Gateway to the Classics: Spain: A History for Young Readers by Frederick A. Ober
Spain: A History for Young Readers by  Frederick A. Ober

Spain a Roman Province

It is not within the scope of our inquiry to follow the mighty Carthaginian throughout his marvellous campaign against Rome, during which he came so close to final success that he rode up to one of its gates and threw his spear into the city; but we must not fail to note that it was planned in Spain, carried out from that country as a base, and at first was mainly fought by Celtiberian soldiers. Meanwhile, though Hannibal had carried out his scheme of war on a magnificent scale, and in the end all but brought Rome to terms, yet in Spain, the country he had left, affairs had not progressed well with the Carthaginians.

They had been left with Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal in charge, who, after defeating a Roman army under Cneaus' Scipio, in the year 212, four years later marched through Gaul to the assistance of the Africans. He made the perilous passage of the. Alps successfully, but was surprised and defeated by the Roman consul Nero, by whose brutal orders his head was cut off and thrown into Hannibal's camp.

The first actual reverses to the Carthaginians in Spain came through Publius Cornelius Scipio, who, a Roman aedile of noble appearance, eloquent and popular, was sent thither by acclamation to attack them in the rear. He had already felt the might of Hannibal, first at the battle of Ticinus—where he had saved his father's life—at Trebia, and at Canna, where the Romans suffered such terrible defeats. He met and checked Hasdrubal, but could not prevent him from crossing the Pyrenees, and so turned his attention to Cartagena, the wealthy city on the southern coast. So well timed were his movements that his fleet and army arrived there the same day, and leading his soldiers through a shallow lake, where the fortifications were the weakest, after fierce fighting he drove the defenders from the citadel, took the city, and put every warrior to the sword. The plunder of this Carthaginian stronghold was immense, for besides the five war ships and one hundred and thirteen merchant vessels in the harbour, there were brought to him two hundred and seventy-six golden bowls weighing a pound apiece, and eighteen thousand pounds of silver, wrought and coined. Ten thousand prisoners fell into his hands, including many hostages of Spanish tribes left as pledges to Hannibal and Hasdrubal for the fidelity of native soldiers. These, by a conciliatory policy, Scipio soon secured as allies, and with their aid eventually drove the last of the Carthaginians out of the peninsula. The last city to fall was Cadiz, in