Book 27: Scipio in Spain
[27.1]Such was the position of affairs in Spain. In Italy the consul Marcellus recovered Salapia, which was betrayed to him, and gained forcible possession of two places belonging to the Samnites - Marmoreae and Heles. 3000 of Hannibal's troops who had been left to garrison these towns were destroyed. The plunder, of which there was a considerable quantity, was given to the soldiers; 60,000 bushels of wheat and 28,000 of barley were also found there. The satisfaction derived from this success was, however, more than counterbalanced by a defeat which was sustained a few days later not far from Herdonea. This city had revolted from Rome after the disaster of Cannae, and Cn. Fulvius, the proconsul, was encamped before it in the hope of recovering it. He had chosen a position for his camp which was not sufficiently protected, and the camp itself was not in a proper state of defence. Naturally a careless general, he was still less cautious now that he had reason to hope that the inhabitants were weakening in their allegiance to the Carthaginians, since the news had reached them of Hannibal's withdrawal into Bruttium after losing Salapia. This was all duly reported to Hannibal by emissaries from Herdonea, and the intelligence made him anxious to save a friendly city and at the same time hopeful of catching his enemy when off his guard. In order to forestall any rumours of his approach he proceeded to Herdonea by forced marches, and as he approached the place he formed his men in battle order with the view of intimidating the enemy. The Roman commander - his equal in courage, but far inferior to him in tactical skill and in numbers - hastily formed his line and engaged. The action was begun most vigorously by the fifth legion and the allies on the left wing. Hannibal, however, had instructed his cavalry to wait until the attention of the infantry was completely taken up with the battle and then to ride round the lines; one division to attack the Roman camp, the other the rear of the Roman line. He told his staff that he had defeated a Cn. Fulvius, a praetor, on the same ground two years before, and as the names were the same, so the result of the fight would be the same. His anticipations were realised, for after the lines had closed and many of the Romans had fallen in the hand-to-hand fighting, though the ranks still held their ground with the standards, the tumultuous cavalry charge in the rear threw into disorder first the sixth legion stationed in the second line, and then, as the Numidians pressed on, the fifth legion and finally the front ranks with their standards. Some were scattered in flight, others were cut down between the two bodies of assailants. It was here that Cn. Fulvius fell together with eleven military tribunes. As to the number of those killed, who could definitely state it, when I find in one author the number given as 13,000, in another not more than 7000? The victor took possession of the camp and its spoil. As he learnt that Herdonea was prepared to go over to the Romans and would not remain faithful after his withdrawal, he transported the whole population to Metapontum and Thurii and burnt the place. Its leading citizens who were discovered to have held secret conferences with Fulvius were put to death. Those Romans who escaped from the fatal field fled by various routes, almost wholly weaponless, to Marcellus in Samnium.
[27.2]Marcellus was not particularly disturbed by this serious disaster. He sent a despatch to the senate informing them of the loss of the general and his army at Herdonea and adding that he himself was the same Marcellus who had beaten Hannibal when flushed with his victory at Cannae, that he intended to meet him and would soon put an end to any pleasure he might feel at his recent success. In Rome itself there was great mourning for what had happened and great apprehension as to what might happen in the future. The consul marched out of Samnium and advanced as far as Numistro in Lucania. Here he encamped on level ground in full view of Hannibal, who was occupying a hill. To show the confidence he felt, he was the first to offer battle, and when Hannibal saw the standards emerging from the gates of the camp, he did not decline the challenge. They formed their lines so that the Carthaginian rested his right on the hill, while the Roman left was protected by the town. The troops who were first engaged were, on the Roman side, the first legion and the right wing of the allies; those under Hannibal comprised the Spanish infantry and the Balearic slingers. When the action had commenced the elephants were driven on to the field. The contest was prolonged from the third hour of the day until nightfall, and when the front lines were worn out, the third legion relieved the first and the left wing of the allies took the place of the right. Fresh troops also came into action on the other side, with the result that instead of a spiritless and exhausted struggle a fierce fight broke out anew between men who were fresh in mind and body. Night, however, separated the combatants whilst the victory was yet undecided." The following day the Romans remained under arms from sunrise till well on in the day, ready to renew the contest. But as no enemy showed himself, they began to gather the spoils of the field, and after collecting the bodies of the slain into one heap, they burnt them. Hannibal broke up his camp quietly at night and withdrew into Apulia. When daylight revealed the enemies' flight, Marcellus made up his mind to follow in his track. He left the wounded with a small guard at Numistro under the charge of L. Furius Purpurio, one of his military tribunes, and came up with Hannibal at Venusia. Here for some days there were skirmishes between the outposts and slight actions in which both cavalry and infantry took part, but no regular battle. In nearly every case the Romans had the advantage. Both armies traversed Apulia without fighting any important action, Hannibal marching by night always on the look-out for a chance of surprise or ambush, Marcellus never moving but in daylight, and then only after careful reconnoitring.
[27.3]At Capua, in the meantime, Flaccus was occupied with the sale of the property of the principal citizens and the farming of the revenues from that part of the territory which had become Roman domain-land; the impost being paid in corn. As though there was never to be wanting some reason or other for treating the Capuans with severity, disclosures were made of a fresh crime which had been hatched in secret. Fulvius had moved his men out of the houses in Capua, partly through fear lest his army should demoralised by the attractions of the city, as Hannibal's had been, and partly that there might be houses to go with the land which was being let. The troops were ordered to construct military huts just outside the walls and gates. Most of these they made of wattle or planking; some used plaited osiers and covered them with straw, as though deliberately designing them to feed a conflagration. One hundred and seventy Capuans with the brothers Blossius at their head formed a plot to set fire to all these huts simultaneously in the night. Some slaves belonging to the Blossian household betrayed the secret. On receiving the information the proconsul at once ordered the gates to be shut and the troops to arm. All those involved in the crime were arrested, examined under torture, found guilty, and summarily executed. The informers received their freedom and 10,000 ases each. The people of Nuceria and Acerrae having complained that they had nowhere to live, as Acerrae was partly destroyed by fire and Nuceria completely demolished, Fulvius sent them to Rome to appear before the senate. Permission was given to the Acerrans to rebuild those houses which had been burnt, and as the people of Nuceria had expressed their desire to settle at Atella, the Atellans were ordered to remove to Calatia. In spite of the many important incidents, some favourable, some unfavourable, which were occupying the public attention, the citadel of Tarentum was not lost sight of. M. Ogulnius and P. Aquilius were appointed commissioners for the purchase of corn in Etruria, and a force of 1000 men drawn from the home army, with an equal number from the allied contingents, conveyed it to Tarentum.
[27.4]The summer was now drawing to a close, and the date of the consular elections was near at hand. Marcellus wrote to say that it would be against the interests of the republic to lose touch with Hannibal, as he was being pressed steadily back, and avoided anything like a battle. The senate were reluctant to recall him just when he was most effectively employed; at the same time they were anxious lest there should be no consuls for the coming year. They decided that the best course would be to recall the consul Valerius from Sicily, though he was outside the borders of Italy. The senate instructed L. Manlius the City praetor to write to him to that effect, and at the same time to send on the despatch from M. Marcellus that he might understand the reason for the senate recalling him rather than his colleague from his province. It was about this time that envoys from King Syphax came to Rome. They enumerated the successful battles which the king had fought against the Carthaginians, and declared that there was no people to whom he was a more uncompromising foe than the people of Carthage, and none towards whom he felt more friendly than the people of Rome. He had already sent envoys to the two Scipios in Spain, now he wished to ask for the friendship of Rome from the fountain-head. The senate not only gave the envoys a gracious reply, but they in their turn sent envoys and presents to the king - the men selected for the mission being L. Genucius, P. Poetelius, and P. Popillius. The presents they took with them were a purple toga and a purple tunic, an ivory chair and a golden bowl weighing five pounds. After their visit to Syphax they were commissioned to visit other petty kings in Africa and carry as a present to each of them a toga praetexta and a golden bowl, three pounds in weight. M. Atilius and Manlius Acilius were also despatched to Alexandria, to Ptolemy and Cleopatra, to remind them of the alliance already existing, and to renew the friendly relations with Rome. The presents they carried to the king were a purple toga and a purple tunic and an ivory chair; to the queen they gave an embroidered palla and a purple cloak. During the summer in which these incidents occurred numerous portents were reported from the neighbouring cities and country districts. A lamb is said to have been yeaned at Tusculum with its udder full of milk; the summit of the temple of Jupiter was struck by lightning and nearly the whole of the roof stripped off; the ground in front of the gate of Anagnia was similarly struck almost at the same time and continued burning for a day and a night without anything to feed the fire; at Anagnia Compitum the birds had deserted their nests in the grove of Diana; at Tarracina snakes of an extraordinary size leaped out of the sea like sporting fishes close to the harbour; at Tarquinii a pig had been farrowed with the face of a man; in the district of Capena four statues near the Grove of Feronia had sweated blood for a day and a night. The pontiffs decreed that these portents should be expiated by the sacrifice of oxen; a day was appointed for solemn intercessions to be offered up at all the shrines in Rome, and on the following day similar intercessions were to be offered in Campania, at the grove of Feronia.
[27.5]On receiving his letter of recall the consul M. Valerius handed over the army and the administration of the province to the praetor Cincius, and gave instructions to M. Valerius Messala, the commander of the fleet, to sail with a part of his force to Africa and harry the coast and at the same time find out what he could about the plans and preparations of Carthage. Then he left with ten vessels for Rome, which he reached after a good voyage. Immediately on his arrival he summoned a meeting of the senate and laid before them a report of his administration. For nearly sixty years, he said, Sicily had been the scene of war both by land and sea, and the Romans had suffered many serious defeats there. Now he had completely reduced the province, there was not a Carthaginian in the island, nor was there a single Sicilian amongst those who had been driven away who had not now returned. They had all been repatriated, and were settled in their own cities and ploughing their own fields. Once more the desolated land was under tillage, the land which enriched its cultivators with its produce and formed an unfailing bulwark against scarcity for Rome in times of war and peace, alike. When the consul had addressed the senate, Muttines and others who had done good service to Rome were introduced, and the promises which the consul had made were redeemed by the bestowal of honours and rewards upon them. A resolution was carried in the Assembly, with the sanction of the senate, conferring the full Roman citizenship on Muttines. M. Valerius, meanwhile, having reached the African shore with his fifty ships before daybreak, made a sudden descent on the territory of Utica. Extending his depredations far and wide he secured plunder of every kind including a large number of prisoners. With these spoils he returned to his ships and sailed back to Sicily, entering the port of Lilybaeum, within a fortnight of his departure. The prisoners were subjected to a close examination, and the following facts were elicited and duly forwarded to Laevinus that he might understand the position in Africa: 5000 Numidians were at Carthage with Gala's son, Masinissa, a young man of great energy and enterprise; other mercenary troops were being raised throughout Africa to be sent over to Spain to reinforce Hasdrubal, so that he might have as large a force as possible with which to cross over into Italy and join his brother, Hannibal. The Carthaginians, believed that in adopting this plan they were sure of victory. In addition to these preparations an immense fleet was being fitted out to recover Sicily, and it was expected to appear off the island in a short time.
The consul communicated this intelligence to the senate, and they were so impressed by its importance that they thought the consul ought not to wait for the elections, but return at once to his province after naming a Dictator to preside over the elections. Matters were delayed somewhat by the debate which followed. The consul said that when he reached Sicily he would nominate M. Valerius Messalla, who was at that time commanding the fleet, as Dictator; the senators on the other hand asserted that no one who was outside Roman soil, i.e., who was beyond the frontiers of Italy, could be nominated Dictator: M. Lucretius, one of the tribunes of the plebs, took the sense of the House upon the question, and the senate made a decree, requiring the consul, previously to his departure from the City, to put the question to the people, whom they wished to have nominated Dictator, and then to nominate the man whom the people had chosen. If the consul declined to do this, then the praetor was to put the question, and if he refused, then the tribunes were to bring the matter before the people. As the consul refused to submit to the people what was within his own rights, and had inhibited the praetor from doing so either, it fell to the tribunes to put the question, and the plebs resolved that Q. Fulvius, who was then at Capua, should be nominated. But the day before the Assembly met, the consul left secretly in the night for Sicily, and the senate, thus left in the lurch, ordered a despatch to be sent to Marcellus, urging him to come to the aid of the Commonwealth which his colleague had deserted, and nominate the man whom the people had resolved to have as Dictator. Q. Fulvius was accordingly nominated Dictator by the consul M. Claudius, and under the same resolution of the plebs P. Licinius Crassus, the Pontifex Maximus, was named by Q. Fulvius as his Master of the Horse.
[27.6]On the Dictator's arrival in Rome he sent C. Sempronius Blaesus, who had been his second in command in Capua, to the army in Etruria, to relieve C. Calpurnius, to whom he had sent written instructions to take over the command of his own army at Capua. He fixed the earliest possible date for the elections, but they could not be closed owing to a difference between the tribunes and the Dictator. The junior century of the Galerian tribe had obtained the first place in the order of voting, and they had declared for Q. Fulvius and Q. Fabius. The other centuries, summoned in their order, would have gone the same way, had not two of the tribunes of the plebs - Caius Arrenius and his brother Lucius - intervened. They said that it was infringing the rights of his fellow-citizens for a magistrate to extend his period of office, and it was a still greater offence for the man who was conducting the elections to allow himself to be elected. If, therefore, the Dictator accepted votes for himself, they should place their veto on the proceedings, but if the names of any others than himself were put up, they would not stop the election. The Dictator defended the procedure by alleging the authority of the senate and a resolution of the Assembly as precedents. "When Cneius Servilius," he said, "was consul and the other consul had fallen in battle at Lake Thrasymenus, this question was referred by authority of the senate to the plebs, and they passed a resolution that as long as there was war in Italy the people had the right to reappoint as consuls, any who had been consuls, as often as they pleased. I have an old precedent for my action in this instance in the case of L. Postumius Megellus, who was elected consul together with C. Junius Bubulcus at the very election over which he was presiding as interrex, and a recent one in the case of Q. Fabius Maximus, who would certainly never have allowed himself to be re-elected if it had not been in the interest of the State."
