Immagini della pagina

judgment, and would name to the honour contended for, Quintus Fabius Maximus, whom he could prove to be the first of the whole Roman state, even in Hannibal's opinion. After a long dispute, his colleague gave up the point, and Sempronius chose the consul, Quintus Fabius Maximus, prince of the senate. Then the list of the new senate was read, in which eight were left out, among whom was Lucius Cæcilius Metellus, infamous for having, after the defeat at Cannæ, advised the abandonment of Italy. In their review of the equestrian order also, they censured every one concerned with him; but the number disgraced on that account was very small. From all the cavalry of the legions of Cannæ then in Sicily, and their number was great, their horses were taken away. To this they added another punishment in point of time, ordering that the campaigns which those men had served on horses given by the public, should not entitle them to release, but that they should serve during ten others on horses of their own. They also searched for, and discovered, a great number, who ought to be ranked in the cavalry, and all of these who had been seventeen years old at the beginning of the war, and had not served, they disfranchised. They then contracted for the repairs of the buildings round the Forum, which had been destroyed by the fire,seven shops, the shambles, and the royal palace.

XII. Having finished the necessary business at Rome, the consuls set out for the campaign. Fulvius, first, went forward to Capua; in a few days after, Fabius followed, and he earnestly entreated his colleague in person, and Marcellus by letter, to make the most vigorous efforts to keep Hannibal employed, while he should carry on the siege of Tarentum; observing that, when that city should be taken from the enemy, who was already repulsed in every quarter, and would then have no place where he could rest, or to which he could retreat for safety, he would not have even a pretence for staying longer in Italy. He likewise sent an express to

VOL. III.-- 3H

Rhegium, to the commander of the body of troops, which the consul Lævinus had placed there, to act against the Bruttians, and which consisted of eight thousand men, all accustomed to live by plunder, the greater part of whom had been brought out of Sicily from Agathyrna, as was mentioned above. To these were joined many natives of the country, who deserted from the Bruttians, equally daring, and under equal necessity to dare every thing. He ordered this band to be led, first, to ravage the lands of Bruttium, and afterwards to besiege the city of Caulon. These orders they executed, not only with diligence, but with avidity; and after plundering the country, and dispersing the inhabitants, attacked the city with their utmost vigour. Marcellus, incited by his colleague's letter, and also by an opinion which he had himself conceived, that he was the only Roman general able to cope with Hannibal, quitted his winter-quarters as soon as forage could be found, and met him at Canusium. The Carthaginian was, at this time, employed in endeavour. ing to entice the Canusians to a revolt, but, on hearing of Marcellus's approach, he decamped and retired. The country was open, affording no cover for an ambuscade, for which reason he resolved to draw back into more woody tracts. Marcellus pressed close on his steps, encamped within view of him, and, as soon as the trenches were finished, drew out his legions and offered battle. Hannibal sent out single troops of cavalry, and the light spearmen from his infantry, to skirmish with the enemy, but did not think it adviseable to risk the issue of a general engagement. He was, however, drawn into a contest of that sort which he wished to avoid: for although, by marching away in the night, he gained some ground of the enemy, yet Marcellus overtook him in an open country, and, as he was forming his camp, put a stop to his works, by attacking the workmen on all sides. In consequence of this, a pitched battle ensued, in which all the forces, on both sides, were engaged; but night coming on, they separated, without any advantage being gained on either side. They then hastily, before it grew dark, fortified their camps, at a very little distance from each other. Next day, as soon as light appeared, Marcellus led out his forces to the field; nor did Hannibal decline the contest, but in a long speech exhorted his men to “remember Trasimenus and Cannæ, and to crush the presumption of the foe, who pressed so closely on their steps; not suffering them either to march or encamp in quiet, or even to breathe, or look about them. Every day, the rising sun, and the Roman army, appeared together on the plains. But if the enemy should once be compelled to quit the field, especially with some loss of blood, they would afterwards conduct their operations with less turbulence and violence.” Irritated by such expressions, and at the same time vexed at being continually harrassed on quitting their camp, they began the fight with great fury. The battle was maintained for more than two hours; then, on the Roman side, the right wing and the chosen band, called extraordinaries, began to give ground; on observing which, Marcellus brought up the eighteenth legion to the front. But, while the others were retiring in confusion, and these advancing, with but little alacrity, into their place, the whole line was disordered and in a little time totally broken: at last, fear getting the better of their shame, they fairly turned their backs. In this battle, and the flight which followed, there fell no less than two thousand seven hundred of the Romans and allies; among these four Roman centurions, and two military tribunes, Marcus Licinius and Marcus Fulvius. Four military standards were lost by the wing which first fled, and two by the legions which advanced in the place of the flying allies.

