(legendary, died 203 B.C.E.)
Translated by John Dryden
Having related the memorable actions of Pericles, our history now proceeds to the life of Fabius. A son of Hercules and a nymph, of some woman of that country, who brought him forth on the banks of Tiber, was, it is said, the first Fabius, the founder of the numerous and distinguished family of the name. Others will have it that they were first called Fodii, because the first of the race delighted in digging pitfalls for wild beasts, fodere being still the Latin for to dig, and fossa for a ditch, and that in process of time, by the change of the two letters, they grew to be called Fabii. But be these things true or false, certain it is that this family for a long time yielded a great number of eminent persons. Our Fabius, who was fourth in descent from that Fabius Rullus who first brought the honourable surname of Maximus into his family, was also, by way of personal nickname, called Verrucosus, from a wart on his upper lip; and in his childhood they in like manner named him Ovicula, or The Lamb, on account of his extreme mildness of temper. His slowness in speaking, his long labour and pains in learning, his deliberation in entering into the sports of other children, his easy submission to everybody, as if he had no will of his own, made those who judge superficially of him, the greater number, esteem him insensible and stupid; and few only saw that this tardiness proceeded from stability, and discerned the greatness of his mind, and the lionlikeness of his temper. But as soon as he came into employments, his virtues exerted and showed themselves; his reputed want of energy then was recognized by people in general as a freedom of passion; his slowness in words and actions, the effect of a true prudence; his want of rapidity and his sluggishness, as constancy and firmness.
Living in a great commonwealth, surrounded by many enemies, he saw the wisdom of inuring his body (nature's own weapon) to warlike exercises, and disciplining his tongue for public oratory in a style conformable to his life and character. His eloquence, indeed, had not much of popular ornament, nor empty artifice, but there was in it great weight of sense; it was strong and sententious, much after the way of Thucydides. We have yet extant his funeral oration upon the death of his son, who died consul, which he recited before the people.
He was five times consul, and in his first consulship had
the honour of a triumph for the victory he gained over the Ligurians, whom he
defeated in a set battle, and drove them to take shelter in the Alps, from
whence they never after made any inroad or depredation upon their neighbours.
These weighty reasons did not prevail with Flaminius, who
protested he would never suffer the advance of the enemy to the city, nor be
reduced, like Camillus in former time, to fight for
In this battle Flaminius fell, after many proofs of his
strength and courage, and round about him all the bravest of the army; in the
whole, fifteen thousand were killed, and as many made prisoners.
Fabius, being thus installed in the office of dictator, in the first place gave the command of the horse to Lucius Minucius; and next asked leave of the senate for himself, that in time of battle he might serve on horseback, which by an ancient law amongst the Romans was forbid to their generals; whether it were, that, placing their greatest strength in their foot, they would have their commanders-in-chief posted amongst them, or else to let them know, that, how great and absolute soever their authority were, the people and senate were still their masters, of whom they must ask leave. Fabius, however, to make the authority of his charge more observable, and to render the people more submissive and obedient to him, caused himself to be accompanied with the full body of four-and-twenty lictors; and, when the surviving consul came to visit him, sent him word to dismiss his lictors with their fasces, the ensigns of authority, and appear before him as a private person.
The first solemn action of his dictatorship was very fitly a religious one: an admonition to the people, that their late overthrow had not befallen them through want of courage in their soldiers, but through the neglect of divine ceremonies in the general. He therefore exhorted them not to fear the enemy, but by extraordinary honour to propitiate the gods. This he did, not to fill their minds with superstition, but by religious feeling to raise their courage, and lessen their fear of the enemy by inspiring the belief that Heaven was on their side. With this view, the secret prophecies called the Sibylline Books were consulted; sundry predictions found in them were said to refer to the fortunes and events of the time; but none except the consulter was informed. Presenting himself to the people, the dictator made a vow before them to offer in sacrifice the whole product of the next season, all Italy over, of the cows, goats, swine, sheep, both in the mountains and the plains; and to celebrate musical festivities with an expenditure of the precise sum of 333 sestertia and 333 denarii, with one-third of a denarius over. The sum total of which is, in our money, 83,583 drachmas and 2 obols. What the mystery might be in that exact number is not easy to determine, unless it were in honour of the perfection of the number three, as being the first of odd numbers, the first that contains in itself multiplication, with all other properties whatsoever belonging to numbers in general.