A long discussion followed, and at last an agreement was come to between the Dictator and the tribunes that they would abide by the opinion of the senate. In view of the critical position of the State, the senate saw that the conduct of affairs ought to be in the hands of old and tried men of ability and experience in war, and that there ought to be no delay in the elections. The tribunes gave way and the elections were held. Q. Fabius Maximus was returned as consul for the fifth time, and Q. Fulvius Flaccus for the fourth time. The elections of praetors followed, the successful candidates being: L. Veturius Philo, T. Quinctius Crispinus, C. Hostilius Tubulus and C. Aurunculeius. As soon as the magistrates were appointed for the year, Q. Fulvius laid down his office. At the close of this summer a Carthaginian fleet of forty vessels under the command of Hamilcar sailed across to Sardinia and laid waste the territory of Olbia. On the appearance of the praetor P. Manlius Volso with his army, they sailed round to the other side of the island and devastated the district of Caralita, after which they returned to Africa with every description of plunder. Several Roman priests died this year and others were appointed in their place. C. Servilius was made pontiff in place of T. Otacilius Crassus. Tiberius Sempronius Longus, son of Tiberius, was appointed augur in place of T. Otacilius Crassus, Tiberius Sempronius Longus, son of Tiberius, was similarly appointed one of the Keepers of the Sacred Books in place of Ti. Sempronius Longus, son of Tiberius. The deaths took place also of M. Marcius, the Rex Sacrorum, and M. Aemilius Papus, the Curio Maximus; these vacancies were not filled up during the year. The censors appointed this year were L. Veturius Philo and P. Licinius Crassus, the Pontifex Maximus. Licinius Crassus had not been either consul or praetor before he was made censor, he went straight from the aedileship to the censorship. These censors, however, did not revise the roll of senators, nor did they transact any public business whatever; the death of L. Veturius put an end to their censorship, for Licinius at once resigned office. The curule aediles, L. Veturius and P. Licinius Varus, celebrated the Roman Games for one day. The plebeian aediles, Q. Catius and L. Porcius Licinius, devoted the money derived from fines to the casting of bronze statues for the temple of Ceres; they also celebrated the Plebeian Games with great splendour, considering the resources available at the time.
[27.7]At the close of the year C. Laelius arrived in Rome, thirty-four days after leaving Tarraco. His entrance into the City with his train of prisoners was watched by a great crowd of spectators. The next day he appeared before the senate and reported that Carthage, the capital city of Spain, had been captured in a single day, whilst several revolted cities had been recovered and new ones received into alliance. The information gained from the prisoners tallied with that conveyed in the despatches of M. Valerius Messalla. What produced the greatest impression on the senate was the threatened march of Hasdrubal into Italy, which could hardly hold its ground against Hannibal and his arms. When Laelius was brought before the Assembly he repeated the statements already made in the senate. A day of solemn thanksgiving for P. Scipio's victories was decreed, and C. Laelius was ordered to return as soon as possible to Spain with the ships he had brought over. Following many authorities, I have referred the capture of New Carthage to this year, though I am quite aware that some writers place it in the following year. This, however, appears improbable, as Scipio could hardly have spent a whole year in Spain without doing anything. The new consuls entered office on March 15th, and on the same day the senate assigned them their province. They were both to command in Italy; Tarentum was to be the objective for Fabius; Fulvius was to operate in Lucania and Bruttium. M. Claudius Marcellus had his command extended for a year The praetors balloted for their provinces; C. Hostilius Tubulus obtained the City jurisdiction; L. Venturius Philo the alien jurisdiction together with Gaul; Capua fell to T. Quinctius Crispinus, and Sardinia to C. Aurunculeius. The following was the distribution of the armies. The two legions which M. Valerius Laevinus had in Sicily were assigned to Fulvius, those which C. Calpurnius had commanded in Etruria were transferred to Q. Fabius; C. Calpurnius was to remain in Etruria and the City force was to form his command; T. Quinctius was to retain the army which Quintus Fulvius had had; C. Hostilius was to take over his province and army from the propraetor C. Laetorius who was at the time at Ariminum. The legions who had been serving with the consul were assigned to M. Marcellus. M. Valerius and L. Cincius had their term in Sicily extended, and the army of Cannae was placed under their command; they were required to bring it up to full strength out of any that remained of Cn. Fulvius' legions. These were hunted up and sent by the consuls into Sicily, where they were subjected to the same humiliating conditions as the defeated of Cannae and those belonging to Cn. Fulvius' army who had already been sent to Sicily as a punishment by the senate. The legions with which P. Manlius Vulso had held Sardinia were placed under C. Aurunculeius and remained in the island. P. Sulpicius retained his command for another year with instructions to employ the same legion and fleet against Macedonia which he had previously had. Orders were issued for thirty quinqueremes to be despatched from Sicily to the consul at Tarentum, the rest of the fleet was to sail to Africa and ravage the coast, under the command of M. Valerius Laevinus, or if he did not go himself he was to send either L . Cincius or M. Valerius Messalla. There were no changes in Spain except that Scipio and Silanus had their commands extended, not for a year but until such time as they should be recalled by the senate. Such were the distribution of the provinces and the military commands for the year.
[27.8]While the public attention was fixed on more important matters an old controversy was revived on the occasion of the election of a Curio Maximus, in place of M. Aemilius. There was one candidate, a plebeian, C. Mamilius Atellus, and the patricians contended that no votes ought to be counted for him, as none but a patrician had ever yet held that dignity. The tribunes, on being appealed to, referred the matter to the senate, the senate left it to the decision of the people. C. Mamilius Atellus was accordingly the first plebeian to be elected Curio Maximus. P. Licinius, the Pontifex Maximus, compelled C. Valerius Flaccus to be consecrated, against his will, a Flamen of Jupiter. C. Laetorius was appointed one of the Keepers of the Sacred Books in place of Q. Mucius Scaevola, deceased. Had not the bad repute into which Valerius had fallen given place to a good and honourable character, I should have preferred to keep silence as to the cause of his forcible consecration. It was in consequence of his careless and dissolute life as a young man, which had estranged his own brother Lucius and his other relations, that the Pontifex Maximus made him a Flamen. When his thoughts became wholly occupied with the performance of his sacred duties he threw off his former character so completely that amongst all the young men in Rome, none held a higher place in the esteem and approbation of the leading patricians, whether personal friends or strangers to him. Encouraged by this general feeling he gained sufficient self-confidence to revive a custom which, owing to the low character of former Flamens, had long fallen into disuse; he took his seat in the senate. As soon as he appeared L. Licinius the praetor had him removed. He claimed it as the ancient privilege of the priesthood and pleaded that it was conferred together with the toga praetexta and curule chair as belonging to the Flamen's office. The praetor refused to rest the question upon obsolete precedents drawn from the annalists and appealed to recent usage. No Flamen of Jupiter, he argued, had exercised that right within the memory of their fathers or their grandfathers. The tribunes, when appealed to, gave it as their opinion that as it was through the supineness and negligence of individual Flamens that the practice had fallen into abeyance, the priesthood ought not to be deprived of its rights. They led the Flamen into the senate amid the warm approval of the House and without any opposition even from the praetor, though every one felt that Flaccus had gained his seat more through the purity and integrity of his life than through any right inherent in his office.
Before the consuls left for their provinces they raised two legions in the City to supply the necessary drafts for the armies. The old City army was made over by the consul Fulvius to his brother Caius for service in Etruria, the legions which were in Etruria being sent to Rome. The consul Fabius ordered his son Quintus to take to M. Valerius, the proconsul in Sicily, the remains, so far as they had been got together, of the army of Fulvius. They amounted to 4344 men. He was at the same time to receive from the proconsul two legions and thirty quinqueremes. The withdrawal of these legions from the island did not weaken the occupying force in either numbers or efficiency, for besides the two old legions which had now been brought up to full strength, the proconsul had a large body of Numidian deserters, mounted and unmounted, and he also enlisted those Sicilians who had served with Epicydes and the Carthaginians, and were seasoned soldiers. By strengthening each of the Roman legions with these foreign auxiliaries he gave them the appearance of two complete armies. One of these he placed under L. Cincius, for the protection of that part of the island which had constituted the kingdom of Hiero; the other he retained under his own command for the defence of the rest of Sicily. He also broke up his fleet of seventy ships so as to make it available for the defence of the entire coast-line of the island. Escorted by Muttines' cavalry he made a tour of the island in order to inspect the land and note which parts were cultivated and which were uncultivated, and commend or rebuke the owners accordingly. Owing to his care and attention there was so large a yield of corn that he was able to send some to Rome, and also accumulate a store at Catina to furnish supplies for the army which was to pass the summer at Tarentum.
[27.9]The deportation of the soldiers to Sicily, most of whom belonged to the Latin and the allied nationalities, very nearly caused a great rising; so often do small occasions involve serious consequences. Meetings were held amongst the Latins and the allied communities in which they complained loudly that for ten years they had been drained by levies and war-taxes; every year they fought only to sustain a great defeat, those who were not killed in battle were carried off by sickness. A fellow-citizen who was enlisted by the Romans was more lost to them than one who had been made prisoner by the Carthaginians, for the latter was sent back to his home without ransom, the former was sent out of Italy into what was really exile rather than military service. There the men who had fought at Cannae had been for eight years wearing out their lives, and there they would die before the enemy, who had never been stronger than he was today, quitted Italian soil. If the old soldiers were not to return, and fresh ones were always being enlisted, there would soon be nobody left. They would be compelled therefore, before they reached the last stage of depopulation and famine, to refuse to Rome what the necessities of their situation would very soon make it impossible to grant. If the Romans saw that this was the unanimous determination of their allies, they would assuredly begin to think about making peace with Carthage. Otherwise Italy would never be free from war as long as Hannibal was alive. Such was the general tone of the meetings. There were at the time thirty colonies belonging to Rome. Twelve of these announced to the consuls through their representatives in Rome that they had no means from which to furnish either men or money. The colonies in question were Ardea, Nepete, Sutrium, Alba, Carseoli, Sora, Suessa, Cercei, Setia, Cales, Narnia and Interamna.
The consuls, startled by this unprecedented step, wanted to frighten them out of such a detestable course, and thought that they would succeed better by uncompromising sternness than by adopting gentle methods. "You colonists," they said, "have dared to address us, the consuls, in language which we cannot bring ourselves to repeat openly in the senate, for it is not simply a refusal of military obligations, but an open revolt against Rome. You must go back to your respective colonies at once, while your treason is still confined to words, and consult your people. You are not Capuans or Tarentines, but Romans, from Rome you sprang, from Rome you have been planted in colonies on land taken from the enemy, in order that you may augment her dominion. Whatever duties children owe to their parents, you owe to Rome, if indeed you feel a spark of affection for her or cherish any memories of your mother country. So you must begin your deliberations afresh, for what you are now so recklessly contemplating means the betrayal of the sovereignty of Rome and the surrender of victory into the hands of Hannibal." Such were the arguments which each of the consuls advanced at considerable length, but they produced no impression. The envoys said that there was no reply for them to take home, nor was there any other policy for their senate to consider since there was not a man left for conscription nor any money for his pay. As the consuls saw that their determination was unshaken they brought the matter before the senate. Here such general consternation and alarm were felt that most of the senators declared that the empire was doomed, other colonies would take the same course, as would also the allies; all had agreed together to betray the City of Rome to Hannibal.
[27.10]The consuls spoke in reassuring terms to the senate. They declared that the other colonies were as loyal and dutiful as ever, and even those colonies which had forgotten their duty would learn to respect the empire if representatives of the government were sent amongst them, with words of admonishment and rebuke, not of supplication or entreaty. The senate left it to the consuls to take such action as they deemed best in the interests of the State. After sounding the temper of the other colonies, they summoned their delegates to Rome and questioned them as to whether they had soldiers in readiness in accordance with the terms of their constitution. M. Sextilius of Fregellae, acting as spokesman for the eighteen colonies, replied that the stipulated number of soldiers were ready for service; if more were needed they would furnish more, and do their utmost to carry out the wishes and commands of the Roman people. They had no insufficiency of resources, they had more than a sufficiency of loyalty and goodwill. The consuls told them in reply that they felt they could not praise their conduct as they deserved unless the senate as a body thanked them, and with this, bade them follow them into the House. A resolution was adopted by the senate and read to them, couched in the most complimentary and laudatory terms possible. The consuls were then charged to introduce them to the Assembly and, among the other splendid services which they had rendered to them and their ancestors, to make special mention of this fresh obligation which they had conferred on the Republic. Though so many generations have passed away, their names ought not to be passed over in silence nor their due meed of praise withheld. Signia, Norba, Saticula, Fregellae, Lucerium, Venusia, Brundisium, Hadria, Formae and Ariminum; on the Tyrrhenian Sea, Pontia, Paestum, Cosa; and the inland colonies, Beneventum, Aesernum, Spoletum, Placentia and Cremona - these were the colonies by whose aid and succour the dominion of Rome was upheld, it was these who were publicly thanked in the senate and before the Assembly. The senate forbade all mention of the other colonies who had proved false to the empire; the consuls were to ignore their representatives, neither retaining them nor dismissing them nor addressing them, but leaving them severely alone. This silent rebuke seemed most in accordance with the dignity of the Roman people. The other preparations for war now occupied the attention of the consuls. It was decided that the "vicesimary gold" which was kept as a reserve for extreme emergencies in the secret treasury should now be brought out. Four thousand pounds of gold were produced. Of this 550 pounds were given to each of the consuls and to the proconsuls M. Marcellus and P. Sulpicius. A similar amount was given to the praetor L. Veturius, who had drawn in the lottery the province of Gaul, and a special grant of 100 pounds was placed in the hands of the consul Fabius, to be carried into the citadel of Tarentum. The rest was made use of in purchasing, for cash at contract prices, clothing for the army in Spain, whose successful operations were enhancing their own and their general's reputation.
[27.11]It was further decided that before the consul left the City certain portents should be expiated. Various places had been struck by lightning: the statue of Jupiter on the Alban Mount and a tree near his temple, a grove at Ostia, the city wall and temple of Fortune at Capua and the wall and one of the gates at Sinuessa. Some people asserted that the water at Alba had run blood and that in the sanctuary of the temple of Fors Fortuna in Rome a statuette in the diadem of the goddess had fallen of itself on to her hand. It was confidently believed that at Privernum an ox had spoken and that a vulture had flown down on to a booth in the crowded forum. At Sinuessa it was reported that a child was born of doubtful sex, these are commonly called androgyni - a word like many others borrowed from the Greek, a language which readily admits compound words - also that it had rained milk and that a boy had been born with an elephant's head. These portents were expiated by sacrifices of full-grown victims, and a day was appointed for special intercessions at all the shrines. It was further decreed that the praetor C. Hostilius should vow and celebrate the Games of Apollo in strict accordance with the practice of recent years. During this interval the consul Q. Fulvius convened the Assembly for the election of censors. Two men were elected, neither of whom had attained the dignity of consul - M. Cornelius Cethegus and P. Sempronius Tuditanus. A measure was adopted by the plebs, with the sanction of the senate, authorising these censors to let the territory of Capua to individual occupiers. The revision of the senatorial roll was delayed through a difference between them as to who ought to be chosen as leader of the senate. The selection had fallen to Sempronius; Cornelius, however, insisted that they ought to follow the traditional usage in accordance with which the man who had been the first of all his surviving contemporaries to be appointed censor was always chosen as leader of the senate and in this case it was T. Manlius Torquatus. Sempronius replied that the gods who had given him by lot the right of choosing had also given him the right to make a free choice; he should therefore act on his own discretion and choose Q. Fabius Maximus, the man whom he claimed as foremost of all the Romans, a claim he would make good before Hannibal himself. After a lengthy argument his colleague gave way and Sempronius selected Q. Fabius Maximus as leader of the senate. The revision of the roll was then proceeded with, eight names being struck off, amongst them that of M. Caecilius Metellus, the author of the infamous proposal to abandon Italy after Cannae. For the same reason some were struck out of the equestrian order, but there were very few on whom the taint of that disgrace rested. All those who had belonged to the cavalry of the legions of Cannae, which were in Italy at the time - and there was a considerable number of them - were deprived of their regulation horses. This punishment was made still heavier by an extension of their compulsory service. The years they had served with the horses furnished by the State were not to count, they were to serve their ten years from that date with their own horses. A large number of men were discovered who ought to have served, and all those who had reached the age of seventeen at the commencement of the war and had not done any military service were degraded to the aerarii. The censors next signed contracts for the rebuilding of the places round the Forum which had been destroyed by fire. These comprised seven shops, the fish market and the Hall of Vestal.
