Polybius and Livy on Hannibal's Crossing of the Alps


These are from the set-texts on Polybius and Livy. 
Text in black is the Board's set text.  Text in italics is the Board's optional extras.  
Text in light blue I have added.

Mouse-over the emboldened words to read the glosses. 
Where words are blue and underlined, there is also a hyperlink to another site.
 Where content overlaps, the texts are shown side-by-side.  A green dividing line indicates where Livy may have drawn directly from Polybius or a source common to them both.
A red dividing line indicates where Livy seems to have drawn from a source other than Polybius.

Polybius, Book 3, Chapters 49-56

Livy, Book 21, Chapters 30-38

44.10  Hannibal himself now came forward and began by reminding them of their achievements in the past: though, he said, they had undertaken many hazardous enterprises and fought many a battle they had never met with ill success when they followed his plans and counsels.  44.11 Next he bade them be of good heart considering that the hardest part of their task was now accomplished, since they had forced the passage of the river and had the testimony of their own eyes and ears to the friendly sentiments and readiness to help of their allies.  44.12 He begged them therefore to be at their ease about details which were his own business, but to obey orders and behave like brave men and in a manner worthy of their own record in the past. 

30.1. Once he had made the decision to stick to his original plan to march on Italy, Hannibal called his troops together and harangued them with a mixture of withering scorn and general encouragement, declaring that he could not believe that such sudden cowardice should have overwhelmed a body of men, whose brave hearts had never quailed before. 30.2. “For all these many years,” he said, “you have campaigned with me and never lost a battle. We fought across the battlefields of Spain, until every tribe and kingdom between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean belonged to Carthage.  30.3. When Rome demanded that the man who had laid siege to Saguntum should be surrendered and delivered up for punishment like a common criminal, you were outraged. You crossed the Ebro, resolved to wipe out the very name of Rome and bring freedom to the whole wide world.  30.4. In those days none of you thought the journey long, though it stretched from the lands of the sunset to the sunrise.  30.5. Yet now, when you can see that most of the journey is completed, when we have traversed the high passes of the Pyrenees, and conquered the wildest tribes that dwell amongst them; when we have crossed the mighty River Rhone, in the teeth of opposition from a hundred thousand Gauls, and tamed that river’s force to make our crossing; when even now the Alps are right before our eyes and Italy only just beyond; now, on the very doorsteps of our enemies, you want to stop – because you feel a little tired!  30.6. What on earth do you think the Alps are except a collection of high mountains? Perhaps you think they are even higher than the Pyrenees? So what?  30.7. Nothing on earth can ever reach the sky; no mountain is too high for man to conquer. People actually live in the Alps, for goodness’ sake! They till the ground; animals breed and grow fat there. If a small group of natives can cross them, so can an army.  30.8. Look at these delegates from the Boii – they didn’t grow wings and fly here over the top. Even their ancestors were not born here; they came here as immigrant peasants from Italy; they crossed these selfsame Alps in huge migrating hordes, with all their women and children – and lived to tell the tale.  30.9. What is so difficult then for an army, with nothing to carry but its own equipment? It can go anywhere and cross anything. Think of what it cost us to capture Saguntum – eight months of danger, eight months of hard slog. But we stuck it out.  30.10. And now it’s Rome that is our prize, the capital of the world; nothing, however difficult and dangerous it may be, nothing – surely! - can deter us from this glorious enterprise.  30.11. In earlier times the Gauls once captured Rome; can it be that now the Carthaginians do not even dare to approach it? All right then – admit it: the Gauls are your superiors in courage and ambition. Yet in recent days we have defeated them again and again. But if you are better men than they, then dare to look forward to your journey’s end, on the Campus Martius, which lies between the Tiber and the walls of Rome."  

44.13 When the men applauded him, exhibiting great enthusiasm and ardour, he commended them and, after offering a prayer to the gods on behalf of all, dismissed them, bidding them get everything ready expeditiously as they would start on their march next day.

