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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


III. From the Union of Italy to the Subjugation of Carthage and the Greek States

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter V - The War under Hannibal to the Battle of Cannae


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Page 12

It was clearly apparent that the Italian federation was in political solidity and in military resources infinitely superior to an adversary, who received only precarious and irregular support from home, and who in Italy was dependent for primary aid solely on the vacillating and capricious nation of the Celts; and that the Phoenician foot soldier was, notwithstanding all the pains taken by Hannibal, far inferior in point of tactics to the legionary, had been completely proved by the defensive movements of Scipio and the brilliant retreat of the defeated infantry on the Trebia.

From this conviction flowed the two fundamental principles which determined Hannibal's whole method of operations in Italy--viz., that the war should be carried on, in somewhat adventurous fashion, with constant changes in the plan and in the theatre of operations; and that its favourable issue could only be looked for as the result of political and not of military successes--of the gradual loosening and final breaking up of the Italian federation.

That mode of carrying on the war was necessary, because the single element which Hannibal had to throw into the scale against so many disadvantages--his military genius--only told with its full weight, when he constantly foiled his opponents by unexpected combinations; he was undone, if the war became stationary.

That aim was the aim dictated to him by right policy, because, mighty conqueror though he was in battle, he saw very clearly that on each occasion he vanquished the generals and not the city, and that after each new battle the Romans remained just as superior to the Carthaginians as he was personally superior to the Roman commanders. That Hannibal even at the height of his fortune never deceived himself on this point, is worthier of admiration than his most admired battles.

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