Battle of Ager Falernus
The Battle of Ager Falernus was a skirmish during the Second Punic War between the armies of Rome and Carthage. After winning the Battle of Lake Trasimene in Italy in 217 BC, the army commanded by Hannibal marched south and reached Campania; the Carthaginians moved into the district of Falernum, a fertile river valley surrounded by mountains. Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, elected Roman dictator and commander of the Roman field forces after the disastrous defeat at Lake Trasimene, had dogged Hannibal and stuck to a strategy to fight only under favourable conditions, he now occupied all the river crossings and mountain passes leading out of the valley, thus blocking the Carthaginians inside. After stripping the area of grain and other supplies, Hannibal displayed brilliant tactics to provoke the Roman guard to leave one of the passes. Despite the protests of his staff officers Fabius, camped near the pass with his main forces, refused to attack the Carthaginian army and it escaped the trap unscathed.
The Carthaginian victory in the Battle of Lake Trasimene had removed the Roman consular army which had prevented the Carthaginians from marching on Rome. The second Roman consular army in Northern Italy, under Gnaeus Servilius Geminus, was on the other side of the Apennine Mountains, near Ariminum, it was in no position to hinder Hannibal from marching south; this force had lost most of its reconnaissance capabilities as its cavalry of 4,000 men had been destroyed in an ambush by Hannibal's lieutenant Maharbal near Assisi after the battle of Lake Trasimene. The Roman army retreated back to Ariminum after this debacle, was busy checking the Gallic raids taking place near the Po valley; the initiative now rested with Hannibal, the Romans had temporarily lost the ability to defend their Italian socii allies until a new army could be raised. Hannibal chose not to march on Rome after the victory at Trasimene; the Carthaginian army instead marched south-east into Umbria, through Perugia, although Livy refers to a failed siege of Spoletum, a Latin colony, Polybius does not mention it, it is that only Carthaginian raiders troubled the Latin colony.
Hannibal ordered his men to kill all military-aged males they came across as they marched through Picenum towards the Adriatic coast, reaching Herita 10 days after leaving Lake Trasimene. Here Hannibal rested his army, suffering from scurvy, refitted the Libyan/African troops with captured Roman equipment and retrained them, by using low grade local wine as an ointment, brought the cavalry horses back to health. With no Roman army situated near him, Hannibal was free to choose his next course of action unhindered. There was panic and disorder in Rome when rumors about Trasimene spread among the city population, which were confirmed when the praetor Marcus Pomponius curtly announced in the Forum "We have been defeated in a great battle"; the Senate met in continual session to debate the next course of action until three days the news of the defeat of the Roman cavalry by Maharbal arrived in Rome. The Roman senate and the people, realizing the gravity of the situation, decided to elect a dictator to direct the war effort.
As one of the elected consuls was dead and the other one away with his army, the dictator was elected by the senate instead of being nominated by one of the consuls. Quintus Fabius Maximus, a member of the patrician Fabii, who had suggested that an election should be held, was elected into office by the assembled centuries of the people, his term in office being set for the next six months. Fabius, 58 years of age, 28 years older than Hannibal, at that time carried the nickname "Verrucosus" or "Spotty" because of a wart on his face, his past political record was anything but spotty. A dictator chose his own deputy, the Master of Horse, but Fabius received as his Master of Horse Marcus Minucius Rufus, in an unusual political gesture, it was suggested that the post of Fabius was that of a pro-dictator, but it seems Fabius enjoyed all the powers of a dictator during his term. The Romans needed to prepare a proper reception should Hannibal decided to show up outside Rome with his army. Fabius first set about restoring the morale of the Roman people and tackled the task of preparing the defences of Rome after receiving his post.