31.1. His rousing speech restored morale, so Hannibal ordered the army to rest and get ready to march.

49.5 Hannibal, marching steadily from the crossing-place for four days, reached a place called the "Island," a populous district producing abundance of corn and deriving its name from its situation; 49.6 for the Rhone and Iskaras running along each side of it meet at its point.  49.7 It is similar in size and shape to the Egyptian Delta; only in that case the sea forms the base line uniting the two branches of the Nile, while here the base line is formed by a range of mountains difficult to climb or penetrate, and, one may say, almost inaccessible.

31.2. They set out next day, heading up the opposite bank of the Rhone towards the hinterland of Gaul, not because it was the direct route to the Alps, but because he thought that the further he got from the sea, the less chance there was of meeting a Roman army. 31.3. He had no desire for a showdown before he reached Italy. 31.4. In four days he reached the Island, so called because the river Sara and the Rhone, which both flow down from different parts of the Alps, meet at this point. Their two channels take in a large area of land before joining together in the centre of the lowland plain. Hence the name ‘Island’.  

49.8 On arriving there he found two brothers disputing the crown and posted over against each other with their armies, 49.9 and on the elder one making overtures to him and begging him to assist in establishing him on the throne, he consented, it being almost a matter of certainty that under present circumstances this would be of great service to him. 49.10 Having united with him therefore to attack and expel the other, he derived great assistance from the victor; 49.11 for not only did he furnish the army with plenty of corn and other provisions but he replaced all their old and worn weapons by new ones, thus freshening up the whole force very opportunely. 49.12 He also supplied most of them with warm clothing and foot-wear, things of the greatest possible service to them in crossing the mountains. 49.13 But the most important of all was, that the Carthaginians being not at all easy on the subject of their passage through the territory of the Allobroges, he protected them in the rear with his own forces and enabled them to reach the foot of the pass in safety. 

31.5. This lies close to the territory of the Allobroges, then as now the most famous and powerful tribe in Gaul. 31.6. At the time they were in a state of civil disturbance, caused by a dispute between two brothers over the right to rule them. Braneus, the elder brother, had previously ruled the tribe, but his younger brother, supported by a clique of younger nobles, was trying to oust him. Legally he had no right; but his faction was the stronger. 31.7. As luck would have it, the settlement of this dispute was referred to Hannibal, acting as arbitrator, and he awarded the kingship to the elder brother, in accordance with the opinion of the council and elders of the tribe. 31.8. In return for this service, the Allobroges provided him with assistance in the form of food and all sorts of equipment, especially clothing, which was essential protection against the notoriously icy conditions in the Alpine passes. 

31.9. Having settled these disputes among the Allobroges, Hannibal’s next objective was the Alps themselves. But he avoided the direct route and instead veered northward through the territory of the Tricastini; he then headed for the Trigorii, skirting along the very edges of the lands of the Vocontii. He encountered no opposition until he reached the River Druentia. 31.12. As it happened, at this time the river was swollen by rains, and this made the crossing utterly chaotic. As well as the natural dangers already mentioned, the general panic and confused shouts of the soldiers added to the overall disorder...

50.1. Having marched upstream for about 800 stades in ten days along the banks of the river, Hannibal now started his ascent of the Alps and found that he had fallen into a very dangerous situation. 50.2. For as long as he had been crossing flat country, all the various tribal chieftains of the Allobroges had kept well clear of him, since they were terrified of his cavalry and their barbarian escort.

32.6. From the Druentia, Hannibal approached the Alps through rolling countryside, unmolested by the local Gallic inhabitants.

32.7. Rumour tends to exaggerate reality and the soldiers had already heard plenty of rumours. But once they approached the mountains, the sheer height, the cloud-capped, snow-covered peaks, the crude dwellings perched above the precipices, the goats and cattle bristling with cold, the shaggy, primitive tribesmen, and the whole panorama of animate and inanimate nature congealed with ice: all these and other unimaginable and unspeakable horrors simply brought back all their previous fears.

50.3. But once these barbarians had departed for their homelands and Hannibal’s army had begun to move into much more difficult terrain, the leaders of the Allobroges gathered a considerable force, and seized commanding positions ahead of the route by which Hannibal was bound to climb the passes.  50.4. If they had only kept their intentions secret, they would have totally destroyed the Carthaginian army, but the news leaked out and though they did considerable damage to the army, they suffered no less themselves.

