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Hannibal Takes a Position in the Valley

The route which he was following led through a low
The ambuscade at Lake Thrasymene.
valley enclosed on both sides by long lines of lofty hills. Of its two ends, that in front was blocked by an abrupt and inaccessible hill, and that on the rear by the lake, between which and the foot of the cliff there is only a very narrow defile leading into this valley. Making his way to the end of the valley along the bank of the lake, Hannibal posted himself with the Spanish and Libyan troops on the hill immediately in front of him as he marched, and pitched a camp on it; but sent his Balearic slingers and light-armed troops by a détour, and stationed them in extended order under the cover of the hills to the right of the valley; and by a similar détour placed the Gauls and cavalry under the cover of hills to the left, causing them also to extend their line so far as to cover the entrance of the defile running between the cliff and lake into the valley.1

Having made these preparations during the night, and having thus enclosed the valley with ambuscades, Hannibal remained quiet. In pursuit of him came Flaminius, in hot haste to close with the enemy. It was late in the evening before he pitched his camp on the border of the lake; and at daybreak next morning, just before the morning watch, he led his front maniples forward along the borders of the lake into the valley with a view of engaging the enemy.

1 Livy, 22, 4-6. For a discussion of the modern views as to the scene of the battle, see W. T. Arnold's edition of Dr. Arnold's History of the Second Punic War, pp. 384-393. The radical difference between the account of Livy and that of Polybius seems to be that the former conceives the fighting to have been on the north shore of the lake between Tucro and Passignano; Polybius conceives the rear to have been caught in the defile of Passignano, the main fighting to have been more to the east, where the road turns up at right angles to the lake by La Torricella. Mr. Capes, however, in his note on the passage of Livy, seems to think that both accounts agree in representing the fighting on the vanguard as being opposite Tucro.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), TRASIMENUS
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 22, 4
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