[27.12]After despatching their business in Rome the consuls started for the war. Fulvius was the first to leave and went on in advance to Capua. After a few days Fabius followed, and in a personal interview with his colleague strongly urged him, as he had Marcellus by letter, to do his utmost to keep Hannibal on the defensive while he himself was attacking Tarentum. He pointed out that the enemy had now been driven back on all sides, and if he were deprived of that city there would be no position where he could make a stand, no sure place for retreat, there would be no longer anything to keep him in Italy. He also sent a message to the commandant of the garrison which Laevinus had stationed in Regium as a check against the Bruttii. This was a force of 8000 men, the majority drawn, as stated above, from Agathyrna in Sicily, and all accustomed to live by rapine; their numbers had been swelled by deserters from Bruttium, who were quite their equals in recklessness and love of desperate adventures. Fabius ordered the commandant to take this force into Bruttium and lay waste the country and then attack the city of Caulonia. They carried out their orders with alacrity and zest, and after plundering and scattering the peasants, they made a furious attack on the citadel. The consul's letter and his own belief that no Roman general was so good a match for Hannibal as himself stirred Marcellus into action. As soon as there was plenty of forage in the fields he broke up his winter quarters and confronted Hannibal at Canusium. The Carthaginian was trying to induce the Canusians to revolt, but as soon as he heard of the approach of Marcellus, he moved away. As the country was open, affording no cover for an ambuscade, he began to withdraw into a more wooded district. Marcellus followed at his heels, fixed his camp close to Hannibal's, and the moment he had completed his entrenchments he led his legions out to battle. Hannibal saw no necessity for risking a general engagement, and sent out detached troops of cavalry and bodies of slingers to skirmish. He was, however, drawn into the battle which he had tried to avoid, for after he had been marching all night, Marcellus caught him up in level and open country, and prevented him from fortifying his camp by attacking the entrenching parties on all sides. A pitched battled ensued in which the whole strength of both armies was engaged, and at the approach of nightfall they separated on equal terms. Both the camps, separated by only a small interval, were hastily fortified before dark. As soon as it began to grow light on the morrow Marcellus marched his men on to the field and Hannibal accepted the challenge. He said much to encourage his men, bidding them remember Thrasymenus and Cannae, and tame the insolence of their foe, who was incessantly pressing them and following on their heels, preventing them from fortifying their camp, giving them no breathing space, no time to look round. Day after day two objects met their eyes at the same time, the rising sun and the Roman battle-line on the plain. If the enemy got away with heavy loss after one battle, he would conduct his operations more quietly and deliberately. Animated by their general's words and exasperated at the defiant way in which the enemy challenged and provoked them, they began the battle with great spirit. After more than two hours' fighting the allied contingent on the Roman right including the special levies, began to give way. As soon as Marcellus saw this he brought the 10th legion up to the front. They were slow in coming up, and as the others were becoming unsteady and falling back, the whole line was gradually thrown into disorder and ultimately routed. Their fears got the better of them and they took to flight. 2700 Romans and allies fell in the battle and during the pursuit; amongst them were four centurions and two military tribunes, M. Licinius and M. Helvius. Four standards were lost out of the wing which began the fight, and two from the legion which came up in support.
[27.13]When they were once more in camp, Marcellus addressed such an impassioned and stinging remonstrance to his men that they suffered more from the words of their angry general than in the adverse struggle which they had kept up the livelong day. "As matters are," he said, "I am devoutly thankful to heaven that the enemy did not actually attack the camp while you in your panic were dashing into the gates and over the rampart; you would most certainly have abandoned your camp in the same wild terror in which you deserted the field. What is the meaning of this panic, this terror? What has suddenly come to you that you should forget who you are and with whom you are fighting? These surely are precisely the same enemies as those whom you spent last summer in defeating and pursuing, whom you have been closely following up these last few days, whilst they fled before you night and day, whom you have worn out in skirmishes, whom as late as yesterday you prevented from either advancing or encamping. I pass over incidents for which you may possibly take credit to yourselves and will only mention one circumstance which ought to fill you with shame and remorse. Last night, as you know, you drew off from the field after holding your own against the enemy. How has the situation changed during the night or throughout the day? Have your forces been weakened or his strengthened? But really, I do not seem to myself to be speaking to my army or to Roman soldiers, it is only your bodies and weapons that are the same. Do you imagine if you had had the spirit of Romans that the enemy would have seen your backs or captured a single standard from either maniple or cohort? So far he has prided himself upon the Roman legions he has cut up, you have been the first to confer upon him today the glory of having put a Roman army to flight."
Then there arose a general cry of supplication; the men begged him to pardon them for that day's work, and to make use of his soldiers' courage whenever and wherever he would. "Very well, soldiers," he said, "I will make proof of it and lead you to battle tomorrow, so that you may win the pardon you crave as victors rather as vanquished." He ordered the cohorts who had lost their standards to be put on barley rations, and the centurions of the maniples whose standards were lost were ordered to stand away from their fellows without their military cloaks and girdles and with their swords drawn. All the troops, mounted and unmounted, were ordered to assemble under arms the following day. They were then dismissed and all acknowledged that they had been justly and deservedly censured, and that in the whole army there was not one who had that day shown himself a man except their commander. They felt bound to make satisfaction to him either by their deaths or by a brilliant victory. The next morning they appeared equipped and armed according to orders. The general expressed his approval and announced that those who had been the first to flee and the cohorts which had lost their standards would be placed in the forefront of the battle. He went on to say that all must fight and conquer, and that they must, one and all, do their utmost to prevent the rumour of yesterday's flight from reaching Rome before the news of that day's victory. They were then ordered to strengthen themselves with food, so that if the fight was prolonged they might hold out. After all had been said and done to raise their courage, they marched to battle.
[27.14]When this was reported to Hannibal, he remarked, "Evidently we have to do with an enemy who cannot endure either good fortune or bad. If he is victorious he follows up the vanquished in fierce pursuit; if he is defeated he renews the struggle with his conquerors." Then he ordered the advance to be sounded, and led his men on to the field. The fighting was much hotter than on the previous day; the Carthaginians did their utmost to maintain the prestige they had gained, the Romans were equally determined to wipe out the disgrace of their defeat. The contingents who had formed the Roman left and the cohorts who had lost their standards were fighting in the front line, and the twentieth legion was stationed on their right. L. Cornelius Lentulus and C: Claudius Nero commanded the wings; Marcellus remained in the centre to encourage his men and mark how they bore themselves in battle. Hannibal's front line consisted of his Spanish troops, the flower of his army. After a long and undecided struggle he ordered the elephants to be brought up into the fighting line, in the hope that they would create confusion and panic among the enemy. At first they threw the front ranks into disorder, trampling some underfoot and scattering those round in wild alarm. One flank was thus exposed, and the rout would have spread much farther had not C. Decimius Flavus, one of the military tribunes, snatched the standard of the foremost maniple of hastati and called on them to follow him. He took them to where the animals trotting close to one another were creating the greatest tumult, and told his men to hurl their javelins at them. Owing to the short distance and the huge mark presented by the beasts, crowded as they were together, every missile went home. They were not all hit, but those in whose flanks the javelins were sticking turned the uninjured ones to flight, for these animals cannot be depended upon. Not only the men who first attacked them, but every soldier within reach hurled his javelin at them as they galloped back into the Carthaginian ranks, where they caused much more destruction than they had caused amongst the enemy. They dashed about much more recklessly and did far greater damage when driven by their fears, than when directed by their drivers. Where the line was broken by their charge, the Roman standards at once advanced, and the broken and demoralised enemy was put to rout without much fighting. Marcellus sent his cavalry after the fugitives, and the pursuit did not slacken till they had been driven in wild panic to their camp. To add to their confusion and terror two of the elephants had fallen and blocked up the camp gate, and the men had to scramble into their camp over fosse and rampart. It was here that they suffered the heaviest loss; 8000 men were killed and five elephants. The victory was anything but a bloodless one for the Romans; out of the two legions some 1700 men were killed and 1300 of the allied contingents, besides a very large number of wounded in both divisions. The following night Hannibal shifted his camp. Marcellus, though anxious to follow him, was unable to do so owing to the enormous number of wounded. Reconnoitring parties who were sent out to watch his movements reported that he had taken the direction of Bruttium.
[27.15]About this time the Hirpini, the Lucani and the Vulcientes surrendered to the consul Q. Fulvius, and delivered up the garrisons which Hannibal had placed in their cities. He accepted their submission graciously, and only reproached them for the mistake they had made in the past. This led the Bruttians to hope that similar indulgence might be shown to them, and they sent the two men who were of highest rank amongst them. Vivius and his brother Paccius, to ask for favourable terms of surrender. The consul Q. Fabius carried by storm the town of Manduria, in the country of the Sallentines. 3000 prisoners were secured and a considerable amount of plunder. From there he marched to Tarentum, and fixed his camp at the very mouth of the harbour. Some of the ships which Laevinus had had for the purpose of keeping the sea open for supplies he loaded with the engines and apparatus necessary for battering the walls; others he made use of for carrying artillery and stores and projectiles of every kind. Only the transports which were propelled by oars were there made use of, so that whilst some of the troops could bring up their engines and scaling ladders close to the walls, others could beat off the defenders from the walls by attacking them at a distance from the ships. These vessels were so fitted up that they could attack the city from the open sea without any interference from the enemy, as the Carthaginian fleet had sailed across to Corcyra to assist Philip in his campaign against the Aetolians. The force besieging Caulo, hearing of Hannibal's approach and fearing a surprise, withdrew to a position on the hills which was safe from any immediate attack.
While Fabius was besieging Tarentum an incident, of slight importance in itself, helped him to achieve a great success. The Tarentines had been furnished by Hannibal with a garrison of Bruttian troops. One of their officers was deeply in love with a young woman who had a brother in Fabius' army. She had written to tell him of the intimacy that had sprung up between her and a stranger who was rich and held a high position amongst his countrymen. The brother was led to hope that through his sister's means her lover might be led on to any lengths, and he communicated his anticipations to the consul. The idea did not seem at all an unreasonable one, and he received instructions to cross the lines and enter Tarentum as a deserter. After being introduced to the officer by his sister and getting on friendly terms with him, he cautiously sounded his disposition without betraying his real object. When he had satisfied himself as to the weakness of his character he called in his sister's aid, and through her coaxing and blandishments the man was persuaded to betray the position which he was in charge of. When the time and method of carrying out the project were arranged, a soldier was despatched from the city at night to make his way through the outposts and report to the consul what had been done and what arrangements had been made.
At the first watch Fabius gave the signal for action to the troops in the citadel and those who were guarding the harbour, and then marched right round the harbour and took up his position without being observed on the east side of the town. Then he ordered the trumpets to sound at the same moment from the citadel, the harbour and the ships which had been brought up from the open sea. The greatest shouting and uproar was designedly raised in just those parts where there was least danger of an attack. The consul meanwhile kept his men perfectly quiet. Democrates, who had formerly commanded the fleet, happened to be in charge of that part of the defences. Finding all quiet round him whilst elsewhere there was shouting and tumult as though the city had been taken, he feared to remain where he was in case the consul should storm the place and break in somewhere else. So he led his men up to the citadel from which the most alarming noise proceeded. From the time that had elapsed and the silence which followed the excited shouts and calls to arms, Fabius judged that the garrison had withdrawn from that part of the fortifications. He at once ordered the scaling ladders to be carried to that part of the walls where he understood from the traitor that the Bruttii were mounting guard. With their aid and connivance that section of the fortifications was carried, and the Romans made their way into the town after breaking down the nearest gate to allow the main body of their comrades to march in. Raising their battle shout they went on to the forum; which they reached about sunrise without meeting a single armed enemy. All the defenders who had been engaged at the citadel and the harbour now combined to attack them.
[27.16]The fighting in the forum commenced with an impetuosity which was not sustained. The Tarentine was no match for the Roman either in courage or weapons or military training or bodily strength and vigour. They hurled their javelins, and that was all; almost before they came to close quarters they turned and fled through the streets, seeking shelter in their own homes and in their friends' houses. Two of their leaders, Nico and Democrates, fell fighting bravely; Philemenus, who had been the prime agent in delivering the city up to Hannibal, rode at full speed out of the battle, but though his riderless horse was recognised soon afterwards whilst straying about the city, his body was nowhere found. It was commonly believed that he had been pitched headlong from his horse down an unprotected well. Carthalo the commandant of the garrison, had laid down his arms and was going to the consul to remind him of the old tie of hospitality between their fathers when he was killed by a soldier who met him. Those found with arms and those who had none were massacred indiscriminately, Carthaginians and Tarentines met the same fate. Many even of the Bruttians were killed in different parts of the town, either by mistake or to satisfy an old-standing hate, or to suppress any rumour of its capture through treachery, by making it appear as though it had been taken by storm. After the carnage followed the sack of the city. It is said that 30,000 slaves were captured together with an enormous quantity of silver plate and bullion, 83 pounds' weight of gold and a collection of statues and pictures almost equal to that which had adorned Syracuse. Fabius, however, showed a nobler spirit than Marcellus had exhibited in Sicily; he kept his hands off that kind of spoil. When his secretary asked him what he wished to have done with some colossal statues - they were deities, each represented in his appropriate dress and in a fighting attitude - he ordered them to be left to the Tarentines who had felt their wrath. The wall which separated the city from the citadel was completely demolished.
Hannibal had in the meanwhile received the surrender of the force which was investing Caulo. As soon as he heard that Tarentum was being attacked he hurried to its relief, marching night and day. On receiving the news of its capture, he remarked, "The Romans too have their Hannibal, we have lost Tarentum by the same practices by which we gained it." To prevent his retirement from appearing like a flight he encamped at a distance of about five miles from the city, and after staying there for a few days he fell back on Metapontum. From this place he sent two of the townsmen with a letter to Fabius at Tarentum. It was written by the civic authorities, and stated that they were prepared to surrender Metapontum and its Carthaginian garrison if the consul would pledge his word that they should not suffer for their conduct in the past. Fabius believed the letter to be genuine and handed the bearers a reply addressed to their chiefs, fixing the date of his arrival at Metapontum. This was taken to Hannibal. Naturally delighted to find that even Fabius was not proof against his stratagems, he disposed his force in ambuscade not far from Metapontum. Before leaving Tarentum Fabius consulted the sacred chickens, and on two occasions they gave an unfavourable omen. He also consulted the gods of sacrifice, and after they had inspected the victim the augurs warned him to be on his guard against plots and ambuscades on the part of the enemy. As he did not come at the appointed time, the Metapontines were again sent to him to hasten his movements, and were promptly arrested. Terrified at the prospect of examination under torture, they disclosed the plot.
