Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Battle of Zama

Hannibal was not ready for battle when the Roman army drew near to him at Zama. He had but just determined to change his camp and move to a better position in which to face the enemy.

Before he had time to carry out his plan, the enemy was upon him, and he was forced to fight in a position with which he was not satisfied.

The elephants belonging to the Punic army no longer terrified the Romans as they used to do, for they had grown accustomed to the animals on many an Italian battleground.

Besides, they had now learned how to elude the onslaught of the heavy beasts, by simply leaving spaces between their companies, through which the elephants could run without causing much damage. These spaces were at the beginning of the battle filled with soldiers, who irritated the elephants with darts and then stepped swiftly aside.

But at Zama, the elephants did not even attack the enemy. Startled by the noise of trumpets and the blowing of horns, they rushed back, instead of forward, upon the Numidian cavalry, which was stationed on Hannibal's left wing. Masinissa seized the opportunity, and before the cavalry had rallied from the shock of the elephants, he charged and put it to flight. The Carthaginian cavalry on Hannibal's right was at the same time routed by Lælius.

Two bodies of heavily-armed troops still faced the Romans.

First came the mercenaries hired by Hannibal. Fiercely they fought and well, although they were no match for their enemy. Nor did they once falter until they began to fear that the Carthaginians were failing to support them.

Then they turned, stricken by sudden panic, and anxious only to force their way through those behind, who they believed had betrayed them.

As the Romans followed them in their flight, all was soon in confusion, the mercenaries and Carthaginians being slain, not only by the Romans, but by each other.

Hannibal, meanwhile, was with a band of veterans whom he had held in reserve.

Those soldiers who had escaped from the Romans now tried to steal in among these veterans, but Hannibal, who had no mercy for cowards, ordered his men to lower their spears and push them away. The desperate wretches then escaped from the battlefield as best they might.

Scipio was now ready to advance against the veterans, and here the struggle was long and stern. For these Carthaginian soldiers were inflexible against every attack. Not one man flinched, but each stood steadfastly at his post until he was killed. Only when Laelius and Masinissa returned from pursuing the enemy's horse and fell upon Hannibal's rear was the battle won.

The number of the slain was terrible. Twenty thousand Carthaginians were said to have fallen, and almost as many to have been taken prisoner, while the Romans did not lose more than fifteen thousand men.

Hannibal escaped to Carthage, leaving his camp to be seized by the enemy.


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