Accordingly, Fabius took another way to oppose Scipio, and tried to hinder and restrain the young men who were eager to serve under him, crying out in sessions of the senate and the assembly that it was not Scipio himself only who was running away from Hannibal, but that he was sailing off from Italy with her reserve forces, playing upon the hopes of her young men, and persuading them to abandon their parents, their wives, and their city, although the enemy still sat at her gates, masterful and undefeated.
And verily he frightened the Romans with these speeches, and they decreed that Scipio should employ only the forces which were then in Sicily, and take with him only three hundred of the men who had been with him in Spain,—men who had served him faithfully. In this course, at any rate, Fabius seems to have been influenced by his own cautious temper.
But as soon as Scipio had crossed into Africa, tidings were brought1
to Rome of wonderful achievements and of exploits transcendent in magnitude and splendour. These reports were confirmed by abundant spoils which followed them;
the king of Numidia was taken captive; two of the enemy's camps were at once destroyed by fire, and in them a great number of men, arms, and horses; embassies were sent from Carthage to Hannibal urgently calling upon him to give up his fruitless hopes in Italy and come to the aid of his native city;2
and when every tongue in Rome was dwelling on the theme of Scipios successes, then Fabius demanded that a successor should be sent out to replace him. He gave no other reason, but urged the well remembered maxim that it was dangerous to entrust such vast interests to the fortune of a single man, since it was difficult for the same man to have good fortune always. By this course he gave offence now to many, who thought him a captious and malicious man, or one whose old age had robbed him utterly of courage and confidence, so that he was immoderately in awe of Hannibal.
For not even after Hannibal and his army had sailed away from Italy3
would he suffer the rejoicing and fresh courage of the citizens to be undisturbed and assured, but then even more than ever he insisted that the city was running into extremest peril and that her affairs were in a dangerous plight. For Hannibal, he said, would fall upon them with all the greater effect in Africa at the gates of Carthage, and Scipio would be confronted within an army yet warm with the blood of many importers, dictators, and consuls. Consequently, the city was once more confounded by these speeches, and although the war had been removed to Africa, they thought its terrors were nearer Rome.