He took meticulous care in observing all the religious procedures attached to state affairs and all the civil procedures related to state administration to boost the morale of the city population, after having blamed the Trasimene disaster on the lack of proper religious observations by the dead consul Flaminius. The senate consulted the Sibylline Books at the suggestion of Fabius and a praetor was assigned to appease the Roman gods through generous sacrifices. Divine duties taken care of, Fabius next went about preparing for Hannibal's anticipated visit to Latium, being ignorant of his location and intention at that time; the city walls were repaired. The unwalled towns in Latium were ordered to be abandoned, their inhabitants were moved into walled towns. Certain bridges were torn down to deny the Carthaginians easy passage through Latium. Once it was clear that Hannibal was not marching towards Rome, Fabius ordered the army of Servilius into Latium. Fabius left Rome and took over command of the army of Ser
Battle of Tarentum (212 BC)
The Battle of Tarentum in March 212 BC was a military engagement in the Second Punic War. The Romans had been waiting for a chance to strike at Capua, the capital of Campania in southern Italy, after it revolted against them following their defeat by the Carthaginian Hannibal at Cannae in 216 BC. Hannibal had made the city his winter headquarters, his proximity deterred the Romans. In 212 BC, Hannibal was called south to Tarentum, giving the Romans a chance to strike. Hannibal hoped for a success big enough to risk the loss of Capua, his eyes had long been set on the city of the richest in the whole of southern Italy. Hannibal had been in communication with a party of Tarentine citizens who were unhappy with Roman rule. A previous attempt had been made by the people of Tarentum to rid themselves of the Romans. However, it was thwarted by the precautions, he took effectual means for the defence of the city and sent some of the possible malcontents to Rome to serve as hostages for the good behaviour of the rest of the population.
These hostages were caught trying to escape, several of whom were convicted by the quaestores parricidii and sentenced to be flung from the Tarpeian Rock. This act infuriated the people of Tarentum. Marcus Livius, the governor of the city, was a good soldier but is said to be a man of indolent and luxurious habits. On the night appointed by Hannibal for the attack he was feasting with friends and retired to rest, heavy with food and wine. In the middle of the night he was awakened when the conspirators blew the alarm on some Roman trumpets and found Hannibal and 10,000 of his soldiers within the city. Many of the Roman soldiers were asleep or drunk and were cut down by the Carthaginians as they stumbled out into the streets. Hannibal kept control of his troops to the extent. Committed to respecting Tarentine freedom, Hannibal asked the Tarentines to mark houses where Tarentines lived. Only those houses not so marked and thus belonging to Romans were looted. Marcus Livius managed to bring his surviving troops to the citadel where they held off the Carthaginians for the duration of the war.
However, the city was lost. All the Greek towns in Southern Italy with the exception of Rhegium were now under Hannibal's control. Southern Italy provided Hannibal with a powerful foothold on the peninsula. However, when he heard news that the Romans were besieging Capua he turned his army around and only days after capturing Tarentum he was outside Capua. In the First Battle of Capua the besieging armies were temporarily driven off. At this point in history Hannibal looked invincible, having allies in southern Gaul, owning Southern Italy and Iberia. Cities in Sicily such as Syracuse had revolted as well. Hannibal was promised the support of the powerful army of King Philip V of Macedon across the Adriatic. However, Hannibal's successes were not enduring; the Romans soon re-established their siege of Capua, took the city following the Second Battle of Capua the next year. In 209 BC, Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus recaptured Tarentum through treachery. In the following years, Scipio Africanus rose to prominence in Rome's military campaigns, by copying Hannibal's tactics gained victory over Carthage.
The Punic Wars Later Campaigns
History of Algeria
Much of the history of Algeria has taken place on the fertile coastal plain of North Africa, called the Maghreb. North Africa served as a transit region for people moving towards Europe or the Middle East, the region's inhabitants have been influenced by populations from other areas, including the Carthaginians and Vandals; the region was conquered by the Muslims in the early 8th century AD, but broke off from the Umayyad Caliphate after the Berber Revolt of 740. Various Berbers, Persian Muslim states, Shia or Ibadi communities were established that ruled parts of modern-day of Algeria: including the Rustamids, Fatimids, Zirids, Almoravid, Almohads and Ziyyanids. During the Ottoman period, Algiers was the center of the Barbary slave trade which led to many naval conflicts; the last significant events in the country's recent history have been the Algerian War and Algerian Civil War. Evidence of the early human occupation of Algeria is demonstrated by the discovery of 1.8 million year old Oldowan stone tools found at Ain Hanech in 1992.
In 1954 fossilised Homo erectus bones were discovered by C. Arambourg at Ternefine that are 700,000 years old. Neolithic civilization developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean Maghrib between 6000 and 2000 BC; this type of economy, richly depicted in the Tassili n'Ajjer cave paintings in southeastern Algeria, predominated in the Maghrib until the classical period. The amalgam of peoples of North Africa coalesced into a distinct native population, the Berbers lacked a written language and hence tended to be overlooked or marginalized in historical accounts. Since 4000 BC, the indigenous peoples of northern Africa resisted Phoenician, Vandal, Byzantine and French invaders but accepted Islam between the 7th to 9th century, Arabic is now the language spoken by a majority in the country. Phoenician traders arrived on the North African coast around 900 BC and established Carthage around 800 BC. During the classical period, Berber civilization was at a stage in which agriculture, manufacturing and political organization supported several states.