50.5. Once the Carthaginian general learned that the tribesmen had already occupied key strong points ahead, he simply pitched camp at the entrance to the mountain passes and advanced no further. 50.6. Instead he sent some of his Gallic native guides forward to assess the enemy’s intentions and the general situation. 50.7. Once they reported back, as instructed, the general realised that the enemy were guarding their positions in a thoroughly disciplined fashion by day, but at night they would withdraw to a nearby town. He reacted accordingly and devised the following plan. 50.8. He struck camp and with the whole of his army advanced openly until he was close to the key positions, which threatened his advance. There he set up a new encampment within easy reach of the enemy. 50.9. When night fell, he ordered the usual camp fires to be lit and left the majority of his troops in position. But he ordered his most highly trained troops to take off most of their heavy equipment and then slipped through the narrowest section of the pass by night. They then seized the positions previously held by the enemy tribesmen, who had as usual retired to the nearby town.  

32.8. As the column started up the first slopes, the mountain tribesmen appeared threateningly above them, standing on their high crags.  Had they laid ambushes and attacked suddenly from the better cover of the valleys, they would have inflicted dire slaughter and panic on the army.

32.9. Hannibal ordered his column to halt and sent his Gallic guides forward to reconnoitre. Once he discovered that there was no way through, he set up camp in the widest valley he could find amid all the boulder-strewn terrain and precipitous mountain slopes. 32.10. His guides, whose language and way of life differed little from that of the mountain tribesmen, had also been present at their discussions. From them he learned that though the narrow passes were defended by day, at night the tribesmen all slipped away to their homes. At dawn the next day, therefore, he advanced towards the high ground as if determined to force a passage openly through the pass in daylight. 32.11. His soldiers spent the rest of the day on activities designed to conceal his real intentions, building fortifications round the camp in the same position where they had originally halted. Once he knew that the tribesmen had left their commanding positions on the heights and closed down their guard posts, he ordered fires to be lit to give the impression that far more troops were remaining in position than was actually the case. He then left all the baggage in the camp, along with the cavalry and most of the infantry, while he himself with a body of lightly armed men, elite soldiers every one, slipped rapidly through the narrow gorge and took up positions on the same heights that the enemy had occupied by day. 

51.1. When day dawned, the barbarians saw what had happened and were at first inclined to abandon their planned attack. 51.2. But when they saw the huge number of animals in the baggage train and the horsemen slowly struggling up the defile with great difficulty because of the rough terrain, they reverted to their original plan to block their passage. 51.3. This they did, and launched their attacks from several different directions 

33.1. At dawn the next day the army broke camp and the whole column began to advance. 33.2. When the alarm was raised, the tribesmen were already beginning to leave their fortified villages and to re-occupy their usual guard posts. Suddenly they realised that these strong points were already occupied and that they were threatened from above by one hostile force while another was advancing up the gorge. 33.3. These two factors, occurring simultaneously, for a time left them unable to believe their own eyes or to think clearly about what to do. Then they began to realise that the Carthaginian column was itself beginning to lose its nerve and was in considerable disorder, because in the narrow pass their own shouts were adding to the confusion, while the horses were panicking. 33.4. Convinced that whatever they could do to add to the general terror could only lead to the total destruction of the Carthaginian army, they charged down from the crags and rocky slopes, whose wild and trackless wastes were to them familiar terrain. 33.5. It was a bad moment. The Carthaginians had two simultaneous problems to deal with: first, the attacks of the enemy tribesmen, and second the extreme difficulty of the terrain; a complicating factor was their struggle with fellow-soldiers, as each man battled to ensure his own survival instead of warding off the enemy assaults.
33.6. On top of that, the horses caused particular mayhem in the Carthaginian column. They went mad with terror at the wild shouts, which echoed and re-echoed ever more loudly from the forests and mountain sides, while chance blows and wounds so panicked them that they wrought havoc among the men and their equipment alike. 33.7. The cramped conditions combined with the fact that there were sheer cliffs and precipices on either side meant that many (including soldiers in full armour) were hurled to their death. Worst of all, even baggage animals with full loads on their backs were sent tumbling to destruction.  

