Septuagesimo

Death of Hannibal

Patres conscripti, qui Hannibale vivo numquam se sine insidiis futuros existimarent, legatos in Bithyniam miserunt, in eis Flamininum, qui ab rege peterent, ne inimicissimum suum secum haberet sibique dederet. his Prusia negare ausus non est; illud recusavit, ne id a se fieri postularent, quod adversus ius hospitii esset: ipsi, si possent, comprehenderent: locum, ubi esset, facile inventuros. Hannibal enim uno loco se tenebat, in castello quod ei a rege datum erat muneri, idque sic aedificarat, ut in omnibus partibus aedificii exitus haberet, scilicet verens ne usu veniret, quod accidit. huc cum legati Romanorum venissent ac multitudine domum eius circumdedissent, puer ab ianua prospiciens Hannibali dixit plures praeter consuetudinem armatos apparere. qui imperavit ei, ut omnes fores aedificii circumiret ac propere sibi nuutiaret, num eodem modo undique obsideretur. puer cum celeriter, quid vidisset, renuntiasset omnesque exitus occupatos ostendisset, sensit id non fortuito factum, sed se peti neque sibi diutius vitam esse retinendam. quam ne alieno arbitrio dimitteret, memor pristinarum virtutum venenum, quod semper secum habere consuerat, sumpsit. sic vir fortissimus, multis variisque perfunctus laboribus, anno acquievit septuagesimo.
(Cornelius Nepos, Hannibal 12.2-13.1)

The conscript fathers, who thought that they would never be free from plots as long as Hannibal was alive, sent ambassadors to Bithynia, and among them Flamininus, to request the king not to keep their bitterest enemy with him, but to deliver him up to them. To this embassy Prusias did not dare to give a refusal; he made some opposition, however, to one point, begging them not to require of him what was contrary to the rights of hospitality, saying that they themselves might make Hannibal prisoner, if they could, as they would easily find out the place where he was. Hannibal indeed confined himself to one place, living in a fortress which had been given him by the king; and this he had so constructed that it had outlets on every side of the building, always fearing lest that should happen which eventually came to pass. When the Roman ambassadors had gone thither, and had surrounded his house with a number of men, a slave, looking out at a gate, told Hannibal that several armed men were to be seen, contrary to what was usual. Hannibal desired him to go round to all the gates of the castle, and bring him word immediately whether it was beset in the same way on all sides. The slave having soon reported how it was, and informed him, that all the passages were secured, he felt certain that it was no accidental occurrence, but that his person was menaced, and that his life was no longer to be preserved. That he might not part with it, however, at the pleasure of another, and dwelling on the remembrance of his past honours, he took poison, which he had been accustomed always to carry with him. Thus this bravest of men, after having gone through many and various labours, found repose in the seventieth year of his age. (tr. John Selby Watson)

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