Book 22: The Disaster of Cannae
[22.1]Spring was now coming on; Hannibal accordingly moved out of his winter quarters. His previous attempt to cross the Apennines had been frustrated by the insupportable cold; to remain where he was would have been to court danger. The Gauls had rallied to him through the prospect of booty and spoil, but when they found that instead of plundering other people's territory their own had become the seat of war and had to bear the burden of furnishing winter quarters for both sides, they diverted their hatred from the Romans to Hannibal. Plots against his life were frequently hatched by their chiefs, and he owed his safety to their mutual faithlessness, for they betrayed the plots to him in the same spirit of fickleness in which they had formed them. He guarded himself from their attempts by assuming different disguises, at one time wearing a different dress, at another putting on false hair. But these constant alarms were an additional motive for his early departure from his winter quarters. About the same time Cn. Servilius entered upon his consulship at Rome, on the 15th of March. When he had laid before the senate the policy which he proposed to carry out, the indignation against C. Flaminius broke out afresh. "Two consuls had been elected, but as a matter of fact they only had one. What legitimate authority did this man possess? What religious sanctions? Magistrates only take these sanctions with them from home, from the altars of the State, and from their private altars at home after they have celebrated the Latin Festival, offered the sacrifice on the Alban Mount, and duly recited the vows in the Capitol. These sanctions do not follow a private citizen, nor if he has departed without them can he obtain them afresh in all their fulness on a foreign soil."
To add to the general feeling of apprehension, information was received of portents having occurred simultaneously in several places. In Sicily several of the soldiers' darts were covered with flames; in Sardinia the same thing happened to the staff in the hand of an officer who was going his rounds to inspect the sentinels on the wall; the shores had been lit up by numerous fires; a couple of shields had sweated blood; some soldiers had been struck by lightning; an eclipse of the sun had been observed; at Praeneste there had been a shower of red-hot stones; at Arpi shields had been seen in the sky and the sun had appeared to be fighting with the moon; at Capena two moons were visible in the daytime; at Caere the waters ran mingled with blood, and even the spring of Hercules had bubbled up with drops of blood on the water; at Antium the ears of corn which fell into the reapers' basket were blood-stained; at Falerii the sky seemed to be cleft asunder as with an enormous rift and all over the opening there was a blazing light; the oracular tablets shrank and shrivelled without being touched and one had fallen out with this inscription, "MARS IS SHAKING HIS SPEAR"; and at the same time the statue of Mars on the Appian Way and the images of the Wolves sweated blood. Finally, at Capua the sight was seen of the sky on fire and the moon falling in the midst of a shower of rain. Then credence was given to comparatively trifling portents, such as that certain people's goats were suddenly clothed with wool, a hen turned into a cock, and a cock into a hen. After giving the details exactly as they were reported to him and bringing his informants before the senate, the consul consulted the House as to what religious observances ought to be proclaimed. A decree was passed that to avert the evils which these portents foreboded, sacrifices should be offered, the victims to be both full-grown animals and sucklings, and also that special intercessions should be made at all the shrines for three days. What other ceremonial was necessary was to be carried out in accordance with the instructions of the decemvirs after they had inspected the Sacred Books and ascertained the will of the gods. On their advice it was decreed that the first votive offering should be made to Jupiter in the shape of a golden thunderbolt weighing fifty pounds, gifts of silver to Juno and Minerva, and sacrifices of full-grown victims to Queen Juno on the Aventine and Juno Sospita at Lanuvium, whilst the matrons were to contribute according to their means and bear their gift to Queen Juno on the Aventine. A lectisternium was to be held, and even the freedwomen were to contribute what they could for a gift to the temple of Feronia. When these instructions had been carried out the decemvirs sacrificed full-grown victims in the forum at Ardea, and finally in the middle of December there was a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, a lectisternium was ordered (the senators prepared the couch), and a public banquet. For a day and a night the cry of the Saturnalia resounded through the City, and the people were ordered to make that day a festival and observe it as such for ever.
[22.2]While the consul was occupied in these propitiatory ceremonies and also in the enrolment of troops, information reached Hannibal that Flaminius had arrived at Arretium, and he at once broke up his winter quarters. There were two routes into Etruria, both of which were pointed out to Hannibal; one was considerably longer than the other but a much better road, the shorter route, which he decided to take, passed through the marshes of the Arno, which was at the time in higher flood than usual. He ordered the Spaniards and Africans, the main strength of his veteran army, to lead, and they were to take their own baggage with them, so that, in case of a halt, they might have the necessary supplies; the Gauls were to follow so as to form the centre of the column; the cavalry were to march last, and Mago and his Numidian light horse were to close up the column, mainly to keep the Gauls up to the mark in case they fell out or came to a halt through the fatigue and exertion of so long a march, for as a nation they were unable to stand that kind of thing. Those in front followed wherever the guides led the way, through the deep and almost bottomless pools of water, and though almost sucked in by the mud through which they were half-wading, half-swimming, still kept their ranks. The Gauls could neither recover themselves when they slipped nor when once down had they the strength to struggle out of the pools; depressed and hopeless they had no spirits left to keep up their bodily powers. Some dragged their worn-out limbs painfully along, others gave up the struggle and lay dying amongst the baggage animals which were lying about in all directions. What distressed them most of all was want of sleep, from which they had been suffering for four days and three nights. As everything was covered with water and they had not a dry spot on which to lay their wearied bodies, they piled up the baggage in the water and lay on the top, whilst some snatched a few minutes' needful rest by making couches of the heaps of baggage animals which were everywhere standing out of the water. Hannibal himself, whose eyes were affected by the changeable and inclement spring weather, rode upon the only surviving elephant so that he might be a little higher above the water. Owing, however, to want of sleep and the night mists and the malaria from the marshes, his head became affected, and as neither place nor time admitted of any proper treatment, he completely lost the sight of one eye.
[22.3]After losing many men and beasts under these frightful .circumstances, he at last got clear of the marshes, and as soon as he could find some dry ground he pitched his camp. The scouting parties he had sent out reported that the Roman army was lying in the neighbourhood of Arretium. His next step was to investigate as carefully as he possibly could all that it was material for him to know - what mood the consul was in, what designs he was forming, what the character of the country and the kind of roads it possessed, and what resources it offered for the obtaining of supplies. The district was amongst the most fertile in Italy; the plains of Etruria, which extend from Faesulae to Arretium, are rich in corn and live stock and every kind of produce. The consul's overbearing temper, which had grown steadily worse since his last consulship, made him lose all proper respect and reverence even for the gods, to say nothing of the majesty of the senate and the laws, and this self-willed and obstinate side of his character had been aggravated by the successes he had achieved both at home and in the field. It was perfectly obvious that he would not seek counsel from either God or man, and whatever he did would be done in an impetuous and headstrong manner. By way of making him show these faults of character still more flagrantly, the Carthaginian prepared to irritate and annoy him. He left the Roman camp on his left, and marched in the direction of Faesulae to plunder the central districts of Etruria. Within actual view of the consul he created as widespread a devastation as he possibly could, and from the Roman camp they saw in the distance an extensive scene of fire and .massacre.
Flaminius had no intention of keeping quiet even if the enemy had done so, but now that he saw the possessions of the allies of Rome plundered and pillaged almost before his very eyes, he felt it to be a personal disgrace that an enemy should be roaming at will through Italy and advancing to attack Rome with none to hinder him. All the other members of the council of war were in favour of a policy of safety rather than of display; they urged him to wait for his colleague, that they might unite their forces and act with one mind on a common plan, and pending his arrival they should check the wild excesses of the plundering enemy with cavalry and the light-armed auxiliaries. Enraged at these suggestions he dashed out of the council and ordered the trumpets to give the signal for march and battle; exclaiming at the same time: "We are to sit, I suppose, before the walls of Arretium, because our country and our household gods are here. Now that Hannibal has slipped through our hands, he is to ravage Italy, destroy and burn everything in his way till he reaches Rome, while we are not to stir from here until the senate summons C. Flaminius from Arretium as they once summoned Camillus from Veii." During this outburst, he ordered the standards to be pulled up with all speed and at the same time mounted his horse. No sooner had he done so than the animal stumbled and fell and threw him over its head All those who were standing round were appalled by what they took to be an evil omen at the beginning of a campaign, and their alarm was considerably increased by a message brought to the consul that the standard could not be moved though the standard-bearer had exerted his utmost strength. He turned to the messenger and asked him: "Are you bringing a despatch from the senate, also, forbidding me to go on with the campaign? Go, let them dig out the standard if their hands are too benumbed with fear for them to pull it up." Then the column began its march. The superior officers, besides being absolutely opposed to his plans, were thoroughly alarmed by the double portent, but the great body of the soldiers were delighted at the spirit their general had shown; they shared his confidence without knowing on what slender grounds it rested.
[22.4]In order still further to exasperate his enemy and make him eager to avenge the injuries inflicted on the allies of Rome, Hannibal laid waste with all the horrors of war the land between Cortona and Lake Trasumennus. He had now reached a position eminently adapted for surprise tactics, where the lake comes up close under the hills of Cortona. There is only a very narrow road here between the hills and the lake, as though a space had been purposely left far it. Further on there is a small expanse of level ground flanked by hills, and it was here that Hannibal pitched camp, which was only occupied by his Africans and Spaniards, he himself being in command. The Balearics and the rest of the light infantry he sent behind the hills; the cavalry, conveniently screened by some low hills, he stationed at the mouth of the defile, so that when the Romans had entered it they would be completely shut in by the cavalry, the lake, and the hills. Flaminius had reached the lake at sunset. The next morning, in a still uncertain light, he passed through the defile, without sending any scouts on to feel the way, and when the column began to deploy in the wider extent of level ground the only enemy they saw was the one in front, the rest were concealed in their rear and above their heads. When the Carthaginian saw his object achieved and had his enemy shut in between the lake and the hills with his forces surrounding them, he gave the signal for all to make a simultaneous attack, and they charged straight down upon the point nearest to them. The affair was all the more sudden and unexpected to the Romans because a fog which had risen from the lake was denser on the plain than on the heights; the bodies of the enemy on the various hills could see each other well enough, and it was all the easier for them to charge all at the same time. The shout of battle rose round the Romans before they could see clearly from whence it came, or became aware that they were surrounded. Fighting began in front and flank before they could form line or get their weapons ready or draw their swords.
[22.5]In the universal panic, the consul displayed all the coolness that could be expected under the circumstances. The ranks were broken by each man turning towards the discordant shouts; he re-formed them as well as time and place allowed, and wherever he could be seen or heard, he encouraged his men and bade them stand and fight. "It is not by prayers or entreaties to the gods that you must make your way out," he said, "but by your strength and your courage. It is the sword that cuts a path through the middle of the enemy, and where there is less fear there is generally less danger." But such was the uproar and confusion that neither counsel nor command could be heard, and so far was the soldier from recognising his standard or his company or his place in the rank, that he had hardly sufficient presence of mind to get hold of his weapons and make them available for use, and some who found them a burden rather than a protection were overtaken by the enemy. In such a thick fog ears were of more use than eyes; the men turned their gaze in every direction as they heard the groans of the wounded and the blows on shield or breastplate, and the mingled shouts of triumph and cries of panic. Some who tried to fly ran into a dense body of combatants and could get no further; others who were returning to the fray were swept away by a rush of fugitives. At last, when ineffective charges had been made in every direction and they found themselves completely hemmed in, by the lake and the hills on either side, and by the enemy in front and rear, it became clear to every man that his only hope of safety lay in his own right hand and his sword. Then each began to depend upon himself for guidance and encouragement, and the fighting began afresh, not the orderly battle with its three divisions of principes, hastati, and triarii, where the fighting line is in front of the standards and the rest of the army behind, and where each soldier is in his own legion and cohort and maniple. Chance massed them together, each man took his place in front or rear as his courage prompted him, and such was the ardour of the combatants, so intent were they on the battle, that not a single man on the field was aware of the earthquake which levelled large portions of many towns in Italy, altered the course of swift streams, brought the sea up into the rivers, and occasioned enormous landslips amongst the mountains.
[22.6]For almost three hours the fighting went on; everywhere a desperate struggle was kept up, but it raged with greater fierceness round the consul. He was followed by the pick of his army, and wherever he saw his men hard pressed and in difficulties he at once went to their help. Distinguished by his armour he was the object of the enemy's fiercest attacks, which his comrades did their utmost to repel, until an Insubrian horseman who knew the consul by sight - his name was Ducarius - cried out to his countrymen, "Here is the man who slew our legions and laid waste our city and our lands! I will offer him in sacrifice to the shades of my foully murdered countrymen." Digging spurs into his horse he charged into the dense masses of the enemy, and slew an armour-bearer who threw himself in the way as he galloped up lance in rest, and then plunged his lance into the consul; but the triarii protected the body with their shields and prevented him from despoiling it. Then began a general flight, neither lake nor mountain stopped the panic-stricken fugitives, they rushed like blind men over cliff and defile, men and arms tumbled pell-mell on one another. A large number, finding no avenue of escape, went into the water up to their shoulders; some in their wild terror even attempted to escape by swimming, an endless and hopeless task in that lake. Either their spirits gave way and they were drowned, or else finding their efforts fruitless, they regained with great difficulty the shallow water at the edge of the lake and were butchered in all directions by the enemy's cavalry who had ridden into the water. About 6000 men who had formed the head of the line of march cut their way through the enemy and cleared the defile, quite unconscious of all that had been going on behind them. They halted on some rising ground, and listened to the shouting below and the clash of arms, but were unable, owing to the fog, to see or find out what the fortunes of the fight were. At last, when the battle was over and the sun's heat had dispelled the fog, mountain and plain revealed in the clear light the disastrous overthrow of the Roman army and showed only too plainly that all was lost. Fearing lest they should be seen in the distance and cavalry be sent against them, they hurriedly took up their standards and disappeared with all possible speed. Maharbal pursued them through the night with the whole of his mounted force, and on the morrow, as starvation, in addition to all their other miseries, was threatening them, they surrendered to Maharbal, on condition of being allowed to depart with one garment apiece. This promise was kept with Punic faith by Hannibal, and he threw them all into chains.
[22.7]This was the famous battle at Trasumennus, and a disaster for Rome memorable as few others have been. Fifteen thousand Romans were killed in action; 1000 fugitives were scattered all over Etruria and reached the City by divers routes; 2500 of the enemy perished on the field, many in both armies afterwards of their wounds. Other authors give the loss on each side as many times greater, but I refuse to indulge in the idle exaggerations to which writers are far too much given, and what is more, I am supported by the authority of Fabius, who was living during the war. Hannibal dismissed without ransom those prisoners who belonged to the allies and threw the Romans into chains. He then gave orders for the bodies of his own men to be picked out from the heaps of slain and buried; careful search was also made for the body of Flaminius that it might receive honourable interment but it was not found. As soon as the news of this disaster reached Rome the people flocked into the Forum in a great state of panic and confusion. Matrons were wandering about the streets and asking those they met what recent disaster had been reported or what news was there of the army. The throng in the Forum, as numerous as a crowded Assembly, flocked towards the Comitium and the Senate-house and called for the magistrates. At last, shortly before sunset, M. Pomponius, the praetor, announced, "We have been defeated in a great battle." Though nothing more definite was heard from him, the people, full of the reports which they had heard from one another, carried back to their homes the information that the consul had been killed with the greater part of his army; only a few survived, and these were either dispersed in flight throughout Etruria or had been made prisoners by the enemy.
