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 Ebro River
The Battle of Ebro River was a naval battle fought near the mouth of Ebro River in the spring of 217 BC between a Carthaginian fleet of 27 quinqueremes, under the command of Himilco, a Roman fleet of 55 ships, under Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus. Hasdrubal Barca, the Carthaginian commander in Iberia, had launched a joint expedition to destroy the Roman base north of the Ebro River; the Carthaginian naval contingent was defeated after a surprise attack by the Roman ships, losing 29 ships and the control of seas around Iberia. The reputation of the Romans was further enhanced in Iberia after this victory, causing rebellion among some of the Iberian tribes under Carthaginian control. After Hanno's defeat in the Battle of Cissa in the winter of 218 BC, Gnaeus Scipio had spent his time consolidating his hold on the Iberian regions north of the Ebro and raiding the Iberian territory of Carthage south of the Ebro from his base at Tarraco, he had received no major reinforcements from Rome to augment his forces.
Meanwhile, Hasdrubal Barca, the Carthaginian commander in Iberia, had raised a number of Iberian levies to expand his army substantially. The Punic naval contingent in Iberia contained 32 quinqueremes and 5 triremes in 218 BC when Hannibal had departed from Iberia. During the winter of 218 BC, Hasdrubal had added a further 10 quinqueremes to this fleet and trained additional crews to man them. In the Spring of 217 BC, Hasdrubal mounted a joint expedition towards the Roman territory north of the Ebro. Hasdrubal himself commanded the army, the exact number of, unknown, his deputy Himilco led the fleet; the expedition followed the coastline, with the ships beaching beside the army at night. Gnaeus Scipio, fearing that the Carthaginian army outnumbered his own, resolved to fight a naval battle. Although he could only man 35 quinqueremes, the allied Greek city of Massilia had provided 20 ships for his fleet. After reaching the Ebro River, the Carthaginian fleet anchored near the estuary; the sailors and crew left their ships for foraging, as the fleet lacked transports carrying provisions.
Although Hasdrubal had posted scouts to detect the activities of the Romans, Himilco had no ships out at sea scouting for Roman ships. A pair of Massalian ships located the Punic fleet as it lay at anchor, slipped away undetected to warn Gnaeus of the Carthaginian presence; the Roman fleet sailed from Tarraco and was positioned only 10 miles to the north of the Carthaginian position when the warnings reached Gnaeus Scipio. Gnaeus manned his ships with picked legionaries, now sailed down to attack the Punic fleet. Hasdrubal's army scouts detected the approaching Roman fleet before the Punic navy and warned their fleet of the coming danger through fire signals. Most of the crews had been foraging, they hastily had to man their ships and sail out in a disorderly manner. There was little coordination and some ships were undermanned because of the surprise achieved by the Romans; as Himilco sailed out, Hasdrubal drew up his army on the shore to give encouragement to his fleet. Not only did the Romans have the advantage of total surprise and numbers, but the combat effectiveness of the Carthaginians is not reflected in the number of ships as one-quarter of their fleet had newly trained crew.
The Romans formed 2 lines with the 35 Roman ships in front and the 20 Massalian ships behind them, with the formation and the naval skill of the Massalians nullifying the superior manoeuvrability of the Carthaginian fleet. The Romans engaged the Carthaginian ships as they came out of the river and sinking four of them and boarding and capturing two more; the Carthaginian crews lost heart, beached their ships and sought safety among the army. The Romans hauled away 23 of the beached ships; the defeat proved to be decisive in the long run. Hasdrubal was obliged to march back to Cartagena, fearing seaborne attacks on Carthaginian territories. With the Iberian contingent of the Carthaginian navy shattered, Hasdrubal was forced to either call Carthage for reinforcements or build new ships, he did neither. The performance of the Iberian crews had been poor in the battle, their dismissal would spark a rebellion in the Turdetani tribe, forcing Carthage to send 4,000 infantry and 500 cavalry to Hasdrubal.
