When all others, surrounding the victorious Hannibal, congratulated him, and advised that, having completed so great a battle, he should himself take the remainder of the day and the ensuing night for rest, and grant it to his exhausted troops;
Maharbal, prefect of the cavalry, who was of opinion that no time should be lost, said to him, “Nay, rather, that you may know what has been achieved by this battle, five days hence you shall feast in triumph in the Capitol. Follow me: I will go first with the cavalry, that they may know that I am arrived before they know of me as approaching.”
To Hannibal this project appeared too full of joy, and too great for his mind to embrace it and determine upon it at the instant. Accordingly, he replied to Maharbal, that “he applauded his zeal, but that time was necessary to ponder the proposal.”
Upon this Maharbal observed, “Of a truth the gods have not [p. 821]
bestowed all things upon the same person. You know how to conquer, Hannibal; but you do not know how to make use of your victory.” That day's delay is firmly believed to have been the preservation of the city and the empire.
On the following day, as soon as it dawned, they set about gathering the spoils and viewing the carnage, which was shocking, even to enemies.
So many thousands of Romans were lying, foot and horse promiscuously, according as accident had brought them together, either in the battle or in the flight. Some, whom their wounds, pinched by the morning cold, had roused, as they were rising up, covered with blood, from the midst of the heaps of slain, were overpowered by the enemy.
Some too they found lying alive with their thighs and hams cut, who, laying bare their necks and throats, bid them drain the blood that remained in them.
Some were found with their heads plunged into the earth, which they had excavated; having thus, as it appeared, made pits for themselves, and having suffocated themselves by overwhelming their faces with the earth which they threw over them.
A living Numidian, with lacerated nose and ears, stretched beneath a lifeless Roman who lay upon him, principally attracted the attention of all; for when his hands were powerless to grasp his weapon, turning from rage to madness, he had died in the act of tearing his antagonist with his teeth.