|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 41: Speech of Quintus Fabius against Scipio's plan to attack Africa (cont.)[205 BC]
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"It is but fair, Publius Cornelius, that whilst in my own case I [Note 1] have never preferred my own reputation to the interests of the State, you should pardon me for not regarding even your glory as more important than the welfare of the common-wealth. I admit that if there were no war in Italy or only an enemy from whose defeat no glory was to be gained, then the man who would keep you in Italy though acting in the public interest might appear to be depriving you of the chance of winning glory in a foreign war. But as our enemy Hannibal has been holding Italy for fourteen years with an undefeated army, you will surely not despise the glory of expelling from Italy during your consulship the enemy who has been the cause of so many defeats, so many deaths, and of leaving it on record that it is you who have terminated this war, as Gaius Lutatius has the lasting glory of bringing the First Punic War to a close? Unless, indeed, Hasdrubal was a finer general than Hannibal, or the last war a more serious one than this one, or the victory which closed it a greater and more brilliant one than this will be, should it fall to our lot to conquer whilst you are consul. Would you rather have drawn [Note 2] Hamilcar away from Drepana and Eryx, than expel Hannibal and his Carthaginians from Italy? Even though you should cling to the glory you have acquired more than to what you hope for, you will not pride yourself upon having delivered Spain from war rather than Italy. Hannibal is not yet such an enemy that the man who prefers to fight against another foe would not be thought to fear rather than to despise him. Why do you not gird yourself to this task? Why do you not march straight from here to where Hannibal is and carry the war thither instead of taking a roundabout course in the hope that when you have crossed over into Africa he will follow you? You are anxious to win the crowning glory of bringing the Punic War to an end; your natural course will be to defend your own country before you go to attack the enemy's. Let there be peace in Italy before there is war in Africa; let our own fears be banished before we make others tremble. If both objects can be achieved under your generalship and auspices, then when you have conquered Hannibal here, go on and capture Carthage. If one of the two victories must be left for your successors, the former is the greater and more glorious one and will necessarily lead to the latter. As matters now are, the public exchequer is unable to support two armies in Italy and also in Africa, we have nothing left from which to equip a fleet and furnish it with supplies, and over and above all this who can fail to see what great dangers would be incurred? Publius Licinius, let us suppose, is conducting the campaign in Italy and Publius Scipio one in Africa. Well, supposing all the gods avert the omen which I shudder at the mention of but what has happened may happen again supposing, I say, that Hannibal wins a victory and marches on Rome, are we to wait till then before recalling you from Africa, as we recalled Quintus Fulvius from Capua? What, if even in Africa the fortunes of war prove equally favourable for both sides? Take warning from the fate of your own house, your father [Note 3] and uncle [Note 4] destroyed with their armies within a month of each other in the country where they had raised the name of Rome and the glory of your family high among the nations through their successful operations by land and sea. The daylight would fail me if I attempted to enumerate the kings and captains who by their rash invasion of their enemy's territory have brought the most crushing defeat on themselves and their armies. Athens, a city most sensible and wise, listened to the advice of a young man [Note 5] of high birth and equally high ability, and sent [Note 6] a great fleet to Sicily before it had disposed of the war at home, and in one naval battle the flourishing republic was, for ever ruined."
Note 1: I = Quintus Fabius Maximus