In this manner Fabius, having given the people better heart for the future, by making them believe that the gods took their side, for his own part placed his whole confidence in himself, believing that the gods bestowed victory and good fortune by the instrumentality of valour and of prudence; and thus prepared he set forth to oppose Hannibal, not with intention to fight him, but with the purpose of wearing out and wasting the vigour of his arms by lapse of time, of meeting his want of resources by superior means, by large numbers the smallness of his forces. With this design, he always encamped on the highest grounds, where the enemy's horse could have no access to him. Still he kept pace with them; when they marched he followed them; when they encamped he did the same, but at such a distance as not to be compelled to an engagement and always keeping upon the hills, free from the insults of their horse; by which means he gave them no rest, but kept them in a continual alarm.
But this his dilatory way gave
occasion in his own camp for suspicion of want of courage; and this opinion
prevailed yet more in
An oversight of
Thus reduced, Hannibal had recourse to stratagem; he caused
two thousand head of oxen which he had in his camp to have torches or dry
fagots well fastened to their horns, and lighting them in the beginning of the
night, ordered the beasts to be driven on towards the heights commanding the
passages out of the valley and the enemy's posts; when this was done, he made
his army in the dark leisurely march after them. The oxen at first kept a slow
orderly pace, and with their lighted heads resembled an army marching by night,
astonishing the shepherds and herdsmen of the hills about. But when the fire
burnt down the horns of the beasts to the quick, they no longer observed their
sober pace, but unruly and wild with their pain, ran dispersed about, tossing
their heads and scattering the fire round about them upon each other and
setting light as they passed to the trees. This was a surprising spectacle to
the Romans on guard upon the heights. Seeing flames which appeared to come from
men advancing with torches, they were possessed with the alarm that the enemy
was approaching in various quarters, and that they were being surrounded; and,
quitting their post, abandoned the pass, and precipitately retired to their
camp on the hills. They were no sooner gone, but the light-armed of
Fabius, before the night was over, quickly found out the trick; for some of the beasts fell into his hands; but for fear of an ambush in the dark, he kept his men all night to their arms in the camp. As soon as it was day, he attacked the enemy in the rear, where, after a good deal of skirmishing in the uneven ground, the disorder might have become general, but that Hannibal detached from his van a body of Spaniards, who, of themselves active and nimble, were accustomed to the climbing of mountains. These briskly attacked the Roman troops, who were in heavy armour, killed a good many, and left Fabius no longer in condition to follow the enemy. This action brought the extreme of obloquy and contempt upon the dictator; they said it was now manifest that he was not only inferior to his adversary, as they had always thought, in courage, but even in that conduct, foresight, and generalship, by which he had proposed to bring the war to an end.
And Hannibal, to enhance their anger against him, marched
with his army close to the lands and possessions of Fabius, and, giving orders
to his soldiers to burn and destroy all the country about, forbade them to do
the least damage in the estates of the Roman general, and placed guards for their
security. This, when reported at
About this time, he was called to Rome by the priests, to assist, according to the duty of his office, at certain sacrifices, and was thus forced to leave the command of the army with Minucius; but before he parted, not only charged him as his commander-in-chief, but besought and entreated him not to come, in his absence, to a battle with Hannibal. His commands, entreaties, and advice were lost upon Minucius, for his back was no sooner turned but the new general immediately sought occasions to attack the enemy. And notice being brought him that Hannibal had sent out a great part of his army to forage, he fell upon a detachment of the remainder, doing great execution, and driving them to their very camp, with no little terror to the rest, who apprehended their breaking in upon them; and when Hannibal had recalled his scattered forces to the camp, he, nevertheless, without any loss, made his retreat, a success which aggravated his boldness and presumption, and filled the soldiers with rash confidence. The news spread to Rome, where Fabius, on being told it, said that what he most feared was Minucius's success; but the people, highly elated, hurried to the forum to listen to an address from Metilius the tribune, in which he infinitely extolled the valour of Minucius, and fell bitterly upon Fabius, accusing him for want not merely of courage, but even of loyalty; and not only him, but also many other eminent and considerable persons; saying that it was they that had brought the Carthaginians into Italy, with the design to destroy the liberty of the people; for which end they had at once put the supreme authority into the hands of a single person, who by his slowness and delays might give Hannibal leisure to establish himself in Italy, and the people of Carthage time and opportunity to supply him with fresh succours to complete his conquest.
