Page images
PDF
EPUB

also overcomo many tribes, taken many cities, and done glorious decds for Romne. On his return he was received with great honour and respect, and, focling that the peoplo expected some extraordinary exploit from him, ho decided that it was tou tame a proceeding to fight Hannibal in Italy, and determined to pour troops into Africa, attack Carthago, and transfer tho thcatro of war from Italy to that country. lIo bent all his energics to persuado the peoplo to approve of this project, but was violently opposed by Fabius, who spread great alarm through tho city, pointing out that it was being exposed to great danger by a reckless young man, and cncavouring by every means in his power to prevent the Romans from adopting Scipio's plan. Ho carried his point with tho Senato, but the people believed that lie was envious of Scipio's prosperity and desired to check lim, becauso ho fcared that it ho did gain some signal success, and cither put an end to tho war altogether or removo it from Italy, he himself might be thought a fcello and dilatory general for not having finishıcd the war in so many campaigns.

It appears that at first Fabius opposcil him on grounds of prudence and caution, really fearing the dangers of his project, but that the contest gradually became a personal one, and he was moved by feelings of jealousy to hinder the rise of Scipio; for ho tried to induco Crassus, Scipio's colleag119, not to give up the province of Africa to Scipio, but if tho expedition wero determinci on, to go thither liimself, and he prevented his being supplied with funds for the campaign. Scipio being thus compelled to raiso funds himself, obtained them from the cities in Etruria which were devoted to his interests. Crassus likewise was not inclined to quarrel with him, and was also obliged to remain in Italy by his oflico of Pontifex Maximus.

XXVI. Fabius now tried another method to opposo Scipio. He dissuadod tho youth of tho city from taking service with him by continually vociferating in all publio meetings that Scipio not only was himself running away from Hannibal, but also was about to tako all the remain. ing forces of Italy out of the country with him, doluding

1

the young men with vain hopes, and so persuading them to leave their parents and wives, and their city too, while a victorious and invincible enemy was at its vary gates. lly these representations he alarmed the Romans, who decrced that Scipio should only use the troops in Sicily, and thirco hundred of the best incn of his Spanish army. In this transaction Fabius secms tu have acted according to the dictates of his own cautious disposition.

llowever, when Scipio crossed over into Africa, news come to Romo at onco of grcat and glorious exploits performed and great battles won. As substantial proof of theso there came many trophics of war, and the king of Numidia as a captive. Two camps were burned and destroyed, with great slaughter of men, and loss of horses and war material in tho flamce. Embassics also were sent to Ilannibal from Carthago, begging him in piteous terms to abandon his fruitless hopes in Italy and como home to help them, whilo in Romo tho namo of Scipio was in every man's mouth because of his successes. At this period Tabius proposed that a successor to Scipio should be sent out, without having any reason to allege for it except the old proverb that it is dangerous to cntrust such important operations to the luck of one man, because it is hard for the same man always to be lucky. This proposal of his offended most of his countrymen, who thought him a peovish and malignant old man, or else that he was timid and spiritless from old ago, and excessively terrified at Ilannibal; for, even when Ilannibal quittod Italy and withdrew his forces Fabius, would not permit tho joy of his countrymen to bo unmixed with aların, as he informed them that now the fortunes of Rome were in a more critical situation than ever, because Ilannibal would be much more to be drcadod in Africa under the walls of Carthago itself, whero ho would lead an army, yet reeking with the blood of many Roman dictators, consuls and gencrals, to attack Scipio. By these words the city was again filled with terror, and although the war had been removed to Africa yet its alarms soomed to have como nearer to Romo.

XXVII. IIowover Scipio, after no long timo, defeated Hannibal in a pitched battle and crushed the pride of Carthago under foot. Ho gave the Romans the unjoyment of a success beyond their hopes, and truly

" Restored the city, shaken by the storm." Fabius Maximus did not survive till the end of the war, nor did he live to hear of Hannibal'8 dofcat, or see the glorious and lasting prosperity of his country, for about the time when Hannibal left Italy ho fell sick and died.