The misfortunes which had befallen the defeated army were not more numerous than the anxieties of those whose relatives had served under C. Flaminius, ignorant as they were of the fate of each of their friends, and not in the least knowing what to hope for or what to fear. The next day and several days afterwards, a large crowd, containing more women than men, stood at the gates waiting for some one of their friends or for news about them, and they crowded round those they met with eager and anxious inquiries, nor was it possible to get them away, especially from those they knew, until they had got all the details from first to last. Then as they came away from their informants you might see the different expressions on their faces, according as each had received good or bad news, and friends congratulating or consoling them as they wended their way homewards. The women were especially demonstrative in their joy and in their grief. They say that one who suddenly met her son at the gate safe and sound expired in his arms, whilst another who had received false tidings of her son's death and was sitting as a sorrowful mourner in her house, no sooner saw him returning than she died from too great happiness. For several days the praetors kept the senate in session from sunrise to sunset, deliberating under what general or with what forces they could offer effectual resistance to the victorious Carthaginian.
[22.8]Before they had formed any definite plans, a fresh disaster was announced; 4000 cavalry under the command of C. Centenius, the propraetor, had been sent by the consul Servilius to the assistance of his colleague. When they heard of the battle at Trasumennus they marched into Umbria, and here they were surrounded and captured by Hannibal. The news of this occurrence affected men in very different ways. Some, whose thoughts were preoccupied with more serious troubles, looked upon this loss of cavalry as a light matter in comparison with the previous losses; others estimated the importance of the incident not by the magnitude of the loss but by its moral effect. Just as where the constitution is impaired, any malady however slight is felt more than it would be in a strong robust person, so any misfortune which befell the State in its present sick and disordered condition must be measured not by its actual importance but by its effect on a State already exhausted and unable to bear anything which would aggravate its condition. Accordingly the citizens took refuge in a remedy which for a long time had not been made use of or required, namely the appointment of a Dictator. As the consul by whom alone one could be nominated was absent, and it was not easy for a messenger or a despatch to be sent through Italy, overrun as it was by the arms of Carthage, and as it would have been contrary to all precedent for the people to appoint a Dictator, the Assembly invested Q. Fabius Maximus with dictatorial powers and appointed M. Minucius Rufus to act as his Master of the Horse. They were commissioned by the senate to strengthen the walls and towers of the City and place garrisons in whatever positions they thought best, and cut down the bridges over the various rivers, for now it was a fight for their City and their homes, since they were no longer able to defend Italy.
[22.9]Hannibal marched in a straight course through Umbria as far as Spoletum, and after laying the country round utterly waste, he commenced an attack upon the city which was repulsed with heavy loss. As a single colony was strong enough to defeat his unfortunate attempt he was able to form some conjecture as to the difficulties attending the capture of Rome, and consequently diverted his march into the territory of Picenum, a district which not only abounded in every kind of produce but was richly stored with property which the greedy and needy soldiers seized and plundered without restraint. He remained in camp there for several days during which his soldiers recruited their strength after their winter campaigns and their journey across the marshes, and a battle which though ultimately successful was neither without heavy loss nor easily won. When sufficient time for rest had been allowed to men who delighted much more in plundering and destroying than in ease and idleness, Hannibal resumed his march and devastated the districts of Praetutia and Hadria, then he treated in the same way the country of the Marsi, the Marrucini, and the Peligni and the part of Apulia which was nearest to him, including the cities of Arpi and Luceria. Cn. Servilius had fought some insignificant actions with the Gauls and taken one small town, but when he heard of his colleague's death and the destruction of his army, he was alarmed for the walls of his native City, and marched straight for Rome that he might not be absent at this most critical juncture.
Q. Fabius Maximus was now Dictator for the second time. On the very day of his entrance upon office he summoned a meeting of the senate, and commenced by discussing matters of religion. He made it quite clear to the senators that C. Flaminius' fault lay much more in his neglect of the auspices and of his religious duties than in bad generalship and foolhardiness. The gods themselves, he maintained, must be consulted as to the necessary measures to avert their displeasure, and he succeeded in getting a decree passed that the decemvirs should be ordered to consult the Sibylline Books, a course which is only adopted when the most alarming portents have been reported. After inspecting the Books of Fate they informed the senate that the vow which had been made to Mars in view of that war had not been duly discharged, and that it must be discharged afresh and on a much greater scale. The Great Games must be vowed to Jupiter, a temple to Venus Erycina and one to Mens; a lectisternium must be held and solemn intercessions made; a Sacred Spring must also be vowed. All these things must be done if the war was to be a successful one and the republic remain in the same position in which it was at the beginning of the war. As Fabius would be wholly occupied with the necessary arrangements for the war, the senate with the full approval of the pontifical college ordered the praetor, M. Aemilius, to take care that all these orders were carried out in good time.
[22.10]After these resolutions had been passed in the senate the praetor consulted the pontifical college as to the proper means of giving effect to them, and L. Cornelius Lentulus, the Pontifex Maximus, decided that the very first step to take was to refer to the people the question of a "Sacred Spring," as this particular form of vow could not be undertaken without the order of the people. The form of procedure was as follows: "Is it," the praetor asked the Assembly, "your will and pleasure that all be done and performed in manner following? That is to say, if the commonwealth of the Romans and the Quirites be preserved, as I pray it may be, safe and sound through these present wars - to wit, the war between Rome and Carthage and the wars with the Gauls now dwelling on the hither side of the Alps - then shall the Romans and Quirites present as an offering whatever the spring shall produce from their flocks and herds, whether it be from swine or sheep or goats or cattle, and all that is not already devoted to any other deity shall be consecrated to Jupiter from such time as the senate and people shall order. Whosoever shall make an offering let him do it at whatsoever time and in whatsoever manner he will, and howsoever he offers it, it shall be accounted to be duly offered. If the animal which should have been sacrificed die, it shall be as though unconsecrated, there shall be no sin. If any man shall hurt or slay a consecrated thing unwittingly he shall not be held guilty. If a man shall have stolen any such animal, the people shall not bear the guilt, nor he from whom it was stolen. If a man offer his sacrifice unwittingly on a forbidden day, it shall be accounted to be duly offered. Whether he do so by night or day, whether he be slave or freeman, it shall be accounted to be duly offered. If any sacrifice be offered before the senate and people have ordered that it shall be done, the people shall be free and absolved from all guilt therefrom." To the same end the Great Games were vowed at a cost of 333,333 1/3 ases, and in addition 300 oxen to Jupiter, and white oxen and the other customary victims to a number of deities. When the vows had been duly pronounced a litany of intercession was ordered, and not only the population of the City but the people from the country districts, whose private interests were being affected by the public distress, went in procession with their wives and children. Then a lectisternium was held for three days under the supervision of the ten keepers of the Sacred Books. Six couches were publicly exhibited; one for Jupiter and Juno, another for Neptune and Minerva, a third for Mars and Venus, a fourth for Apollo and Diana, a fifth for Vulcan and Vesta, and the sixth for Mercury and Ceres. This was followed by the vowing of temples. Q. Fabius Maximus, as Dictator, vowed the temple to Venus Erycina, because it was laid down in the Books of Fate that this vow should be made by the man who possessed the supreme authority in the State. T. Otacilius, the praetor, vowed the temple to Mens.
[22.11]After the various obligations towards the gods had thus been discharged, the Dictator referred to the senate the question of the policy to be adopted with regard to the war, with what legions and how many the senators thought he ought to meet their victorious enemy. They decreed that he should take over the army from Cneius Servilius, and further that he should enrol from amongst the citizens and the allies as many cavalry and infantry as he considered requisite; all else was left to his discretion to take such steps as he thought desirable in the interests of the republic. Fabius said that he would add two legions to the army which Servilius commanded; these were raised by the Master of the Horse and he fixed a day for their assembling at Tibur. A proclamation was also issued that those who were living in towns and strongholds that were not sufficiently fortified should remove into places of safety, and that all the population settled in the districts through which Hannibal was likely to march should abandon their farms, after first burning their houses and destroying their produce, so that he might not have any supplies to fall back upon. He then marched along the Flaminian road to meet the consul. As soon as he caught sight of the army in the neighbourhood of Ocriculum near the Tiber, and the consul riding forward with some cavalry to meet him, he sent an officer to tell him that he was to come to the Dictator without his lictors. He did so, and the way they met produced a profound sense of the majesty of the dictatorship amongst both citizens and allies, who had almost by this time forgotten that greatest of all offices. Shortly afterwards a despatch was handed in from the City stating that some transports which were carrying supplies for the army in Spain had been captured by the Carthaginian fleet near the port of Cosa. The consul was thereupon ordered to man the ships which were lying off Rome or at Ostia with full complements of seamen and soldiers, and sail in pursuit of the hostile fleet and protect the coast of Italy. A large force was raised in Rome, even freedmen who had children and were of the military age had been sworn in. Out of these city troops, all under thirty-five years of age were placed on board the ships, the rest were left to garrison the City.
[22.12]The Dictator took over the consul's army from Fulvius Flaccus, the second in command, and marched through Sabine territory to Tibur, where he had ordered the newly raised force to assemble by the appointed day. From there he advanced to Praeneste, and taking a cross-country route, came out on the Latin road. From this point he proceeded towards the enemy, showing the utmost care in reconnoitring all the various routes, and determined not to take any risks anywhere, except so far as necessity should compel him. The first day he pitched his camp in view of the enemy not far from Arpi; the Carthaginian lost no time in marching out his men in battle order to give him the chance of fighting. But when he saw that the enemy kept perfectly quiet and that there were no signs of excitement in their camp, he tauntingly remarked that the spirits of the Romans, those sons of Mars, were broken at last, the war was at an end, and they had openly foregone all claim to valour and renown. He then returned into camp. But he was really in a very anxious state of mind, for he saw that he would have to do with a very different type of commander from Flaminius or Sempronius; the Romans had been taught by their defeats and had at last found a general who was a match for him. It was the wariness not the impetuosity of the Dictator that was the immediate cause of his alarm; he had not yet tested his inflexible resolution. He began to harass and provoke him by frequently shifting his camp and ravaging the fields of the allies of Rome before his very eyes. Sometimes he would march rapidly out of sight and then in some turn of the road take up a concealed position in the hope of entrapping him, should he come down to level ground. Fabius kept on high ground, at a moderate distance from the enemy, so that he never lost sight of him and never closed with him. Unless they were employed on necessary duty, the soldiers were confined to camp. When they went in quest of wood or forage they went in large bodies and only within prescribed limits. A force of cavalry and light infantry told off in readiness against sudden alarms, made everything safe for his own soldiers and dangerous for the scattered foragers of the enemy. He refused to stake everything on a general engagement, whilst slight encounters, fought on safe ground with a retreat close at hand, encouraged his men, who had been demoralised by their previous defeats, and made them less dissatisfied with their own courage and fortunes. But his sound and common-sense tactics were not more distasteful to Hannibal than they were to his own Master of the Horse. Headstrong and impetuous in counsel and with an ungovernable tongue, the only thing that prevented Minucius from making shipwreck of the State was the fact that he was in a subordinate command. At first to a few listeners, afterwards openly amongst the rank and file, he abused Fabius, calling his deliberation indolence and his caution cowardice, attributing to him faults akin to his real virtues, and by disparaging his superior - a vile practice which, through its often proving successful, is steadily on the increase - he tried to exalt himself.
[22.13]From the Hirpini Hannibal went across into Samnium; he ravaged the territory of Beneventum and captured the city of Telesia. He did his best to exasperate the Roman commander, hoping that he would be so incensed by the insults and sufferings inflicted on his allies that he would be able to draw him into an engagement on level ground. Amongst the thousands of allies of Italian nationality who had been taken prisoners by Hannibal at Trasumennus and dismissed to their homes were three Campanian knights, who had been allured by bribes and promises to win over the affections of their countrymen. They sent a message to Hannibal to the effect that if he would bring his army up to Campania there would be a good chance of his obtaining possession of Capua. Hannibal was undecided whether to trust them or not, for the enterprise was greater than the authority of those who advised it; however, they at last persuaded him to leave Samnium for Campania. He warned them that they must make their repeated promises good by their acts, and after bidding them return to him with more of their countrymen, including some of their chief men, he dismissed them. Some who were familiar with the country told him that if he marched into the neighbourhood of Casinum and occupied the pass, he would prevent the Romans from rendering assistance to their allies. He accordingly ordered a guide to conduct him there. But the difficulty which the Carthaginians found in pronouncing Latin names led to the guide understanding Casilinum instead of Casinum. Quitting his intended route, he came down through the districts of Allifae, Callifae, and Cales on to the plains of Stella. When he looked round and saw the country shut in by mountains and rivers he called the guide and asked him where on earth he was. When he was told that he would that day have his quarters at Casilinum, he saw the mistake and knew that Casinum was far away in quite another country. The guide was scourged and crucified in order to strike terror into the others. After entrenching his camp he sent Maharbal with his cavalry to harry the Falernian land. The work of destruction extended to the Baths of Sinuessa; the Numidians inflicted enormous losses, but the panic and terror which they created spread even further. And yet, though everything was wrapped in the flames of war, the allies did not allow their terrors to warp them from their loyalty, simply because they were under a just and equable rule, and rendered a willing obedience to their superiors - the only true bond of allegiance.
[22.14]When Hannibal had encamped at the Vulturnus and the loveliest part of Italy was being reduced to ashes and the smoke was rising everywhere from the burning farms, Fabius continued his march along the Massic range of hills. For a few days the mutinous discontent amongst the troops had subsided, because they inferred from the unusually rapid marching that Fabius was hastening to save Campania from being ravaged and plundered. But when they reached the western extremity of the range and saw the enemy burning the farmsteads of the colonists of Sinuessa and those in the Falernian district, while nothing was said about giving battle, the feeling of exasperation was again roused, and studiously fanned by Minucius. "Are we come here" he would ask, "to enjoy the sight of our murdered allies and the smoking ruins of their homes? Surely, if nothing else appeals to us, ought we not to feel ashamed of ourselves as we see the sufferings of those whom our fathers sent as colonists to Sinuessa that this frontier might be protected from the Samnite foe, whose homes are being burnt not by our neighbours the Samnites but by a Carthaginian stranger from the ends of the earth who has been allowed to come thus far simply through our dilatoriness and supineness? Have we, alas! so far degenerated from our fathers that we calmly look on while the very country, past which they considered it an affront for a Carthaginian fleet to cruise, has now been filled with Numidian and Moorish invaders? We who only the other day in our indignation at the attack on Saguntum appealed not to men alone, but to treaties and to gods, now quietly watch Hannibal scaling the walls of a Roman colony! The smoke from the burning farms and fields is blown into our faces, our ears are assailed by the cries of our despairing allies who appeal to us for help more than they do to the gods, and here are we marching an army like a herd of cattle through summer pastures and mountain paths hidden from view by woods and clouds! If M. Furius Camillus had chosen this method of wandering over mountain heights and passes to rescue the City from the Gauls which has been adopted by this new Camillus, this peerless Dictator who has been found for us in our troubles, to recover Italy from Hannibal, Rome would still be in the hands of the Gauls, and I very much fear that if we go on dawdling in this way the City which our ancestors have so often saved will only have been saved for Hannibal and the Carthaginians. But on the day that the message came to Veii that Camillus had been nominated Dictator by senate and people, though the Janiculum was quite high enough for him to sit there and watch the enemy, like the man and true Roman that he was, he came down into the plain. and in the very heart of the City where the Busta Gallica are now he cut to pieces the legions of the Gauls, and the next day he did the same beyond Gabii. Why, when years and years ago we were sent under the yoke by the Samnites at the Caudine Forks, was it, pray, by exploring the heights of Samnium or by assailing and besieging Luceria and challenging our victorious foe that L. Papirius Cursor took the yoke off Roman necks and placed it on the haughty Samnite? What else but rapidity of action gave C. Lutatius the victory? The day after he first saw the enemy he surprised their fleet laden with supplies and hampered by its cargo of stores and equipment. It is mere folly to fancy that the war can be brought to an end by sitting still or making vows to heaven. Your duty is to take your arms and go down and meet the enemy man to man. It is by doing and daring that Rome has increased her dominion not by these counsels of sloth which cowards call caution." Minucius said all this before a host of Roman tribunes and knights, as if he were addressing the Assembly, and his daring words even reached the ears of the soldiery; if they could have voted on the question, there is no doubt that they would have superseded Fabius for Minucius.
