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Quintus Fabius Maximus

Pitching his camp on the shore of the Adriatic, in a district extraordinarily rich in every kind of produce, he took great pains to refresh his men and restore their health, and no less so that of the horses. For the cold and squalor of a winter spent in Gallia Cis-Alpina without the protection of a roof, and then the painful march through the marshes, had brought upon most of the horses, and the men as well, an attack of scurvy and all its consequences. Having therefore now got possession of a rich country, he got his horses into condition again, and restored the bodies and spirits of his soldiers; and made the Libyans change their own for Roman arms selected for the purpose, which he could easily do from being possessed of so many sets stripped from the bodies of the enemy. He now sent messengers, too, to Carthage by sea, to report what had taken place, for this was the first time he had reached the sea since he entered Italy. The Carthaginians were greatly rejoiced at the news: and took measures with enthusiasm for forwarding supplies to their armies, both in Iberia and Italy.

Meanwhile the Romans had appointed Quintus Fabius Dictator,1 a man distinguished no less for his wisdom than his high birth; as is still commemorated by the fact that the members of his family are even now called Maximi, that is "Greatest," in honour of his successful achievements.

Q. Fabius Maximus Dictator.
A Dictator differs from the Consuls in this, that each Consul is followed by twelve lictors, the Dictator by twenty-four. Again, the Consuls have frequently to refer to the Senate to enable them to carry out their proposed plans; but the Dictator is absolute, and when he is appointed all other magistrates in Rome are at once deprived of power, except the Tribunes of the People.2 I shall, however, take another opportunity of speaking in more detail about these officers. With the Dictator they appointed Marcus Minucius master of the horse; this is an officer under the Dictator, and takes his place when engaged elsewhere.

1 Polybius expresses the fact accurately, for, in the absence of a Consul to nominate a Dictator, Fabius was created by a plebiscitum; but the scruples of the lawyers were quieted by his having the title of prodictator only (Livy, 22, 8).

2 Ramsay (Roman Antiquities, p. 148) denies this exception, quoting Livy, 6, 16. But Polybius could hardly have been mistaken on such a point; and there are indications (Plutarch, Anton. 9) that the Tribunes did not occupy the same position as the other magistrates towards the Dictator.

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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 22, 8
    • Plutarch, Antonius, 9
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