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Links to translation of Silius Italicus


Silius Italicus wrote a long epic poem, 'Punica', telling the story of the war of Hannibal against the Romans. The poem has been translated by J.D.Duff in his Loeb edition, with the Latin text on facing pages. This edition can be found on the 'internet archive', and the following table contains links to the individual books in the translation, together with the translator's introduction. The summaries of the contents are taken from the heading of each book in the translation.


Introduction (I) Life of Silius Italicus. (II) The Poem of Silius Italicus. (III) Manuscripts, Editions, Translations.
Book 1 The subject of the poem is the Second Punic War (1-20). The cause of the war was Juno's hatred of Rome. She chooses Hannibal as her instrument (21-55). Hannibal's character, and the oath he swore in boyhood (56-139). Hasdrubal succeeds Hamilcar as commander in Spain : his character, conquests, and death (140-181). Hannibal is chosen to succeed Hasdrubal by all the army in Spain, both Carthaginians and Spaniards (182-238). Character of Hannibal (239-267). He resolves to attack Saguntum : position and history of the city (268-295). The siege of Saguntum (296-ii. 695). The Saguntines send an embassy to Rome : the speech of Sicoris (564-671). In the Senate Cn. Cornelius Lentulus and Q. Fabius Maximus express different views : envoys are sent to Hannibal (672-694).
Book 2 The Roman envoys, dismissed by Hannibal, proceed to Carthage (1-24). Hannibal addresses his men and goes on with the siege (25-269). The Roman envoys are received in the Carthaginian senate : speeches of Hanno and Gestar : Fabius declares war (270-390). Hannibal deals with some rebellious tribes and returns to the siege : he receives a gift of armour from the Spanish peoples (391-456). The sufferings of Saguntum (457-474). The goddess Loyalty is sent to the city by Hercules, its founder, and encourages them to resist (475-525). But Juno sends a Fury from Hell who drives the people mad (526-649). They build a great pyre and light it. Hannibal takes the city (650-695). Epilogue by the poet (696-707).
Book 3 After the taking of Saguntum, Bostar is sent to Africa to consult Jupiter Ammon (1-13). Hannibal goes to Gades, where he is shown the famous temple of Hercules and marvels at the tides of the Atlantic (14-60). He sends his wife, Himilce, and his infant son to Carthage (61-157). He dreams of the coming campaign (158-213). He sets off : a catalogue of his forces (214-405). He crosses the Pyrenees (406-441). He crosses the Rhone and the Durance (442-476). The Alps are described (477-499). After frightful hardships he pitches a camp on the summit of the mountains (500-556). Venus and Jupiter converse concerning the destiny of Rome (557-629). Hannibal encamps in the country of the Taurini (630-646). Bostar brings back from Africa the response of Jupiter Ammon (647-714).
Book 4 Rome is greatly alarmed by the news that Hannibal has reached Italy : but the Senate does not lose heart (1-88). Hannibal courts the Gauls of N. Italy. Scipio hurries back from Marseilles (39-55). Both generals address their soldiers and prepare for battle (56-100). An omen precedes the battle (101-134). The battle of the Ticinus (135-479). Scipio withdraws to the Trebia, and is joined by an army under Ti. Sempronius Longus (480-497). Hannibal forces the Romans to fight (498-524). The battle of the Trebia (525-704). The consul C. Flaminius leads a fresh army into Etruria (705-721). Instigated by Juno, Hannibal crosses the Apennines and encamps by Lake Trasimene (722-762). Envoys from Carthage inquire whether he consents to the immolation of his infant son : he refuses (763-829).
Book 5 Hannibal lays a trap for the enemy. The name of Lake Trasimene (1-23). Flaminius makes light of evil omens and the warning of Corvinus, the soothsayer, and encourages his men to fight (24-185). The battle of Lake Trasimene (186-687).
Book 6 Scenes on the field of the lost battle. Flight of the Romans (1-61). Serranus, a son of the famous Regulus, is one of the fugitives : he reaches the dwelling of Marus, who had been his father's squire in Africa : Marus dresses his wounds (62-100), and tells the story of Regulus as conqueror and as captive (101-551). Mourning and consternation at Rome after the defeat. Serranus returns to his mother, Marcia (552-589). The Senate discuss plans of campaign. Jupiter prevents Hannibal from marching on Rome. Q. Fabius is chosen Dictator (590-618). His wisdom (619-640). Hannibal marches through Umbria and Picenum to Campania : at Liternum he sees on the temple-walls pictures of scenes in the First Punic War, and orders them all to he burnt (641-716).
