Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/667

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651
PUNIC WARS


Apulia, which Hannibal had chosen for his battle-ground, 'the Roman legions delivered their attack. Hannibal deliberately allowed his centre to be driven in by their superior numbers, while Hasdrubal's cavalry wheeled round so as to take the enemy in flank and rear. The Romans, surrounded on all sides and so cramped that their superior numbers aggravated their plight, were practically annihilated, and the loss of citizens was perhaps greater than in any other defeat that befel the Republic. The moral effect of the battle was no less momentous. The south Italian nations at last found courage to secede from Rome, the leaders of the movement being the people of Capua, the second greatest town of Italy. Reinforcements were sent from Carthage, and several neutral powers prepared to throw their weight into the scale on Hannibal's behalf. At irst sight it seems strange that the battle of Cannae did not decide the war. But the resources of Rome, though terribly reduced in respect both of men and of money, were not yet exhausted. In north and central Italy the insurrection spread but little, and could be sufficiently guarded against with small detachments. In the south the Greek towns of the coast remained loyal, and the numerous Latin colonies continued to render important service by interrupting free communication between the rebels and detaining part of their forces. In Rome itself the quarrels between the nobles and commons, which had previously unsettled her policy, gave way to a unanimity unparalleled in the annals of the Republic. The guidance of operations was henceforth left to the senate, which by maintaining a firm and persistent policy until the conflict was brought to a. successful end earned its greatest title to fame.

The subsequent campaigns of the Italian War assume a new character. Though the Romans contrived at times to raise 200,000 men, they could only spare a moderate force for field operations. Their generals, among whom the veterans Fabius and M. Claudius Marcellus frequently held the most important commands, rarely ventured to engage Hannibal in the open, and contented themselves with observing him or skirmishing against his detachments. Hannibal, whose recent accessions of strength were largely discounted by the necessity of assigning troops to protect his new allies or secure their wavering loyalty, was still too weak to undertake a vigorous offensive. In the ensuing years the war resolved itself into a multiplicity of minor engagements which need not be followed out in detail. In 216 and 215 the chief seat of war was Campania, Where Hannibal vainly attempted to establish himself on the coast and experienced a severe repulse at Nola. In 214 the main Carthaginian force was transferred to Apulia in hopes of capturing Tarentum. Though Croton and Locri on the Calabrian coast had fallen into his hands, Hannibal still lacked a suitable harbour by which he might have secured his oversea communications. For two years he watched in vain for an opportunity of surprising the town, while the Romans narrowed down the sphere of revolt in Campania and defeated other Carthaginian commanders. In 212 the greater part of Tarentum and other cities of the southern seaboard at last came into Hannibal's power. But in the same year the Romans found themselves strong enough to place Capua under blockade. They severely defeated a Carthaginian relief force, and could not be permanently dislodged even by Hannibal himself. In 211 Hannibal made a last effort to relieve his allies by a feint upon Rome itself, but the besiegers refused to be drawn awa.y from their entrenchments, and eventually Capua was starved into surrender. Its fall was a sign that no power could in thelong run uphold a rival Italian coalition against Rome. After a year of desultory fighting the Romans in 209 gained a further important success by recovering Tarentum. Though Hannibal from time to time still won isolated engagements, yet slowly but surely he was being driven back into the extreme south of the peninsula. In 207 the arrival of a fresh invading force produced a new crisis. Hasdrubal, who in 209-208 had marched overland from Spain, appeared in north Italy with a force scarcely inferior to the army which his brother had brought in 218. After levying contingents of Gauls and Ligurians he marched down the east coast with the object of joining hands with his brother in central Italy for a direct attack upon Rome. By this time the drain of men and money was telling so severely upon her confederacy that some of her most loyal allies protested their inability to render further-help. Yet by a supreme effort the Romans raised their war establishment to the highest total yet attained and sent a strong field army against either Carthaginian leader. The danger to Rome was chiefly averted by the prompt insight and enterprise of the consul C. Nero, who commanded the main army in the south. Having discovered that Hannibal would not advance beyond Apulia until his brother had established communications with him, Nero slipped away with part of his troops and arrived in time to reinforce his colleague Livius, whose force had recently got into touch with Hasdrubal near Sena Gallica (Sinigaglia). The combined Roman army frustrated an attempt of Hasdrubal to elude it and forced him to fight on the banks of the Metaurus. The battle was evenly contested until Nero by a dexterous flanking movement cut the enemy's retreat. Hasdrubal himself fell and the bulk of his army was destroyed.

The campaign of 207 decided the war in Italy. Though Hannibal still maintained himself for some years in Calabria, this was chiefly due to the exhaustion of Rome after the prodigious strain of past years and the consequent reduction of her armaments. In 205 Italy was finally cleared of Carthaginian troops. Hannibal, in accordance with orders from home, sailed back to Africa, and another expedition under his brother Mago, which had sailed to Liguria in 205 and endeavoured to rouse the slumbering discontent in Cisalpine Gaul and Etruria, was driven back on the coast and Withdrawn about the same time. b. The Subsidiary Campaigns.-Concurrently with the great struggle in Italy the Second Punic War was fought out on several other fields. It will suffice merely to allude to the First Macedonian War (214-205) which King Philip V. commenced when the Roman power seemed to be breaking up after Cannae. The diversions which “Roman diplomacy provided for Philip in Greece and the maintenance of a patrol squadron in the Adriatic prevented any effective co-operation on his part with Hannibal.

In view of the complete stagnation of agriculture in Italy the Romans had to look to Sardinia and Sicily for their food supply. Sardinia was attacked by a Carthaginian I armament in 215, but a small Roman force sufflced f:;d;, }°b, to repel the invasion. In Sicily a more serious conflict broke out. Some isolated attacks by Punic squadrons were easily frustrated by the strong Roman fleet. But in 215 internal complications arose. The death of Hiero II., Rome's steadfast friend, left the kingdom of Syracuse to his inexperienced grandson Hieronymus. Flattered by the promises of Carthaginian emissaries the young prince abruptly broke with the Romans, but before hostilities commenced he Was assassinated. The Syracusan people now repudiated the monarchy and resumed their republican constitution, but they were misled by false threats of terrible punishment at the hands of Rome to play into the hands of the Carthaginians. The attacks of a Roman army and fleet under Marcellus which speedily appeared before the town were completely baflled by the mechanical contrivances of the Syracusan mathematician Archimedes (ZI3). Meantime the revolt against Rome spread in the interior, and a Carthaginian fleet established itself in the towns of the south coast. In 212 Marcellus at last broke through the defence of Syracuse and in spite of the ar1'ival of a Carthaginian relief force mastered the town by slow degrees. A guerilla warfare succeeded in which the Carthaginians maintained the upper hand until in 210 they lost their base at Agrigentum. Thereupon they were rapidly dislodged from their remaining positions, and by the end of the year Sicily was wholly under the power of Rome. The conflict in Spain was second in importance to the Italian War alone. From this country the Carthaginians drew large supplies of troops and money which might serve to spam reinforce Hannibal; hence it was in the interest of the Romans to challenge their enemy Within his Spanish domain.