[22.15]Fabius kept an equally careful watch upon both sides, upon his own men no less than upon the enemy, and he showed that his resolution was quite unshaken. He was quite aware that his inactivity was making him unpopular not only in his own camp, but even in Rome, nevertheless his determination remained unchanged and he persisted in the same tactics for the rest of the summer, and Hannibal abandoned all hopes of the battle which he had so anxiously sought for. It became necessary for him to look round for a suitable place to winter in, as the country in which he was, a land of orchards and vineyards, was entirely planted with the luxuries rather than the necessaries of life, and furnished supplies only for a few months not for the whole year. Hannibal's movements were reported to Fabius by his scouts. As he felt quite certain that he would return by the same pass through which he had entered the district of Falernum, he posted a fairly strong detachment on Mount Callicula and another to garrison Casilinum. The Vulturnus runs through the middle of this town and forms the boundary between the districts of Falernum and Campania. He led his army back over the same heights, having previously sent L. Hostilius Mancinus forward with 400 cavalry to reconnoitre. This man was amongst the throng of young officers who had frequently listened to the fierce harangues of the Master of the Horse. At first he advanced cautiously, as a scouting party should do, to get a good view of the enemy from a safe position. But when he saw the Numidians roaming in all directions through the villages, and had even surprised and killed some of them, he thought of nothing but fighting, and completely forgot the Dictator's instructions, which were to go forward as far as he could safely and to retire before the enemy observed him. The Numidians, attacking and retreating in small bodies, drew him gradually almost up to their camp, his men and horses by this time thoroughly tired. Thereupon Carthalo, the general in command of the cavalry, charged at full speed, and before they came within range of their javelins put the enemy to flight and pursued them without slackening rein for nearly five miles. When Mancinus saw that there was no chance of the enemy giving up the pursuit, or of his escaping them, he rallied his men and faced the Numidians, though completely outnumbered and outmatched. He himself with the best of his riders was cut off, the rest resumed their wild flight and reached Cales and ultimately by different by-paths returned to the Dictator. It so happened that Minucius had rejoined Fabius on this day. He had been sent to strengthen the force holding the defile which contracts into a narrow pass just above Terracina close to the sea. This was to prevent the Carthaginian from utilising the Appian road for a descent upon the territory of Rome, when he left Sinuessa. The Dictator and the Master of the Horse with their joint armies moved their camp on to the route which Hannibal was expected to take. He was encamped two miles distant.
[22.16]The next day the Carthaginian army began its march and filled the whole of the road between the two camps. The Romans had taken up a position immediately below their entrenchments, on unquestionably more advantageous ground, yet the Carthaginian came up with his cavalry and light infantry to challenge his enemy. They made repeated attacks and retirements, but the Roman line kept its ground; the fighting was slack and more satisfactory to the Dictator than to Hannibal; 200 Romans fell, and 800 of the enemy. It now seemed as if Hannibal must be hemmed in. Capua and Samnium and all the rich land of Latium behind them were furnishing the Romans with supplies, while the Carthaginian would have to winter amongst the rocks of Formiae and the sands and marshes of Liternum and in gloomy forests. Hannibal did not fail to observe that his own tactics were being employed against him. As he could not get out through Casilinum, and would have to make for the mountains and cross the ridge of Callicula, he would be liable to be attacked by the Romans whilst he was shut up in the valleys. To guard against this he decided upon a stratagem which, deceiving the eyes of the enemy by its alarming appearance, would enable him to scale the mountains in a night march without fear of interruption. The following was the ruse which he adopted. Torch-wood gathered from all the country round, and faggots of dry brushwood were tied on the horns of the oxen which he was driving in vast numbers, both broken and unbroken to the plough, amongst the rest of the plunder from the fields. About 2000 oxen were collected for the purpose. To Hasdrubal was assigned the task of setting fire to the bundles on the horns of this herd as soon as darkness set in, then driving them up the mountains and if possible mostly above the passes which were guarded by the Romans.
[22.17]As soon as it was dark, the camp silently broke up; the oxen were driven some distance in front of the column. When they had reached the foot of the mountains where the roads began to narrow, the signal was given and the herds with their flaming horns were driven up the mountain side. The terrifying glare of the flames shooting from their heads and the heat which penetrated to the root of their horns made the oxen rush about as though they were mad. At this sudden scampering about, it seemed as though the woods and mountains were on fire, and all the brushwood round became alight and the incessant but useless shaking of their heads made the flames shoot out all the more, and gave the appearance of men running about in all directions. When the men who were guarding the pass saw fires moving above them high up on the mountains, they thought that their position was turned, and they hastily quitted it. Making their way up to the highest points, they took the direction where there appeared to be the fewest flames, thinking this to be the safest road. Even so, they came across stray oxen separated from the herd, and at first sight they stood still in astonishment at what seemed a preternatural sight of beings breathing fire. When it turned out to be simply a human device they were still more alarmed at what they suspected was an ambuscade, and they took to flight. Now they fell in with some of Hannibal's light infantry, but both sides shrank from a fight in the darkness and remained inactive till daylight. In the meantime Hannibal had marched the whole of his army through the pass, and after surprising and scattering some Roman troops in the pass itself, fixed his camp in the district of Allifae.
[22.18]Fabius watched all this confusion and excitement, but as he took it to be an ambuscade, and in any case shrank from a battle in the night, he kept his men within their lines. As soon as it was light there was a battle just under the ridge of the mountain where the Carthaginian light infantry were cut off from their main body and would easily have been crushed by the Romans, who had considerably the advantage in numbers, had not a cohort of Spaniards come up, who had been sent back by Hannibal to their assistance. These men were more accustomed to the mountains and in better training for running amongst rocks and precipices, and being both more lightly made and more lightly armed they could easily by their method of fighting baffle an enemy drawn from the lowlands, heavily armed and accustomed to stationary tactics. At last they drew off from a contest which was anything but an equal one. The Spaniards being almost untouched, the Romans having sustained a heavy loss, each retired to their respective camps. Fabius followed on Hannibal's track through the pass and encamped above Allifae in an elevated position and one of great natural strength. Hannibal retraced his steps as far as the Peligni, ravaging the country as he went, as though his intention was to march through Samnium upon Rome. Fabius continued to move along the heights, keeping between the enemy and the City, neither avoiding nor attacking him. The Carthaginian left the Peligni, and marching back into Apulia, reached Gereonium. This city had been abandoned by its inhabitants because a portion of the walls had fallen into ruin. The Dictator formed an entrenched camp near Larinum. From there he was recalled to Rome on business connected with religion. Before his departure he impressed upon the Master of the Horse, not only as commander-in-chief but as a friend giving good advice and even using entreaties, the necessity of trusting more to prudence than to luck, and following his own example rather than copying Sempronius and Flaminius. He was not to suppose that nothing had been gained now that the summer had been spent in baffling the enemy, even physicians often gained more by not disturbing their patients than by subjecting them to movement and exercises; it was no small advantage to have avoided defeat at the hands of a foe who had been so often victorious and to have obtained a breathing space after such a series of disasters. With these unheeded warnings to the Master of the Horse he started for Rome.
[22.19]At the commencement of this summer war began in Spain both by land and sea. Hasdrubal added ten ships to those which he had received from his brother, equipped and ready for action, and gave Himilco a fleet of forty vessels. He then sailed from New Carthage, keeping near land, and with his army moving parallel along the coast, ready to engage the enemy whether by sea or land. When Cn. Scipio learnt that his enemy had left his winter quarters he at first adopted the same tactics, but on further consideration he would not venture on a contest by land, owing to the immense reputation of the new auxiliaries. After embarking the pick of his army he proceeded with a fleet of thirty-five ships to meet the enemy. The day after leaving Tarraco he came to anchor at a spot ten miles distant from the mouth of the Ebro. Two despatch boats belonging to Massilia had been sent to reconnoitre, and they brought back word that the Carthaginian fleet was riding at anchor in the mouth of the river and their camp was on the bank. Scipio at once weighed anchor and sailed towards the enemy, intending to strike a sudden panic amongst them by surprising them whilst off their guard and unsuspicious of danger.
There are in Spain many towers situated on high ground which are used both as look-outs and places of defence against pirates. It was from there that the hostile ships were first sighted, and the signal given to Hasdrubal; excitement and confusion prevailed in the camp on shore before it reached the ships at sea, as the splash of the oars and other sounds of advancing ships were not yet heard, and the projecting headlands hid the Roman fleet from view. Suddenly one mounted vidette after another from Hasdrubal galloped up with orders to those who were strolling about on the shore or resting in their tents, and expecting anything rather than the approach of an enemy or battle that day, to embark with all speed and take their arms, for the Roman fleet was now not far from the harbour. This order the mounted men were giving in all directions, and before long Hasdrubal himself appeared with the whole of his army. Everywhere there was noise and confusion, the rowers and the soldiers scrambled on board more like men flying from the shore than men going into action. Hardly were all on board, when some unfastened the mooring ropes and drifted towards their anchors, others cut their cables; everything was done in too much haste and hurry, the work of the seamen was hampered by the preparations which the soldiers were making, and the soldiers were prevented from putting themselves in fighting trim owing to the confusion and panic which prevailed amongst the seamen. By this time the Romans were not only near at hand, they had actually lined up their ships for the attack. The Carthaginians were paralysed quite as much by their own disorder as by the approach of the enemy, and they brought their ships round for flight, after abandoning a struggle which it would be more true to say was attempted rather than begun. But it was impossible for their widely extended line to enter the mouth of the river all at once, and the ships were run ashore in all directions. Some of those on board got out through the shallow water, others jumped on to the beach, with arms or without, and made good their escape to the army which was drawn up ready for action along the shore. Two Carthaginian ships, however, were captured to begin with and four sunk.
[22.20]Though the Romans saw that the enemy were in force on land and that their army was extended along the shore, they showed no hesitation in following up the enemy's panic-stricken fleet. They secured all the ships which had not staved their prows in on the beach, or grounded with their keels in the mud by fastening hawsers to their sterns and dragging them into deep water. Out of forty vessels twenty-five were captured in this way. This was not, however, the best part of the victory. Its main importance lay in the fact that this one insignificant encounter gave the mastery of the whole of the adjacent sea. The fleet accordingly sailed to Onusa, and there the soldiers disembarked, captured and plundered the place and then marched towards New Carthage. They ravaged the entire country round, and ended by setting fire to the houses which adjoined the walls and gates. Re-embarking laden with plunder, they sailed to Longuntica, where they found a great quantity of esparto grass which Hasdrubal had collected for the use of the navy, and after taking what they could use they burnt the rest. They did not confine themselves to cruising along the coast, but crossed over to the island of Ebusus, where they made a determined but unsuccessful attack upon the capital during the whole of two days. As they found that they were only wasting time on a hopeless enterprise, they took to plundering the country, and sacked and burnt several villages. Here they secured more booty than on the mainland, and after placing it on board, as they were on the point of sailing away, some envoys came to Scipio from the Balearic isles to sue for peace. From this point the fleet sailed back to the eastern side of the province where envoys were assembled from all the tribes in the district of the Ebro, and many even from the remotest parts of Spain. The tribes which actually acknowledged the supremacy of Rome and gave hostages amounted to more than a hundred and twenty. The Romans felt now as much confidence in their army as in their navy, and marched as far as the pass of Castulo. Hasdrubal retired to Lusitania where he was nearer to the Atlantic.
[22.21]It now seemed as though the remainder of the summer would be undisturbed, and it would have been so as far as the Carthaginians were concerned. But the Spanish temperament is restless and fond of change, and after the Romans had left the pass and retired to the coast, Mandonius and Indibilis, who had previously been chief of the Ibergetes, roused their fellow-tribesmen and proceeded to harry the lands of those who were in peace and alliance with Rome. Scipio despatched a military tribune with some light-armed auxiliaries to disperse them, and after a trifling engagement, for they were undisciplined and without organisation, they were all put to rout, some being killed or taken prisoners, and a large proportion deprived of their arms. This disturbance, however, brought Hasdrubal, who was marching westwards, back to the defence of his allies on the south side of the Ebro. The Carthaginians were in camp amongst the Ilergavonians; the Roman camp was at Nova, when unexpected intelligence turned the tide of war in another direction. The Celtiberi, who had sent their chief men as envoys to Scipio and had given hostages, were induced by his representations to take up arms and invade the province of New Carthage with a powerful army. They took three fortified towns by storm, and fought two most successful actions with Hasdrubal himself, killing 15,000 of the enemy and taking 4000 prisoners with numerous standards.
[22.22]This was the position of affairs when P. Scipio, whose command had been extended after he ceased to be consul, came to the province which had been assigned to him by the senate. He brought a reinforcement of thirty ships of war and 8000 troops, also a large convoy of supplies. This fleet, with its enormous column of transports, excited the liveliest delight among the townsmen and their allies when it was seen in the distance and finally reached the port of Tarracona. There the soldiers were landed and Scipio marched up country to meet his brother; thenceforward they carried on the campaign with their united forces and with one heart and purpose. As the Carthaginians were preoccupied with the Celtiberian war, the Scipios had no hesitation in crossing the Ebro and, as no enemy appeared, marching straight to Saguntum, where they had been informed that the hostages who had been surrendered to Hannibal from all parts of Spain were detained in the citadel under a somewhat weak guard. The fact that they had given these pledges was the only thing that prevented all the tribes of Spain from openly manifesting their leanings towards alliance with Rome; they dreaded lest the price of their defection from Carthage should be the blood of their own children. From this bond Spain was released by the clever but treacherous scheme of one individual.
Abelux was a Spaniard of high birth living at Saguntum, who had at one time been loyal to Carthage, but afterwards, with the usual fickleness of barbarians, as the fortunes of Carthage changed so he changed his allegiance. He considered that any one going over to the enemy without having something valuable to betray was simply a worthless and disreputable individual, and so he made it his one aim to be of the greatest service he could to his new allies. After making a survey of everything which Fortune could possibly put within his reach, he made up his mind to effect the delivery of the hostages; that one thing he thought would do more than anything else to win the friendship of the Spanish chieftains for the Romans. He was quite aware, however, that the guardians of the hostages would take no step without the orders of Bostar, their commanding officer, and so he employed his arts against Bostar himself. Bostar had fixed his camp outside the city quite on the shore that he might bar the approach of the Romans on that side. After obtaining a secret interview with him he warned him, as though he were unaware of it, as to the actual state of affairs. "Up to this time," he said, "fear alone has kept the Spaniards loyal because the Romans were far away; now the Roman camp is on our side the Ebro, a secure stronghold and refuge for all who want to change their allegiance. Those, therefore, who are no longer restrained by fear must be bound to us by kindness and feelings of gratitude." Bostar was greatly surprised, and asked him what boon could suddenly effect such great results. "Send the hostages," was the reply, "back to their homes. That will evoke gratitude from their parents, who are very influential people in their own country, and also from their fellow-countrymen generally. Every one likes to feel that he is trusted; the confidence you place in others generally strengthens their confidence in you. The service of restoring the hostages to their respective homes I claim for myself, that I may contribute to the success of my plan by my own personal efforts, and win for an act gracious in itself still more gratitude."