[27.17]P. Scipio had spent the whole winter in winning over the various Spanish tribes, either by bribes or by restoring those of their countrymen who had been taken as hostages or prisoners. At the commencement of summer Edesco, a famous Spanish chieftain, came to visit him. His wife and children were in the hands of the Romans, but that was not the only reason why he came. He was influenced by the change which Fortune apparently was bringing about over the whole of Spain in favour of Rome as against Carthage. The same motive actuated Indibilis and Mandonius, who were beyond question the most powerful chiefs in Spain. They abandoned Hasdrubal, with the whole of their contingent, and withdrew to the hills above his camp and keeping along the ridge of mountains made their way safely to the Roman headquarters. When Hasdrubal saw that the enemy were receiving such accessions of strength whilst his own forces were shrinking in equal proportion, he realised that unless he made some bold move, the wastage would continue, so he made up his mind to seize the first opportunity of fighting. Scipio was still more anxious for a battle; his confidence had grown with success, and he was unwilling to wait till the hostile armies had formed a junction, preferring to engage each separately rather than all united. In case, however, he might have to fight with their combined armies, he had augmented his strength by a somewhat ingenious method. As the whole of the Spanish coast was now clear of the enemy's ships, he had no further use for his own fleet, and after beaching the vessels at Tarraco he brought up the crews to reinforce his land army. Of arms and armament he had more than enough, what with those taken in the capture of New Carthage, and those which the large body of artisans had fabricated for him subsequently. Laelius, in whose absence he would not undertake anything of importance, had now returned from Rome, so in the early days of spring he left Tarraco with his composite army and marched straight for the enemy.
The country through which he passed was everywhere peaceful; each tribe as he approached gave him a friendly reception and escorted him to their frontiers. On his route he was met by Indibilis and Mandonius. The former, speaking for himself and his companion, addressed Scipio in grave and dignified language, very unlike the rough and heedless speech of barbarians. Instead of claiming credit for having seized the first opportunity of going over to the side of Rome he rather pleaded that he had no alternative. He was quite aware, he said, that the name of deserter was an object of loathing to the old friends and of suspicion to the new ones, nor did he find fault with this way of looking at it as long as the twofold odium attached not merely to the name but to the motive. Then after dwelling on the services they had both rendered to the Carthaginian generals and the rapacity and insolence which the latter had exhibited and the innumerable wrongs inflicted on them and their fellow-countrymen, he continued: "Hitherto we have been associated with them so far as our bodily presence is concerned, but our hearts and minds have long been where we believe justice and right are cherished. Now we come as suppliants to the gods who cannot permit violence and injustice, and we implore you, Scipio, not to regard our change of sides, as either a crime or a merit; put us to the test from this day forward, and as you find us, so judge and appraise our conduct." The Roman general replied that this was just what he intended to do; he should not regard as deserters men who did not consider an alliance binding where no law, human or divine, was respected. Thereupon their wives and children were brought out and restored to them amid tears of joy. For that day they were the guests of the Romans, on the morrow a definite treaty of alliance was concluded, and they were sent off to bring up their troops. On their return they shared the Roman camp and acted as guides until they reached the enemy.
[27.20]A council of war was then held. Some of those present urged the immediate pursuit of Hasdrubal, but Scipio thought it hazardous in case Mago and the other Hasdrubal should join forces with him. He contented himself with sending a division to occupy the passes of the Pyrenees, and spent the remainder of the summer in receiving the submission of the Spanish tribes. A few days after the battle of Baecula, when Scipio had descended from the pass of Castulo on his return to Tarraco, the two Carthaginian generals, Hasdrubal Gisgo and Mago, came from Further Spain to join forces with Hasdrubal. They were too late to prevent his defeat, but their arrival was very timely in enabling them to concert measures for the prosecution of the war. When they came to compare notes as to the feeling in the different provinces, Hasdrubal Gisgo considered that as the distant coast of Spain between Gades and the ocean still knew nothing of the Romans, it was so far faithful to Carthage. The other Hasdrubal and Mago were agreed as to the influence which Scipio's generous treatment had had upon the feelings of all states and individuals alike, and they were convinced that the desertions could not be checked until all the Spanish soldiery had either been removed to the furthest corners of Spain or transported into Gaul. They decided therefore, without waiting for the sanction of the senate, that Hasdrubal must proceed to Italy, the focus of the war where the decisive conflict would be fought. In this way he would remove all the Spanish soldiers out of Spain far beyond the spell of Scipio's name.
His army, weakened as it was by desertions and by the losses in the recent disastrous battle, had to be brought up to its full strength. Mago was to hand over his own army to Hasdrubal Gisgo, and cross over to the Balearic Isles with an ample supply of money to hire mercenaries among the islanders. Hasdrubal Gisgo was to make his way into the interior of Lusitania and avoid any collision with the Romans. A force of 3000 horse, selected from all their cavalry, was to be made up for Masinissa, with which he was to traverse Western Spain, ready to assist the friendly tribes and carry devastation amongst the towns and territory of those who were hostile. After drawing up this plan of operations the three generals separated to carry out their several tasks. This was the course of events during the year in Spain. Scipio's reputation was rising day by day in Rome. Fabius too, though he had taken Tarentum by treachery rather than by valour, added to his prestige by its capture. Fulvius' laurels were fading. Marcellus was even the object of general censure, owing to the defeat which he had suffered and still more because he had quartered his army in Venusia in the height of the summer whilst Hannibal was marching where he pleased in Italy. He had an enemy in the person of C. Publicius Bibulus, a tribune of the plebs. Immediately after Marcellus met with his defeat, this man blackened his character and stirred up a bitter feeling against him by the harangues which he was constantly delivering to the plebs, and now he was actually working to get him deprived of his command. Claudius' friends obtained permission for him to leave his second in command at Venusia, and come home to clear himself of the charges brought against him, and they also prevented any attempt to deprive him of his command in his absence. It so happened that when Marcellus reached Rome to avert the threatened disgrace, Fulvius also arrived to conduct the elections.
[27.21]The question of depriving Marcellus of his command was debated in the Circus Flaminius before an enormous gathering in which all orders of the State were represented. The tribune of the plebs launched his accusations, not only against Marcellus, but against the nobility as a whole. It was due to their crooked policy and lack of energy, he said, that Hannibal had for ten years been holding Italy as his province; he had, in fact, passed more of his life there than in Carthage. The Roman people were now reaping the fruits of the extension of Marcellus' command, his army after its double defeat was now passing the summer comfortably housed in Venusia. Marcellus made such a crushing reply to the tribune's speech by simply recounting all that he had done that not only was the proposal to deprive him of his command rejected, but the next day all the centuries with absolute unanimity elected him consul. T. Quinctius Crispinus, who was praetor at the time, was assigned to him as his colleague. The next day came the election of praetors. Those elected were P. Licinius Crassus Dives, the Pontifex Maximus, P. Licinius Varus, Sextus Julius Caesar and Q. Claudius. In the middle of the elections considerable anxiety was created by the intelligence that Etruria had revolted. C. Calpurnius, who was acting in that province as propraetor, had written to say that the movement was started at Arretium. Marcellus, the consul elect, was hastily despatched thither to ascertain the position of affairs, and if he thought it sufficiently serious to require the presence of his army he was to transfer his operations from Apulia to Etruria. The Etruscans were sufficiently intimidated by these measures to keep quiet. Envoys came from Tarentum to ask for terms of peace under which they might retain their liberties and their laws. The senate directed them to come again as soon as Fabius arrived in Rome. The Roman Games and the Plebeian Games were celebrated this year, each for one day. The curule aediles were L. Cornelius Caudinus and Servius Sulpicius Galba; the plebeian aediles, C. Servilius and Q. Caecilius Metellus. It was asserted that Servilius had no legal right to be either tribune of the plebs or aedile, because there was sufficient evidence that his father, who was supposed to have been killed by the Boii near Mutina ten years previously when acting as agrarian commissioner, was really alive and a prisoner in the hands of the enemy.
[27.22]It was now the eleventh year of the Punic War when M. Marcellus and T. Quinctius Crispinus entered upon their duties as consuls. Reckoning the consulship to which Marcellus had been elected, but in which, owing to some flaw in his election, he did not act, this was the fifth time he had held the office. Italy was assigned to both consuls as their province and the two armies which the previous consuls had had, and a third which Marcellus had commanded and which was at the time in Venusia, were all placed at their disposal so that they could select which of the three they chose. The remaining one would then be given to the commander to whom Tarentum and the Sallentini should be allotted. The other spheres were allocated as follows: P. Licinius Varus was placed in charge of the city jurisdiction, P. Licinius Crassus the Pontifex Maximus had the jurisdiction over aliens and also wherever the senate might determine. Sicily was allotted to Sextus Julius Caesar, Tarentum to Q. Claudius the Flamen. Q. Fulvius Flaccus had his command extended for a year and was to hold the district of Capua, which T. Quinctius had previously held as praetor, with one legion. C. Hostilius Tubulus also had his command extended, he was to succeed C. Calpurnius as propraetor with two legions in Etruria. A similar extension of command was granted to L. Veturius Philo, who was to remain in Gaul as propraetor with the two legions he had previously commanded. The same order was made in the case of C. Aurunculeius, who had administered Sardinia as praetor; the fifty ships which P. Scipio was to send from Spain were assigned to him for the protection of his province. P. Scipio and M. Silanus were confirmed in their commands for another year. Out of the ships which Scipio had brought with him from Italy or captured from the Carthaginians - eighty in all - he was instructed to send fifty to Sardinia, as there were rumours of extensive naval preparations at Carthage. It was said that they were fitting out 200 ships to menace the whole of the Italian, Sicilian and Sardinian coasts. In Sicily it was arranged that the army of Cannae should be given to Sextus Caesar whilst M. Valerius Laevinus. whose command had also been extended, was to retain the fleet of seventy ships which was stationed off Sicily, and augment it with the thirty vessels which had lain at Tarentum during the past year. This fleet of one hundred ships he was to employ, if he thought good, in harrying the African seaboard. P. Sulpicius was to continue to hold Macedonia and Greece in check with the fleet which he had. There was no change in the case of the two legions which were quartered in the City. The consuls were commissioned to raise fresh troops where it was necessary, in order to bring up the legions to their proper strength. Thus one-and-twenty legions were under arms to defend the Roman empire. P. Licinius Varus, the City praetor, was charged with the task of refitting the thirty old warships which were laid up at Ostia, and manning with their full complement twenty new ones, so that he might have a fleet of fifty ships for the protection of that part of the coast which was nearest to Rome. C. Calpurnius received strict orders not to move his army from Arretium before the arrival of Tubulus who was to succeed him; Tubulus was also enjoined to be especially on his guard in case any revolutionary projects were formed.
[27.23]The praetors left for their provinces, but the consuls were detained by religious matters; several portents had been announced, and the omens drawn from the sacrificial victims were mostly unfavourable. News came from Campania that two temples in Capua - those of Fortune and Mars - as well as several sepulchral monuments had been struck by lightning. To such an extent does a depraved superstition see the work of the gods in the most insignificant trifles, that it was seriously reported that rats had gnawed the gold in the temple of Jupiter in Cumae. At Casinum a swarm of bees had settled in the forum; at Ostia a gate and part of the wall had been struck by lightning; at Caere a vulture had flown into the temple of Jupiter, and at Vulsinii the waters of the lake had run with blood. In consequence of these portents a day of special intercession was ordered. For several days full-grown victims had been sacrificed without giving any propitious indications, and it was long before the "peace of the gods" could be secured. It was on the heads of the consuls that the direful mischance prognosticated by these portents fell, the State remained unharmed. The Games of Apollo had been celebrated for the first time in the consulship of Q. Fulvius and Appius Claudius under the superintendence of the City praetor, P. Cornelius Sulla. Subsequently all the City praetors celebrated them in turn, but they used to vow them for one year only, and there was no fixed day for their celebration. This year a serious epidemic attacked both the City and the country districts, but it resulted more frequently in protracted than in fatal illness. In consequence of this epidemic special intercessions were appointed at all the chapels throughout the City, and P. Licinius Varus, the City praetor, was instructed to propose a measure to the people providing that the Games of Apollo should always be celebrated on the same day. He was the first to celebrate them under this rule, and the day fixed for their celebration was July 5th, which was henceforth observed as the day.
[27.24]Day by day the reports from Arretium became more serious and caused increasing anxiety to the senate. Written instructions were sent to C. Hostilius, bidding him lose no time in taking hostages from the townspeople, and C. Terentius Varro was sent with powers to receive them from him and conduct them to Rome. As soon as he arrived, Hostilius ordered one of his legions which was encamped before the city to enter it in military order, and he then disposed the men in suitable positions. This done, he summoned the senators into the forum and ordered them to give hostages for their good behaviour. They asked for forty-eight hours for consideration, but he insisted upon their producing the hostages at once, and threatened in case of refusal to seize all their children the next day. He then issued orders to the military tribunes and prefects of allies and centurions to keep a strict watch on the gates, and to allow no one to leave the city during the night. There was too much slackness and delay in carrying out these instructions; before the guards were posted at the gates seven of the principal senators with their children slipped out before it was dark. Early on the morrow, when the senators began to assemble in the forum, the absence of these men was discovered, and their property was sold. The rest of the senators offered their own children to the number of one hundred and twenty; the offer was accepted, and they were entrusted to C. Terentius to be conveyed to Rome. The report he gave to the senate made matters look still more serious. It seemed as though a rising throughout Etruria was imminent. C. Terentius was accordingly ordered to proceed to Arretium with one of the two City legions and occupy the place in force, C. Hostilius with the rest of the army was to traverse the entire province and see that no opening was afforded for revolutionary disturbances. When C. Terentius and his legion reached Arretium, he demanded the keys of the gates. The magistrates replied that they could not find them, but he was convinced that they had been deliberately carried off and not lost through carelessness, so he had fresh locks fitted on all the gates, and took especial precautions to have everything under his own control. He earnestly impressed upon Hostilius the need of vigilance, and warned him that all hope of Etruria remaining quiet depended upon his taking such precautions as to make any movement of disaffection impossible.
