Hannibal, after a laborious march of four days and three nights, without repose, through the marshes, in which he lost an eye, arrives in Etruria. Caius Flaminius, consul, a man of rash and inconsiderate conduct, is involved, by the artifice of Hannibal, in a dangerous defile, and cut of, with the greatest part of his army Fabius Maximus created dictator, and sent against Hannibal; avoids fighting and baffles Hannibal’s efforts. The master of the horse, Marcus Minucius, excites general dissatisfaction against the dictator’s dilatory conduct; is made equal to him in authority; engages the enemy with his half of the forces, and is saved from utter destruction by Fabius coming opportunely to his relief, with the other half of the Roman army; acknowledges his misconduct, and puts himself again under the command of the dictator. Hannibal, shut up by Fabius, in a valley at Cassilinum, extricates himself by a stratagem of tying fire-brands to the horns of oxen. Æmilius Paullus and Terentius Varro utterly defeated at Cannæ, the former being slain, with forty-five thousand men, of whom were eighty senators, and thirty who had served the office of consul, prætor, or ædile. A project of abandoning Italy quashed by Publius Cornelius Scipio, a military tribune, who afterwards acquired the surname of Africanus. Prosperous events in Spain. The Romans enlist slaves; refuse to ransom the prisoners; go out, in a body, to meet Varro, and thank him for not despairing of the commonwealth.
Y. R. 535. 217.I. AT the first approach of spring, Hannibal quitted his winter station. He had been foiled before, in his attempt to pass over the Appennine, by the intolerable severity of the cold; for he would gladly have effected it, exposed as he was, during his stay in quarters, to the utmost degree of apprehension and danger. For, when the Gauls, whom the hopes of spoil and pillage had allured to his standard, perceived, that, instead of carrying off booty from the lands of others, their own had become the seat of war, and that they were burthened with the winter residence of both the contending armies, they turned upon Hannibal the enmity which they had harboured against the Romans. Many plots were formed against him, by their chiefs, from the effects of which he was preserved, by their treacherously betraying one another, and discovering their designs, through the same inconstancy which led them to conspire against him. But still he was careful to guard himself against their plots, by frequent disguises; changing sometimes his dress, sometimes the covering of his head. However, his fears, on this account, were his principal motives for leaving his winter quarters earlier than usual. In the mean time at Rome, Cneius Servilius entered on the office of consul, on the ides of March. He proposed to the senate to take under consideration the state of the commonwealth; whereupon the clamour against Caius Flaminius was renewed. “They created,” they said, “two consuls, yet had but one. For what legal authority, what auspices did the other possess? These the magistrates carried with them from home, from their own tutelar gods; and also those of the public, the Latine festival being celebrated, the sacrifices on the Alban mount performed, and vows duly offered in the Capitol. Setting out in a private capacity, he could not carry the auspices with him, neither could he take them new, and for the first time, in a foreign soil.” Their apprehensions were increased by reports of prodigies, brought from various places at once. In Sicily, a number of arrows, and in Sardinia, the truncheon of a horseman, as he was going the rounds of the watch on the walls of Sulci, took fire, as was said; many fires were seen blazing on the shore; two shields sweated blood; several soldiers were struck by lightning; and the sun’s orb appeared to be contracted. At Præneste, red-hot stones fell from the sky. At Arpi, bucklers were seen in the air, and the sun fighting with the moon. At Capena, two moons appeared in the day-time. At Cære, the streams of water were mixed with blood; and even the fountain of Hercules was tinged with bloody spots. In the district of Antium, while people were reaping, bloody ears of corn fell into a basket. At Falerii, the sky seemed to be rent asunder with a very wide cleft, and through the opening a strong light burst forth; the divining tickets, without any apparent cause, were diminished in size, and one fell out, which had this inscription, ‘Mars brandishes his spear.’ About the same time, at Rome, the statue of Mars, on the Appian road, and the images of the wolves, sweated. At Capua, the sky appeared as if on fire, and the moon as falling amongst rain. Afterwards, prodigies of lesser note were heard of: some asserted that goats were converted into sheep; that a hen was turned into a male, and a cock into a female. The consul, laying before the senate all these matters, as reported, and bringing the authors of the reports into the senate-house, proposed to their consideration the affairs of religion. They decreed, that those prodigies should be expiated, some with the greater, some with the lesser victims; and that a supplication for three days should be performed at all the shrines; that, when the decemvirs should have inspected the books, all other particulars should be conducted in such manner as the gods should declare, in their oracles, to be agreeable to them. By the direction of the decemvirs, it was decreed, that, first, a golden thunderbolt, of fifty pounds weight, should be made as an offering to Jupiter; and that offerings of silver should be presented to Juno and Minerva; that sacrifices of the greater victims should be offered to Juno Regina, on the Aventine, and to Juno Sospita, at Lanuvium; that the matrons, contributing such sums of money as might be convenient to each, should carry an offering to Juno Regina, to the Aventine, and celebrate a lectisternium to her: and that even the descendants of freed women should make a contribution, in proportion to their abilities, out of which an offering should be made to Feronia. When these orders were fulfilled, the decemvirs sacrificed, with the greater victims, in the Forum at Ardea: and, lastly, so late as the month of December, sacrifices were offered at the temple of Saturn, in Rome, and a lectisternium was ordered: on which occasion the couches were laid out by senators, and also a public banquet. Proclamation was likewise made through the city, of a feast of Saturn, to be celebrated during a day and a night, and the people were commanded to keep that day as a festival, and to observe it for ever.
II. While the consul was employed at Rome in endeavouring to procure the favour of the gods, and in levying troops, Hannibal, set out from his winter quarters, and hearing that the consul Flaminius had already arrived at Arretium, he chose — notwithstanding that another road, less difficult, but longer, was pointed out to him, — the shorter one through marshes, which, at that time, were overflowed by the river Arnus, to an unusual height. He ordered the Spaniards and Africans, the main strength of his veteran troops, to march in the van, with their baggage between their divisions; that, in case they should be obliged to halt, they might not be at a loss for a supply of necessaries; then the Gauls to follow, so that they should compose the centre of the line, the cavalry in the rear; and after them Mago, with the light-armed Numidians, as a rear guard, to prevent the troops from straggling; particularly to hinder the Gauls, if weary of the labour, or of the length of the journey, from attempting either to slip away, or to stay behind: for that people, it had been found, want firmness to support fatigue. The troops in the van, though almost swallowed in mud, and frequently plunging entirely under water, yet followed the standards wherever their guides led the way, but the Gauls could neither keep their feet, nor, when they fell, raise themselves out of the gulfs, which were formed by the river from the steepness of its banks. They were destitute of spirits and almost hope; and while some, with difficulty, dragged on their enfeebled limbs, others, exhausted by the length of way, having once fallen, lay there, and died among the cattle, of which great numbers also perished. But what utterly overpowered them, was the want of sleep, which they had now endured for four days and three nights; for no dry spot could be found on which they might stretch their wearied limbs, so that they could only throw their baggage into the water in heaps, on the top of which they laid themselves down. Even the cattle, which lay dead in abundance along the whole course of their march, afforded them a temporary bed, as they looked for no further accommodation for sleeping, than something raised above the water. Hannibal himself, having a complaint in his eyes, occasioned, at first, by the unwholesome air of the spring, when changes are frequent from heat to cold, rode on the only elephant which he had remaining, in order to keep himself as high as possible above the water; but, at length, the want of sleep, the damps of the night, with those of the marshes, so disordered his head, that, as he had neither place nor time to make use of remedies, he lost one of his eyes.
III. At length, after great numbers of men and cattle had perished miserably, he got clear of the marshes; and, on the first dry ground at which he arrived, pitched his camp. Here, from scouts, whom he had sent forward, he learned with certainty, that the Roman army lay round the walls of Arretium. He then employed the utmost diligence in inquiring into the disposition and designs of the consul, the nature of the several parts of the country, the roads, and the sources from which provisions might be procured, with every other circumstance requisite to be known. As to the country, it was one of the most fertile in Italy: the Etrurian plains, which lie between Fæsulæ and Arretium, abounding with corn and cattle, and plenty of every thing useful. The consul was inflated with presumption since his former consulate, and too regardless, not only of the laws and the dignity of the senate, but even of the gods. This head-strong self-sufficiency, natural to his disposition, Fortune had cherished, by the prosperous course of success which she had granted him, in his administration of affairs, both civil and military. There was, therefore, sufficient reason to suppose, that without regarding the sentiments of gods or men, he would act on all occasions with presumption and precipitancy; and the Carthaginian, in order the more effectually to dispose him to follow the bias of his natural imperfections, resolved to irritate and exasperate him. With this view, leaving the enemy on his left, and pointing his route towards Fæsulæ, he marched through the heart of Etruria, ravaging the country, and exhibiting to the consul, at a distance, a view of the greatest devastations that could be effected by fire and sword. Flaminius, even had the enemy lain quiet, would not have been content to remain inactive; but now, seeing the property of the allies plundered and destroyed before his eyes, he thought that on him must fall the disgrace of Hannibal’s overrunning the middle of Italy, and even marching, without opposition, to attack the very walls of Rome. Notwithstanding that every member of his council recommended safe, rather than specious measures; that he should wait the arrival of his colleague, when they might enter on the business with joint forces, and with united spirit and judgment; and that, in the mean time, the enemy should be restrained from his unbounded license in plundering, by means of the cavalry and light auxiliaries; he burst away in a rage, and displayed, at once, the signals both for marching and fighting. “We must lie, then,” said he, “under the walls of Arretium, because here is our native city, and our household gods; let Hannibal slip out of our hands, ravage Italy, and, after wasting and burning all the rest, sit down before Rome; not stir from hence, in short, until the senate summons Caius Flaminius from Arretium, as formerly Camillus from Veii.” While he upbraided them in this manner, he ordered the standards to be raised with speed; and having mounted on horseback, the animal, by a sudden plunge, displaced him from his seat, and threw him over his head. All present were greatly dismayed by such an inauspicious omen, at the opening of the campaign; and, to add to their uneasiness, an account was brought, that one of the standards could not be pulled out of the ground, though the standard-bearer endeavoured it with his utmost strength. The consul, turning to the messenger, said, “Do you also bring a letter from the senate, forbidding me to act? Go, bid them dig up the standard, if fear has so benumbed their hands, that they cannot pull it out.” The army then began to march, while the principal officers, besides being averse from the design, were terrified at the two prodigies; but the generality of the soldiers rejoiced at the presumptuous conduct of the general; for they looked no farther than the confidence which he displayed, and never examined the grounds on which it was founded.
IV. Hannibal, the more to exasperate the enemy, and provoke him to seek revenge for the sufferings of his allies, desolated, with every calamity of war, the whole tract of country between the city of Cortona and the lake Trasimenus. And now the army had arrived at a spot, formed by nature for an ambuscade, where the Trasimenus approaches closest to the Crotonian mountains. Between them is only a very narrow road, as if room had been designedly left for that purpose; farther on, the ground opens to somewhat a greater width, and, beyond that, rises a range of hills. On these, he formed a camp in open view, where himself, with the African and Spanish infantry only, was to take post. The Balearians, and other light-armed troops, he drew round behind the mountains, and posted the cavalry near the entrance of the defile, where they were effectually concealed by some rising grounds; with design, that as soon as the Romans entered the pass, the cavalry should take possession of the road, and thus the whole space be shut up, between the lake and the mountains. Flaminius, though he arrived at the lake about sunset, took no care to examine the ground, but next morning, before it was clear day, passed through the narrow way, and when the troops began to spread into the wider ground, they saw only that party of the enemy which fronted them; those in ambush on their rear, and over their heads, quite escaped their notice. The Carthaginian, having now gained the point at which he aimed, the Roman being pent up between the mountains and the lake, and surrounded by his troops, immediately gave the signal for the whole to charge at once. They accordingly poured down, every one by the shortest way he could find, and the surprize was the more sudden and alarming, because a mist, rising from the lake, lay thicker on the low grounds, than on the mountains; while the parties of the enemy, seeing each other distinctly enough from the several eminences, were the better able to run down together. The Romans, before they could discover their foe, learned, from the shouts raised on all sides, that they were surrounded; and the attack began on their front and flank, before they could properly form a line, or get ready their arms, and draw their swords.
V. In the midst of the general consternation, the consul, perilous as the conjucture was, showed abundance of intrepidity; he restored, as well as the time and place would allow, the ranks, which were disordered by the men turning themselves about at all the various shouts, and wherever he could come or be heard, encouraged, and charged them to stand steady, and to fight; telling them, that “they must not expect to get clear of their present situation, by vows and prayers to the gods, but by strength and courage. By the sword, men opened a way through the midst of embattled foes; and, in general, the less fear the less danger.” But such was the noise and tumult, that neither his counsel nor commands could be heard with distinctness; and so far were the soldiers from knowing each his own standard, his rank, and post, that scarcely had they sufficient presence of mind to take up their arms, and get ready for fighting; so that many, while they were rather encumbered than defended by them, were overpowered by the enemy. Besides, the darkness was so great, that they had more use of their ears than of their eyes. The groans of the wounded, the sound of blows on the men’s bodies or armour, with the confused cries of threatening and terror, drew attention from one side to another. Some, attempting to fly, were stopped by running against a party engaged in fight; others, returning to the fight, were driven back by a body of runaways. At length, after they had made many fruitless essays in every quarter, and inclosed, as they were, by the mountains and lake on the sides, by the enemy’s forces on the front and rear, they evidently perceived that there was no hope of safety but in their valour and their weapons. Every one’s own thoughts then supplied the place of command and exhortation to exertion, and the action began anew, with fresh vigour; but the troops were not marshalled according to the distinct bodies of the different orders of soldiers, nor so disposed, that the van-guard should fight before the standards, and the rest of the troops behind them; or that each soldier was in his own legion, or cohort, or company: chance formed their bands, and every man’s post in the battle, either before or behind the standards, was fixed by his own choice. So intense was the ardour of the engagement, so eagerly was their attention occupied by the fight, that not one of the combatants perceived a great earthquake, which, at the time, overthrew large portions of many of the cities of Italy, turned rapid rivers out of their courses, carried up the sea into the rivers, and by the violence of the convulsion, levelled mountains.
VI. They fought for near three hours, and furiously in every part: but round the consul the battle was particularly hot and bloody. The ablest of the men attended him, and he was himself surprisingly active in supporting his troops, wherever he saw them pressed, or in need of assistance; and, as he was distinguished above others by his armour, the enemy pointed their utmost efforts against him, while his own men defended him with equal vigour. At length, an Insubrian horseman, (his name Decario,) knowing his face, called out to his countrymen, “Behold, this is the consul, who cut to pieces our legions, and depopulated our country and city. I will now offer this victim to the shades of my countrymen, who lost their lives in that miserable manner;” then, giving spurs to his horse, he darted through the thickest of the enemy; and, after first killing his armour-bearer, who threw himself in the way of the attack, ran the consul through with his lance. He then attempted to spoil him of his arms, but the veterans, covering the body with their shields drove him back. This event first caused a great number of the troops to fly; and now, so great was their panic, that neither lake nor mountain stopped them; through every place, however narrow or steep, they ran with blind haste, and arms, and men, were tumbled together in promiscuous disorder. Great numbers, finding no room for farther flight, pushed into the lake, and plunged themselves in such a manner, that only their heads and shoulders were above water. The violence of their fears impelled some to make the desperate attempt of escaping by swimming: but this proving impracticable, on account of the great extent of the lake, they either exhausted their strength, and were drowned in the deep, or, after fatiguing themselves to no purpose, made their way back, with the utmost difficulty, to the shallows, and were there slain, wherever they appeared, by the enemy’s horsemen wading into the same. About six thousand of the van-guard, bravely forcing their way through the opposite enemy, got clear of the defile, and knowing nothing of what was passing behind them, halted on a rising ground, where they could only hear the shouting, and the din of arms, but could not see, by reason of the darkness, nor judge with any certainty, as to the fortunes of the day: At length, after the victory was decided, the increasing heat of the sun dispelling the mist, the prospect was opened. The mountains and plains showed the desperate condition of their affairs, and the shocking carnage of the Roman army: wherefore, lest, on their being seen at a distance, the cavalry should be sent against them, they hastily raised their standards, and hurried away with all possible speed. Next day, when, besides their other distresses, they were threatened with the extremity of hunger, Maharbal, who, with the whole body of cavalry, had overtaken them during the night, pledging his faith, that if they surrendered their arms, he would suffer them to depart with single garments, they delivered themselves into his hands. But this capitulation Hannibal observed with Punic sincerity, and threw them into chains.
