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)


Jules Cavelier, Cornélie, mère des Gracques, 1861

Verbis conceptis deierare ausim, praeterquam qui Tiberium Gracchum necarunt, neminem inimicum tantum molestiae tantumque laboris quantum te ob has res mihi tradidisse, quem oportebat omnium eorum, quos antehac habui liberos partis tolerare, atque curare ut quam minimum sollicitudinis in senecta haberem, utique quaecumque ageres, ea velles maxume mihi placere, atque uti nefas haberes rerum maiorum adversum meam sententiam quicquam facere, praesertim mihi quoi parva pars vitae superest. ne id quidem tam breve spatium potest opitulari quin et mihi adversere et rem publicam profliges? denique quae pausa erit? ecquando desinet familia nostra insanire? ecquando modus ei rei haberi poterit? ecquando desinemus et habentes et praebentes molestiis insistere? ecquando perpudescet miscenda atque perturbanda re publica? sed si omnino id fieri non potest, ubi ego mortua ero, petito tribunatum: per me facito quod lubebit, cum ego non sentiam. ubi mortua ero, parentabis mihi et invocabis deum parentem. in eo tempore non pudebit te eorum deum preces expetere, quos vivos atque praesentes relictos atque desertos habueris? ne ille sirit Iuppiter te ea perseverare nec tibi tantam dementiam venire in animum! et si perseveras, vereor ne in omnem vitam tantum laboris culpa tua recipias, uti nullo tempore tute tibi placere possis.
(Cornelius Nepos, De Viris Illustribus fr. 2 Winstedt)

I would take a solemn oath that apart from those who killed Tiberius Gracchus no enemy has given me so much trouble and so much pain as you in this matter, who ought to undertake the part of all the children I have ever had, and to make sure that I should have as little worry as possible in my old age, and that, whatever your schemes might be, you should wish them to be agreeable to me, and that you should count it a sin to take any major step against my wishes, especially considering I have only a little part of life left. Cannot even that brief span of time aid me in preventing you from opposing me and ruining our country? Where will it all end? Will our family ever cease from madness? Will bounds ever be set to it? Shall we ever cease to dwell on affronts, both causing and suffering them? Shall we ever begin to feel true shame for confounding and harassing our country? But if that is quite impossible, when I am dead, then seek the Tribunate. Do what you like as far as I am concerned, when I am not there to know it. When I am dead, you will offer funerary sacrifices in my honour and invoke me as your hallowed parent At that time will you not be ashamed to seek the intercession of those hallowed ones whom, when they were alive and present, you abandoned and deserted? May Jove above not let you persist in this nor let such lunacy enter your mind! But if you do persist, I fear that through your own fault you will encounter so much trouble throughout your whole life that at no time you will be able to rest content. (tr. Edward J. Kenney, adapted by Emily Hemelrijk)