He succeeded in persuading Bostar, whose intelligence was not on a par with the acuteness which the other Carthaginians showed. After this interview he went secretly to the enemy's outposts, and meeting with some Spanish auxiliaries he was conducted by them into the presence of Scipio, to whom he explained what he proposed to do. Pledges of good faith were mutually exchanged and the place and time for handing over the hostages fixed, after which he returned to Saguntum. The following day he spent in receiving Bostar's instructions for the execution of the project. It was agreed between them that he should go at night in order, as he pretended, to escape the observation of the Roman outposts. He had already arranged with these as to the hour at which he would come, and after awakening those who were in guard of the boys he conducted the hostages, without appearing to be aware of the fact, into the trap which he had himself prepared. The outposts conducted them into the Roman camp; all the remaining details connected with their restoration to their homes were carried out as he had arranged with Bostar, precisely as if the business were being transacted m the name of Carthage. Yet though the service rendered was the same, the gratitude felt towards the Romans was considerably greater than would have been earned by the Carthaginians, who had shown themselves oppressive and tyrannical in the time of their prosperity, and now that they experienced a change of fortune their act might have appeared to be dictated by fear. The Romans, on the other hand, hitherto perfect strangers, had no sooner come into the country than they began with an act of clemency and generosity, and Abelux was considered to have shown his prudence in changing his allies to such good purpose. All now began with surprising unanimity to meditate revolt, and an armed movement would have begun at once had not the winter set in, which compelled the Romans as well as the Carthaginians to retire to their quarters.
[22.23]These were the main incidents of the campaign in Spain during the second summer of the Punic war. In Italy the masterly inaction of Fabius had for a short time stemmed the tide of Roman disasters. It was a cause of grave anxiety to Hannibal, for he fully realised that the Romans had chosen for their commander-in-chief a man who conducted war on rational principles and not by trusting to chance. But amongst his own people, soldiers and civilians alike, his tactics were viewed with contempt, especially after a battle had been brought about owing to the rashness of the Master of the Horse in the Dictator's absence which would be more correctly described as fortunate rather than as successful. Two incidents occurred which made the Dictator still more unpopular. One was due to the crafty policy of Hannibal. Some deserters had pointed out to him the Dictator's landed property, and after all the surrounding buildings had been levelled to the ground he gave orders for that property to be spared from fire and sword and all hostile treatment whatever in order that it might be thought that there was some secret bargain between them. The second cause of the Dictator's growing unpopularity was something which he himself did, and which at first bore an equivocal aspect because he had acted without the authority of the senate, but ultimately it was universally recognised as redounding very greatly to his credit. In carrying out the exchange of prisoners it had been agreed between the Roman and the Carthaginian commanders, following the precedent of the first Punic war, that whichever side received back more prisoners than they gave should strike a balance by paying two and a half pounds of silver for each soldier they received in excess of those they gave. The Roman prisoners restored were two hundred and forty-seven more than the Carthaginians. The question of this payment had been frequently discussed in the senate, but as Fabius had not consulted that body before making the agreement there was some delay in voting the money. The matter was settled by Fabius sending his son Quintus to Rome to sell the land which had been untouched by the enemy; he thus discharged the obligation of the State at his own private expense. When Hannibal burnt Gereonium after its capture, he left a few houses standing to serve as granaries, and now he was occupying a standing camp before its walls. He was in the habit of sending out two divisions to collect corn, he remained in camp with the third ready to move in any direction where he saw that his foragers were being attacked.
[22.24]The Roman army was at the time in the neighbourhood of Larinum, with Minucius in command, owing, as stated above, to the Dictator having left for the City. The camp had been situated in a lofty and secure position; it was now transferred to the plain, and more energetic measures more in harmony with the general's temperament were being discussed; suggestions were made for an attack either on the dispersed parties of foragers or on the camp now that it was left with a weak guard. Hannibal soon found out that the tactics of his enemies had changed with the change of generals, and that they would act with more spirit than prudence, and incredible as it may sound, though his enemy was in closer proximity to him, he sent out a whole division of his army to collect corn, keeping the other two in camp. The next thing he did was to move his camp still nearer the enemy, about two miles from Gereonium on rising ground within view of the Romans, so that they might know that he was determined to protect his foragers in case of attack. From this position he was able to see another elevated position still closer to the Roman camp, in fact looking down on it. There was no doubt that if he were to attempt to seize it in broad daylight the enemy, having less distance to go, would be there before him, so he sent a force of Numidians who occupied it during the night. The next day the Romans, seeing how small a number were holding the position, made short work of them and drove them off and then transferred their own camp there. By this time there was but a very small distance between rampart and rampart, and even that was almost entirely filled with Roman troops, who were demonstrating in force to conceal the movements of cavalry and light infantry who had been sent through the camp gate farthest from the enemy to attack his foragers, upon whom they inflicted severe losses. Hannibal did not venture upon a regular battle because his camp was so weakly guarded that it could not have repelled an assault. Borrowing the tactics of Fabius he began to carry on the campaign by remaining in almost complete inaction, and withdrew his camp to its former position before the walls of Gereonium. According to some authors a pitched battle was fought with both armies in regular formation; the Carthaginians were routed at the first onset and driven to their camp; from there a sudden sortie was made and it was the Romans' turn to flee, and the battle was once more restored by the sudden appearance of Numerius Decimus, the Samnite general. Decimus was, as far as wealth and lineage go, the foremost man not only in Bovianum, his native place, but in the whole of Samnium. In obedience to the Dictator's orders he was bringing into camp a force of 8000 foot and 500 horse, and when he appeared in Hannibal's rear both sides thought that it was a reinforcement coming from Rome under Q. Fabius. Hannibal, it is further stated, ordered his men to retire, the Romans followed them up, and with the aid of the Samnites captured two of their fortified positions the same day; 6000 of the enemy were killed and about 5000 of the Romans, yet though the losses were so evenly balanced an idle and foolish report of a splendid victory reached Rome together with a despatch from the Master of the Horse which was still more foolish.
[22.25]This state of affairs led to constant discussions in the senate and the Assembly. Amidst the universal rejoicing the Dictator stood alone; he declared that he did not place the slightest credence in either the report or the despatch, and even if everything was as it was represented, he dreaded success more than failure. On this M. Metilius, tribune of the plebs, said it was really becoming intolerable that the Dictator, not content with standing in the way of any success being achieved when he was on the spot, should now be equally opposed to it after it had been achieved in his absence. "He was deliberately wasting time in his conduct of the war in order to remain longer in office as sole magistrate and retain his supreme command. One consul has fallen in battle, the other has been banished far from Italy under pretext of chasing the Carthaginian fleet; two praetors have their hands full with Sicily and Sardinia, neither of which provinces needs a praetor at all at this time; M. Minucius, Master of the Horse, has been almost kept under guard to prevent him from seeing the enemy or doing anything which savoured of war. And so, good heavens! not only Samnium, where we retreated before the Carthaginians as though it were some territory beyond the Ebro, but even the country of Falernum, have been utterly laid waste, while the Dictator was sitting idly at Casilinum, using the legions of Rome to protect his own property. The Master of the Horse and the army, who were burning to fight, were kept back and almost imprisoned within their lines; they were deprived of their arms as though they were prisoners of war. At length, no sooner had the Dictator departed than, like men delivered from a blockade, they left their entrenchments and routed the enemy and put him to flight. Under these circumstances I was prepared, if the Roman plebs still possessed the spirit they showed in old days, to take the bold step of bringing in a measure to relieve Q. Fabius of his command; as it is I shall propose a resolution couched in very moderate terms - 'that the authority of the Master of the Horse be made equal to that of the Dictator.' But even if this resolution is carried Q. Fabius must not be allowed to rejoin the army before he has appointed a consul in place of C. Flaminius."
As the line which the Dictator was taking was in the highest degree unpopular, he kept away from the Assembly. Even in the senate he produced an unfavourable impression when he spoke in laudatory terms of the enemy and put down the disasters of the past two years to rashness and lack of generalship on the part of the commanders. The Master of the Horse, he said, must be called to account for having fought against his orders. If, he went on to say, the supreme command and direction of the war remained in his hands, he would soon let men know that in the case of a good general Fortune plays a small part, intelligence and military skill are the main factors. To have preserved the army in circumstances of extreme danger without any humiliating defeat was in his opinion a more glorious thing than the slaughter of many thousands of the enemy. But he failed to convince his audience, and after appointing M. Atilius Regulus as consul, he set off by night to rejoin his army. He was anxious to avoid a personal altercation on the question of his authority, and left Rome the day before the proposal was voted upon. At daybreak a meeting of the plebs was held to consider the proposal. Though the general feeling was one of hostility to the Dictator and goodwill towards the Master of the Horse, few were found bold enough to give this feeling utterance and recommend a proposal which after all was acceptable to the plebs as a body, and so, notwithstanding the fact that the great majority were in favour of it, it lacked the support of men of weight and influence. One man was found who came forward to advocate the proposal, C. Terentius Varro, who had been praetor the year before, a man of humble and even mean origin. The tradition is that his father was a butcher who hawked his meat about and employed his son in the menial drudgery of his trade.
[22.26]The money made in this business was left to his son, who hoped that his fortune might help him to a more respectable position in society. He decided to become an advocate, and his appearances in the Forum, where he defended men of the lowest class by noisy and scurrilous attacks upon the property and character of respectable citizens, brought him into notoriety and ultimately into office. After discharging the various duties of the quaestorship, the two aedileships, plebeian and curule, and lastly those of the praetor, he now aspired to the consulship. With this view he cleverly took advantage of the feeling against the Dictator to court the gale of popular favour, and gained for himself the whole credit of carrying the resolution. Everybody, whether in Rome or in the army, whether friend or foe, with the sole exception of the Dictator himself, looked upon this proposal as intended to cast a slur on him. But he met the injustice done to him by the people, embittered as they were against him, with the same dignified composure with which he had previously treated the charges which his opponents had brought against him before the populace. While still on his way he received a despatch containing the senatorial decree for dividing his command, but as he knew perfectly well that an equal share of military command by no means implied an equal share of military skill, he returned to his army with a spirit undismayed by either his fellow-citizens or the enemy.
[22.27]Owing to his success and popularity Minucius had been almost unbearable before, but now that he had won as great a victory over Fabius as over Hannibal, his boastful arrogance knew no bounds. "The man," he exclaimed, "who was selected as the only general who would be a match for Hannibal has now, by an order of the people, been put on a level with his second in command; the Dictator has to share his powers with the Master of the Horse. There is no precedent for this in our annals, and it has been done in that very State in which Masters of the Horse have been wont to look with dread upon the rods and axes of Dictators. So brilliant have been my good fortune and my merits. If the Dictator persists in that dilatoriness and inaction which have been condemned by the judgment of gods and men, I shall follow my good fortune wherever it may lead me." Accordingly on his first meeting with Q. Fabius, he told him that the very first thing that had to be settled was the method in which they should exercise their divided authority. The best plan, he thought, would be for them each to take supreme command on alternate days, or, if he preferred it, at longer intervals. This would enable whichever general was in command to meet Hannibal with tactics and strength equal to his own should an opportunity arise of striking a blow. Q. Fabius met this proposal with a decided negative. Everything, he argued, which his colleague's rashness might prompt would be at the mercy of Fortune; though his command was shared with another, he was not wholly deprived of it; he would never therefore voluntarily give up what power he still possessed of conducting operations with common sense and prudence, and though he refused to agree to a division of days or periods of command, he was prepared to divide the army with him and use his best foresight and judgment to preserve what he could as he could not save all. So it was arranged that they should adopt the plan of the consuls and share the legions between them. The first and fourth went to Minucius, Fabius retained the second and third. The cavalry and the contingents supplied by the Latins and the allies were also divided equally between them. The Master of the Horse even insisted upon separate camps.
[22.28]Nothing that was going on amongst his enemies escaped the observation of Hannibal, for ample information was supplied to him by deserters as well as by his scouts. He was doubly delighted, for he felt sure of entrapping by his own peculiar methods the wild rashness of Minucius, and he saw that Fabius' skilful tactics had lost half their strength. Between Minucius' camp and Hannibal's there was some rising ground, and whichever side seized it would undoubtedly be able to render their adversaries' position less secure. Hannibal determined to secure it, and though it would have been worth while doing so without a fight, he preferred to bring on a battle with Minucius, who, he felt quite sure, would hurry up to stop him. The entire intervening country seemed, at a first glance, totally unsuited for surprise tactics, for there were no woods anywhere, no spots covered with brushwood and scrub, but in reality it naturally lent itself to such a purpose, and all the more so because in so bare a valley no stratagem of the kind could be suspected. In its windings there were caverns, some so large as to be capable of concealing two hundred men. Each of these hiding-places was filled with troops, and altogether 5000 horse and foot were placed in concealment. In case, however, the stratagem might be detected by some soldier's thoughtless movements, or the glint of arms in so open a valley, Hannibal sent a small detachment to seize the rising ground already described in order to divert the attention of the enemy. As soon as they were sighted, their small number excited ridicule, and every man begged that he might have the task of dislodging them. Conspicuous amongst his senseless and hot-headed soldiers the general sounded a general call to arms, and poured idle abuse and threats on the enemy. He sent the light infantry first in open skirmishing order, these were followed by the cavalry in close formation, and at last, when he saw that reinforcements were being brought up to the enemy, he advanced with the legions in line. Hannibal on his side sent supports, both horse and foot, to his men wherever they were hard pressed, and the numbers engaged steadily grew until he had formed his entire army into order of battle and both sides were in full strength. The Roman light infantry moving up the hill from lower ground were the first to be repulsed and forced back to the cavalry who were coming up behind them. They sought refuge behind the front ranks of the legions, who alone amidst the general panic preserved their coolness and presence of mind. Had it been a straightforward fight, man to man, they would to all appearance have been quite a match for their foes, so much had their success, a few days previously, restored their courage. But the sudden appearance of the concealed troops and their combined attack on both flanks and on the rear of the Roman legions created such confusion and alarm that not a man had any spirit left to fight or any hope of escaping by flight.
[22.29]Fabius' attention was first drawn to the cries of alarm, then he observed in the distance the disordered and broken ranks. "Just so," he exclaimed, "Fortune has overtaken his rashness, but not more quickly than I feared. Fabius is his equal in command, but he has found out that Hannibal is his superior both in ability and in success. However, this is not the time for censure or rebuke, advance into the field! Let us wrest victory from the foe, and a confession of error from our fellow-citizens." By this time the rout had spread over a large part of the field, some were killed, others looking round for the means of escape, when suddenly the army of Fabius appeared as though sent down from heaven to their rescue. Before they came within range of their missiles, before they could exchange blows, they checked their comrades in their wild flight and the enemy in their fierce attack. Those who had been scattered hither and thither after their ranks were broken, closed in from all sides and reformed their line; those who had kept together in their retreat wheeled round to face the enemy, and, forming square, at one moment slowly retired, and at another shoulder to shoulder stood their ground. The defeated troops and those who were fresh on the field had now practically become one line, and they were commencing an advance on the enemy when the Carthaginian sounded the retreat, showing clearly that whilst Minucius had been defeated by him he was himself vanquished by Fabius. The greater part of the day had been spent in these varying fortunes of the field. On their return to camp Minucius called his men together and addressed them thus: "Soldiers, I have often heard it said that the best man is he who himself advises what is the right thing to do; next to him comes the man who follows good advice; but the man who neither himself knows what counsel to give nor obeys the wise counsels of another is of the very lowest order of intelligence. Since the first order of intelligence and capacity has been denied to us let us cling to the second and intermediate one, and whilst we are learning to command, let us make up our minds to obey him who is wise and far sighted. Let us join camp with Fabius. When we have carried the standards to his tent where I shall salute him as 'Father,' a title which the service he has done us and the greatness of his office alike deserve, you soldiers will salute as 'Patrons' those whose arms and right hands protected you a little while ago. If this day has done nothing else for us, it has at all events conferred on us the glory of having grateful hearts."