Trade links between Carthage and the Berbers in the interior grew, but territorial expansion resulted in the enslavement or military recruitment of some Berbers and in the extraction of tribute from others. The Carthaginian state declined because of successive defeats by the Romans in the Punic Wars, in 146 BC, the city of Carthage was destroyed; as Carthaginian power waned, the influence of Berber leaders in the hinterland grew. By the 2nd century BC, several large but loosely administered Berber kingdoms had emerged. After that, king Masinissa managed to unify Numidia under his rule. Madghacen was a king of independent kingdoms of the Numidians, between 12 and 3 BC. Berber territory was annexed by the Roman Empire in AD 24. Increases in urbanization and in the area under cultivation during Roman rule caused wholesale dislocations of Berber society, Berber opposition to the Roman presence was nearly constant; the prosperity of most towns depended on agriculture, the region was known as the "breadbasket of the empire".
Christianity arrived in the 2nd century. By the end of the 4th century, the settled areas had become christianized, some Berber tribes had converted en masse. From the 8th century Umayyad conquest of North Africa led by Musa bin Nusayr, Arab colonization started; the 11th century invasion of migrants from the Arabian peninsula brought oriental tribal customs. The introduction of Islam and Arabic had a profound impact on North Africa; the new religion and language introduced changes in social and economic relations, established links with the Arab world through acculturation and assimilation. According to historians of the Middle Ages, the Berbers are divided into two branches, both are from their ancestor Mazigh; the two branches Botr and Barnès are divided into tribes, each Maghreb region is made up of several tribes. The large Berber tribes or peoples are Sanhaja, Zenata, Kutama, Barghawata... etc. Each tribe is divided into sub tribes. All these tribes have territorial decisions. Several Berber dynasties emerged during the Middle Ages: - In North Africa, Sudan, in Andalusia, Italy, in Mali, Niger and Egypt.
Ibn Khaldoun made a table of Berber dynasties: Zirid, Banu Ifran, Almoravid, Almohad Caliphate, Zayyanid, Meknes, Hafsid dynasty. The invasion of the Banu Hilal Arab tribes in 11th century, sacked Kairouan, the area under Zirid control was reduced to the coastal region, the Arab conquests fragmented into petty Bedouin emirates; the second Arab military expeditions into the Maghreb, between 642 and 669, resulted in the spread of Islam. The Umayyads recognised that the strategic necessity of dominating the Mediterranean dictated a concerted military effort on the North African front. By 711 Umayyad forces helped by Berber converts to Islam had conquered all of North Africa. In 750 the Abbasids moved the caliphate to Baghdad. Under the Abbasids, Berber Kharijites Sufri Banu Ifran were opposed to Abbasids. After, the Rustumids ruled most of the central Maghrib from Tahirt, southwest of Algiers; the imams gained a reputation for honesty and justice, the court of Tahirt was noted for its support of scholarship.
The Rustumid imams failed, however, to organise a reliable standing army, which opened the way for Tahirt's demise under the assault of the Fatimid dynasty. With their interest focused
Masinissa, or Masensen, —also spelled Massinissa and Massena—was the first King of Numidia. During his younger years, before he was king, he fought in the Second Punic War, first against the Romans as an ally of Carthage and switching sides. With Roman support, he united the eastern and western Numidian tribes and founded the Kingdom of Numidia, he is well-known for his role as a Roman ally in the Battle of Zama and as husband of Sophonisba, a Carthaginian noblewoman whom he allowed to poison herself to avoid being paraded in a triumph in Rome. He ruled Numidia for some 54 years until dying at about the age of 90, he was vigorous, leading troops until his death and fathering some 44 sons, a staunch ally of Rome. Masinissa's story is told in Livy's Ab Urbe Condita, he is featured in Cicero's Scipio's Dream. His name was found in his tomb of Cirta, modern-day Constantine in Algeria under the form of MSNSN; the Greek historian Polybius, who met him, called him "the best man of all the kings of our time". and wrote that "his greatest and most divine achievement was this: Numidia had been before his time universally unproductive, was looked upon as incapable of producing any cultivated fruits.
