BATTLE OF THE METAURUS. 107
It is clear that, in the year 208 B.C., at least, Hasdrubal out-maneuvered Publius Scipio, who held the command of the Roman forces in Spain, and whose object was to prevent him from passing the Pyrenees and marching upon Italy. Scipio expected that Hasdrubal would attempt the nearest route along the coast of the Mediterranean, and he therefore carefully fortified and guarded the passes of the eastern Pyrenees. But Hasdrubal passed these mountains near their western extremity; and then, with a considerable force of Spanish infantry, with a small number of African troops, with some elephants and much treasure, he marched, not directly toward the coast of the Mediterranean, but in a northeastern line toward the centre of Gaul. He halted for the winter in the territory of the Arverni, the modern Auvergne, and conciliated or purchased the good will of the Gauls in that region so far that he not only found friendly winter quarters among them, but great numbers of them enlisted under him; and on the approach of spring, marched with him to invade Italy.
By thus entering Gaul at the southwest, and avoiding its southern maritime districts, Hasdrubal kept the Romans in complete ignorance of his precise operations and movements in that country; all that they knew was that Hasdrubal had baffled Scipio's attempts to detain him in Spain; that he had crossed the Pyrenees with soldiers, elephants, and money, and that he was raising fresh forces among the Gauls. The spring was sure to bring him into Italy and then would come the real tempest of the war, when from the north and from the south the two Carthaginian armies, each under a son of the Thunderbolt,* were to gather together around the seven hills of Rome.
In this emergency the Romans looked among themselves earnestly and anxiously for leaders fit to meet the perils of the coming campaign.
The senate recommended the people to elect, as one of their consuls, Caius Claudius Nero, a patrician of one of the families of the great Claudian house. Nero had served during the preceding years of the war both against Hannibal in Italy and against Hasdrubal in Spain; but it is remarkable that the histories which we possess record no successes as having been achieved by him either before or after his great campaign of the
- Hamilcar was surnamed Barca, which means the Thunder-bolt. Sultan
Bajazet had the similar surname of Yilderim.