[22.30]The signal was given and the word passed to collect the baggage; they then proceeded in marching order to the Dictator's camp much to his surprise and to the surprise of all who were round him. When the standards had been stationed in front of his tribunal, the Master of the Horse stepped forward and addressed him as "Father," and the whole of his troops saluted those who were crowding round them as "Patrons." He then proceeded, "I have put you on a level, Dictator, with my parents as far as I can do so in words, but to them I only owe my life, to you I owe my preservation and the safety of all these men. The decree of the plebs, which I feel to be onerous rather than an honour, I am the first to repeal and annul, and with a prayer that it may turn out well for you, for me, and for these armies of yours, for preserved and preserver alike, I place myself again under your auspicious authority and restore to you these legions with their standards. I ask you, as an act of grace, to order me to retain my office and these, each man of them, his place in the ranks." Then each man grasped his neighbour's hand, and the soldiers were dismissed to quarters where they were generously and hospitably entertained by acquaintances and strangers alike, and the day which had a short time ago been dark and gloomy and almost marked by disaster and ruin became a day of joy and gladness. When the report of this action reached Rome and was confirmed by despatches from both commanders, and by letters from the rank and file of both armies, every man did his best to extol Maximus to the skies. His reputation was quite as great with Hannibal and the Carthaginians; now at last they felt that the were warring with Romans and on Italian soil. For the last two years they had felt such contempt for Roman generals and Roman troops that they could hardly believe that they were at war with that nation of whom they had heard such a terrible report from their fathers. Hannibal on his return from the field is reported to have said, "The cloud which has so long settled on the mountain heights has at last burst upon us in rain and storm."
[22.31]While these events were occurring in Italy, the consul., Cn. Servilius Geminus, with a fleet of 120 vessels, visited Sardinia and Corsica and received hostages from both islands; from there he sailed to Africa. Before landing on the mainland he laid waste the island of Menix and allowed the inhabitants of Cercina to save their island from a similar visitation by paying an indemnity of ten talents of silver. After this he disembarked his forces on the African coast and sent them, both soldiers and seamen, to ravage the country. They dispersed far and wide just as though they were plundering uninhabited islands, and consequently their recklessness led them into an ambuscade. Straggling in small parties, they were surrounded by large numbers of the enemy who knew the country, whilst they were strangers to it, with the result that they were driven in wild flight and with heavy loss back to their ships. After losing as many as a thousand men - amongst them the quaestor Sempronius Blaesus - the fleet hastily put to sea from shores lined with the enemy and held its course to Sicily. Here it was handed over to T. Otacilius, in order that his second in command, P. Sura, might take it back to Rome. Servilius himself proceeded overland through Sicily and crossed the Strait into Italy, in consequence of a despatch from Q. Fabius recalling him and his colleague, M. Atilius, to take over the armies, as his six months' tenure of office had almost expired. All the annalists, with one or two exceptions, state that Fabius acted against Hannibal as Dictator; Caelius adds that he was the first Dictator who was appointed by the people. But Caelius and the rest have forgotten that the right of nominating a Dictator lay with the consul alone, and Servilius, who was the only consul at the time, was in Gaul. The citizens, appalled by three successive defeats, could not endure the thought of delay, and recourse was had to the appointment by the people of a man to act in place of a Dictator ("pro dictatore"). His subsequent achievements, his brilliant reputation as a commander, and the exaggerations which his descendants introduced into the inscription on his bust easily explain the belief which ultimately gained ground, that Fabius, who had only been pro-dictator, was actually Dictator.
[22.32]Fabius army was transferred to Atilius, Servilius Geminus took over the one which Minucius had commanded. They lost no time in fortifying their winter quarters, and during the remainder of the autumn conducted their joint operations in the most perfect harmony on the line which Fabius had laid down. When Hannibal left his camp to collect supplies, they were conveniently posted at different spots to harass his main body and cut off stragglers; but they refused to risk a general engagement, though the enemy employed every artifice to bring one on. Hannibal was reduced to such extremities that he would have marched back into Gaul had not his departure looked like flight. No chance whatever would have been left to him of feeding his army in that part of Italy if the succeeding consuls had persevered in the same tactics. When the winter had brought the war to a standstill at Gereonium, envoys from Neapolis arrived in Rome. They brought with them into the Senate-house forty very heavy golden bowls, and addressed the assembled senators in the following terms: "We know that the Roman treasury is being drained by the war, and since this war is being carried on for the towns and fields of the allies quite as much as for the head and stronghold of Italy, the City of Rome and its empire, we Neapolitans have thought it but right to assist the Roman people with the gold which has been left by our ancestors for the enriching of our temples and for a reserve in time of need. If we thought that our personal services would have been of any use we would just as gladly have offered them. The senators and people of Rome will confer a great pleasure upon us if they look upon everything that belongs to the Neapolitans as their own, and deign to accept from us a gift, the value and importance of which lie rather in the cordial goodwill of those who gladly give it than in any intrinsic worth which it may itself possess." A vote of thanks was passed to the envoys for their munificence and their care for the interests of Rome, and one bowl, the smallest, was accepted.
[22.33]About the same time a Carthaginian spy who for two years had escaped detection was caught in Rome, and after both his hands were cut off, he was sent away. Twenty-five slaves who had formed a conspiracy in the Campus Martius were crucified; the informer had his liberty given to him and 20,000 bronze ases. Ambassadors were sent to Philip, King of Macedon, to demand the surrender of Demetrius of Pharos, who had taken refuge with him after his defeat, and another embassy was despatched to the Ligurians to make a formal complaint as to the assistance they had given the Carthaginian in men and money, and at the same time to get a nearer view of what was going on amongst the Boii and the Insubres. Officials were also sent to Pineus, King of Illyria, to demand payment of the tribute which was now in arrears, or, if he wished for an extension of time, to accept personal securities for its payment. So, though they had an immense war on their shoulders, nothing escaped the attention of the Romans in any part of the world, however distant. A religious difficulty arose about an unfulfilled vow. On the occasion of the mutiny amongst the troops in Gaul two years before, the praetor, L. Manlius, had vowed a temple to Concord, but up to that time no contract had been made for its construction. Two commissioners were appointed for the purpose by M. Aemilius, the City praetor, namely, C. Pupius and Caeso Quinctius Flamininus, and they entered into a contract for the building of the temple within the precinct of the citadel. The senate passed a resolution that Aemilius should also write to the consuls asking one of them, if they approved, to come to Rome to hold the consular elections, and he would give notice of the elections for whatever day they fixed upon. The consuls replied that they could not leave the army in the presence of the enemy without danger to the republic, it would be therefore better for the elections to be held by an interrex than that a consul should be recalled from the front. The senate thought it better for a Dictator to be nominated by the consul for the purpose of holding the elections. L. Veturius Philo was nominated; he appointed Manlius Pomponius Matho his Master of the Horse. Their election was found to be invalid, and they were ordered to resign office after holding it for four days; matters reverted to an interregnum.
[22.34](216 B.C.)Servilius and Regulus had their commands extended for another year. The interreges appointed by the senate were C. Claudius Cento, son of Appius, and P. Cornelius Asina. The latter conducted the elections amidst a bitter struggle between the patricians and the plebs. C. Terentius Varro, a member of their own order, had ingratiated himself with the plebs by his attacks upon the leading men in the State and by all the tricks known to the demagogue. His success in shaking the influence of Fabius and weakening the authority of the Dictator had invested him with a certain glory in the eyes of the mob, which was heightened by the other's unpopularity, and they did their utmost to raise him to the consulship. The patricians opposed him with their utmost strength, dreading lest it should become a common practice for men to attack them as a means of rising to an equality with them. Q. Baebius Herennius, a relation of Varro's, accused not only the senate, but even the augurs, because they had prevented the Dictator from carrying the elections through, and by thus embittering public opinion against them, he strengthened the feeling in favour of his own candidate. "It was by the nobility," he declared, "who had for many years been trying to get up a war, that Hannibal was brought into Italy, and when the war might have been brought to a close, it was they who were unscrupulously protracting it. The advantage which M. Minucius gained in the absence of Fabius made it abundantly clear that with four legions combined, a successful fight could be maintained, but afterwards two legions had been exposed to slaughter at the hands of the enemy, and then rescued at the very last moment in order that he might be called 'Father' and 'Patron' because he would not allow the Romans to conquer before they had been defeated. Then as to the consuls; though they had it in their power to finish the war they had adopted Fabius' policy and protracted it. This is the secret understanding that has been come to by all the nobles, and we shall never see the end of the war till we have elected as our consul a man who is really a plebeian, that is, one from the ranks. The plebeian nobility have all been initiated into the same mysteries; when they are no longer looked down upon by the patricians, they at once begin to look down upon the plebs. Who does not see that their one aim and object was to bring about an interregnum in order that the elections might be controlled by the patricians? That was the object of the consuls in both staying with the army; then, afterwards, because they had to nominate a Dictator against their will to conduct the elections, they had carried their point by force, and the Dictator's appointment was declared invalid by the augurs. Well, they have got their interregnum; one consulship at all events belongs to the Roman plebs; the people will freely dispose of it and give it to the man who prefers an early victory to prolonged command."
[22.35]Harangues like these kindled intense excitement amongst the plebs. There were three patrician candidates in the field, P. Cornelius Merenda, L. Manlius Vulso, and M. Aemilius Lepidus; two plebeians who were now ennobled, C. Atilius Serranus and Q. Aelius Paetus, one of whom was a pontiff, the other an augur. But the only one elected was C. Terentius Varro, so that the elections for appointing his colleague were in his hands. The nobility saw that his rivals were not strong enough, and they compelled L. Aemilius Paulus to come forward. He had come off with a blasted reputation from the trial in which his colleague had been found guilty, and he narrowly escaped, and for a long time stoutly resisted the proposal to become a candidate owing to his intense dislike of the plebs. On the next election day, after all Varro's opponents had retired, he was given to him not so much to be his colleague as to oppose him on equal terms. The elections of praetors followed; those elected were Manlius Pomponius Matho and P. Furius Philus. To Philus was assigned the jurisdiction over Roman citizens, to Pomponius the decision of suits between citizens and foreigners. Two additional praetors were appointed, M. Claudius Marcellus for Sicily, and L. Postumius Albinus to act in Gaul. These were all elected in their absence, and none of them, with the exception of Varro, were new to office. Several strong and capable men were passed over, for at such a time it seemed undesirable that a magistracy should be entrusted to new and untried men.
[22.36]The armies were increased, but as to what additions were made to the infantry and cavalry, the authorities vary so much, both as to the numbers and nature of the forces, that I should hardly venture to assert anything as positively certain. Some say that 10,000 recruits were called out to make up the losses; others, that four new legions were enrolled so that they might carry on the war with eight legions. Some authorities record that both horse and foot in the legions were made stronger by the addition of 1000 infantry and 100 cavalry to each, so that they contained 5000 infantry and 300 cavalry, whilst the allies furnished double the number of cavalry and an equal number of infantry. Thus, according to these writers, there were 87,200 men in the Roman camp when the battle of Cannae was fought. One thing is quite certain; the struggle was resumed with greater vigour and energy than in former years, because the Dictator had given them reason to hope that the enemy might be conquered. But before the newly raised legions left the City the decemvirs were ordered to consult the Sacred Books owing to the general alarm which had been created by fresh portents. It was reported that showers of stones had fallen simultaneously on the Aventine in Rome and at Aricia; that the statues of the gods amongst the Sabines had sweated blood, and cold water had flowed from the hot springs. This latter portent created more terror, because it had happened several times. In the colonnade near the Campus several men had been killed by lightning. The proper expiation of these portents was ascertained from the Sacred Books. Some envoys from Paestum brought golden bowls to Rome. Thanks were voted to them as in the case of the Neapolitans, but the gold was not accepted.
[22.37]About the same time a fleet which had been despatched by Hiero arrived at Ostia with a large quantity of supplies. When his officers were introduced into the senate they spoke in the following terms: "The news of the death of the consul C. Flaminius and the destruction of his army caused so much distress and grief to King Hiero that he could not have been more deeply moved by any disaster which could happen either to himself personally or to his kingdom. Although he well knows that the greatness of Rome is almost more to be admired in adversity than in prosperity, still, notwithstanding that, he has sent everything with which good and faithful allies can assist their friends in time of war, and he earnestly intreats the senate not to reject his offer. To begin with, we are bringing, as an omen of good fortune, a golden statue of Victory, weighing two hundred and twenty pounds. We ask you to accept it and keep it as your own for ever. We have also brought 300,000 pecks of wheat and 200,000 of barley that you may not want provisions, and we are prepared to transport as much more as you require to any place that you may decide upon. The king is quite aware that Rome does not employ any legionary soldiers or cavalry except Romans and those belonging to the Latin nation, but he has seen foreigners serving as light infantry in the Roman camp. He has, accordingly, sent 1000 archers and slingers, capable of acting against the Balearics and Moors and other tribes who fight with missile weapons." They supplemented these gifts by suggesting that the praetor to whom Sicily had been assigned should take the fleet over to Africa so that the country of the enemy, too, might be visited by war, and less facilities afforded him for sending reinforcements to Hannibal. The senate requested the officers to take back the following reply to the king: Hiero was a man of honour and an exemplary ally; he had been consistently loyal all through, and had on every occasion rendered most generous help to Rome, and for that Rome was duly grateful. The gold which had been offered by one or two cities had not been accepted, though the Roman people were very grateful for the offer. They would, however, accept the statue of Victory as an omen for the future, and would give and consecrate a place for her in the Capitol in the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Enshrined in that stronghold she will be gracious and propitious, constant and steadfast to Rome. The archers and slingers and the corn were handed over to the consuls. The fleet which T. Otacilius had with him in Sicily was strengthened by the addition of twenty-five quinqueremes, and permission was given him to cross over to Africa if he thought it would be in the interest of the republic.