He was the first and only man who showed that it could produce cultivated fruits just as well as any other country". In the following centuries, his territory would become known as the breadbasket of Rome. Masinissa is viewed as an icon and an important forefather among modern Berbers. Masinissa was the son of the chieftain Gaia of the Massylii, he was brought up in an ally of his father. At the start of the Second Punic War, Masinissa fought for Carthage against Syphax, the king of the Masaesyli of western Numidia, who had allied himself with the Romans. Masinissa about 17 years old, led an army of Numidian troops and Carthaginian auxiliaries against Syphax's army and won a decisive victory, he was betrothed to the daughter of the Carthaginian general Hasdrubal Gisgo. After his victory over Syphax, Masinissa commanded his skilled Numidian cavalry against the Romans in Spain, where he was involved in the Carthaginian victories of Castulo and Ilorca in 211 BC. After Hasdrubal Barca departed for Italy, Masinissa was placed in command of all the Carthaginian cavalry in Spain, where he fought a successful guerrilla campaign against the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio throughout 208 and 207, while Mago Barca and Hasdrubal Gisgo levied and trained new forces.
In c.206 BC, with fresh reinforcements and Hasdrubal Gisgo—supported by Masinissa's Numidian cavalry—met Scipio at the Battle of Ilipa, where Carthage's power over Hispania was forever broken in arguably Scipio Africanus's most brilliant victory. When Gaia died in 206 BC, his son Masinissa and his brother Oezalces quarreled about the inheritance, Syphax — now an ally of Carthage — was able to conquer considerable parts of the eastern Numidia. Meanwhile, with the Carthaginians having been driven from Hispania, Masinissa concluded that Rome was winning the war against Carthage and therefore decided to defect to Rome, he promised to assist Scipio in the invasion of Carthaginian territory in Africa. This decision was aided by the move by Scipio Africanus to free Masinissa's nephew, whom the Romans had captured when he had disobeyed his uncle and ridden into battle. Having lost the alliance with Masinissa, Hasdrubal started to look for another ally, which he found in Syphax, who married Sophonisba, Hasdrubal's daughter, who until the defection had been betrothed to Masinissa.
The Romans supported Masinissa's claim to the Numidian throne against Syphax, successful in driving Masinissa from power until Scipio invaded Africa in 204. Masinissa joined the Roman forces and participated in the victorious Battle of the Great Plains, after which Syphax was captured. At the Battle of Bagbrades, Scipio overcame Hasdrubal and Syphax and, while the Roman general concentrated on Carthage, Gaius Laelius and Masinissa followed Syphax to Cirta, where he was captured and handed over to Scipio. After the defeat of Syphax, Masinissa married Syphax's wife Sophonisba, but Scipio, suspicious of her loyalty, demanded that she be taken to Rome and appear in the triumphal parade. To save her from such humiliation, Masinissa sent her poison. Masinissa was now accepted as a loyal ally of Rome, was confirmed by Scipio as the king of the Massylii. At the Battle of Zama, Masinissa commanded the cavalry on Scipio's right wing, Scipio delayed the engagement long enough to allow for Masinissa to join him.
With the battle hanging in the balance, Masinissa's cavalry, having driven the fleeing Carthaginian horsemen away and fell onto the rear of the Carthaginian lines. This decided the battle and at once Hannibal's army began to collapse; the Second Punic War was over and for his services Masinissa received the kingdom of Syphax, became king of Numidia. Masinissa was now king of both the Masaesyli, he showed unconditional loyalty to Rome, his position in Africa was strengthened by a clause in the peace treaty of 201 between Rome and Carthage prohibiting the latter from going to war in self-defense without Roman permission. This enabled Masinissa to encroach on the remaining Carthaginian territory as long as he judged that Rome wished to see Carthage further weakened. With Roman backing, Masinissa established his own kingdom of Numidia, west of Carthage, with Cirta — present day Constantine — as its capital city. All of this happened in accordance
Battle of Lilybaeum
The Battle of Lilybaeum was the first naval clash between the navies of Carthage and Rome during the Second Punic War. The Carthaginians had sent 35 quinqueremes to raid Sicily, starting with Lilybaeum; the Romans, warned by Hiero of Syracuse of the coming raid, had time to intercept the Carthaginian contingent with a fleet of 20 quinqueremes and managed to capture several Carthaginian ships. Carthage and the Roman Republic had peaceful, if not friendly, relations since signing the first treaty in 509 BC, which had detailed the rights of each power. Treaties were signed in 348 and 306 BC that further established the spheres of influence of each state. Carthage and Rome cooperated against King Pyrrhus and signed a treaty of cooperation in 279 BC. However, Roman involvement in Messina in Sicily in 264 BC led to the First Punic War, which cost Carthage her Sicilian holdings, naval supremacy and a large indemnity; the Roman actions during the Mercenary War favoured Carthage, but they seized Sardinia and Corsica after that war concluded.
