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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXII Chapter 18: Hannibal escapes and withdraws to Apulia.[217 BC]
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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 troops 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. |
Event: Actions in Italy in 217 BC; The battle of lake Trasimene.