was sent with a numerous army to interrupt his progress. Wherefore Pyrrhus, though his whole army was not yet arrived, prepared to meet him; but previously sent an embassador, desiring to be permitted to mediate between the Romans and the people of Tarentum. To this, Lævinus returned for answer, that he neither valued him as a mediator, nor feared him as an enemy; and then leading the embassador through the Roman camp, desired him to observe diligently what he saw, and report the result to his master.

War being thus determined on either part, both armies approaching, pitched their tents in sight of each other, upon the opposite banks of the river Lylis. Pyrrhus was always extremely careful in directing the situation of his own camp, and in observing that of the enemy. It was there, that walking along the banks of the river, and surveying the Roman method of encamping, 66 These barbarians,'* cried he, turning to one of his favourites, “ seem to me but little uncivilized; and, I fear, we shall too soon find their actions equal to their resolution.” In the mean time, ordering a body of men along the banks of the river, he placed them in readiness to oppose the Romans, in case they should attempt to ford it before his whole army was collected. Things turning out according to his expectations ; the consul, with an impetuosity that marked his inexperience, gave orders for passing the river where it was fordable; and the Epirean advanced guard having attempted to oppose him in vain, was obliged to retire to the main body of the army. Pyrrhus being apprized of the enemy's attempt, at first hoped to cut off their cavalry, before they could be reinforced by the foot which had not yet passed over, and led on in person a chosen body of horse against them. It was on this occasion, that he showed himself equal to the great reputation he had previously acquired : he was constantly seen at the head of his men, leading them on with spirit, yet directing them with calmness; at once performing the office of a general, and the duty of a common soldier, he showed the greatest presence of mind, joined to the greatest valour. He was chiefly conspicuous by the nobleness of his air, and the richness of his armour : so that wherever he appeared, there the heat of the battle raged. In the midst of the engagement, his horse happened to be killed, he was obliged to change armour with one of his attendants, and remove to another part of the combat,

* The Greeks considered all foreigners as barbarians and in length of time the Romans copied the same precedent and applied the term in the same sense.

that required his immediate presence. Meanwhile, the Roman knights, mistaking the ill-fated attendant for the king himself, directed all their attempts that way, and at last slew him, and carried his armour to the consul. The report being spread through both armies, that the king was slain, the Greeks were struck with a general panic, and the Romans began to assure themselves of victory. But Pyrrhus in the instant appeared bareheaded in the van, and repeatedly crying out that he was alive and safe, inspired his soldiers with new vigour. At length the Roman legions having all crossed the river, the engagement was become general; the Greeks fought with a consciousness of their former fame, and the Romans with a desire of gaining fresh glory.-Mankind had never before seen two such differently disciplined armies opposed to each other : nor is it to this day determined, whether, at that time, the Greek phalanx or the Roman legion were preferable. The combat was long in suspense; the Romans had seven times repulsed the enemy, and were as often driven back themselves; but, at length, while the success seemed doubtful, Pyrrhus pushed his elephants into the midst of the engagement, and these turned the scale of victory in his favour. The Romans, who had never before seen animals of such magnitude, were terrified not only with their intrepid fierceress, but with the castles that were raised on their backs, and filled with arm. ed men. They considered them, rather as prodigies sent to destroy, than as animals trained up to subdue them; while not only the men but the horses, shared in the general consternation ; neither enduring the smell nor the cries of these formidable creatures, but throwing their riders, and filling the ranks with confusion.

It was then that Pyrrhus saw the day was his own: and ordering his Thessalian cavalry to charge the enemy, who were then in disorder, the rout became general. A dreadful slaughter of the Romans ensued: fifteen thousand men being killed on the spot, and eighteen hundred taken prisoners. Nor were the conquerors in a much better state than the vanquished, Pyrrhus himself being wounded, and thirteen thousand of his forces slain. Night coming on, suspended the slaughter on both sides,, and Pyrrhus was heard to exclaim, “ That such another victory would ruin his whole army.” The next day, as he

surveyed the field of battle, he could not belp. regarding with admiration, the bodies of the Romans who were slain. Upon seeing them all with their wounds before, their countenances, even in death, marked with noble resolution, and a sternness that awed him into respect, he cried out, in the true spirit of a military adventurer, “0, with what ease could I conquer the world, back

I the Romans for soldiers, or had they me for their king !" The Romans were highly pleased with this politeness in an enemy, but still more with his civil treatment, and his courtesy to the prisoners he had taken. Complaisance to the captives was a degree of refinement the Romans were yet to learn from the Greeks; but it was sufficient to show this brave people an improvement, either in morals or war, and they immediately adopted it as their own.

