Titus Livius.

The History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 online

. (page 22 of 52)
Online LibraryTitus LiviusThe History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 → online text (page 22 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

same account great games were vowed, at an expense of three hundred
and thirty-three thousand three hundred and thirty-three _asses_
and a third; moreover, it was decreed that sacrifice should be done to
Jupiter with three hundred oxen, to many other deities with white oxen
and the other victims. The vows being duly made, a supplication was
proclaimed; and not only the inhabitants of the city went with their
wives and children, but such of the rustics also as, possessing any
property themselves, were interested in the welfare of the state. Then
a lectisternium was celebrated for three days, the decemviri for
sacred things superintending. Six couches were seen, for Jupiter and
Juno one, for Neptune and Minerva another, for Mars and Venus a third,
for Apollo and Diana a fourth, for Vulcan and Vesta a fifth, for
Mercury and Ceres a sixth. Then temples were vowed. To Venus Erycina,
Quintus Fabius Maximus vowed a temple; for so it was delivered from
the prophetic books, that he should vow it who held the highest
authority in the state. Titus Otacilius, the praetor vowed a temple to

11. Divine things having been thus performed, the dictator then put
the question of the war and the state; with what, and how many legions
the fathers were of opinion that the victorious enemy should be
opposed. It was decreed that he should receive the army from Cneius
Servilius, the consul: that he should levy, moreover, from the
citizens and allies as many horse and foot as seemed good; that he
should transact and perform every thing else as he considered for the
good of the state. Fabius said he would add two legions to the army of
Servilius. These were levied by the master of the horse, and were
appointed by Fabius to meet him at Tibur on a certain day. And then
having issued proclamation that those whose towns or castles were
unfortified should quit them and assemble in places of security; that
all the inhabitants of that tract through which Hannibal was about to
march, should remove from the country, having first burnt their
buildings and spoiled their fruits, that there might not be a supply
of any thing; he himself set out on the Flaminian road to meet the
consul and his army; and when he saw in the distance the marching body
on the Tiber, near Ocriculum, and the consul with the cavalry
advancing to him, he sent a beadle to acquaint the consul that he must
meet the dictator without the lictors. When he had obeyed his command,
and their meeting had exhibited a striking display of the majesty of
the dictatorship before the citizens and allies, who, from its
antiquity, had now almost forgotten that authority; a letter arrived
from the city, stating that the ships of burden, conveying provisions
from Ostia into Spain to the army, had been captured by the
Carthaginian fleet off the port of Cossa. The consul, therefore, was
immediately ordered to proceed to Ostia, and, having manned the ships
at Rome or Ostia with soldiers and sailors, to pursue the enemy, and
protect the coasts of Italy. Great numbers of men were levied at Rome,
sons of freed-men even, who had children, and were of the military
age, had taken the oath. Of these troops levied in the city, such as
were under thirty-five were put on board ships, the rest were left to
protect the city.