Fabius came forward with no intention to answer the tribune, but only said, that they should expedite the sacrifices, that so he might speedily return to the army to punish Minucius, who had presumed to fight contrary to his orders; words which immediately possessed the people with the belief that Minucius stood in danger of his life. For it was in the power of the dictator to imprison and to put to death, and they feared that Fabius, of a mild temper in general, would be as hard to be appeased when once irritated, as he was slow to be provoked. Nobody dared to raise his voice in opposition; Metilius alone, whose office of tribune gave him security to say what he pleased (for in the time of a dictatorship that magistrateal one preserves his authority), boldly applied himself to the people in the behalf of Minucius; that they should not suffer him to be made a sacrifice to the enmity of Fabius, nor permit him to be destroyed, like the son of Manlius Torquatus, who was beheaded by his father for a victory fought and triumphantly won against order; he exhorted them to take away from Fabius that absolute power of a dictator, and to put it into more worthy hands, better able and more inclined to use it for the public good. These impressions very much prevailed upon the people, though not so far as wholly to dispossess Fabius of the dictatorship. But they decreed that Minucius should have an equal authority with the dictator in the conduct of the war; which was a thing then without precedent, though a little later it was again practised after the disaster at Cannae; when the dictator, Marcus Junius, being with the army, they chose at Rome Fabius Buteo dictator, that he might create new senators, to supply the numerous places of those who were killed. But as soon as, once acting in public, he had filled those vacant places with a sufficient number, he immediately dismissed his lictors, and withdrew from all his attendance, and mingling like a common person with the rest of the people, quietly went about his own affairs in the forum.
The enemies of Fabius thought they had sufficiently humiliated and subdued him by raising Minucius to be his equal in authority; but they mistook the temper of the man, who looked upon their folly as not his loss, but like Diogenes, who, being told that some persons derided him, made answer, "But I am not derided," meaning that only those were really insulted on whom such insults made an impression, so Fabius, with great tranquillity and unconcern, submitted to what happened, and contributed a proof to the argument of the philosophers that a just and good man is not capable of being dishonoured. His only vexation arose from his fear lest this ill counsel, by supplying opportunities to the diseased military ambition of his subordinate, should damage the public cause. Lest the rashness of Minucius should now at once run headlong into some disaster, he returned back with all privacy and speed to the army; where he found Minucius so elevated with his new dignity, that, a joint-authority not contenting him, he required by turns to have the command of the army every other day. This Fabius rejected, but was contented that the army should be divided; thinking each general singly would better command his part, than partially command the whole. The first and fourth legion he took for his own division, the second and third he delivered to Minucius; so also of the auxiliary forces each had an equal share.
Minucius, thus exalted, could not contain himself from boasting of his success in humiliating the high and powerful office of the dictatorship. Fabius quietly reminded him that it was, in all wisdom, Hannibal, and not Fabius, whom he had to combat; but if he must needs contend with his colleague, it had best be in diligence and care for the preservation of Rome; that it might not be said, a man so favoured by the people served them worse than he who had been ill-treated and disgraced by them.
The young general, despising these admonitions as the false
humility of age, immediately removed with the body of his army, and encamped by
himself. Hannibal, who was not ignorant of all these passages, lay watching his
advantage from them. It happened that between his army and that of Minucius
there was a certain eminence, which seemed a very advantageous and not
difficult post to encamp upon; the level field around it appeared, from a
distance, to be all smooth and even, though it had many inconsiderable ditches
and dips in it, not discernible to the eye.
Fabius was not ignorant of this danger of his countrymen; he
foresaw what would happen from the rashness of Minucius,
and the cunning of
Fabius, after his men had picked up the spoils of the field, retired to his own camp, without saying any harsh or reproachful thing to his colleague; who, also, in his part, gathering his army together, spoke and said to them: "To conduct great matters and never commit a fault is above the force of human nature; but to learn and improve by the faults we have committed, is that which becomes a good and sensible man. Some reasons I may have to accuse fortune, but I have many more to thank her; for in a few hours she hath cured a long mistake, and taught me that I am not the man who should command others, but have need of another to command me; and that we are not to contend for victory over those to whom it is our advantage to yield. Therefore in everything else henceforth the dictator must be your commander; only in showing gratitude towards him I will still be your leader, and always be the first to obey his orders." Having said this, he commanded the Roman eagles to move forward, and all his men to follow him to the camp of Fabius. The soldiers, then, as he entered, stood amazed at the novelty of the sight, and were anxious and doubtful what the meaning might be. When he came near the dictator's tent, Fabius went forth to meet him, on which he at once laid his standards at his feet, calling him with a loud voice his father; while the soldiers with him saluted the soldiers here as their patrons, the term employed by freedmen to those who gave them their liberty. After silence was obtained, Minucius said, "You have this day, O dictator, obtained two victories; one by your valour and conduct over Hannibal, and another by your wisdom and goodness over your colleague; by one victory you preserved, and by the other instructed us; and when we were already suffering one shameful defeat from Hannibal, by another welcome one from you we were restored to honour and safety. I can address you by no nobler name than that of a kind father, though a father's beneficence falls short of that I have received from you. Front a father I individually received the gift of life; to you I owe its preservation not for myself only, but for all these who are under me." After this, he threw himself into the arms of the dictator; and in the same manner the soldiers of each army embraced one another with gladness and tears of joy.
