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him continually in public harangues, affirming that “ although many commanders had, through rashness and unskilfulness, brought their armies into situations of extreme danger, yet never had any one, except Cneius Fulvius, corrupted his legions with every kind of vice before he exposed them to destruction: so that it might be said, with truth, that their ruin was effected before they had even seen an enemy; and that they were vanquished, not by Hannibal, bụt by their own commander. No elector could too carefully scrutinize the character of the person to whom he was entrusting an army. What a difference between this man and Tiberius Sempronius! The latter, though the army committed to him consisted of slaves, yet by proper discipline and wise regu
, lations, had quickly improved them to such a degree, that, in the field of battle, not one of them evinced by his conduct either his condition or his birth; and they became a safeguard to the allies, a terror to the enemy. They snatched, as it were, out of Hannibal's grasp, and restored to the Roman people, the cities of Cumæ, Beneventum, and several others; whereas Cneius Fulvius, having received an army of Roman citizens, honourably born and liberally educated, had debauched them by all the low vices of slaves, and sunk them into such a state of degeneracy, that they were insolent and turbulent among the allies, spiritless and dastardly among foes; and so far from withstanding the attack of the Carthaginians, they withstood not even their shout. Nor, indeed, was it wonderful that the soldiers did not stand their ground in battle, when their commander was the first who fled. For his part, he rather wondered that any of them had fallen in their posts, and that they did not, one and all, ac. company Cneius Fulvius in his panic and flight. Caius Flaminius, Lucius Paullus, Lucius Postumius, Cneius and Publius Scipio, had chosen rather to fall in fight, than to abandon their troops in a desperate situation. But Cneius Fulvius was almost the only messenger who brought to
Rome the news of his army being cut off. It was contrary,” he said, “ to every rule of honour and equity, that the troops engaged at Cannæ, because they fled out of the field, should be transported into Sicily, and prohibited from returning thence before the termination of the war in Italy, and that a decree, to the same purport, should have been lately passed in the case of the legions under the command of Cneius Fulvius, while Cneius Fulvius himself, after running away from a battle brought on by his own temerity, should escape all punishment; that he should spend his old age where he had spent his youth, in the stews and brothels, while his soldiers, who were no otherwise culpable than in resembling their commander, were cast out, in a manner, into exile, condemned to a service of ignominy. So unequal was the dispensation of liberty at Rome to the rich and to the poor; to the man who had arrived at honours, and to those who still continued in obscurity.”
III. Fulvius endeavoured to transfer the guilt from himself to the soldiers; asserting, that " in consequence of their insisting violently on fighting, they were led out to the field, not on the same day on which they desired it, because it was then evening, but on the day following, when both the time and the ground were favourable to them; but that they were so overawed, either by the reputation or the strength of the enemy, that they did not make a stand. That, in the hurry of the general light, he was carried away by the crowd, as had been the case of Varro, at the battle of Cannæ, and of many other generals. And how could he, by his single resistance, serve the cause of the commonwealth; unless, indeed, his death were considered as a remedy for the public misfortunes? He had not been brought into any dangerous
situation by want of provisions, or by want of caution; neither was he, in consequence of marching unguardedly, surprised by an ambuscade, but defeated by open force, by dint of arms, in a fair engagement, nor had he the power of de
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termining the degree of courage to be exerted either by his own men, or by the enemy: every man's own disposition supplied either courage or cowardice.” The matter came twice to a hearing, and, at both times, the penalty was laid at a fine. At the third hearing, witnesses were produced; and, besides his being loaded with charges of the most scandalous nature, great numbers deposed on oath, that the prætor was the first who showed any symptoms of fear, and began the flight; and that the soldiers, being abandoned by him, and supposing that the general's fears were not without grounds, fled likewise; on which, the anger of the people was inflamed to such a pitch, that the whole assembly cried out that the prosecution ought to be capital. On this point a new contest arose; for, as the tribune had, on two former occasions, prosecuted the offence as finable, and at a third, proposed to prosecute it as a capital, an appeal was made to the tribunes of the commons. They declared, that “they could not debar their colleague from prosecuting, as, by the practice of former times, he had a right to do, either on the written laws, or the general practice, until he should obtain judgment, either of capital punishment, or a fine, against the defendant a private person.” Then Sempronius gave notice, that he demanded judgment of treason against Cneius Fulvius; and he made a requisition to the city prætor, Caius Calpurnius, to appoint a day for the assembly. The accused then rested his hopes on another expedient, the procuring at his trial the support of his brother, Quintus Fulvius, who, at this time, stood high in the public esteem, both on account of the merit of his past services, and the expectation of his speedily reducing Capua. But Fulvius having sent a petition to this purpose, couched in terms calculated to excite compassion, as in a case where a brother's life was concerned, and the senate answering, that his quitting Capua would be injurious to the public interest, Cneius Fulvius, at the approach of the day appointed for the assembly, with
drew into exile to Tarquinii. The commons passed an order confirming his banishment as legal.