BATTLE OF CANNÆ. Annibal was at this time encamped near the village of Cannæ, with a periodical wind in his rear, which raising great clouds of dust froin the parched plains behind, he knew must greatly distress an approaching enemy. In this situation, he waited the approach of the Romans. The two consuls soon appeared to his wish, dividing their forces into two parts, and agreeing to take the daily command by turns. On the first day of their arrival, it was the lot of Æmilius to command, but he was entirely averse from engaging; and though Annibal practised every art, by insulting his men in their camp, and his colleague, by reproaching his timidity, to bring him to a battle, yet he obstinately declined fighting, conscious of the enemy's superior dispositions. The next day, however, it being Varro's turn to command, he, without asking his colleague's concurrence, gave the signal for battle; and, passing the river Aufidus, which lay between the two armies, put bis forces in array. The two consuls commanded the two wings; Varro on the right, and Æmilius on the left; to whom, also, was consigned the general conduct of the engagement. On the other side, Annibal, who had been from day-break employed in marshalling his forces as they came up, and inspiring them with courage by his voice and example, made so artful a disposition, that both the wind and the sun were in his favour. His cavalry were ordered to oppose those of Rome; and his heavy armed African infantry were placed in the wings. These, says the historian, might have been mistaken for a Roman army, being dressed in the spoils of such as were killed at Trebia and Thrasymene. Next these were the Gauls, a fierce people, naked from the waist, bearing large round shields, and swords of an enormous size, blunted at the point. The Spaniards were placed in the centre, brandishing short pointed daggers, and dressed in linen vests, embroidered with the brightest scarlet. Asdrubal commanded the left wing, the right was given to Maherbal, and Annibal fought on foot, in the centre of the army. The battle began with the light-armed infantry; the horse engaged soon after; and the Roman

cavalry, being unable to stand against those of Numidia, the legions came up to sustain them. It was then that the conflict became general; the Roman soldiers, for a long time, endeavoured, but in vain, to penetrate the centre where the Gauls and Spaniards fought; which Annibal observing, ordered part of those troops to give way, and to perniit the Romans to embosom themselves within a chosen body of the Africans, whom he had placed on either wing, so as to surround them.

A terrible slaughter of the Romans immediately took place : they were fatigued with repeated attacks, while the enemy were fresh and vigorous. All the hopes of Rome now lay in the cavalry of the allies which yet continued unbroken, but even on that side the superior art of Annibal discovered itself; for having ordered five hundred of his Numidian horse, with daggers concealed under their coats of mail, to go against the enemy, and to make a show of surrendering themselves prisoners of war; these obeying, and being placed by the allied cavalry, for greater security, in the rear, while they were employed in combating the troops that opposed them in front, all of a sudden, these supposed prisoners fell upon the Romans with their daggers from behind, and put them into irrecoverable confusion.

Thus the rout of the Roman army at last became general in every direction; the boastings of Varro were now no longer heard ; while Æmilius, who had been dangerously wounded by a slinger, in the beginning of the engagement, still feebly led on his body of horse, and did all that could be done by prudent valour, to retrieve the fortune of the day. However, be. ing unable to sit on horseback, he was forced to dismount, as did also his followers. But what could be expected from a measure dictated only by despair! Though they fought with great intrepidity for some time, they were at last obliged to give way; and those that were able, re-mounting their horses, sought for safety by flight. It was in this deplorable posture of affairs, that one Lentulus, a tribune of the army, as he was fleeing on horseback from the enemy, which at some distance pursued him, met the consul Æmilius sitting half dead upon a stone, covered over with blood and wounds, and expecting every moment the approach of the pursuers. Æmilius, " cried the generous tribune, you, at least, are guiltless of this day's slaughter: take my horse, while you have any strength remaining ; I will engage to assist, and will with my life de

We have already lost blood enough in the field, do not make the day more dreadful by the loss of a commander."

-“ I thank thee, Lentulus,” cried the dying consul, “ for ever maintain thy virtue, and may the gods recompense thy piety;

fend you.

but as for me, all is over ; my part is chosen ; do not, therefore, by tempting to persuade a desperate man, lose the only means of providing for thine own safety. Go, I command thee, and tell the senate, from me, to fortify Rome against the approach of the conquerors. Tell Fabius, also, that Æmilius, while living, ever remembered his advice; and now, dying, approves it."

While he was yet speaking, the enemy approached; and Lentulus, before he was out of view, saw the consul expire, feebly fighting in the midst of hundreds. The slaughter had now continued for several hours, till at last, the conquerors, quite wearied with destroying, Annibal gave orders for them to desist, and led them back to their encampment, a large body of Romans having previously surrendered upon condition of being dismissed without arms. In this battle, the Romans lost fifty thousand men, two quæstors, twenty-one tribunes, eighty senators, and so many knights, that it is said, Annibal sent three bushels of gold rings to Carthage, which those of their order wore, by way of distinction on their fingers. MEETING BETWEEN ANNIBAL AND SCIPIO, AND THE BATTLE

OF ZAMA. It was in a large plain between the two armies, that the two greatest generals in the world came to an interview: each, for a while, silently regarded his opponent, as if struck with mutual reverence and esteem. Scipio was, in figure, adorned with all the advantages of manly beauty : Annibal bore the marks in his visage of hard campaigns; and the loss of one eye gave a sternness to his aspect. Annibal spoke first, to this effect, “ Were I not convinced of the equity of the Romans, I would not this day have come to demand peace from the son, over whose father I have formerly been victorious, Would to Heaven, that the same moderation, which I hope inspires us at this day, had prevailed among us at the beginning of the war: that you had been content with the limits of your Italian dominions, and that we had never aimed at adding Sicily to our empire; we had then on both sides spared that blood, which no rewards from victory can repay. As for myself, age has taught me the inanity of triumphs, and the instability of fortune; but you are young, and perhaps not yet instructed in the school of adversity; you are now what I was after the battles of Cannæ and i hrasymene; you perhaps will aim at splendid, rather than at useful, virtues.

But consider, that peace is the end at which all victories ought to aim, and that peace I am sent here by my country to offer. Do not, therefore, expose to the hazard of an hour, that fame

« ElőzőTovább »