The siege had lasted eight months. The booty taken was enormous. Every soldier in the army had a rich share of the plunder, and a vast sum was sent to Carthage; besides which the treasure chests of the army were filled up. All the Spanish troops had leave given them to return to their homes for the winter, and they dispersed highly satisfied with the booty with which they were laden. This was a most politic step on the part of the young general, as the tribesmen, seeing the wealth with which their countrymen returned, no longer felt it a hardship to fight in the Carthaginian ranks, and the levies called out in the spring went willingly and even eagerly.
Hannibal returned with his African troops to spend the winter at Carthagena He was there joined by the emissaries he had sent to examine Southern Gaul and the passes of the Alps, to determine the most practicable route for the march of the army, and to form alliances with the tribes of Southern Gaul and Northern Italy. Their reports were favourable, for they had found the greatest discontent existing among the tribes north of the Apennines, who had but recently been conquered by the Romans.
Their chiefs, smarting under the heavy yoke of Rome, listened eagerly to the offers of Hannibal’s agents, who distributed large sums of money among them, and promised them, in return for their assistance, not only their freedom from their conqueror, but a full share in the spoils of Rome. The chiefs replied that they would render any assistance to the Carthaginians as soon as they passed the Alps, and that they would then join them with all their forces. The reports as to the passes of the Alps were less satisfactory. Those who had examined them found that the difficulties they offered to the passage of an army were enormous, and that the tribes who inhabited the lower passes, having suffered in no way yet at the hands of Rome, would probably resist any army endeavouring to cross.
By far the easiest route would be to follow the seashore, but this was barred against the Carthaginians by the fact that the Massilians (the people of Marseilles) were the close allies of Rome. They had admitted Roman colonists among them, and carried on an extensive trade with the capital. Their town was strong, and their ports would be open to the Roman fleets. The tribes in their neighourhood were all closely allied with them.