It was wonderful that the
Italian communities had not wavered, when Hannibal so palpably showed
them the superiority of the Phoenicians and the nullity of Roman aid;
but how long could they be expected to bear the burden of a double
war, and to allow themselves to be plundered under the very eyes of
the Roman troops and of their own contingents? Finally, it could not
be alleged that the condition of the Roman army compelled the general
to adopt this mode of warfare.
It was composed, as regarded its core,
of the capable legions of Ariminum, and, by their side, of militia
called out, most of whom were likewise accustomed to service; and, far
from being discouraged by the last defeats, it was indignant at the
but little honourable task which its general, "Hannibal's lackey,"
assigned to it, and it demanded with a loud voice to be led against
the enemy. In the assemblies of the people the most violent
invectives were directed against the obstinate old man.