronze
After the capture of King Syphax, a short truce had
been arranged between the two powers, while an embassy
went from Carthage to Rome to try to obtain peace.
But the truce was broken by the Carthaginians, and for
this the Romans made them suffer heavily.
Some ships, laden with provisions for the Roman army,
were on their way from Sardinia to join Scipio's fleet,
when a storm blew them on to an island in the Bay of
Carthage. The Carthaginians seized some of the ships,
being unable to resist the temptation to get food, of
which they had had but little for some time.
Scipio was indignant at this breach of the truce, and
he at once sent to Carthage to demand that the booty
should be restored.
But there were some in Carthage who wished the war with
Rome to go on, and they were more powerful than those
who longed for peace. So the war party arranged that
the Roman ambassadors should be sent back by ship to
Scipio, with a safe conduct, indeed, but without an
answer to his demands.
They were taken safe to within sight of their own
ships, then their escort withdrew, while the admiral of
the Punic fleet, having been secretly instructed, at
once tried to take the ambassadors prisoners.
Two of the crew were injured, some were even killed,
while the ambassadors escaped with difficulty.
After so evident an insult to the messengers of Rome,
Scipio at once prepared to carry on the war.
By the autumn of 203 B.C. Hannibal was in Carthage, and
the people, full of confidence in their great general,
were eager that he should at once take the field.
But Hannibal roughly bade the citizens "attend to
their own affairs, and leave him to choose his own time
He then begged for an interview with Scipio, and tried
 to arrange terms of peace. But the Consul refused to
have anything to do with such terms, saying that the
truce had been broken, his envoys insulted, and the
Carthaginians must suffer the consequences of such
Scipio was indeed impatient to fight, that the war
might the sooner come to an end.
It was already the month of October, 202 B.C., and
although the people of Rome had decreed that Scipio
should still continue in Africa, the Senate was anxious
that one of the new Consuls should be sent to join him,
and share his power.
Claudius, the hero of Metaurus, was one of the new
Consuls, and he was ordered to cross to Africa with a
fleet of fifty quinqueremes.
Scipio resented this, for if the war with Carthage
ended successfully after Claudius reached Africa, it
was he, as Consul, who would enjoy the triumph at Rome.
Now the invasion of Africa had been Scipio's own
scheme, and he wished to have the glory of its success
himself alone. So before the end of October he
hastened to lead his army to battle in the
neighbourhood of Zama.