Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

Fabius Wins Two Victories

Rome was not long in hearing how Hannibal had tricked the Dictator, and the people were roused to fury because Fabius had allowed their great enemy to escape.

Now it was necessary at this time for Fabius to leave the army and return to Rome to celebrate a religious rite.

Minucius was left in command of the legions during the absence of the Dictator. Before he left, Fabius bade the young officer on no pretext to risk a battle while he was away.

But no sooner had the Dictator gone, than Minucius, hearing that a large body of the enemy had left their camp in search of forage, fell upon a company of those that were left behind. He killed many of them, and retreated without losing any of his own men.

When tidings of this success, slight though it was, reached Rome, the people were both excited and elated. And as was perhaps natural, they began to compare Minucius and his triumph with the Dictator and his policy of delay.

If Minucius had been commander, Hannibal would have been beaten long ago, so grumbled the people. Surely it was ignoble to camp on the hills in safety, while the country was being destroyed by the enemy.

So great was the discontent of the people that at length the Senate decreed that Minucius should be given power equal to that of the Dictator. This had never been done before, as the Dictator always held the supreme power alone.

When Fabius returned to camp he showed no chagrin at the new arrangement, but gave to his former master of the horse complete control of two legions, while he himself kept command of the other two. This was, he believed, wiser than that two generals should rule the entire army.

Hannibal was well pleased when he heard how the Roman command had been divided. For he foresaw that it would be easy to draw the young impetuous general down from the heights.

So, as his way was, he carefully laid an ambush, and then sent out a small party to take possession of a hill that lay not far from the enemy's camp.

Minucius rose, as a fish rises, to the bait. He sent out his light troops and cavalry to scatter the enemy. Then when he saw the great Carthaginian general himself march to the help of his men, he ordered his whole army to hasten forward to the attack.

No sooner did Hannibal see that his ruse had been successful than he gave a signal to the men lying in ambush, and they, springing from their hiding place, with loud cries attacked the Romans in the rear.

In vain did Minucius try to rally his terrified followers. They were soon in utter confusion. Nor, now that battle had actually been given, did the new general show himself a capable or wise soldier.

Just as the Romans were on the point of flying from the field, Fabius, who, foreseeing what would happen, had ordered his army to be ready, cried, 'We must haste to rescue Minucius, who is a valiant man and a lover of his country.'

Then speeding to the battlefield with his men, he led them so bravely, and at the same time so warily, that Hannibal was soon forced to sound a retreat.

To his friends the Punic general remarked, 'Did I not tell you that this cloud which always hovered upon the mountains, would at some time or other, come down with a storm upon us?'

After Hannibal had withdrawn his troops, Fabius went back to his camp without saying a harsh or reproachful word to Minucius.

He, the more ashamed, that Fabius treated him so generously, called together his discomfited army, and told them that he was sorry that he had ever spoken against the Dictator.

'Some reason,' he said, 'I may have to accuse fortune, but I have many more to thank her; for in a few hours she hath cured a long mistake, and taught me that I am not the man who should command others, but have need of another to command me. . . . Therefore in everything else henceforth the Dictator must be your commander; only in showing gratitude towards him, I will still be your leader and always be the first to obey his orders.'

Then he bade his men follow him to the camp of Fabius, carrying with them their standards.

As Minucius drew near to the tent of the Dictator, Fabius came out to meet him.

Ordering the standards to be laid at the feet of the man he had disdained, Minucius said, 'You have this day, O Dictator, obtained two victories, one by your valour and conduct over Hannibal, and another by your wisdom and goodness to your colleague.'

Then thanking Fabius for saving his life and the lives of those under him, he flung himself into the arms of the Dictator, calling him father.

The soldiers of each army, touched by the example of their leader, forgot their jealousy and also embraced one another with tears of joy.


Front Matter

The Lady Roma
The She-Wolf
The Twin Boys
Numitor's Grandson
The Sacred Birds
The Founding of Rome
The Sabine Maidens
The Tarpeian Rock
The Mysterious Gate
The King Disappears
The Peace-Loving King
Horatius Slays His Sister
Pride of Tullus Hostilius
King Who Fought and Prayed
The Faithless Friend
A Slave Becomes a King
Cruel Deed of Tullia
Fate of the Town of Gabii
Books of the Sibyl
Industry of Lucretia
Death of Lucretia
Sons of Brutus
Horatius Cocles
Mucius Burns Right Hand
The Divine Twins
The Tribunes
Coriolanus and His Mother
The Roman Army in a Trap
The Hated Decemvirs
The Death of Verginia
The Friend of the People
Camillus Captures Veii
The Statue of the Goddess
Schoolmaster Traitor
Battle of Allia
The Sacred Geese
The City Is Rebuilt
Volscians on Fire
Battle on the Anio
The Curtian Lake
Dream of the Two Consuls
The Caudine Forks
Caudine Forks Avenged
Fabius among the Hills
Battle of Sentinum
Son of Fabius Loses Battle
Pyrrhus King of the Epirots
Elephants at Heraclea
Pyrrthus and Fabricius
Pyrrhus is Defeated
Romans Build a Fleet
Battle of Ecnomus
Roman Legions in Africa
Regulus Taken Prisoner
Romans Conquer the Gauls
The Boy Hannibal
Hannibal Invades Italy
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
Battle of Trebia
Battle of Lake Trasimenus
Hannibal Outwits Fabius
Fabius Wins Two Victories
Battle of Cannae
Despair of Rome
Defeat of Hasdrubal
Claudius Enjoy a Triumph
Capture of New Carthage
Scipio Sails to Africa
Romans Set Fire to Camp
Hannibal Leaves Italy
The Battle of Zama
Scipio Receives a Triumph
Flamininus in Garlands
Death of Hannibal
Hatred of Cato for Carthage
The Stern Decree
Carthaginians Defend City
Destruction of Carthage
Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi
Tiberius and Octavius
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Gold of Jugurtha
Marius Wins Notice of Scipio
Marius Becomes Commander
Capture of Treasure Towns
Capture of Jugurtha
Jugurtha Brought to Rome
Marius Conquers Teutones
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors
Metellus Driven from Rome
Sulla Enters Rome
The Flight of Marius
Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius
Marius Returns to Rome
The Orator Aristion
Sulla Besieges Athens
Sulla Fights the Samnites
The Proscriptions of Sulla
The Gladiators' Revolt
The Pirates
Pompey Defeats Mithridates
Cicero Discovers Conspiracy
Death of the Conspirators
Caesar Captured by Pirates
Caesar Gives up Triumph
Caesar Praises Tenth Legion
Caesar Wins a Great Victory
Caesar Invades Britain
Caesar Crosses Rubicon
Caesar and the Pilot
The Flight of Pompey
Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr
Caesar is Loaded with Honours
Nobles Plot against Caesar
The Assassination of Caesar
Brutus Speaks to Citizens
Antony Speaks to Citizens
The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Philippi
Death of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
Battle of Actium
Antony and Cleopatra Die
Emperor Augustus