The Hannibalian War
In the previous year (212 B. C.) Syracuse had fallen: the
two Scipios had been conquered and killed in Spain: the siegeworks had been constructed round Capua, at the very time of the
fall of Syracuse, i. e. in the autumn, Hannibal being engaged in
fruitless attempts upon the citadel of Tarentum. See Livy, 25, 22.
Entirely surrounding the position of Appius Claudius,
B. C. 211. Coss. Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus, P. Sulpicius Galba. The Romans were still engaged in the siege of Capua.
Hannibal at first skirmished, and tried all he
could to tempt him to come out and give him
battle. But as no one attended to him, his
attack became very like an attempt to storm
the camp; for his cavalry charged in their
squadrons, and with loud cries hurled their
javelins inside the entrenchments, and the
infantry attacked in their regular companies,
and tried to pull down the palisading round
Q. Fulvius and Appius Claudius, the Consuls of the previous year,
were continued in command there, with orders not to leave the place till it fell. Livy, 26, 1. Hannibal
tries to raise the siege.
But not even so could he move the
Romans from their purpose: they employed
their light-armed troops to repulse those who
were actually attacking the palisade, but protecting themselves with their heavy shields
against the javelins of the enemy, they remained
drawn up near their standards without moving.
Discomfited at being neither able to throw himself into Capua
nor induce the Romans to leave their camp, Hannibal retired
to consult as to what was best to be done.
It is no wonder, in my opinion, that the Carthaginians
The determination and cautious tactics of the Romans.
were puzzled. I think any one who heard
the facts would be the same. For who would
not have received with incredulity the statement
that the Romans, after losing so many battles to
the Carthaginians, and though they did not venture to meet
them on the field, could not nevertheless be induced to give
up the contest or abandon the command of the country?
Up to this time, moreover, they had contented themselves
with hovering in his neighbourhood, keeping along the skirts
of the mountains; but now they had taken up a position on
the plains, and those the fairest in all Italy
, and were besieging
the strongest city in it; and that with an enemy attacking
them, whom they could not endure even the thought of
meeting face to face: while the Carthaginians, who beyond
all dispute had won the battles, were sometimes in as great
difficulties as the losers. I think the reason of the strategy
adopted by the two sides respectively was, that they both had
seen that Hannibal's cavalry was the main cause of the
Carthaginian victory and Roman defeat. Accordingly the
plan of the losers after the battles, of following their enemies
at a distance, was the natural one to adopt; for the country
through which they went was such that the enemy's cavalry
would be unable to do them any damage. Similarly what
now happened at Capua
to either side was natural and