The Thebans, we are told, buried Epameinondas at the public expenso, because ho diod so poor that they say noihing was found in his house except an iron spit. Fabius was not honoured by the Romans with a funeral at the publio expense, yet every citizen contributed the smallest Roman coin towards the expenses, not that he needed the money, but because they buried him as the father of the people, so that in his death he received the honourabio respect which he bad deserved in his life.

COMPARISON OF PERIKLES AND

FABIUS MAXIMUS.

[ocr errors]

L Such is the story of these men's lives. As they both gavo many proofs of ability in war and politics, let us first turn our attention to their warlike exploits. And here we must notice that Perikles found the Athenian people at the height of their power and prosperity, 80 that from the flourishing condition of the Stato it could scarcely moet with any great disaster, whereas Fabius performed his great services to Romo when it was in the last extremity of danger, and did not merely, like Perikles, confirm the prosperity of his country, but greatly improved it, having found it in a lamentable condition. Moreover, the successes of Kimon, the victories of Myronides and Leokrates, and the many achievements of Tolmides rather gavo Perikles when in chief command an occasion for public rejoicing and festivity, than any opportunity for cither conquests abroad or defonsivo wars at homo. Fabius, on tho other hand, hind loforo his cyes tho spectaclo of many lofcats and routs of Roman armics, of many consuls and generals fillon in battlo, of lakes, plains and forests filled with tho bodies of tho slain, and of rivors running with blood. Yet with his maturo and unbonding intollect ho undortook to oxtricato Romo from theso dangors, and as it were by his own strength alono supported the Stato, 80 that it was not utterly overwhelmed by these torrible disnstors. Nevortheless it would appear not to bo so hard a task to manago a Stato in adversity, whon it is humblo and is compelled by its misfortunes to obey wiso counsellors, as it is to check and bridle a people excited and arrogant with good fortuno, which was especially the case with Perikles and the Athenians. On the other hand, considering the terrible nature of the blows which had fallen on the liomans, Fabius must have been a great and strong-minded man not to be disconcerted by thom, but still to be able to carry out tho policy upon which he had determined.

II. We may set the capture of Samos by Perikles against the retaking of Tarentum by Fabius, and also the conquest of Eubea by the one against that of the Campanian cities by tho other, though Capua itself was recovered by the consuls, Fulvius and Appius. Fabius scems never to havo fuught a pitched battle, except that one which gainel hiin liis first triumph, whilo Perikles set up nino trophies for victories by sea and land. But again, there is no action of l'erikles which can be compared to that of Fabins when le snatched away Minucius from tho grasp of Ilannibal, and saved an entiro Roman army from destruction. That was an exploit glorious for tho courage, generalship, and kindness of heart displayod by labius; but, on the other hand Perikles, made no such blunder as dil Habins, when out-generallcd by Ilannibal with the cattle. JIcre, although Fabius caught his enemy in a defile which he had entered by chance, yet ho let him cscape by night, and next day found his tardy movements outstripped, and himself defeated ly the man whom he had just before so completely cut off. If it be the part of a good general, not merely to deal with tho present, but to mako conjectures about the future, wo may remark that the Peloponnesian war ended just as Perikles had foretold, for the Atheniang frittered away their strength; whereas the Romans, contrary to the expectation of Fabius, by sending Scipio to attack Carthage gained a complete victory, not by chance, but by the skill of their general and tho courage of their troops, who overthrow the enemy in a pitched battlo. Thus the ono was proved to be right by the misfortunes of his country, and tho othor proved to bo wrong by its success, indeed it is just as much a fault in a general to ceceive a check from want of foresight as to lct slip an opportunity through diffidence: and both those failings, excess of confidenco and want of confidenco, are common to all except tho most consummate generals. Thus much for their military talents.

III. În political matters, the Peloponnesian war is a great blot upon the fame of Periklos; for it is said to have

« PreviousContinue »