51.6. Hannibal took in the situation and decided that there would be no hope of safety, even for those who survived the immediate danger, if the baggage train was destroyed. So he collected the special forces with which he had seized the high points during the previous night and rushed to the support of those at the front of the column. 51.7. As a result the enemy suffered severe losses, because Hannibal had the advantage of charging down on them from higher ground. But their losses were matched by those of his own troops, 51.8. because the general chaos was increased at both ends of the column thanks to the shouting and confusion already described. 51.9. In the end he slaughtered most of the Allobroges and put the rest to flight, forcing them to retreat to their own territory. Only then were the surviving body of pack animals and horses able to struggle painfully and with great difficulty up the rocky track. 51.10. Meanwhile Hannibal himself reorganised as much of his column as he could after their ordeal and launched an attack on the city, which had acted as the base for the enemy’s attack. 51.11. He found it almost deserted because all its inhabitants had come out in support of their own troops. He occupied the place and derived considerable advantages from it, both immediately and in the longer term. Immediately, he recovered a number of horses and pack-animals, together with the handlers who had been captured with them. But for the longer term, he acquired a more than adequate supply of corn and livestock for the next two or three days, and in addition so terrified the adjacent tribes that none of the inhabitants of the high mountains dared to attack him.  

33.8. It was a terrible sight, but Hannibal stayed where he was and kept his troops back for the time being, fearing that they would only add to the tumult and confusion. 33.9. But then he saw that the whole column was beginning to fall apart, and that there was a serious risk that even if he brought the soldiers safely through it would be totally pointless if they had lost their equipment. He charged down from above and routed the enemy by the sheer force of his attack, though initially it also added to the shambles among his own men. 33.10. But the general disorder rapidly ceased once the flight of the tribesmen cleared the way ahead, giving them all a peaceful march through the gorge, which was completed almost in silence. 33.11. He captured the chief fortified village of the area, along with its surrounding hamlets, and seized sufficient crops and animals to feed his army for three days.  

52.1. After this, he set up a fortified encampment and stayed in position for twenty four hours, before setting out again. 52.2. For the next three days he led his army safely through the pass until they reached a position where, on the fourth day, he again found himself in a very dangerous situation. 52.3. The tribesmen who lived in the area of the pass hatched a plot together, and then came out to meet him, with wreaths on their heads and olive branches in their hands. Virtually all barbarians regard this as a symbol of friendly intentions, like the herald’s staff among Greeks. 52.4. Hannibal had his reservations about their good faith, and was extremely careful to find out whether their goodwill was genuine and to investigate their overall intentions. 52.5. They admitted that they were well aware of the capture of the city and the destruction of those who had attacked him, and explained that this was exactly why they had come, since they did not want to inflict or suffer injury. They also promised him hostages from among their number.  

Now that the mountain tribesmen had been defeated and on the whole the going was reasonably easy, in the next three days he covered a considerable distance. 34.1. He then reached another tribe, one that had considerable numbers for a mountainous area. Here he faced no open confrontation but was nearly outwitted by the treachery and deceit which were his own particular specialities. 34.2. The elders of these fortified hill villages came in an embassy to him, claiming that the misfortunes of others had taught them a useful lesson and that they would prefer to gain the friendship of the Carthaginians, rather than test their strength. 34.3. They were happy, therefore, to follow orders and hoped he would accept supplies, guides for the next stage of his journey, and hostages as proof of their goodwill.  

52.6. For a long time Hannibal remained as cautious as ever and refused to believe their assurances. But in the end he calculated that, if he accepted their offered friendship, it was just possible that he might perhaps make their representatives more hesitant to attack him and more generally well-disposed. If he rejected their overtures, he would make them openly hostile. So he agreed to their proposals and pretended to accept their offers of friendship. 52.7. The tribesmen handed over their hostages together with a generous supply of livestock, and surrendered themselves totally and unconditionally into his hands. As a result Hannibal and his staff trusted them sufficiently to employ them as guides for the next difficult stage of their journey. 52.8. And so they advanced for the next two days. But then these same tribesmen, whom I have already described, gathered their forces and having dogged the army’s footsteps finally attacked them while they were traversing a difficult and precipitous ravine

34.4. Hannibal was reluctant to trust them, but felt that it would be unwise to reject their overtures in case it would make them openly hostile. So he made a friendly response, accepted the offered hostages, and made excellent use of the food supplies which they had brought with them. He followed their guides, but took good care to keep the column tightly closed up, rather than in open order appropriate to travel through peaceful territory.  