Book 7 Fabius determines to take no risks in the field (1-19). Cilnius, one of his prisoners, informs Hannibal concerning the family history and character of Fabius (20-78). Religious observances at Rome (74-89). Fabius restores discipline in the army. Hannibal cannot tempt him to fight (90-122). Hannibal moves to Apulia and tries to provoke Fabius by various devices. He returns to Campania and ravages the Falernian country (123-161). The visit of Bacchus to the aged peasant, Falernus (162-211). Fabius explains his policy of inaction to his discontented soldiers (212-259). A trick of Hannibal's, to make the Dictator more unpopular (260-267). Hannibal, having got into a dangerous situation, breaks out by means of a stratagem and encamps on open ground (268-376). The Dictator, obliged to visit Rome, warns Minucius against fighting (377-408). A Carthaginian fleet lands at Caieta : the Nymphs are terrified ; but the prophecy of Proteus comforts them (409-493). Minucius is given equal powers with the Dictator (494-522). The Dictator returns and gives up half the army to Minucius : Minucius rashly engages the enemy but is rescued by the Dictator (523-579). Fabius is hailed as "Father" by Minucius and the soldiers (730-750).
Book 8 Hannibal's anxiety (1-24). Juno sends Anna to comfort him : Anna, the sister of Dido, is now a nymph of the river Numicius : she tells her own history, and encourages Hannibal by foretelling the battle of Cannae (25-241). C. Terentius Varro is elected consul at Rome : his boastful speeches (242-277). His colleague, L. Aemilius Paulus, is afraid to thwart him (278-297). He is advised by Fabius to oppose Varro (298-348). The consuls start for Apulia : a catalogue of their troops (349-621). Evil omens before the battle alarm the soldiers (622-676).
Book 9 Varro is eager to fight, and his boldness is increased by a successful skirmish. Paulus tries in vain to restrain his colleague (1-65). A horrible crime committed in ignorance during the night portends disaster to the Romans (6G-177). Hannibal encourages his men and then draws them up in line of battle (178-243). Varro does the same (244-277). The battle of Cannae (278-x. 325).
Book 10 Description of the battle continued : valour and death of Paulus (1-325). Flushed with victory, Hannibal intends to march on Rome next day ; but Juno sends the god of Sleep to stop him (326-370). He yields, in spite of the strong protests of Mago (371-386). The remnant of the Roman army rally at Canusium : their miserable plight (387-414). Metellus proposes that the Romans should leave Italy ; but Scipio threatens death to him and his sympathizers (415-18). Hannibal surveys the battle-field : the faithful horse of Cloelius : the story of his ancestress, Cloelia : the body of Paulus is found and buried (449-577). Distress at Rome (578-591). Fabius encourages his countrymen (592-604). He also calms the fury of the populace against Varro (605-622). Varro returns to Rome (623-639). The Senate adopts measures to enlist soldiers and continue the war (640-658).
Book 11 Many peoples of Italy revolt from Rome and join Hannibal (1-27). Capua too is inclined to go over to the Carthaginians : the wealth and luxurious habits of the citizens (28-54). On the motion of Pacuvius, they send Virrius and other envoys to Rome, asking that one of the two consuls should be a Campanian : this demand is indignantly refused by Torquatus, Fabius, and Marcellus (55-129). Capua goes over to Hannibal : Decius alone protests but in vain (180-189). Hannibal starts for Capua : he orders Decius to be arrested : Decius defies his threats (190-258). Hannibal visits the city and is entertained at a great banquet (259-368) : Teuthras of Cumae, a musician, plays and sings (288-302). The son of Pacuvius intends to stab Hannibal while feasting, but is induced by his father to give up his plan (303-368). Mago is sent to Carthage to announce the victory (369-376). Hannibal winters at Capua : Venus enfeebles the spirit of his army : he himself takes pleasure in the music of Teuthras (377-482). Meanwhile Mago reports at Carthage the successes of Hannibal and makes a fierce attack upon Hanno (483-553). Hanno replies, urging that peace should be made (554-600). But reinforcements are sent both to Spain and Italy (600-611).
