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Quote of the day: As nothing could unite them into one pol
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 42: Speech of Quintus Fabius against Scipio's plan to attack Africa (cont.)[205 BC]
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"I [Note 1] will not take instances from distant lands and remote times. This very Africa we are speaking about and the fate of Atilius Regulus form a conspicuous example of the fickleness of fortune. "When you, Scipio, have a view of Africa from the sea will not your conquest of Spain seem mere child's play? What resemblance is there between them? You began by coasting along the shores of Italy and Gaul over a sea free from any hostile fleet, and you brought up at Emporiae, a friendly city. After disembarking your troops you led them through a perfectly safe country to Tarraco, to the friends and allies of Rome, and from Tarraco your route led through the midst of Roman garrisons. Round the Ebro lay the armies of your father [Note 2] and your uncle [Note 3], whose courage had been raised by defeat and who were burning to avenge the loss of their commanders. Their leader was, it is true, irregularly chosen by the vote of the soldiery to meet the emergency, but had he belonged to an ennobled family and been duly appointed he would have rivalled distinguished generals in his mastery of the art of war. Then you were able to attack New Carthage without the slightest interruption; not one out of the three Carthaginian armies attempted to defend their allies. The rest of your operations, though I am far from depreciating them, are not to be compared with a war in Africa. There no harbour is open to our fleet, no district which will receive us peaceably, no city in alliance with us, no king friendly to us, no spot which we can use as a base of operations. Wherever you turn your eyes, you see hostility and menace. "Do you put your trust in Syphax and his Numidians? Be satisfied with having trusted them once. Rashness does not always succeed and duplicity prepares the way for confidence through trifles, so that when the occasion calls for it, it may succeed in securing some great advantage. Your father and your uncle were not defeated until the treachery of their Celtiberian auxiliaries left them victims to the enemy. You yourself were not exposed to anything like the danger from the Carthaginian commanders, Mago and Hasdrubal, that you were from Indibilis and Mandonius after you had accepted their alliance. Can you trust the Numidians after the experience you have had of the disloyalty of your own troops? Syphax and Masinissa would both prefer that they rather than the Carthaginians should be the leading powers in Africa, but failing that, they would rather have the Carthaginians than any one else. At this moment mutual rivalry and numberless grounds of complaint are embittering them against one another, because external dangers are far distant; but once let them see the arms of Rome and a foreign army, and they will hasten side by side to extinguish, as it were, a conflagration which threatens them both. Those Carthaginians defended Spain in a very different way from that in which they would defend their country's walls, the temples of their gods, their hearths and homes, when their trembling wives will follow them and their little children cling to them as they march out to battle. What, moreover, if, feeling quite assured of the united support of Africa, the fidelity of their royal allies and the strength of their walls, and seeing that you and your army are no longer here to protect Italy, the Carthaginians should send over a fresh army from Africa, or order Mago, who, we understand, has left the Balearic Isles and is sailing along the Ligurian coast, to form a junction with Hannibal? Surely we should be in the same state of alarm as we were at the appearance in Italy of Hasdrubal, after you had allowed him to slip through your hands you, who are going to blockade not Carthage only but the whole of Africa with your army! You will say that you defeated him. Then I regret all the more, both on your account and on behalf of the republic, that you allowed him after his defeat to invade Italy. "Allow us to ascribe all that has gone happily for you and for the dominion of Rome to your wise counsels, and all misfortunes to the uncertain chances of war more talent and courage you claim for yourself the more will your native country and all Italy desire to keep such a doughty defender at home. Even you cannot disguise the fact that where Hannibal is, there is the centre and mainstay of the war, for you are giving out that the one reason for your going to Africa is to draw Hannibal there. Whether there then or here, you still have Hannibal to deal with. And will you, I should like to know, be in a stronger position in Africa, single-handed, than here with your own army and your colleague's acting together? What a difference that makes is shown by the recent instance of the consuls Claudius and Livius. Where, pray, is Hannibal more likely to be supplied with men and arms? In the most remote corner of Bruttium where he has so long been vainly asking for reinforcements from home, or in the country round Carthage and on the soil of Africa which is entirely occupied by his allies? What an extraordinary idea that is of yours to fight where your forces are reduced by one-half and those of the enemy largely augmented, rather than in a country where with two armies you would engage only one, and that, too, exhausted by so many battles, and such long and burdensome service. Just think how different your plan is from your father's. On his election as consul he proceeded to Spain, then left his province and returned to Italy in order to meet Hannibal on his descent from the Alps; you are preparing to leave Italy while Hannibal is actually here, not in the interest of the republic but because you think it a grand and glorious thing to do. Just in the same way you, a general of the Roman people, left your province and your army without any legal authority, without any instructions from the senate, and entrusted to a couple of ships the fortunes of the State and the majesty of the empire which were for the time bound up with your own safety. I hold the view that Publius Cornelius Scipio was elected consul not for his own private ends, but for us and the common-wealth, and that armies are raised to guard this city and the soil of Italy, and not for consuls to transport to any part of the world they please in the arrogant style of kings and despots."

Note 1: I = Quintus Fabius Maximus
Note 2: father = Publius Scipio
Note 3: uncle = Gnaeus Scipio