Front Matter The First Settlers Escape from the Burning City The Clever Trick The Boards Are Eaten The Wolf and the Twins Romulus Builds Rome The Maidens Carried Off Union of Sabines and Romans Death of Romulus Strange Signs of the Romans The Quarrel with Alba The Horatii and Curiatii Tarquin and the Eagle The Roman Youths The King Outwitted The Murder of Tarquin The Ungrateful Children The Mysterious Books Tarquin's Poppies The Oracle of Delphi The Death of Lucretia The Stern Father A Roman Triumph A Roman Triumph (Cont.) Defense of the Bridge The Burnt Hand The Twin Gods The Wrongs of the Poor Fable of the Stomach The Story of Coriolanus The Farmer Hero The New Laws Death of Virginia Plans of a Traitor A School-Teacher Punished Invasion of the Gauls The Sacred Geese Two Heroes of Rome Disaster at Caudine Forks Pyrrhus and His Elephants The Elephants Routed Ancient Ships Regulus and the Snake Hannibal Crosses the Alps The Romans Defeated The Inventor Archimedes The Roman Conquests Destruction of Carthage Roman Amusements The Jewels of Cornelia Death of Tiberius Gracchus Caius Gracchus Jugurtha, King of Numidia The Barbarians The Social War The Flight of Marius The Proscription Lists Sertorius and His Doe Revolt of the Slaves Pompey's Conquests Conspiracy of Catiline Caesar's Conquests Crossing of the Rubicon Battle of Pharsalia The Death of Caesar The Second Triumvirate The Vision of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra The Poisonous Snake The Augustan Age Death of Augustus Varus Avenged Death of Germanicus Tiberius Smothered The Wild Caligula Wicked Wives of Claudius Nero's First Crimes Christians Persecuted Nero's Cruelty Two Short Reigns The Siege of Jerusalem The Buried Cities The Terrible Banquet The Emperor's Tablets The Good Trajan Trajan's Column The Great Wall Hadrian's Death Antoninus Pius The Model Pagan Another Cruel Emperor An Unnatural Son The Senate of Women The Gigantic Emperor Invasion of the Goths Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra A Prophecy Fulfulled First Christian Emperor Roman Empire Divided An Emperor's Penance Sieges of Rome End of the Western Empire

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Romans Defeated

When the Romans heard of Hannibal's approach, the consul Scipio advanced with an army to fight him, and the two forces met face to face near the river Ticinus. Here a battle took place, and Hannibal, reenforced by Gallic troops, won a brilliant victory.

A second battle was fought and won by stratagem at the river Trebia, where a frightful slaughter of the Romans took place. Beaten back twice, the Romans rallied again, only to meet with a still greater defeat on the shores of Lake Trasimenus. In their distress at the news of these repeated disasters, the Roman people gave the command of their army to Fabius, a man noted for his courage no less than for his caution.

Fabius soon perceived that the Romans were not able to conquer Hannibal in a pitched battle, and, instead of meeting him openly, he skirmished around him, cutting off his supplies, and hindering his advance. On one occasion, by seizing a mountain pass, Fabius even managed to hedge the Carthaginians in, and fancied that he could keep them prisoners and starve them into submission; but Hannibal soon made his escape. By his order, the oxen which went with the army to supply it with food, and to drag the baggage, were all gathered together. Torches were fastened securely to their horns; and then lighted. Blinded and terrified, the oxen stampeded, and rushed right through the Roman troops, who were forced to give way so as not to be crushed to death. The Carthaginians then cleverly took advantage of the confusion and darkness to make their way out of their dangerous position, and thus escaped in safety.

Fabius was now obliged to share his command with another general, who did not like his plan of avoiding an open battle. This general advanced against Hannibal and began to fight; but he would have paid dearly for his imprudence, had not Fabius come to his rescue just in time to save him.

By pursuing these cautious tactics, which have since often been called the "Fabian policy," Fabius prevented Hannibal from gaining any great advantage. But when his time of office was ended, his successors, the consuls Varro and Æmilius, thinking they would act more wisely, and end the war, again ventured to fight the Carthaginians.

The battle took place at Cannæ, and the Romans were again defeated, with very great loss. Æmilius fell, but not till he had sent a last message to Rome, bidding the people strengthen their fortifications, and acknowledging that it would have been far wiser to have pursued the Fabian policy.

So many Romans were slain on this fatal day at Cannæ that Hannibal is said to have sent to Carthage one peck of gold rings, taken from the fingers of the dead knights, who alone wore them.

When the tidings of the defeat came to Rome, the sorrowing people began to fear that Hannibal would march against them while they were defenseless, and that he would thus become master of the city. In their terror, they again appealed to Fabius, who soon restored courage and order, called all the citizens to arms, and drilled even the slaves to fight.

Hannibal, in the mean while, had gone to Capua, where he wished to spend the winter, and to give his men a chance to recruit after their long journey and great fatigues. The climate was so delightful, the food so plentiful, and the hot baths so inviting, that many of the Carthaginians grew fat and lazy, and before they had spent many months there, they were no longer able to fight well.

Ever since then, when people think too much of ease, and not enough of duty, they are said to be "languishing in the delights of Capua."