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47. With a shout the auxiliaries rushed forward and the battle began between the light-armed troops. Then the Gallic and Spanish horse which formed the left wing engaged with the Roman right in a combat very unlike a cavalry action. [2] For they had to charge front to front, there being no room to move out round the flank, for the river shut them in on one side and the ranks of infantry on the other. [3] Both parties pushed straight ahead, and as the horses came to a standstill, packed together in the throng, the riders began to grapple with their enemies and drag them from their seats. They were fighting on foot now, for the most part; but sharp though the struggle was, it was soon over, and the defeated Roman cavalry turned and fled.

[4] Towards the end of the cavalry engagement the [p. 355]infantry got into action. At first they were evenly1 matched in strength and courage, as long as the Gauls and Spaniards maintained their ranks; [5] but at last the Romans, by prolonged and frequent efforts, pushing forward with an even front and a dense line,2 drove in the wedge-like formation3 which projected from the enemy's line, for it was too thin to be strong; [6] and then, as the Gauls and Spaniards gave way and fell back in confusion, pressed forward and without once stopping forced their way through the crowd of fleeing, panic-stricken foes, till they reached first the centre4 and ultimately —for they met with no resistance —the African supports. [7] These had been used to form the two wings, which had been drawn back, while the centre, where the Gauls and Spaniards had been stationed, projected somewhat. When this wedge was first driven back so far as to straighten the front, and then, continuing to yield, even left a hollow in the centre, the Africans had already begun a flanking movement on either side, and as the Romans rushed incautiously in between, they [8??] enveloped them, and presently, extending their wings, crescent-wise, even closed in on their rear.5 From this moment the Romans, who had gained one battle to no purpose, gave over the [p. 357]pursuit and slaughter of the Gauls and Spaniards and6 began a new fight with [10] the Africans. In this they were at a twofold disadvantage: they were shut in, while their enemies ranged on every side of them; they were tired, and faced troops that were fresh and strong.

1 B.C. 216

2 Polybius says (III. cxv. 6) that “they had crowded up from the wings to the centre, where the fighting was going on.” Consequently their line was much deeper than that of their adversaries.

3 This is called by Polybius (III. cxiii. 8) , “a crescent-shaped convexity.” Kromayer rightly insists that this expression must not be taken literally, and understands it of a formation in echelon (see Schlachten-Atlas I., columns 23 and 26, and his map reproduced as No. 7 in this volume.)

4 in mediam aciem is a puzzling phrase, as it ought to mean the same thing as the projecting wedge which constituted the Carthaginian centre. But the Romans had already driven in this wedge. Livy perhaps means that the Romans have now reached a point where they are level with the two flanks (consisting of Africans) and midway between them.

5 Polybius (III. cxv. 9) gives a somewhat different account of this manœuvre. According to him the Africans [9] —who must have been drawn up in a line so deep as to be more like a column —merely faced inward, as the Romans pursued the fleeing Gauls and Spaniards, and charged them on both flanks.

6 B.C. 216

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load focus Summary (Latin, Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., 1929)
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load focus English (D. Spillan, A.M., M.D., Cyrus Evans, 1849)
load focus English (Rev. Canon Roberts, 1912)
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load focus Latin (Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., 1929)
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  • Commentary references to this page (4):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 31-32, commentary, 31.35
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 33-34, commentary, 33.18
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 35-38, commentary, 37.39
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 41-42, commentary, 42.47
  • Cross-references to this page (5):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita, Index, Pugnae
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita, Index, Cannae
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita, Index, Cuneus
    • Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges, SYNTAX OF THE VERB
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (6):
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