With these expectations and for these reasons, Dio says, the Romans and Carthaginians had come to hold the most divergent opinions regarding the conduct of the war. For hopefulness, in that it leads all men to cheerfulness, makes them also more zealous and confident in the belief that they will be victorious; whereas hopelessness casts them into dejection and despair, and robs even courage of its strength.
Even as matters at a great distance and unknown are wont to disturb a great many, so now they struck no little fear to the hearts of the Spaniards. For the majority of a multitude making a campaign not for any reason of its own but in the capacity of allies is a strong force just so long as the men have hopes of obtaining some benefit without danger; but when they have come close to the conflict, they abandon their hopes of gain and lose their faith in promises. And for the most part they get it into their heads that they are by all means going to be successful in every case; consequently, even if they should meet with some reverse, they regard it lightly in comparison with the hopes which have been offsetting it.
When the preparations that had been made proved to be in no wise commensurate with the size of Hannibal's army, and some one on this account suggested to him that the soldiers be fed on the flesh of their opponents, he did not take the idea amiss, but said he feared that some day through lack of bodies of that kind they might turn to eating one another.
Hannibal before beginning the struggle called together the soldiers and brought in the captives whom he had taken by the way; then he asked the latter whether they wished to undergo imprisonment in fetters and to endure a grievous slavery or to fight in single combat with one another on condition that the victors should be released without ransom. When they chose the second alternative, he set them to fighting. And at the end of the contest he said: "Now is it not shameful, soldiers, when these men who have been captured by us are so brave as to be eager to die in place of becoming slaves, that we on the other hand, shrink from incurring a little toil and danger for the sake of not being subservient to others yes, and of ruling them besides?
All the sufferings that we have ever endured when defeated by the enemy we will inflict upon them if we are victorious. For be well assured that by conquering we shall obtain all the benefits that I mention, but if conquered we shall not even have a safe means of escape. The victor straightway finds everything friendly, even if possibly it hates him, whereas to the vanquished none any longer pays heed not even those of his own household.
These things inspired Hannibal with good hope, but threw the Romans into a state of profound terror; they divided their forces into two parts and sent out the consuls, Sempronius Longus to Sicily and Publius Scipio to Spain. Hannibal, desiring to invade Italy with all possible speed, marched on hurriedly, and traversed without a conflict the whole of Gaul lying between the Pyrenees and the Rhone. As far as the Rhone river no one came to oppose him, but at that point Scipio showed himself, although his troops were not with him. Nevertheless, with the help of the natives and their nearest neighbours, he had already destroyed the boats in the river and had posted guards over the stream. Hannibal, therefore, consumed some time in building rafts and skiffs, some out of single logs; but still, with the help of numerous workers, he had everything ready that was needful for crossing before Scipio's army arrived. He sent his brother Mago, accompanied by the horsemen and a few light troops, to cross at a point where the river spreads out to a considerable width, its course being interrupted by islands; but he himself made a show of crossing by the visible ford, his object being that the Gauls should be deceived and array themselves against him only, while stationing their guards with less care at other points along the river. And this is exactly what occurred. Mago had already got across the river when Hannibal and his followers were crossing by the ford. On reaching the middle of the stream they raised the war cry and the trumpeters joined with the blare of their instruments; and Mago fell upon their opponents from the rear. In this way the elephants and all the rest crossed in safety. They had just finished crossing when Scipio's force arrived. Both sides, accordingly, sent horsemen to reconnoitre, and a cavalry battle ensued, with the same result as attended the war as a whole: the Romans, that is, after first getting the worst of it and losing a number of men, were in the end victorious.
Then Hannibal, in haste to set out for Italy, but suspicious of the more direct roads, turned aside from them and followed another, on which he met with grievous hardships. For the mountains there are exceedingly precipitous, and the snow, which had fallen in great quantities, was driven by the winds and filled the chasms, and the ice was frozen very hard. These circumstances combined to cause his soldiers fearful suffering, and many of them perished by reason of the cold and lack of food; many also returned home. There is a story to the effect that he himself would also have turned back but for the fact that the road already traversed was longer and more difficult that the portion remaining before him. For this reason, then, he did not turn back, but suddenly appearing from out the Alps, spread astonishment and fear among the Romans.