Carthage rebuilt her fortunes by conquering parts of Iberia under the leadership of Hamilcar and Hannibal during 237-218 BC. Rome, at the instigation of Massalia, signed a treaty with Hasdrubal the Fair in 226 BC, which established the Ebro as the limit of Carthaginian power in Iberia; the city of Saguntum, located south of the river, became an ally of Rome some time after 226 BC. When Iberian allies of Hannibal Barca came into conflict with Saguntum, Rome warned Hannibal not to intervene. Faced with the alternative of backing down and losing face, Hannibal opted to attack Saguntum; this was the start of the Second Punic War. The Roman Senate had declared war on Carthage after Hannibal Barca had attacked and taken the city of Saguntum in Iberia in 219 BC. Rome had declared Saguntum an ally but had done nothing to help the city during the eight-month-long siege. Once the siege was over, the combatants started to make ready for the coming struggle, to last 18 years; the Roman navy had been mobilized in 219 BC.
Publius Cornelius Scipio was to sail for Iberia escorted by 60 ships. However, Gauls of the Boii and Insubre tribes in northern Italy attacked the Roman colonies of Placentia and Cremona, causing the Romans to flee to Mutina, which the Gauls besieged. Praetor L. Manlius Vulso marched from Ariminium with two Roman legions, 600 Roman Horse, 10,000 allied infantry and 1,000 allied cavalry towards Cisalpine Gaul; this army was ambushed twice on the way. Although the siege of Mutina was raised, the army itself fell under a loose siege a few miles from Mutina; this event prompted the Roman Senate to send one of Scipio's legions and 5,000 allied troops to aid Vulso. Scipio had to raise troops to replace these and thus could not set out for Iberia until September 218 BC. Consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus received four legions and instructions to sail for Africa, escorted by 160 quinqueremes. Sempronius had set sail for Sicily. Hannibal had dismissed his army to winter quarters after the Siege of Saguntum.
In the summer of 218 BC, Hannibal stationed 15,000 soldiers and 21 elephants in Iberia under his brother Hasdrubal Barca, sent 20,000 soldiers in Africa with 4,000 garrisoning Carthage itself. The army that marched for Italy from Cartagena is supposed to have numbered 90,000 foot and 12,000 cavalry, 37 elephants. Hannibal divided his army into three columns before crossing the Ebro River, attacked the Iberian tribes of Ilergetes and Ausetani in Catalonia. In a two-month-long campaign, Hannibal subdued parts of Catalonia between the Ebro, the Pyrenees and the Sicoris river in a swift, if costly campaign; the Iberian contingent of the Punic navy, which numbered 50 quinqueremes and 5 triremes, remained in Iberian waters, having shadowed Hannibal's army for some way. Carthage mobilized at least 55 Quinqueremes for immediate raids on Italy; the Carthaginian navy struck the first blow of the war when a fleet of 20 quinqueremes, loaded with 1,000 soldiers, raided the Lipari Islands. Another group of eight ships attacked Vulcano island, but was blown off-course in a storm towards the Straits of Messina.
The Syracusan navy at Messina, managed to capture three of the ships, which surrendered without resistance. Learning from the captured crew that a Carthaginian fleet was to attack Lilybaeum, Hiero II, at Messina awaiting the arrival of Sempronius, warned the Roman praetor Marcus Amellius at Lilybaeum about the impending raid; the Carthaginian fleet was hampered by bad weather and had to wait before commencing their operation. Although the Romans only had 20 ships present at Lilybaeum, the praetor, after receiving the warning from Hiero, provisioned his ships for a long sail and put a proper contingent of Roman legionaries on board each ship before the Carthaginian fleet appeared, he posted lookouts along the coast to watch out for the Carthaginian ships, giving him early warning and minimizing the risk of surprise. The Carthaginians had broken their journey at the Aegates Islands, when they sailed for Lilybaeum on a moonlit night, they intended to make their approach coincide with the dawn.
