THE great Iberian peninsula was one of the first countries into which Rome was impelled to send an army, not by any premeditated design, but by sheer force of circumstances. War to the death was being waged against Carthage who, after being expelled from Sicily, maintained herself in Spain. It seemed easier to pursue the hereditary foe there than in Africa itself, the centre of her power. Yet the Senate would perhaps have hesitated, if it had known the magnitude of the country, its geographical peculiarities, and the character of its inhabitants. But it had only very vague information on the subject, and knew of nothing beyond the coastal regions covered with Greek and Phœnician colonies. A more detailed knowledge of Spain was not acquired until later, after the long campaigns that its conquest demanded and its final consolidation. Polybius was there for too short a time, and Strabo is the first to give a description that is at once just and less summary.