So he advanced, taking possession of whatever lay before him. Scipio sent his brother Gaius Scipio, who was serving as lieutenant under him, into Spain, either to seize and hold it or else to draw Hannibal back. He himself marched against Hannibal; and after waiting a few days they both advanced to the contest. But before beginning the struggle, Hannibal called together the soldiers and brought in the captives whom he had taken by the way; he asked the latter whether they preferred to undergo imprisonment and to endure a grievous slavery or to fight in single combat with one another on condition that the victors should be released without ransom. When they chose the second alternative, he set them to fighting. And at the end of the contest he addressed his soldiers, encouraging them and whetting their eagerness for war. Scipio also did the same on the Roman side. Then they began the contest in the intention of fighting with their entire armies; but Scipio in a preliminary cavalry skirmish was defeated, lost many men, was wounded, and would have been killed, had not his son Scipio, though only seventeen years old, come to his aid; he was consequently alarmed lest his infantry should meet with a similar reverse, and he at once fell back and that night withdrew from the field.
Hannibal learning at daybreak of his withdrawal proceeded to the Po, and when he found there neither rafts nor boats for they had been burned by Scipio he ordered his brother Mago to swim across with the cavalry and pursue the Romans, whereas he himself marched up toward the sources of the river, and then ordered that the elephants should cross down stream. In this manner, while the water was temporarily dammed and spread out by the animals' bulk, he effected a crossing more easily below them. Scipio, overtaken, stood his ground and would have offered battle but for the fact that by night the Gauls in his army deserted. Embarrassed by this occurrence and still suffering from his wound, he once more broke camp at nightfall and located his entrenchments on high ground. He was not pursued but later the Carthaginians came up and encamped with the river between the two forces.
Scipio, on account of his wound and because of what had taken place, was inclined to wait and send for reinforcements; and Hannibal, after many attempts to provoke him to battle, finding that he could not do this and that he was short of provisions, attacked a fort where a large supply of food was stored for the Romans. As he made no headway, he used money to bribe the commander of the garrison, and thus got possession of the place by betrayal. He hoped also to capture the other points, partly by arms and partly by gold. Meanwhile Longus had entrusted Sicily to his lieutenant and had come in response to Scipio's call. Not much later, influenced by ambition, on the one hand, and also by the fact of a victory over some marauders, he presented himself in battle array. But he lost the day by falling into an ambuscade; and when Hannibal attacked him with his infantry and elephants, the followers of Longus turned to flight and many were put to the sword, while many others, heedless of the river, fell in and were drowned, so that only a few were saved with Longus. And yet Hannibal, though victorious, was not happy, because he had lost many soldiers and all his elephants except one by reason of the cold and their wounds.
Accordingly, they arranged an armistice without any formal pledges, and both sides retired to the territory of their allies and passed the winter in the cities there. Abundant provisions kept coming to the Romans; but Hannibal, not satisfied with the contributions of the allies, made frequent raids upon the Roman villages and cities, sometimes conquering, sometimes being repulsed. Once he was beaten by Longus and his cavalry and received a wound. Some of the Romans, encouraged by this, came out by themselves to oppose him when he assailed them. These he destroyed and received the capitulation of the place, which he razed to the ground. Of the captives taken he killed the Romans, but released the rest. This he did also in the case of all those taken alive, hoping to conciliate the cities by their influence. And, indeed, many of the other Gauls as well as Ligurians and Etruscans either murdered the Romans dwelling within their borders, or surrendered them and then transferred their allegiance.
As Hannibal was advancing into Etruria Longus attacked him in the midst of a great storm. Many fell on both sides, and Hannibal entered Liguria, where he delayed some time. Being suspicious of even his own mean and feeling free to trust no one, he made frequent changes of costume, wore false hair, and spoke different languages at different times (for he knew a number, including Latin); and both night and day he would make frequent rounds of inspection, listening to a great deal of conversation init guise of an entirely different person from Hannibal, and occasionally talking thus in character.
