He was no doubt alarmed by Scipio's growing prestige, but genuinely believed that taking the war to Africa posed unnecessary dangers.
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The Shield of Rome: Fabius Cunctator
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Fabius Maximus was consul of Rome for five terms in all. In the first, he led Roman forces against the Ligurians, who were defeated and driven back into the Alps. After this victory, he enjoyed a traditional triumph, perhaps that shown by an anonymous sculptor in this undated frieze of the Triumph of Quintus Fabius Maximus. Curiously, this frieze is not in Italy, but on the chimney of the Burgemeesterskamer in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.
In the middle of the s, at the height of the Dutch Golden Age, Fabius Maximus became a popular figure in Dutch art. He is shown standing in a chariot being drawn by four horses, towards the right end back of the triumphal procession, and is referred to in the Dutch text above the frieze. When Gaius Flaminius was consul later, Hannibal the Carthaginian general invaded Italy, leading Flaminius to fight the Carthaginians by the river Trebia. In the midst of the battle, there was a major earthquake; the Romans were soundly defeated and put to flight, and Flaminius himself was killed.
As a result, Fabius was made dictator. Fabius appointed Marcus Minucius as his Master of Horse, and was given approval to ride a horse himself when in the field — an exceptional situation, as the Roman army was predominantly infantry, and traditionally commanded on foot.
Chapter 5 - Fabius Cunctator
One of his first tasks was to raise morale among Romans, which he did by getting them to propitiate the gods. His tactics against Hannibal were innovative: he kept his troops in hilly areas, which made it hard for enemy cavalry to come near. Fabius is seen sitting, in wait for Hannibal, rather than fighting him.
Hannibal had torches tied to horns of some local cattle, and drove them towards the Romans at night. When those torches burned down, the cattle and surrounding forests caught fire, convincing the Romans that they were surrounded by advancing enemy.
Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, Quintus - Oxford Classical Dictionary
Hannibal was therefore able to escape with his army. Fabius pursued the Carthaginians, but was beaten back by fearsome Spanish troops. Rome arranged an exchange of prisoners, then discovered that Hannibal had held back Romans for ransom, which the Senate was not prepared to pay. Fabius arranged to sell sufficient of his own land to raise the ransom himself, and bought the release of all remaining prisoners of war. Fabius was summoned back to Rome, leaving the Roman army under the command of Minucius.
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Although the latter had been told not to engage in battle, he waited until most of the enemy army were out foraging to attack those left in camp, and won a cheap victory. Back in Rome, after public speeches, the people voted for Minucius and Fabius to share military command. They therefore divided the army between them as Hannibal was preparing to occupy a hill between the two groups of Romans, and draw them into battle. Minucius fell into the trap, and his forces were surrounded and many killed by the Carthaginians.
When the two Roman armies were united again, Minucius admitted his error and relinquished command to Fabius. The latter assembled a force of 88, Romans to take Hannibal on in battle, against the advice of Fabius. The other consul alongside Terentius was Paulus Aemilius; when Fabius tried to persuade him to oppose Terentius, Paulus replied that it was better for him to face the enemy than another vote of the people.
So the Roman army marched to Cannae, where at dawn they launched their attack on the Carthaginians. Hannibal used two strategies: he fought with a very strong wind behind his men, which drove a huge cloud of dust over the Romans, causing confusion. When others saw this, they dismounted to defend him on foot; this was misunderstood as a general order to dismount, and the Roman cavalry became infantry soldiers.