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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXI Chapter 57: Some further actions.[218 BC]
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|Such terror on account of this disaster was carried to Rome, that they believed that the enemy was already approaching the city with hostile standards, and that they had neither hope nor aid by which they might repel his attack from the gates and walls. One consul having been defeated at the Ticinus, the other having been recalled from Sicily, and now both consuls and their two consular armies having been vanquished, what other commanders, what other legions were there to be sent for? The consul Sempronius came to them whilst thus dismayed, having passed at great risk through the cavalry of the enemy, scattered in every direction in search of plunder, with courage, rather than with any plan or hope of escaping, or of making resistance if he should not escape it. Having held the assembly for the election of the consuls, the only thing which was particularly wanting at present, he returned to the winter quarters. Gnaeus Servilius and Gaius Flaminius were elected consuls. But not even the winter quarters of the Romans were undisturbed, the Numidian horse ranging at large, and where the ground was impracticable for these, the Celtiberians and Lusitanians. All supplies, therefore, from every quarter, were cut off, except such as the ships conveyed by the Po. There was a magazine near Placentia, both fortified with great care and secured by a strong garrison. In the hope of taking this fort, Hannibal having set out with the cavalry and the light-armed horse, and having attacked it by night, as he rested his main hope of effecting his enterprise on keeping it concealed, did not escape the notice of the guards. Such a clamour was immediately raised, that it was heard even at Placentia. The consul; therefore, came up with the cavalry about daybreak, having commanded the legions to follow in a square band. In the mean time an engagement of cavalry commenced, in which the enemy being dismayed because Hannibal retired wounded from the fight, the fortress was admirably defended. After this, having taken rest for a few days, and before his wound was hardly as yet sufficiently healed, he sets out to lay siege to Victumviae. This magazine had been fortified by the Romans in the Gallic war; afterwards a mixture of inhabitants from the neighbouring states around had made the place populous; and at this time the terror created by the devastation of the enemy had driven together to it numbers from the country. A multitude of this description, excited by the report of the brave defence of the fortress near Placentia, having snatched up their arms, went out to meet Hannibal. They engaged on the road rather like armies in order of march than in line of battle; and since on the one side there was nothing but a disorderly crowd, and on the other a general confident in his soldiers, and soldiers in their general, as many as thirty-five thousand men were routed by a few. On the following day, a surrender having been made, they received a garrison within their walls; and being ordered to deliver up their arms, as soon as they had obeyed the command, a signal is suddenly given to the victors to pillage the city, as if it had been taken by storm; nor was any outrage, which in such cases is wont to appear to writers worthy of relation, left unperpetrated; such a specimen of every kind of lust, barbarity, and inhuman insolence was exhibited towards that unhappy people. Such were the expeditions of Hannibal during the winter.||
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Standard:When an army was in camp, they were fixed in the ground, each marking the station of the cohort to which it belonged; when they were taken up it was the signal for breaking up the camp and commencing the march.
Horse:a. the animal. b. cavalry.