While this was going on in Italy the other Scipio, Gaius, had sailed along the coast to Spain, and had won over, partly by force and partly without opposition, all the districts that border on the sea as far as the Iberus, and many parts of the interior as well. He had also defeated Banno in battle and had taken him prisoner. Hasdrubal, the brother of Hannibal, on learning of this, crossed the Iberus and reduced some of the rebels; but when Scipio advanced against him, he withdrew.
For the whole Gallic race is naturally more or less fickle, cowardly, and faithless. Just as they are readily emboldened in the face of hopes, so even the more readily when frightened do they fall into a panic. And the fact that they were no more faithful to the Carthaginians will not only teach the rest of mankind a lesson never to dare to invade Italy ...
Many portents, some of which had actually occurred and others which were mere idle talk, became the subject of conversation. For when people get seriously frightened and certain portents are proved to them really to have occurred, oftentimes others are imagined. And if once any one of the former class is believed, immediately the rest likewise are rashly accepted as true. Accordingly, the sacrifices were offered and all the other rites observed which men are in the habit of performing for the cure of their momentary terror and for except from expected disaster. But most men are wont to trust hopefully in such agencies, contrary to their true interest; and so at this time, even though, because of the magnitude of the danger anticipated, they believed more strongly than ever that the harshest fate would befall them, they still kept hoping that they might not be defeated.
The people of Rome again chose Flaminius and Geminus consuls. At the very beginning of spring Hannibal was apprised that Flaminius together with Servilius Geminus was advancing against him with a large force, and he set himself to deceiving them. He pretended that he was going to tarry there and offer battle, and when the Romans, thinking that he would remain in his present position, became careless in guarding the roads, he set out at nightfall, leaving his cavalry behind in camp, quietly traverses the passes, have hastened on towards Arretium; and the cavalry, after he had got far ahead, set out to follow him. When the consuls found they had been tricked, Geminus stayed behind to harass those who had revolted and prevent them from assisting the Carthaginians, and Flaminius alone pursued, eager that he alone should have the credit for the expected victory. He succeeded in occupying Arretium first, for Hannibal in taking a shorter route had encountered difficult roads and had lost numerous men, many pack animals, and one of his eyes. It was late, then, when he reached Arretium and found there Flaminius, whom he regarded with contempt. He did not give battle, for the spot seemed to him unsuitable; but by way of testing his enemy he proceeded to lay waste the country. At this the Romans made a sally and he returned, to give them the idea that he was afraid. During the night he withdrew, and finding a satisfactory spot for battle, remained there. He arranged that most of the infantry should form an ambush along the mountain sides, and ordered all the cavalry to lie in wait concealed from view outside the pass; he himself encamped with a few followers on the hilltop. Flaminius was very confident, and when he saw Hannibal with but a few men on the high ground he believed that the rest of the army had been sent to some distant point, and hoped to take him easily while thus isolated. So he carelessly entered the mouth of the pass and there, since it was late, pitched camp. About midnight, when the Romans were sleeping unguarded, through scorn of their enemies, the Carthaginians surrounded them on every side at once, and by using from a distance javelins, slings, and arrows they killed some who were still in their beds and others who were just seizing their arms, without receiving themselves any serious harm in return. For the Romans, having no tangible adversaries and with darkness and mist prevailing, found no opportunity to make use of their valour. So great was the uproar and such the confusion and alarm that seized them, that they were not even aware of the earthquakes then occurring, although many buildings fell in ruins and many mountains either were cleft asunder or collapsed so that they blocked up the ravines, and rivers shut off from their ancient outlets turned elsewhere. Such were the earthquakes which overwhelmed Etruria, yet the combatants were not conscious of them. Both Flaminius himself and a vast number of others fell, though not a few managed to climb a hill. When it became day, these turned to flight, but being overtaken, surrendered themselves and their arms on promise of pardon. Hannibal, however, recking little of his oaths, kept those who were Romans in chains, but released their subjects and allies from among all the captives he had in his army.
Text, (continued) Zonaras 8, 25 (continued)
The Romans proclaimed Fabius dictator, content if they could themselves survive, and neither sent any aid to the allies nor ... but learning that Hannibal had turned aside from the road leading to Rome and had set out for Campania, they made sure of the safety of those allies also, through fear that they might having sides either willingly or under compulsion.