[27.25]There was an animated debate in the senate as to the treatment to be meted out to the Tarentines. Fabius was present, and stood up for those whom he had subjugated; others took the opposite line, the majority regarded their guilt as equal to that of Capua and deserving equally severe punishment. At last a resolution was adopted embodying the proposal of Manlius Acilius, viz. that the town should be garrisoned and the entire population confined within their walls until Italy was in a less disturbed state, when the whole question could be reconsidered. An equally warm discussion arose in connection with M. Livius who had commanded the force in the citadel. Some were for passing a formal vote of censure on him for having, through his negligence, allowed the place to be betrayed to the enemy. Others considered that he ought to be rewarded for having successfully defended the citadel for five years, and having done more than any one else to effect the recapture of Tarentum. A third party, taking a middle course, urged that it was for the censors, not the senate, to take cognisance of his action. This view was supported by Fabius, who remarked that he quite admitted what Livius' friends were constantly asserting in that House, that it was owing to his efforts that Tarentum had been retaken, for there would have been no recapture had it not previously been lost. One of the consuls, T. Quinctius Crispinus, left with reinforcements for the army in Lucania which Q. Fulvius Flaccus had commanded. Marcellus was detained by religious difficulties which one after another presented themselves. In the war with the Gauls he had vowed during the battle of Clastidium a temple to Honos and Virtus, but he was prevented from dedicating it by the pontiffs. They said that one shrine could not be lawfully dedicated to two deities, because in case it were struck by lightning, or some other portent occurred in it, there would be a difficulty about the expiation, since it could not be known which deity was to be propitiated; one victim could not be sacrificed to two deities except in the case of certain specified deities. A second temple was hastily built to Virtus, but this was not dedicated by Marcellus. At last he started with reinforcements for the army which he had left the previous year at Venusia. Seeing how Tarentum had enhanced Fabius' reputation, Crispinus determined to attempt the capture of Locri in Bruttium. He had sent to Sicily for all kinds of artillery and military engines, and had also collected a number of ships to attack that part of the city which faced the sea. As, however, Hannibal had brought up his army to Lacinium, he abandoned the siege, and hearing that his colleague had moved out by Venusia, he was anxious to join forces with him. With this view he marched back into Apulia, and the two consuls encamped within three miles of each other in a place between Venusia and Bantia. As all was now quiet at Locri Hannibal moved up into their neighbourhood. But the consuls were quite sanguine of success; they drew out their armies for battle almost every day, feeling perfectly certain that if the enemy would try his chance against two consular armies, the war would be brought to a close.
[27.26]Hannibal had already fought two battles with Marcellus during the past year, in one he had been victorious, the other he lost. After this experience he felt that if he had to meet him again there was as much ground for fear as for hope, and he was therefore far from feeling himself equal to the two consuls together. He decided to employ his old tactics and looked out for a position suitable for an ambuscade. Both sides, however, confined themselves to skirmishes, with varying success, and the consuls thought that as the summer was being spun out in this way there was no reason why the siege of Locri should not be resumed. So they sent written instructions to L. Cincius to take his fleet from Sicily to Locri, and as the walls of that city were open to a land attack also, they ordered a portion of the army which was garrisoning Tarentum to be marched there. These plans were disclosed to Hannibal by some people from Thurium, and he sent a force to block the road from Tarentum. 3000 cavalry and 2000 infantry were concealed under a hill above Petelia. The Romans, marching on without reconnoitring, fell into the trap, and 2000 were killed and 1500 taken prisoners. The rest fled through the fields and woods back to Tarentum. Between the Carthaginian camp and that of the Romans there was a wooded hill which neither side had taken possession of, for the Romans did not know what that side of it was like which fronted the enemy, and Hannibal regarded it as better adapted for an ambuscade than for a camp. He accordingly sent a force of Numidians during the night to conceal themselves in the wood, and there they remained the following day without stirring from their position, so that neither they nor their arms were visible. It was being everywhere remarked in the Roman camp that the hill ought to be seized and strengthened with defences, for if Hannibal seized it they would have the enemy, so to speak, over their heads. The idea impressed Marcellus, and he said to his colleague: "Why do we not go with a few horsemen and examine the place? When we have seen it for ourselves we shall know better what to do." Crispinus assented, and they started with 220 mounted men, 40 of whom were from Fregellae, the rest were Etruscans. They were accompanied by two military tribunes, M. Marcellus, a son of the consul, and A. Manlius, and also by two prefects of allies, L. Arrenius and Manius Aulius. Some writers assert that whilst Marcellus was sacrificing on that day, the liver of the first victim was found to have no head; in the second all the usual parts were present, but the head appeared abnormally large. The haruspex was seriously alarmed at finding after misshaped and stunted parts such an excess of growth.
[27.27]Marcellus, however, was seized with such a keen desire of engaging Hannibal that he never thought that their respective camps were near enough to each other. As he was crossing the rampart on his way to the hill he signalled to the soldiers to be at their posts, ready to get the baggage together and follow him in case he decided that the hill which he was going to reconnoitre was suitable for a camp. There was a narrow stretch of level ground in front of the camp, and from there a road led up to the hill which was open and visible from all sides. The Numidians posted a vidette to keep a look out, not in the least anticipating such a serious encounter as followed, but simply in the hope of intercepting any who had strayed too far from their camp after wood or fodder. This man gave the signal for them to rise from their concealment. Those who were in front of the Romans further up the hill did not show themselves until those who were to close the road behind them had worked round their rear. Then they sprang up on all sides, and with a loud shout charged down. Though the consuls were hemmed in, unable to force their way to the hill which was occupied, and with their retreat cut off by those in their rear, still the conflict might have kept up for a longer time if the Etruscans, who were the first to flee, had not created a panic among the rest. The Fregellans, however, though abandoned by the Etruscans, maintained the conflict as long as the consuls were unwounded and able to cheer them on and take their part in the fighting. But when both the consuls were wounded, when they saw Marcellus fall dying from his horse, run through with a lance, then the little band of survivors fled in company with Crispinus, who had been hit by two darts, and young Marcellus, who was himself wounded. Aulus Manlius was killed, and Manius Aulius; the other prefect of allies, Arrenius, was taken prisoner. Five of the consuls' lictors fell into the hands of the enemy, the rest were either killed or escaped with the consul. Forty-three of the cavalry fell either in the battle or the pursuit, eighteen were made prisoners. There was great excitement in the camp, and they were hurriedly preparing to go to the consuls' assistance when they saw one consul and the son of the other coming back wounded with the scanty remnant who had survived the disastrous expedition. The death of Marcellus was to be deplored for many reasons, especially because, with an imprudence not to be expected at his age - he was more than sixty - and altogether out of keeping with the caution of a veteran general, he had flung into headlong danger not only himself but his colleague as well, and almost the entire commonwealth. I should make too long a digression about one solitary fact, if I were to go through all the accounts of the death of Marcellus. I will only cite one authority, Coelius. He gives three different versions of what happened, one handed down by tradition, another copied from the funeral oration delivered by his son who was on the spot, and a third which Coelius gives as the ascertained result of his own researches. Amidst the variations of the story, however, most authorities agree that he left the camp to reconnoitre the position, and all agree that he was ambushed.
[27.28]Hannibal felt convinced that the enemy would be thoroughly cowed by the death of one consul and the disablement of the other, and he determined not to lose the opportunity thus afforded him. He at once transferred his camp to the hill where the action had been fought, and here he interred the body of Marcellus, which had been found. Crispinus, unnerved by the death of his colleague and his own wound, left his position in the dead of night and fixed his camp on the first mountains he came to, in a lofty position protected on every side. And now the two commanders showed great wariness, the one trying to deceive his opponent, the other taking every precaution against him. When the body of Marcellus was discovered, Hannibal took possession of his rings. Fearing that the signet might be used for purposes of forgery, Crispinus sent couriers to all the cities round, warning them that his colleague was killed and his ring in the possession of the enemy, so that they were not to trust any missives sent in the name of Marcellus. Soon after the consul's messenger had arrived at Salapia, a despatch was received from Hannibal purporting to come from Marcellus, and stating that he would come to Salapia the night after they received the letter, and the soldiers of the garrison were to hold themselves in readiness in case their services should be required. The Salapians saw through the ruse, and supposed that he was seeking an opportunity for punishing them, not only for their desertion of the Carthaginian cause, but also for the slaughter of his cavalry. They sent back the messenger, who was a Roman deserter, that he might not be cognisant of the measures which they decided to take, and then made their dispositions. The townsmen took their places on the walls and other commanding positions, the patrols and sentries for the night were strengthened and kept a most careful look out, and the pick of the garrison were formed up near the gate to which the enemy were expected to come.
Hannibal approached the city about the fourth watch. The head of the column was formed of Roman deserters; they carried Roman weapons, their armour was Roman, and they were all speaking Latin. When they reached the gate, they called up the sentinels and told them to open the gate as the consul was there. The sentinels, pretending to be just wakened up, bustled about in hurry and confusion and began slowly and laboriously to open the gate. It was closed by a portcullis, and by means of levers and ropes they raised it just high enough for a man to pass upright under it. The passage was hardly sufficiently clear when the deserters rushed through the gate, each trying who should be first. About 600 were inside, when suddenly the rope which held it was let go, and the portcullis fell with a great crash. The Salapians attacked the deserters, who were marching carelessly along with their shields hung from their shoulders, as though friends; others on the gate tower and the walls kept off the enemy outside with stones and long poles and javelins. So Hannibal, finding himself caught in his own trap, drew off and proceeded to raise the siege of Locri. Cincius was making a most determined attack upon the place with siege works and artillery of every kind which he had brought from Sicily, and Mago was beginning to despair of holding the place when his hopes were suddenly revived by the news of Marcellus' death. Then came a messenger with the tidings that Hannibal had sent his Numidian cavalry on in advance, and was following as rapidly as he could with his infantry. As soon as the signal was given from the look-out of the approach of the Numidians, Mago flung the city gate open and made a vigorous sortie. Owing to the suddenness of his attack which was quite unlooked for, rather than to his fighting strength, the battle was for some time an even one, but when the Numidians came up, such a panic seized the Romans that they abandoned the siege works and the engines with which they were battering the walls, and fled in disorder to the sea and to their ships. Thus by the arrival of Hannibal, the siege of Locri was raised.
[27.29]As soon as Crispinus found that Hannibal had withdrawn to Bruttium he ordered M. Marcellus to take the army which his late colleague had commanded back to Venusia. Though hardly able to bear the motion of the litter owing to his serious wounds, he started with his legions for Capua. In a despatch which he sent to the senate, after alluding to his colleague's death and the critical condition he himself was in, he explained that he could not go to Rome for the elections because he did not think he could bear the fatigue of the journey, and also because he was anxious about Tarentum in case Hannibal should leave Bruttium and direct his armies against it. He also requested that some men of wisdom and experience might be sent to him, as it was necessary for him to confer with them as to the policy of the Republic. The reading of this despatch evoked a feeling of deep regret at the death of the one consul and serious apprehensions for the life of the other. In accordance with his wish they sent young Q. Fabius to the army at Venusia, and three representatives to the consul, viz. Sextus Julius Caesar, L. Licinius Pollio and L. Cincius Alimentus who had returned from Sicily a few days previously. Their instructions were to tell the consul that if he could not come to Rome to conduct the elections, he was to nominate a Dictator in Roman territory for the purpose. If the consul had gone to Tarentum, the praetor Q. Claudius was required to withdraw the legions stationed there, and march with them into that district in which he could protect the greatest number of cities belonging to the allies of Rome. During the summer M. Valerius sailed across to Africa with a fleet of a hundred vessels. Landing his men near the city of Clupea, he ravaged the country far and wide without meeting with any resistance. The news of the approach of a Carthaginian fleet caused the pillagers to return in haste to their ships. This fleet consisted of eighty-three ships, and the Roman commander successfully engaged it not far from Clupea. After capturing eighteen ships and putting the rest to flight, he returned to Lilybaeum with a great quantity of booty. In the course of the summer Philip lent armed assistance to the Achaeans, who had implored his aid against Machanidas, tyrant of the Lacedaemonians, and against the Aetolians. Machanidas was harassing them with a border warfare, and the Aetolians had crossed the narrow sea between Naupactus and Patrae - the local name of the latter is Rhion - and were making forays in Achaia. There were rumours also of an intention on the part of Attalus, king of Asia, to visit Europe, as the Aetolians had at the last meeting of their national council made him one of their two supreme magistrates.
[27.30]This being the position of affairs, Philip moved southward into Greece. The Aetolians under the command of Pyrrhias, who had been elected Attalus' colleague, met Philip at the city of Lamia. They were supported by a contingent furnished by Attalus, and also by about 1000 men whom P. Sulpicius had sent from his fleet. Philip won two battles against Pyrrhias, and in each battle the enemy lost not less than 1000 men. From that time the Aetolians were afraid to meet him in the field and remained inside the walls of Lamia. Philip accordingly marched his army to Phalara. This place lies on the Maliac Gulf, and was formerly the seat of a considerable population, owing to its splendid harbour, the safe anchorages in the neighbourhood, and other maritime and commercial advantages. Whilst he was here he was visited by embassies from Ptolemy king of Egypt, and from Rhodes and Athens and Chios, with the view of bringing about a reconciliation between him and the Aetolians. Amynandor, king of the Athamanians, a neighbour of the Aetolians. was also acting on their behalf as peacemaker. But the general concern was not so much for the Aetolians, who were more warlike than the rest of the Greeks, as for the liberty of Greece, which would be seriously endangered if Philip and his kingdom took an active part in Greek politics. The question of peace was held over for discussion in the meeting of the Achaean League. The place and time for this meeting were settled, and in the meantime a thirty days' armistice was arranged. From Phalara the king proceeded through Thessaly and Boeotia to Chalcis in Euboea, in order to prevent Attalus, who he understood was sailing thither, from landing on the island. Leaving a force there in case Attalus should sail across in the meantime, he went on with a small body of cavalry and light infantry to Argos. Here the presidency of the Heraean and Nemean Games was conferred upon him by the popular vote, on the ground that the kings of Macedon trace their origin to Argos. As soon as the Heraean Games were over he went off to Aegium to the meeting of the League which had been fixed some time previously.
The discussion turned upon the question of putting a stop to the war with the Aetolians, so that neither the Romans nor Attalus might have any reason for entering Greece. But everything was upset by the Aetolians almost before the armistice had expired, after they learnt that Attalus had reached Aegina and that a Roman fleet was anchored off Naupactus. They had been invited to attend the meeting of the League, and the deputations who had been trying to secure peace at Phalara were also present. They began by complaining of certain trivial infringements of the armistice, and ended by declaring that hostilities could never cease until the Achaeans restored Pylos to the Messenians, and Atintania was given back to Rome, and the Ardiaei to Scerdilaedus and Pleuratus. Philip was naturally indignant at those whom he had defeated proposing terms of peace to him, their conqueror. He reminded the assembly that when the question of peace was referred to him and an armistice was granted, it was not with any expectation that the Aetolians would remain quiet, but solely in order that all the allies might bear him witness that whilst he was seeking a basis for peace, the other side were determined to find a pretext for war. Since there was no chance of peace being established, he dismissed the council and returned to Argos, as the time for the Nemean Games was approaching and he wished to add to their popularity by his presence. He left a force of 4000 men to protect the Achaeans, and at the same time took over from them five ships of war. He intended to add these to the fleet recently sent from Carthage; with these vessels and the ships which Prusias was despatching from Bithynia he had made up his mind to offer battle to the Romans who were masters of the sea in that part of the world.