12. The dictator, having received the troops of the consul from
Fulvius Flaccus, his lieutenant-general, marching through the Sabine
territory, arrived at Tibur on the day which he had appointed the
new-raised troops to assemble. Thence he went to Praeneste, and
cutting across the country, came out in the Latin way, whence he led
his troops towards the enemy, reconnoitering the road with the utmost
diligence; not intending to expose himself to hazard any where, except
as far as necessity compelled him. The day he first pitched his camp
in sight of the enemy, not far from Arpi, the Carthaginian, without
delay, led out his troops, and forming his line gave an opportunity of
fighting: but when he found all still with the enemy, and his camp
free from tumult and disorder, he returned to his camp, saying indeed
tauntingly, "That even the spirit of the Romans, inherited from Mars,
was at length subdued; that they were warred down and had manifestly
given up all claim to valour and renown:" but burning inwardly with
stifled vexation because he would have to encounter a general by no
means like Flaminius and Sempronius; and because the Romans, then at
length schooled by their misfortunes, had sought a general a match for
Hannibal; and that now he had no longer to fear the headlong violence,
but the deliberate prudence of the dictator. Having not yet
experienced his constancy, he began to provoke and try his temper, by
frequently shifting his camp and laying waste the territories of the
allies before his eyes: and one while he withdrew out of sight at
quick march, another while he halted suddenly, and concealed himself
in some winding of the road, if possible to entrap him on his
descending into the plain. Fabius kept marching his troops along the
high grounds, at a moderate distance from the enemy, so as neither to
let him go altogether nor yet to encounter him. The troops were kept
within the camp, except so far as necessary wants compelled them to
quit it; and fetched in food and wood not by small nor rambling
parties. An outpost of cavalry and light-armed troops, prepared and
equipped for acting in cases of sudden alarm, rendered every thing
safe to their own soldiers, and dangerous to the scattered plunderers
of the enemy. Nor was his whole cause committed to general hazard;
while slight contests, of small importance in themselves, commenced on
safe ground, with a retreat at hand, accustomed the soldiery,
terrified by their former disasters, now at length to think less
meanly either of their prowess or good fortune. But he did not find
Hannibal a greater enemy to such sound measures than his master of the
horse, who was only prevented from plunging the state into ruin by his
inferiority in command. Presumptuous and precipitate in his measures,
and unbridled in his tongue, first among a few, then openly and
publicly, he taunted him with being sluggish instead of patient,
spiritless instead of cautious; falsely imputing to him those vices
which bordered on his virtues; and raised himself by means of
depressing his superiors, which, though a most iniquitous practice,
has become more general from the too great successes of many.

13. Hannibal crosses over from the Hirpini into Samnium; lays waste
the territory of Beneventum; takes the town of Telesia; and purposely
irritates the dictator, if perchance he could draw him down to a
battle on the plain, exasperated by so many indignities and disasters
inflicted on his allies. Among the multitude of allies of Italian
extraction, who had been captured by Hannibal at the Trasimenus, and
dismissed, were three Campanian horsemen, who had even at that time
been bribed by many presents and promises from Hannibal to win over
the affections of their countrymen to him. These, bringing him word
that he would have an opportunity of getting possession of Capua, if
he brought his army into the neighbourhood in Campania, induced
Hannibal to quit Samnium for Campania; though he hesitated,
fluctuating between confidence and distrust, as the affair was of more
importance than the authorities. He dismissed them, repeatedly
charging them to confirm their promises by acts, and ordering them to
return with a greater number, and some of their leading men. Hannibal
himself orders his guide to conduct him into the territory of Casinum,
being certified by persons acquainted with the country, that if he
seized that pass he would deprive the Romans of a passage by which
they might get out to the assistance of their allies. But his Punic
accent, ill adapted to the pronunciation of Latin names, caused the
guide to understand Casilinum, instead of Casinum; and leaving his
former course, he descends through the territory of Allifae, Calatia,
and Cales, into the plain of Stella, where, seeing the country
enclosed on all sides by mountains and rivers, he calls the guide to
him, and asks him where in the world he was? when he replied, that on
that day he would lodge at Casilinum: then at length the error was
discovered, and that Casinum lay at a great distance in another
direction. Having scourged the guide with rods and crucified him, in
order to strike terror into all others, he fortified a camp, and sent
Maharbal with the cavalry into the Falernian territory to pillage.
This depredation reached as far as the waters of Sinuessa; the
Numidians caused destruction to a vast extent, but flight and
consternation through a still wider space. Yet not even the terror of
these things, when all around was consuming in the flames of war,
could shake the fidelity of the allies; for this manifest reason,
because they lived under a temperate and mild government: nor were
they unwilling to submit to those who were superior to them, which is
the only bond of fidelity.