Fabius continued to keep watch on him from a safe distance instead of by running risks; he would not venture to make trial of men skilled in the art of war, and he made the safety of the soldiers a matter of great solicitude, particularly in view of the small number of the citizens, deeming it no disaster to fail of destroying the forces of the enemy, but a great one to lose any of his own troops. For he believed the Carthaginians, with their enormous multitude, would risk another encounter, even if once defeated, whereas, if he should lose even the smallest part of his own army, he calculated that he should find himself in every extremity of evil; this would not be due to the number of the dead on any such occasion, but to the magnitude of the previous reverses. He was in the habit of saying that men, so long as their affairs were in a flourishing condition, could often bear easily the severest losses, whereas those who were already exhausted would be harmed by the slightest reverses. Hence, when his son once advised him to risk an encounter, and said something about the loss of not more than a hundred men, he would not consent, and he furthermore asked him whether he would like to be one of the hundred men.
The Carthaginians, far from voluntarily sending any support to him, were making sport of him, owing to the fact that, although he was continually writing of his favourable progress and his many successes, he also asked them for money and soldiers. They said his requests did not agree at all with his successes: victors ought to find the army they have sufficient, and ought to send money home instead of demanding still more from them.
I am under accusation, not because I rush headlong into battles, nor because I risk dangers in my office as general, purposing by losing many soldiers and killing many enemies to be hailed imperator and to celebrate a triumph, but because I am slow and because I delay and because I am always providing carefully for our safety.
It is customary for most men readily to assist those who are beginning to be successful, especially with a view to discrediting those already in favour; for it is their nature to help in advancing any force that is just coming to light, but to overthrow what has already obtained preëminence. People cannot, of course, immediately measure themselves with those who are very far ahead of them; but growth in an unexpected quarter brings hope a like good fortune to those still in obscurity
Hannibal, either as a favour to Fabius, because he was really of service to them, or perhaps to create a prejudice against him, did not ravage any of his possessions. Accordingly, when an exchange of captives was effected between the Romans and Carthaginians, with the proviso that any number in excess on either side should be ransomed, and the Romans emperor unwilling to ransom their men with money from the public treasury, Fabius sold the farms and paid their ransom. Therefore they did not depose him, but gave equal power to his master of horse, so that both held command simultaneously and on an equal footing. Fabius, for his part, cherished no anger against either the citizens or Rufus; he excused them for an act prompted by human nature and was content if in any way they might survive. For he desired the preservation and victory of the commonwealth rather than his own glory; and he believed that excellence depended not on decrees, but on each man's spirit, and that victory or defeat was the result not of any ordinance, but of a man's own wisdom or ignorance. Rufus, however, who had not shown the right spirit in the first place, was now more than ever puffed up and could not content himself, because he had actually obtained through his insubordination the prize of equal authority with the dictator. And so he kept asking for the right to hold sole command on alternate days, or for several days at a time. Fabius, fearing that he might cause them some mischief if he should get possession of the undivided power, did not consent to either of his proposals, but divided the army in such a way that they also, like the consuls, had each his own force. And immediately Rufus encamped apart, in order to make it clear in a practical way that he was commanding in his own right and not subject to the dictator.
Rufus, who, after obtaining equal authority with the dictator, had been defeated by the Carthaginians, altered his course (for disasters somehow chasten those who are not utter fools) and voluntarily resigned his command. And for this all praised him highly. He was not thought deserving of censure for his failure to recognize at first what was fitting, but was rather commended for not hesitating to change his mind. They deemed it really a piece of good fortune for a man to choose right at the start a proper course of conduct, whereas they were loud in the praise of the course of one, who, having learned from practical experience the better way, was not ashamed to change his course. Thus from this episode, too, it was clearly shown how much one man differs from another and true excellence from the reputation therefor. What had been taken away from Fabius by the citizens, as the result of envy and slander, he received back with the good-will and even at the request of his colleague.