Hasdrubal would spend all of 216 BC subduing the rebels. In 217 BC, the main Carthaginian fleet captured. Publius Cornelius Scipio arrived in Iberia with 8,000 soldiers in the fall of that year with instructions from the Roman Senate to prevent any help from reaching Hannibal in Italy from Iberia; this is the only reinforcement the Roman Republic would send to Iberia before 211 BC. The Scipio brothers would raid Carthaginian Iberia, meet Hasdrubal at the Battle of Dertosa in 215 BC. Gnaeus Scipio had ensured that Roman seaborne supplies would not be intercepted by Carthaginian ships based in Iberia, that the Roman fleet in Iberia could raid the Carthaginian domain at will; the only major naval expedition against the Romans from Iberia would be that of Mago Barca to Italy in 204 BC. Bagnall, Nigel; the Punic Wars. ISBN 0-312-34214-4. Cottrell, Leonard. Hannibal: Enemy of Rome. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80498-0. Lazenby, John Francis. Hannibal's War. Aris & Phillips. ISBN 0-85668-080-X. Goldsworthy, Adrian.
The Fall of Carthage. Cassel Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-36642-0. Peddie, John. Hannibal's War. Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-3797-1. Lancel, Serge. Hannibal. Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-21848-3. Baker, G. P.. Ha
In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom, Roman Republic and Roman Empire until the fall of the western empire. The civilization began as an Italic settlement in the Italian Peninsula, conventionally founded in 753 BC, that grew into the city of Rome and which subsequently gave its name to the empire over which it ruled and to the widespread civilisation the empire developed; the Roman Empire expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world, though still ruled from the city, with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants and covering 5.0 million square kilometres at its height in AD 117. In its many centuries of existence, the Roman state evolved from a monarchy to a classical republic and to an autocratic semi-elective empire. Through conquest and assimilation, it dominated the North African coast and most of Western Europe, the Balkans and much of the Middle East.
It is grouped into classical antiquity together with ancient Greece, their similar cultures and societies are known as the Greco-Roman world. Ancient Roman civilisation has contributed to modern language, society, law, government, art, literature and engineering. Rome professionalised and expanded its military and created a system of government called res publica, the inspiration for modern republics such as the United States and France, it achieved impressive technological and architectural feats, such as the construction of an extensive system of aqueducts and roads, as well as the construction of large monuments and public facilities. The Punic Wars with Carthage were decisive in establishing Rome as a world power. In this series of wars Rome gained control of the strategic islands of Corsica and Sicily. By the end of the Republic, Rome had conquered the lands around the Mediterranean and beyond: its domain extended from the Atlantic to Arabia and from the mouth of the Rhine to North Africa.
The Roman Empire emerged with the dictatorship of Augustus Caesar. 721 years of Roman–Persian Wars started in 92 BC with their first war against Parthia. It would become the longest conflict in human history, have major lasting effects and consequences for both empires. Under Trajan, the Empire reached its territorial peak, it stretched from the entire Mediterranean Basin to the beaches of the North Sea in the north, to the shores of the Red and Caspian Seas in the East. Republican mores and traditions started to decline during the imperial period, with civil wars becoming a prelude common to the rise of a new emperor. Splinter states, such as the Palmyrene Empire, would temporarily divide the Empire during the crisis of the 3rd century. Plagued by internal instability and attacked by various migrating peoples, the western part of the empire broke up into independent "barbarian" kingdoms in the 5th century; this splintering is a landmark historians use to divide the ancient period of universal history from the pre-medieval "Dark Ages" of Europe.
The eastern part of the empire endured through the 5th century and remained a power throughout the "Dark Ages" and medieval times until its fall in 1453 AD. Although the citizens of the empire made no distinction, the empire is most referred to as the "Byzantine Empire" by modern historians during the Middle Ages to differentiate between the state of antiquity and the nation it grew into. According to the founding myth of Rome, the city was founded on 21 April 753 BC on the banks of the river Tiber in central Italy, by the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, who descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas, who were grandsons of the Latin King Numitor of Alba Longa. King Numitor was deposed by his brother, while Numitor's daughter, Rhea Silvia, gave birth to the twins. Since Rhea Silvia had been raped and impregnated by Mars, the Roman god of war, the twins were considered half-divine; the new king, feared Romulus and Remus would take back the throne, so he ordered them to be drowned. A she-wolf saved and raised them, when they were old enough, they returned the throne of Alba Longa to Numitor.