53.1. This time it was all too probable that Hannibal’s whole army would have perished if he had not, even now, suspected some such outcome. In anticipation of it and as a precaution, he had placed the baggage train and the cavalry at the front of the column and kept his hoplites as a rearguard. 53.2. Since they were fully alert for an attack, casualties were less serious and they were able to beat back the tribesmen’s attack. 53.3. Nevertheless the final outcome of these events was the loss of a significant number of men, pack-animals, and horses. 53.4. The enemy were in control of the higher ground and advanced along the hillsides in parallel with the army and from there either rolled rocks at them down the slopes or pelted them with rocks thrown by hand. 53.5. All this caused such wholesale and potentially disastrous confusion that Hannibal was forced to spend the night in a strong position protected by bare rocks, in order to give cover to his cavalry and baggage-train, from which he had been separated. In the end it took them all that night to extract themselves with great difficulty from the gorge.  

34.5. He put the elephants and cavalry in the lead and himself followed immediately behind them with the cream of the infantry, very much on the alert, and suspicious of everything. 34.6. In due course they found themselves on a narrower section of the route, with an overhanging cliff on one side. Suddenly the barbarians came at them from ambushes on every side, attacking both the front and the rear of the column both in close combat and with long distance missiles, as well as rolling rocks down onto them from the cliffs above. 34.7. The main assault came from the rear. The infantry turned to face them, and the army would most certainly have suffered a catastrophic disaster there in the pass, if the rear of the column had not been so robustly defended. 34.8. Even so, it was a moment of crisis for their fortunes, and they avoided disaster by the narrowest of margins. Hannibal had been reluctant to send his own regiment into the pass, because he had failed to leave any reserves in support of his infantry in the rear, such as he himself was providing for the cavalry. 34.9. As a result the tribesmen had launched a flank attack, cut the column in two, and then established a position on the track itself. For one night Hannibal had found himself separated from his cavalry to the front and from his baggage train at the rear.  

53.6. The next day the enemy slipped away and Hannibal was able to rejoin the cavalry and the baggage train and lead them to the highest points of the Alpine passes  

35.1. However, on the next day, the barbarian attacks grew less intense and the two parts of his army were reunited. They cleared the pass successfully, but with some losses, mainly of baggage animals rather than soldiers.
35.2. The numbers of tribesmen was now considerably reduced, though their attacks continued, sometimes on the vanguard, sometimes on the rear. The point of attack varied according to the local situation and the opportunities offered by the tendency of those at the front to get too far ahead, or those at the back to fall behind. But the assaults resembled the raids of mountain bandits rather than genuine warfare. 35.3. In all this, the elephants proved something of a mixed blessing. Where the track was narrow and precipitous, they slowed things up considerably; but wherever they were placed in the column, they offered useful protection to the troops, because the natives had never come across them before and were frightened to go near them.


53.9. After nine days he reached the summit and there pitched camp. He waited a couple of days to allow his surviving troops to recover and to gather up those who had fallen behind. 53.10. During this time many of the horses that had panicked and broken loose caught up with them, somewhat unexpectedly, together with a large number of baggage animals, which had thrown off their packs, but had followed the army’s tracks and reached the camp. 

35.4. On the ninth day they reached the watershed of the Alpine ranges. Much of the climb had been along trackless wastes; they had often lost their way thanks to the treachery of their guides or, when they lost faith in them, because they had taken risks and entered valleys relying only on guesswork. 35.5. They established a resting-camp for two days at the summit of the pass, and gave the soldiers a breathing space in which to recover from their tough climb and the hard fighting they had been through. A fair number of the baggage animals, which had lost their footing among the rocks, also managed to reach the camp by following the tracks of the column. 

54.1. Winter was now approaching and the early snows were now settling on the mountaintops. Hannibal realised that his men were demoralised as a result of both the hardships they had already endured and the prospect of yet more to come.

