Meanwhile the remnant saved from the field of battle had been assembled by two able military tribunes, Appius Claudius and Publius Scipio the younger, at Canusium. The latter managed, by his lofty spirit and by the brandished swords of his faithful comrades, to change the views of those genteel young lords who, in indolent despair of the salvation of their country, were thinking of escape beyond the sea. The consul Gaius Varro joined them with a handful of men; about two legions were gradually collected there; the senate gave orders that they should be reorganized and reduced to serve in disgrace and without pay. The incapable general was on a suitable pretext recalled to Rome; the praetor Marcus Claudius Marcellus, experienced in the Gallic wars, who had been destined to depart for Sicily with the fleet from Ostia, assumed the chief command. The utmost exertions were made to organize an army capable of taking the field. The Latins were summoned to render aid in the common peril. Rome itself set the example, and called to arms all the men above boyhood, armed the debtor-serfs and criminals, and even incorporated in the army eight thousand slaves purchased by the state. As there was a want of arms, they took the old spoils from the temples, and everywhere set the workshops and artisans in action. The senate was completed, not as timid patriots urged, from the Latins, but from the Roman burgesses who had the best title. Hannibal offered a release of captives at the expense of the Roman treasury; it was declined, and the Carthaginian envoy who had arrived with the deputation of captives was not admitted into the city: nothing should look as if the senate thought of peace. Not only were the allies to be prevented from believing that Rome was disposed to enter into negotiations, but even the meanest citizen was to be made to understand that for him as for all there was no peace, and that safety lay only in victory.

Notes For Chapter V

1. Polybius's account of the battle on the Trebia is quite clear. If Placentia lay on the right bank of the Trebia where it falls into the Po, and if the battle was fought on the left bank, while the Roman encampment was pitched upon the right--both of which points have been disputed, but are nevertheless indisputable--the Roman soldiers must certainly have passed the Trebia in order to gain Placentia as well as to gain the camp. But those who crossed to the camp must have made their way through the disorganized portions of their own army and through the corps of the enemy that had gone round to their rear, and must then have crossed the river almost in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy. On the other hand the passage near Placentia was accomplished after the pursuit had slackened; the corps was several miles distant from the field of battle, and had arrived within reach of a Roman fortress; it may even have been the case, although it cannot be proved, that a bridge led over the Trebia at that point, and that the -tete de pont- on the other bank was occupied by the garrison of Placentia. It is evident that the first passage was just as difficult as the second was easy, and therefore with good reason Polybius, military judge as he was, merely says of the corps of 10,000, that in close columns it cut its way to Placentia (iii. 74, 6), without mentioning the passage of the river which in this case was unattended with difficulty.

The erroneousness of the view of Livy, which transfers the Phoenician camp to the right, the Roman to the left bank of the Trebia, has lately been repeatedly pointed out. We may only further mention, that the site of Clastidium, near the modern Casteggio, has now been established by inscriptions (Orelli-Henzen, 5117).

2. III. III. The Celts Attacked In Their Own Land

3. The date of the battle, 23rd June according to the uncorrected calendar, must, according to the rectified calendar, fall somewhere in April, since Quintus Fabius resigned his dictatorship, after six months, in the middle of autumn (Lav. xxii. 31, 7; 32, i), and must therefore have entered upon it about the beginning of May. The confusion of the calendar (p. 117) in Rome was even at this period very great.

4. The inscription of the gift devoted by the new dictator on account of his victory at Gerunium to Hercules Victor-- -Hercolei sacrom M. Minuci(us) C. f. dictator vovit- --was found in the year 1862 at Rome, near S. Lorenzo.

5. III. III. Northern Italy

Chapter VI

The War Under Hannibal From Cannae To Zama

The Crisis

The aim of Hannibal in his expedition to Italy had been to break up the Italian confederacy: after three campaigns that aim had been attained, so far as it was at all attainable. It was clear that the Greek and Latin or Latinized communities of Italy, since they had not been shaken in their allegiance by the day of Cannae, would not yield to terror, but only to force; and the desperate courage with which even in Southern Italy isolated little country towns, such as the Bruttian Petelia, maintained their forlorn defence against the Phoenicians, showed very plainly what awaited them among the Marsians and Latins. If Hannibal had expected to accomplish more in this way and to be able to lead even the Latins against Rome, these hopes had proved vain. But it appears as if even in other respects the Italian coalition had by no means produced the results which Hannibal hoped for. Capua had at once stipulated that Hannibal should not have the right to call Campanian citizens compulsorily to arms; the citizens had not forgotten how Pyrrhus had acted in Tarentum, and they foolishly imagined that they should be able to withdraw at once from the Roman and from the Phoenician rule. Samnium and Luceria were no longer what they had been, when king Pyrrhus had thought of marching into Rome at the head of the Sabellian youth.

Not only did the chain of Roman fortresses everywhere cut the nerves and sinews of the land, but the Roman rule, continued for many years, had rendered the inhabitants unused to arms--they furnished only a moderate contingent to the Roman armies--had appeased their ancient hatred, and had gained over a number of individuals everywhere to the interest of the ruling community.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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