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Cowardice of the Carthaginians

The whole affair being now a trial of strength between
The fight of the heavy infantry.
man and man at close quarters, as the combatants used their swords and not their spears, the superiority was at first on the side of the dexterity and daring of the mercenaries, which enabled them to wound a considerable number of the Romans. The latter, however, trusting to the steadiness of their ranks and the excellence of their arms, still kept gaining ground, their rear ranks keeping close up with them and encouraging them to advance; while the Carthaginians did not keep up with their mercenaries nor support them, but showed a thoroughly cowardly spirit. The result was that the foreign soldiers gave way: and, believing that they had been shamelessly abandoned by their own side, fell upon the men on their rear as they were retreating, and began killing them; whereby many of the Carthaginians were compelled to meet a gallant death in spite of themselves. For as they were being cut down by their mercenaries they had, much against their inclination, to fight with their own men and the Romans at the same time; and as they now fought with desperation and fury they killed a good many both of their own men and of the enemy also. Thus it came about that their charge threw the maniples of the hastati into confusion; whereupon the officers of the principes caused their lines to advance to oppose them. However, the greater part of the mercenaries and Carthaginians had fallen either by mutual slaughter or by the sword of the hastati. Those who survived and fled Hannibal would not allow to enter the ranks of his army, but ordered his men to lower their spears and keep them back as they approached; and they were therefore compelled to take refuge on the wings or make for the open country.

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load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
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