[27.31]While the king was preoccupied with the preparations for the Games, and was allowing himself more recreation than was possible in a time of active warfare, P. Sulpicius, setting sail from Naupactus, brought up his fleet between Sicyon and Corinth, and spread devastation far and wide over that wonderfully fertile land. This news brought Philip away from the Games. He hurried off with his cavalry, leaving the infantry to follow, and caught the Romans whilst they were dispersed through the fields in all directions, laden with plunder, and utterly unsuspicious of danger. They were driven to their ships, and the Roman fleet returned to Naupactus, far from happy at the result of their raid. Philip returned to see the close of the Games, and their splendour was enhanced by the news of his victory, for whatever its importance it was still a victory over the Romans. What added to the universal enjoyment of the festival was the way in which he gratified the people by laying aside his diadem and purple robe and the rest of his royal state so as to be, as far as appearance went, on a level with the rest. Nothing is more grateful than this to the citizens of a free State. He would indeed have given them every reason to hope that their liberties would remain unimpaired if he had not sullied and disgraced all by his insufferable debauchery. Accompanied by one or two boon companions, he ranged as he pleased through homes and families, day and night, and by stooping to the status of a private citizen he attracted less notice and was therefore under less restraint. The liberty with which he had cheated others he turned in his own case to unbridled licence, and he did not always effect his purpose by money or blandishments but even resorted to criminal violence. It was a dangerous thing for husbands and fathers to place obstacles in the way of the king's lusts by any untimely scruples on their part. A lady called Polycratia, the wife of Aratus, one of the leading men amongst the Achaeans, was taken away from her husband and carried off to Macedon under a promise from the king to marry her. In the midst of these debaucheries the sacred festival of the Nemean Games came to a close. A few days afterwards Philip marched to Dymae to expel the Aetolian garrison which the Eleans had invited and admitted into their city. Here the king was met by the Achaeans under Cycliadas their captain general, who were burning with resentment against the Eleans for having deserted the Achaean League, and furious against the Aetolians for having, as they believed, brought the arms of Rome against them. The combined force left Dymae and crossed the Larisus, which separates the territory of Elia from that of Dymae.
[27.32]The first day of their advance in the enemy's country was spent in plunder and destruction. The next day they marched in battle array towards the city, the cavalry having been sent forward to provoke the Aetolians to fight, which they were perfectly ready to do. The invaders were unaware that Sulpicius had sailed across from Naupactus to Cyllene with fifteen ships and landed 4000 men who had entered Elis in the night. As soon as they recognised the standards and arms of Rome amongst the Aetolians and Eleans, the unlooked-for sight filled them with great alarm. At first the king wanted to retire his men, but they were already engaged with the Aetolians and Trallians - an Illyrian tribe - and as he saw that they were being hard pressed, he charged the Roman cohort with his cavalry. His horse was wounded by a javelin and fell, throwing the king over its head, and a fierce contest began, on both sides, the Romans making desperate efforts to reach him and his own men doing their best to protect him. Compelled as he was to fight on foot amongst mounted men, he showed conspicuous courage. The struggle became at length an unequal one, many were falling round him and many were wounded, and he was seized by his own men and placed on another horse on which he fled. That day he fixed his camp about five miles from Elis; the following day he led the whole of his force to a fortified place called Pyrgon. This was a fort belonging to the Eleans, and he had been informed that a large number of peasants with their cattle had taken refuge there through fear of being plundered. Destitute as they were of organisation and arms, the mere fact of his approach filled them with terror and they were all made prisoners. This booty was some compensation for his humiliating defeat at Elis. Whilst he was distributing the spoil and the captives - there were 4000 prisoners and 20,000 head of cattle large and small - a messenger arrived from Macedonia stating that a certain Eropus had taken Lychnidos after bribing the commandant of the garrison, that he was in possession of some villages belonging to the Dassaretii and was also making the Dardanians restless. Philip at once abandoned hostilities with the Aetolians and prepared to return home. He left a force of 2500 of all arms under the command of Menippus and Polyphantas to protect his allies, and taking his route through Achaia and Boeotia, and across Euboea, he arrived at Demetrias in Thessaly on the tenth day after his departure from Dymae.
[27.33]There he was met by still more alarming tidings; the Dardanians were pouring into Macedonia and were already in occupation of the Orestides district, they had even descended into the Argestaean Plain. The report was current that Philip had been killed; the rumour was due to the fact that in the encounter with the plundering parties from the Roman fleet at Sicyon, his horse flung him against a tree and one of the horns of his helmet was broken off by a projecting branch. This was afterwards picked up by an Aetolian and taken to Scerdilaedus, who recognised it. Hence the rumour. After the king had left Achaia Sulpicius sailed to Aegina and Scipio in Spain joined forces with Attalus. The Achaeans in conjunction with the Aetolians and Eleans fought a successful action not far from Messene. Attalus and Sulpicius went into winter quarters in Aegina. At the close of this year the consul T. Quinctius died of his wounds, having previously nominated T. Manlius Torquatus Dictator to conduct the elections. Some say he died in Tarentum, others, in Campania. This accident of two consuls being killed in a quite unimportant action had never occurred in any previous war, and it left the republic, so to speak, in a state of orphanhood. The Dictator named C. Servilius, who was curule aedile at the time, his Master of the Horse. On the first day of their session the senate instructed the Dictator to celebrate the Great Games. M. Aemilius, who was city praetor at the time, had celebrated them in the consulship of C. Flaminius and Cnaeus Servilius, and had made a vow that they should be celebrated in five years' time. The Dictator celebrated them accordingly, and made a vow that they should be repeated at the following lustrum. Meanwhile, as the two consular armies had no generals and were in such close proximity to the enemy, both senate and people were anxious that all other business should be postponed, and consuls elected as soon as possible. It was felt that, above all, men ought to be elected whose courage and skill would be proof against the wiles of the Carthaginian, for all through the war the hot and hasty temperament of different commanders had proved disastrous, and in that very year the consuls had been led by their eagerness to come to grips with the enemy into snares of which they did not suspect the existence. The gods, however, out of pity for the name of Rome, spared the unoffending armies and visited the rashness of the consuls on their own heads.
[27.34]When the patricians began to look round and see who would make the best consuls, one man stood out conspicuously - C. Claudius Nero. The question was, who was to be his colleague? He was regarded as a man of exceptional ability but too impulsive and venturesome for such a war as the present one, or such an enemy as Hannibal, and they felt that his impetuous temperament needed to be restrained by a cool and prudent colleague. Their thoughts turned to M. Livius. He had been consul several years previously, and after laying down his consulship had been impeached before the Assembly and found guilty. This disgrace he felt so keenly that he removed into the country, and for many years was a stranger to the City and to all public gatherings. It was about eight years after his condemnation that the consuls M. Claudius Marcellus and M. Valerius Laevinus brought him back to the City, but his squalid garments, his neglected hair and beard, his whole appearance showed pretty clearly that he had not forgotten the humiliation. The censors L. Veturius and P. Licinius made him trim his hair and beard and lay aside his squalid garments and take his place in the senate and discharge other public duties. Even then he contented himself with a simple "aye" or "no" to the question before the House, and in the event of a division with a silent vote, until the case of his kinsman Marcus Livius Macatus came up, when the attack upon his relative's fair fame compelled him to rise in his place and address the House. The voice which after so long an interval was once more heard was listened to with deep attention, and the senators remarked to one another that the people had wronged an innocent man to the great detriment of the commonwealth, which in the stress of a grievous war had been unable to avail itself of the help and counsel of such a man as that. Neither Q. Fabius nor M. Valerius Laevinus could be assigned to C. Nero as his colleague because it was illegal for two patricians to be elected, and the same difficulty existed in the case of T. Manlius, who had moreover already refused a consulship and would continue to refuse it. If they gave him M. Livius as colleague, they felt that they would have a splendid pair of consuls. This suggestion put forward by the senators was approved by the great body of the people. There was only one among all the citizens who rejected it and that was the man on whom the honour was to be conferred. He accused them of inconsistency. "When he appeared in mourning garments at his trial they felt no pity for him, now, in spite of his refusal, they would have him put on the white robe of the candidate. They heaped penalties and honours on the same man. If they thought that he was a good citizen, why had they condemned him as a criminal? If they had found him to be a criminal, why were they entrusting him with a second consulship after he had misused the first?" The senators severely censured him for complaining and protesting in this way, and reminded him of M. Furius Camillus who after being recalled from exile restored his country to its ancient seat. "We ought to treat our country," they told him, "like our parents, and disarm its severity by patience and submission." By their united efforts they succeeded in making him consul with C. Claudius Nero.
[27.35]Three days later came the election of praetors. Those elected were L. Porcius Licinius, C. Mamilius and the two Catos, C. Hostilius and A. Hostilius. When the elections were over and the Games concluded, the Dictator and the Master of the Horse resigned office. C. Terentius Varro was sent into Etruria as propraetor to relieve C. Hostilius, who was to take over the command of the army at Tarentum which the consul T. Quinctius had had. L. Manlius was to go to Greece and find out what was going on there. As the Olympian Games were to be held this summer, and as a very large gathering would be there, he was, if he could get through the enemy's forces, to be present at them and inform those Sicilians who had fled there from the war and any citizens of Tarentum who had been banished by Hannibal that they might return home and rest assured that the Roman people would restore to them all that they possessed before the war. As the coming year seemed to be fraught with most serious dangers, and the State was for the moment without consuls, all eyes were turned to the consuls-elect, and it was universally hoped that they would lose no time in balloting for their provinces and deciding what enemy each of them would have to meet. On the initiative of Q. Fabius Maximus a resolution was earned in the senate insisting upon their becoming reconciled to each other. Their quarrel was only too notorious, and was embittered by Livius' resentment at the insulting treatment he had received, for he felt that his honour had been sullied by his prosecution. This made him all the more implacable; he said that there was no need for any reconciliation, each would act with greater energy and alertness if he knew that failure to do so would give his enemy an advantage. However, the senate successfully exerted their authority, and they were induced to lay aside their private differences and conduct the affairs of State with one mind and one policy. Their provinces were not contiguous as in former years, but widely separated, at the extremities of Italy. One was to act against Hannibal in Bruttium and Lucania, the other in Gaul against Hasdrubal, who was reported to be now nearing the Alps. The consul to whose lot Gaul should fall was to choose either the army which was in Gaul or the one in Etruria, and would receive in addition the army of the City. The one to whom Bruttium fell was to raise fresh legions in the City and select one of the two consular armies of the previous year. The other one Q. Fabius was to take over as proconsul, in which capacity he was to act for the year. C. Hostilius, who had already been removed from Etruria to Tarentum, was now again to change from Tarentum to Capua. One legion was given him, the one which Fulvius had commanded.
[27.36]Hasdrubal's appearance in Italy was looked forward to with daily increasing anxiety. The first news came from the Massilians, who reported that he had passed into Gaul, and that there was widespread excitement amongst the natives owing to a rumour that he had brought a large amount of gold for the payment of auxiliary troops. The Massilian envoys were accompanied on their return by Sextus Antistius and M. Raecius, who were sent to make further investigations. These reported that they had sent emissaries, accompanied by some Massilians who had friends amongst, the Gaulish chieftains, to gain information and that they had definitely ascertained that Hasdrubal intended to cross the Alps the next spring with an enormous army. The only thing that kept him from advancing at once was that the Alps were insurmountable in winter. P. Aelius Paetus was appointed and consecrated augur in place of M. Marcellus, and Cnaeus Cornelius Dolabella was consecrated "King of Sacrifices" in place of M. Marcius, who had been dead for two years. The lustrum was closed by the censors P. Sempronius Tuditanus and M. Cornelius Cethegus. The census returns gave the number of citizens as 137,108, a considerably smaller number than the one before the beginning of the war. For the first time since Hannibal had invaded Italy the comitium is stated to have been covered over and the Roman Games were celebrated for one day by the curule aediles Q. Metellus and C. Servilius. The Plebeian Games also were celebrated for two days by the plebeian aediles C. Mamilius and M. Caecilius Metellus. They also gave three statues to the temple of Ceres, and a banquet was held in honour of Jupiter on the occasion of the Games. The consuls then entered upon office; C. Claudius Nero for the first time, M. Livius for the second. As they had balloted for their provinces they ordered the praetors to ballot for theirs. The urban jurisdiction fell to C. Hostilius, and the jurisdiction over aliens was also committed to him in order that three praetors might be available for foreign service. A. Hostilius was allotted to Sardinia, C. Mamilius to Sicily and L. Porcius to Gaul. The total military strength amounted to twenty-three legions and were thus distributed: each of the consuls had two; four were in Spain; each of the three praetors had two in Sardinia, Sicily and Gaul respectively; C. Terentius had two in Etruria; Quintus Fulvius had two in Bruttium; Q. Claudius had two in the neighbourhood of Tarentum and the Sallentine district; C. Hostilius Tubulus had one at Capua; and two were raised in the City for home defence. The people appointed the military tribunes for the first four legions; the consuls commissioned the rest.
[27.37]Prior to the departure of the consuls religious observances were kept up for nine days owing to the fall of a shower of stones at Veii. As usual, no sooner was one portent announced than reports were brought in of others. At Menturnae the temple of Jupiter and the sacred grove of Marica were struck with lightning, as were also the wall of Atella and one of the gates. The people of Menturnae reported a second and more appalling portent; a stream of blood had flowed in at their gate. At Capua a wolf had entered the gate by night and mauled one of the watch. These portents were expiated by the sacrifice of full-grown victims, and special intercessions for the whole of one day were ordered by the pontiffs. Subsequently a second nine days' observance was ordered in consequence of a shower of stones which fell in the Armilustrum. No sooner were men's fears allayed by these expiatory rites than a fresh report came, this time from Frusino, to the effect that a child had been born there in size and appearance equal to one four years old, and what was still more startling, like the case at Sinuessa two years previously, it was impossible to say whether it was male or female. The diviners who had been summoned from Etruria said that this was a dreadful portent, and the thing must be banished from Roman soil, kept from any contact with the earth, and buried in the sea. They enclosed it alive in a box, took it out to sea, and dropped it overboard.
The pontiffs also decreed that three bands of maidens, each consisting of nine, should go through the City singing a hymn. This hymn was composed by the poet Livius, and while they were practicing it in the temple of Jupiter Stator, the shrine of Queen Juno on the Aventine was struck by lightning. The diviners were consulted, and they declared that this portent concerned the matrons and that the goddess must be appeased by a gift. The curule aediles issued an edict summoning to the Capitol all the matrons whose homes were in Rome or within a distance of ten miles. When they were assembled they selected twenty-five of their number to receive their offerings; these they contributed out of their dowries. From the sum thus collected a golden basin was made and carried as an oblation to the Aventine, where the matrons offered a pure and chaste sacrifice. Immediately afterwards the Keepers of the Sacred Books gave notice of a day for further sacrificial rites in honour of this deity. The following was the order of their observance. Two white heifers were led from the temple of Apollo through the Carmental Gate into the City; after them were borne two images of the goddess, made of cypress wood. Then twenty-seven maidens, vested in long robes, walked in procession singing a hymn in her honour, which was perhaps admired in those rude days, but which would be considered very uncouth and unpleasing if it were recited now. After the train of maidens came the ten Keepers of the Sacred Books wearing the toga praetexta, and with laurel wreaths round their brows. From the Carmental Gate the procession marched along the Vicus Jugarius into the Forum, where it stopped. Here the girls, all holding a cord, commenced a solemn dance while they sang, beating time with their feet to the sound of their voices. They then resumed their course along the Vicus Tuscus and the Velabrum, through the Forum Boarium, and up the Clivus Publicius till they reached the temple of Juno. Here the two heifers were sacrificed by the Ten Keepers, and the cypress images were carried into the shrine.