The twins founded their own city, but Romulus killed Remus in a quarrel over the location of the Roman Kingdom, though some sources state the quarrel was about, going to rule or give his name to the city. Romulus became the source of the city's name. In order to attract people to the city, Rome became a sanctuary for the indigent and unwanted; this caused a problem, in that Rome was bereft of women. Romulus visited neighboring towns and tribes and attempted to secure marriage rights, but as Rome was so full of undesirables he was refused. Legend says that the Latins invited the Sabines to a festival and stole their unmarried maidens, leading to the integration of the Latins with the Sabines. Another legend, recorded by Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus, says that Prince Aeneas led a group of Trojans on a sea voyage to found a new Troy, since the original was destroyed at the end of the Trojan War. After a long time in rough seas, they landed on the banks of the Tiber River. Not long after they landed, the men wanted to take to the sea again, but the women who were traveling with them did not want to leave.
One woman, named Roma, suggested that the women burn the ships out at sea to prevent their leaving
Battle of Cissa
The Battle of Cissa was part of the Second Punic War. It was fought in the fall near the Greek town of Tarraco in north-eastern Iberia. A Roman army under Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus defeated an outnumbered Carthaginian army under Hanno, thus gaining control of the territory north of the Ebro River that Hannibal had just subdued a few months prior in the summer of 218 BC; this was the first battle that the Romans had fought in Iberia. After the successful conclusion of the Siege of Saguntum, Hannibal Barca had rested his army. In the summer of 218 BC, he had started out for Italy with either 90,000 foot and 12,000 cavalry, or with 26,000 foot and 10,000 horse, he had spent the summer conquering the area north of the Ebro River. After subduing the Iberian tribes, but leaving the Greek cities unmolested, Hannibal crossed over into Gaul to continue his march to Italy, leaving a contingent to guard the newly conquered territories and sending 10,000 less reliable troops home; the Roman navy had been mobilized in 219 BC.
Consul Tiberius Sempronius Longus received 4 legions and instructions to sail for Africa with 160 quinqueremes. Publius Cornelius Scipio was to sail for Iberia escorted by 60 ships. However, the Gallic Boii and Insubre tribes in northern Italy had attacked Roman colonies, causing part of Scipio’s force to deploy there and fresh legions were raised to replace them, delaying his departure. While Hannibal was marching through Gaul, Scipio had landed with his army at the allied Greek city of Massilia, he sent a cavalry patrol north, up the eastern bank of the Rhone River, which clashed with a similar force of Numidian light cavalry and, after a hard fought skirmish, drove off the Carthaginians. Scipio marched north from his base. Arriving at the deserted Carthaginian camp, Scipio learned that Hannibal was three day's march away and decided to send his forces to Iberia under the command of his elder brother Gnaeus, consul in 221 BC, while he himself returned to Northern Italy to organize the defences against Hannibal.
Hasdrubal Barca, the younger brother of Hannibal, had 12,650 infantry, 2,550 cavalry and 21 elephants to guard the Carthaginian possessions south of the Ebro. Hannibal had left a certain Hanno with 10,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry to garrison the newly conquered territory north of the Ebro; this Hanno has been identified by various authors as Hannibal’s nephew, a brother or no Barcid relation. Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus, with 20,000 infantry 2,200 cavalry and 60 quinqueremes, sailed from Massilia and landed at Emporiae in Iberia; the Greek cities of Emporiae and Tarraco welcomed the Romans, Gnaeus began to win over the Iberian tribes north of the Ebro. Hasdrubal Barca, after being warned of the Roman expedition, marched north with an army of 8,000 foot soldiers and 1,000 cavalry to join Hanno. Hanno had been surprised by the Roman arrival in Iberia. Seeing the grip of the Carthaginians on the newly conquered Iberian tribes loosening because of the activities of Scipio, he decided to offer battle.
