Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Hasdrubal

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HASDRUBAL. Of the bearers of this very common Carthaginian name the most famous are the following:—

1. One of the leaders of the popular party at the close of the First Punic War. He was conspicuous for his dexterous management in politics and_ his conciliatory manners. Ho married the daughter of Hamilcar Barca ; and his skilful and cordial co-operation was of enormous consequence to Hamilcar during his Spanish wars. He went to Spain with his father-in-law, but soon returned to Carthage, where his tilents were specially needed to con- duct the party at home. He was, however, in Spain when Hamilcar fell (229) ; and was soon formally appointed by the home Government to the command which he had at once assumed. Devoting himself most successfully to the task of consvlidating the Carthaginian power in Spain, he founded New Carthage as the Spanish capital, and married the daughter of a Spanish chief. His kindly and generous manner attached the natives to him, and brought many over to the Carthaginian alliance. In 221 he fell by the hand of an assassin. The account given of him by Polybius is much more favourable and far more trustworthy than that of the Roman author Fabius whom he refers to.

2. The second son of the great Hamilcar. He was left by Hannibal as commander in Spain (219 b.c.), where he had to contend with the two Scipios, Cneius and Publius. Three years were spent in desultory warfare, in which the Romans were generally successful. After the battle of Cann, Hasdrubal was ordered to march into Italy, while Himileo was sent from Carthage with a fresh army to supply his place. But a decisive battle on the Ebro, in which he was totally defeated, checked his nerthward march. It is hardly possible to exaggerate the importance of this battle. Had a fresh Carthaginian army joined Hannibal in Italy for the campaign of 215 or 214, the danger to Rome would have been infinitely increased. Several years now passed, marked by the Roman historians with fresh Roman victories; and it is certain that the struggle continued doubtful till 212, when both the Scipios were defeated and slain. In spite of this great success, Hasdrubal was not at the moment able to begin the march on Italy. The Romans were skilfully rallied by Lucius Marcius, and in 211 afresh army under the preetor Nero landed in Spain. At the same time there seems to have been no co-operation among the Carthaginian generals; and when the younger Scipio landed in Spain (210) he found their armies widely separated. Taking advantage of this, Scipio by a sudden attack (209) captured New Carthage, which contained vast military stores, all the Spanish hostages, and 10,000 captives. To achieve this brilliant success he had to leave the road northwards undefended; aud although he rapidly returned and (according to the Roman accounts) defeated Hasdrubal at Becula in Andalusia, the Cartha- ginian general was able to make his way with a strong army to the Pyrenees, which he crossed in safety near the western extremity. The whole course of the Spanish wars, and especially the chronulogy of these later events, are very obscure. At all events Hasdrubal, after a very rapid and skilful march across the whole breadth of Gaul, appeared early in 207 in the north of Italy. When once he had succeeded in getting out of Spain, this brilliant march proved Hasdrubal worthy of his father and his brother; and long as it had taken to carry out his plan, we must remember that after the Romans perceived the necessity of keeping him back from Italy the difficulties in his way were enormous. On hearing of the passage of the Pyrenees, the Romans raised extraordinary levies, but before they had taken any steps to meet him, Hasdrubal was already in Cisalpine Gaul. Hannibal was still in Apulia, perhaps not expecting his brother so soon; Husdrubal sent to meet Lim two Numidian horsemen with four Gauls, who almost at the end of their perilous journey fell into the hands of the consul Nero. In the meantime Hasdrubal had advanced into Umbria, where the plebeian consul Livius was excamped near Sena. Nero, with 7000 men, left Lis own camp, and by a rapid march, which must be ranked among the most import- ant events of the war, joined his colleague. The united army was much too strong for Hasdrubal. He tried to avoid a battie, but his guides failed him, and he was forced to figlit on the south bank of the Metaurus. A long and bloody conflict resulted in the complete defeat of the Carthaginians, and Hasdrubal, after all was lost, fell sword in hand in the midst of the enemy. His head, which was thrown by Nero's soldiers into Hannibal’s camp, first revealed to the latter his brother’s defeat and the ruin of the Carthaginian cause.