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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.


  • [The Carthaginian general; born about 247 B.C.; was taken, when nine years of age, to Spain by his father; became commander-in-chief, 221; invaded Italy, 218, and gained the battle of the Trebia; defeated Flaminius at Lake Thrasymene, and Æmilius Paulus and Varro at Cannæ, 216, but wasted his forces at Capua, and made no more offensive movements; evacuated Italy, 203; defeated by Scipio at Zama, 202; retired to Syria, 194, and to Bithynia, 190, where he took poison to escape being delivered to the Romans, 183 B.C.]
  • I will find a way or make one (Viam inveniam aut faciam).

  • Words attributed to Hannibal, of the passage of the Alps by (it is supposed) the pass of the Little St. Bernard.
  • After gaining a great victory at Cannæ, his friends urged him to pursue the fugitives, and enter Rome in the confusion of the panic, promising him that he should sup in the Capitol within four days. On his reply that it required deliberation, a Carthaginian named Barca upbraided him, saying, “Hannibal, you know how to gain a victory, but not how to use it.” “Occasion,” observes Luther, “is a great matter. Terence says well, ‘I came in time, which is the chief thing of all.’ Julius Cæsar understood occasion: Pompey and Hannibal did not.”—Table Talk, 848. Pittacus, one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, to whom is attributed the maxim, “Seize time by the forelock,” used also to say, “Know the fitting moment;” with which the Emperor Charles V., according to Prescott (“Philip II.,” Bk. I. chap. ix.), made a partnership, “Myself and the lucky moment.”
  • Plutarch quotes Zonarus to the effect that Hannibal himself acknowledged afterwards his mistake in not following up his victory, and used to cry out, “O Cannæ, Cannæ!”—Life of Fabius Maximus, note.
  • Let me deliver them from the terror with which I inspire them.

  • When mixing the poison which he always had in readiness, after the demand of Flaminius that he should not be permitted to live longer. The conduct of the Roman is contrasted with that of Scipio Africanus, who met his former antagonist at Ephesus, when Hannibal asserted that Alexander was the greatest general that had ever lived, Pyrrhus the second, and himself the third. Scipio smiled at this, and asked, “But what rank would you have placed yourself in, if I had not conquered you?” “O Scipio,” replied the Carthaginian, “then I would not have placed myself the third, but the first.” Epaminondas, when called upon to decide between himself, Chabrias, and Iphicrates, replied, “Wait until we are dead.” When Maurice of Nassau, second son of William the Silent, and even more distinguished in the field than his father, was asked who was the greatest living general, he replied, “Spinola is the second.” (Spinola was an Italian general in the service of Spain: he captured Ostend in 1605, and gained several victories over Maurice from 1621 to 1625.) An Englishman asked Napoleon, at Elba, who was the greatest general of the age, adding, “I think, Wellington;” to which the emperor replied, “He has not yet measured himself against me.” Dr. Parr once said, “The first Greek scholar is Porson; the third is Dr. Burney: I leave you to guess who is the second.”