|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 41: A battle between Claudius Nero and Hannibal[207 BC]
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Hannibal assembled the whole of his force, those in winter quarters and those on garrison duty in Bruttium, and marched to Grumentum in Lucania, with the intention of recovering the towns whose inhabitants had been led by their fears to go over to Rome. The Roman consulmarched to the same place from Venusia, making careful reconnaissances as he advanced, and fixed his camp about a mile and a half from the enemy. The rampart of the Carthaginian camp seemed to be almost touching the walls of Grumentum; there was really half a mile between them. Between the two hostile camps the ground was level; on the Carthaginian left and the Roman right stretched a line of bare hills which did not arouse any suspicion on either side, as they were quite devoid of vegetation and afforded no hollows where an ambuscade could be concealed. In the plain between the camps small skirmishes took place between the advanced posts, the one object of the Roman evidently being to prevent the retirement of the enemy; Hannibal, who was anxious to get away, marched on to the field with his whole force marshalled for battle. The consul, [Note 1]adopting his enemy's tactics with all the more chance of success since there could be no fears of an ambuscade on such open ground, told off five cohorts strengthened with five maniples of Roman troops to mount the hill by night and take their station in the dip on the other side. He placed Titus Claudius Asellus a military tribune and Publius Claudius a prefect of allies in command of the party, and gave them instructions as to the moment when they were to rise from ambush and attack the enemy. At dawn of the following day he led out the whole of his force, horse and foot, to battle. Soon after Hannibal, too, gave the signal for action, and his camp rang with the shouts of his men as they ran to arms. Scrambling through the gates of the camp, mounted and unmounted men each trying to be first they raced over the plain in scattered groups towards the enemy. When the consul saw them in this disorder he ordered Gaius Aurunculeius, military tribune of the third legion, to send the cavalry attached to his legion at full gallop against the enemy, for, as he said, they were scattered over the plain like a flock of sheep and could be ridden down and trampled under foot before they could close their ranks.
Note 1: consul = Claudius Nero
Hannibal in South-Italy, 207 BC