The Battle of Zama in North Africa, 202 B.C. – The Interview Between Hannibal And Scipio In Africa

by Charles Rollins (1731)
“If may be affirmed, in some measure, that at the beginning of the second Punic war, and in Hannibal’s time, Carthage was in its decline. The flower of its youth, and its sprightly vigor, were already diminished. It had begun to fall from its exalted pitch of power, and was inclining towards its ruin; whereas Rome was then, as it were, in its bloom and strength of life, and rapidly advancing to the conquest of the universe.”

Now, on to the Interview between Hannibal and Scipio~


These two generals, who were not only the most illustrious of their own age, but worthy of being ranked with the most renowned princes and warriors that had ever lived, meeting at the place appointed, maintained for some time a deep silence, as though they were astonished, and struck with mutual admiration at the sight of each other.

Hannibal and Scipio

Busts of Hannibal and Scipio

At last Hannibal spoke; and, after having praised Scipio in the most artful and delicate manner, he gave a very lively description of the ravages of the war, and the calamities in which it had involved both the victors and the
vanquished. He conjured him not to suffer himself to be dazzled by the splendor of his victories. He represented to him, that however successful he might have hitherto been, he ought to tremble at the inconstancy of fortune; that without going far back for examples, he himself, who was then speaking to him, was a glaring proof of this: that Scipio was at that time what himself, Hannibal, had been at Thrasymene and Cannae: that he ought to make a better use of opportunity than himself had done, and consent to peace, now when it was in his power to propose the conditions of it. He concluded with declaring, that the Carthaginians would willingly resign Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, and all the islands between Africa and Italy, to the Romans. That they must be forced, since such was the will of the gods, to confine themselves to Africa; while they should see the Romans extending their conquests in the most remote regions, and obliging all nations to pay obedience to their laws.

Scipio answered in a few words, but not with less dignity. He reproached the Carthaginians for their perfidy, in plundering the Roman galleys before the truce was expired. He imputed to them only, and to their injustice, all the calamities with which the two wars had been attended. After thanking Hannibal for the admonition he gave him, with regard to the uncertainty of human events, he concluded with desiring him to prepare for battle, unless he chose rather to accept of the conditions that had been already proposed; to which he observed, some others would be added, in order to punish the Carthaginians for having violated the truce.

Hannibal could not prevail upon himself to accept these conditions, and the generals separated with the resolution to decide the fate of Carthage by a general battle. Each commander exhorted his troops to fight valiantly. Hannibal enumerated the victories he had gained over the Romans, the generals he had slain, the armies he had cut to pieces. Scipio represented to his soldiers, the conquests of both the Spains, his successes in Africa, and the tacit confession their enemies themselves made of their weakness, by
thus coming to sue for peace. All this he spoke with the tone and air of a conqueror. Never were motives more calculated to excite troops to behave gallantly. This day was to complete the glory of the one or the
other of the generals, and to decide whether Rome or Carthage should prescribe laws to all other nations.