The conflict lasted for about three hours, and was bitterly contested at every point; but nowhere did it rage so fiercely as about the consul.
He was attended by the bravest of his soldiers and stoutly lent a hand himself, wherever he saw the Romans hard pressed and in dire straits.
His arms made him conspicuous, and the enemy attacked and his own people defended him with the greatest fury, until an Insubrian horseman, named Ducarius, who recognized the consul also by his face, cried out to his countrymen, “Behold the man who massacred our legions and laid waste our fields and our city! Now will I offer him up as a sacrifice to the shades of our fellow citizens so foully slain!”
Then clapping spurs to his horse, he dashed through the very thick of his enemies, and first cutting down the armour-bearer, who had thrown himself in the way of his onset, transfixed the consul with his spear, but could not despoil him, for the veterans1
interposed their shields and kept him off.
A great part of the Romans now began to run; neither lake nor mountains could any longer check the panic; defiles and precipices were all alike to them, as they rushed blindly to escape, and arms and men came down pell-mell together.
Many, having no room to flee, waded out into the shallow water at the margin of the lake, and kept on till only their heads and shoulders were above the [p. 221]
Some were driven by their unreasoning2
panic even to attempt escape by swimming; but this was an endless, desperate undertaking, and either their hearts failed them and they sank in the deep water, or else, exhausted to no purpose, they struggled back with difficulty to the shoals, and were cut down on every hand by the horsemen, who rode into the water after them.
Some six thousand of those in the van made a valiant thrust through the enemy that barred their way, and got out of the defile without knowing anything of what was going on behind them. Taking up their stand on some rising ground, whence they could only hear the shouting and the clash of arms, they could neither know nor make out, for the murk, which way the victory was going.
It was not until the battle was decided, that the mist dissolved with the growing heat of the sun and revealed the day, when the clear light on hill and plain showed that all was lost and the Roman army shamefully discomfited.
And so, lest they should be seen afar and the enemy's cavalry be sent against them, they hurriedly pulled up their standards and marched off as fast as they could go.
On the following day, when besides their other misfortunes they were threatened also with the extremity of hunger, Maharbal —who with all the cavalry had overtaken them in the night —pledged his word that if they delivered up their arms, he would let them go, with a single garment each, and they surrendered.
This pledge Hannibal observed with true Punic reverence and threw them all into chains.