54.2. So he called them all together and tried to boost their morale. He had only one source of encouragement, and that was the sight of Italy, clearly spread out below. It lies so close up under these mountains that anyone gazing on both together would imagine that the Alps towered above Italy like an acropolis above its city. 54.3. He pointed out to them the plains along the river Po, and reminded them of the general goodwill felt towards them by the Gauls who lived there, and at the same time he pointed out the direction where Rome lay in relation to their present position. In this way he did manage to some extent to cheer them up.  

35.6. The soldiers were worn out by the effort of responding to so many misfortunes; but when, naturally enough with the approach of winter, it began to snow, it was the last straw and total demoralisation set in. 35.7. At dawn the order to march was given and the column shuffled off through a landscape totally obliterated by snow, with despair and utter exhaustion visible on every face.

35.8. Fully aware of this, Hannibal rode out ahead and found a vantage point with a panoramic view across the whole landscape below. Here he ordered the army to halt and pointed out to them the view of Italy and the plains of the Po valley spread out at the foot of the Alps, 35.9. declaring that they were even now not merely crossing the ramparts of Italy but scaling the very walls of Rome itself. The rest of their journey would be a gentle stroll – downhill all the way. After one, or at worst a couple of battles, they would hold Rome’s citadel and the capital of Italy in their power and at their mercy.  

54.4. Next day he harnessed his wagon train, broke camp, and started his descent. 54.5. The track was narrow and the descent precipitous; the snow made it impossible for anyone to see where he was treading; if anyone strayed from the path or lost his footing, he fell from the heights to certain death. 54.6. Nevertheless, the men endured these trials stoically, since by now they were well used to such ordeals.  

35.10. The army marched off again, and the enemy gave them little or no trouble, apart from a few trivial opportunistic raids. But the journey down proved much more difficult than the ascent, for the simple reason that on the Italian side of the Alps the slopes are much steeper and the tracks much shorter. 35.11. Everywhere the going was steep, the track narrow, the surface icy. 35.12. As a result, they kept slipping and falling, many of them staggering around like drunken men, unable to stay upright, with men and animals all falling down on top of each other.  

54.7. But then they reached a place which was so narrow that it was impossible for the elephants or the baggage animals to move forward at all. There had been a landslide some time previously across nearly one and half stades of the mountainside, and this had been made worse by a second and more recent landslip. Confronted with this, the army now became thoroughly disheartened and demoralised once more. 54.8. At first Hannibal was minded to work his way round the obstacle by a detour, but then a fresh fall of snow made movement impossible and he abandoned the idea.  

36.1. But then they came to a much narrower track along the cliff-face, where the rocky slope was so steep that a soldier could scarcely cross it, even if he dumped his equipment and clung to the roots and bushes above his head as he struggled to let himself down. 36.2. The place must have always been naturally precipitous, but a recent landslide had torn away the slope into a nearly thousand foot drop.  

55.1. The situation was now highly unusual, if not almost unique. The fresh fall of this year’s snow had settled on top of that from the previous year, which had remained frozen since last winter. As luck would have it, the surface crust was readily broken, because it was freshly fallen and very soft, though as yet it lacked any depth. 55.2. So when the soldiers set foot on it, they quickly broke through the surface to the long-standing frozen snow beneath. This was now solid ice, and so they no longer broke through, but instead slid further and further down, one foot after another, just as happens to someone on land who tries to walk across a muddy surface.  

36.5 The recent snowfall, though of limited depth, had settled onto the surface of the unbroken snow from the previous winter, and the soldiers’ feet found an easy grip in its soft and reasonably shallow surface. 36.6. But it was soon broken up by the passage of such a vast number of men and animals, and then they found themselves walking over the solid ice beneath and struggling through the unstable slush of now melting snow. 36.7. For the soldiers it had turned into a nightmare struggle: the slippery ice meant they could not keep their feet; they rapidly lost their balance and fell; if they struggled onto their hands and knees in an effort to get up again, they lost control of both and simply fell over once more; there were no roots or bushes in the area which they could grab hold of or use as footholds in their struggles; the only thing they could do was to flounder along over the icy surface and half-melted snow.  

55.6. As a result, Hannibal gave up all hope of making progress and set up camp along the ridge, scraping away all the snow from the site. After that he ordered the soldiers to rebuild the foundations of the track along the slope, which they did with a great deal of painful effort. 55.7. Nevertheless in one day they had created an adequate pathway for the horses and pack-animals, so he immediately led them across and set up another camp in an area free of snow and put them out to grass. He then ordered the Numidians to work in relays to build up the path, so that after three days of agonising labour he got the elephants across as well, though starvation had reduced them to a sorry state.  