XIII. After the army had retired into the camp, Marcellus reprimanded them in terms so harsh and bitter, that they felt more from the discourse of their incensed commander, than from all they had suffered, in the unsuccessful fight, through the whole day. He said to them; “as matters have turned out, I praise and thank the immortal gods, that the victorious enemy did not assault our camp itself, while you were hurrying into the gates, and over the rampart, in such utter dismay. You would certainly have abandoned that, through the same panic that made you give up the battle. What fright is this? What terror, what forgetfulness both of your own character and that of your adversaries, has at once seized your minds? Surely they are the same enemies, in defeating and pursuing of whom you spent the whole of the last summer; who, for some days past, have fled before you night and day, while you pressed on their rear; whom, yesterday, you did not allow either to continue their march, or to form their camp. I say nothing of the advantages on which you ought to pride yourselves; but will mention what, of itself, ought to fill you with shame and remorse: yesterday you fought it out to the end on equal terms. What alteration has last night, what has this day made? Have your forces been diminished; have theirs been augmented? I cannot persuade myself that I am speaking to my own army, or to Roman soldiers. The arms and appearances of the men are such as usual. But, if you had possessed the usual spirit, would the enemy have seen your backs? · Would he have carried off a standard from any one company or cohort? Hitherto, he has boasted of putting our legions to the sword; you, this day, have been the first who have conferred on him the glory of putting a Roman army to flight.” On this the troops, universally, besought him to pardon their behaviour of that day; and entreated him, whenever he pleased, to make another trial of the courage of his soldiers. “I will try you, soldiers,” said he, "and to-morrow will lead you into the field; that in the character of conquerors, not of vanquished men, you may obtain the pardon which you desire.” He then ordered, that the cohorts which had lost their standards should receive barley for their allowance, and the centurions of the companies whose standards had been lost, he deprived of their swords; commanding that all, both infantry and cavalry, should be ready under arms on the following day. The assembly was now dismissed, all acknowledging that the reproofs which they had received were not more severe than they deserved; for that no person in the Roman army had, that day, behaved like a man, except the general alone, to whom they ought to make atonement, either by their death or by a glorious victory. On the day following they attended according to orders, armed and accoutred. The general then commended them, and said, that “he would bring forward, into the first line, those who had fled first the day before, and the cohorts which had lost their standards; that he now gave notice, that it was incumbent on them to fight and to conquer, and to exert themselves vigorously, one and all, to prevent the news of yesterday's flight reaching Rome, before that of the present day's triumph.” They were then ordered to refresh themselves with food, that, in case the fight should last longer than usual, they might have strength to go through it. After every thing had been said and done to rouse the courage of the soldiers, they marched out to the field.

XIV. When this was told to Hannibal, he said, “ we have to deal with an enemy who can neither bear good fortune nor bad: if he gets the better, he pursues the vanquished with presumption and vehemence; if he is worsted, he renews the contest with the victors.” He then ordered the signal to be sounded, and led out his forces. Both parties fought now with much more vigour than the day before; the Carthaginians struggling to maintain the glory acquired yesterday, the Romans to remove their disgrace. On the side of the Romans, the left wing, and the cohorts which had lost their standards, fought in the front line; while the twentieth legion was drawn up on the right wing. Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, and Caius Claudius Nero, lieutenant-generals, commanded the wings; Marcellus himself took the charge of

« IndietroContinua »