The consuls, after making a sufficient reconnaissance of the roads, followed the Phoenicians until they came to Cannae, where, having the enemy in view, they divided their forces, as they had done before, and fortified two camps, at about the same distance from one another as at Gereonium.1
The river Aufidus, flowing past both their camps, was readily accessible to water-carriers at such spots as were convenient for each, though not without fighting;
it was, however, from the smaller camp, which was situated across the Aufidus,2
that the Romans could fetch water more freely, since the enemy had no troops posted on the further bank.
Hannibal had conceived a hope that the consuls would give him an opportunity of fighting in a place that was formed by nature for a cavalry action, in which arm he was invincible. He therefore drew out his men in battle array and ordered the Numidians to make a sally and provoke the enemy.
This caused the camp of the Romans to be once more the scene of strife amongst the soldiers and dissension between the consuls. Paulus cast in Varro's teeth the recklessness of Sempronius and Flaminius;
Varro retorted that Fabius was a specious example for timid and slothful generals, and called on gods and men to witness that it was through no fault of his that Hannibal had by now acquired as it were a [p. 349]
prescriptive right to Italy, for he was kept in fetters3
by his colleague, and the soldiers, enraged as they were and eager to fight, were deprived of swords and arms.
Paulus rejoined that if anything untoward should befall the legions, recklessly abandoned to an ill-advised and rash engagement, he would himself be guiltless of all blame, but would share in all the consequences; let Varro, he said, see to it, that where tongues were bold and ready, hands —when it came to fighting —were no less so.