The moment the signal was given, the order to pack was shouted round.1
Setting forth they marched in column to the dictator's camp, to the astonishment of Fabius himself and all who were about.
When they had planted their ensigns before the tribunal,2
the master of the horse advanced in front of the rest and called upon Fabius by the name of Father, and his entire army saluted the soldiers who had gathered round them as their patrons.
Then Minucius said, “To my parents, Dictator, with whom I have just made you equal in name, which is all that speech can do, I owe only my life; to [p. 303]
you I owe not merely my own safety but the safety3
of all of these.
Accordingly I am the first to reject and repeal that plebiscite which has been more onerous to me than honourable, and to place myself again under your command and auspices and restore to you these standards and these legions; and may good fortune come of it to you and to me and to these your armies, to the preserved and the preserver.
Lay aside, I pray, your just resentment, and bid me retain my post of master of the horse and these their own proper companies and ranks.”
Then hands were clasped, and the assembly being dismissed, the soldiers were kindly and hospitably entertained, alike by friends and strangers, and a day which a little earlier had been very gloomy and almost accurst was turned into one of rejoicing.
In Rome, when the report of this affair came in, and was later confirmed by letters not only from both commanders, but from the soldiers generally in both armies, all men joined in lauding Maximus to the skies.
With Hannibal and the hostile Phoenicians his renown was equally great; then for the first time they realized that they were fighting with Romans and in Italy.
For during the past two years4
they had so despised the Roman generals and soldiers that they could hardly believe that they were at war with the same nation as that of which they had heard such terrifying stories from their fathers.
And Hannibal is said to have remarked, as he was returning from the field, that at last that cloud which had long been hovering about the mountain-tops had broken in a storm of rain. [p. 305]