Hanno attacked the Romans just north of Tarraco, near a place called Cissa or Kissa. There were no brilliant manoeuvres or ambushes, the armies faced off. Being outnumbered two to one, Hanno was defeated easily, losing 6,000 soldiers in battle. Furthermore, the Romans managed to capture the Carthaginian camp, along with 2,000 more soldiers and Hanno himself; the camp contained. The prisoners included Indibilis, an influential Iberian chieftain who would cause severe trouble for the Romans later; the Romans stormed the town of Cissa, though to the frustration of the Romans it did not contain any valuable booty. Gnaeus became master of Iberia north of the Ebro. Hasdrubal, arriving too late to aid Hanno and not being strong enough to attack the Romans, still crossed the river and sent a flying column of light cavalry and infantry on a raid; this force caught some Roman sailors foraging and inflicted such casualties that the effectiveness of the Roman fleet in Iberia was reduced from 60 to 35 ships.
The Roman fleet, raided the Carthaginian possessions in Iberia. Roman prestige was established in Iberia. After punishing the officers in charge of the naval contingent for their lax discipline and the Roman army wintered at Tarraco. Hasdrubal retired to Cartagena after garrisoning allied towns south of the Ebro. If Hanno somehow had won the battle, it might have been possible for Hannibal to get reinforcements from Barcid Iberia as early as 217 BC; this battle brought the same results for Scipio in Iberia as the Battle of Trebia would bring for Hannibal in Italy: securing a base of operation, winning over some of the native tribes as a source of provisions and recruits cutting off the overland communication of Hannibal from his base in Iberia. Unlike Hannibal, Scipio did not launch a major campaign on enemy territory south of the river. Nor would he cut loose from his base like Hannibal did in the near future. Scipio took time to consolidate his holdings, subjugate or befriend Iberian tribes and raid Carthaginian territory.
These activities laid the foundation for the future Roman operations in Iberia. Bagnall, Nigel; the Punic Wars. ISBN 0-312-34214-4. Cottrell, Leonard. Hannibal: Enemy of Rome. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80498-0. Lazenby, John Francis (197
Hannibal's crossing of the Alps
Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC was one of the major events of the Second Punic War, one of the most celebrated achievements of any military force in ancient warfare. Bypassing Roman and allied land garrisons and Roman naval dominance, Hannibal managed to lead his Carthaginian army over the Alps and into Italy to take the war directly to the Roman Republic. After the final Carthaginian naval defeat at the Aegates Islands, the Carthaginians surrendered and accepted defeat in the First Punic War. Hamilcar Barca, a leading member of the patriotic Barcine party in Carthage and a general who operated with ability in the course of the First Punic War, sought to remedy the losses that Carthage had suffered in Sicily to the Romans. In addition to this, the Carthaginians were embittered by the loss of Sardinia. After the Carthaginians' loss of the war, the Romans imposed terms upon them that were designed to reduce Carthage to a tribute-paying city to Rome and strip it of its fleet. While the terms of the peace treaty were harsh, the Romans did not strip Carthage of her strength.
The Carthaginian Barcine party was interested in conquering Iberia, a land whose variety of natural resources would fill its coffers with sorely needed revenue and replace the riches of Sicily that, following the end of the First Punic War, were now flowing into Roman coffers. In addition, it was the ambition of the Barcas, one of the leading noble families of the patriotic party, to some day employ the Iberian peninsula as a base of operations for waging a war of revenge against the Roman military alliance; those two things went hand in hand, in spite of conservative opposition to his expedition, Hamilcar set out in 238 BC to begin his conquest of the Iberian peninsula with these objectives in mind. Marching west from Carthage towards the Pillars of Hercules, where his army crossed the strait and proceeded to subdue the peninsula, in the course of nine years Hamilcar conquered the south-eastern portion of the peninsula, his administration of the freshly conquered provinces led Cato the Elder to remark that "there was no king equal to Hamilcar Barca."In 228 BC, Hamilcar was killed, witnessed by Hannibal, during a campaign against the Celtic natives of the peninsula.
