At daybreak the scarlet tunic, the usual signal of impending battle, was displayed, the cohorts under disgrace begged and obtained for themselves the foremost position in the line, and the tribunes led forth the rest of the army and put them in array. On hearing of this Hannibal said:
‘O Hercules! what can be done with a man who knows not how to bear either his worse or his better fortune? For he is the only man who neither gives a respite when he is victorious, nor takes it when he is vanquished,
but we shall always be fighting with him, as it seems, since both his courage in success and his shame in defeat are made reasons for bold undertaking.’ Then the forces engaged; and since the men fought with equal success, Hannibal ordered his elephants to be stationed in the van, and to be driven against the ranks of the Romans. A great press and much confusion at once arose among their foremost lines, but one of the tribunes, Flavius by name, snatched up a standard, confronted the elephants, smote the leader with the iron spike of the standard, and made him wheel about.
The beast dashed into the one behind him and threw the whole onset into confusion. Observing this, Marcellus ordered his cavalry to charge at full speed upon the disordered mass and throw the enemy still more into confusion. The horsemen made a brilliant charge and cut the Carthaginians down as far as to their camp, and the greatest slaughter among them was caused by their killed and wounded elephants.1
For more than eight thousand are said to have been slain; and on the Roman side three thousand were killed, and almost all were wounded. This gave Hannibal opportunity to break camp quietly in the night and move to a great distance from Marcellus. For Marcellus was unable to pursue him, owing to the multitude of his wounded, but withdrew by easy marches into Campania, and spent the summer at Sinuessa recuperating his soldiers.