[22.38]After completing the enrolment the consuls waited a few days for the contingents furnished by the Latins and the allies to come in. Then a new departure was made; the soldiers were sworn in by the military tribunes. Up to that day there had only been the military oath binding the men to assemble at the bidding of the consuls and not to disband until they received orders to do so. It had also been the custom among the soldiers, when the infantry were formed into companies of 100, and the cavalry into troops of 10, for all the men in each company or troop to take a voluntary oath to each other that they would not leave their comrades for fear or for flight, and that they would not quit the ranks save to fetch or pick up a weapon, to strike an enemy, or to save a comrade. This voluntary covenant was now changed into a formal oath taken before the tribunes. Before they marched out of the City, Varro delivered several violent harangues, in which he declared that the war had been brought into Italy by the nobles, and would continue to feed on the vitals of the republic if there were more generals like Fabius; he, Varro, would finish off the war the very day he caught sight of the enemy. His colleague, Paulus, made only one speech, in which there was much more truth than the people cared to hear. He passed no strictures on Varro, but he did express surprise that any general, whilst still in the City before he had taken up his command, or become acquainted with either his own army or that of the enemy, or gained any information as to the lie of the country and the nature of the ground, should know in what way he should conduct the campaign and be able to foretell the day on which he would fight a decisive battle with the enemy. As for himself, Paulus said that he would not anticipate events by disclosing his measures, for, after all, circumstances determined measures for men much more than men made circumstances subservient to measures. He hoped and prayed that such measures as were taken with due caution and foresight might turn out successful; so far rashness, besides being foolish, had proved disastrous. He made it quite clear that he would prefer safe to hasty counsels, and in order to strengthen him in this resolve Fabius is said to have addressed him on his departure in the following terms:
[22.39]" L. Aemilius, if you were like your colleague or, if you had a colleague like yourself - and I would that it were so - my address would be simply a waste of words. For if you were both good consuls, you would, without any suggestions from me, do everything that the interests of the State or your own sense of honour demanded; if you were both alike bad, you would neither listen to anything I had to say, nor take any advice which I might offer. As it is, when I look at your colleague and consider what sort of a man you are, I shall address my remarks to you. I can see that your merits as a man and a citizen will effect nothing if one half of the commonwealth is crippled and evil counsels possess the same force and authority as good ones. You are mistaken, L. Paulus, if you imagine that you will have less difficulty with C. Terentius than with Hannibal; I rather think the former will prove a more dangerous enemy than the latter. With the one you will only have to contend in the field, the opposition of the other you will have to meet everywhere and always. Against Hannibal and his legions you will have your cavalry and infantry, when Varro is in command he will use your own men against you. I do not want to bring ill luck on you by mentioning the ill-starred Flaminius, but this I must say that it was only after he was consul and had entered upon his province and taken up his command that he began to play the madman, but this man was insane before he stood for the consulship and afterwards while canvassing for it, and now that he is consul, before he has seen the camp or the enemy he is madder than ever. If he raises such storms amongst peaceful civilians as he did just now by bragging about battles and battlefields, what will he do, think you, when he is talking to armed men - and those young men - where words at once lead to action. And yet if he carries out his threat and brings on an action at once, either I am utterly ignorant of military science, of the nature of this war, of the enemy with whom we are dealing, or else some place or other will be rendered more notorious by our defeat than even Trasumennus. As we are alone, this is hardly a time for boasting, and I would rather be thought to have gone too far in despising glory than in seeking it, but as a matter of fact, the only rational method of carrying on war against Hannibal is the one which I have followed. This is not only taught us by experience - experience the teacher of fools - but by reasoning which has been and will continue to be unchanged as long as the conditions remain the same. We are carrying on war in Italy, in our own country on our own soil, everywhere round us are citizens and allies, they are helping us with men, horses, supplies, and they will continue to do so, for they have proved their loyalty thus far to us in our adversity; and time and circumstance are making us more efficient, more circumspect, more self-reliant. Hannibal, on the other hand, is in a foreign and hostile land, far from his home and country, confronted everywhere by opposition and danger; nowhere by land or sea can he find peace; no cities admit him within their gates, no fortified towns; nowhere does he see anything which he can call his own, he has to live on each day's pillage: he has hardly a third of the army with which he crossed the Ebro; he has lost more by famine than by the sword, and even the few he has cannot get enough to support life. Do you doubt then, that if we sit still we shall get the better of a man who is growing weaker day by day, who has neither supplies nor reinforcements nor money? How long has he been sitting before the walls of Gereonium, a poor fortress in Apulia, as though they were the walls of Carthage? But I will not sound my own praises even before you. See how the late consuls, Cn. Servilius and Atilius, fooled him. This, L. Paulus, is the only safe course to adopt, and it is one which your fellow citizens will do more to make difficult and dangerous for you than the enemy will. For your own soldiers will want the same thing as the enemy; Varro though he is a Roman consul will desire just what Hannibal the Carthaginian commander desires. You must hold your own single-handed against both generals. And you will hold your own if you stand your ground firmly against public gossip and private slander, if you remain unmoved by false misrepresentations and your colleague's idle boasting. It is said that truth is far too often eclipsed but never totally extinguished. The man who scorns false glory will possess the true. Let them call you a coward because you are cautious, a laggard because you are deliberate, unsoldierly because you are a skilful general. I would rather have you give a clever enemy cause for fear than earn the praise of foolish compatriots. Hannibal will only feel contempt for a man who runs all risks, he will be afraid of one who never takes a rash step. I do not advise you to do nothing, but I do advise you to be guided in what you do by common sense and reason and not by chance. Never lose control of your forces and yourself; be always prepared, always on the alert; never fail to seize an opportunity favourable to yourself, and never give a favourable opportunity to the enemy. The man who is not in a hurry will always see his way clearly; haste blunders on blindly."
[22.40]The consul's reply was far from being a cheerful one, for he admitted that the advice given was true, but not easy to put into practice. If a Dictator had found his Master of the Horse unbearable, what power or authority would a consul have against a violent and headstrong colleague? "In my first consulship," he said, "I escaped, badly singed, from the fire of popular fury. I hope and pray that all may end successfully, but if any mischance befalls us I shall expose myself to the weapons of the enemy sooner than to the verdict of the enraged citizens." With these words Paulus, it is said, set forward, escorted by the foremost men amongst the patricians; the plebeian consul was attended by his plebeian friends, more conspicuous for their numbers than for the quality of the men who composed the crowd. When they came into camp the recruits and the old soldiers were formed into one army, and two separate camps were formed, the new camp, which was the smaller one, being nearer to Hannibal, while in the old camp the larger part of the army and the best troops were stationed. M. Atilius, one of the consuls of the previous year, pleaded his age and was sent back to Rome; the other, Geminus Servilius, was placed in command of the smaller camp with one Roman legion and 2000 horse and foot of the allies. Although Hannibal saw that the army opposed to him was half as large again as it had been he was hugely delighted at the advent of the consuls. For not only was there nothing left out of his daily plunder, but there was nothing left anywhere for him to seize, as all the corn, now that the country was unsafe, had been everywhere stored in the cities. Hardly ten days' rations of corn remained, as was afterwards discovered, and the Spaniards were prepared to desert, owing to the shortness of supplies, if only the Romans had waited till the time was ripe.
[22.41]An incident occurred which still further encouraged Varro's impetuous and headstrong temperament. Parties were sent to drive off the foragers; a confused fight ensued owing to the soldiers rushing forward without any preconcerted plan or orders from their commanders, and the contest went heavily against the Carthaginians. As many as 1700 of them were killed, the loss of the Romans and the allies did not amount to more than 100. The consuls commanded on alternate days, and that day happened to be Paulus' turn. He checked the victors who were pursuing the enemy in great disorder, for he feared an ambuscade. Varro was furious, and loudly exclaimed that the enemy had been allowed to slip out of their hands, and if the pursuit had not been stopped the war could have been brought to a close. Hannibal did not very much regret his losses, on the contrary he believed that they would serve as a bait to the impetuosity of the consul and his newly-raised troops, and that he would be more headstrong than ever. What was going on in the enemy's camp was quite as well known to him as what was going on in his own; he was fully aware that there were differences and quarrels between the commanders, and that two-thirds of the army consisted of recruits. The following night he selected what he considered a suitable position for an ambuscade, and marched his men out of camp with nothing but their arms, leaving all the property, both public and private, behind in the camp. He then concealed the force behind the hills which enclosed the valley, the infantry to the left and the cavalry to the right, and took the baggage train through the middle of the valley, in the hope of surprising the Romans whilst plundering the apparently deserted camp and hampered with their plunder. Numerous fires were left burning in the camp in order to create the impression that he wished to keep the consuls in their respective positions until he had traversed a considerable distance in his retreat. Fabius had been deceived by the same stratagem the previous year.
[22.42]As it grew light the pickets were seen to have been withdrawn, then on approaching nearer the unusual silence created surprise. When it was definitely learnt that the camp was empty the men rushed in a body to the commanders' quarters with the news that the enemy had fled in such haste that they left the tents standing, and to secure greater secrecy for their flight had also left numerous fires burning. Then a loud shout arose demanding that the order should be given to advance, and that the men should be led in pursuit, and that the camp should be plundered forthwith. The one consul behaved as though he were one of the clamorous crowd; the other, Paulus, repeatedly asserted the need of caution and circumspection. At last, unable to deal with the mutinous crowd and its leader in any other way, he sent Marius Statilius with his troop of Lucanian horse to reconnoitre. When he had ridden up to the gates of the camp he ordered his men to halt outside the lines, he himself with two of his troopers entered the camp and after a careful and thorough examination he brought back word that there was certainly a trick somewhere, the fires were left on the side of the camp which fronted the Romans, the tents were standing open with all the valuables exposed to view, in some parts he had seen silver lying about on the paths as though it had been put there for plunder. So far from deterring the soldiers from satisfying their greed, as it was intended to do, this report only inflamed it, and a shout arose that if the signal was not given they would go on without their generals. There was no lack of a general, however, for Varro instantly gave the signal to advance. Paulus, who was hanging back, received a report from the keeper of the sacred chickens that they had not given a favourable omen, and he ordered the report to be at once carried to his colleague as he was just marching out of the camp gates. Varro was very much annoyed, but the recollection of the disaster which overtook Flaminius and the naval defeat which the consul Claudius sustained in the first Punic war made him afraid of acting in an irreligious spirit. It seemed as though the gods themselves on that day delayed, if they did actually do away, the fatal doom which was impending over the Romans. For it so happened that whilst the soldiers were ignoring the consul's order for the standards to be carried back into camp, two slaves, one belonging to a trooper from Formiae, the other to one from Sidicinum, who had been captured with the foraging parties when Servilius and Atilius were in command, had that day escaped to their former masters. They were taken before the consul and told him that the whole of Hannibal's army was lying behind the nearest hills. The opportune arrival of these men restored the authority of the consuls, though one of them in his desire to be popular had weakened his authority by his unscrupulous connivance at breaches of discipline.
[22.43]When Hannibal saw that the ill-considered movement which the Romans had commenced was not recklessly carried out to its final stage, and that his ruse had been detected, he returned to camp. Owing to the want of corn he was unable to remain there many days, and fresh plans were continually cropping up, not only amongst the soldiers, who were a medley of all nations, but even in the mind of the general himself. Murmurs gradually swelled into loud and angry protests as the men demanded their arrears of pay, and complained of the starvation which they were enduring, and in addition, a rumour was started that the mercenaries, chiefly those of Spanish nationality, had formed a plot to desert. Even Hannibal himself, it is said, sometimes thought of leaving his infantry behind and hurrying with his cavalry into Gaul. With these plans being discussed and this temper prevailing amongst the men, he decided to move into the warmer parts of Apulia, where the harvest was earlier and where, owing to the greater distance from the enemy, desertion would be rendered more difficult for the fickle-minded part of his force. As on the previous occasion, he ordered camp-fires to be lighted, and a few tents left where they could be easily seen, in order that the Romans, remembering a similar stratagem, might be afraid to move. However, Statilius was again sent to reconnoitre with his Lucanians, and he made a thorough examination of the country beyond the camp and over the mountains. He reported that he had caught a distant view of the enemy in line of march, and the question of pursuit was discussed. As usual, the views of the two consuls were opposed, but almost all present supported Varro, not a single voice was given in favour of Paulus, except that of Servilius, consul in the preceding year. The opinion of the majority of the council prevailed, and so, driven by destiny, they went forward to render Cannae famous in the annals of Roman defeats. It was in the neighbourhood of this village that Hannibal had fixed his camp with his back to the Sirocco which blows from Mount Vultur and fills the arid plains with clouds of dust. This arrangement was a very convenient one for his camp, and it proved to be extremely advantageous afterwards, when he was forming his order of battle, for his own men, with the wind behind them, blowing only on their backs, would fight with an enemy who was blinded by volumes of dust.
[22.44]The consuls followed the Carthaginians, carefully examining the roads as they marched, and when they reached Cannae and had the enemy in view they formed two entrenched camps separated by the same interval as at Gereonium, and with the same distribution of troops in each camp. The river Aufidus, flowing past the two camps, furnished a supply of water which the soldiers got as they best could, and they generally had to fight for it. The men in the smaller camp, which was on the other side of the river, had less difficulty in obtaining it, as that bank was not held by the enemy. Hannibal now saw his hopes fulfilled, that the consuls would give him an opportunity of fighting on ground naturally adapted for the movements of cavalry, the arm in which he had so far been invincible, and accordingly he placed his army in order of battle, and tried to provoke his foe to action by repeated charges of his Numidians. The Roman camp was again disturbed by a mutinous soldiery and consuls at variance, Paulus bringing up against Varro the fatal rashness of Sempronius and Flaminius, Varro retorting by pointing to Fabius as the favourite model of cowardly and inert commanders, and calling gods and men to witness that it was through no fault of his that Hannibal had acquired, so to speak, a prescriptive right to Italy; he had had his hands tied by his colleague; his soldiers, furious and eager for fight, had had their swords and arms taken away from them. Paulus, on the other hand, declared that if anything happened to the legions flung recklessly and betrayed into an ill-considered and imprudent action, he was free from all responsibility for it, though he would have to share in all the consequences. "See to it," he said to Varro, "that those who are so free and ready with their tongues are equally so with their hands in the day of battle."
[22.45]Whilst time was thus being wasted in disputes instead of deliberation, Hannibal withdrew the bulk of his army, who had been standing most of the day in order of battle, into camp. He sent his Numidians, however, across the river to attack the parties who were getting water for the smaller camp. They had hardly gained the opposite bank when with their shouting and uproar they sent the crowd flying in wild disorder, and galloping on as far as the outpost in front of the rampart, they nearly reached the gates of the camp. It was looked upon as such an insult for a Roman camp to be actually terrorised by irregular auxiliaries that one thing, and one thing alone, held back the Romans from instantly crossing the river and forming their battle line - the supreme command that day rested with Paulus. The following day Varro, whose turn it now was, without any consultation with his colleague, exhibited the signal for battle and led his forces drawn up for action across the river. Paulus followed, for though he disapproved of the measure, he was bound to support it. After crossing, they strengthened their line with the force in the smaller camp and completed their formation. On the right, which was nearest to the river, the Roman cavalry were posted, then came the infantry; on the extreme left were the cavalry of the allies, their infantry were between them and the Roman legions. The javelin men with the rest of the light-armed auxiliaries formed the front line. The consuls took their stations on the wings, Terentius Varro on the left, Aemilius Paulus on the right.
[22.46]As soon as it grew light Hannibal sent forward the Balearics and the other light infantry. He then crossed the river in person and as each division was brought across he assigned it its place in the line. The Gaulish and Spanish horse he posted near the bank on the left wing in front of the Roman cavalry; the right wing was assigned to the Numidian troopers. The centre consisted of a strong force of infantry, the Gauls and Spaniards in the middle, the Africans at either end of them. You might fancy that the Africans were for the most part a body of Romans from the way they were armed, they were so completely equipped with the arms, some of which they had taken at the Trebia, but the most part at Trasumennus. The Gauls and Spaniards had shields almost of the same shape their swords were totally different, those of the Gauls being very long and without a point, the Spaniard, accustomed to thrust more than to cut, had a short handy sword, pointed like a dagger. These nations, more than any other, inspired terror by the vastness of their stature and their frightful appearance: the Gauls were naked above the waist, the Spaniards had taken up their position wearing white tunics embroidered with purple, of dazzling brilliancy. The total number of infantry in the field was 40,000, and there were 10,000 cavalry. Hasdrubal was in command of the left wing, Maharbal of the right; Hannibal himself with his brother Mago commanded the centre. It was a great convenience to both armies that the sun shone obliquely on them, whether it was that they had purposely so placed themselves, or whether it happened by accident, since the Romans faced the north, the Carthaginans the South. The wind, called by the inhabitants the Vulturnus, was against the Romans, and blew great clouds of dust into their faces, making it impossible for them to see in front of them.
[22.47]When the battle shout was raised the auxiliaries ran forward, and the battle began with the light infantry. Then the Gauls and Spaniards on the left engaged the Roman cavalry on the right; the battle was not at all like a cavalry fight, for there was no room for maneuvering, the river on the one side and the infantry on the other hemming them in, compelled them to fight face to face. Each side tried to force their way straight forward, till at last the horses were standing in a closely pressed mass, and the riders seized their opponents and tried to drag them from their horses. It had become mainly a struggle of infantry, fierce but short, and the Roman cavalry was repulsed and fled. Just as this battle of the cavalry was finished, the infantry became engaged, and as long as the Gauls and Spaniards kept their ranks unbroken, both sides were equally matched in strength and courage. At length after long and repeated efforts the Romans closed up their ranks, echeloned their front, and by the sheer weight of their deep column bore down the division of the enemy which was stationed in front of Hannibal's line, and was too thin and weak to resist the pressure. Without a moment's pause they followed up their broken and hastily retreating foe till they took to headlong flight. Cutting their way through the mass of fugitives, who offered no resistance, they penetrated as far as the Africans who were stationed on both wings, somewhat further back than the Gauls and Spaniards who had formed the advanced centre. As the latter fell back the whole front became level, and as they continued to give ground it became concave and crescent-shaped, the Africans at either end forming the horns. As the Romans rushed on incautiously between them, they were enfiladed by the two wings, which extended and closed round them in the rear. On this, the Romans, who had fought one battle to no purpose, left the Gauls and Spaniards, whose rear they had been slaughtering, and commenced a fresh struggle with the Africans. The contest was a very one-sided one, for not only were they hemmed in on all sides, but wearied with the previous fighting they were meeting fresh and vigorous opponents.