The same man, when about to retire from office, sent for the consuls, surrendered it the army to them and furthermore advised them very fully regarding all the details of what must be done. For the safety of the city stood higher in his estimation the a reputation for being the only successful commander; and for his praise he looked not to the failures they would make in following their own counsels, but rather to the successes they would gain in heeding his advice. And the consuls, acting on the suggestion of Fabius, were not unduly bold, but deemed it better not to accomplish any important result than to be ruined; hence they remained where they were throughout the entire period of their command.
After this success he hastened toward Rome and proceeded as far as Narnia, devastating the country and winning over the cities, with the exception of Spoletium, but was repulsed, and as he saw that the bridge over the Nar had been destroyed, and ascertained that this had been done also in the case of the other rivers which he would have to cross, he desisted from his advance upon Rome. Instead, he turned aside into Campania, for he heard that the land was most excellent and that Capua was a very great city, and thought that if he should first seize these he might acquire the rest of Italy also in a short time.
The people of Rome, when informed of the defeat, were grieved and lamented both for the lost and for themselves. They were in sore straits and tore down the bridges over the Tiber, with one exception, and proceeded hurriedly to repair their walls, which were damaged in many places. And wishing to have a dictator in readiness, they proclaimed one themselves in the assembly. Content, however, if they alone could be saved, they had sent no aid to the allies; but now, learning that Hannibal had set out for Campania, they determined to assist the allies also. To Hannibal they opposed the dictator Fabius and the master of the horse Marcus Minucius. These leaders set out in his direction, but did not come to close quarters with him; they followed and kept him in view, in the hope that a favourable opportunity for battle might sometimes occur. Fabius was unwilling to risk a conflict with cowed and beaten soldiers against a greater number who had been victorious. Furthermore, he hoped that the more his foes should injure the country, the sooner they would be in want of food. In view of these considerations he did not defend Campania or any other district. As a result, he confined hostilities entirely within Campania; for, unknown to the enemy, he had surrounded them on every side and now kept guard over them. He himself secured an abundance of provisions both from the sea and from the territory of the allies, but the invaders, he knew, had only the products of the land which they were devastating to depend upon. Consequently he waited and did not mind the delay; and he was therefore blamed by his fellow-citizens, who even gave him the name of Delayer.
When it came to be nearly winter and Hannibal could not pass that season where he was, owing to the lack of necessary supplies, and yet had been checked in numerous attempts to get out of Campania, he devised a plan of the following nature. He first slew all the captives, so that no one of them might escape and acquaint the Romans with what was being done. Then he collected the cattle which were in camp, attached torches to their horns, and proceeded at nightfall toward the mountains on the Samnite border, where he lighted the torches and stampeded the cattle. They, maddened by the fire and by blows, set fir to the forest in many places, and consequently rendered it easy for Hannibal to cross the mountains. The Romans in the plain as well as those on the heights were in dread of an ambuscade and would not stir. Thus Hannibal got across and made his way into Samnium.
Fabius, ascertaining the next day what had happened, gave chase and routed those left behind on the road to hinder his men's progress; he also defeated the troops that came to the assistance of the first party. He then encamped not far from the enemy, yet would not come to blows with them. However, he prevented them from scattering and foraging, so that Hannibal, in perplexity, at first set out for Rome; but when Fabius would not fight, but quietly followed along, he again turned back into Samnium. And Fabius, following on, continued to keep watch on him from a safe distance, being anxious not to lose any of his own troops, especially since he could obtain necessities in abundance, whereas he saw that his foe possessed nothing apart from his weapons and that no assistance was sent to him from home. For the Carthaginians were actually making sport of Hannibal, inasmuch as he wrote of his favourable progress and his many successes, and at the same time asked them for soldiers and money. They said his requests did not accord with his successes: conquerors ought to find the army they have sufficient, and to forward money home instead of demanding more. As long as Fabius was present no disaster happened to the Romans, but when he departed for Rome on some public business, they met with a reverse. Rufus, the master of horse, who possessed the vain conceit of youth, was not observant of the errors of warfare and was angered by the delays of Fabius. Hence, when once he came to hold the command of the army by himself, he disregarded the injunctions of the dictator and hastened to bring on a pitched battle, in which at first he seemed to be victorious, but was soon defeated. Indeed, his force would have been utterly destroyed, had not some Samnites arrived by chance to aid the Romans and impressed the Carthaginians with the idea that Fabius was approaching. When for this reason they retired, he thought that he had vanquished them, and sent messages to Rome magnifying his exploit and also slandering the dictator; he called Fabius timid, a delayer, and a sympathizer with the enemy.