The commanding naval officer, both Hamilcar's son in law and a member of the Patriotic party – Hasdrubal "The Handsome" – was awarded the chief command by the officers of the Carthaginian Iberian army. There were a number of Grecian colonies along the eastern coast of the Iberian peninsula, the most notable being the trade emporium of Saguntum; these colonies expressed concern about the consolidation of Carthaginian power on the peninsula, which Hasdrubal's deft military leadership and diplomatic skill procured. For protection, Saguntum turned to Rome; the conclusion of the treaty and the embassy were sent to Hasdrubal's camp in 226 BC. In 221 BC, Hasdrubal was killed by an assassin, it was in that year that the officers of the Carthaginian army in Iberia expressed their high opinion of Hamilcar's 29-year-old son, Hannibal, by electing him to the chief command of the army. Having assumed the command of the army that his father had wielded through nine years of hard mountain fighting, Hannibal declared that he was going to finish his father's project of conquering the Iberian peninsula, the first objective in his father's plan to bring a war to Rome in Italy and defeat it there.
Hannibal spent the first two years of his command seeking to complete his father's ambition while putting down several potential revolts that resulted in part from the death of Hasdrubal, which menaced the Carthaginian possessions conquered thus far. He attacked the tribe captured their chief town of Althaea. A number of the neighbouring tribes were astonished at the vigour and rapacity of this attack, as a result of which they submitted to the Carthaginians, he received tribute from all of these subjugated tribes, marched his army back to Cartagena, where he rewarded his troops with gifts and promised more gifts in the future. During the next two years, Hannibal reduced all of Iberia south of the Ebro to subjection, excepting the city of Saguntum, under the aegis of Rome, was outside of his immediate plans. Catalonia and Saguntum were now the only areas of the peninsula not in Hannibal's possession. Hannibal was informed of Roman politics, saw that this was the opportune time to attack, he had Gallic spies in every corner of the Roman Republic within the inner circles of the Senate itself.
The Romans had spent the years since the end of the First Punic War tightening their grip on the peninsula by taking important geographical positions in the peninsula in addition to extending Rome's grip on Sicily and Sardinia. In addition to this, the Romans had been at war with the Padane Gauls off and on for more than a century; the Boii had waged war upon the Romans in 238 BC, a war that lasted until 236 BC. In 225 BC, the natives of northern Italy, seeing that Rome was again moving aggressively to colonize their territory, progressed to the attack, but were defeated; the Romans were determined to drive their borders right up to the Alps. In 224 BC, the Boii submitted to Roman hegemony, the next y
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, surnamed Cunctator, was a Roman statesman and general of the third century BC. He was consul five times and was appointed dictator in 221 and 217 BC, he was censor in 230 BC. His agnomen, Cunctator translated as "the delayer", refers to the strategy that he employed against Hannibal's forces during the Second Punic War. Facing an outstanding commander with superior numbers, he pursued a then-novel strategy of targeting the enemy's supply lines, accepting only smaller engagements on favourable ground, rather than risking his entire army on direct confrontation with Hannibal himself; as a result, he is regarded as the originator of many tactics used in guerrilla warfare. Born at Rome c. 280 BC, Fabius was a descendant of the ancient patrician Fabia gens. He was the son or grandson of Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges, three times consul and princeps senatus, grandson or great-grandson of Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, a hero of the Samnite Wars, who like Verrucosus held five consulships, as well as the offices of dictator and censor.
Many earlier ancestors had been consuls. His cognomen, Verrucosus, or "warty", used to distinguish him from other members of his family, derived from a wart on his upper lip. According to Plutarch, Fabius possessed a mild temper and slowness in speaking; as a child, he had difficulties in learning, engaged in sports with other children cautiously and appeared submissive in his interactions with others. All the above were perceived by those. However, according to Plutarch, these traits proceeded from stability, greatness of mind, lion-likeness of temper. By the time he was roused by active life, his virtues exerted themselves. While still a youth in 265 BC, Fabius was consecrated an augur, it is unknown whether he participated in the First Punic War, fought between the Roman Republic and Carthage from 264 to 241 BC, or what his role might have been. Fabius' political career began in the years following that war, he was quaestor in 237 or 236 BC, curule aedile about 235. During his first consulship, in 233 BC, Fabius was awarded a triumph for his victory over the Ligurians, whom he defeated and drove into the Alps.
