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Quote of the day: The aspect of Italy would have struck hi
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 27: Marcellus killed[208 BC]
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Marcellus, however, was seized with such a keen desire of engaging Hannibal that he never thought that their respective camps were near enough to each other. As he was crossing the rampart on his way to the hill he signalled to the soldiers to be at their posts, ready to get the baggage together and follow him in case he decided that the hill which he was going to reconnoitre was suitable for a camp. There was a narrow stretch of level ground in front of the camp, and from there a road led up to the hill which was open and visible from all sides. The Numidians posted a vidette to keep a look out, not in the least anticipating such a serious encounter as followed, but simply in the hope of intercepting any who had strayed too far from their camp after wood or fodder. This man gave the signal for them to rise from their concealment. Those who were in front of the Romans further up the hill did not show themselves until those who were to close the road behind them had worked round their rear. Then they sprang up on all sides, and with a loud shout charged down. Though the consuls were hemmed in, unable to force their way to the hill which was occupied, and with their retreat cut off by those in their rear, still the conflict might have kept up for a longer time if the Etruscans, who were the first to flee, had not created a panic among the rest. The Fregellans, however, though abandoned by the Etruscans, maintained the conflict as long as the consuls were unwounded and able to cheer them on and take their part in the fighting. But when both the consuls were wounded, when they saw Marcellus fall dying from his horse, run through with a lance, then the little band of survivors fled in company with Crispinus, who had been hit by two darts, and young Marcellus, who was himself wounded. Aulus Manlius was killed, and Manius Aulius; the other prefect of allies, Arrenius, was taken prisoner. Five of the consuls' lictors fell into the hands of the enemy, the rest were either killed or escaped with the consul. Forty-three of the cavalry fell either in the battle or the pursuit, eighteen were made prisoners. There was great excitement in the camp, and they were hurriedly preparing to go to the consuls' assistance when they saw one consul and the son of the other coming back wounded with the scanty remnant who had survived the disastrous expedition. The death of Marcellus was to be deplored for many reasons, especially because, with an imprudence not to be expected at his age he was more than sixty and altogether out of keeping with the caution of a veteran general, he had flung into headlong danger not only himself but his colleague as well, and almost the entire common-wealth. I should make too long a digression about one solitary fact, if I were to go through all the accounts of the death of Marcellus. I will only cite one authority, Coelius. He gives three different versions of what happened, one handed down by tradition, another copied from the funeral oration delivered by his son who was on the spot, and a third which Coelius gives as the ascertained result of his own researches. Amidst the variations of the story, however, most authorities agree that he left the camp to reconnoitre the position, and all agree that he was ambushed.

Actions in Italy in 208 BC

Event: Actions in Italy in 208 BC