Not long after, Fabius laid down the dictatorship, and
consuls were again created. Those who immediately succeeded observed the same
method in managing the war, and avoided all occasions of fighting
These good measures were defeated by the importunity of
Varro; whom, when they were both come to the army, nothing would content but a
separate command, that each consul should have his day; and when his turn came,
he posted his army close to
According to his usual manner,
The consul Varro, with a thin company, fled to Venusia; Aemilius Paulus, unable any longer to oppose the flight of his men, or the flight of his men, or the pursuit of the enemy, his body all covered with wounds, and his soul no less wounded with grief, sat himself down upon a stone, expecting the kindness of a despatching blow. His face was so disfigured, and all his person so stained with blood, that his very friends and domestics passing by knew him not. At last Cornelius Lentulus, a young man of patrician race, perceiving who he was, alighted from his horse, and, tendering it to him, desired him to get up and save a life so necessary to the safety of the commonwealth, which, at this time, would dearly want so great a captain. But nothing could prevail upon him to accept of the offer; he obliged young Lentulus, with tears in his eyes, to remount his horse; then standing up, he gave him his hand, and commanded him to tell Fabius Maximus that Aemilius Paulus had followed his directions to his very last, and had not in the least deviated from those measures which were agreed between them; but that it was his hard fate to be overpowered by Varro in the first place, and secondly by Hannibal. Having despatched Lentulus with this commission, he marked where the slaughter was greatest, and there threw himself upon the swords of the enemy. In this battle it is reported that fifty thousand Romans were slain, four thousand prisoners taken in the field, and ten thousand in the camp of both consuls.
The friends of Hannibal earnestly persuaded him to follow up his victory, and pursue the flying Romans into the very gates of Rome, assuring him that in five days' time he might sup in the Capitol; nor is it easy to imagine what consideration hindered him from it. It would seem rather than some supernatural or divine intervention caused the hesitation and timidity which he now displayed, and which made Barcas, a Carthaginian, tell him with indignation, "You know, Hannibal, how to gain a victory, but not how to use it." Yet it produced a marvellous revolution in his affairs; he, who hitherto had not one town, market, or seaport in his possession, who had nothing for the subsistence of his men but what he pillaged from day to day, who had no place of retreat or basis of operation, but was roving, as it were, with a huge troop of banditti, now became master of the best provinces and towns of Italy, and of Capua itself, next to Rome the most flourishing and opulent city, all which came over to him, and submitted to his authority.
It is the saying of Euripides, that "a man is in
ill-case when he must try a friend," and so neither, it would seem, is a
state in a good one, when it needs an able general. And so it was with the
Romans; the counsels and actions of Fabius, which, before the battle, they had
branded as cowardice and fear, now, in the other extreme, they accounted to
have been more than human wisdom; as though nothing but a divine power of
intellect could have seen so far, and foretold contrary to the judgment of all
others, a result which, even now it had arrived, was hardly credible. In him,
therefore, they placed their whole remaining hopes; his wisdom was the sacred altar
and temple to which they fled for refuge, and his counsels, more than anything,
preserved them from dispersing and deserting their city, as in the time when
the Gauls took possession of
He placed guards at the gates of the city to stop the
frightened multitude from flying; he regulated and confined their mournings for
their slain friends, both as to time and place; ordering that each family
should perform such observances within private walls, and that they should
continue only the space of one month, and then the whole city should be
purified. The feast of Ceres happening to fall within this time, it was decreed
that the solemnity should be intermitted, lest the fewness, and the sorrowful
countenance of those who should celebrate it, might too much expose to the
people the greatness of their loss; besides that, the worship most acceptable
to the gods is that which comes from cheerful hearts. But those rites which
were proper for appeasing their anger, and procuring auspicious signs and
presages, were by the direction of the augurs carefully performed. Fabius
Pictor, a near kinsman to Maximus, was sent to consult the oracle of
Above all, let us admire the high spirit and equanimity of this Roman commonwealth; that when the consul Varro came beaten and flying home, full of shame and humiliation, after he had so disgracefully and calamitously managed their affairs, yet the whole senate and people went forth to meet him at the gates of the city, and received him with honour and respect. And, silence being commanded, the magistrates and chief of the senate, Fabius amongst them, commended him before the people, because he did not despair of the safety of the commonwealth, after so great a loss, but was come to take the government into his hands, to execute the laws, and aid his fellow-citizens in their prospect of future deliverance.
