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Hannibal's Greatness

And so, though Hannibal's claims to be reckoned a
An incident in the attempt of Hannibal to enter Salapia, under cover of a letter sealed by the ring of the dead Consul Marcus. Livy, 27, 28.
great general are manifold, there is none more conspicuous than this, that though engaged for a great length of time in an enemy's country, and though he experienced a great variety of fortune, he again and again inflicted a disaster on his opponents in minor encounters, but never suffered one himself, in spite of the number and severity of the contests which he conducted: and the reason, we may suppose was, that he took great care of his personal safety. And very properly so: for if the leader escapes uninjured and safe, though a decisive defeat may have been sustained, fortune offers many opportunities for retrieving disasters; but if he has fallen, the pilot as it were of the ship, even should fortune give the victory to the army, no real advantage is gained; because all the hopes of the soldiers depend upon their leaders. So much for those who fall into such errors from foolish vanity, childish parade, ignorance, or contempt. For it is ever one or the other of these that is at the bottom of such disasters. . . . They suddenly let down the portcullis, which they had raised somewhat by pulleys, and thus closed up the gateway. Then they took the men and crucified them before the walls. . . .

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 28
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