VII. Such was the memorable fight at the Thrasimenus, and the severe blow there received by the Romans, remarkable among the few disasters of the kind, which the nation has ever undergone. Of the Romans, fifteen thousand were slain in the field; ten thousand, who fled, and dispersed themselves through every part of Etruria, made their way afterwards, by different roads, home to the city. Of the enemy, one thousand five hundred perished in the fight, and a great many afterwards of their wounds. By some writers, the loss of men on both sides is represented as vastly greater: for my part, besides that I wish to avoid the magnifying any particular whatever, an error to which writers are in general too prone, I think it reasonable to give the preference to the authority of Fabius, who lived in the very time of this war. Hannibal dismissed, without ransom, such of the prisoners as were natives of Latium, the Romans he loaded with chains. He then ordered that the bodies of his own men should be collected, from among the heaps of the enemy, and buried; directing, at the same time, that the body of Flaminius should be sought for, with intention to honour him with a funeral; but after a most diligent search, it could not be found. As soon as the first news of this disaster arrived at Rome, the people, in great terror and tumult, crowded together into the Forum. The matrons, running up and down the streets, asked every one who came in their way, what sudden calamity was said to have happened; in what state was the army? At length, after a crowd, not less numerous than that of a full assembly of the people, had collected in the Comitium, and about the senate-house, calling on the magistrates for information, a little before sun-set, Marcus Pomponius, the prætor, told them, “We have been defeated in a great battle.” Though nothing more particular was heard from him, yet the people, catching up rumours, one from another, returned to their houses with accounts, that, “the consul was slain, together with a great part of his army; that few survived, and that these were either dispersed through Etruria, or taken by the enemy.” Every kind of misfortune, which had ever befallen vanquished troops, was now pictured in the anxious minds of those, whose relations had served under the consul Caius Flaminius, having no positive information on which they could found either hope or fear. During the next, and several succeeding days, a multitude, composed of rather more women than men, stood round the gates, watching for the arrival, either of their friends, or of some who might give intelligence concerning them; and whenever any person came up, they crowded about him with eager inquiries; nor could they be prevailed on to retire, especially from such as were of their acquaintance, until they had examined minutely into every particular. Then, when they did separate from about the informants, might be seen their countenances expressive of various emotions, according as the intelligence, which each received, was pleasing or unfavourable; and numbers, surrounding them, returned to their houses offering either congratulations or comfort. Among the women, particularly, the effects both of joy and grief were very conspicuous; one, as we are told, meeting, unexpectedly, at the very gate, her son returning safe, expired at the sight of him: another, who sat in her house, overwhelmed with grief, in consequence of a false report of her son’s death, on seeing that son returning, died immediately, through excess of joy. The prætors, during several days, kept the senate assembled in their house, from the rising to the setting of the sun, deliberating by what commander, or with what forces, opposition could be made to the victorious Carthaginians.
VIII. Before they had fully determined on the plans to be pursued, they received an account of another unexpected disaster: four thousand horsemen, who had been sent by Servilius, the consul, to the aid of his colleague, under the command of Caius Centenius, pro-prætor, were cut off by Hannibal, in Umbria, whither, on hearing of the fight at the Thrasimenus, they had marched to avoid him. The news of this event affected people differently: some, having their minds occupied by grief, for misfortunes of a momentous kind, certainly deemed the recent loss of the cavalry light, in comparison: others judged not of the accident by its own intrinsic importance; but considered, that, as in a sickly constitution, a slight cause is attended with more sensible effects, than a more powerful one in a constitution possessed of vigour; so any kind of misfortune, happening to the commonwealth in its present debilitated condition, ought to be estimated, not by the magnitude of the affair itself, but by the enfeebled state of the same, which could not endure any degree of aggravation to its distresses. Accordingly, the state had recourse to a remedy, which for a long time past had neither been used nor wanted, the nomination of a dictator: and because the consul, who alone was supposed to possess the power of nominating that officer, was abroad, and it was difficult to send either messenger or letter, through those parts of Italy, occupied, as they were, by the Carthaginian arms; and as the people could not create a dictator, no precedent having yet existed for it, they therefore, in an assembly, created a prodictator, Quintus Fabius Maximus, and a master of the horse, Marcus Minucius Rufus. These received a charge from the senate, to strengthen the walls and towers of the city; to post troops in proper places, and to break down the bridges on the rivers; since, having proved unequal to the defence of Italy, they must fight at their own doors in defence of the city.
IX. Hannibal marched straight forward, through Umbria, as far as Spoletum; which town, after he had utterly wasted all the adjoining country, he attempted to take by storm, but, being repulsed, with the loss of a great number of men, and judging, from the strength of that single colony, his attempt on which had ended so little to his advantage, what great difficulties he had to surmount, before he could master the city of Rome, he changed the direction of his route toward the territory of Picenum, which not only abounded with provisions of all sorts, but was, besides, well stored with booty, which his needy and rapacious soldiers greedily seized. There he remained, during several days, in one fixed post, and refreshed his men, who had been severely fatigued by their long marches in the winter season, and through the marshes, as well as by the battle, which, though favourable in the issue, was not gained without danger and fatigue. After allowing sufficient rest to his troops, who, however, delighted more in plundering and ravaging, than in ease and repose, he put them in motion, and spread devastation through the territories of Prætulia and Adria, the country of the Marsians, Manucinians, and Pelegnians, and the neighbouring tract of Apulia, round Arpi and Luceria. The consul, Cneius Servilius, had fought some slight battles with the Gauls, and taken one town of no great consequence; when, hearing of the disaster of his colleague, and the troops under his command, and being filled with apprehensions for the capital of his country, he resolved not to be out of the way, in a conjuncture of such extreme danger; he therefore marched directly towards Rome. Quintus Fabius Maximus, dictator, a second time, on the day wherein he entered into office, assembled the senate, when he commenced his administration with attention to the gods. Having proved, to the conviction of the assembly, that the faults committed by Caius Flaminius, the consul, through his neglect of the established sacred rites, and the auspices, were even greater than those which arose from his rashness and want of judgment; and that it was necessary to learn from the gods themselves, what atonements would appease their wrath, he prevailed on them to pass an order, which was not usual, except when some terrible prodigies were announced, that the decemvirs should consult the Sibylline leaves. These, after inspecting those books of the fates, reported to the senate, that, “the vow made to Mars, on occasion of the present war, had not been duly fulfilled; that it must be performed anew, and that in a more ample manner; that the great games must be vowed to Jupiter; and temples to Venus Erycina and Mens; that a supplication and lectisternium must be performed, and a sacred spring vowed, in case success attended their arms, and that the commonwealth remained in the same state in which it had been when the war began.” The senate, considering that Fabius would have full employment in the management of the war, ordered that Marcus Æmilius, the prætor, should take care, that all these matters might be performed in due time, according to the directions of the college of pontiffs.
X. On the passing of these decrees of the senate, the chief pontiff, Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, being advised with by the college of prætors, gave his opinion, that before any other steps were taken, the people should be consulted with respect to the sacred spring; for that a vow of that import could not be made without their order. Accordingly, the question was proposed to the people in these words: “Do ye choose and order, that what I am going to propose, shall be performed in this manner: that, in case the commonwealth of the Roman people, the Quirites, shall (as I wish it may) be preserved in safety, during the next five years, from these wars, namely, the war which subsists between the Roman people and the Carthaginians; and the wars subsisting with the Gauls, who dwell on this side of the Alps; then the Roman people, the Quirites, shall present, as an offering, whatever the spring shall produce, from the herds of swine, sheep, goats, or oxen; of which produce, accruing from the day when the senate and people shall appoint, whatever shall not have been appropriated by consecration, shall be sacrificed to Jupiter. Let him who makes the offering, make it at what time, and in what form he shall choose: in whatsoever manner he does it, let the offering be deemed proper: if that which ought to be sacrificed die, let it be deemed as unconsecrated; and let no guilt ensue. If any person undesignedly shall break, or kill it, let him incur no penalty. If any shall steal it, let not guilt be imputed to the people, nor to him from whom it is stolen. If any, unknowingly, offer the sacrifice on a forbidden day, let the offering be deemed good. Whether the offering shall be made by night or by day, whether by a freeman or a slave, let it be deemed good. If the senate and people shall order it to be made on an earlier day than a person shall make it, let the people be acquitted, and free from the guilt thereof.” On the same account, a vow was made to celebrate the great games, at the expense of three hundred and thirty-three thousand three hundred and thirty-three asses and one third;* besides three hundred oxen to be offered to Jupiter; and white oxen, and other victims, to many other deities. The vows being duly made, a proclamation was issued for a supplication, in the performance of which joined, not only the inhabitants of the city, with their wives and children, but also those of the country, who, having any property of their own, were interested in the welfare of the public. Then was performed the lectisternium, during the space of three days, under the direction of the decemvirs of religious rites. There were six couches exhibited to view, one for Jupiter and Juno, another for Neptune and Minerva, a third for Mars and Venus, a fourth for Apollo and Diana, a fifth for Vulcan and Vesta, and the sixth for Mercury and Ceres. The temples were then vowed; that to Venus Erycina, by Quintus Fabius Maximus, dictator; for such was the direction found in the books of the fates, that the person who held the highest authority in the state should vow it. Titus Otacilius, the prætor, vowed the temple to Mens.
XI. The business relating to religion being thus concluded, the dictator then proposed to the senate, to take into consideration the state of the commonwealth and the war; and to determine how many, and what legions, should be employed to stop the progress of the victorious enemy. They passed a decree, that “he should receive the army from the consul, Cneius Servilius; in addition to which, he should levy, among the citizens and allies, such numbers of horse and foot as he should judge requisite; and, in every other particular, should act and manage in such a manner as he should see conducive to the public good.” Fabius declared his intention to make an addition of two legions to the army of Servilius; these he ordered to be levied by the master of the horse, and appointed a day on which they were to assemble at Tibur. Then, having published a proclamation, that those who dwelt in towns or forts which were incapable of defence, should remove into places of safety; and that all the inhabitants of that tract, through which Hannibal was to march, should likewise remove out of the country, after first burning the houses, and destroying the fruits of the earth, to prevent his meeting any kind of supply; he himself set out, by the Flaminian road, to meet the consul and the army. Coming within sight of the troops, on their march on the bank of the Tiber, near Ocriculum, and observing the consul, with some horsemen, advancing, he sent a beadle to acquaint him, that he must approach the dictator without lictors. This order he obeyed; and their meeting raised an exalted idea of the dictatorship in the minds both of citizens and allies; who had now, in consequence of the long disuse, almost forgotten that office. Here he received a letter from the city, with intelligence, that the transport ships, carrying supplies from Ostia to the army in Spain, had been captured by a fleet of the enemy near the port of Cossa: in consequence of which, the consul was ordered to proceed immediately to Ostia, to man all the ships which were at the city of Rome, or at Ostia, with soldiers and mariners, to pursue the enemy, and guard the coasts of Italy. Great numbers of men had been levied at Rome; even the sons of freedmen, who had children, and were of military age, had enlisted. Of these troops, such as were under thirty-five years of age were put on board the ships; the rest were left to guard the city.
XII. The dictator, receiving the consul’s army from Fulvius Flaccus, his lieutenant-general, came through the Sabine territory to Tibur, on the day which he had appointed for the assembling of the new-raised troops; thence he went back to Præneste, and, crossing the country to the Latine road, led forward his army; examining, with the utmost care, the country through which he was to pass, being determined in no case, to subject himself to the disposal of fortune, except so far as necessity might constrain him. When he first pitched his camp within the enemy’s view, not far from Arpi, the Carthaginian on the same day, without delaying an hour, led out his forces, and offered battle; but, seeing every thing quiet, and no hurry or bustle in the Roman camp, he returned within his lines, observing, with a sneer, that the spirit which the Romans boasted to have inherited from Mars, was at length subdued; that they had given over fighting, and made open acknowledgment of their abatement in courage and love of glory. His mind, however, was sensibly affected, on finding that he had now to deal with a commander very unlike Flaminius and Sempronius; and that the Romans, instructed by misfortunes, had at length chosen a leader which was a match for Hannibal; and he quickly perceived that, in the dictator, he had to dread provident skill more than vigorous exertion. Having, however, not yet fully experienced his steadiness, he attempted to rouse and provoke his temper by frequently removing his camp, and ravaging under his eyes the lands of the allies, at one time withdrawing out of sight by a hasty march; at another, halting in a place of concealment at a turn of the road, in hopes of taking him at a disadvantage on his coming down into the plain. Fabius led his forces along the high grounds at a moderate distance from the enemy; so as not to let him be out of reach, nor yet to come to an engagement. His men were confined within their camp, except when called forth by some necessary occasion; and his parties, sent for forage and wood, were neither small in number, nor were they allowed to ramble. An advanced guard of cavalry and light infantry, properly equipped, and formed for the purpose of repressing sudden alarms, rendered every place safe to those of their own side, and dangerous to such of the enemy as straggled in search of plunder. Thus, a decisive trial in a general engagement was avoided. At the same time slight skirmishes of no great importance commenced on safe ground and where a place of retreat was at hand, which accustomed the soldiers, dispirited by former misfortunes, to place more confidence both in their own courage and their fortune. But he found not Hannibal more inclined to disconcert such wise plans than his own master of the horse, whom nothing but being subordinate in command, prevented from plunging the commonwealth into ruin. Confident and precipitate in his measures, and allowing his tongue an exorbitant license, he used, at first in small circles, afterwards openly in public, to call the dictator sluggish instead of cool; timid instead of cautious; imputing to him as faults what had the nearest affinity to virtues. Thus, by the practice of depressing the merit of his superior — a practice of the basest nature, and which has become too general, in consequence of the favourable success so often attending it — he exalted himself.
XIII. Hannibal led away his forces from the territory of Arpi into Samnium, ravaged the lands of Beneventum, took the city of Telesia, and used every means to irritate the Roman general; in hopes that by so many indignities, and the sufferings of his allies, he might be provoked to hazard an engagement on equal ground. Among the multitude of the allies of Italian birth, who had been made prisoners by the Carthaginian at Trasimenus, and set at liberty, were three Campanian horsemen. Hannibal on that occasion, by many presents and promises, engaged them to conciliate the affections of their countrymen in his favour. These now informed him, that if he brought his army into Campania, he would have an opportunity of getting possession of Capua. The affair was of much moment, and seemed to demand more weighty authority. Hannibal hesitated, inclining at one time to confide in their assurances, at another to distrust them, yet they brought him to a resolution of marching from Samnium into Campania; and he dismissed them, with repeated charges to fulfil their promises by deeds, and with orders to return to him with a greater number, and with some of their principal men. He then commanded his guide to conduct him into the territory of Casinum; having learned from persons acquainted with the country, that if he seized on the pass there, the Romans would be shut out, so as to prevent their bringing succour to their allies. But speaking with the Carthaginian accent, and mis-pronouncing the Latin words, the guide mis-apprehended him as having said Casilinum instead of Casinum; so that, turning from the right road, he led him through the territories of Allifæ, Calatia, and Cales, down into the plain of Stella. Here Hannibal looking round, and perceiving the place enclosed between mountains and rivers, called the guide, and asked him where he was; and the other answering, that he would lodge that night at Casilinum, he at last discovered the mistake, and that Casinum lay at a very great distance, in a quite different direction. On this, having scourged and crucified the guide, in order to strike terror into others, he pitched and fortified his camp, and despatched Maharbal, with the cavalry, to ravage the territory of Falerii. Here the depredations were carried as far as the waters of Sinuessa, the Numidians committing dreadful devastations, and spreading fear and consternation to a still wider extent. Yet did not this terror, great as it was, and though their whole country was involved in the flames of war, induce the allies to swerve from their allegiance. They had no desire to change their rulers, for they lived under a mild and equitable government; and there is no bond of loyalty so strong.
XIV. The Carthaginians encamped at the river Vulturnus, and the most delightful tract in Italy was seen wasted with fire, the country-seats on every side smoking in ruins. While Fabius led his army along the tops of the Massic mountains, the discontent in it was inflamed anew, and to such a degree, as to fall little short of a mutiny. During a few days past, as their march had been conducted with more expedition than usual, they had been in good temper, because they had supposed that this haste was owing to an intention to protect Campania from further ravages. But when they had gained the heights, and the enemy appeared under their eyes, setting fire to the houses of the Falernian district, with the colony of Sinuessa, and that still no mention was made of fighting, Minucius exclaimed, “Are we come hither to view the burning and slaughter of our allies, as to a spectacle grateful to the sight? If no other circumstance strikes us with shame, do we feel none with regard to these our countrymen, whom our fathers sent as colonists to Sinuessa, to secure this frontier from the inroads of the Samnites? And now the frontier is wasted with fire, not by the Samnites, a neighbouring state, but by Carthaginians, a foreign race, who, from the remotest limits of the world, have effected their progress hither, in consequence of our dilatory and slothful proceedings. Shamefully are we degenerated from our ancestors, who considered it as an affront to their government, if a Carthaginian fleet happened to sail along this coast; for we now behold the same coast filled with the enemy’s troops, and possessed by Moors and Numidians. We, who lately felt such indignation at siege being laid to Saguntum that we appealed, not only to mankind, but to treaties and to the gods, now look on without emotion, while Hannibal is scaling the walls of a Roman colony. The smoke from the burning houses and lands is carried into our eyes and mouths; our ears ring with the cries and lamentations of our allies, invoking our aid oftener than that of the immortal gods; yet, hiding ourselves here in woods and clouds, we lead about our army like a herd of cattle, through shady forests and desert paths. If Marcus Furius had adopted the design of rescuing the city from the Gauls, by the same means by which this new Camillus, this dictator of such singular abilities, selected for us in our distresses, intends to recover Italy from Hannibal, (that is, by traversing mountains and forests,) Rome would now be the property of the Gauls; and great reason do I see to dread, if we persevere in this dilatory mode of acting, that our ancestors have so often preserved it for Hannibal and the Carthaginians: But he, who had the spirit of a man, and of a true Roman, during the very day on which the account was brought to Veii, of his being nominated dictator, by direction of the senate, and order of the people, though the Janiculum was of sufficient height, where he might sit and take a prospect of the enemy, came down to the plain; and, on that same day, in the middle of the city, where now are the Gallic piles, and on the day following, on the road to Gabii, cut to pieces the legions of the Gauls. What! when many years after this, at the Caudine forks, we were sent under the yoke by the Samnites; was it by traversing the mountains of Samnium, or was it by pressing briskly the siege of Luceria, and compelling the enemy to fight, that Lucius Papirius Cursor removed the yoke from the necks of the Romans, and imposed it on the haughty Samnites? In a late case, what but quick dispatch gave victory to Caius Lutatius? For on the next day after he came in view of the enemy, he overpowered their fleet, heavily laden with provisions, and encumbered with their own implements and cargoes. To imagine that, by sitting still, and offering up prayers, the war can be brought to a conclusion, is folly in the extreme. Forces must be armed, must be led out to the open field, that you may encounter, man with man. By boldness and activity, the Roman power has been raised to its present height, and not by these sluggish measures, which cowards term cautious.” While Minucius harangued in this manner, as if to a general assembly, he was surrounded by a multitude of tribunes and Roman horsemen; and his presumptuous expressions reached even the ears of the common men, who gave evident demonstrations, that if the matter were submitted to the votes of the soldiery, they would prefer Minucius, as a commander, to Fabius.