14. But when the enemy's camp was pitched on the Vulturnus, and the
most delightful country in Italy was being consumed by fire, and the
farm-houses, on all hands, were smoking from the flames, whilst Fabius
led his troops along the heights of Mount Massicus, then the strife
had nearly been kindled anew, for they had been quiet for a few days,
because, as the army had marched quicker than usual, they had supposed
that the object of this haste was to save Campania from devastation;
but when they arrived at the extreme ridge of Mount Massicus, and the
enemy appeared under their eyes, burning the houses of the Falernian
territory, and of the settlers of Sinuessa, and no mention made of
battle, Minucius exclaims, "Are we come here to see our allies
butchered, and their property burned, as a spectacle to be enjoyed?
and if we are not moved with shame on account of any others, are we
not on account of these citizens, whom our fathers sent as settlers to
Sinuessa, that this frontier might be protected from the Samnite foe:
which now not the neighbouring Samnite wastes with fire, but a
Carthaginian foreigner, who has advanced even thus far from the
remotest limits of the world, through our dilatoriness and inactivity?
What! are we so degenerate from our ancestors as tamely to see that
coast filled with Numidian and Moorish foes, along which our fathers
considered it a disgrace to their government that the Carthaginian
fleets should cruise? We, who erewhile, indignant at the storming of
Saguntum, appealed not to men only, but to treaties and to gods,
behold Hannibal scaling the walls of a Roman colony unmoved. The smoke
from the flames of our farm-houses and lands comes into our eyes and
faces; our ears ring with the cries of our weeping allies, imploring
us to assist them oftener than the gods, while we here are leading our
troops, like a herd of cattle, through shady forests and lonely paths,
enveloped in clouds and woods. If Marcus Furius had resolved to
recover the city from the Gauls, by thus traversing the tops of
mountains and forests, in the same manner as this modern Camillus goes
about to recover Italy from Hannibal, who has been sought out for our
dictator in our distress, on account of his unparalleled talents, Rome
would be the possession of the Gauls; and I fear lest, if we are thus
dilatory, our ancestors will so often have preserved it only for the
Carthaginians and Hannibal; but that man and true Roman, on the very
day on which intelligence was brought him to Veii, that he was
appointed dictator, on the authority of the fathers and the nomination
of the people, came down into the plain, though the Janiculum was high
enough to admit of his sitting down there, and viewing the enemy at a
distance, and on that very day defeated the Gallic legions in the
middle of the city, in the place where the Gallic piles are now, and
on the following day on the Roman side of Gabii. What many years after
this, when we were sent under the yoke at the Caudine forks by the
Samnite foe, did Lucius Papirius Cursor take the yoke from the Roman
neck and place it upon the proud Samnites, by traversing the heights
of Samnium? or was it by pressing and besieging Luceria, and
challenging the victorious enemy? A short time ago, what was it that
gave victory to Caius Lutatius but expedition? for on the day after he
caught sight of the enemy he surprised and overpowered the fleet,
loaded with provisions, and encumbered of itself by its own implements
and apparatus. It is folly to suppose that the war can be brought to a
conclusion by sitting still, or by prayers, the troops must be armed
and led down into the plain, that you may engage man to man. The Roman
power has grown to its present height by courage and activity, and not
by such dilatory measures as these, which the cowardly only designate
as cautious." A crowd of Roman tribunes and knights poured round
Minucius, while thus, as it were, haranguing, his presumptuous
expressions reached the ears of the common soldiers, and had the
question been submitted to the votes of the soldiers, they showed
evidently that they would have preferred Minucius to Fabius for their

15. Fabius, keeping his attention fixed no less upon his own troops
than on the enemy, first shows that his resolution was unconquered by
the former. Though he well knew that his procrastination was
disapproved, not only in his own camp, but by this time even at Rome,
yet, inflexibly adhering to the same line of policy, he delayed
through the remainder of the summer, in order that Hannibal, devoid of
all hope of a battle, which he so earnestly desired, might now look
out for a place for winter quarters, because that district was one of
present, but not constant, supply, consisting, as it did, of
plantations and vineyards, and all places planted luxurious rather
than useful produce. This intelligence was to Fabius by his scouts.
When he felt convinced that he would return by the same narrow pass
through which he had entered the Falernian territory, he occupied
Mount Callicula and Casilinum with a pretty strong guard. Which city,
intersected by the river Vulturnus, divides the Falernian and
Campanian territories. He himself leads back his troops along the same
heights, having sent Lucius Hostilius Mancinus with four hundred of
the allied cavalry to reconnoitre; who being one of the crowd of
youths who had often heard the master of the horse fiercely
haranguing, at first advanced after the manner of a scout, in order
that he might observe the enemy in security; and when he saw the
Numidians scattered widely throughout the villages, having gotten an
opportunity, he also slew a few of them. But from that moment his mind
was engrossed with the thoughts of a battle, and the injunctions of
the dictator were forgotten, who had charged him, when he had advanced
as far as he could with safety, to retreat before he came within the
enemy's view. The Numidians, party after party, skirmishing and
retreating, drew the general almost to their camp, to the fatigue of
his men and horses. Then Karthalo, who had the command of the cavalry,
charging at full speed, and having put them to flight before he came
within a dart's throw, pursued them for five miles almost in a
continuous course. Mancinus, when he saw that the enemy did not desist
from the pursuit, and that there was no hope of escape, having
encouraged his troops, turned back to the battle though inferior in
every kind of force. Accordingly he himself, and the choicest of his
cavalry, being surrounded, are cut to pieces. The rest in disorderly
retreat fled first to Cales, and thence to the dictator, by ways
almost impassable. It happened that on that day Minucius had formed a
junction with Fabius, having been sent to secure with a guard the pass
above Tarracina, which, contracted into a narrow gorge, overhangs the
sea, in order that Hannibal might not be able to get into the Roman
territory by the Appian way's being unguarded. The dictator and master
of the horse, uniting their forces, lead them down into the road
through which Hannibal was about to march his troops. The enemy was
two miles from that place.