When word was brought to
In preserving the towns and allies from revolt by fair and gentle treatment, and in not using rigour, or showing a suspicion upon every light suggestion, his conduct was remarkable. It is told of him, that being informed of a certain Marsian, eminent for courage and good birth, who had been speaking underhand with some of the soldiers about deserting, Fabius was so far from using severity against him, that he called for him, and told him he was sensible of the neglect that had been shown to his merit and good service, which, he said, was a great fault in the commanders who reward more by favour than by desert; "but henceforth, whenever you are aggrieved," said Fabius, "I shall consider it your fault, if you apply yourself to any one but to me;" and when he had so spoken, he bestowed an excellent horse, and other presents upon him; and, from that time forwards, there was not a faithfuller and more trusty man in the whole army. With good reason he judged, that, if those who have the government of horses and dogs endeavour by gentle usage to cure their angry and untractable tempers, rather than by cruelty and beating, much more should those who haze the command of men try to bring them to order and discipline by the mildest and fairest means, and not treat them worse than gardeners do those wild plants, which, with care and attention, lose gradually the savageness of their nature, and bear excellent fruit.
At another time, some of his officers informed him that one of their men was very often absent from his place, and out at nights; he asked them what kind of man he was; they all answered, that the whole army had not a better man, that he was a native of Lucania, and proceeded to speak of several actions which they had seen him perform. Fabius made strict inquiry, and discovered at last that these frequent excursions which he ventured upon were to visit a young girl, with whom he was in love. Upon which he gave private order to some of his men to find out the woman and secretly convey her into his own tent; and then sent for the Lucanian, and, calling him aside, told him, that he very well knew how often he had been out away from the camp at night, which was a capital transgression against military discipline and the Roman laws, but he knew also how brave he was, and the good services he had done; therefore, in consideration of them, he was willing to forgive him his fault; but to keep him in good order, he was resolved to place one over him to be his keeper, who should be accountable for his good behaviour. Having said this, he produced the woman, and told the soldier, terrified and amazed at the adventure, "This is the person who must answer for you; and by your future behaviour we shall see whether your night rambles were on account of love, or for any other worse design."
Another passage there was,
something of the same kind, which gained him possession of Tarentum. There was
a young Tarentine in the army that had a sister in Tarentum, then in possession
of the enemy, who entirely loved her brother, and wholly depended upon him. He,
being informed that a certain Bruttian, whom
Whilst these matters were thus in process, to draw off
Hannibal from scenting the design, Fabius sends orders to the garrison in
Rhegium, that they should waste and spoil the Bruttian country, and should also
lay siege to Caulonia, and storm the place with all their might. These were a
body of eight thousand men, the worst of the Roman army, who had most of them
been runaways, and had been brought home by Marcellus from
Here, we must confess, ambition seems to have overcome him. To make it appear to the world that he had taken Tarentum by force and his own prowess, and not by treachery, he commanded his men to kill the Bruttians before all others; yet he did not succeed in establishing the impression he desired, but merely gained the character of perfidy and cruelty. Many of the Tarentines were also killed, and thirty thousand of them were sold for slaves; the army had the plunder of the town, and there was brought into the treasury three thousand talents. Whilst they were carrying off everything else as plunder, the officer who took the inventory asked what should be done with their gods, meaning the pictures and statues; Fabius answered, "Let us leave their angry gods to the Tarentines." Nevertheless, he removed the colossal statue of Hercules, and had it set up in the Capitol, with one of himself on horseback, in brass, near it; proceedings very different from those of Marcellus on a like occasion, and which, indeed, very much set off in the eyes of the world his clemency and humanity, as appears in the account of his life.
