An Expensive Gift to Rome

Macrobius, Saturnalia 2.2

“Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, once delivered a most delightful witticism to Antiochus, the king among whom he was living in exile. The joke ran like this. Antiochus was showing him the huge forces which he had marshaled in the field to make war against the Romans, and he was ordering the army, resplendent in gold and silver, to turn around this way and that. He even brought in hooked chariots and elephants with towers and a cavalry with reins and fancy equipage, shining with collars and plates. There, the king, glorying in the contemplation of such a huge and well-equipped army, looked at Hannibal and asked, ‘Do you think that all of this is enough for the Romans?’ Hannibal, jesting about the idleness and weakness of the soldiers so expensively arrayed, responded, ‘I think that this should be enough for the Romans, even if they are the greediest people around.'”

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Engraving of the Battle of Zama by Cornelis Cort, 1567

Hannibal Carthaginiensis apud regem Antiochum profugus facetissime cavillatus est. Ea cavillatio huiuscemodi fuit. Ostendebat Antiochus in campo copias ingentes quas bellum populo Romano facturus conparaverat, convertebatque exercitum insignibus argenteis et aureis florentem: inducebat etiam currus cum falcibus et elephantos cum turribus equitatumque frenis et ephippiis, monilibus ac faleris praefulgentem. Atque ibi rex contemplatione tanti et tam ornati exercitus gloriabundus Hannibalem aspicit et: Putasne, inquit, satis esse Romanis haec omnia? Tunc Poenus eludens ignaviam inbelliamque militum eius pretiose armatorum: Plane, inquit, satis esse credo Romanis haec, etsi avarissimi sunt.

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