XV. Fabius watched the conduct of his own men with no less attention than that of the enemy; determined to show, with respect to them, in the first place, that his resolution was unalterable by any thing which they could say or do. He well knew that his dilatory measures were severely censured, not only in his own camp, but likewise at Rome, yet he persisted, with inflexible steadiness, in the same mode of conduct during the remainder of the summer; in consequence of which, Hannibal, finding himself disappointed in his hopes of an engagement, after having tried his utmost endeavours to bring it about, began to look round for a convenient place for his winter-quarters: for the country where he then was, though it afforded plenty for the present, was incapable of furnishing a lasting supply, because it abounded in trees and vineyards, and other plantations of such kinds as minister rather to pleasure than to men’s necessary demands. Of this his intention, Fabius received information from scouts; and knowing, with a degree of certainty, that he would return through the same pass by which he had entered the Falernian territory, he detached parties of moderate force to take possession of Mount Callicula, and Casilinum, which city, being intersected by the river Vulturnus, is the boundary between the Falernian and Campanian territories. He himself led back his army along the same eminences over which he had come, sending out Lucius Hostilius Mancinus, with four hundred horsemen of the allies, to procure intelligence. This young man, who had often made one of the crowd of listeners to the presumptuous harangues of the master of the horse, proceeded, at first, as the commander of a party of observation ought, watching, from safe ground, the motions of the enemy: afterwards, seeing the Numidians scattered about through the villages, and having, on an opportunity that offered, slain some of them, his whole mind was instantly occupied by the thoughts of fighting, and he lost all recollection of the orders of the dictator, who had charged him to advance only so far as he might with safety, and to retreat before he should come within the enemy’s sight. Several different parties of the Numidians, by skirmishing and retreating, drew him on almost to their camp, by which time both his men and horses were greatly fatigued. Here Cartalo, commander-in-chief of the cavalry, advancing in full career, obliged his party to fly before he came within a dart’s throw, and, almost without relaxing in speed, pursued them in their flight through the length of five miles. Mancinus, when he saw that the enemy did not desist from their pursuit, and that there was no prospect of escaping, exhorted his men to act with courage, and faced about on the foe, though superior to him in every particular. The consequence was, that he, and the bravest of his party, were surrounded, and cut to pieces: the rest, betaking themselves to a precipitate flight, made their escape, first to Cales, and thence, by ways almost impassable, to the dictator. It happened that, on the same day, Minucius rejoined Fabius, having been sent to secure, by a body of troops, a woody hill, which, above Tarracina, forms a narrow defile, and hangs over the sea; because it was apprehended, that, if that barrier of the Appian way were left unguarded, the Carthaginian might penetrate into the territory of Rome. The dictator and master of the horse, having re-united their forces, marched down into the road, through which Hannibal was to pass. At this time the enemy were two miles distant.
XVI. Next day the Carthaginians, marching forward, filled the whole road which lay between the two camps; and though the Romans had taken post close to their own rampart, with an evident advantage of situation, yet the Carthaginian advanced with his light horsemen, and, in order to provoke the enemy, made several skirmishing attacks, charging, and then retreating. The Romans kept their position, and the fight proceeded without vigour, more agreeably to the wish of the dictator than to that of Hannibal. Two hundred Romans, and eight hundred of the enemy fell. There was now reason to think, that by the road to Casilinum being thus blockaded, Hannibal was effectually pent up; and that while Capua and Samnium, and such a number of wealthy allies at their back, should furnish the Romans with supplies, the Carthaginian, on the other hand, would be obliged to winter between the rocks of Formiæ, the sands of Linternum, and horrid stagnated marshes. Nor was Hannibal insensible that his own arts were now played off against himself. Wherefore, seeing it impracticable to make his way through Casilinum, and that he must direct his course to the mountains, and climb over the summit of the Callicula, lest the Romans should fall on his troops in their march, when entangled in the vallies, he devised a stratagem for baffling the enemy by a deception calculated to inspire terror, resolving to set out secretly in the beginning of the night, and proceed toward the mountains. The means which he contrived for the execution of his plan were these: collecting combustible matter from all the country round, he caused bundles of rods and dry twigs to be tied fast on the horns of oxen, great numbers of which, trained and untrained, he drove along with him, among the other spoil taken in the country, and he made up the number of almost two thousand. He then gave in charge to Hasdrubal, that as soon as the darkness of the night came on, he should drive this numerous herd, after first setting fire to their horns, up the mountains, and particularly, if he found it practicable, over the passes where the enemy kept guard.
XVII. As soon as it grew dark the army decamped in silence, driving the oxen at some distance before the van. When they arrived at the foot of the mountains and the narrow roads, the signal was instantly given that fire should be set to the horns of the oxen, and that they should be driven violently up the mountains in front; when their own fright, occasioned by the flame blazing on their heads, together with the heat, which soon penetrated to the quick, and to the roots of their horns, drove them on as if goaded by madness. By their spreading about in this manner all the bushes were quickly in a blaze, just as if fire had been set to the woods and mountains, and the fruitless tossing of their heads serving to increase the flames, they afforded an appearance as of men running up and down on every side. The troops stationed to guard the passage of the defiles, seeing several fires on the tops of the mountains, concluded they were surrounded, and quitted their post, taking their way, as the safest course, towards the summits, where they saw fewest fires blazing. Here they fell in with several of the oxen, which had scattered from the herds to which they belonged. At first, when they saw them at a distance, imagining that they breathed out flames, they halted in utter astonishment at the miraculous appearance; but afterwards, when they discovered that it was an imposition of human contrivance, and believing that they were in danger of being ensnared, they hastily, and with redoubled terror, betook themselves to flight. They met also the enemy’s light infantry, but night inspiring equal fears, prevented either from beginning a fight until day-light. In the mean time Hannibal led his whole army through the defile, where he surprised some Romans in the very pass, and pitched his camp in the territory of Allifæ.
XVIII. Fabius perceived the tumult; but, suspecting some snare, and being utterly averse from fighting, in the night particularly, he kept his men within their trenches. As soon as day appeared, a fight commenced near the summit of the mountain, in which the Romans, who had considerably the advantage in numbers, would have easily overpowered the light infantry of the enemy, separated as they were from their friends, had not a cohort of Spaniards, sent back by Hannibal for the purpose, come up to the spot. These, both by reason of the agility of their limbs, and the nature of their arms, being lighter and better qualified for skirmishing among rocks and cliffs (to which they were accustomed), by their manner of fighting, easily baffled the enemy, who were used to act on plain ground in steady fight, and who carried weighty arms. After a contest therefore, by no means equal, they both withdrew to their respective camps; the Spaniards with almost all their men safe, the Romans with the loss of many. Fabius likewise decamped, and passing through the defile, seated himself in a high and strong post above Allifæ. Hannibal, now counterfeiting an intention to proceed to Rome through Samnium, marched back as far as the country of the Pelignians, spreading devastation every where as he went. Fabius led his army along the heights, between the route of the enemy and the city of Rome, constantly attending his motions, but never giving him a meeting. From the territory of Pelignum, Hannibal altered his route; and, directing his march back towards Apulia, came to Gerunium, a city whose inhabitants had abandoned it, being terrified by a part of the walls having fallen in ruins. The dictator formed a strong camp in the territory of Larinum; and, being recalled thence to Rome, on account of some religious ceremonies, he pressed the master of the horse, not only with orders, but with earnest advice, and almost with prayers, to “confide more in prudence than in fortune; and to imitate his conduct in command rather than that of Sempronius and Flaminius. Not to think there had been no advantage gained, in having foiled the designs of the Carthaginian through almost the whole length of the summer; observing, that even physicians sometimes effect their purpose better by rest than by motion and action; that it was a matter of no small importance, to have ceased to be defeated by an enemy so inured to victory; and, after a long course of disasters, to have gained time to breathe.” After urging these cautions, which were thrown away on the master of the horse, he set out for Rome.
XIX. In the beginning of the summer wherein these transactions passed, the operations of the war commenced in Spain also, both by land and sea. Hasdrubal, to the number of ships which he had received from his brother, manned and in readiness for service, added ten; and giving the command of this fleet of forty ships to Himilco, set out from New Carthage, marching his army along the shore, while the fleet sailed on, at a small distance from the land; so that he was prepared to fight on either element, as the foe should come in his way. Cneius Scipio, on hearing that the enemy had moved from their winter-quarters, at first designed to pursue the same plan of operations; but, afterwards, on hearing that they had been joined by vast numbers of new auxiliaries, he judged it not so prudent to meet them on land; sending, therefore, on board his ships, an additional number of chosen soldiers, he put to sea, with a fleet of thirty-five sail. On the next day after his leaving Tarraco, he arrived at an harbour within ten miles of the mouth of the river Iberus, and dispatching thence two Massilian scout-boats, learned from them, that the Carthaginian fleet lay in the mouth of that river, and that their camp was pitched on the bank. Intending therefore, by a general attack with his whole force, at once to overpower the enemy, while unprovided and off their guard, he weighed anchor, and advanced towards them. They have, in Spain, a great many towers built in lofty situations, which are used both as watch-towers, and as places of defence against pirates. From these the Roman fleet was first descried, and notice given of it to Hasdrubal. This caused much confusion in the camp on land, and somewhat earlier than the alarm reached the ships, where they had not heard the dashing of oars, nor any other noise usually accompanying a fleet. The capes, likewise, shut out the enemy from their view, when on a sudden, while they were rambling about the shore, or sitting quietly in their tents, expecting nothing less than the approach of an enemy, or a fight on that day, several horsemen, dispatched by Hasdrubal, came one after another, with orders for them to go on board instantly, and get ready their arms, for that the Roman fleet was just at the mouth of the harbour. These orders the horsemen, sent for the purpose, conveyed to every part; and presently Hasdrubal himself arrived with the main body of the army. Every place was now filled with noise and tumult: the rowers and soldiers hurrying to their ships, like men making their escape from land rather than going to battle. Scarcely had all got on board when some of the vessels, having untied the hawsers at the sterns, were carried foul of their anchors. Every thing was done with too much hurry and precipitation, so that the business of the mariners was impeded by the preparations of the soldiers, and the soldiers were prevented from taking and preparing their arms by the bustle and confusion of the mariners. The Romans, by this time, were not only drawing nigh, but had already formed their ships in order of battle. The Carthaginians, therefore, falling into the utmost disorder, to which the enemy’s attack contributed not more than the confusion prevailing among themselves, tacked about, and fled; and as the mouth of the river, to which they steered their course, did not afford an entrance to such an extensive line, and as such numbers crowded in together, their ships were driven on shore; many striking on banks, others on the dry strand. The soldiers made their escape, some with their arms, others without them, to their friends, who were drawn up on the shore. However, in the first encounter, two Carthaginian ships were taken, and four sunk.
XX. The Romans, without hesitation, pursued their dismayed fleet, notwithstanding that the land was possessed by the enemy, and that they saw a line of their troops under arms, stretched along the whole shore; and all the ships which had either shattered their prows by striking against the shore, or stuck their keels fast in the sand banks, they tied to their sterns and towed out into the deep. Out of the forty ships they took twenty-five. The most brilliant circumstance attending their victory was, that by this one battle, which cost them so little, they were rendered masters of the sea along the whole extent of that coast. Sailing forward, therefore, to Honosca, they there made a descent, took the city by storm, and sacked it. Thence they proceeded to Carthage, and, after wasting all the country round, at last set fire to the houses contiguous to the very walls and gates. The ships, now heavily laden with booty, went on to Longuntica, where a great quantity of okum,* for cordage, had been collected by Hasdrubal for the use of the fleet. Of this they carried off as much as they had occasion for, and burned the rest. Nor did they carry their operations along the open coasts of the continent only, but passed over to the island of Ebusa, where they in vain attempted, during two days, and with their utmost efforts, to gain possession of the capital city. Perceiving, however, that they were wasting time to no purpose, and in pursuit of a hopeless design, they applied themselves to the ravaging of the country; and after plundering and burning several towns, and collecting a greater quantity of booty than they had acquired on the continent, they retired on board their ships; at which time ambassadors came to Scipio, from the Balearick Isles, suing for peace. From this place the fleet sailed back, and returned to the hither parts of the province, whither ambassadors hastily flocked from all the nations adjacent to the Iberus, and from many even of the remotest parts of Spain. The whole number of states, which submitted to the dominion and government of Rome, and gave hostages, amounted to more than one hundred and twenty. Wherefore the Roman general, relying now with sufficient confidence on his land forces also, advanced as far as the pass of Castulo; on which Hasdrubal withdrew toward the ocean into Lusitania.
XXI. It was now supposed that the remainder of the summer would pass without farther action; and this would have been the case, had it depended on the Carthaginians; but, besides that the native Spaniards are in their temper restless and fond of change, Mandonius and Indibilis, (the latter of whom had formerly been chieftain of the Ilergetans,) as soon as the Romans retired from the pass toward the sea-coast, roused their countrymen to arms, and made predatory irruptions into the peaceful territories of the Roman allies. Against these Scipio sent some military tribunes, with a body of lightarmed auxiliaries; and these, without much difficulty, routed all their tumultuary bands, slaying and taking many, and disarming the greater part of them. This commotion, however, drew back Hasdrubal, from his march toward the ocean, to the hither side of the Iberus, for the purpose of supporting his confederates. The Carthaginians lay encamped in the territory of Ilercao, the Romans at a place called Newfleet, when a sudden piece of intelligence diverted the war to another quarter: the Celtiberians, who of all the states in that tract were the first who sent ambassadors, and gave hostages to the Romans, had, in consequence of instructions sent by Scipio, taken up arms, and invaded the province of the Carthaginians with a powerful army, had reduced three towns by assault, and had afterwards fought two battles against Hasdrubal himself with excellent success, killing fifteen thousand of his men, and taking four thousand, with many military ensigns.
XXII. While affairs in Spain were in this state, Publius Scipio, having been, on the expiration of his consulate, continued in command, and sent thither by the senate, arrived in the province with thirty ships of war, eight thousand soldiers, and a large supply of provisions. His fleet, which, when seen at a distance, made a grand appearance, by reason of the long train of transport vessels, put into the harbour of Tarraco, causing great joy among his countrymen and allies. Here Scipio disembarked his troops, and then marched to join his brother; and they thenceforth conducted the war jointly, with perfect harmony of temper, and unanimity in their counsels. The Carthaginians were now busily employed in making head against the Celtiberians; they therefore without delay passed the Iberus, and not seeing any enemy, proceeded to Saguntum, having received information that the hostages from every part of Spain had been placed there, under custody, by Hannibal, and were guarded in the citadel by a small garrison. This pledge was the only thing which hindered all the states from manifesting their inclinations to an alliance with Rome; as they dreaded lest, in case of their defection, the blood of their children should be made the expiation of their offence. From this restraint, one man, by a device more artful than honourable, set Spain at liberty. There was at Saguntum a Spaniard of noble birth, called Abelox, who had hitherto behaved with fidelity to the Carthaginians, but had now, out of a disposition very general among barbarians, on a change of fortune, altered his attachment. But considering that a deserter coming to an enemy without bringing into their hands any advantage of consequence, is no more than an infamous and contemptible individual, he studied how he might procure the most important emolument to his new allies. Wherefore, after reviewing every expedient within the reach of his power to effect, he determined upon a plan of delivering up the hostages into their hands; judging that this alone would prove of all means the most effectual towards conciliating to the Romans the friendship of the Spanish chieftains. But as he well knew that, without an order from Bostar the commander, the guards of the hostages would do nothing, he artfully addressed Bostar himself; the latter lying at the time encamped at some distance from the city, on the very shore, with intention to hinder the approach of the Romans from the harbour. Here the other, taking him aside to a place of secrecy, represented, as if it were unknown to him, the present state of affairs; that “fear had hitherto restrained the inclinations of the Spaniards, because the Romans had been at a great distance; at present the Roman camp was on their side of the Iberus, serving as a fortress and place of refuge to all who wished a change; wherefore it was necessary that those who could no longer be bound by fear, should be bound by kindness and favour.” Bostar showing surprise, and asking what was this unthought-of kindness of such great moment, he answered, “Send home the hostages to their respective provinces: this will engage the gratitude of their parents in particular, who are men of the first consequence in their several states, and likewise of the communities in general. Every man wishes to find trust reposed in him, and trust reposed generally proves a bond of fidelity. The office of restoring the hostages to their families I demand for myself; that, as I have been the proposer of the plan, I may likewise be its promoter, by the pains which I shall take in the execution of it; and may, as far as lies in my power, render a proceeding, which is acceptable in its own nature, still more acceptable.” Having gained the approbation of Bostar, who possessed not the same degree of crafty sagacity as other Carthaginians, he went out secretly by night to the advanced guards of the enemy, where, meeting some of the Spanish auxiliaries, and being by them conducted to Scipio, he disclosed the business on which he came. Then mutual engagements being entered into, and time and place appointed for delivering up the hostages, he returned to Saguntum. The next day he spent with Bostar, in receiving instructions for the execution of his commission; and, before he left him, settled the plan so, that he was to go by night, in order to escape the observation of the enemy’s watch. At an hour concerted, he called up the guards of the boys; and setting out, he led them, as if unknowingly, into the snare prepared by his own treachery. They were then conducted into the Roman camp. In every other respect the restoration of the hostages was performed as had been settled with Bostar, and in the same mode of procedure, as if the affair were transacted in the name of the Carthaginians. But, though the act was the same, the Romans acquired a much higher degree of reputation from it than it would have produced to the Carthaginians; because the latter, having shown themselves oppressive and haughty in prosperity, it might be supposed, that the abatement of their rigour was owing to the change in their fortune, and to their fears; whereas the Roman, on his first arrival, while his character was yet unknown, commenced his administration with an act of clemency and liberality; and it was believed that Abelox would hardly have voluntarily changed sides without some good reason for such a proceeding. All the states, therefore, with general consent, began to meditate a revolt; and they would have proceeded instantly to hostilities, had they not been prevented by the winter, which obliged even the Romans and Carthaginians to take shelter in houses.
