Ancient History & Civilisation

The End

After the battle Hannibal and his staff fled back to his main base at Hadrumentum. The Romans rounded up their prisoners and looted the Punic camp. Scipio received the encouraging news of a fresh convoy of supplies arriving near castra Cornelia. Laelius was sent once again to carry the news of victory to Rome. The defeat of their last army left Carthage with no choice but once again to seek peace. Scipio led his fleet in a demonstration of force right up to Carthage itself to place further pressure on it to submit. In military terms the Romans could pose little direct threat to such a well-fortified city. Even with his entire army the siege of Carthage would have been a massive undertaking of uncertain outcome. Scipio swiftly rejected the idea, even though it is claimed by Livy that several of his officers advocated the plan. Therefore despite his initial rebuff of a Punic peace embassy, the Roman commander was eager to settle. In particular he may have been once more concerned about keeping his command and retaining the glory which his victory had won. In fact one of the consuls of 201 did try to replace Scipio in the African command at this late hour, but after intervention by some of the tribunes of the plebs and further senatorial debate, he in fact replaced Nero in the naval command.34

The terms of the Treaty dictated by Scipio were harsh. All Roman prisoners and deserters were to be handed over without ransom. All war elephants were confiscated and the fleet was reduced to a mere ten triremes. Carthage kept most of its territory in Africa, but all its overseas possessions were lost. Even in Africa they were forced to acknowledge Masinissa in a substantially enlarged kingdom. An indemnity of 10,000 silver talents was to be paid in annual instalments over a fifty-year period, a constant reminder of their defeat. Another indication of their new status was the stipulation that they should not make war outside Africa and only there with Rome's permission. Although Carthage continued to be ruled internally by its own laws it was now clearly subordinate to Rome in all external affairs. Finally the Carthaginians were to provide food and supplies for Scipio's army for a three-month period and provide their pay until the treaty had been confirmed. As a reminder of what the Romans considered to be their recent treachery they were also to make reparations for loss of Roman property when the truce was broken and the convoy attacked. Hostages were selected from the noble families of the city to act as surety during the negotiations so that there would be no repeat of this incident.35

The message of the Treaty was clear, and perhaps reinforced if as Appian claims the Carthaginians were now to be styled 'Friends and Allies' of the Roman People, the same formula used for Rome's subordinate allies in Italy. For that was what they now clearly were, subordinate allies of a greater state to which they paid annual tribute and to whose authority they submitted in important matters of foreign policy. The overseas empire and the once proud fleet which had protected it were abolished. It is unsurprising that some of the Punic leaders wanted to refuse such a harsh peace. Hannibal, always a realist, physically dragged one senator down from the speaker's position when he embarked on a speech in this vein. He excused his behaviour by saying that after a thirty-six-year absence from Carthage he had forgotten the etiquette of its politics, but then urged the leaders forcibly not to reject a peace which in their position could have been far worse. In the end the Punic Senate accepted and delegations were sent to Rome to confirm the terms.36

It was early spring 201 before the Senate finally confirmed their earlier decision to accept whatever peace terms Scipio proposed. Immediately on the return of the envoys along with representatives of the Roman priesthood, the fetials, to oversee the important rituals involved, the provisions started to be put into operation. A great number of Punic warships, 500 according to some of Livy's sources, were rowed out of the city's great harbour and then burned. A grim fate awaited the deserters who had fought for the Carthaginians, the Romans being crucified and the Latins beheaded. Scipio returned to Rome to celebrate a spectacular triumph.37

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