|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXI Chapter 18: An embassy goes to Carthage. War declared.[218 BC]
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|These preparations having been thus made, in order that every thing that was proper might be done before they commenced war, they send Quintus Fabius, Marcus Livius, Lucius Aemilius, Gaius Licinius, and Quintus Baebius, men of advanced years, as ambassadors into Africa, to inquire of the Carthaginians if Hannibal had laid siege to Saguntum by public authority; and if they should confess it, as it seemed probable they would, and defend it as done by public authority, to declare war against the people of Carthage. After the Romans arrived at Carthage, when an audience of the senate was given them, and Quintus Fabius had addressed no further inquiry than the one with which they had been charged, then one of the Carthaginians replied: "Even your former embassy, O Romans, was precipitate, when you demanded Hannibal to be given up, as attacking Saguntum on his own authority: but your present embassy, though so far milder in words, is in fact more severe. For then Hannibal was both accused, and required to be delivered up: now both a confession of wrong is exacted from us, and, as though we had confessed, restitution is immediately demanded. But I think that the question is not, whether Saguntum was attacked by private or public authority, but whether it was with right or wrong. For in the case of our citizen, the right of inquiry, whether he has acted by his own pleasure or ours, and the punishment also, belongs to us. The only dispute with you is, whether it was allowed to be done by the treaty. Since, therefore, it pleases you that a distinction should be made between what commanders do by public authority, and what on their own suggestion, there was a treaty between us made by the consul Lutatius; in which, though provision was made for the allies of both, there is no provision made for the Saguntines, for they were not as yet your allies. But in that treaty which was made with Hasdrubal, the Saguntines are excepted; against which I am going to say nothing but what I have learned from you. For you denied that you were bound by the treaty which Gaius Lutatius the consul first made with us, because that it had neither been made by the authority of the senate nor the command of the people; and another treaty was therefore concluded anew by public authority. If your treaties do not bind you unless they are made by your authority and your commands, neither can the treaty of Hasdrubal, which he made without our knowledge, be binding on us. Cease, therefore, to make mention of Saguntum and the Iberus, and let your mind at length bring forth that with which it has long been in labour." Then the Roman, having formed a fold in his robe, said, "Here we bring to you peace and war; take which you please." On this speech they exclaimed no less fiercely in reply: "he might give which he chose;" and when he again, unfolding his robe, said "he gave war," they all answered that "they accepted it, and would maintain it with the same spirit with which they accepted it."