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Character of Hamilcar Phameas

Hamilcar Phameas1 was the general of the
Hamilcar Phameas, the commander of the Punic cavalry. Appian, Pun. 100.
Carthaginians, a man in the very prime of life and of great physical strength. What is of the utmost importance too for service in the field, he was an excellent and bold horseman. . . .

When he saw the advanced guard, Phameas, though not at all deficient in courage, avoided coming to close quarters with Scipio: and on one occasion when he had come near his reserves, he got behind the cover of the brow of a hill and halted there a considerable time. . . .

The Roman maniples fled to the top of a hill; and when all had given their opinions, Scipio said, "When men are consulting what measures to take at first, their object should be to avoid disaster rather than to inflict it."2 . . .

It ought not to excite surprise that I am

Polybius's personal knowledge of Scipio.
more minute than usual in my account of Scipio and that I give in detail everything which he said. . . .

When Marcius Porcius Cato heard in Rome of the glorious achievements of Scipio he uttered a palinode to his criticisms of him: "What have you heard? He alone has the breath of wisdom in him: the rest are but flitting phantoms."3

1 Phameas was afterwards persuaded by Massanissa to join the Romans. Livy, Ep. 50.

2 The incident referred to is narrated in Appian. Punica, 103. Scipio relieved this body of men, who were beleaguered on the top of a hill, by a rapid and bold movement of his cavalry.

3 Odyssey, 20, 495. Cato had always been opposed to the Scipios, but Livy seems to attribute his former criticisms of the younger Africanus to his general habit of caustic disparagement (vir promptioris ad vituperandum linguae), and we know that his elder son had married a daughter of Paulus, sister to the younger Africanus.

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