Hannibal's officers crowded round him with congratulations on his victory. The others all advised him, now that he had brought so great a war to a conclusion, to repose himself and to allow his weary soldiers to repose for the remainder of that day and the following night.
But Maharbal, the commander of the cavalry, held that no time should be lost. “Nay,” he cried, “that you may realize what has been accomplished by this battle, in five days you shall banquet in the Capitol! [p. 369]
Follow after; I will precede you with the cavalry,1
that the Romans may know that you are there before they know that you are coming!”
To Hannibal the idea was too joyous and too vast for his mind at once to grasp it. And so, while praising Maharbal's goodwill, he declared that he must have time to deliberate regarding his advice.
Then said Maharbal, “In very truth the gods bestow not on the same man all their gifts; you know how to gain a victory, Hannibal: you know not how to use one.” That day's delay is generally believed to have saved the City and the empire.
The morning after, as soon as it was light, they pressed forward to collect the spoil and to gaze on a carnage that was ghastly even to enemies.
There lay those thousands upon thousands of Romans, foot and horse indiscriminately mingled, as chance had brought them together in the battle or the rout. Here and there amidst the slain there started up a gory figure whose wounds had begun to throb with the chill of dawn, and was cut down by his enemies;
some were discovered lying there alive, with thighs and tendons slashed,2
baring their necks and throats and bidding their conquerors drain the remnant of their blood.
Others were found with their heads buried in holes dug in the ground. They had apparently made these pits for themselves, and heaping the dirt over their faces shut off their breath.
But what most drew the attention of all beholders was a Numidian who was dragged out alive from under [p. 371]
a dead Roman, but with mutilated nose and ears;3
for the Roman, unable to hold a weapon in his hands, had expired in a frenzy of rage, while rending the other with his teeth.4