XXIII. These were the occurrences of the second campaign of the Punic war, on the side of Spain; while, in Italy, the wise delays of Fabius had afforded the Romans some respite from calamities. However, though his conduct kept Hannibal in a constant state of no little anxiety, (since he perceived that the Romans had at length chosen such a master of the military science, who made war to depend on wisdom, not on fortune,) yet it excited in the minds of his countrymen, both in the camp and in the city, only sentiments of contempt; especially when, during his absence, the master of the horse had been rash enough to hazard a battle, the issue of which (though it afforded matter for some present rejoicing) was productive of no real advantage. Two incidents occurred which served to increase the general disapprobation of the dictator’s conduct; one was an artful contrivance employed by Hannibal to mislead the public opinion; for, on the dictator’s farm being shown to him by deserters, he gave orders, that, while every other place in the neighbourhood was levelled to the ground, that alone should be left safe from fire and sword, and every kind of hostile violence; in order that this might be construed as a favour shown to him, in consideration of some secret compact. The other was an act of his own, respecting the ransoming of the prisoners; the merit of which was, at first, perhaps doubtful, because he had not waited for the direction of the senate in that case; but, in the end, it evidently redounded to his honour in the highest degree. For, as had been practised in the first Punic war, a regulation was established between the Roman and Carthaginian generals, that whichever party should receive a greater number than he returned, should pay for the surplus, at the rate of two pounds and a half of silver* for each soldier. Now the Roman had received a greater number than the Carthaginian, by two hundred and forty-seven; and, though the business was frequently agitated in the senate, yet, because he had not consulted that body on the regulation, the issuing of the money due on this account was too long delayed. Sending, therefore, his son Quintus to Rome for the purpose, he sold off the farm which had been spared by the enemy, and, at his own private expense, acquitted the public faith. Hannibal lay in an established post under the walls of Geronium, in which city, when he took and burned it, he had left a few houses to serve as granaries. From hence he generally detached two-thirds of his army to forage, and the other part he kept with himself on guard and in readiness for action, providing for the security of the camp, and, at the same time, watching on all sides, lest any attack might be made on the foragers.
XXIV. The Roman army was, at that time, in the territory of Larinum, and the command was held by Minucius the master of the horse, in consequence, as mentioned before, of the dictator’s departure to the city. But the camp, which had been pitched on a high mountain in a secure post, was now brought down to the plains; and more spirited designs, conformable to the genius of the commander, were meditated: either an attack on the dispersed foragers, or on their camp when left with a slight guard. It did not escape Hannibal’s observation that the plan of conduct was changed, together with the commander, and that the enemy were likely to act with more boldness than prudence. He sent (which would have been scarcely expected, as the foe was so near,) a third part of his troops to forage, retaining the other two; and afterwards removed his camp to a hill about two miles from Geronium, and within view of that of the enemy, to show that he was in readiness to protect his foragers, should any attempt be made on them. From hence he saw a hill nearer to and overhanging the Roman works, and knowing that, if he went openly in the day to sieze on this, the enemy would certainly get before him by a shorter road, he despatched secretly, in the night, a body of Numidians, who took possession of it: next day, however, the Romans, despising their small number, dislodged them, and removed their own camp thither. There was now, therefore, but a small space between the ramparts of the two camps, and this the Romans almost entirely filled with their troops in order of battle. At the same time, their cavalry and light infantry, sent out from the rear against the foragers, caused great slaughter and consternation among the scattered troops of the enemy. Yet Hannibal dared not to hazard a general engagement, for with his small numbers (one-third of his army being absent) he was scarcely able to defend his camp, if it were attacked. And now he conducted his measures almost on the plans of Fabius, lying still and avoiding action, while he drew back his troops to his former situation under the walls of Geronium. According to some writers, they fought a regular pitched battle: in the first encounter the Carthaginian was repulsed, and driven to his camp; from which a sally being suddenly made, the Romans were worsted in turn, and the fight was afterwards restored by the coming up of Numerius Decimus, a Samnite. This man, the first, with respect both to family and fortune, not only at Bovianum, of which he was a native, but in all Samnium, was conducting to the army, by order of the dictator, a body of eight thousand foot and five hundred horse, which, appearing on Hannibal’s rear, was supposed, by both parties to be a new reinforcement coming from Rome with Fabius. On which Hannibal, dreading likewise some stratagem retired within his works. The Romans pursued, and, with the assistance of the Samnite, took two forts by storm before night. Six thousand of the enemy were slain, and about five thousand of the Romans. Yet though the losses were so equal, an account was sent to Rome as of a most important victory, and letters, from the master of the horse, still more ostentatious.
XXV. These matters were very often canvassed, both in the senate and in assemblies of the people. The dictator alone, amidst the general joy, gave no credit either to the news or the letters; and declared, that though all were true, he should yet apprehend more evil from success than from disappointment; whereupon Marcus Metilius, a plebeian tribune, insisted, that “such behaviour was not to be endured; the dictator, not only when present with the army, obstructed its acting with success, but also, at this distance, when it had performed good service, impeded the good consequences likely to ensue; protracting the war, in order that he might continue the longer in office, and hold the sole command both at Rome and in the army. One of the consuls had fallen in the field, and the other, under pretext of pursuing a Carthaginian fleet, had been sent away far from Italy: the two prætors were employed in Sicily and Sardinia, neither of which provinces had, at that time, any occasion for the presence of a prætor. Marcus Minucius, the master of the horse, was kept, as it were, in custody, lest he should come within sight of the enemy, or perform any military service. So that, in fact, not only Samnium, the possession of which had been yielded up to the Carthaginians, as well as that of the country beyond the Iberus, but also the Campanian, Calenian, and Falernian territories had been ravaged and destroyed; while the dictator remained inactive at Casilinum, and, with the Roman legions, protected his own estate. The army and the master of the horse, who were eager to fight, had been kept, in a manner, shut up within the trenches, and deprived of arms, like captured forces: but when, at last, the dictator left them, when they were freed from their confinement, they passed the trenches, defeated the enemy, and put him to flight. For all which reasons, if the Roman commons were possessed of their ancient spirit, he would have boldly proposed to depose Quintus Fabius from his office: as matters stood at the present, however, he would offer a moderate proposition, that the master of the horse should be invested with authority equal to that of the dictator; and still, when that should be done, that Quintus Fabius should not be sent to the army, until he should first substitute a consul in the room of Caius Flaminius.” The dictator shunned the assemblies, knowing the people’s prejudices against any thing he could say; nor even in the senate was he very favourably heard, particularly when he spoke in high terms of the enemy, and imputed to the rashness and unskilfulness of the commanders the disasters of the two preceding years, and declared, that “the master of horse should be called to account for having fought contrary to his orders. If the entire command and direction were in him, he would soon give people reason to be convinced, that to a good commander fortune is a matter of slight consideration; and that wisdom and prudence control and govern all things. For his part, he deemed it more glorious to have saved the army at a critical juncture, and without suffering disgrace, than to have slain many thousands of the enemy.”
XXVI. Having frequently discoursed in this manner without effect, and having created Marcus Atilius Regulus consul, the dictator, unwilling to be present at a contest concerning the authority of his office, set out, during the night preceding the day on which the affair of the proposition was to be decided, and went to the army. As soon as day arose, the commons met in assembly, their minds filled with tacit displeasure against the dictator, and favour towards the master of the horse; yet were not people very forward to stand forth in praise of the measure, however generally agreeable; so that while the proposition had an abundant majority, still it wanted support. The only person found to second it was Caius Terentius Varro, who had been prætor the year before; a man not only of humble, but of sordid birth. We are told that his father was a butcher, who attended in person the sale of his meat, and that he employed this very son in the servile offices of that trade. This young man having, by the money thus acquired and left to him by his father, conceived hopes of attaining a more respectable situation in life, turned his thoughts to the bar and the Forum, where, by the vehemence of his harangues in favour of men and causes of the basest sort, in opposition to the worthy citizens of fortune and character, he at first attracted the notice of the people, and afterwards obtained honourable employments. Having passed through the quæstorship, two ædileships, the plebeian and curule, and lastly, the prætorship, he now raised his views to the consulship; and artfully contriving to make the general displeasure against the dictator the means of procuring popularity to himself, he alone gained the whole credit of the order passed by the commons. Excepting the dictator himself, all men, whether his friends or foes, in the city or in the camp, considered that order as passed with the intention of affronting him. But he, with the same steadiness of mind which he had displayed in bearing the charges made against him by his enemies before the multitude, bore likewise this ill-treatment thrown on him by the people in the violence of passion; and though he received on his journey, a letter containing a decree of the senate, giving equal authority to the master of the horse; yet being fully confident that, together with the authority in command, the skill of the commanders had not been made equal, he proceeded to the army, with a spirit unsubdued either by his countrymen or the enemy.
XXVII. But Minucius, whose arrogance was scarcely tolerable before, on this flow of success and of favour with the populace, threw of all restraints of modesty and moderation, and openly boasted no less of his victory over Quintus Fabius than of that over Hannibal: “He was the only commander,” he said, “who, in the desperate situation of their affairs, had been found a match for Hannibal; and he was now, by order of the people, set on a level with Fabius. A superior magistrate, with an inferior; a dictator, with the master of the horse; of which, no instance was to be found in the records of history; and this in a state where the masters of the horse used to dread and tremble at the rods and axes of dictators; with such a high degree of lustre had his good fortune and successful bravery shone forth. He was resolved, therefore, to pursue his own good fortune, should his colleague persist in dilatory and slothful plans, condemned by the judgment both of gods and men.” Accordingly, on the first day of his meeting Fabius, he told him, that “they ought, in the first place, to determine in what manner they should exercise the command, with which they were now equally invested; that, in his judgment, the best method would be, that each should hold the supreme authority and command alternately, either for a day, or for some longer fixed portion of time, if that were more agreeable; to the end, that if he should meet any favourable opportunity of acting, he might be a match for the enemy, not only in conduct, but likewise in strength.” This Quintus Fabius by no means approved; for “fortune,” he said, “would have the disposal of every thing which should be under the direction of his colleague’s rashness. The command had been shared between them, not taken away from him: he would never, therefore, voluntarily divest himself of the power of keeping such part of the business as he could, under the guidance of prudence. He would not divide times, or days of command, with him; but he would divide the troops, and, by his own counsels, would preserve as much as he could, since he was not allowed to preserve the whole.” He accordingly prevailed to have the legions divided between them, as was the practice with consuls. The first and fourth fell to Minucius, the second and third to Fabius. They likewise divided, in equal numbers, the cavalry, and the allied and Latine auxiliaries. The master of the horse chose also that they should encamp separately.
XXVIII. Hannibal was not ignorant of any thing that passed among the enemy; for, besides the intelligence procured through his spies, he derived ample information from deserters. In these proceedings he found a twofold cause of rejoicing; for the temerity of Minucius, now free from control, he could entrap at his will; and the wisdom of Fabius was reduced to act with but half his former strength. Between the camp of Minucius, and that of the Carthaginians, stood a hill, of which, whoever took possession, would evidently render the other’s situation more inconvenient. This Hannibal wished to seize; but he was not so desirous of gaining it without a dispute, (even though it were worth his while,) as of bringing on, thereby, an engagement with Minucius; who, he well knew, would be always ready to meet him in order to thwart his designs. The whole intervening ground seemed, at first view, incapable of admitting any stratagem, having on it no kind of wood, nor being even covered with brambles; but, in reality, it was by nature formed most commodiously for an ambush, especially as, in a naked vale, no snare of that sort could be apprehended; and there were, besides, at the skirts of it, hollow rocks, several of which were capable of containing two hundred armed men. In these concealments were lodged five thousand horse and foot, distributed in such numbers as could find convenient room in each place. Nevertheless, lest the motion of any of them, coming out inconsiderately, or the glittering of their arms, might betray the stratagem in such an open valley, he diverted the enemy’s attention to another quarter, by sending, at the first dawn, a small detachment to seize on the hill above-mentioned. Immediately on the appearance of these, the Romans, despising the smallness of their numbers, demanded, each for himself, the task of dislodging them, and securing the hill; while the general himself, among the most foolish and presumptuous, called to arms, and with vain parade and empty menaces expressed his contempt of the enemy. First, he sent out his light infantry; then, the cavalry, in close order; at last, seeing reinforcements sent by the Carthaginian, he advanced with the legions in order of battle. On the other side, Hannibal, by sending up, as the contest grew hotter, several bodies of troops, one after another, to the support of his men when distressed, had now almost completed a regular line; and the contest was maintained with the whole force of both parties. The Roman light infantry in the van, marching up from the lower ground to the hill already occupied by the enemy, were repulsed; and, being forced to retreat, carried terror among the cavalry, who were advancing in their rear, and fled back to the front of the legions. The line of infantry alone remained undismayed, amidst the general panic of the rest; and there was reason to think, that in a fair and regular battle they would have proved themselves not inferior to their antagonists, so great spirits had they assumed from their late success. But the troops in ambush rising on a sudden, and making brisk attacks both on their flanks and their rear, caused such dread and confusion, that no one retained either courage to fight, or hope of escape.
XXIX. Fabius, who had first heard their cries of dismay, and afterwards saw, at a distance, their line in disorder, then said, “it is so; fortune has found out rashness, but not sooner than I feared. He, who was made in command equal to Fabius, sees Hannibal his superior both in bravery and success. But there will be time enough for reproof and resentment; march now out of your trenches. Let us extort the victory from the enemy, and from our countrymen, an acknowledgment of their error.” When a great number were now slain, and others looking about for a way to escape, on a sudden Fabius’ army showed itself, as if sent down from heaven to their relief, and, by its appearance, before the troops came within a weapon’s throw, or struck a stroke, put a stop both to the precipitate flight of their friends, and the extravagant fury of the enemy. Those who had broken their ranks, and dispersed themselves in different ways, flocked together, from all sides, to the fresh army; such as had fled in great numbers together, faced about, and forming in lines, now retreated leisurely; then, several bodies uniting, stood on their defence. And now the two armies, the vanquished and the fresh, had almost formed one front, and were advancing against the foe, when the Carthaginians sounded a retreat; Hannibal openly acknowledging, that as he had defeated Minucius, so he had been himself defeated by Fabius. The greatest part of the day being spent in these various changes of fortune, when the troops returned into their camps, Minucius calling his men together, said, “Soldiers, I have often heard, that he is the first man, in point of abilities, who, of himself, forms good counsels; that the next, is he, who submits to good advice; and that he who neither can himself form good counsels, nor knows how to comply with those of another, is of the very lowest capacity. Now, since our lot has denied us the first rank in genius and capacity, let us maintain the second, the middle one; and, until we learn to command, be satisfied to be ruled by the skilful. Let us join camps with Fabius; and, when we shall have carried our standards to his quarters; when I shall have saluted him by the title of Father; for nothing less has his kindness towards us, as well as his high dignity deserved; then, soldiers, ye will salute, as your patrons, those men, whose arms and whose prowess have just now protected you; and then this day will have procured for us, if nothing else, at least the honour of possessing grateful minds.”
XXX. The signal was displayed, and notice given to get ready to march. They then set out; and, as they proceeded in a body to the camp of the dictator, they threw him, and all around, into great surprise. When they had planted their standards before his tribunal, the master of the horse, advancing before the rest, saluted him by the title of Father; and the whole body of his men, with one voice, saluted those who stood round as their patrons. Minucius then expressed himself thus: “Dictator, to my parents, to whom I have just now compared you, in the most respectful appellation by which I could address myself, I am indebted for life only; to you, both for my own preservation, and that of all these present. That order of the people, therefore, by which I have been oppressed rather than honoured, I am the first to cancel and annul; and, so may it be happy to you, to me, and to these your armies, the preserved and the preserver, I replace myself and them, these standards, and these legions, under your command and auspices; and entreat you, that, re-admitting us to your favour, you will order me to hold the post of master of the horse, and these their several ranks.” On this they cordially embraced; and, on the meeting being dismissed, the soldiers accompanying Minucius were hospitably and kindly invited to refreshment, both by their acquaintance and those to whom they were unknown. Thus was converted into a day of rejoicing, from a day of sorrow, one which but a little before had nearly proved fatal. When an account of these events arrived at Rome, and was afterwards confirmed by letters, not only from the generals themselves, but from great numbers of the soldiers, in both the armies, all men warmly praised Maximus, and extolled him to the sky. Nor were the sentiments felt by the Carthaginians, his enemies, and by Hannibal, less honourable to him. They then at length perceived, that they were waging war against Romans and in Italy. For during the two preceding years, they had entertained such contemptuous notions, both of the Roman generals and soldiers, as scarcely to believe that they were fighting against the same nation, of which they had received from their fathers such a terrible character. We are told likewise, that Hannibal, as he returned from the field, observed, that “the cloud which hung over the mountains, had at last discharged its rain in a storm.”