Book 12 Hannibal leaves Capua : his troops have lost their vigour and fail in attacks upon Neapolis, Cumae, and Puteoli (1-103). He visits Baiae and other famous places (103-157). He marches against Nola hut is beaten off by Marcellus (158-294). The Romans become more hopeful and are further encouraged by an oracle from Delphi (295-341). The war in Sardinia : Torquatus defeats Hampsagoras : a tribute to the poet Ennius (342-419). Hannibal burns several cities and takes the city of Tarentum but not the citadel (420-448). He returns to defend Capua against a Roman blockade, beating two Roman armies on the way : he buries the body of Ti. Sempronius Gracchus (449-478). Unable to force his way into Capua, he marches against Rome (479-540). Consternation at Rome (541-557). He examines the walls and surroundings of the city, but is driven back to his camp by Fulvius Flaccus who had hastened back from Campania (558-573). Two attempts to fight a battle are frustrated by a terrible storm sent by Jupiter (574-667). Making a third attempt, he is stopped by Juno, acting by Jupiter's command (668-730). Rejoicing of the Romans (731-752).
Book 13 Hannibal withdraws to the river Tutia, and is prevented from attacking Rome again by Dasius, a deserter, who explains that the city is impregnable so long as it contains the Palladium. He returns to the land of the Bruttii (1-93). The Romans take Capua (94-380). Scipio's father and uncle are defeated and killed in Spain (381-384). This news induces Scipio to descend to Hades, to see the spirits of his kinsmen (385-396). He sees many ghosts of famous men and women in Hades. Finally, the Sibyl predicts the death of Hannibal (897-893). He then returns to the upper world (894, 895).
Book 14 The campaign of Marcellus in Sicily : a description of the island (1-78). Causes of the war. Death of Hiero, king of Syracuse : succession of Hieronymus {79-95). Hieronymus is murdered, and general confusion follows (96-109). Marcellus prepares for action (110-124). He takes Leontini by storm (125-177). He blockades Syracuse by land and sea (178-191). Allies of Syracuse (192-247). Allies of Rome (248-257). Sicilian allies of Carthage (258-276). Confidence of the Syracusans (277-291). The genius of Archimedes foils all the attempts of the Romans (292-352). A sea-fight (353-579). An outbreak of plague delays operations (580-617). At last the city is taken (618-684).
Book 15 The Senate cannot decide what general to send to Spain. P. Cornelius Scipio is eager to go, but his kinsmen dissuade him (1-17). He is visited by Virtue and Pleasure who contend for his allegiance (18-128). Encouraged by Virtue's arguments, he asks for the command and receives it : an omen of success (129-151). His fleet lands at Tarraco (152-179). His father's ghost exhorts him in a dream to take New Carthage : he does so (180-250). He sacrifices to the gods, rewards his soldiers, and distributes the spoil : he restores a Spanish maiden to her lover and is praised by Laelius for this action (251-285). War against Philip, king of Macedon (286-319). Fabius takes Tarentum by a trick (320-333). The consuls, Marcellus and Crispinus, are beaten by Hannibal and Marcellus is killed (334-398). In Spain Hasdrubal is put to flight by Scipio : praise of Laelius (399-492). Hasdrubal crosses the Alps, to join his brother in Italy (493-514). Great alarm at Rome. The consul, C. Claudius Nero, is warned in a dream by a personification of Italy to march northwards against Hasdrubal (515-559). Nero joins the other consul, M. Livius (560-600). The battle of the Metaurus (601-807). Nero returns to Lucania and displays to Hannibal his brother's head fixed on a pike (807-823).
Book 16 Hannibal moves about in the Bruttian country (1-22). The Carthaginians are driven out of Spain : Mago is defeated and fees to Carthage (25, 26). Hanno is taken prisoner by Scipio (28-77). The army of Hasdruhal, son of Gisgo, is destroyed (78-114). Masinissa, a Numidian prince, joins Scipio (115-167). Scipio and Hasdrubal at the court of Syphax, a Numidian king : Syphax makes a treaty with the Romans ; but evil omens follow (168-274). Scipio returns to Spain and holds games in honour of his father and uncle (275-591). He returns to Rome and is elected consul : in spite of the opposition of Fabius, he gets permission to cross over to Africa (592-700).
Book 17 The image of Cybele is brought from Phrygia to Rome and received at Ostia by P. Scipio Nasica : the chastity of Claudia is vindicated (1-45). Scipio crosses to Africa (46-58). He warns Syphax not to break faith with Rome : the camp of Syphax is burnt, and he is taken prisoner (59-145). Hasdrubal retreats to Carthage : Hannibal is recalled from Italy (146-157). Hannibal's dream before the arrival of the summons (158-169). He leaves Italy in obedience to the summons (170-217). He decides to go back to Italy but is prevented by a fearful storm (218-291). After landing in Africa he encourages his soldiers (292-337). Jupiter and Juno converse about the fate of Hannibal (338-384). The battle of Zama (385-617). Scipio returns in triumph to Rome (618-654).


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