previous next

Hannibal's Tactics Sound

Still Hannibal took his measures against each of these difficulties in a manner that could not be surpassed. He provided himself with those numerous elephants, and put them in the van, for the express purpose of throwing the enemy's ranks into confusion and breaking their order. Again he stationed the mercenaries in front and the Carthaginians behind them, in order to wear out the bodies of the enemy with fatigue beforehand, and to blunt the edge of their swords by the numbers that would be killed by them; and moreover to compel the Carthaginians, by being in the middle of the army, to stay where they were and fight, as the poet says1— “"That howsoe'er unwilling fight he must."
” But the most warlike and steady part of his army he held in reserve at some distance, in order that they might not see what was happening too closely, but, with strength and spirit unimpaired, might use their courage to the best advantage when the moment arrived. And, if in spite of having done everything that could be done, he who had never been beaten before failed to secure the victory now, we must excuse him. For there are times when chance thwarts the plans of the brave; and there are others again, when a man “"Though great and brave has met a greater still."2
” And this we might say was the case with Hannibal on this occasion. . . .

1 Homer, Iliad, 4, 300.

2 A line of which the author is unknown; perhaps it was Theognis.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: