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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXII Chapter 54: Panic in Rome[216 BC]
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|During the time in which these things were going on at Canusium, as many as four thousand foot and horse, who had been dispersed through the country in the flight, came to Venusia, to the consul. These the Venusini distributed throughout their families, to be kindly entertained and taken care of and also gave to each horseman a gown, a tunic, and twenty-five denarii; and to each foot-soldier ten denarii, and such arms as they wanted; and every other kind of hospitality showed them, both publicly and privately: emulously striving that the people of Venusia might not be surpassed by a woman of Canusium in kind offices. But the great number of her guests rendered the burden more oppressive to Busa, for they amounted now to ten thousand men. Appius and Scipio, having heard that the other consul was safe, immediately send a messenger to inquire how great a force of infantry and cavalry he had with him, and at the same time to ask, whether it was his pleasure that the army should be brought to Venusia, or remain at Canusium. Varro himself led over his forces to Canusium. And now there was some appearance of a consular army, and they seemed able to defend themselves from the enemy by walls, if not by arms. At Rome intelligence had been received, that not even these relics of their citizens and allies had survived, but that the two consuls, with their armies, were cut to pieces, and all their forces annihilated. Never when the city was in safety was there so great a panic and confusion within the walls of Rome. I shall therefore shrink from the task, and not attempt to relate what in describing I must make less than the reality. The consul and his army having been lost at the Trasimenus the year before, it was not one wound upon another which was announced, but a multiplied disaster, the loss of two consular armies, together with the two consuls: and that now there was neither any Roman camp, nor general nor soldiery: that Apulia and Samnium, and now almost the whole of Italy, were in the possession of Hannibal. No other nation surely would not have been overwhelmed by such an accumulation of misfortune. Shall I compare with it the disaster of the Carthaginians, sustained in a naval battle at the islands Aegates, dispirited by which they gave up Sicily and Sardinia, and thenceforth submitted to become tributary and stipendiary? Or shall I compare with it the defeat in Africa under which this same Hannibal afterwards sunk? In no respect are they comparable, except that they were endured with less fortitude.||
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Scipio Africanus the Elder
Foot:a. part of the body (3379). b. infantry (6534).
Horse:a. the animal. b. cavalry.