Page:15 decisive battles of the world (New York).djvu/117

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BATTLE OF THE METAURUS. 111


Hasdrubal; while the third, the grand army of the north, which was to be under the immediate command of the consul Livius, who had the chief command in all North Italy, advanced more slowly in its support. There were similarly three armies in the south, under the orders of the other consul, Claudius Nero.

The lot had decided that Livius was to be opposed to Hasdrubal, and that Nero should face Hannibal. And "when all was ordered as themselves thought best, the two consuls went forth of the city, each his several way. The people of Rome were now quite otherwise affected than they had been when L. AEmilius Paulus and C. Terentius Varro were sent against Hannibal. They did no longer take upon them to direct their generals, or bid them dispatch and win the victory betimes, but rather they stood in fear lest all diligence, wisdom, and valor should prove too little; for since few years had passed wherein some one of their generals had not been slain, and since it was manifest that, if either of these present consuls were defeated, or put to the worst, the two Carthaginians would forthwith join, and make short work with the other, it seemed a greater happiness than could be expected that each of them should return home victor, and come off with honor from such mighty opposition as he was like to find. With extreme difficulty had Rome held up her head ever since the battle of Cannae; though it were so, that Hannibal alone, with little help from Carthage, had continued the war in Italy. But there was now arrived another son of Amilcar, and one that, in his present expedition, had seemed a man of more sufficiency than Hannibal himself; for whereas, in that long and dangerous march thorow barbarous nations, over great rivers, and mountains that were thought unpassable, Hannibal had lost a great part of his army, this Asdrubal, in the same places, had multiplied his numbers, and gathering the people that he found in the way, descended from the Alps like a rowling snow-ball, far greater than he came over the Pyrenees at his first setting out of Spain. These considerations and the like, of which fear presented many unto them, caused the people of Rome to wait upon their consuls out of the town, like a pensive train of mourners, thinking upon Marcellus and Crispinus, upon whom, in the like sort, they had given attendance the last year, but saw neither of them return alive from a less dangerous war. Particularly old Q. Fabius gave his accustomed advice to M. Livius,