The Roman lookouts spotted them well. As the Romans sallied forth, the Carthaginians lowered their sails for battle and moved to the open sea; the Carthaginians outnumbered the Romans, but their ships were undermanned and the Romans had the advantage of containing a larger number of soldiers aboard their ships
Battle of Cannae
The Battle of Cannae was a major battle of the Second Punic War that took place on 2 August 216 BC in Apulia, in southeast Italy. The army of Carthage, under Hannibal and decisively defeated a larger army of the Roman Republic under the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro, it is regarded both as one of the greatest tactical feats in military history and as one of the worst defeats in Roman history. Having recovered from their losses at Trebia and Lake Trasimene, the Romans decided to engage Hannibal at Cannae, with 86,000 Roman and allied troops, they massed their heavy infantry in a deeper formation than usual, while Hannibal used the double-envelopment tactic and surrounded his enemy, trapping the majority of the Roman army, who were slaughtered. The loss of life on the Roman side was one of the most lethal single day. Only about 15,000 Romans, most of whom were from the garrisons of the camps and had not taken part in the battle, escaped death. Following the defeat and several other Italian city-states defected from the Roman Republic to Carthage.
As news of this defeat reached Rome, the city was gripped in panic. Authorities resorted to extraordinary measures, which included consulting the Sibylline Oracles, dispatching a delegation led by Quintus Fabius Pictor to consult the Delphic oracle in Greece, burying four people alive as a sacrifice to their Gods. To raise two new legions, the authorities lowered the draft age and enlisted criminals and slaves. Despite the extreme loss of men and equipment, a second massive defeat that same year at Silva Litana, the Romans refused to surrender to Hannibal, his offer to ransom survivors was brusquely refused. With grim determination the Romans fought for 14 more years until they achieved victory at the Battle of Zama. Although for most of the following decades the battle was seen as a major Roman disaster, by modern times Cannae acquired a mythic quality, is used as an example of the perfect defeat of an enemy army, it was studied by German strategists prior to World War II, General Norman Schwartzkopf claimed to have drawn inspiration from Hannibal's success for his devastatingly effective land offensive in the First Gulf War.
Shortly after the start of the Second Punic War, Hannibal crossed into Italy by traversing the Pyrenees and the Alps during the summer and early autumn of 218 BC. He won major victories over the Romans at Trebia and at Lake Trasimene. After these losses, the Romans appointed Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus as dictator to deal with the threat. Fabius used attrition warfare against Hannibal, cutting off his supply lines and avoiding pitched battles; these tactics proved unpopular with the Romans who, as they recovered from the shock of Hannibal's victories, began to question the wisdom of the Fabian strategy, which had given the Carthaginian army a chance to regroup. The majority of Romans were eager to see a quick conclusion to the war, it was feared that, if Hannibal continued plundering Italy unopposed, Rome's allies might defect to the Carthaginian side for self-preservation. Therefore, when Fabius came to the end of his term, the Senate did not renew his dictatorial powers and command was given to consuls Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Marcus Atilius Regulus.
In 216 BC, when elections resumed, Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus were elected as consuls, placed in command of a newly raised army of unprecedented size and directed to engage Hannibal. Polybius wrote: The Senate determined to bring eight legions into the field, which had never been done at Rome before, each legion consisting of five thousand men besides allies.... Most of their wars are decided with their quota of allies, but on this occasion, so great was the alarm and terror of what would happen, they resolved to bring not only four but eight legions into the field. Rome employed four legions each year, each consisting of 4,000 foot soldiers and 200 cavalry. Perceiving the Carthaginian army as a real threat, for the first time the Senate introduced eight legions, each consisting of 5,000 foot soldiers and 300 cavalry, with allied troops numbering the same amount of foot soldiers but 900 cavalry per legion—more than triple the legion numbers. Eight legions—some 40,000 Roman soldiers and an estimated 2,400 cavalry—formed the core of this massive new army.
Livy quotes one source stating the Romans added only 10,000 men to their usual army. While no definitive number of Roman troops exists, all sources agree that the Carthaginians faced a larger foe. Consuls were each assigned two of the four legions to command employing all four legions at once to the same assignment. However, the Senate feared a real threat and not only deployed all four legions to the field but all eight, including allies. Ordinarily, each of the two consuls would command his own portion of the army, but since the two armies were combined into one, Roman law required them to alternate their command on a daily basis; the traditional account puts Varro in command on the day of the battle, much of the blame for the defeat has been laid on his shoulders. However, his low origins seem to be exaggerated in the sources, Varro may have been made a scapegoat by the aristocratic establishment, he lacked the powerful descendants that Paullus had, descendants who were willing and able to protect his reputation—most notably, Paullus was the grandfather of Scipio Aemilianus, the patron of Polybius.
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