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The Dictator took over the consul's army from Fulvius Flaccus, the second in command, and marched through Sabine territory to Tibur, where he had ordered the newly raised force to assemble by the appointed day.  From there he advanced to Praeneste, and taking a cross-country route, came out on the Latin road. From this point he proceeded towards the enemy, showing the utmost care in reconnoitring all the various routes, and determined not to take any risks anywhere, except so far as necessity should compel him.  The first day he pitched his camp in view of the enemy not far from Arpi; the Carthaginian lost no time in marching out his men in battle order to give him the chance of fighting.  But when he saw that the enemy kept perfectly quiet and that there were no signs of excitement in their camp, he tauntingly remarked that the spirits of the Romans, those sons of Mars, were broken at last, the war was at an end, and they had openly foregone all claim to valour and renown. He then returned into camp.  But he was really in a very anxious state of mind, for he saw that he would have to do with a very different type of commander from Flaminius or Sempronius; the Romans had been taught by their defeats and had at last found a general who was a match for him.  It was the wariness not the impetuosity of the Dictator that was the immediate cause of his alarm; he had not yet tested his inflexible resolution.  He began to harass and provoke him by frequently shifting his camp and ravaging the fields of the allies of Rome before his very eyes. Sometimes he would march rapidly out of sight and then in some turn of the road take up a concealed position in the hope of entrapping him, should he come down to level ground.  Fabius kept on high ground, at a moderate distance from the enemy, so that he never lost sight of him and never closed with him. Unless they were employed on necessary duty, the soldiers were confined to camp.  When they went in quest of wood or forage they went in large bodies and only within prescribed limits. A force of cavalry and light infantry told off in readiness against sudden alarms, made everything safe for his own soldiers and dangerous for the scattered foragers of the enemy.  He refused to stake everything on a general engagement, whilst slight encounters, fought on safe ground with a retreat close at hand, encouraged his men, who had been demoralised by their previous defeats, and made them less dissatisfied with their own courage and fortunes.  But his sound and common-sense tactics were not more distasteful to Hannibal than they were to his own Master of the Horse. Headstrong and impetuous in counsel and with an ungovernable tongue, the only thing that prevented Minucius from making shipwreck of the State was the fact that he was in a subordinate command.  At first to a few listeners, afterwards openly amongst the rank and file, he abused Fabius, calling his deliberation indolence and his caution cowardice, attributing to him faults akin to his real virtues, and by disparaging his superior-a vile practice which, through its often proving successful, is steadily on the increase-he tried to exalt himself.
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