16. The following day the Carthaginians filled the whole road between
the two camps with his troops in marching order; and though the Romans
had taken their stand immediately under their rampart, having a
decidedly superior position, yet the Carthaginian came up with his
light horse and, with a view to provoke the enemy, carried on a kind
of desultory attack, first charging and then retreating. The Roman
line remained in its position. The battle was slow and more
conformable to the wish of the dictator than of Hannibal. On the part
of the Romans there fell two hundred, on the part of the enemy eight
hundred. It now began to appear that Hannibal was hemmed in, the road
to Casilinum being blockaded; and that while Capua, and Samnium, and
so many wealthy allies in the rear of the Romans might supply them
with provisions, the Carthaginian, on the other hand, must winter amid
the rocks of Formiae and the sands and hideous swamps of Liternum. Nor
did it escape Hannibal that he was assailed by his own arts;
wherefore, since he could not escape by way of Casilinum, and since it
was necessary to make for the mountains, and pass the summit of
Callicula, lest in any place the Romans should attack his troops while
enclosed in valleys; having hit upon a stratagem calculated to deceive
the sight, and excite terror from its appearance, by means of which he
might baffle the enemy, he resolved to come up by stealth to the
mountains at the commencement of night. The preparation of his wily
stratagem was of this description. Torches, collected from every part
of the country, and bundles of rods and dry cuttings, are fastened
before the horns of oxen, of which, wild and tame, he had driven away
a great number among other plunder of the country: the number of oxen
was made up to nearly two thousand. To Hasdrubal was assigned the task
of driving to the mountains that herd, after having set fire to their
horns, as soon as ever it was dark; particularly, if he could, over
the passes beset by the enemy.

17. As soon as it was dark the camp was moved in silence; the oxen
were driven a little in advance of the standards. When they arrived at
the foot of the mountains and the narrow passes, the signal is
immediately given for setting fire to their horns and driving them
violently up the mountains before them. The mere terror excited by the
flame, which cast a glare from their heads, and the heat now
approaching the quick and the roots of their horns, drove on the oxen
as if goaded by madness. By which dispersion, on a sudden all the
surrounding shrubs were in a blaze, as if the mountains and woods had
been on fire; and the unavailing tossing of their heads quickening the
flame, exhibited an appearance as of men running to and fro on every
side. Those who had been placed to guard the passage of the wood, when
they saw fires on the tops of the mountains, and some over their own
heads, concluding that they were surrounded, abandoned their post;
making for the tops of the mountains in the direction in which the
fewest fires blazed, as being the safest course; however they fell in
with some oxen which had strayed from their herds. At first, when they
beheld them at a distance, they stood fixed in amazement at the
miracle, as it appeared to them, of creatures breathing fire;
afterwards, when it showed itself to be a human stratagem, then,
forsooth, concluding that there was an ambuscade, as they are hurrying
away in flight, with increased alarm, they fall in also with the
light-armed troops of the enemy. But the night, when the fear was
equally shared, kept them from commencing the battle till morning.
Meanwhile Hannibal, having marched his whole army through the pass,
and having cut off some of the enemy in the very defile, pitches his
camp in the country of Allifae.