[27.38]After the deities had been duly appeased, the consuls proceeded with the levy and conducted it with a rigour and exactitude such as no one could remember in former years. The appearance of a fresh enemy in Italy redoubled the apprehensions generally felt as to the issue of the war, and at the same time there was a smaller population from which to obtain the men required. Even the maritime colonies which were declared to have been solemnly and formally exempted from military service were called upon to furnish soldiers, and on their refusal a day was fixed on which they were to appear before the senate and state, each for themselves, the grounds on which they claimed exemption. On the appointed day representatives attended from Ostia, Alsium, Antium, Anxur, Menturnae, Sinuessa, and from Sena on the upper sea. Each community produced its title to exemption, but as the enemy was in Italy, the claim was disallowed in the case of all but two - Antium and Ostia - and in the case of these, the men of military age were compelled to take an oath that they would not sleep outside their walls for more than thirty nights as long as the enemy was in Italy. Everybody was of opinion that the consuls ought to take the field at the earliest possible moment; for Hasdrubal must be met on his descent from the Alps, otherwise he might foment a rising amongst the Cisalpine Gauls and in Etruria, and Hannibal must be kept fully employed, so as to prevent his leaving Bruttium and meeting his brother. Still Livius delayed. He did not feel confidence in the troops assigned to him, and complained that his colleague had his choice of three splendid armies. He also suggested the recall to the standards of the volunteer slaves. The senate gave the consuls full powers to obtain reinforcements in any way they thought best, to select what men they wanted from all the armies and to exchange and transfer troops from one province to another as they thought best in the interest of the State. The consuls acted in perfect harmony in carrying out all these measures. The volunteer slaves were incorporated in the nineteenth and twentieth legions. Some authorities assert that Publius Scipio sent M. Livius strong reinforcements from Spain including 8000 Gauls and Spaniards, 2000 legionaries, and 1000 Numidian and Spanish horse, and that this force was transported to Italy by M. Lucretius. It is further stated that C. Mamilius sent 3000 bowmen and slingers from Sicily.
[27.39]The excitement and alarm in Rome were heightened by a despatch from L. Porcius, the propraetor commanding in Gaul. He announced that Hasdrubal had left his winter quarters and was actually crossing the Alps. He was to be joined by a force of 8000 men raised and equipped amongst the Ligurians, unless a Roman army were sent into Liguria to occupy the attention of the Gauls. Porcius added that he would himself advance as far as he safely could with such a weak army. The receipt of this despatch made the consuls hurry on the enlistment, and on its completion they left for their provinces at an earlier date than they had fixed. Their intention was that each of them should keep his enemy in his own province and not allow the brothers to unite or concentrate their forces. They were materially assisted by a miscalculation which Hannibal made. He quite expected his brother to cross the Alps during the summer, but remembering his own experience in the passage first of the Rhone and then of the Alps, and how for five months he had had to carry on an exhausting struggle against man and against nature, he had no idea that Hasdrubal's passage would be as easy and rapid as it really was. Owing to this mistake he was too late in moving out of his winter quarters. Hasdrubal, however, had a more expeditious march and met with fewer difficulties than either he or anyone else expected. Not only did the Arverni and the other Gallic and Alpine tribes give him a friendly reception, but they followed his standard. He was, moreover, marching mainly over roads made by his brother where before there were none, and as the Alps had now been traversed to and fro for twelve years he found the natives less savage. Previously they had never visited strange lands nor been accustomed to seeing strangers in their own country; they had held no intercourse with the rest of the world. Not knowing at first the destination of the Carthaginian general, they imagined that he wanted their rocks and strongholds and intended to carry off their men and cattle as plunder. Then when they heard about the Punic War with which Italy had been alight for twelve years, they quite understood that the Alps were only a passage from one country to another, and that the struggle lay between two mighty cities, separated by a vast stretch of sea and land, which were contending for power and dominion. This was the reason why the Alps lay open to Hasdrubal. But whatever advantage he gained by the rapidity of his march was forfeited by the time he wasted at Placentia, where he commenced a fruitless investment instead of attempting a direct assault. Lying as it did in flat open country he thought that the town would be taken without difficulty, and that the capture of such an important colony would deter the others from offering any resistance. Not only was his own advance hampered by this investment, but he also retarded Hannibal's movements, who, on learning of his brother's unexpectedly rapid march, had quitted his winter quarters, for Hannibal knew what a slow business sieges usually are and had not forgotten his own unsuccessful attempt on that very colony after his victory at the Trebia.
[27.40]The consuls left for the front, each by a separate route, and their departure was watched with feelings of painful anxiety. Men realised that the republic had two wars on its hands simultaneously; they recalled the disasters which followed upon Hannibal's appearance in Italy, and wondered what gods would be so propitious to the City and the empire as to grant victory over two enemies at once in widely distant fields. Up till now heaven had preserved it by balancing victories against defeats. When the cause of Rome had been brought to the ground in Italy at Thrasymenus and at Cannae, the successes in Spain raised it up once more; when reverse after reverse had been sustained in Spain and the State lost its two generals and the greater part of both their armies, the many successes achieved in Italy and Sicily stayed the collapse of the battered republic, whilst the distance at which that unsuccessful war was waged in the remotest corner of the world afforded in itself a breathing space. Now they had two wars on hand, both in Italy; two generals who bore illustrious names were closing round Rome; the whole weight of the peril, the whole burden of the conflict had settled down on one spot. The one who was first victorious would in a few days unite his forces with the other. Such were the gloomy forebodings, and they were deepened by the recollections of the past year made so mournful by the death of both consuls. In this depressed and anxious mood the population escorted the consuls to the gates of the City, as they left for their respective provinces. There is an utterance recorded of M. Livius which shows his bitter feeling towards his fellow-citizens. When on his departure Q. Fabius warned him against giving battle before he knew the sort of enemy he had to meet, Livius is said to have replied that he would fight as soon as he caught sight of the enemy. When asked why he was in such a hurry he said: "Either I shall win special distinction from conquering such an enemy or a well-earned if not very honourable pleasure from the defeat of my fellow-citizens." Before the consul Claudius Nero arrived in his province, Hannibal, who was marching just outside the frontiers of the territory of Larinum on his way to the Sallentini, was attacked by C. Hostilius Tubulus. His light infantry created considerable disorder amongst the enemy, who were not prepared for action; 4000 of them were slain, and nine standards captured. Q. Claudius had quartered his troops in various cities in the Sallentine district, and on hearing of the enemy's approach he quitted his winter quarters and took the field against him. Not wishing to meet both armies at once, Hannibal left the neighbourhood by night, and withdrew into Bruttium. Claudius marched back into the Sallentine territory, and Hostilius while on his way to Capua met the consul Claudius Nero near Venusia. Here a corps d'elite was selected from both armies, consisting of 40,000 infantry and 2500 cavalry, which the consul intended to employ against Hannibal. The rest of the troops Hostilius was ordered to take to Capua and then hand them over to Q. Fulvius the proconsul.
[27.41]Hannibal assembled the whole of his force, those in winter quarters and those on garrison duty in Bruttium, and marched to Grumentum in Lucania, with the intention of recovering the towns whose inhabitants had been led by their fears to go over to Rome. The Roman consul marched to the same place from Venusia, making careful reconnaissances as he advanced, and fixed his camp about a mile and a half from the enemy. The rampart of the Carthaginian camp seemed to be almost touching the walls of Grumentum; there was really half a mile between them. Between the two hostile camps the ground was level; on the Carthaginian left and the Roman right stretched a line of bare hills which did not arouse any suspicion on either side, as they were quite devoid of vegetation and afforded no hollows where an ambuscade could be concealed. In the plain between the camps small skirmishes took place between the advanced posts, the one object of the Roman evidently being to prevent the retirement of the enemy; Hannibal, who was anxious to get away, marched on to the field with his whole force marshalled for battle. The consul, adopting his enemy's tactics with all the more chance of success since there could be no fears of an ambuscade on such open ground, told off five cohorts strengthened with five maniples of Roman troops to mount the hill by night and take their station in the dip on the other side. He placed T. Claudius Asellus a military tribune and P. Claudius a prefect of allies in command of the party, and gave them instructions as to the moment when they were to rise from ambush and attack the enemy. At dawn of the following day he led out the whole of his force, horse and foot, to battle. Soon after Hannibal, too, gave the signal for action, and his camp rang with the shouts of his men as they ran to arms. Scrambling through the gates of the camp, mounted and unmounted men each trying to be first they raced over the plain in scattered groups towards the enemy. When the consul saw them in this disorder he ordered C. Aurunculeius, military tribune of the third legion, to send the cavalry attached to his legion at full gallop against the enemy, for, as he said, they were scattered over the plain like a flock of sheep and could be ridden down and trampled under foot before they could close their ranks.
[27.42]Hannibal had not left his camp, when he heard the noise of the battle. He lost not a moment in leading his force against the enemy. The Roman cavalry had already created a panic amongst the foremost of their assailants, the first legion and the allied contingent on the left wing were coming into action, the enemy in no sort of formation were fighting with infantry or cavalry as they happened to meet them. As their reinforcements and supports came up the fighting became more general, and Hannibal would have succeeded in getting his men into order in spite of the confusion and panic - a task almost impossible for any but veteran troops under a veteran commander - if they had not heard in their rear the shouts of the cohorts and maniples running down the hill, and saw themselves in danger of being cut off from their camp. The panic spread and flight became general in all parts of the field. The nearness of their camp made their flight easy, and for this reason their losses were comparatively small, considering that the cavalry were pressing on their rear and the cohorts charging along an easy road down the hill were attacking their flank Still, over 8000 men were killed and 700 made prisoners, nine standards were captured, and of the elephants which had proved useless in the confusion and hurry of the fight four were killed and two captured. About 500 Roman and allies fell. The next day the Carthaginians remained quiet. The Roman general marched in battle order on to the field, but when he saw that no standards were advancing from the opposing camp he ordered his men to gather the spoils of the slain and collect the bodies of their comrades and bury them in one common grave. Then for several days in succession he marched up so close to the gates that it seemed as though he were going to attack the camp, until Hannibal made up his mind to depart. Leaving numerous fires burning and tents standing on the side of the camp facing the Romans, and a few Numidians who were to show themselves on the rampart and at the gates, he set out with the intention of marching into Apulia. As soon as it grew light, the Roman army approached the rampart and the Numidians made themselves visible on the ramparts and at the gates. After deceiving their enemy for some time they rode off at full speed to join their comrades. When the consul found that the camp was silent and that even the few who had been patrolling it at dawn were nowhere visible, he sent two troopers into the camp to reconnoitre. They brought back word that they had examined it and found it safe everywhere, on which he ordered the troops to enter. He waited while the soldiers secured the plunder, and then the signal was given to retire; long before nightfall he had his soldiers back in camp. Very early next morning he started in pursuit and, guided by the local information supplied to him and the traces of their retreat, he succeeded, by making forced marches, in coming up with the enemy not far from Venusia. There a second irregular action took place in which the Carthaginians lost 2000 men. After this Hannibal decided to give no further opportunity of fighting and, in a series of night marches over the mountains, made for Metapontum. Hanno was in command of the garrison here, and he was sent with a few troops into Bruttium to raise a fresh army there. The rest of his force Hannibal incorporated with his own, and retracing his steps reached Venusia, and from there went on to Canusium. Nero never lost touch with him, and while he was following him to Metapontum he sent Q. Fulvius into Lucania, so that that country might not be left without a defending force.
[27.43]After Hasdrubal had raised the siege of Placentia, he sent off four Gaulish and two Numidian troopers with despatches to Hannibal. They had passed through the midst of the enemy, and almost traversed the length of Italy, and were following Hannibal's retreat to Metapontum when they missed the road and were brought to Tarentum. Here they were caught by a Roman foraging party dispersed amongst the fields, and conducted to the propraetor Q. Claudius. At first they tried to mislead him by evasive answers, but the fear of torture compelled them to confess the truth, and they informed him that they were the bearers of despatches from Hasdrubal to Hannibal. They and the despatches, with seals intact, were handed over to L. Verginius, one of the military tribunes. He was furnished with an escort of two troops of Samnite cavalry, and ordered to conduct the six troopers to the consul Claudius Nero. After the despatches had been translated to him, and the prisoners had been examined, the consul saw that the regulation which confined each consul to the province and the army and the enemy which had been designated for him by the senate would not in the present instance be beneficial to the republic. He would have to venture upon a startling innovation, and though at the outset it might create as much alarm among his own countrymen as amongst the enemy, it would, when carried through, turn their great fear into great rejoicing. Hasdrubal's despatches he sent on to the senate together with one from himself explaining his project. As Hasdrubal had written to say that he would meet his brother in Umbria, he advised the senators to recall the Roman legion from Capua, raise troops in Rome, and with this City force oppose the enemy at Narnia. This was what he wrote to the senate. But he also sent couriers into the districts through which he intended to march - Larinum, Marrucina, Frentanum and Praetutia - to warn the inhabitants to collect all the supplies from the towns and the country districts and have them in readiness on the line of march to feed the troops. They were also to bring their horses and other draught animals so that there might be an ample supply of vehicles for the men who fell out through fatigue. Out of the whole of his army he selected a force of 6000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, the flower of the Roman and allied contingents, and gave out that he intended to seize the nearest city in Lucania with its Carthaginian garrison, so that all should be ready to march. Starting by night, he turned off in the direction of Picenum. Leaving Q. Catius, his second in command, in charge of the camp he marched as rapidly as he could to join his colleague.
[27.44]The excitement and alarm in Rome were quite as great as they had been two years previously, when the Carthaginian camp was visible from the walls and gates of the City. People could not make up their minds whether the consul's daring march was more to be lauded or censured, and it was evident that they would await the result before pronouncing for or against it - a most unfair way of judging. "The camp." they said, "is left, near an enemy like Hannibal, with no general, with an army from which its main strength, the flower of its soldiery, has been withdrawn. Pretending to march into Lucania, the consul has taken the road to Picenum and Gaul, leaving the safety of his camp dependent upon the ignorance of the enemy as to what direction he and his division have taken. What will happen if they find that out, if Hannibal with his whole army decides to start in pursuit of Nero with his 6000 men, or attacks the camp, left as it is to be plundered, without defence, without a general with full powers or one who can take the auspices?" The former disasters in this war, the recollection of the two consuls killed the previous year, filled them with dread. "All those things," it was said, "happened when the enemy had only one commander and one army in Italy; now there are two distinct wars going on, two immense armies, and practically two Hannibals in Italy, for Hasdrubal too is a son of Hamilcar and is quite as able and energetic a commander as his brother. He has been trained in war against Rome for many years in Spain, and distinguished himself by the double victory in which he annihilated two Roman armies and their illustrious captains. In the rapidity of his march from Spain, and the way in which he has roused the tribes of Gaul to arms, he can boast of far greater success than even Hannibal himself, for he got together an army in those very districts in which his brother lost the greater part of his force by cold and hunger, the most miserable of all deaths." Those who were acquainted with recent events in Spain went on to say that he would meet in Nero a general who was no stranger to him, for he was the general whom Hasdrubal, when intercepted in a narrow pass, had duped and baffled as though he were a child by making illusory proposals for peace. In this way they exaggerated the strength of the enemy and depreciated their own, their fears made them look on the darkest side of everything.