The people of Rome believed that Rufus had really conquered, and in view of this unexpected encouragement they commended and honoured him. They were suspicious of Fabius both because of this affair and because the enemy had not ravaged his fields in Campania; and it would have taken but little to cause them to deprive him of his command. However, since they believed him useful, they did not depose him, but assigned equal power to his master of horse, so that both held command on an equal footing. When this decree had been passed, Fabius, for his part, cherished no anger against either the citizens or Rufus; but Rufus, who had not shown the right spirit in the first place, was now especially puffed up and could not contain himself, but kept asking for the right to hold sole command on alternate days or for a period of several days at a time. Fabius, dreading that he might cause some mischief if he should get possession of the undivided power, did not consent to either of his proposals, but divided the army in such a way that each had his own force, in the same manner as did the consuls. And immediately Rufus encamped apart, in order to make it clear that he was commanding in his own right and not subject to the dictator. Hannibal, accordingly, on perceiving this, came up as if to seize a position, and drew him into battle. He then surrounded him by means of an ambuscade and placed him in such a dangerous position that his entire army would have been annihilated, had not Fabius assailed Hannibal in the rear and prevented it.
After this experience Rufus altered his course, and leading the remnant of his army immediately to Fabius, laid down his authority. He did not wait for the people to revoke it, but voluntarily resigned the command, which he alone of masters of the horse had obtained from his superior. And for this all praised him. Fabius at once, without any hesitation, accepted entire control, and the people gave their sanction. Thereafter, while himself head of the army he acted with great circumspection, and when about to retire from office he sent for the consuls, surrendered the army to them, and advised them very fully regarding all the details of what must be done. And they were not unduly bold, but acted entirely on the suggestion of Fabius, even though Geminus had already met with some success.
He had seen the Carthaginian fleet heading for Italy but not venturing to make a landing because of the counter-preparations of the Romans, and he had set out on a retaliatory voyage, after first making sure of the further conduct of the Corsicans and Sardinians by a cruise past their coasts; he had then landed in Africa and plundered the coast region. In spite of this achievement he was not so puffed up by it as to risk a decisive engagement with Hannibal, but was willing to abide by the injunctions of Fabius. As a consequence, the cities were no longer going over to the Carthaginians, as they had been doing; for they feared that Hannibal might be driven out of Italy and they themselves might suffer some injury at the hands of the Romans, since they were their neighbours. The majority, to be sure, were awaiting the outcome, but a few went over once more to the Romans, and some sent them offerings. Hiero also sent many gifts, but the Romans accepted only grain and a statue of Victory, although they were in such hard straits for money that the silver coinage, which previously had been unalloyed and pure, was now mixed with copper. This is what took place in Italy at that period. Some slaves also formed a conspiracy against Rome, but were apprehended in time. And a spy caught in the city had his hands cut off and was then released, so that he might himself bear witness to the Carthaginians of his experience. In Spain, in a sea-fight near the mouth of the Iberus, Scipio was victorious; when the struggle had proved to be indecisive, the sails had been cut down, in order that the men might be rendered desperate and so fight more zealously. He also ravaged the country, captured numerous fortresses, and through his brother, Publius Scipio, won over some Spanish cities. A Spaniard named Abelux, who affected loyalty to the Carthaginians, but was in reality furthering the Roman interests, persuaded the keeper of the Spanish hostages to send them to their homes, in order that through them, as he suggested, their cities might be brought into friendly relations. Abelux naturally took charge of them, inasmuch as he had been the one to suggest the idea, but he first sent to the Scipios and acquainted them with his purpose; then, while he was secretly taking the hostages away by night, he managed to be captured. In this way the Romans obtained possession of these men and won over their native states by restoring them to their homes.