18. Fabius perceived this tumult, but concluding that it was a snare,
and being disinclined for a battle, particularly by night, kept his
troops within the works. At break of day a battle took place under the
summit of the mountain, in which the Romans, who were considerably
superior in numbers, would have easily overpowered the light-armed of
the enemy, cut off as they were from their party, had not a cohort of
Spaniards, sent back by Hannibal for that very purpose, reached the
spot. That body being more accustomed to mountains, and being more
adapted, both from the agility of their limbs and also from the
character of their arms, to skirmishing amid rocks and crags, easily
foiled, by their manner of fighting, an enemy loaded with arms,
accustomed to level ground and the steady kind of fighting. Separating
from a contest thus by no means equal, they proceeded to their camps;
the Spaniards almost all untouched; the Romans having lost a few.
Fabius also moved his camp, and passing the defile, took up a position
above Allifae, in a strong and elevated place. Then Hannibal,
pretending to march to Rome through Samnium, came back as far as the
Peligni, spreading devastation. Fabius led his troops along the
heights midway between the army of the enemy and the city of Rome;
neither avoiding him altogether, nor coming to an engagement. From the
Peligni the Carthaginian turned his course, and going back again to
Apulia, reached Geronium, a city deserted by its inhabitants from
fear, as a part of its walls had fallen down together in ruins. The
dictator formed a completely fortified camp in the territory of
Larinum, and being recalled thence to Rome on account of some sacred
rites, he not only urged the master of the horse, in virtue of his
authority, but with advice and almost with prayers, that he would
trust rather to prudence than fortune; and imitate him as a general
rather than Sempronius and Flaminius; that he would not suppose that
nothing had been achieved by having worn out nearly the whole summer
in baffling the enemy; that physicians too sometimes gained more by
rest than by motion and action. That it was no small thing to have
ceased to be conquered by an enemy so often victorious, and to have
taken breath after successive disasters. Having thus unavailingly
admonished the master of the horse, he set out for Rome.

19. In the beginning of the summer in which these events occurred, the
war commenced by land and sea in Spain also. To the number of ships
which he had received from his brother, equipped and ready for action,
Hasdrubal added ten. The fleet of forty ships he delivered to Himilco:
and thus setting out from Carthage, kept his ships near the land,
while he led his army along the shore, ready to engage with whichever
part of his forces the enemy might fall in with. Cneius Scipio, when
he heard that the enemy had quitted his winter quarters, at first
formed the same plan; but afterwards, not daring to engage him by
land, from a great rumour of fresh auxiliaries, he advances to meet
him with a fleet of thirty-five ships, having put some chosen soldiers
on board. Setting out from Tarraco, on the second day, he reached a
convenient station, ten miles from the mouth of the Iberus. Two ships
of the Massilians, sent forward from that place reconnoitering,
brought word back that the Carthaginian fleet was stationed in the
mouth of the river, and that the camp was pitched upon the bank. In
order, therefore, to overpower them while off their guard and
incautious, by a universal and wide-spread terror, he weighed anchor
and advanced. In Spain there are several towers placed in high
situations, which they employ both as watch-towers and as places of
defence against pirates. From them first, a view of the ships of the
enemy having been obtained, the signal was given to Hasdrubal; and a
tumult arose in the camp, and on land sooner than on the ships and at
sea; the dashing of the oars and other nautical noises not being yet
distinctly heard, nor the promontories disclosing the fleet. Upon
this, suddenly one horseman after another, sent out by Hasdrubal,
orders those who were strolling upon the shore or resting quietly in
their tents, expecting any thing rather than the enemy and a battle on
that day, immediately to embark and take up arms: that the Roman fleet
was now a short distance from the harbour. The horsemen, despatched in
every direction, delivered these orders; and presently Hasdrubal
himself comes up with the main army. All places resound with noises of
various kinds; the soldiers and rowers hurrying together to the ships,

Online LibraryTitus LiviusThe History of Rome, Books 09 to 26 → online text (page 22 of 52)