Summary of Book XXII

HANNIBAL, losing sleep continuously in the marshes, went blind in one eye, and reached Etruria after marching through the swamps for four days and three nights without repose. Gaius Flaminius the consul, a headstrong man, set out, against the warning of the auspices, after digging out the military standards which they had been unable to pull up, and after the horse which he had mounted had thrown him over its head; and, entrapped by Hannibal in an ambush at Lake Thrasymennus, was slain and his army cut to pieces. Six thousand men who had broken through the enemy's lines were thrown into chains through Hannibal's perfidy, notwithstanding the pledge which Atherbal1 had given them. While the Romans were mourning at the tidings which had come of this calamity, two mothers died of joy on recovering the sons whom they had given up for lost. Because of this defeat a Sacred Spring was vowed, by the direction of the Sibylline Books.

When, after that, Quintus Fabius Maximus, who had been sent out as dictator to oppose Hannibal, was loath to meet him in the open field, for he would not trust his soldiers, who had been cowed by these defeats, in a battle with an enemy emboldened by his victories; and was satisfied merely to thwart the efforts of Hannibal, by blocking his way; Marcus Minucius, the master of the horse, a rash and headstrong man, charging the dictator with sluggishness and timidity persuaded the people to decree that his own authority should be equal to that of the dictator. But, the army being divided between them, Minucius gave battle in an unfavourable position, and his legions were in great peril, when Fabius Maximus came up with his army and saved him. Won over by this generosity, he joined his camp to that of [p. 413] Fabius, and, saluting him as his father, bade his army do the same.

Hannibal, after laying waste Campania, was penned in by Fabius between the town of Casilinum and Mount Callicula. Binding twigs about the horns of oxen and setting them on fire, he frightened off the detachment of Romans stationed on Callicula, and so marched over the pass. It was Hannibal, too, who spared the farm of Quintus Fabius Maximus the dictator, when burning all that country-side, in order to make him suspected of being a traitor.

Aemilius Paulus and Terentius Varro then became consuls and commanded the army which fought disastrously with Hannibal at Cannae. There were slain in that battle forty-five thousand Romans, including the consul Paulus, and ninety senators, and thirty others who had been consuls or praetors or aediles. After that some young nobles were plotting, in their despair, to abandon Italy, when Publius Cornelius Scipio, a tribune of the soldiers, who was later surnamed Africanus, held his drawn sword over the heads of the conspirators and vowing that he would treat as a public enemy whoever should not swear at his dictation, compelled them all to bind themselves with an oath not to abandon Italy.

There were so few soldiers that they armed eight thousand slaves. They were given an opportunity of ransoming the prisoners, but did not ransom them.

The book also describes the panic and grief in the City, and the operations, conducted more successfully, in Spain. The Vestals Opimia and Florentia were convicted of unchastity. The people went out to meet Varro, and thanked him because he had not despaired of the Republic.

1 See note on text.

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load focus English (Rev. Canon Roberts, 1912)
load focus Latin (W. Weissenborn, H. J. Müller, 1884)
load focus English (D. Spillan, A.M., M.D., Cyrus Evans, 1849)
load focus Latin (Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., 1929)
load focus English (Benjamin Oliver Foster, Ph.D., 1929)
load focus Latin (Robert Seymour Conway, Charles Flamstead Walters, 1929)
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