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The conflict in Spain was second in importance only to the Italian war. From this country the Carthaginians drew large supplies of troops and money that might serve to reinforce Hannibal; hence it was in the interest of the Romans to challenge their enemy within Spain. Though the force that Rome at first spared for this war was small in numbers and rested entirely upon its own resources, the generals Publius Cornelius and Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, by skillful strategy and diplomacy, not only won over the peoples north of the Ebro and defeated the Carthaginian leader Hasdrubal Barca in his attempts to restore communication with Italy but also carried their arms along the east coast into the heart of the enemy’s domain.

Though Hannibal still maintained himself for some years in southern Italy, this was chiefly due to the exhaustion of Rome. In 203 Hannibal, in accordance with orders received from home, sailed back to Africa; and another expedition under his brother Mago, which had sailed to Liguria in 205 and endeavoured to rouse the slumbering discontent of the people in Cisalpine Gaul and Etruria, was forced to withdraw. Campaigns in Sicily and Spain Concurrently with the great struggle in Italy, the Second Punic War was fought on several other fields.

During the next century Roman senators did not find the political will to suppress the piracy, perhaps in part because it served their interests; pirates supplied tens of thousands of slaves for their Italian estates and disrupted the grain trade, thus raising prices for their produce in Rome. The arrangements of 167 served the Roman policy of weakening the powers of the eastern Mediterranean. In the previous year Rome had also intervened to stop Seleucid expansion into Egypt. In a famous episode, the Roman ambassador Gaius Popillius Laenas delivered to Antiochus IV the Senate’s demand that the king withdraw from Egypt.

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