The signal being given, there was a general call to collect the baggage: then setting out, and proceeding in order of march to the dictator's camp, they excited at once the surprise of the dictator himself and all around him.
When the standards were planted before the tribunal, the master of the horse, advancing before the rest, having saluted Fabius as father, and the whole body of his troops having, with one voice, saluted the soldiers who surrounded him as patrons, said,
“To my parents, dictator, to whom I have just now equalled you, only in name, as far as I could express myself, I am indebted for my life only; to you I owe both my own preservation and that of all these soldiers.
That order of the people, therefore, with which I have been oppressed rather than honoured, I first cancel and annul; and (may it be auspicious to me and you, and to these your armies, to the preserved and the preserver,) I return to your authority and auspices, and restore to you these standards and these legions;
and I entreat you that, being reconciled, you would order that I may retain the mastership of the horse, and that these soldiers may each of them retain their ranks.”
After that hands were joined, and when the assembly was dismissed, the soldiers were kindly and hospitably invited by those known to them and unknown: and that day, from having been a little while ago gloomy in the extreme, and almost accursed, was turned into a day of joy.
At Rome, when the report of the action was conveyed thither, and was [p. 800]
afterwards confirmed, not less by letters from the common soldiers of both armies, than from the generals themselves, all men individually extolled Maximus to the skies.
His renown was equal with Hannibal, and his enemies the Carthaginians: and then at length they began to feel that they were engaged in war with Romans, and in Italy.
For the two preceding years they entertained so utter a contempt for the Roman generals and soldiers, that they could scarcely believe that they were waging war with the same nation which their fathers had reported to them as being so formidable.
They relate also, that Hannibal said, as he returned from the field, that at length that cloud, which was used to settle on the tops of the mountains, had sent down a shower with a storm.