XXXI. During the course of these transactions in Italy, Cneius Servilius Geminus, consul, with a fleet of one hundred and twenty ships, sailed round the coasts of Sardinia and Corsica. Having received hostages in both places, he steered his course towards Africa, and, before he made any descent on the continent, ravaged the island of Meninx, and received from the inhabitants of Cercia ten talents of silver* as a contribution, to prevent the like devastation and burning of their country: he then drew near the coast of Africa, and disembarked his forces. Here the soldiers and mariners were led out to ravage the country, in as careless a manner as if they were plundering the islands where there were very few inhabitants; in consequence of which rashness they fell unawares into a snare. Being assailed on all sides, and while they were in loose disorder, by compact bodies of men acquainted with the country of which themselves were utterly ignorant, they were driven back to their ships in a disgraceful flight, and with severe loss. There fell no less than a thousand men, among whom was Sempronius Blæsus, the quæstor. The fleet hastily setting sail from the shore, which was covered with the enemy, passed over to Sicily, and at Lilybæum was delivered to the prætor Titus Otacilius, to be conducted home to Rome, by his lieutenant-general Publius Sura. The consul himself, travelling by land through Sicily, crossed the streight into Italy, having been summoned, as was likewise his colleague, Marcus Atilius, by a letter from Qintus Fabius, in order that they might receive the command of the army from him, as the six months, the term of his office, were nearly expired. Almost all the historians affirm, that Fabius acted against Hannibal in the capacity of dictator. Cœlius even remarks, that he was the first dictator created by the people. But it escaped the notice of Cœlius and the rest, that the privilege of nominating that officer belonged solely to Cneius Servilius, the only consul in being, who was at the time, far distant from home, in the province of Gaul; and so much time must necessarily elapse before it could be done by him, that the state, terrified by the late disaster, could not endure the delay, and therefore had recourse to the expedient of creating, by a vote of the people, a prodictator; and that the services which he afterwards performed, his distinguished renown as a commander, and the exaggerations of his descendants, in the inscription of his statue, may easily account for his being called dictator instead of prodictator.
XXXII. The consuls, having taken the command of the armies, Marcus Atilius of that of Fabius, and Geminus Servilius of that of Minucius, and having erected huts for the winter, as the season required (for it was now near the close of autumn), conducted their operations conformably to the plan of Fabius, and with the utmost harmony between themselves. Whenever Hannibal went out to forage, they came upon him in different places, as opportunity served, harrassing him on his march, and cutting off stragglers; but never hazarded a general engagement, which the enemy endeavoured to bring on by every means he could contrive: so that Hannibal was reduced, by scarcity, to such distress, that had he not feared that a retreat would have carried the appearance of flight, he would have returned back into Gaul; not having the least hope of supporting his army in those places; if the succeeding consuls should adopt the same plan of operations with these. While, in the neighbourhood of Geronium, hostilities were suspended by the coming on of winter, ambassadors came to Rome from Neapolis, who brought into the senate-house forty golden bowls of great weight, and spoke to this effect: “They knew that the treasury of the Roman people was exhausted by the present war, which was carried on no less in defence of the cities and lands of the allies, than the empire and city of Rome, the metropolis and bulwark of Italy; that the Neapolitans had therefore thought it reasonable, that whatever gold had been left to them by their ancestors for the decoration of their temples, or support in time of need, should now be applied to the aid of the Roman people. That if they had thought their personal service of any use, they would with the same zeal have offered it. That the Roman senate and people would act in a manner highly grateful to them, if they would reckon every thing in possession of the Neapolitans as their own, and vouchsafe to accept from them a present, of which the principal value and importance consisted in the disposition and wishes of those who cheerfully offered it rather than in its own intrinsic worth.” Thanks were given to the ambassadors for their attention and generosity, and one bowl, which was the least in weight, was accepted.
XXXIII. About the same time a Carthaginian spy, who had lurked undiscovered for two years, was detected at Rome: his hands were cut off, and he was sent away. Twenty-five slaves, for having formed a conspiracy in the field of Mars, were crucified, and the informer was rewarded with his freedom, and twenty-thousand asses in weight.* Ambassadors were sent to Philip King of Macedonia, to insist on his delivering up Demetrius of Pharia, who, being defeated in war, had fled to him; others also were sent, at the same time, to the Ligurians, to expostulate on their having assisted the Carthaginian with men and supplies, and to observe what was doing in the neighbourhood among the Boians and Insubrians. Delegates were also sent to Illyrium, to Pineus the King, to demand the tribute, of which the day of payment had elapsed; or to receive hostages, if he wished to be allowed longer time. Thus the Romans, though pressed at home by a war immensely grievous, yet relaxed not their attention to the business of the state in any part of the world, however distant. Their care was also excited by a matter of religious concernment. The temple of Concord, vowed two years before by the prætor Lucius Manlius, on occasion of the mutiny of the soldiers in Gaul, not having been yet set about, Marcus Emilius prætor of the city, constituted duumvirs for that purpose, Cneius Pupius and Cæso Quintus Flamininus, who contracted for the building of it in the citadel. By the same prætor, in pursuance of a decree of the senate, a letter was sent to the consuls, that if they thought proper, one of them should come to Rome to elect successors, and that a proclamation should be issued for holding the election, on whatever day they might name. In answer to this, the consuls wrote back, that, “without detriment to the business of the public, they could not go to any distance from the enemy. That it would be better, therefore, that the election should be held by an interrex, than that either of them should be called away from the war.” The senate judged it more adviseable that a dictator should be nominated by a consul, for the purpose of holding the election, and Lucius Veturius Philo being accordingly nominated, appointed Manius Pomponius Matho master of the horse. But some defect being discovered in their appointment, they were ordered, on the fourteenth day, to abdicate their offices, and an interregnum took place.
Y.R. 536. 216.XXXIV. The consuls were continued in command for another year. The patricians declared interrex Caius Claudius Centho, son of Appius, and afterwards Publius Cornelius Asina, under whose direction the election was held; which was attended with a warm contention between the patricians and plebeians. The populace struggled hard to raise to the consulship, Caius Terentius Varro, a person of their own rank, who, as before observed, by railing against the patricians, and by other popular arts, had acquired their affection; and who, by undermining the interest of Fabius and the dictatorial authority, had made the public displeasure against him the means of adding a lustre to his own character. The patricians opposed him with their utmost efforts, lest a power should be given to those men of raising themselves to the level of nobles, by means of malignant aspersions on their characters. Quintus Bæbius Herennius, a plebeian tribune, a relation of Caius Terentius, censured not only the senate, but likewise the augurs, for having hindered the dictator from holding the election, and thought, by rendering them odious, to increase the popularity of his favourite candidate. He asserted, that, “by certain of the nobility, who, for many years, had been wishing for a war, Hannibal was induced to enter Italy; that by the same men the war was treacherously prolonged, though it might have been brought to a conclusion; further, that an army, consisting of four entire legions, was sufficiently able to cope with the enemy, was evident from this, that Marcus Minucius, in the absence of Fabius, had fought with success. That two legions had been exposed in the field, with intent that they should be defeated, and then were rescued from the brink of destruction, in order that the man should be saluted as father and patron, who had hindered the Romans from conquering, though he had afterwards prevented their defeat. That the consuls had, on the plan of Fabius, protracted the war, when they had it in their power to bring it to an end. That a confederacy to this purpose had been entered into by all the nobles, nor would the people know peace, until they elected to the consulship a real plebeian, a new man: for as to the plebeians, who had attained nobility, they were now initiated into the mysteries of their order; and, from the moment when they ceased to be despised by the patricians, looked with contempt on the commons. Who did not see, that the end and intention of appointing an interregnum was to put the election into the power of the patricians? It was with a view to this that both the consuls had remained with the army; with the same view afterwards, when, contrary to their wishes, a dictator had been nominated to hold the election, they arbitrarily carried the point, that the appointment should be pronounced defective by the augurs. They had in their hands, therefore, the office of interrex; but certainly one consul’s place was the right of the Roman commons, which the people would dispose of with impartiality, and would bestow on such a person as rather wished to conquer effectually, than to continue long in command.”
XXXV. These inflammatory speeches had such an effect on the commons, that though there stood candidates three patricians, Publius Cornelius Merenda, Lucius Manlius Volso, and Marcus Æmilius Lepidus, and two of plebeian extraction, whose families were now ennobled, Caius Atilius Serranus, and Quintus Ælius Pætus, one of whom was pontiff, the other augur; yet Caius Terentius Varro, alone, was elected consul, in order that he might have the direction of the assembly for choosing his colleague. On which the nobles, having found that his competitors possessed not sufficient strength, prevailed, by violent importunity, on a new candidate to stand forth, after he had long and earnestly refused; this was Lucius Æmilius Paullus, a determined enemy of the commons, who had been consul before with Marcus Livius, and had very narrowly escaped being sentenced to punishment, as was his colleague. On the next day of assembly, all those who had opposed Varro, having declined the contest, he was appointed rather as an antagonist than as a colleague. The election of prætors* was then held, and Manius Pomponius Matho, and Publius Furius Philus were chosen. The lot of administering justice to the citizens of Rome fell to Pomponius, that of deciding causes between Roman citizens and foreigners, to Publius Furius Philus. Two additional prætors were appointed, Marcus Claudius Marcellus for Sicily, Lucius Postumius Albinus for Gaul. All these were appointed in their absence; nor, excepting the consul Terentius, was any of them invested with an office which he had not administered before; several men of bravery and activity being passed by, because, at such a juncture, it was not judged expedient to intrust any person with a new employment.
XXXVI. Augmentations were also made to the armies; but as to the number of additional forces of foot and horse which were raised, writers vary so much, as well as in the kind of troops, that I can scarcely venture to affirm any thing certain on that head. Some authors assert, that ten thousand new soldiers were levied; others four new legions; so that there were eight legions employed: and that the legions were also augmented, both horse and foot; one thousand foot and one hundred horse being added to each, so as to make it contain five thousand foot, and four hundred horse; and that the allies furnished an equal number of foot, and double the number of horse. Some writers affirm, that, at the time of the battle at Cannæ, there were in the Roman camp eighty-seven thousand two hundred soldiers. All agree in this, that greater force, and more vigorous efforts, were now employed than in former years, in consequence of the dictator having afforded them room to hope that the enemy might be vanquished. However, before the new legions began their march from the city, the decemvirs were ordered to go and inspect the books, because people in general were terrified by prodigies of extraordinary kinds: for accounts were received, that, at Rome, on the Aventine, and, at the same time, at Aricia, a shower of stones had fallen; that, in the country of the Sabines, statues had sweated abundance of blood, and that the warm waters at Cære had flowed bloody from the spring; and this circumstance, having happened frequently, excited therefore the greater terror. In a street, near the field of Mars, several persons had been struck with lightning, and killed. These portents were expiated according to the directions of the books. Ambassadors from Pæstum brought some golden vessels to Rome, and to these, as to the Neapolitans, thanks were returned, but the gold was not accepted.
XXXVII. About the same time arrived at Ostia a fleet, sent by Hiero, with a large supply of provisions. The Syracusan ambassadors, being introduced to the senate, acquainted them, that “King Hiero had been as sincerely afflicted, on hearing of the loss of the consul Caius Flaminius, and his army, as he could have been by any disaster happening to himself, or his own kingdom. Wherefore, though he was fully sensible that the grandeur of the Roman people had shone forth, in times of adversity, with a still more admirable degree of lustre than even in prosperity, yet he had sent such supplies of every sort, for the support of the war, as are usually furnished by good and faithful allies; and he earnestly besought the conscript Fathers not to refuse them. That, in the first place, for the sake of the omen, they had brought a golden statue of Victory, of three hundred and twenty pounds weight, which they prayed them to accept, hold, and possess, as appropriated to them for ever. That they had likewise, in order to guard against any want of provisions, brought three hundred thousand pecks of wheat, and two hundred thousand of barley; and that whatever further supplies might be necessary, should be conveyed to such places as the senate should order. That he knew that the Roman people employed not in the main body of their army, or in the cavalry, any other than Roman citizens, or Latine confederates; yet as he had seen, in a Roman camp, foreign bands of light-armed auxiliaries, he had therefore sent a thousand archers and slingers, a body well qualified to oppose the Balearians, Moors, and other nations remarkable for fighting with missile weapons.” To these presents he added likewise advice: that “the prætor, to whose lot the province of Sicily might fall, should cross over with a fleet to Africa, in order to give the enemy employment for their arms in their own country, and to allow them the less leisure to supply Hannibal with reinforcements.” The senate returned an answer to the King in these terms; that “Hiero had ever acted as a man of honour, and an excellent ally; that from the time, when he first united in friendship with the Roman people, he had, through the whole course of his conduct, manifested an invariable fidelity in his attachment to them; and in all times, and in all places, had, with great liberality, supported the interest of Rome. Of this the Roman people entertained, as they ought, a grateful sense. That gold had likewise been offered by some other states, which, though thankful for the intention, the Roman people had not accepted: the statue of Victory, however, and the omen, they accepted, and had offered, and dedicated to that divinity, a mansion in the Capitol, in the temple of Jupiter supremely good and great; hoping that, consecrated in that fortress of the city of Rome, she would be pleased to remain firm and immoveable, kind and propitious to the Roman people.” The slingers, archers, and the corn were delivered to the consuls. To the fleet of ships, already in Sicily with the prætor Titus Otacilius, were added twenty-five quinqueremes, and he received permission, if he judged it conducive to the public good, to pass over to Africa.
XXXVIII. After the levies were completed, the consuls waited a few days for the arrival of the confederates from Latium. At this time the soldiers were obliged to take an oath dictated by the tribunes, which had never before been practised. For, until now, there had been no public oath taken, only that they would assemble on the orders of the consuls, and, without their orders, would not depart; and then, when they joined their decury or century, the horsemen, on being placed in their decuries, and the footmen on being placed in their centuries, used to swear voluntarily, among themselves, that they would not depart through fear or in flight; nor quit their ranks, except for the purpose of taking up or bringing a weapon, of striking an enemy, or saving a countryman. This, from having been a voluntary compact between themselves, was now put under the jurisdiction of the tribunes, who were invested with legal authority to administer this oath. Before the troops began their march from the city, the harangues of the consul Varro were frequent and full of presumption; in these he openly asserted, that the war had been purposely drawn into Italy by the nobles, and would continue fixed in the very centre of the commonwealth, if men like Fabius were to have the command; but that he, on the very first day, wherein he should get sight of the enemy, would bring it to a conclusion. The only speech made by his colleague Paullus, on the day before that on which they set out from the city, contained more truth than flattery, addressed to the people; nevertheless he used no harsh expressions against Varro, excepting thus much; that “it was a matter of surprise to him, how any man, before he was acquainted with either his own or the enemy’s forces, the situation of posts, or the nature of the country, while he remained in the city, in short, and in the garb of peace, could yet know what he should have to do when he came to take the field; and could even foretell the day on which he was to come to a general engagement. For his part, as men’s plans must be regulated by circumstances, and not circumstances by their plans, he would not be in haste to adopt prematurely any one, before the season showed its expediency. He wished that even those measures, which had been taken under the guidance of caution and prudence, might be attended with prosperous issue; since rashness, besides the folly which it involved, had been hitherto constantly unsuccessful.” Without any farther declaration, it was hence apparent, that he preferred safe to hasty counsels; and to induce him to adhere the more firmly to this resolution, Quintus Fabius Maximus is said to have addressed him, just before his departure, in this manner:—
XXXIX. “If, Lucius Æmilius, you had a colleague like yourself, (which I earnestly wish,) or, if yourself were like your colleague, any address from me would be superfluous; because, in the first place, two good consuls would, without advice from me, out of their own honourable zeal, act, in every particular, to the advantage of the public; and, in the other, two bad ones would neither admit my words into their ears, nor my counsels into their breasts. At present, when I consider, on the one hand, your colleague, and, on the other, yourself and your character, I address myself solely to you, whose endeavours, as a worthy man and citizen, I perceive, will be without effect, if the administration be defective on the other side. Evil counsels will have equal privilege and authority with good. For, Lucius Paullus, you are much mistaken if you suppose that you will have a less difficult struggle to maintain with Caius Terentius than with Hannibal. I know not whether the former may not prove more dangerous than the latter. With the one, you will contend in the field only; with the other, in all places and times; against Hannibal and his legions, you will be supported in fight, by your troops of infantry and cavalry; Varro will oppose you at the head of your own soldiers. May the mention of Caius Flaminius not prove ominous to you! But he became mad, after he became consul, when in his province, and at the head of the army: in a word, this man, before he professed himself a candidate for the consulship, afterwards, while he canvassed for it, and now, since his appointment, before he has seen the camp or the enemy, has proceeded, all along, in one continued paroxysm of insanity. And when, by raving of fights and fields of battle, he now excites such storms among the peaceful citizens in their gowns, what do you suppose he will do among the young men, who have arms in their hands, and with whom acts instantly follow words? If he shall immediately fight the enemy, as he boasts that he will, either I am ignorant of military affairs, of the nature of the present war, and of the enemy with whom we have to deal, or some other place will be rendered still more remarkable by our disasters, than was the Trasimenus. It is no time for me to boast, talking as I am to a single man; and if I have gone too far on either side, it was in contemning, not in seeking applause: but the truth is this; the only rational method of conducting the war against Hannibal, is that in which I conducted it; nor does the event alone confirm this, (for fools only judge by events,) but the reasons which did and must subsist, as long as circumstances shall remain the same and unchangeable. We are carrying on war in Italy, in our own country, and on our own soil, where all the places round are full of our countrymen and allies, who do, and will assist us with men, arms, horses, and provisions. That we may so far rely on their faithful attachment, they have given sufficient proofs in the times of our distress. Time will daily improve us, will render us more prudent, more steady. Hannibal, on the contrary, is in a foreign, an hostile territory, surrounded on all sides by enemies and dangers, far from home, far from his native country; both land and sea are possessed by his foes; no cities receive him within their walls; he nowhere sees aught which he can call his own; he lives on the plunder of the day; he has scarcely a third part of that army which he brought over the river Iberus; nor has he a supply of food for the few who remain. Do you doubt then, that by avoiding action we shall overcome him, whose strength is of itself declining every day, who has no resource of provisions, no reinforcements, no money? How long under the walls of Geronium, a wretched fort of Apulia, as if under those of Carthage, did I— But I will not vaunt even before you. See how the last consuls, Cneius Servilius and Marcus Atilius, baffled him. Believe me, Lucius Paullus, this is the only way of safety; yet this will be thwarted by your countrymen, rather than by the enemy. For the same thing will be desired by both parties; the wish of Varro, the Roman consul, will be the same with that of Hannibal, the Carthaginian. You alone will have two generals to withstand. However you will withstand them, provided you maintain a proper degree of firmness; so as not to be shaken by common fame, or by the rumours which will be spread among the people; by neither the empty applause bestowed on your colleague, nor the false imputations thrown on yourself. It is commonly said that truth is often eclipsed, but never extinguished. He who slights fame, shall enjoy it in its purity. Let them call you timid, instead of cautious; dilatory instead of considerate; an unenterprising instead of a consummate commander. I rather wish that a wise enemy may fear, than that the foolish part of your own countrymen should applaud you. Attempting every thing, you will be despised by Hannibal; doing nothing rashly, you will be feared by him. Yet I by no means recommend that nothing should be done, but that in all your proceedings you be guided by reason, not by fortune; that you keep every matter always within your own power, and under your own direction; that you be always armed and on your guard; and that you neither fail to improve a favourable opportunity, nor afford such an opportunity to the foe. Acting with deliberation, you will see every thing clearly and distinctly; haste is improvident and blind.”
