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The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Etext Book III From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States
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BOOK THIRD Chapter VI

The War Under Hannibal From Cannae To Zama

The Crisis

The aim of Hannibal in his expedition to Italy had been to break up the Italian confederacy: after three campaigns that aim had been attained, so far as it was at all attainable. It was clear that the Greek and Latin or Latinized communities of Italy, since they had not been shaken in their allegiance by the day of Cannae, would not yield to terror, but only to force; and the desperate courage with which even in Southern Italy isolated little country towns, such as the Bruttian Petelia, maintained their forlorn defence against the Phoenicians, showed very plainly what awaited them among the Marsians and Latins. If Hannibal had expected to accomplish more in this way and to be able to lead even the Latins against Rome, these hopes had proved vain. But it appears as if even in other respects the Italian coalition had by no means produced the results which Hannibal hoped for. Capua had at once stipulated that Hannibal should not have the right to call Campanian citizens compulsorily to arms; the citizens had not forgotten how Pyrrhus had acted in Tarentum, and they foolishly imagined that they should be able to withdraw at once from the Roman and from the Phoenician rule. Samnium and Luceria were no longer what they had been, when king Pyrrhus had thought of marching into Rome at the head of the Sabellian youth.

Not only did the chain of Roman fortresses everywhere cut the nerves and sinews of the land, but the Roman rule, continued for many years, had rendered the inhabitants unused to arms -- they furnished only a moderate contingent to the Roman armies -- had appeased their ancient hatred, and had gained over a number of individuals everywhere to the interest of the ruling community. They joined the conqueror of the Romans, indeed, after the cause of Rome seemed fairly lost, but they felt that the question was no longer one of liberty; it was simply the exchange of an Italian for a Phoenician master, and it was not enthusiasm, but despair that threw the Sabellian communities into the arms of the victor. Under such circumstances the war in Italy flagged. Hannibal, who commanded the southern part of the peninsula as far up as the Volturnus and Garganus, and who could not simply abandon these lands again as he had abandoned that of the Celts, had now likewise a frontier to protect, which could not be left uncovered with impunity; and for the purpose of defending the districts that he had gained against the fortresses which everywhere defied him and the armies advancing from the north, and at the same time of resuming the difficult offensive against central Italy, his forces -- an army of about 40,000 men, without reckoning the Italian contingents -- were far from sufficient.
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