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SUMMARY OF LIVY – THE BATTLE OF CANNAE  Hannibal wanted to draw the Romans into battle in an open area where

his cavalry would be at an advantage. (He had 10,000 cavalry compared to the Romans’ 6,000). He sent a contingent of his Numidians to goad the Romans into battle.  There was disagreement in the Roman camp between the consuls: Paulus reminded Varro of the recklessness of Sempronius and Flaminius (who had lost the Battle of Lake Trasimene). Varro reminded Paulus of the “timid and slothful” Fabius who had allowed Hannibal to overrun Italy.  Paulus said he would not take the blame for a hasty attack but would share in the consequences. He warned Varro that those who were ready to talk about attacking would have to be just as ready to be brave in action. The men favoured Varro’s view.  Meanwhile Hannibal’s attacks on the smaller of the two Roman camps had become bolder and it was only Paulus’s coolness under pressure that stopped the Romans rushing out.  On the next day of Varro’s command, he hung out the signal for attack without consulting Paulus. Paulus “could more easily disapprove of the plan than deprive it of his help”.  See plan for deployment of troops at Cannae: On the right wing nearest the River were the Roman cavalry; on the left wing were the allied cavalry and in between were the infantry. Geminius was in charge of the centre, Paulus was on the right wing and Varro on the left. Slingers, archers and other auxiliaries were lined up in the very front.  Hannibal’s lines were as follows: slingers and light-armed troops in front; Gallic and Spanish cavalry on his left near the river; Numidian cavalry on the right and infantry in a thin line between. In the centre were the Gauls and Spaniards but on each side of them, at the back were the African infantry. Hannibal had only 40,000 infantry to the Romans’ 80,000. He drew them into a bow shape with the centre forward in order to draw the Romans in to a kind of tunnel.  The Gauls were terrifying to look at with their height and naked from the navel up, they used long slashing swords. The Spaniards were dressed in dazzling white linen tunics with red borders and used short stabbing swords.  Hannibal and his brother Mago were in charge of the centre; Hasdrubal, his other brother was on the left and Maharbal on the right.  The sun shone from the side of the battlefield and so favoured neither side but a south wind blew dust into the faces of the Romans.  The light armed troops rushed forward first and the Gallic and Spanish cavalry rushed against the Roman cavalry (on the Carthaginian left by the river). They were very hemmed in and it ended up as fighting hand to hand, not like a cavalry battle at all, many men dismounted. It was soon over and the Romans fled.

 By now the Roman infantry rushed in to the centre against Hannibal’s thin infantry line in a bow shape. They drove forward and the Gauls and Spaniards gave way as they had been told to do, drawing in the Romans to the centre. Now, having lost formation, they had to face the two African flanks who were fresh and outflanked them on both sides. The Romans were now hemmed in and tired, at a double disadvantage.  Now a trick was played by a group of 500 Numidians on the Roman left. They pretended to defect and were disarmed and placed at the rear. But they had hidden swords under their breast-plates and in the confusion of battle, drew these, picked up shields and attacked the Roman cavalry from the rear, causing panic and confusion.  Hasdrubal withdrew the remaining Numidians on the right who were fighting half-heartedly and sent them to chase the fugitives. The remaining Gauls and Spaniards were sent in to the centre to finish off the job the Africans (exhausted from killing) were doing.  In the centre was Paulus, badly injured from a sling-shot. He kept going as long as he could but now was in trouble, too weak to control his horse.  When Hannibal realised that Paulus had ordered his cavalry to dismount, he said it would have been much better if he had simply handed them over to him in chains. But they still fought bravely on in a hopeless situation.  As Lentulus, Military Tribune, rode by, he offered Paulus his horse to make an escape, he calls him the only man without guilt in this day’s work. Paulus thanks him but says he would rather die with his men. He orders Lentulus to get to Rome and order them to fortify the city. He tells him to tell Fabius that he (Paulus) died remembering his precepts. He says he would rather die now than be brought to trial where he would have to blame his colleague to defend himself. He is now killed by a rain of missiles.  The rout was complete. The remaining Romans escaped to the two camps and were now leaderless. Varro had fled to Venusia with 50 others.  45,500 infantry died and 2,700 cavalry. Many men of high rank, including 80 senators. This was one of the greatest calamities ever to befall Rome.  The men in each camp were afraid to move to the other, but in the small camp, Tuditanus urged them on and asked them if they would rather be rounded up as slaves than to risk their lives as free Roman citizens. He reminded them of the bravery of Paulus and the other dead and get 600 of them to move to the other camp.  Meanwhile, Hannibal’s en crowded around him congratulating him. Maharbal urged him that no time was to be lost and that Rome was there for the taking. But the idea was too vast for Hannibal to grasp it and he said no. Maharbal responded “Truly the gods do not bestow on the same man all their gifts. You know how to gain a victory, Hannibal: you know not how to use one!”.  It is generally believed that the one day’s delay saved the city and the empire.