Again the Romans sent to Carthage to complain, but the Senate there had made up their minds that war there must be, and that it was a good time when Rome had a war in Illyria on her hands, and Cisalpine Gaul hardly subdued; and they had such a general as Hannibal, though they did not know what a wonderful scheme he had in his mind, namely, to make his way by land from Spain to Italy, gaining the help of the Gauls, and stirring up all those nations of Italy who had fought so long against Rome. His march, which marks the beginning of the Second Punic War, started from the banks of the Ebro in the beginning of the summer of 219. His army was 20,000 foot and 12,000 horse, partly Carthaginian, partly Gaul and Iberian. The horsemen were Moorish, and he had thirty-seven elephants. He left his brother Hasdrubal with 10,000 men at the foot of the Pyrenees and pushed on, but he could not reach the Alps before the late autumn, and his passage is one of the greatest wonders of history. Roads there were none, and he had to force his way up the passes of the Little St. Bernard through snow and ice, terrible to the men and animals of Africa, and fighting all the way, so that men and horses perished in great numbers, and only seven of the elephants were left when he at length descended into the plains of Northern Italy, where he hoped the Cisalpine Gauls would welcome him.
THE SECOND PUNIC WAR.
When the Romans heard that Hannibal had passed the Pyrenees, they had two armies on foot, one under Publius Cornelius Scipio, which was to go to Spain, and the other under Tiberius Sempronius Longus, to attack Africa. They changed their plan, and kept Sempronius to defend Italy, while Scipio went by sea to Marsala, a Greek colony in Gaul, to try to stop Hannibal at the Rhone; but he was too late, and therefore, sending on most of his army to Spain, he came back himself with his choicest troops. With these he tried to stop the enemy from crossing the river Ticinus, but he was defeated and so badly wounded that his life was only saved by the bravery of his son, who led him out of the battle.
[Illustration: MEETING OF HANNIBAL AND SCIPIO AT ZAMA.]
Before he was able to join the army again, Sempronius had fought another battle with Hannibal on the banks of the Trebia and suffered a terrible defeat. But winter now came on, and the Carthaginians found it very hard to bear in the marshes of the Arno. Hannibal himself was so ill that he only owed his life to the last of his elephants, which carried him safely through when he was almost blind, and in the end he lost an eye. In the spring he went on ravaging the country in hopes to make the two new consuls, Flaminius and Servilius, fight with him, but they were too cautious, until at last Flaminius attacked him in a heavy fog on the shore of Lake Trasimenus.