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Fabius

Q. Maxĭmus Verrucōsus, the celebrated opponent of Hannibal. He is said to have been called Verrucosus from a wart on his lip, verruca being the Latin name for “a wart.” In his first consulship he triumphed over the Ligurians. After the victory of Hannibal at Lake Trasimenus (B.C. 217), he was named prodictator by the unanimous voice of the people, and was intrusted with the preservation of the Republic. The system which he adopted to check the advance of Hannibal is well known. By a succession of skilful movements, marches, and countermarches, always choosing good defensive positions, he harassed his antagonist, who could never draw him into places favourable for his attack, while Fabius watched every opportunity of availing himself of any error or neglect on the part of the Carthaginians. This mode of warfare, which was new to the Romans, acquired for Fabius the name of Cunctātor or “delayer,” and was censured by the young, the rash, and the ignorant; but it was probably the means of saving Rome from ruin. Minucius, who shared with Fabius the command of the army, having imprudently engaged Hannibal, was saved from total destruction by the timely assistance of the dictator. In the following year, however, B.C. 216, Fabius being recalled to Rome, the command of the army was intrusted to the consul Terentius Varro, who rushed imprudently to battle, and the defeat at Cannae made manifest the wisdom of the dictator's previous caution. Fabius was chosen consul the next year, and was again employed in keeping Hannibal in check. In B.C. 210, being consul for the fifth time, he retook Tarentum by stratagem, after which he narrowly escaped being caught himself in a snare by Hannibal near Metapontum (Livy, xxvii. 15 foll.). When, some years after, the question was discussed in the Senate, of sending Scipio with an army into Africa, Fabius opposed it, saying that Italy ought first to be rid of Hannibal. Fabius died some time after at a very advanced age.

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