The troops were impressed by the high dignity of his office, the personal renown of the man, and, above all, by his [p. 2109]
age: for, though more than sixty years old, he discharged the duties of youth, taking on himself the principal share both of the labour and danger. His legion filled up the space between the targeteers and the phalanxes, and thus disunited the enemy's line.
Behind him were the targeteers, and his front faced the shielded phalanx of Chalcaspides. Lucius Albinus, a man of consular rank, was ordered to lead on the second legion against the phalanx of the Leucaspides, which formed the centre of the enemy's line.
On the right wing, where the fight began, at the river, he brought forward the elephants, with the cohorts of allied cavalry; and from this quarter the retreat of the Macedonians first began.
For as new contrivances generally make an important figure in the words of men, but on being put in practice ofttimes prove vain and ineffectual, so on that occasion the elephants in the line of battle were a mere name, without the least use. Their attack was followed by the Latin allies, who forced the enemy's left wing to give way.
In the centre, the second legion charged and dispersed the phalanx;
nor was there any more evident cause of the victory, than there being many distinct fights, which first disordered that body, when it wavered, and at last quite broke it. Its force, while it is compact and bristling with extended spears, is irresistible; but if, by attacking them separately, you force them to turn about their spears, which, on account of their length and weight, are unwieldy, they are mingled in a confused mass; and, if any disorder arises on the flank or rear, they fall into irretrievable disorder.
Thus, now, they were obliged to oppose the Romans in small parties, and with their own line broken into numerous divisions; and the Romans, when any opening was made, worked themselves into their ranks.
But had they advanced with their entire line, straight against the phalanx when in its regular order, just as happened to the Pelignians, who, in the beginning of the battle, incautiously engaged the targeteers;
they would have impaled themselves on the spears, and would have been unable to withstand such a firm body.