[22.48]By this time the Roman left wing, where the allied cavalry were fronting the Numidians, had become engaged, but the fighting was slack at first owing to a Carthaginian stratagem. About 500 Numidians, carrying, besides their usual arms and missiles, swords concealed under their coats of mail, rode out from their own line with their shields slung behind their backs as though they were deserters, and suddenly leaped from their horses and flung their shields and javelins at the feet of their enemy. They were received into their ranks, conducted to the rear, and ordered to remain quiet. While the battle was spreading to the various parts of the field they remained quiet, but when the eyes and minds of all were wholly taken up with the fighting they seized the large Roman shields which were lying everywhere amongst the heaps of slain and commenced a furious attack upon the rear of the Roman line. Slashing away at backs and hips, they made a great slaughter and a still greater panic and confusion. Amidst the rout and panic in one part of the field and the obstinate but hopeless struggle in the other, Hasdrubal, who was in command of that arm, withdrew some Numidians from the centre of the right wing, where the fighting was feebly kept up, and sent them m pursuit of the fugitives, and at the same time sent the Spanish and Gaulish horse to the aid of the Africans, who were by this time more wearied by slaughter than by fighting.
[22.49]Paulus was on the other side of the field. In spite of his having been seriously wounded at the commencement of the action by a bullet from a sling, he frequently encountered Hannibal with a compact body of troops, and in several places restored the battle. The Roman cavalry formed a bodyguard round him, but at last, as he became too weak to manage his horse, they all dismounted. It is stated that when some one reported to Hannibal that the consul had ordered his men to fight on foot, he remarked, "I would rather he handed them over to me bound hand and foot.'' Now that the victory of the enemy was no longer doubtful this struggle of the dismounted cavalry was such as might be expected when men preferred to die where they stood rather than flee, and the victors, furious at them for delaying the victory, butchered without mercy those whom they could not dislodge. They did, however, repulse a few survivors exhausted with their exertions and their wounds. All were at last scattered, and those who could regained their horses for flight. Cn. Lentulus, a military tribune, saw, as he rode by, the consul covered with blood sitting on a boulder. "Lucius Aemilius," he said, "the one man whom the gods must hold guiltless of this day's disaster, take this horse while you have still some strength left, and I can lift you into the saddle and keep by your side to protect you. Do not make this day of battle still more fatal by a consul's death, there are enough tears and mourning without that." The consul replied: "Long may you live to do brave deeds, Cornelius, but do not waste in useless pity the few moments left in which to escape from the hands of the enemy. Go, announce publicly to the senate that they must fortify Rome and make its defence strong before the victorious enemy approaches, and tell Q. Fabius privately that I have ever remembered his precepts in life and in death. Suffer me to breathe my last among my slaughtered soldiers, let me not have to defend myself again when I am no longer consul, or appear as the accuser of my colleague and protect my own innocence by throwing the guilt on another." During this conversation a crowd of fugitives came suddenly upon them, followed by the enemy, who, not knowing who the consul was, overwhelmed him with a shower of missiles. Lentulus escaped on horseback in the rush. Then there was flight in all directions; 7000 men escaped to the smaller camp, 10,000 to the larger, and about 2000 to the village of Cannae. These latter were at once surrounded by Carthalo and his cavalry, as the village was quite unfortified. The other consul, who either by accident or design had not joined any of these bodies of fugitives, escaped with about fifty cavalry to Venusia; 45,500 infantry, 2700 cavalry - almost an equal proportion of Romans and allies - are said to have been killed. Amongst the number were both the quaestors attached to the consuls, L. Atilius and L. Furius Bibulcus, twenty-nine military tribunes, several ex-consuls, ex-praetors, and ex-aediles (amongst them are included Cn. Servilius Geminus and M. Minucius, who was Master of the Horse the previous year and, some years before that, consul), and in addition to these, eighty men who had either been senators or filled offices qualifying them for election to the senate and who had volunteered for service with the legions. The prisoners taken in the battle are stated to have amounted to 3000 infantry and 1500 cavalry.
[22.50]Such was the battle of Cannae, a battle as famous as the disastrous one at the Allia; not so serious in its results, owing to the inaction of the enemy, but more serious and more horrible in view of the slaughter of the army. For the flight at the Allia saved the army though it lost the City, whereas at Cannae hardly fifty men shared the consul's flight, nearly the whole army met their death in company with the other consul. As those who had taken refuge in the two camps were only a defenceless crowd without any leaders, the men in the larger camp sent a message to the others asking them to cross over to them at night when the enemy, tired after the battle and the feasting in honour of their victory, would be buried in sleep. Then they would go in one body to Canusium. Some rejected the proposal with scorn. "Why," they asked, "cannot those who sent the message come themselves, since they are quite as able to join us as we to join them? Because, of course, all the country between us is scoured by the enemy and they prefer to expose other people to that deadly peril rather than themselves." Others did not disapprove of the proposal, but they lacked courage to carry it out. P. Sempronius Tuditanus protested against this cowardice. "Would you," he asked, "rather be taken prisoners by a most avaricious and ruthless foe and a price put upon your heads and your value assessed after you have been asked whether you are a Roman citizen or a Latin ally, in order that another may win honour from your misery and disgrace? Certainly not, if you are really the fellow-countrymen of L. Aemilius, who chose a noble death rather than a life of degradation, and of all the brave men who are lying in heaps around him. But, before daylight overtakes us and the enemy gathers in larger force to bar our path, let us cut our way through the men who in disorder and confusion are clamouring at our gates. Good swords and brave hearts make a way through enemies, however densely they are massed. If you march shoulder to shoulder you will scatter this loose and disorganised force as easily as if nothing opposed you. Come then with me, all you who want to preserve yourselves and the State." With these words he drew his sword, and with his men in close formation marched through the very midst of the enemy. When the Numidians hurled their javelins on the right, the unprotected side, they transferred their shields to their right arms, and so got clear away to the larger camp As many as 600 escaped on this occasion, and after another large body had joined them they at once left the camp and came through safely to Canusium. This action on the part of defeated men was due to the impulse of natural courage or of accident rather than to any concerted plan of their own or any one's generalship.
[22.51]Hannibal's officers all surrounded him and congratulated him on his victory, and urged that after such a magnificent success he should allow himself and his exhausted men to rest for the remainder of the day and the following night. Maharbal, however, the commandant of the cavalry, thought that they ought not to lose a moment. "That you may know," he said to Hannibal, "what has been gained by this battle I prophesy that in five days you will be feasting as victor in the Capitol. Follow me; I will go in advance with the cavalry; they will know that you are come before they know that you are coming." To Hannibal the victory seemed too great and too joyous for him to realise all at once. He told Maharbal that he commended his zeal, but he needed time to think out his plans. Maharbal replied: "The gods have not given all their gifts to one man. You know how to win victory, Hannibal, you do not how to use it." That day's delay is believed to have saved the City and the empire. The next day, as soon as it grew light, they set about gathering the spoils on the field and viewing the carnage, which was a ghastly sight even for an enemy. There all those thousands of Romans were lying, infantry and cavalry indiscriminately as chance had brought them together in the battle or the flight. Some covered with blood raised themselves from amongst the dead around them, tortured by their wounds which were nipped by the cold of the morning, and were promptly put an end to by the enemy. Some they found lying with their thighs and knees gashed but still alive; these bared their throats and necks and bade them drain what blood they still had left. Some were discovered with their heads buried in the earth, they had evidently suffocated themselves by making holes in the ground and heaping the soil over their faces. What attracted the attention of all was a Numidian who was dragged alive from under a dead Roman lying across him; his ears and nose were torn, for the Roman with hands too powerless to grasp his weapon had, in his mad rage, torn his enemy with his teeth, and while doing so expired.
[22.52]After most of the day had been spent in collecting the spoils, Hannibal led his men to the attack on the smaller camp and commenced operations by throwing up a breastwork to cut off their water supply from the river. As, however, all the defenders were exhausted by toil and want of sleep, as well as by wounds, the surrender was effected sooner than he had anticipated. They agreed to give up their arms and horses, and to pay for each Roman three hundred "chariot pieces," for each ally two hundred, and for each officer's servant one hundred, on condition that after the money was paid they should be allowed to depart with one garment apiece. Then they admitted the enemy into the camp and were all placed under guard, the Romans and the allies separately. Whilst time was being spent there, all those in the larger camp, who had sufficient strength and courage, to the number of 4000 infantry and 200 cavalry, made their escape to Canusium, some in a body, others straggling through the fields, which was quite as safe a thing to do. Those who were wounded and those who had been afraid to venture surrendered the camp on the same terms as had been agreed upon in the other camp. An immense amount of booty was secured, and the whole of it was made over to the troops with the exception of the horses and prisoners and whatever silver there might be. Most of this was on the trappings of the horses, for they used very little silver plate at table, at all events when on a campaign. Hannibal then ordered the bodies of his own soldiers to be collected for burial; it is said that there were as many as 8000 of his best troops. Some authors state that he also had a search made for the body of the Roman consul, which he buried. Those who had escaped to Canusium were simply allowed shelter within its walls and houses, but a high-born and wealthy Apulian lady, named Busa, assisted them with corn and clothes and even provisions for their journey. For this munificence the senate, at the close of the war, voted her public honours
[22.53]Although there were four military tribunes on the spot - Fabius Maximus of the first legion, whose father had been lately Dictator, L. Publicius Bibulus and Publius Cornelius Scipio of the second legion, and Appius Claudius Pulcher of the third legion, who had just been aedile - the supreme command was by universal consent vested in P. Scipio, who was quite a youth, and Appius Claudius. They were holding a small council to discuss the state of affairs when P. Furius Philus, the son of an ex-consul, informed them that it was useless for them to cherish ruined hopes; the republic was despaired of and given over for lost; some young nobles with L. Caecilius Metellus at their head were turning their eyes seaward with the intention of abandoning Italy to its fate and transferring their services to some king or other. This evil news, terrible as it was and coming fresh on the top of all their other disasters, paralysed those who were present with wonder and amazement. They thought that a council ought to be summoned to deal with it, but young Scipio, the general destined to end this war, said that it was no business for a council. In such an emergency as that they must dare and act, not deliberate. "Let those," he cried, "who want to save the republic take their arms at once and follow me. No camp is more truly a hostile camp than one in which such treason is meditated." He started off with a few followers to the house where Metellus was lodging, and finding the young men about whom the report had been made gathered there in council, he held his naked sword over the heads of the conspirators and uttered these words: "I solemnly swear that I will not abandon the Republic of Rome, nor will I suffer any other Roman citizen to do so; if I knowingly break my oath, then do thou, O Jupiter Optimus Maximus, visit me, my home, my family, and my estate with utter destruction. I require you, L. Caecilius, and all who are here present, to take this oath. Whoever will not swear let him know that this sword is drawn against him." They were in as great a state of fear as though they saw the victorious Hannibal amongst them, and all took the oath and surrendered themselves into Scipio's custody.
[22.54]Whilst these things were happening at Canusium, as many as 4500 infantry and cavalry, who had been dispersed in flight over the country, succeeded in reaching the consul at Venusia. The inhabitants received them with every mark of kindness and distributed them all amongst their households to be taken care of. They gave each of the troopers a toga and a tunic and twenty-five "chariot pieces," and to each legionary ten pieces, and whatever arms they required. All hospitality was shown them both by the government and by private citizens, for the people of Venusia were determined not to be outdone in kindness by a lady of Canusium. But the large number of men, which now amounted to something like 10,000, made the burden imposed upon Busa much heavier. For Appius and Scipio, on hearing that the consul was safe, at once sent to him to inquire what amount of foot and horse he had with him, and also whether he wanted the army to be taken to Venusia or to remain at Canusium. Varro transferred his forces to Canusium, and now there was something like a consular army; it seemed as though they would defend themselves successfully behind their walls if not in the open field. The reports which reached Rome left no room for hope that even these remnants of citizens and allies were still surviving; it was asserted that the army with its two consuls had been annihilated and the whole of the forces wiped out. Never before, while the City itself was still safe, had there been such excitement and panic within its walls. I shall not attempt to describe it, nor will I weaken the reality by going into details. After the loss of the consul and the army at Trasumennus the previous year, it was not wound upon wound but multiplied disaster that was now announced. For according to the reports two consular armies and two consuls were lost; there was no longer any Roman camp, any general, any single soldier in existence; Apulia, Samnium, almost the whole of Italy lay at Hannibal's feet. Certainly there is no other nation that would not have succumbed beneath such a weight of calamity. One might, of course, compare the naval defeat of the Carthaginians at the Aegates, which broke their power to such an extent that they gave up Sicily and Sardinia and submitted to the payment of tribute and a war indemnity; or, again, the battle which they lost in Africa, in which Hannibal himself was crushed. But there is no point of comparison between these and Cannae, unless it be that they were borne with less fortitude.
[22.55]P. Furius Philus and M. Pomponius, the praetors, called a meeting of the senate to take measures for the defence of the City, for no doubt was felt that after wiping out the armies the enemy would set about his one remaining task and advance to attack Rome. In the presence of evils the extent of which, great as they were, was still unknown, they were unable even to form any definite plans, and the cries of wailing women deafened their ears, for as the facts were not yet ascertained the living and the dead were being indiscriminately bewailed in almost every house. Under these circumstances Q. Fabius Maximus gave it as his opinion that swift horsemen should be sent along the Appian and Latin roads to make inquiries of those they met, for there would be sure to be fugitives scattered about the country, and bring back tidings as to what had befallen the consuls and the armies, and if the gods out of compassion for the empire had left any remnant of the Roman nation, to find out where those forces were. And also they might ascertain whither Hannibal had repaired after the battle, what plans he was forming, what he was doing or likely to do. They must get some young and active men to find out these things, and as there were hardly any magistrates in the City, the senators must themselves take steps to calm the agitation and alarm which prevailed. They must keep the matrons out of the public streets and compel them to remain indoors; they must suppress the loud laments for the dead and impose silence on the City; they must see that all who brought tidings were taken to the praetors, and that the citizens should, each in his own house, wait for any news which affected them personally. Moreover, they must station guards at the gates to prevent any one from leaving the City, and they must make it clear to every man that the only safety he can hope for lies in the City and its walls. When the tumult has once been hushed, then the senate must be again convened and measures discussed for the defence of the City.
[22.56]This proposal was unanimously carried without any discussion. After the crowd was cleared out of the Forum by the magistrates and the senators had gone in various directions to allay the agitation, a despatch at last arrived from C. Terentius Varro. He wrote that L. Aemilius was killed and his army cut to pieces; he himself was at Canusium collecting the wreckage that remained from this awful disaster; there were as many as 10,000 soldiers, irregular, unorganised; the Carthaginian was still at Cannae, bargaining about the prisoners' ransom and the rest of the plunder in a spirit very unlike that of a great and victorious general. The next thing was the publication of the names of those killed, and the City was thrown into such universal mourning that the annual celebration of the festival of Ceres was suspended, because it is forbidden to those in mourning to take part in it, and there was not a single matron who was not a mourner during those days. In order that the same cause might not prevent other sacred observances from being duly honoured, the period of mourning was limited by a senatorial decree to thirty days. When the agitation was quieted and the senate resumed its session, a fresh despatch was received, this time from Sicily. T. Otacilius, the propraetor, announced that Hiero's kingdom was being devastated by a Carthaginian fleet, and when he was preparing to render him the assistance he asked for, he received news that another fully equipped fleet was riding at anchor off the Aegates, and when they heard that he was occupied with the defence of the Syracusan shore they would at once attack Lilybaeum and the rest of the Roman province. If, therefore, the senate wished to retain the king as their ally and keep their hold on Sicily, they must fit out a fleet.