Upon this success, Fabius had a triumph decreed him at Rome,
much more splendid than his first; they looked upon him now as a champion who
had learned to cope with his antagonist, and could now easily foil his arts and
prove his best skill ineffectual. And, indeed, the army of
And, in fact, it is told that the great-grandfather of our Fabius, who was undoubtedly the greatest man of Rome in his time, both in reputation and authority, who had been five times consul, and had been honoured with several triumphs for victories obtained by him, took pleasure in serving as lieutenant under his own son, when he went as consul to his command. And when afterwards his son had a triumph bestowed upon him for his good service, the old man followed, on horseback, his triumphant chariot, as one of his attendants; and made it his glory, that while he really was, and was acknowledged to be, the greatest man in Rome, and held a father's full power over his son, he yet submitted himself to the laws and the magistrate.
But the praises of our Fabius are not bounded here. He afterwards lost his son, and was remarkable for bearing the loss with the moderation becoming a pious father and a wise man, and as it was the custom amongst the Romans, upon the death of any illustrious person, to have a funeral oration recited by some of the nearest relations, he took upon himself that office, and delivered a speech in the forum, which he committed afterwards to writing.
After Cornelius Scipio, who was sent into Spain, had driven the Carthaginians, defeated by him in many battles, out of the country, and had gained over to Rome many towns and nations with large resources, he was received at his coming home with unexampled joy and acclamation of the people; who, to show their gratitude, elected him consul for the year ensuing. Knowing what high expectation they had of him, he thought the occupation of contesting Italy with Hannibal a mere old man's employment, and proposed no less a task to himself than to make Carthage the seat of the war, fill Africa with arms and devastation, and so oblige Hannibal, instead of invading the countries of others, to draw back and defend his own. And to this end he proceeded to exert all the influence he had with the people. Fabius, on the other side, opposed the undertaking with all his might, alarming the city, and telling them that nothing but the temerity of a hot young man could inspire them with such dangerous counsels, and sparing no means, by word or deed, to prevent it. He prevailed with the senate to espouse his sentiments; but the common people thought that he envied the fame of Scipio, and that he was afraid lest this young conqueror should achieve some great and noble exploit, and have the glory, perhaps, of driving Hannibal out of Italy, or even of ending the war, which had for so many years continued and been protracted under his management.
To say the truth, when Fabius first opposed this project of
Scipio, he probably did it out of caution and prudence, in consideration only
of the public safety, and of the danger which the commonwealth might incur; but
when he found Scipio every day increasing in the esteem of the people, rivalry
and ambition led him further, and made him violent and personal in his
opposition. For he even applied to Crassus, the colleague of
Scipio, and urged him not to yield the command to Scipio, but that, if his
inclinations were for it, he should himself in person lead the army to
But, after that Scipio was gone over into Africa, when news
almost immediately came to Rome of wonderful exploits and victories, of which
the fame was confirmed by the spoils he sent home; of a Numidian king taken
prisoner; of a vast slaughter of their men; of two camps of the enemy burnt and
destroyed, and in them a great quantity of arms and horses; and when, hereupon,
the Carthaginians were compelled to send envoys to Hannibal to call him home,
and leave his idle hopes in Italy, to defend Carthage; when, for such eminent
and transcending services, the whole people of Rome cried up and extolled the
actions of Scipio; even then, Fabius contended that a successor should be sent in
his place, alleging for it only the old reason of the mutability of fortune, as
if she would be weary of long favouring the same person. With this language
many did begin to feel offended; it seemed to be morosity and ill-will, the
pusillanimity of old age, or a fear, that had now become exaggerated, of the
skill of Hannibal. Nay, when Hannibal had put his army on shipboard, and taken
his leave of Italy, Fabius still could not forbear to oppose and disturb the
universal joy of Rome, expressing his fears and apprehensions, telling them
that the commonwealth was never in more danger than now, and that Hannibal was
a more formidable enemy under the walls of Carthage than ever he had been in
Italy; that it would be fatal to Rome whenever Scipio should encounter his
victorious army, still warm with the blood of so many Roman generals,
dictators, and consuls slain. And the people were, in some degree, startled
with these declamations, and were brought to believe that the further off
"Long shaken on the seas restored the state."
Fabius Maximus, however, did not live to see the prosperous
end of this war, and the final overthrow of