XL. The consul answered rather in a desponding style: he acknowledged the truth of what had been said, but showed little hope of being able to put the advice into execution. “If Fabius,” he said, “when dictator, had been unable to withstand the arrogance of his master of the horse, what power or influence could a consul have; to oppose a seditious and hot-headed colleague? As to himself, he had in his former consulate, escaped the flames of popular rage, not without being scorched. He wished that all might end happily: but should any misfortune occur, he would expose his life to the weapons of the enemy, rather than to the votes of his incensed countrymen.” Immediately after this conversation, as we are told, Paullus set out, escorted by the principal patricians, while the plebeians attended their own consul in a crowd more numerous than respectable. When they came into the field, and the old and new troops were intermixed, they formed two separate camps; the new one, which was likewise the smaller, was nearer to Hannibal; the old one contained the greater number, and the main strength of the army. Then Marcus Atilius, one of the consuls of the former year, wishing to be dismissed, on account of the state of his health was sent to Rome; and the other, Geminus Servilius, was charged with the command of a Roman legion, and two thousand of the confederate infantry and cavalry, stationed in the smaller camp. Hannibal, though he saw the force of the enemy doubled, yet rejoiced exceedingly at the arrival of the consuls. For, besides that he had no part remaining of the provisions acquired by plunder from day to day, there was nothing now left within his reach, of which he could make prey: all the corn in every quarter, when it was found unsafe to keep it in the country, having been collected together into the fortified towns; so that, as was afterwards discovered, he had scarcely a quantity sufficient for ten days; and, in consequence of the scarcity, a design had been formed, among the Spaniards, of going over to the enemy, had time been allowed them to bring it to maturity.
XLI. But fortune herself concurred in administering fuel to the impatient temper and rashness of the consul; for, an attack having been made on their plundering parties, and a tumultuary kind of engagement ensuing, occasioned rather by the voluntary exertions of the soldiers running up to the spot, than by any preconcerted design, or order, of the commanders, the Carthaginians were considerably worsted, losing a thousand seven hundred men, while there fell, of the Romans and their confederates, not more than an hundred. However, while the victors pursued with eagerness, the consul Paullus, who held the command on that day, (for they commanded alternately,) dreading an ambuscade, obliged them to halt, though Varro expressed great indignation at it, exclaiming, that the enemy had been allowed to slip out of their hands; and that the war might have been finished, had not a stop been put to the action. Hannibal grieved not much for this loss; on the contrary, he rather believed that it would serve as a bait to ensnare the more presumptuous consul, and the soldiers, particularly the raw ones. All the circumstances of the enemy were as well known to him as his own; that the commanders were of dissimilar characters, and disunited in opinion; and that almost two-thirds of their army were raw recruits. Thinking, therefore, that he had now found both time and place convenient for a stratagem, on the following night, he led away his men, with no other encumbrance than their arms, the camp being full of their effects of all kinds, public and private: then, making them halt out of sight, behind the nearest mountains, he formed the foot in order of battle on the left, and the cavalry on the right, and conducted the baggage, as a centre line, through the interjacent valley; intending, while the enemy should be busy and encumbered in the pillaging of the camp, as if deserted by the owners, to fall upon them by surprise. Numerous fires were left in the camp, to create a belief that his intention was, by such appearances, to detain the consuls in their posts, while he should gain the advantage of time, to retreat to the greater distance, in like manner as he had deceived Fabius the year before.
XLII. When day arrived, the Romans, on observing, first, that the advanced guards had been withdrawn, and afterwards, on a nearer approach, the extraordinary silence, were filled with surprise. Then, when they discovered plainly that the camp was deserted, they ran together in crowds to the pavilions of the consuls, informing them that the enemy had fled in such haste, as to leave the tents standing; and in order to conceal their flight, had left also a number of fires. They then, with loud clamours demanded, that orders should be given for the troops to march in pursuit; and, that they should plunder the camp in their way. Varro acted the same part as the common soldiers. Paullus repeatedly represented, that they ought to proceed with care and circumspection; and, at last, when he could no otherwise restrain their mutinous proceedings, or the leader of them, he despatched Marius Statilius, a præfect of the allies, with a troop of Lucanian horse, to procure intelligence. He rode up to the gates, and, ordering the rest to halt at the outside of the trenches, he went himself with two horsemen into the camp; and, having carefully examined every circumstance, returned and reported that there was without doubt an ambush intended; for the fires were left in that quarter which faced the enemy, the tents were open, and every thing of value left in view; and that he had seen silver thrown at random in the passages, as if to invite a pillage. The very circumstances, mentioned with the intent of repressing their ardour for booty, served to inflame it; and the soldiers, shouting aloud, that if the signal were not given, they would proceed without their leaders; they did not long want one, for Varro instantly gave the signal for marching. Paullus was desirous of checking this precipitancy, and being informed that the chickens had not given a favourable auspice, ordered that the ill omen should be reported to his colleague when he was just leading the troops out of the gate; whereupon Varro, though heartily vexed at this, yet from the recollection of the recent disaster of Flaminius, and of the memorable overthrow of the consul Claudius at sea, in the first Punic war, was sensibly struck with religious scruples. The gods themselves on that day postponed, in a manner, rather than averted the calamity which hung over the Romans: for it luckily happened, that, while the troops refused to obey the consul’s orders to return into the camp, two slaves, one belonging to a horseman of Formiæ, the other to one of Sidicinum, who had been taken prisoners by the Numidians, among a party of foragers, in the consulate of Servilius and Atilius, made their escape on that very day to their owners; and, being brought before the consuls, informed them, that Hannibal’s whole army lay in ambush behind the nearest mountains. The seasonable arrival of these men procured obedience to the authority of the consuls, when one of them, by his immoderate pursuit of popular applause, had, through improper indulgence, forfeited people’s respect for their dignity, particularly with regard to himself.
XLIII. When Hannibal perceived that the Romans, though they took some inconsiderate steps, had not carried their rashness to the full extent, the stratagem being now discovered, he returned with disappointment to his camp. In this place he could not remain, many days, by reason of the scarcity of corn, and new measures were daily in contemplation, not only among the soldiery, a multitude compounded of the refuse of all nations, but even in the mind of the general himself; for the men begun to murmur, and afterwards proceeded with open clamours to demand the arrears of their pay, and to complain at first of the dearness of provisions, at last of famine. A report too prevailed, that the mercenary soldiers, particularly those from Spain, had formed a scheme of going over to the enemy, so that Hannibal himself is said to have sometimes entertained thoughts of flying into Gaul; intending to have left all the infantry behind, and, with the cavalry, to have made a hasty retreat. While these matters were in agitation, and this the disposition in the camp, he formed a resolution of removing into Apulia, where the weather was warmer, and consequently more favourable to the ripening of the harvest; and where, in proportion as he was placed at a greater distance from the enemy, the discontented would find desertion the more difficult. Accordingly he set out by night, after kindling fires as before, and leaving a few tents to keep up the appearance of a camp, in the expectation that fears of an ambush, as on the former occasion, would keep the Romans within their works. But Statilius, the Lucanian, having examined all the ground beyond the camp, and on the other side of the mountains, and bringing back an account that he had seen the enemy marching at a great distance, a consultation was held about pursuing him. Here each consul maintained the same opinion which he had ever held; but almost all the officers siding with Varro, and no one except Servilius, the consul of the former year, with Paullus, they, pursuant to the determination of the majority, set forward, under the impulse of unhappy fate, to render Cannæ for ever memorable, as a scene of disaster to the Romans. Near that town Hannibal had pitched his camp, turning the rear towards the wind called Vulturnus, which, in those plains, parched with heat, carries along with it clouds of dust. As this choice of situation was highly commodius to the men, while in camp, so was it particularly advantageous, when they were drawn up for battle; because, while the wind only blew on their backs, it would nearly blind the enemy with whom they were to fight, by carrying great quantities of dust into their faces.
XLIV. The consuls pursued the Carthaginians, taking proper care to examine the roads; when they arrived near Cannæ, and had the foe in sight, they divided their forces, as before, and fortified two camps at nearly the same distance from each other as they had been at Geronium. As the river Aufidus ran by the camps of both, the watering parties of both had access to it, as opportunity served, but not without encountering opposition. The Romans, however, in the smaller camp, which was pitched on the other side of the Aufidus, had greater liberty of supplying themselves with water, because there were none of the enemy posted on the farther bank. Hannibal, now, conceiving hopes that the consuls might be brought to an engagement in this tract, where the nature of the ground was advantageous to cavalry, in which kind of forces he had a manifest superiority, drew out his army in order of battle, and endeavoured to provoke them by skirmishes of the Numidians. On this the Roman camp was again thrown into disturbance, by mutinous behabiour in the soldiers, and dissension between the consuls; Paullus representing to Varro the fatal rashness of Sempronius and Flaminius; and Varro to him the example of Fabius, as a specious precedent for timid and inactive commanders. The one calling gods and men to witness, that none of the blame was to be imputed to him, of Hannibal’s now holding Italy as if by prescriptive right of possession; for that he was chained down by his colleague, while the soldiers, full of rage and ardour for the fight, were kept unarmed. To which the other replied, that, if any misfortune should happen to the legions, from their being hurried into an inconsiderate and rash engagement, he himself, although entirely free from all reproach, must yet bear a share of the consequences, be they what they might. Let him take care, that those, whose tongues were now so ready and impetuous, showed the same alertness during the fight.
XLV. While, instead of deliberating on proper measures, they thus wasted time in altercation, Hannibal, who had kept his forces drawn up in order of battle during a great part of the day, led back the rest towards the camp, and despatched the Numidian horse to the other side of the river, to attack a watering party, which had come from the smaller camp of the Romans. They had scarcely reached the opposite bank, when, merely by their shout, and the rapidity of their motions, they dispersed this disorderly crowd; and then pushed forward against an advanced guard, stationed before the rampart, and almost up to the very gates. The Romans, in having their camp threatened by a band of irregular auxiliaries, felt an intolerable affront, so that nothing could have restrained them from drawing out their forces and passing the river, but from the chief command being then in the hands of Paullus. On the next day, therefore, Varro, whose turn it was to command, without conferring with his colleague, displayed the signal for battle*, and marshalling his forces, led them over the river, while Paullus followed; because, though he did not approve of his design, yet he could not avoid giving him his support. Having crossed the river, they were joined by the troops from the smaller camp, and formed their line in this manner: in the right wing, next the river, they placed the Roman cavalry, and adjoining them the Roman infantry; the extremity of the left wing was composed of the confederate cavalry; and, inclosed by these, the confederate infantry stretched to the centre, so as to unite with the Roman legions. The archers, and other light-armed auxiliaries formed the van. The consuls commanded the wings, Terentius the left, Æmilius the right; the charge of the centre was committed to Geminus Servilius.
XLVI. Hannibal, at the first light, sending before him the Balearians, and other light-armed troops, crossed the river, and posted each company in his line of battle, in the same order in which he had led them over. The Gallic and Spanish cavalry occupied the left wing, near the bank, opposite the Roman cavalry, and the Numidian horse the right; the infantry forming the centre, in such a manner, that both ends of their line were composed of Africans, and between these were placed the Gauls and Spaniards. The Africans, for the most part, resembled a body of Roman troops, being furnished, in great abundance, with the arms taken partly at the Trebia, but the greater part at the Trasimenus. The shields of the Gauls and Spaniards were nearly of the same make; their swords were different, both in length and form; those of the Gauls being very long, and without points, those of the Spaniards, whose practice was rather to thrust at their enemy, than to strike, light and handy, and sharp at the point. The troops of these nations made a more terrible appearance than any of the rest, on account of the size of their bodies, and also of their figure. The Gauls were naked from their middle upward; the Spaniards clad in linen vests, of a surprising and dazzling whiteness, and bordered with purple. The whole number of infantry, drawn up in the field on this occasion, was forty thousand, of cavalry ten thousand. The generals, who commanded the wings, were, Hasdrubal on the left, and Maharbal on the right. Hannibal himself, with his brother Mago, took the command of the centre. The sun, very conveniently for both parties, shone on their flanks, whether this position was chosen designedly, or that it fell out by accident; for the Romans faced the south, the Carthaginians the north. The wind, which the natives of the country call Vulturnus, blew briskly against the Romans, and, by driving great quantities of sand into their faces, prevented them from seeing clearly.
XLVII. The shout being raised, the auxiliaries advanced, and the fight commenced, first, between the light-armed troops; then the left wing, consisting of Gallic and Spanish cavalry, engaged with the right wing of the Romans; but not in the usual method of fighting between horsemen, for they were obliged to engage front to front, no room having been left for any evolutions, the river on one side, and the line of infantry on the other, confining them, so that they could only push directly forward; at last, the horses being pressed together in a crowd, and stopped from advancing, the riders, grappling man to man, dragged each other to the ground. The contest was now maintained chiefly on foot, but was more furious than lasting; for the Roman horsemen, unable to keep their stand, turned their backs. When the fight between the cavalry was almost decided, the infantry began to engage. At first, the Gauls and Spaniards maintained their ranks, without betraying any inferiority either in strength or courage. At length the Romans, by frequent and persevering efforts, with their front regular and in compact order, drove back a body which projected before the rest of their line in form of a wedge, and which, being too thin, consequently wanted strength: as these gave ground, and retreated hastily and in disorder, they pursued, and without slackening their charge, broke through their dismayed and flying battalions; at first, to their centre line; and, at length, meeting with no resistance, they arrived at the reserved troops of the Africans, which latter had been posted on both flanks of the others, inclining backward towards the rear, while the centre, composed of the Gauls and Spaniards, jutted considerably forward. By the retreat of this prominent part, the front was thus rendered even; then, by their proceeding still in the same direction, a bending inward was at length formed in the middle, on each side of which the Africans now formed wings; and the Romans, incautiously rushing into the centre, these flanked them on each side, and, by extending themselves from the extremities, surrounded them on the rear also. In consequence of this, the Romans, who had already finished one battle, quitting the Gauls and Spaniards, whom they had pursued with much slaughter, entered now on a new one against the Africans, in which they had not only the disadvantage of being hemmed in, and, in that position, obliged to fight, but, also, that of being fatigued, while their antagonists were fresh and vigorous.