[22.57]When the despatches from the consul and the praetor had been read it was decided that M. Claudius, who was commanding the fleet stationed at Ostia, should be sent to the army at Canusium and instructions forwarded to the consul requesting him to hand over his command to the praetor and come to Rome as soon as he possibly could consistently with his duty to the republic. For, over and above these serious disasters, considerable alarm was created by portents which occurred. Two Vestal virgins, Opimia and Floronia, were found guilty of unchastity. One was buried alive, as is the custom, at the Colline Gate, the other committed suicide. L. Cantilius, one of the pontifical secretaries, now called "minor pontiffs," who had been guilty with Floronia, was scourged in the Comitium by the Pontifex Maximus so severely that he died under it. This act of wickedness, coming as it did amongst so many calamities, was, as often happens, regarded as a portent, and the decemvirs were ordered to consult the Sacred Books. Q. Fabius Pictor was sent to consult the oracle of Delphi as to what forms of prayer and supplication they were to use to propitiate the gods, and what was to be the end of all these terrible disasters. Meanwhile, in obedience to the Books of Destiny, some strange and unusual sacrifices were made, human sacrifices amongst them. A Gaulish man and a Gaulish woman and a Greek man and a Greek woman were buried alive under the Forum Boarium. They were lowered into a stone vault, which had on a previous occasion also been polluted by human victims, a practice most repulsive to Roman feelings.
When the gods were believed to be duly propitiated, M. Claudius Marcellus sent from Ostia 1500 men who had been enrolled for service with the fleet to garrison Rome; the naval legion (the third) he sent on in advance with the military tribunes to Teanum Sidicinum, and then, handing the fleet over to his colleague, P. Furius Philus, hastened on by forced marches a few days later to Canusium. On the authority of the senate M. Junius was nominated Dictator and Ti. Sempronius Master of the Horse. A levy was ordered, and all from seventeen years upwards were enrolled, some even younger; out of these recruits four legions were formed and 1000 cavalry. They also sent to the Latin confederacy and the other allied states to enlist soldiers according to the terms of their treaties. Armour, weapons, and other things of the kind were ordered to be in readiness, and the ancient spoils gathered from the enemy were taken down from the temples and colonnades. The dearth of freemen necessitated a new kind of enlistment; 8000 sturdy youths from amongst the slaves were armed at the public cost, after they had each been asked whether they were willing to serve or no. These soldiers were preferred, as there would be an opportunity of ransoming them when taken prisoners at a lower price.
[22.58]After his great success at Cannae, Hannibal made his arrangements more as though his victory were a complete and decisive one than as if the war were still going on. The prisoners were brought before him and separated into two groups; the allies were treated as they had been at the Trebia and at Trasumennus, after some kind words they were dismissed without ransom; the Romans, too, were treated as they had never been before, for when they appeared before him he addressed them in quite a friendly way. He had no deadly feud, he told them, with Rome, all he was fighting for was his country's honour as a sovereign power. His fathers had yielded to Roman courage, his one object now was that the Romans should yield to his good fortune and courage. He now gave the prisoners permission to ransom themselves; each horseman at 500 "chariot pieces" and each foot-soldier at 300, and the slaves at 100 per head. This was somewhat more than the cavalry had agreed to when they surrendered, but they were only too glad to accept any terms. It was settled that they should elect ten of their number to go to the senate at Rome, and the only guarantee required was that they should take an oath to return. They were accompanied by Carthalo, a Carthaginian noble, who was to sound the feelings of the senators, and if they were inclined towards peace he was to propose terms. When the delegates had left the camp, one of them, a man of an utterly un-Roman temper, returned to the camp, as if he had forgotten something, and in this way hoped to free himself from his oath. He rejoined his comrades before nightfall. When it was announced that the party were on their way to Rome a lictor was despatched to meet Carthalo and order him in the name of the Dictator to quit the territory of Rome before night.
[22.59]The Dictator admitted the prisoners' delegates to an audience of the senate. Their leader, M. Junius, spoke as follows: "Senators: we are every one of us aware that no State has held its prisoners of war of less account than our own, but, unless we think our case a better one than we have any right to do, we would urge that none have ever fallen into the hands of the enemy who were more deserving of consideration than we are. For we did not give up our arms during the battle from sheer cowardice; standing on the heaps of the slain we kept up the struggle till close on night, and only then did we retire into camp; for the remainder of the day and all through the night we defended our entrenchments; the following day we were surrounded by the victorious army and cut off from the water, and there was no hope whatever now of our forcing our way through the dense masses of the enemy. We did not think it a crime for some of Rome's soldiers to survive the battle of Cannae, seeing that 50,000 men had been butchered there, and therefore in the very last resort we consented to have a price fixed for our ransom and surrendered to the enemy those arms which were no longer of the slightest use to us. Besides, we had heard that our ancestors had ransomed themselves from the Gauls with gold, and that your fathers, sternly as they set themselves against all conditions of peace, did nevertheless send delegates to Tarentum to arrange the ransom of the prisoners. But neither the battle at the Alia against the Gauls nor that at Heraclea against Pyrrhus was disgraced by the actual losses sustained so much as by the panic and flight which marked them. The plains of Cannae are covered by heaps of Roman dead, and we should not be here now if the enemy had not lacked arms and strength to slay us. There are some amongst us who were never in the battle at all, but were left to guard the camp, and when it was surrendered they fell into the hands of the enemy. I do not envy the fortune or the circumstances of any man, whether he be a fellow-citizen or a fellow-soldier, nor would I wish it to be said that I had glorified myself by depreciating others, but this I will say, not even those who fled from the battle, mostly without arms, and did not stay their flight till they had reached Venusia or Canusium, can claim precedence over us or boast that they are more of a defence to the State than we are. But you will find both in them and in us good and gallant soldiers, only we shall be still more eager to serve our country because it will be through your kindness that we shall have been ransomed and restored to our fatherland. You have enlisted men of all ages and of every condition; I hear that eight thousand slaves are armed. Our number is no less, and it will not cost more to ransom us than it did to purchase them, but if I were to compare ourselves as soldiers with them, I should be offering an insult to the name of Roman. I should think, senators, that in deciding upon a matter like this, you should also take into consideration, if you are disposed to be too severe, to what sort of an enemy you are going to abandon us. Is it to a Pyrrhus, who treated his prisoners as though they were his guests? Is it not rather to a barbarian, and what is worse, a Carthaginian, of whom it is difficult to judge whether he is more rapacious or more cruel? Could you see the chains, the squalor, the disgusting appearance of your fellow-citizens, the sight would, I am sure, move you no less than if, on the other hand, you beheld your legions lying scattered over the plains of Cannae. You can behold the anxiety and the tears of our kinsmen as they stand in the vestibule of your House and await your reply. If they are in such anxiety and suspense about us and about those who are not here, what, think you, must be the feelings of the men themselves whose life and liberty are at stake? Why, good heavens! even if Hannibal, contrary to his nature, chose to be kind to us, we should still think life not worth living after you had decided that we did not deserve to be ransomed. Years ago the prisoners who were released by Pyrrhus without ransom returned to Rome, but they returned in company with the foremost men of the State who had been sent to effect their ransom. Am I to return to my native country as a citizen not thought worth three hundred coins ? Each of us has his own feelings, senators. I know that my life and person are at stake, but I dread more the peril to my good name, in case we depart condemned and repulsed by you; for men will never believe that you grudged the cost."
[22.60]No sooner had he finished than a tearful cry arose from the crowd in the comitium; they stretched their hands towards the Senate-house and implored the senators to give them back their children, their brothers, and their relations. Fear and affection had brought even women amongst the crowd of men who thronged the Forum. After the strangers had withdrawn the debate commenced in the senate. There was great difference of opinion; some said that they ought to be ransomed at the expense of the State, others were of opinion that no public expense ought to be incurred, but they ought not to be prevented from defraying the cost from private sources, and in cases where ready money was not available it should be advanced from the treasury on personal security and mortgages. When it came to the turn of T. Manlius Torquatus, a man of old-fashioned and, some thought, excessive strictness, to give his opinion, he is said to have spoken in these terms: "If the delegates had confined themselves to asking that those who are in the hands of the enemy might be ransomed, I should have stated my opinion in few words without casting reflections on any of them, for all that would have been necessary would be to remind you that you should maintain the custom and usage handed down from our forefathers by setting an example necessary for military discipline. But as it is, since they have almost treated their surrender to the enemy as a thing to be proud of, and think it right that they should receive more consideration than the prisoners taken in the field or those who reached Venusia and Canusium, or even the consul himself, I will not allow you to remain in ignorance of what actually happened. I only wish that the facts which I am about to allege could be brought before the army at Canusium, which is best able to testify to each man's courage or cowardice, or at least that we had before us P. Sempronius Tuditanus, for if these men had followed him they would at this moment be in the Roman camp, not prisoners in the hands of the foe.
"The enemy had nearly all returned to their camp, tired out with fighting, to make merry over their victory, and these men had the night clear for a sortie. Seven thousand men could easily have made a sortie, even through dense masses of the enemy, but they did not make any attempt to do so on their own initiative, nor would they follow any one else. Nearly the whole night through P. Sempronius Tuditanus was continually warning them and urging them to follow him, whilst only a few of the enemy were watching their camp, whilst all was quiet and silent, whilst the night could still conceal their movements; before it was light they could reach safety and be protected by the cities of our allies. If he had spoken as that military tribune P. Decius spoke in the days of our fathers, or as Calpurnius Flamma, in the first Punic war, when we were young men, spoke to his three hundred volunteers whom he was leading to the capture of a height situated in the very centre of the enemy's position: 'Let us,' he exclaimed, 'die, my men, and by our death rescue our blockaded legions from their peril' - if, I say, P. Sempronius had spoken thus, I should not regard you as men, much less as Romans, if none had come forward as the comrade of so brave a man. But the way he pointed out to you led to safety quite as much as to glory, he would have brought you back to your country, your parents, your wives, and your children. You have not courage enough to save yourselves; what would you do if you had to die for your country? All round you on that day were lying fifty thousand dead, Romans and allies. If so many examples of courage did not inspire you, nothing ever will. If such an awful disaster did not make you hold your lives cheap, none will ever do so. It is whilst you are free men, with all your rights as citizens, that you must show your love for your country, or rather, while it is your country and you are its citizens. Now you are showing that love too late, your rights forfeited, your citizenship renounced, you have become the slaves of the Carthaginians. Is money going to restore you to the position which you have lost through cowardice and crime? You would not listen to your own countryman Sempronius when he bade you seize your arms and follow him, you did listen shortly afterwards to Hannibal when he bade you give up your arms and betray your camp. But why do I only charge these men with cowardice when I can prove them guilty of actual crime? For not only did they refuse to follow him when he gave them good advice, but they tried to stop him and keep him back, until a body of truly brave men drew their swords and drove back the cowards. P. Sempronius had actually to force his way through his own countrymen before he could do so through the enemy! Would our country care to have such as these for her citizens when, had all those who fought at Cannae been like them, she would not have had amongst them a single citizen worth the name! Out of seven thousand men in arms there were six hundred who had the courage to force their way, and returned to their country free men with arms in their hands. The enemy did not stop these six hundred, how safe the way would have been, do you not think? for a force of almost two legions. You would have to-day, senators, at Canusium 20,000 brave loyal soldiers; but as for these men, how can they possibly be good and loyal citizens? And as to their being 'brave,' they do not even themselves assert that - unless, indeed, some one chooses to imagine that whilst they were trying to stop the others from making the sortie, they were really encouraging them, or that, fully aware that their own timidity and cowardice was the cause of their becoming slaves, they feel no grudge towards the others for having won both safety and glory through their courage. Though they might have got away in the dead of the night, they preferred to skulk in their tents and wait for the daylight and with it the enemy. But you will say, if they lacked courage to leave the camp they had courage enough to defend it bravely; blockaded for several days and nights, they protected the rampart with their arms, and themselves with the rampart; at last, after going to the utmost lengths of endurance and daring, when every support of life failed, and they were so weakened by starvation that they had not strength to bear the weight of their arms, they were in the end conquered by the necessities of nature more than by the force of arms. What are the facts? At daybreak the enemy approached the rampart; within two hours, without trying their fortune in any conflict, they gave up their arms and themselves. This, you see, was their two days' soldiership. When duty called them to keep their line and fight they fled to their camp, when they ought to have fought at the rampart they surrendered their camp; they are useless alike in the field and in the camp. Am I to ransom you? When you ought to have made your way out of the camp you hesitated and remained there, when it was obligatory for you to remain there and defend the camp with your arms you gave up camp, arms, and yourselves to the enemy. No, senators, I do not think that those men ought to be ransomed any more than I should think it right to surrender to Hannibal the men who forced their way out of the camp through the midst of the enemy and by that supreme act of courage restored themselves to their fatherland."
[22.61]Although most of the senators had relations among the prisoners, there were two considerations which weighed with them at the close of Manlius' speech. One was the practice of the State which from early times had shown very little indulgence to prisoners of war. The other was the amount of money that would be required, for they were anxious that the treasury should not be exhausted, a large sum having been already paid out in purchasing and arming the slaves, and they did not wish to enrich Hannibal who, according to rumour, was in particular need of money. When the melancholy reply was given that the prisoners were not ransomed, the prevailing grief was intensified by the loss of so many citizens, and the delegates were accompanied to the gates by a weeping and protesting crowd. One of them went to his home because he considered himself released from his vow by his pretended return to the camp. When this became known it was reported to the senate, and they unanimously decided that he should be arrested and conveyed to Hannibal under a guard furnished by the State. There is another account extant as to the fate of the prisoners. According to this tradition ten came at first, and there was a debate in the senate as to whether they should be allowed within the City or not; they were admitted on the understanding that the senate would not grant them an audience. As they stayed longer than was generally expected, three other delegates arrived - L. Scribonius, C. Calpurnius, and L. Manlius - and a relative of Scribonius who was a tribune of the plebs made a motion in the senate to ransom the prisoners. The senate decided that they should not be ransomed, and the three who came last returned to Hannibal, but the ten remained in Rome. They alleged that they had absolved themselves from their oath because after starting on their journey they had returned to Hannibal under the pretext of reviewing the list of the prisoners' names. The question of surrendering them was hotly debated in the senate, and those in favour of this course were beaten by only a few votes. Under the next censors, however, they were so crushed beneath every mark of disgrace and infamy that some of them immediately committed suicide; the others not only avoided the Forum for all their after life, but almost shunned the light of day and the faces of men. It is easier to feel astonishment at such discrepancies amongst our authorities than to determine what is the truth.
How far that disaster surpassed previous ones is shown by one simple fact. Up to that day the loyalty of our allies had remained unshaken, now it began to waver, for no other reason, we may be certain, than that they despaired of the maintenance of our empire. The tribes who revolted to the Carthaginians were the Atellani, the Calatini, the Hirpini, a section of the Apulians, all the Samnite cantons with the exception of the Pentri, all the Bruttii and the Lucanians. In addition to these, the Uzentini and almost the whole of the coast of Magna Graecia, the people of Tarentum Crotona and Locri, as well as all Cisalpine Gaul. Yet, in spite of all their disasters and the revolt of their allies, no one anywhere in Rome mentioned the word "Peace," either before the consul's return or after his arrival when all the memories of their losses were renewed. Such a lofty spirit did the citizens exhibit in those days that though the consul was coming back from a terrible defeat for which they knew he was mainly responsible, he was met by a vast concourse drawn from every class of society, and thanks were formally voted to him because he "had not despaired of the republic." Had he been commander-in-chief of the Carthaginians there was no torture to which he would not have been subjected.
End of Book 22
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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