37.1. In the end it was obvious that men and animals alike were exhausted and getting nowhere. They set up a camp high on the mountainside, having cleared an area of snow with the greatest difficulty, since an enormous amount of it had to be dug out and carried away. 37.2. The only way down was across the rock face, so the soldiers were brought in to build foundations for a track. This involved cutting away the rock, so they felled the large trees in the surrounding area, lopped off their branches, and built a huge pile of timber. They then set fire to it, getting considerable help from the strong wind, which fanned the flames. They then softened up the red-hot rocks by pouring vinegar (sour wine), into the cracks. 37.3. They then broke up the heated rocks with crow bars and made the whole slope more manageable by creating a series of gentle S-bends down the hillside. As a result both the baggage animals and the elephants were able to be led down the mountain. 37.4. They spent four days working their way down the cliff face, and by then the animals were nearly dead from starvation, since the high passes were almost totally devoid of vegetation and whatever fodder there might have been was buried under snow.  

56.1. Hannibal now gathered his whole army together and continued his descent. Three days after leaving the precipitous area just described he reached the plains. 

37.5. The lower slopes however have valleys and sunlit hills, and rivers running through woodland, and a countryside rather more fit for human habitation. 37.6. There the animals were put out to grass, and the exhausted soldiers given time to rest and recuperate. After that the descent to the plains took another three days, and the climate now became rather more agreeable and the natives much more friendly.  

56.2. His loss of soldiers as a result of enemy action, river-crossings, and the whole expedition generally, had been very serious; the loss in men from the savage terrain involved in crossing the high passes had been no less costly, while that of his horses and pack-animals had been even more severe. 56.3. In the end the whole journey from New Carthage (in Spain) had taken five months, the crossing of the Alps fifteen days. And now he had come boldly down into the plains of the Po valley and the tribal lands of the Insubres.

56.4. His surviving forces numbered 12,000 African and 8,000 Spanish foot soldiers, together with a maximum of about 6,000 cavalry. He himself has confirmed this on the column at Lacinium, which is inscribed with the statistics of his armed forces.  

38.1  Such, in the main, was the way in which they reached Italy, five months, according to some authorities, after leaving New Carthage, fifteen days of which were spent in overcoming the difficulties of the Alps. 

38.2 The authorities are hopelessly at variance as to the number of the troops with which Hannibal entered Italy. The highest estimate assigns him 100,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry; the lowest puts his strength at 20,000 infantry and 6000 cavalry.  38.3 L. Cincius Alimentus tells us that he was taken prisoner by Hannibal, and I should be most inclined to accept his authority if he had not confused the numbers by adding in the Gauls and Ligurians; if these are included there were 80,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry.  38.4 It is, however, more probable that these joined Hannibal in Italy, and some authorities actually assert this.  38.5 Cincius also states that he had heard Hannibal say that subsequently to his passage of the Rhone he lost 36,000 men and a vast number of horse and other animals.

38.5 The Taurine Gauls were the first people he encountered on descending into Italy. 38.6 Since all are agreed on this point, I am the more astonished at the difference of opinion in regard to his route over the Alps, and that it should be commonly held that he crossed by the Punic Pass and that from this circumstance that ridge of the Alps derived its name — 38.7 and that Coelius should state that he crossed by the ridge of Cremo for both these passes would have brought him down, not amongst the Taurini but through the Salassi Montani to the Libuan Gauls. 38.8 Neither is it probable that these routes to Northern Italy were open at that time.

56.5. All this coincided, as I have stated above, with the moment when Publius Scipio sailed into Pisa with a small body of troops. He had left his army under the command of his brother Gnaeus in Spain, with orders take overall charge of operations and to wage a vigorous campaign against Hasdrubal.  56.6. Publius himself marched north through Tuscany (Etruria). He requisitioned from the Praetors the frontier garrisons currently engaged in fighting the Boii, and having reached the plains of the Po valley, he set up camp and waited for the enemy, only too eager to challenge him to battle.