XLVIII. By this time, the battle had begun on the left wing also of the Romans, where the confederate cavalry had been posted against the Numidians: it was languid at first, and commenced with a piece of Carthaginian treachery. About five hundred Numidians, carrying, besides their usual armour and weapons, swords concealed under their coats of mail, rode up under the appearance of deserters, with their bucklers behind their backs, and having hastily alighted from their horses, and thrown their bucklers and javelins at the feet of their enemies, were received into the centre line, and conducted thence to the hindmost ranks, where they were ordered to sit down in the rear. There they remained quiet, until the fight was begun in every quarter: when, however, the thoughts and eyes of all were deeply intent on the dispute, snatching up the shields which lay in great numbers among the heaps of the slain, they fell on the rear of the Romans, and stabbing the men in the backs, and cutting their hams, made great slaughter, and caused still greater terror and confusion. While, in one part, prevailed dismay and flight, in another, obstinate fighting in spite of despair, Hasdrubal, who commanded on the left wing, after entirely routing the Roman cavalry, went off to the right, and, joining the Numidians, put to flight the cavalry of the allies. Then, leaving the Numidians to pursue them, with his Gallic and Spanish horse, he made a charge on the rear of the Roman infantry, while they were busily engaged with the Africans.*
XLIX. On the other side of the field, Paullus had, in the very beginning of the action, received a grievous wound from a sling; nevertheless, at the head of a compact band, he frequently opposed himself in Hannibal’s way; and, in several places, he restored the fight, being protected by the Roman horsemen, who, in the end, dismounted, because the consul’s strength declined so far, that he was not able even to manage his horse. Some person, on this, telling Hannibal that the consul had ordered the cavalry to dismount, he answered, as we are told, “I should have been much better pleased if he delivered them to me in chains.” The fight maintained by the dismounted cavalry was such as might be expected, when the enemy had gained undoubted possession of the victory: and as the vanquished chose to die on the spot, rather than fly, the victors, enraged at them for retarding their success, put to death those whom they could not drive from their ground. They did, however, at length oblige them to quit the field, their numbers being reduced to a few, and those quite spent with toil and wounds. They were all entirely dispersed, and such as were able repaired to their horses, in order to make their escape. Cneius Lentulus, a military tribune, seeing, as he rode by, the consul sitting on a stone, and covered with blood, said to him, “Lucius Æmilius, whom the gods ought to favour, as the only person free from the blame of this day’s disaster, take this horse, while you have any remains of strength; I will accompany you, and am able to raise you up and protect you. Add not to the fatality of the fight the death of a consul: without that, there will be abundant cause of tears and mourning.” The consul replied, “Your spirit, Cneius Cornelius, I commend; but do not waste, in unavailing commisseration, the short time allowed you for escaping out of the hands of the enemy. Go, carry a public message from me to the senate, that they fortify the city of Rome; and, before the victorious Carthaginian arrives, secure it with a powerful garrison. Carry also a private message to Quintus Fabius; tell him that Lucius Æmilius has lived, and now dies, in a careful observance of his directions. As to myself, let me expire here, in the midst of my slaughtered soldiers, that I may not either be brought, a second time, to a trial, on the expiration of my consulship, or stand forth an accuser of my colleague; or as if my own innocence were to be proved by the impeachment of another.” While they were thus discoursing, first, a crowd of their flying countrymen, and afterwards the enemy, came upon them; and these, not knowing the consul, overwhelmed him with their weapons. Lentulus, during the confusion, escaped through the swiftness of his horse. A general route now took place; seven thousand men fled into the smaller camp, ten thousand into the greater, and about two thousand into the village of Cannæ; but the town not being defended by any fortifications, these were instantly surrounded by Carthalo and the cavalry. The other consul, without joining any party of his routed troops, gained Venusia, with about seventy horsemen. The number of the slain is computed at forty thousand foot, and two thousand seven hundred horse: the loss of natives and of the confederates being nearly equal. Among these were the quæstors belonging to both consuls, Lucius Atilius, and Lucius Furius Bibaculus; twenty-one military tribunes; several who had passed through the offices of consul, prætor, or ædile, among whom are reckoned Cneius Servilius Geminus, and Marcus Minucius, who had been master of the horse in the preceding year, and consul some years before; likewise eighty who were members of the senate, or had borne those offices which qualified them to be chosen into that body, and who had voluntarily enlisted as soldiers in the legions. The prisoners taken in this battle are reckoned at three thousand foot, and three hundred horse.
L. Such was the battle of Cannæ; equally memorable with the defeat at the Allia: but as it was less fatal in its consequences, because the enemy were remiss in pursuing the blow, so, with respect to the destruction of the troops, it was more grievous and lamentable. For the flight at the Allia, while it proved the ruin of the city, preserved the men; but at Cannæ, scarcely seventy accompanied the consul who fled; almost the whole army perished with the other. Those who had collected together in the two camps, were a half-armed multitude, without leaders: from the larger was sent a message to the others, that while the enemy were sunk, during the night, in profound sleep, in consequence of their fatigue in the battle, and of their feasting for joy, they should come over to them, and they would go off in one body to Canusium. This advice some totally rejected; for they said, “Why did not these men come to them, when a junction might as well have been effected by that means? Why, but because the ground between them was full of the enemy’s troops, and that they chose to expose to such danger the persons of others, rather than their own?” The remainder, though they did not disapprove of the advice, were yet afraid to follow it. On this, Publius Sempronius Tuditanus, a military tribune, addressed them thus: “Do ye choose, then, to be taken prisoners by a most rapacious and cruel enemy, to have a price set upon your heads, by men who will examine, whether you are a citizen of Rome, or a Latine confederate, in order to pay a compliment to others, by heaping indignity and misery upon yourselves? Surely not, if ye be really fellow-citizens of the consul Æmilius, who preferred an honourable death to a life of dishonour, and of such a number of brave men, who lie in heaps around him. But, before the light overtakes us, and more numerous bodies of the enemy stop up the way, let us sally forth through those, who, without any order or regularity, make this noise before our gates; courage and the sword find a passage through the closest battalion; this open and loose band we will penetrate in the form of a wedge. Come on, then, ye who wish the preservation of yourselves and the commonwealth, follow me.” So saying, he drew his sword, and, with the troops who chose to follow him, formed as he had proposed, made his way through the midst of the enemy. Here the Numidian javelins being thrown against their right sides, which were uncovered, they removed their shields to their right hands, and thus, to the number of six hundred, effected a passage into the larger camp; proceeding thence, in conjunction with the other greater body, they arrived safe at Canusium. Such were the proceedings of the vanquished, dictated rather by accident, or each man’s particular feeling, than by deliberation among themselves, or the orders of any.
LI. When the Carthaginians, flocking round Hannibal, congratulated him on the victory, and recommended, that, after going through the fatiguing business of so great a battle, he should take himself, and allow the wearied soldiers, repose during the remainder of that day and the ensuing night; Maharbal, general of cavalry, who was of opinion that no time should be lost, said to him, “that you may be convinced how much has been accomplished by this engagement, on the fifth day following you shall feast, victorious, in the Capitol. Follow me: I will advance with the horse, that the enemy may see me arrived, before they are apprised of my being on the way.” To Hannibal these hopes appeared too sanguine, and the prospect too vast for his mind to comprehend at first view. He therefore replied, that “he applauded Maharbal’s zeal; but the affair required time for consideration.” On which Maharbal observed, “I perceive that the gods do not bestow on the same person all kinds of talents. You, Hannibal, know how to acquire victory, but you know not how to use it.” There is good reason to believe that the delay of that day proved the preservation of the city, and of the empire. On the day following, as soon as light appeared, his troops applied themselves to the collecting of the spoils, and in viewing the carnage made, which was such as shocked even enemies; so many thousand Romans, horsemen and footmen, lay promiscuously on the field, as chance had thrown them together, either in the battle, or flight. Some, whom their wounds, being pinched by the morning cold, had roused from their posture, were put to death, by the enemy, as they were rising up, covered with blood, from the midst of the heaps of carcases. Some they found lying alive, with their thighs and hams cut, who, stripping their necks and throats, desired them to spill what remained of their blood. Some were found, with their heads buried in the earth, in holes which it appeared they had made for themselves, and covering their faces with earth thrown over them, had thus been suffocated. The attention of all was particularly attracted by a living Numidian with his nose and ears strangely mangled, stretched under a dead Roman; and who, when his hands had been rendered unable to hold a weapon, being exasperated to madness, had expired in the act of tearing his antagonist with his teeth.
LII. After a great part of the day had been spent in gathering the spoils, Hannibal led his troops to attack the smaller camp; and first, by drawing a trench across, excluded the garrison from the river: but the men, being spent with labour, watching, and wounds, capitulated sooner than he had expected. It was agreed, that, besides surrendering their arms and horses, there should be paid for each Roman citizen three hundred denarii,* for an ally two hundred,† for a slave an hundred;‡ and that, on laying down this ransom, they should depart with single garments. On this, they received the enemy into the camp, and were all put into custody, but separately; that is, the citizens and allies, each by themselves. During the time spent here, such part of the troops, in the greater camp, as had sufficient strength and courage, amounting to four thousand footmen, and two hundred horse, had made their escape to Canusium; some in bodies, others straggling different ways through the country, a method equally safe. The camp was surrendered to the enemy by the wounded, and those who had staid through want of courage, and on the same terms as for the others. Abundance of spoil was found; and the whole, (except the men and horses, and whatever silver there was, most of which was on the trappings of the latter, for there was then very little used at the table, particularly in the field,) was given up to be plundered. Hannibal then ordered the bodies of his men to be collected and buried: they are said to have amounted to eight thousand of the bravest of his troops. Some writers say, that he also searched for, and interred the Roman consul. Those who escaped to Canusium, and who received from the inhabitants no farther relief than admittance within their walls and houses, were supplied with corn, clothes, and subsistence, by a woman of Apulia, named Busa, eminent for her birth and riches; in requital of which munificence, high honours were afterwards paid to her, by the senate, at the conclusion of the war.
LIII. Now, although there were four military tribunes present at Canusium; of the first legion, Fabius Maximus, whose father had been dictator the year before; of the second, Lucius Publicius Bibulus, and Publius Cornelius Scipio; and of the third, Appius Claudius Pulcher, who had been ædile the last year; yet the command in chief was, with universal consent, conferred on Publius Scipio; then very young, in conjunction with Appius Claudius. While these, with a few others, were consulting on the measures requisite in this emergency, they were told by Publius Furius Philus, son to a man of consular dignity, that “it was vain for them to cherish hopes in a case past retrieving; for the commonwealth was despaired of, and lamented as lost. That several young men of the nobility, at whose head was Lucius Cæcilius Metellus, were meditating a scheme of putting to sea, with intent to abandon Italy, and go over to the king of some other country.” This distressing incident, besides having in itself the most fatal tendency, coming unexpectedly, and immediately after so many disasters, surprised and astonished them to such a degree, that they lost for a time all thought and motion; those who were present then, advising that a council should be called on the subject; Scipio, a youth destined by fate to conduct the war to a conclusion, said, that “this was not a subject for council; the business required not deliberation, but fortitude and action. He bade those come with him, that moment, in arms, who wished the preservation of the commonwealth; for no place,” said he, “can you more truly call an enemy’s camp, than that wherein such designs are agitated.” Immediately he proceeded, attended by a few, to the lodging of Metellus; and finding there the youths, who had been mentioned, assembled in consultation, he held his drawn sword over their heads as they sat, and said, “with sincerity of heart I swear, that I will not desert the commonwealth of the Roman people; neither will I suffer any other Roman citizen to desert it. If, knowingly, I break this oath, then do thou, Jupiter, supremely good and great, overwhelm, in the severest ruin, myself, my house, my family, and my fortune. Lucius Cæcilius, and the rest of you, here present, I insist upon your taking the same oath: he that will not swear, be it known, that against him this sword is drawn.” Terrified no less than if they had seen the victorious Hannibal, they all took the oath, and surrendered themselves to Scipio, to be kept in custody.
LIV. While these things passed at Canusium, about four thousand horse and foot, who, in the flight, had been dispersed through the country, came to the consul at Venusia. These were all distributed by the Venusians through their several families, where they were received and treated with kindness. They also gave to each horseman a gown and tunic, and twenty-five denarii*; and to each footman ten denarii†, and such arms as were wanted; and every other hospitable attention was shown them, both by the public and by private persons; all exerting themselves, that the Venusian state might not be out-done, in kindness, by a woman of Canusium. However, the great number of her guests, which amounted now to ten thousand, made the burthen heavier on Busa. Appius and Scipio, as soon as they learned that one of the consuls was alive, instantly despatched to him an account of the number of horse and foot which were with them; at the same time desiring his orders, whether the troops should be brought to him in Venusia, or remain at Canusium. Varro led over his forces to Canusium. And now, there was some appearance of a consular army, and they seemed capable of defending themselves, though not with their arms alone, yet certainly with the help of walls. At Rome accounts were received, that not even these relics of the citizens and allies had survived, but that both armies, with the consuls, were utterly cut off. Never, while the city itself was in safety, did such a degree of dismay and confusion prevail within the walls of Rome. I therefore shrink from the task; and will not undertake to describe a scene, of which any representation that I could give, would fall short of the reality. The report was; not of such another wound being received, as when a consul and an army were lost, the year before, at the Trasimenus, but of a multiplicity of disasters; of both armies, together with both consuls, being lost; that the Romans had now neither camp, nor general, nor soldier existing; that Hannibal was in possession of Apulia, Samnium, and of almost all Italy. Certainly we know no other nation whose spirit would not have been wholly crushed under such an immense load of misfortunes. Can I compare with it the disaster, suffered by the Carthaginians, in the sea-fight at the Ægatian islands, by which they were so dispirited that they gave up Sicily and Sardinia, and were content thenceforth to pay tribute and taxes? Or, the loss of the battle in Africa, under which this same Hannibal afterwards sunk? In no particular are they to be compared, except in this, that the latter, under their calamities, displayed nothing like an equal degree of magnanimity.
LV. The prætors, Publius Furius Philus, and Marcus Pomponius, convened the senate in the Curia Hostilia, to consult on the means of providing for the security of the city. They took it for granted that, the armies being destroyed, the enemy would come directly to attack Rome, the only object which remained to be accomplished in order to finish the war. As, in a case of such extreme danger, the extent of which was not thoroughly known, they found it difficult to resolve on any plan, and were, at the same time, stunned with the cries and lamentations of the women; for no positive information being yet received, the living and dead were, all together, lamented as lost, in almost every house. Quintus Fabius Maximus gave his opinion, that “swift horsemen should be sent along the Appian and Latine roads, who, inquiring from any whom they should meet, straggling in their flight from the field, might perhaps bring back information as to the real situation of the consuls and the armies; and, if the immortal gods, in compassion to the empire, had left any remnant of the Roman name; where these forces were; to what quarter Hannibal directed his route, after the battle; what were his intentions; what he was doing and preparing to do. These particulars ought to be inquired into, and ascertained, by active young men; and the senators themselves, as there was not a sufficient number of magistrates, ought to undertake the part of quieting the tumult and disorder of the city; to remove the women from the public places, and oblige them to confine themselves within their own doors; to restrain the lamentations of the several families; to cause silence in the city; to take care that expresses arriving with any intelligence, be conducted to the prætors; and to make every person wait, in his own house, for information respecting his own concerns. That they should moreover place guards at the gates, to binder any from going out, and force men to place their only hope of preservation in the strength of their walls and works. That when the tumult should be appeased, then the senators might properly be called back into the house to deliberate on measures for the defence of the city.”
LVI. This opinion being unanimously approved, and the crowd being removed out of the Forum by the magistrates, the senators dispersed themselves on all sides to quiet the commotions; and then, at length, a letter was brought from the consul Terentius, informing them, that “the consul Lucius Æmilius, and the army, were cut off; that he himself was at Canusium, collecting, as from a shipwreck, the relics of such a dreadful misfortune; that there were, with him, about ten thousand men, belonging to many different corps, and not yet formed into regular bodies. That the Carthaginian, showing neither the spirit of a conqueror, nor the conduct of a great general, lay still at Cannæ, bargaining about the prisoners and other booty.” Then the losses of private families also were made known through their several houses; and so entirely was the whole city filled with grief, that the anniversary festival of Ceres was omitted, because it is not allowable for persons in mourning to celebrate it, and there was not, at the time, one matron who was not so habited. Lest, therefore, for the same reason, other festivals, public or private, might be left uncelebrated, the wearing of that dress was, by a decree of senate, limited to thirty days. Now, when the tumult in the city was composed, and the senators re-assembled in their house, another letter was brought from Sicily, from the pro-prætor Titus Otacilius, stating, that “a Carthaginian fleet was ravaging the dominions of Hiero; and that, when he was preparing to carry assistance to him, in compliance with his earnest request, he had received intelligence that another fleet lay at the Ægatian islands, prepared for battle, and intending, as soon as they learned that he had gone away to guard the coast of Syracuse, to fall immediately on Lilybæum, and other parts of the Roman province. If, therefore, they wished to protect Sicily, and the king their ally, a re-inforcement of ships must be sent.”