[27.45]When Nero had placed a sufficient distance between himself and the enemy to make it safe for him to reveal his design, he made a brief address to his men. "No commander," he said, "has ever formed a project apparently more risky but really less so than mine. I am leading you to certain victory. My colleague did not enter upon this campaign until he had obtained from the senate such a force of infantry and cavalry as he deemed sufficient, a force indeed more numerous and better equipped than if he were advancing against Hannibal himself. However small the addition you are now making to it, it will be enough to turn the scale. When once the news spreads on the battle-field - and I will take care that it does not spread sooner - that a second consul has arrived with a second army, it will make victory no longer doubtful. Rumour decides battles; slight impulses sway men's hopes and fears; if we are successful you yourselves will reap almost all the glory of it, for it is always the last weight added that has the credit of turning the balance. You see for yourselves what admiring and enthusiastic crowds welcome you as you march along." And indeed they did advance amidst vows and prayers and blessings from the lines of men and women who were gathered everywhere out of the fields and homesteads. They were called the defenders of the republic, the vindicators of the City and sovereignty of Rome; upon their swords and strong right hands depended all security and liberty for the people and their children. The bystanders prayed to all the gods and goddesses to grant them a safe and prosperous march, a successful battle and an early victory over their foes. As they were now following them with anxious hearts, so they prayed that they might fulfil the vows which they were making when they went forth with joy to meet them flushed with the pride of victory. Then they invited the soldiers to take what they had brought for them, each begging and entreating them to take from his hands rather than from any one else's what would be of use to them and their draught animals, and loading them with presents of all sorts. The soldiers showed the utmost moderation and refused to accept anything that was not absolutely necessary. They did not interrupt their march or leave the ranks or even halt to take food; day and night they went steadily on, hardly allowing themselves the rest which nature demanded. The consul sent messages in advance to announce his coming to his colleague, and to enquire whether it would be better to come secretly or openly, by night or by day, and also whether they were to occupy the same camp or separate ones. It was thought better that he should come by night.
[27.46]The consul Livius had issued a secret order by means of the tessera that the tribunes should take in the tribunes who were coming; the centurions, the centurions; the cavalry, their mounted comrades; and the legionaries, the infantry. It was not desirable to extend the camp, his object was to keep the enemy in ignorance of the other consul's arrival. The crowding together of a larger number of men in the restricted space afforded by the tents was rendered all the easier because Claudius' army, in their hurried march, had brought hardly anything with them except their arms. On the march, however, their numbers had been augmented by volunteers, partly old soldiers who had served their time and partly young men who were anxious to join. Claudius enlisted those whose appearance and strength seemed to qualify them for service. Livius' camp was in the neighbourhood of Sena, and Hasdrubal was about half a mile distant. When he found that he was nearing the place, the consul halted where he was screened by the mountains, so as not to enter the camp before night. Then the men entered in silence and were conducted to the tents, each by a man of his own rank, where they received the warmest of welcomes and most hospitable entertainment. Next day a council of war was held, at which the praetor L. Porcius Licinus was present. His camp was now contiguous with that of the consuls; before their arrival he had adopted every possible device to baffle the Carthaginian by marching along the heights and seizing the passes, so as to check his advance, and also by harassing his columns whilst on the march. Many of those present at the council were in favour of postponing battle in order that Nero might recruit his troops worn out with the length of the march and want of sleep, and also might have a few days for getting to know his enemy. Nero tried to dissuade them from this course, and earnestly implored them not to endanger the success of his plan after he had made it perfectly safe by the rapidity of his march. Hannibal's activity, he argued, was so to speak paralysed by a mistake which he would not be long in rectifying; he had neither attacked the camp in the absence of its commander, nor had he made up his mind to follow him on his march. Before he moved, it was possible to destroy Hasdrubal's army and march back into Apulia. "To give the enemy time by putting off the engagement would be to betray their camp in Apulia to Hannibal and give him a clear road into Gaul, so that he would be able to form a junction with Hasdrubal when and where he pleased. The signal for action must be given at once, and we must march on to the field and profit by the mistakes which both our enemies are making, the distant one and the one close at hand. That one does not know that he has to deal with a smaller army than he supposes, this one is not aware that he has to meet a larger and stronger one than he imagines." As soon as the council broke up, the red ensign was displayed and the army at once took the field.
[27.47]The enemy were already standing in front of their camp, in battle order. But there was a pause. Hasdrubal had ridden to the front with a handful of cavalry, when he noticed in the hostile ranks some well-worn shields which he had not seen before, and some unusually lean horses; the numbers, too, seemed greater than usual. Suspecting the truth he hastily withdrew his troops into camp and sent men down to the river from which the Romans obtained water, to catch if they could some of the watering parties and see whether they were especially sunburnt, as is generally the case after a long march. He ordered, at the same time, mounted patrols to ride round the consul's camp and observe whether the lines had been extended in any direction and to notice at the same time whether the bugle-call was sounded once or twice in the camp. They reported that both the camps - M. Livius' camp and that of L. Porcius - were just as they had been, no addition had been made, and this misled him. But they also informed him that the bugle-call was sounded once in the praetor's camp and twice in the consul's, and this perturbed the veteran commander, familiar as he was with the habits of the Romans. He concluded that both the consuls were there and was anxiously wondering how the one consul had got away from Hannibal. Least of all could he suspect what had actually occurred, namely that Hannibal had been so completely outwitted that he did not know the whereabouts of the commander and the army whose camp had been so close to his own. As his brother had not ventured to follow the consul, he felt quite certain that he had sustained a serious defeat, and he felt the gravest apprehensions lest he should have come too late to save a desperate situation, and lest the Romans should enjoy the same good fortune in Italy which they had met with in Spain. Then again he was convinced that his letter had never reached Hannibal, but had been intercepted by the consul who then hastened to crush him. Amidst these gloomy forebodings he ordered the camp fires to be extinguished, and gave the signal at the first watch for all the baggage to be collected in silence. The army then left the camp. In the hurry and confusion of the night march the guides, who had not been kept under very close observation, slipped away; one hid himself in a place selected beforehand, the other swam across the Metaurus at a spot well known to him. The column deprived of its guides marched on aimlessly across country, and many, worn out by sleeplessness flung themselves down to rest, those who remained with the standards becoming fewer and fewer. Until daylight showed him his route, Hasdrubal ordered the head of the column to advance cautiously, but finding that owing to the bends and turns of the river he had made little progress, he made arrangements for crossing it as soon as daybreak should show him a convenient place. But he was unable to find one, for the further he marched from the sea, the higher were the banks which confined the stream, and by thus wasting the day he gave his enemy time to follow him.
[27.48]Nero with the whole of the cavalry was the first to come up, then Porcius followed with the light infantry. They began to harass their wearied enemy by repeated charges on all sides, until Hasdrubal stopped a march which began to resemble a flight, and decided to form camp on a hill which commanded the river. At this juncture Livius appeared with the heavy infantry, not in order of march, but deployed and armed for immediate battle. All their forces were now massed together, and the line was formed; Claudius Nero taking command of the right wing, Livius of the left, while the centre was assigned to the praetor. When Hasdrubal saw that he must give up all idea of entrenching himself and prepare to fight, he stationed the elephants in the front, the Gauls near them on the left to oppose Claudius, not so much because he trusted them as because he hoped they would frighten the enemy, while on the right, where he commanded in person, he posted the Spaniards in whom as veteran troops he placed most confidence. The Ligurians were stationed in the centre behind the elephants. His formation was greater in depth than length and the Gauls were covered by a hill which extended across their front. That part of the line which Hasdrubal and his Spaniards held engaged the Roman left; the whole of the Roman right was shut out from the fighting, the hill in front prevented them from making either a frontal or a flank attack. The struggle between Livius and Hasdrubal was a fierce one, and both sides lost heavily. Here were the two captains, the greater part of the Roman infantry and cavalry, the Spaniards who were veteran soldiers and used to the Roman methods of fighting, and also the Ligurians, a people hardened by warfare. To this part of the field the elephants too had been driven, and at their first onset they threw the front ranks into confusion and forced the standards to give way. Then as the fighting became hotter and the noise and shouting more furious, it became impossible to control them, they rushed about between the two armies as though they did not know to which side they belonged, just like ships drifting rudderless. Nero made fruitless efforts to scale the hill in front of him, calling out repeatedly to his men, "Why have we made so long a march at such break-neck speed? "When he found it impossible to reach the enemy in that direction, he detached some cohorts from his right wing where he saw that they were more likely to stand on guard than to take any part in the fighting, led them past the rear of his division and to the surprise of his own men as much as of the enemy commenced an attack upon the enemy's flank. So rapidly was this maneuver executed, that almost as soon as they showed themselves on the flank, they were attacking the rear of the enemy. Thus attacked on every side, front, flank and rear, Spaniards and Ligurians alike were simply massacred where they stood. At last the carnage reached the Gauls. Here there was very little fighting, for a great many had fallen out during the night and were lying asleep everywhere in the fields, and those who were still with the standards were worn out by the long march and want of sleep, and being quite unable to stand fatigue could hardly sustain the weight of their armour. It was now mid-day, and the heat and thirst made them gasp for breath, until they were cut down or made prisoners without offering any resistance.
[27.49]More elephants were killed by their drivers than by the enemy. They had a carpenter's chisel and a mallet, and when the maddened beasts rushed among their own side the driver placed the chisel between the ears just where the head is joined to the neck and drove it home with all his might. This was the quickest method that had been discovered of putting these huge animals to death when there was no hope of controlling them, and Hasdrubal was the first to introduce it. Often had this commander distinguished himself in other battles, but never more than in this one. He kept up the spirits of his men as they fought by words of encouragement and by sharing their dangers; when, weary and dispirited, they would no longer fight, he rekindled their courage by his entreaties and reproaches; he rallied those in flight and often revived the battle where it had been abandoned. At last when the fortune of the day was decisively with the enemy he refused to survive that great army which had followed him, drawn by the magic of his name, and setting spurs to his horse dashed against a Roman cohort. There he fell fighting - a death worthy of Hamilcar's son and Hannibal's brother. Never during the whole of the war had so many of the enemy perished in a single battle. The death of the commander and the destruction of his army were regarded as an adequate repayment for the disaster of Cannae. 56,000 of the enemy were killed, 5400 taken prisoners, and a great quantity of plunder was secured, especially of gold and silver. Above 3000 Romans who had been captured by the enemy were recovered, and this was some consolation for the losses incurred in the battle. For the victory was by no means a bloodless one; about 8000 Romans and allies were killed. So satiated were the victors with bloodshed and carnage that when it was reported to Livius on the following day that the Cisalpine Gauls and Ligurians who had taken no part in the battle or had escaped from the field were marching off in a body without general or standards or any one to give the word of command, and that a single squadron of cavalry could wipe out the whole lot, the consul replied: "Let some survive to carry the news of their defeat and our victory."
[27.50]The night after the battle Nero started off at a more rapid pace than he had come, and in six days reached his camp and was once more in touch with Hannibal. His march was not watched by the same crowds as before, because no messengers preceded him, but his return was welcomed with such extravagant delight that people were almost beside themselves for joy. As to the state of feeling in Rome, it is impossible to describe it, or to picture the anxiety with which the citizens waited for the result of the battle or the enthusiasm which the report of the victory aroused. Never from the day when the news came that Nero had commenced his march had any senator left the House, or the people the Forum from sunrise to sunset. The matrons, as they could give no active help, betook themselves to prayers and intercessions; they thronged all the shrines and assailed the gods with supplications and vows. Whilst the citizens were in this state of anxious suspense, a vague rumour was started to the effect that two troopers belonging to Narnia had gone from the battle-field to the camp there which was holding the road to Umbria with the announcement that the enemy had been cut to pieces. People listened to the rumour, but they could not take it in, the news was too great, too joyful for them to realise or to accept as true, and the very speed at which it had travelled made it less credible, for the battle was reported as having taken place only two days previously. Then followed a despatch from L. Manlius Acidinus, reporting the arrival of the two troopers in his camp. When this despatch was carried through the Forum to the praetor's tribunal the senators left their seats, and such was the excitement of the people as they pushed and struggled round the door of the senate-house that the courier could not get near it. He was dragged away by the crowd, who demanded with loud shouts that the despatch should be read from the rostra before it was read in the senate-house. At last the magistrates succeeded in forcing back and restraining the populace, and it became possible for all to share in the joyous news they were so impatient to learn. The despatch was read first in the senate-house, and then in the Assembly. It was listened to with different feelings according to each man's temperament; some regarded the news as absolutely true, others would not believe it till they had the consul's despatch and the report of the envoys.
[27.51]Word was brought that the envoys were approaching. Everybody young and old alike ran out to meet them, each eager to drink in the good tidings with eyes and ears, and the crowd extended as far as the Mulvian bridge. The envoys were L. Veturius Philo, P. Licinius Varus and Q. Caecilius Metellus. They made their way to the Forum surrounded by a crowd which represented every class of the population, and besieged by questions on all sides as to what had really happened. No sooner did any one hear that the army of the enemy and its commander had been slain whilst the consuls and their army were safe, than he hastened to make others sharers of his joy. The senate-house was reached with difficulty, and with much greater difficulty was the crowd prevented from invading the space reserved for the senators. Here the despatch was read, and then the envoys were conducted to the Assembly. After the despatch was read, L. Veturius gave fuller details and his narrative was received with bursts of applause, which finally swelled into universal cheers, the Assembly being hardly able to contain itself for joy. Some ran to the temples to give thanks to heaven, others hurried home that their wives and children might hear the good news. The senate decreed a three days' thanksgiving "because the consuls, M. Livius and C. Claudius Nero, had preserved their own armies in safety and destroyed the army of the enemy and its commander." C. Hostilius, the praetor, issued the order for its observance. The services were attended by men and women alike, the temples were crowded all through the three days, and the matrons in their most splendid robes, accompanied by their children, offered their thanksgivings to the gods, as free from anxiety and fear as though the war were over. This victory also relieved the financial position. People ventured to do business just as in a time of peace, buying and selling, lending and repaying loans. After Nero had returned to camp he gave orders for Hasdrubal's head, which he had kept and brought with him, to be thrown in front of the enemies' outpost, and the African prisoners to be exhibited just as they were in chains. Two of them were released with orders to go to Hannibal and report all that had happened. Stunned by the blow which had fallen on his country and on his family, it is said that Hannibal declared that he recognised the doom which awaited Carthage. He broke up his camp, and decided to concentrate in Bruttium, the remotest corner of Italy, all his supporters whom he could no longer protect, whilst scattered in the different cities. The whole population of Metapontum had to leave their homes together with all the Lucanians who acknowledged his supremacy, and were transported into Bruttian territory.
End of Book 27
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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