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48. By this time the Roman left, where the cavalry of the allies had taken position facing the Numidians, was also engaged, though the fighting was at first but sluggish. It began with a Punic ruse. [2] About five hundred Numidians, who, in addition to their customary arms and missiles, carried swords concealed under their corslets, pretended to desert. [3] Riding over from their own side, with their bucklers at their backs, they suddenly dismounted and threw down bucklers and javelins at the feet of their enemies. Being received into the midst of their ranks they were conducted to the rear and ordered to fall in behind. [4] And while the battle was getting under way at every point, they kept quite still; but no sooner were the minds and eyes of all absorbed in the struggle, than they snatched up the shields which lay strewn about everywhere amongst the heaps of slain, and assailing the Romans from behind and striking at their backs and hamstrings, effected a great slaughter and a terror and confusion that were even greater. [5] And now in one place there was a panic rout and in another an obstinate though hopeless struggle,1 when Hasdrubal, who commanded in that part of the field, withdrew the Numidians from the centre —since they fought but half-heartedly against men who met them face to face —and [6] dispatching them in pursuit of the scattered fugitives, sent in the Spanish and Gallic cavalry to help the [p. 359]Africans, who were now almost exhausted, though2 more with slaying than with fighting.3

1 The “panic rout” was on the Roman left (the Roman right had already been annihilated), the “obstinate though hopeless struggle” at the centre.

2 B.C. 216

3 The Numidians (both the five hundred and the main body of them) after routing the Roman left had presumably swung round to attack the Roman centre, when Hasdrubal withdrew them from the battle to use them as pursuit troops, replacing them with the cavalry originally posted on the Punic left, which after defeating the Roman cavalry (chap. xlvii. §§ 1-3) had presumably ridden round the Roman centre and joined the Numidians. The episode of the five hundred (not mentioned by Polybius) is perhaps derived from the account of Coelius Antipater. Appian (VII. iv. 22) describes the ruse as being executed by five hundred Celtiberians (foot-soldiers in the Punic centre).

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load focus Summary (Latin, W. Weissenborn, H. J. Müller, 1884)
load focus Summary (Latin, Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., 1929)
load focus Summary (English, Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., 1929)
load focus Latin (Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., 1929)
load focus Latin (Robert Seymour Conway, Charles Flamstead Walters, 1929)
load focus English (D. Spillan, A.M., M.D., Cyrus Evans, 1849)
load focus Latin (W. Weissenborn, H. J. Müller, 1884)
load focus English (Rev. Canon Roberts, 1912)
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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 35-38, commentary, 35.11
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  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
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