LVII. When the letters of the consul and pro-prætor were read, it was resolved that Marcus Claudius, who commanded the fleet lying at Ostia, should be sent to take the command of the forces at Canusium; and that a letter should be written to the consul, directing, that as soon as he had delivered the army to the prætor, he should, with all the expedition consisting with the public good, come to Rome. In addition to all their misfortunes, people were also terrified by several prodigies; and, particularly, by two vestals, Opimia and Floronia, being, in that year, convicted of incontinence; one of them was, according to custom, buried alive, near the Colline gate; the other voluntarily put an end to her own life. Lucius Cantilius, secretary to one of those, whom we now call the lesser pontiffs, who had debauched Floronia, was, by order of the chief pontiff, scourged in the Forum, with such severity, that he expired under the punishment. This enormity, happening in the midst of so many calamities, as usual in such cases, converted into a prodigy, and the decemvirs were ordered to consult the books. Quintus Fabius Pictor was sent also to Delphi, to consult the oracle, and discover by what supplications, and worship, they might be able to appease the gods; and by what means a stop might be put to such a heavy train of misfortunes. Meanwhile, according to the directions of the books of the fates, several extraordinary sacrifices were performed; among which a male and female Gaul, and a male and female Greek, were buried alive in the cattle market, in a vault built round with stone; a place which had already, by a practice abhorrent from the temper of the religion of Rome, been polluted with human victims. When it was thought that sufficient atonement had been made to the wrath of the gods, Marcus Claudius Marcellus despatched from Ostia to Rome, for the security of the city, one thousand five hundred men, whom he had there, and who had been raised for the service of the fleet. He also sent on before him the marine legion, which was the third, under command of the military tribunes, to Teanum, in the territory of Sidicinum; and then, having delivered the command of the fleet to his colleague, Publius Furius Philus, he repaired himself, in a few days, by forced marches to Canusium. Pursuant to directions of the senate, Marcus Junius was nominated dictator, and Tiberius Sempronius master of the horse. They proclaimed a levy, and enlisted all the youth of seventeen years and upwards, and even some under that age, of whom they completed four legions, and a thousand horse. Envoys were also sent to the allies, and Latine confederates, with a requisition of their contingents of troops, as specified by treaty. Orders were issued for preparing armour, weapons, and other necessaries; and they even took down from the temples and porticoes the old spoils taken from enemies. The urgent necessity, and the scarcity of men of free condition, occasioned their adopting a new mode of raising soldiers, and in an extraordinary manner. They purchased, with the public money, eight thousand stout young slaves; asking each, whether he was willing to serve in the wars; and then gave them arms. They preferred employing this kind of soldiers, though they had it in their power to have ransomed the prisoners at a less expense.
LVIII. Hannibal, intoxicated with his great success at Cannæ, conducted himself as if, instead of having a war to prosecute, he had already brought it to a conclusion. Ordering the prisoners to be brought forth, he separated the allies from the rest; and, with expressions of kindness, dismissed them without ransom, as he had done formerly at the Trebia, and the lake Trasimenus. Even the Romans he called before him; and, contrary to his former practice, addressed them in very mild terms, telling them, that “he meant not to carry the war to the extinction of the Romans, but fought for glory and empire. That, as his predecessors had yielded to the Roman bravery, so he, on his part, was now endeavouring to make others yield, in turn, to his valour and good fortune. Wherefore he would give them permission to ransom themselves; and the terms should be, five hundred denarii* for each horseman, three hundred† for a footman, and a hundred for a slave‡ .” Though the ransom of the horseman was hereby raised beyond the rate stipulated on their surrendering, yet they joyfully embraced any terms. It was determined, that they should choose, by their own suffrages, ten of their number, who should go to Rome to the senate; and of their faith, no other security was required than their oath, that they would return. With these was sent Carthalo, a noble Carthaginian, who, if he perceived an inclination towards peace, was to propose the terms. After they had set out from the camp, one of them, a man devoid of Roman principles, pretending to have forgotten something, with a view of evading his oath, returned into the camp, and afterwards, before night, overtook his companions. When it was reported at Rome, that they were coming, a lictor was sent to meet Carthalo, with orders, in the name of the dictator, that he should quit the Roman territories before night.
LIX. The deputies of the prisoners, being by the dictator admitted to an audience of the senate, the principal of them, Marcus Junius, spoke to this effect: “Conscript Fathers, none of us is ignorant, that no other state ever considers prisoners in a lower light than ours does. However, unless we are too partial to our own cause, none, who ever fell into the power of an enemy, less deserved to be neglected than we do. For we did not, through cowardice, surrender our arms in the field; but, after having protracted the battle until near night, standing on the heaped bodies of the slain, we retreated within our works. During the remainder of that day, and the ensuing night, spent as we were with toil and wounds, we yet defended our camp. Next day, being entirely surrounded by the army of the conquerors, and debarred from access to water, having no hope of forcing a way through their numerous bands, and not conceiving it criminal, that, after the slaughter of fifty thousand of our army, any Roman soldier should survive the battle of Cannæ, we, at length, agreed to terms of ransom, on which our liberty should be purchased; and we delivered to the enemy our weapons, when they could no longer serve to defend us. We had heard that our ancestors ransomed themselves with gold from the Gauls; and that our fathers, notwithstanding their utter dislike to the acceptance of the terms of peace, yet sent ambassadors to Tarentum, for the purpose of ransoming prisoners. Yet, both the fight at the Allia with the Gauls, and that at Heraclea with Pyrrhus, may be called disgraceful, on account of the panic and flight. Whereas the plains of Cannæ are overspread with heaps of slaughtered Romans; and, that we survive, is owing to no other cause, than from the enemy having, in killing, exhausted their strength. There are, besides, some of our number who are not even chargeable with flying the field: having been left to guard the camp, when that was surrendered, they fell into the hands of the enemy. I envy not the good fortune, or the situation, of any fellow citizen or fellow soldier, nor do I wish, by depressing another, to exalt myself; but surely, unless there is some prize due to swiftness of foot, those men who fled, leaving most of their arms behind, and never halted until they came to Venusia, or Canusium, cannot justly claim a preference before us, or boast of themselves as more capable of affording defence to the commonwealth. However, ye will find them on trial good and valiant soldiers, and will find us also the more heartily zealous in our country’s cause, from the consideration of having been, in kindness, redeemed and reinstated by you. Ye are enlisting men of every age and condition. I hear that eight thousand slaves are to be armed. Our number is not inferior to that, and we may be ransomed at less expense than they are purchased. A comparison between ourselves and them would be an insult on the name of Roman. I think, Conscript Fathers, that, in such a case, this circumstance also deserves consideration, (if ye choose to act toward us with a degree of rigour, which we have, by no means, merited,) the nature of the enemy, in whose hands ye would leave us, whether he is such as Pyrrhus, who treated us, when his prisoners, as if we were his guests; or a barbarian, and a Carthaginian; of whom it can scarcely be determined, whether his avarice or cruelty be greater. If ye were to behold the chains, the squalid dress, and the miserable looks of your countrymen, the sight, I am convinced, would affect you not less deeply, than if ye saw your legions prostrate on the plains of Cannæ. Ye can here observe the solitude, and the tears of our relations, who stand in the porch of your senate house, waiting for your determination: when they suffer such suspence and anxiety for us, and for those who are absent, what do ye suppose must be the state of those men’s minds whose liberty and life are at stake? Believe me, that, even should Hannibal, contrary to his nature, behave with lenity towards us, yet life would be no gratification, after having been adjudged by you, unworthy of being ransomed. Formerly, prisoners, dismissed by Pyrrhus without ransom, returned home to Rome. But they returned with ambassadors, the principal men in the state, who had been sent for the purpose of ransoming them. Should I return to my country, whom my fellow citizens have not valued, as worth three hundred denarii; Conscript Fathers, every man has his own way of thinking; I know that my person and life are in hazard: but I am more deeply affected by the danger to our reputation, lest we should appear to be rejected and condemned by you. For the world will never believe that ye were actuated by the motive of saving money.”
LX. When he ceased speaking, the multitude, who stood in the Comitium, instantly raised a lamentable cry, and stretching their hands towards the senate house, besought the members to restore to them their children, their brethren, and relations. Their fears, and the urgency of the case, had brought a number of women also among the crowd of men in the Forum. The senate, as soon as the house was cleared, took the matter into consideration. Opinions were different; some recommended that the prisoners should be ransomed at the expense of the public; others, that the public money should not be expended, but that they should not be hindered from ransoming themselves, with their own private property; and that, to such as wanted money at present, it should be lent out of the treasury, on their indemnifying the nation by sureties and mortgages. Titus Manlius Torquatus, a man who carried primitive strictness, as many thought, to too great a degree of rigour, on being asked his opinion, spoke to this effect: “Had the demands of the deputies, in favour of those who are in the hands of the enemy, gone no farther than to their being ransomed, I should, without offering censure on any of them, have delivered my judgment in few words; for what else would be requisite than to admonish you, to maintain the practice transmitted from your forefathers, and to adhere to a precedent essential to military discipline? But now, since they have, in a manner, made a merit of having surrendered themselves to the foe, and claimed a preference, not only over those who were made prisoners in the field, but even over those who made their way to Venusia and Canusium, and over the consul Caius Terentius himself, I will not let you remain ignorant, Conscript Fathers, of any of the circumstances which occurred on the occasion. And I wish that the representations, which I am going to lay before you, were made in the presence of the troops themselves at Canusium, the most competent witnesses of every man’s cowardice and bravery; or, at least, that one particular person were present here, Publius Sempronius, the counsel and example of which officer, had those soldiers thought proper to follow, they would to-day be Romans in their own camp, not prisoners in that of the enemy. But as the Carthaginians were fatigued with fighting, or totally occupied in rejoicing for their success, in which state indeed most of them had even retired into their camp — they had it in their power during the whole night to extricate themselves by sallying forth; and though seven thousand soldiers had been able to force their way, even through close battalions, yet they, neither of themselves, offered to attempt the same, nor were willing to follow the lead of another. Publius Sempronius Tuditanus never ceased advising and exhorting them, that while the numbers of the enemy round the camp were few, while quiet and silence prevailed, while the night covered their design, they would follow where he should lead; assuring them that, before day light, they might arrive in places of safety in the cities of their allies. If he had said in like manner, as in the time of our grand-fathers, Publius Decius, military tribune in Samnium, spoke, or, as in our own time, and in the former Punic war, Calphurnius Flamma said to the three hundred volunteers, when he was leading them to sieze on an eminence situated in the midst of the enemy, Soldiers, let us die, and by our deaths extricate the surrounded legions from the ambuscade.— If Publius Sempronius had spoken thus, I say, he could not surely deem you either Romans or men, if no one appeared ready to accompany him in so brave an enterprise. But still he points out the way which leads not to glory only but to safety. He shows how ye may return to your country, your parents, wives, and children. Do ye want spirit for your own preservation? What would ye do if the cause of your country required your death? Fifty thousand of your countrymen and allies lie around you slain on that same day. If so many examples of bravery do not rouse you, nothing will ever rouse you; if such a carnage has not inspired contempt of life, no other will. While in freedom and safety, wish for your country: do this as long as it is your country. It is now too late for you to wish for it, when ye are divested of its privileges, disfranchised of the rights of citizens, and become slaves of the Carthaginians. Will ye return, on terms of purchase, to that condition, which ye relinquished through pusillanimity and cowardice? To Publius Sempronius, your countryman, ordering you to take arms and follow him, ye would not listen; ye listened soon after to Hannibal, ordering you to betray your camp to him, and surrender your arms. Why do I charge them with cowardice, when I may charge them with actions highly criminal? for they not only refused to follow the person who gave them the best advice, but attempted to hinder and to stop him, had not his gallant companions with their drawn swords cleared the way of those dastards. I affirm, that Publius Sempronius was obliged to force his passage through a body of his countrymen, before he broke through that of the enemy. Has our country any reason to wish for such citizens as these; to whom, if the rest had been like, we should not have had this day one citizen of those who fought at Cannæ. Out of seven thousand men, six hundred were found, who had spirit to force their way, who returned home with freedom and their arms, forty thousand of the enemy not being able to stop them. How safely then do ye suppose might a band of near two legions have passed? In that case, Conscript Fathers, ye would have had this day, at Canusium, twenty thousand soldiers, brave and faithful. But how can these men be good and faithful citizens, (for to bravery they do not themselves lay claim,) after having attempted to stop the sally of those that wished to trust all to their swords? Or who can suppose, that they do not look with envy on the safety and glory, which the others have acquired by their valour, while they see themselves reduced by their fear and cowardice, to ignominious slavery. The entire band chose to remain in their tents, and wait the approach of day, and of the enemy, at the same time; though during the silence of the night they had a fair opportunity of effecting their escape. But though they wanted confidence to sally out of the camp, they had courage valiantly to defend it. Being besieged for several days and nights, they protected their rampart by arms: at length, after the utmost efforts and sufferings, when every support of life failed, when their strength was wasted through hunger, and they could no longer bear up under their arms, they were overcome by necessities too powerful for human nature to sustain, and a part with Sempronius gained the greater camp. Now, at sun rise, the enemy approached the rampart, and before the second hour these men who had refused to accompany him, without trying the issue of any dispute, surrendered their arms and themselves. Here, then, is the amount of their martial performances during two days; when they ought to have stood in their posts in the battle, and fought, they then fled to their camp; which, instead of defending, they surrendered; showing themselves equally useless there, and in the field. Shall I then ransom such as you? When ye ought to sally forth from your camp, ye hesitate and stay there; and when staying, there is a necessity for defending it, ye make surrender of your arms, and yourselves. Conscript Fathers, I would no more vote for ransoming those men, than I would for delivering up to Hannibal the others, who forced their way out of the camp, through the midst of the enemy, and by the highest exertions of valour restored themselves to their country.”
LXI. After this discourse of Manlius, notwithstanding that most of the senators had relations among the prisoners, yet, besides the maxim generally observed by the state, which, from the earliest times, had ever showed very little tenderness towards such, the consideration of the money requisite for the ransom operated with them as a powerful argument; indeed they were unwilling either that the treasury should be exhausted, from which a great sum had already been issued for purchasing and arming the slaves for service, or that Hannibal should receive so considerable a supply, and of which he was said to stand in the greatest need. A harsh answer then being given, that the prisoners should not be ransomed, and this new cause of grief, in the loss of so many citizens, being added to the former, the people escorted the deputies to the gate with abundance of tears and lamentations. One of the deputies left the rest, and went home, as if he had fulfilled his oath, by fallaciously returning into the camp. But, as soon as this became known, and was reported to the senate, they unanimously voted, that he should be seized, and conveyed to Hannibal, under a guard appointed by the government. This affair of the prisoners is related in another manner: that ten deputies came at first; and that the senate were for some time in doubt whether they should be admitted into the city or not; but that at length permission was granted them to enter it: but still they were refused an audience of the senate: and that afterwards, on their staying longer than the rest expected, three others were sent, Lucius Scribonius, Caius Calpurnius, and Lucius Manlius. Then, at last, the business of ransoming the prisoners was proposed to the senate by a plebian tribune, a relation of Scribonius, and their determination was, that they should not be ransomed. On this the three deputies, who came last, returned to Hannibal, but the ten former remained at Rome; as if, by having returned to Hannibal, after setting out on their journey, under pretext of getting a complete list of the prisoners, they had fulfilled their oath. The question, whether they should be delivered up to the enemy, was warmly debated in the senate, and the party who voted in the affirmative were overcome by a small majority. However, they were by the next censors so severely branded with every mark of ignominy, that some of them laid violent hands on themselves, and the rest, during all the remainder of their lives, shunned not only the Forum, but almost the public street, and the light. While such difference, in the representations given by historians, may be wondered at, still there are no means of distinguishing the truth. The greatness of the present misfortune, beyond any hitherto sustained, is demonstrated by this circumstance: that the allies, who, until this time, had stood firm in their attachment, now began to waver; for no other reason, certainly, than that they despaired of the commonwealth. The following states actually revolted to the Carthaginians, during the war: the Atellans, the Calatians, the Hirpinians, a part of the Apulians, the Samnites, excepting the Pentrians, all the Bruttians, the Lucanians, and, besides these, the Surrentinians; almost the whole coast possessed by the Greeks, the Tarentines, Metapontines, Crotonians, Locrians, and all the Cisalpine Gauls. Yet did not all these losses and revolts of their allies shake the firmness of the Romans so far as to induce them ever once to make mention of peace, either before the consul’s return to Rome, or when his arrival renewed the memory of their misfortune. But at that very time, such magnanimity was shown by the state, that, on the consul’s approaching the city, after such a heavy disaster, of which he, in particular, had been the principle cause, all ranks of people not only went out in crowds to meet him, but even returned him thanks for not having despaired of the commonwealth; whereas, had he been a general of the Carthaginians, there is no degree of punishment beyond what he must have suffered.
* 1,076l. 1s. 6d.
* A kind of broom
* 8l. 1s. 5½d.
* 1,937l. 10s.
* Æris gravis, 64l. 11s, 8d. About this time, in consequence of the scarcity of money, the comparative value of brass to silver was changed, and a denarius made to pass for twelve and afterwards for sixteen asses. The words æs grave were thenceforward employed to signify not any particular piece, or weight, of money, but the old comparative standard of ten asses, as we say pounds sterling.
* At first the name of prætor, derived from præire, to preside, was applied to any magistrate who was the chief in any line, whether civil, military, or religious; as dictator, consul, commander of an army, &c. But it was afterwards appropriated to a magistrate, appointed to relieve the consuls from the burthen of superintending the administration of justice. His proper office, therefore, was the direction of judicial proceedings; but, in the absence of the consuls, he acted in their stead, with power nearly equal to theirs. The great influx of foreigners soon made it necessary to create a second prætor, who was called prætor peregrinus, the foreign prætor, because his business was to decide controversies between citizens and foreigners, while the city prætor, prætor urbanus, who was superior in dignity, took cognizance of suits between citizens. When the Romans gained possession of foreign provinces, they appointed a prætor to the government of each, and his power within his province was almost unlimited, for he was accountable to none but the people of Rome.
* A purple cloak raised on a spear over the Prætorium.
* Here the text of the original is so corrupted, as to be absolutely unintelligible. The fact, as represented in the supplemental lines, is so related by Polybius.
* 9l. 7s. 7d.
† 6l. 5s. 2d.
‡ 3l. 2s. 7d
* 16s. 1 3/4 d.
† 6s. 5½d.
* 16l. 2s. 11d.
† 9l. 13s. 9d.
‡ 3l. 4s. 7d.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:10