IV. In the mean-time the grand operations of the campaign were directed against Capua, where, however, the siege was carried on, rather by a close blockade than by vigorous assaults. This caused so great a famine, that the populace and the slaves could no longer endure it, and yet there was no way of sending messengers to Hannibal, the approaches were all so strictly guarded. At length a Numidian was found, who, taking a letter, engaged to make his way with it; and, going out by night, he passed through the middle of the Roman camp. This encouraged the
This encouraged the Campanians to try, while they had any remains of vigour, what might be done by sallies from all sides of the town. In many engagements which followed, their cavalry were generally successful, their infantry worsted: but the besiegers were not nearly so much pleased by the advantages which they had gained, as mortified at being overcome, in any particular, by an enemy besieged, and on the point of being taken. At last the Ro. mans adopted a method of supplying by art their deficiency in strength. Out of all the legions were selected young men, who from the power and lightness of their bodies, possessed the greatest agility: to these were given bucklers, shorter than those of the cavalry, and to each seven javelins four feet long, pointed with iron, in the same manner as the missile javelins now used by the light infantry. The cavalry, each taking one of these behind him on his horse, taught them, by frequent exercise, so to ride, and to dismount quickly, when the signal was given. As soon as, from daily practice, they seemed to perform this with sufficient expertness, they were led out into a plain, between the camp and the walls, against the cavalry of the Campanians, who stood there in order of battle. When they came within a weapon's cast, these light footmen dismounted, and, forming in a moment, instead of cavalry, a line of infantry ran forward against the
enemy's horse; and, as they advanced, discharged their javelins, one after another, with great fury; by the vast number of which, thrown against men and horses indiscriminately, very many were wounded. But the novelty and unexpectedness of such a proceeding caused still greater fright, and, while they were in this disorder, the cavalry made their charge, and drove them back even to their gates with great slaughter. Henceforward the Romans had the superiority in the field id respect of both horse and foot. It was then made an established regulation, that in all the legions there should be light infantry of this sort, who are called velites. We are told, that the person who had advised the mixing of footmen with the cavalry was Quintus Navius, a centurion; and that he was, on that account, highly honoured by the general.
V. While affairs at Capua were in this state, Hannibal's judgment was long suspended between his wishes, on one hand, to acquire possession of the citadel of Tarentum, and, on the other, tɔ retain Capua. At length, however, he determined in favour of the latter; because on that object he saw that the attention of all men, both friends and enemies, was fixed; as the fate of that city would demonstrate what kind of consequences were to be expected from revolting from the Romans, Leaving, therefore, in Bruttium, the greatest part of his baggage, and all his heavier armed troops, and selecting such of the infantry and cavalry as were best qualified for an expeditious march, he took the route to Campania. Notwithstanding he went with much speed, yet he was followed by thirty-three elephants. In a retired valley behind Mount Tifata, which overhangs Capua, he halted; and, having, at his coming, taken the fort of Galatia, from which he dislodged the garrison by force, he prepared to act against the besiegers. He sent forward to the besieged information of the time when he intended to assault the Roman camp, in order that they might be in readiness, and