He was censor in 230 consul a second time in 228. It is possible that he held the office of dictator for a first time around this time: according to Livy, Fabius's tenure of the dictatorship in 217 was his second term in that office, with Gaius Flaminius as his deputy and magister equitum during the first term: however Plutarch suggests that Flaminius was deputy instead to Marcus Minucius Rufus - Fabius's great political rival of that name, who served as deputy to Fabius himself, it is of course possible that Flaminius was successively deputy to both, after Minucius's premature deposition following bad augural omens: and possible that little of note was accomplished during either dictatorship. According to Livy, in 218 BC Fabius took part in an embassy to Carthage, sent to demand redress for the capture of the neutral town of Saguntum in Spain. After the delegation had received the Carthaginians' reply, it was Fabius himself who, addressing the Carthaginian senate, issued a formal declaration of war between Carthage and the Roman Republic.
However, Cassius Dio, followed by Zonaras, calls the ambassador Marcus Fabius, suggesting that it was his cousin, Marcus Fabius Buteo, who issued the declaration of war against the Carthaginians. When the Consul Gaius Flaminius was killed during the disastrous Roman defeat at the Battle of Lake Trasimene in 217 BC, panic swept Rome. With Consular armies destroyed in two major battles, Hannibal approaching Rome's gates, the Romans feared the imminent destruction of their city; the Roman Senate decided to appoint a dictator, chose Fabius for the role - for the second time, though evidence of a previous term seems to be conflicting - in part due to his advanced age and experience. However, he was not allowed to appoint his own Master of the Horse. Fabius sought to calm the Roman people by asserting himself as a strong Dictator at the moment of what was perceived to be the worst crisis in Roman history, he asked the Senate to allow him to ride on horseback. He caused himself to be accompanied by the full complement of twenty-four lictors, ordered the surviving Consul, Gnaeus Servilius Geminus, to dismiss his lictors, to present himself before Fabius as a private citizen.
Plutarch tells us that Fabius believed that the disaster at Lake Trasimene was due, in part, to the fact that the gods had become neglected. Before that battle, a series of omens had been witnessed, including a series of lightning bolts, which Fabius had believed were warnings from the gods, he had warned Flaminius of this. And so Fabius, as Dictator, next sought to please the gods, he ordered a massive sacrifice of the whole product of the next harvest season throughout Italy, in particular that of cows, goats and sheep. In addition, he ordered that musical festivities be celebrated, told his fellow citizens to each spend a precise sum of 333 sestertii and 333 denarii. Plutarch isn't sure how Fabius came up with this number, although he believes it was to honor the perfection of the number three
Siege of Capua (211 BC)
The Siege of Capua was fought in 211 BC, when the Romans besieged Capua. It is described by Polybius at 9.4-7, by Livy at 26.4-6. Capua had defected to Hannibal after the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC. Hannibal had made Capua his winter quarter in 215 BC and had conducted his campaigns against Nola and Casilinum from there; the Romans had attempted to march on Capua several times since its defection but were thwarted by the return of Hannibal's army rushing to its defence. By 211 BC, Hannibal was busy in the south of Italia and the Romans were ready to try again, banking on taking it before Hannibal's army could return to Capua. Hannibal feared that if he approached Capua, the Romans would withdraw, as they had done on other occasions, only to return to lay siege again once he had left, he thus tried to break the siege by marching on Rome itself, hoping that that threat would force the Roman army to break off the siege and march back to Rome to defend it. Once the Roman army was in the open, he would turn to engage it in a pitched battle and defeat them once again, freeing Capua from the threat.
However, Hannibal found the defences of Rome too formidable for an assault and as he had only planned this movement as a feint, he lacked both the supplies and equipment for a siege. The Roman besiegers of Capua, knowing this, ignored his march on Rome and refused to break off their siege, his feint having failed, Hannibal was forced to retreat south and Capua unrelieved fell to the Romans shortly afterwards. Polybius - The Rise of the Roman Empire, pp 387–394