Chapter 5

(1) Hāc pugnā pugnātā, Rōmam profectus nūllō resistente. In propinquīs urbī montibus morātus est. Cum aliquot ibi diēs castra habuisset et Capuam reverterētur, Q. Fabius Māximus, dictātor Rōmānus, in agrō Falernō eī sē obiēcit.

(2) Hic, clausus locōrum angustiīs, noctū sine ūllō dētrīmentō exercitūs sē expedīvit; Fabiōque, callidissimō imperātōrī, dedit verba. Namque, obductā nocte, sarmenta in cornibus iuvencōrum dēligāta incendit ēiusque generis multitūdinem magnam dispālātam immīsit. Quō repentīnō obiectō vīsū tantum terrōrem iniēcit exercituī Rōmānōrum, ut ēgredī extrā vāllum nēmō sit ausus.

(3) Hanc post rem gestam nōn ita multīs diēbus M. Minucium Rūfum, magistrum equitum parī ac dictātōrem imperiō, dolō prōductum in proelium, fugāvit. Ti. Semprōnium Gracchum, iterum cōnsulem, in Lūcānīs absēns in īnsidiās inductum sustulit. M. Claudium Marcellum, quīnquiēns cōnsulem, apud Venusiam parī modō interfēcit.

(4) Longum est omnia ēnumerāre proelia. Quā rē hoc ūnum satis erit dictum, ex quō intellegī possit, quantus ille fuerit: quamdiū in Italiā fuit, nēmō eī in aciē restitit, nēmō adversus eum post Cannēnsem pugnam in campō castra posuit.

Hannibal outwits the dictator Fabius Maximus and escapes a blockade. These events happened before the Battle of Cannae (1). Hannibal's stratagem to break out of the blockade set by Fabius (2–4).

Supplementary Essay on Chapter 5: the End of Hannibal's Campaign in Italy (218–203 BC)

(1) hāc pugnā pugnātā: ablative absolute, as is nullō resistente. Intransitive verbs like pugnō can take a direct object when that object is a cognate noun, or a noun derived from the same linguistic root: e.g., pugnāre pugnam or ludere ludum.

Rōmam: accusative of motion towards, as is Capuam in the next sentence. Note that profectus [est] > proficīscor is an intransitive verb and so cannot take Rōmam as its object. In fact, Hannibal did not march on Rome until 211 BC.

in propinquīs urbī montibus: montibus is the object of the preposition, in; urbī is a dative with the adjective, propinquīs, "near the city."

aliquot (ibi) diēs: accusative of duration of time, "for some days (there)."

Q. Fabius Māximus: Quintus Fabius Maximus, who had twice been elected consul and had enjoyed a distinguished military career, was 58 years old when he was elected dictator in 217 BC.

dictātor Rōmānus: a dictator was elected to a six-month term to take decisive action during times of crisis. When the Senate determined that an imminent threat existed, a consul would announce during the dead of night that a dictator had been appointed (this had to take place in Rome). Although consuls and other magistrates remained in power during the dictator's term, the dictator exercised superior power, which included greater independence from the Senate, extensive power to punish without appeal, and immunity from prosecution for any decisions he made while in office.

in agrō Falernō: the Ager Falernus was a region north of Campania, best known for its outstanding "Falernian" wine.

eī: i.e., Hannibālī.

(2) hic: Nepos uses the demonstrative to indicate the change in subject back to Hannibal.

clausus: participle agreeing with Hannibal, the implicit subject of the sentence.

noctū: "by night, at night"; an archaic ablative form of nox.

exercitūs: genitive limiting ullō dētrīmentō.

imperātōrī: clarifies the ambiguous case of Fabiō callidissimō. Nepos also praises Hannibal as callidus (9.2; De regibus 3).

dedit verba: idiom, "he deceived." The implied contrast is with facta ("deeds"), an antithesis that is typical of Greek and especially Roman thought. Hannibal's deception has nothing to do with verba or speech, showing how the idiom can be used in ways quite distinct from its literal meaning.

namque: the conjunction indicates that this sentence will justify or explain the preceding statement, as in 2.1 and 7.5.

obductā nocte: ablative of time when, "at nightfall"; literally, "with night having been drawn over (the sky)." The metaphor is not as strongly felt in Latin as it would be in English.

dēligāta: modifies sarmenta. Note how the participial phrase encloses in cornibus iuvencōrum, which explains where the sarmenta have been dēligāta.

ēiusque generis [iuvencōrum]: genitive limiting multitudinem magnam dispālātam, referring to the iuvencī with burning bundles of sticks between their horns (as opposed to another genus iuvencōrum).

dispālātam: > dispālor, "to wander around, straggle" (a very rare word). Hannibal had been victim of a similar strategy in 229 BC, when Iberian tribesman drove steer-drawn carts filled with flammable materials against the Carthaginian lines. According to Appian it was in this battle that his father Hamilcar was killed by a flaming ox-cart (others say he drowned).

quō: connective relative agreeing with vīsū.

repentīnō: adverb; repentē is the more common form, but repentīnō is not uncommon in Livy, Caesar, Cicero, and Apuleius.

vīsū: noun in an ablative absolute with the participle obiectō. The participle helps distinguish the noun from the identical form of the supine (AG §508-510; e.g., Aeneid 12.252: mīrābile vīsū, "amazing to behold"). The supine is never modified by an adjective or participle.

tantum terrōrem: tantum signals the result clause, ut…sit ausus.

iniēcit: the subject is Hannibal.

exercituī: dative with a compound verb, in–iēcit (AG §370).

(3) hanc post rem gestam: the demonstrative hanc refers back to Hannibal's stratagem in the previous sentence. Nepos has placed hanc before its preposition to underscore the connective nature of the demonstrative. Authors also regularly place an element of a prepositional phrase (usually an adjective) before the preposition for balance, as in magnā cum laude.

post…nōn ita multīs diēbus: ablative of time when, "not so many days after."

M. Minucium Rūfum, magistrum equitum: the "Master of the Cavalry" served as the dictator's deputy. Rufus was elected at the same time as Fabius Maximus. equitum: genitive plural, "of the horsemen"; i.e. "of the Cavalry."

parī ac dictātōrem imperiō: "with an authority equal to that of the dictator." 

dictātōrem: accusative under the influence of the accusative magistrum. Strictly speaking a dative, dictātōrī, might be expected with parī. But since the phrase parī ac dictātōrī imperiō would be confusing, Nepos places dictātōrem in the accusative, indicating that Rufus was Magister Equitum and, in essence, dictator with power equal to that held by Fabius. [supplementary text: Polybius on the tensions between Fabius and Minucius]

parī imperiō: ablative of quality (AG §415). Imperium refers to the authority to command in military and judicial contexts (3.1, 7.3).

prōductum: participle agreeing with Rufum, "(having been) led into, lured."

Ti. Semprōnium Gracchum: Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, consul in 216 BC, proconsul in 214, and reelected consul in 213 (iterum cōnsulem); great-uncle of the famous reformers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.

Gracchum, iterum cōnsulem...Marcellum, quīnquiēns cōnsulem: Nepos confuses who was in office in 212 BC. Gracchus was consul in 213 and died in 212, after his consulship. The correct usages would be bis consulem and quintum consulem. Confusion about the how to count consulships, however, was so common that Aulus Gellius catalogued notable mistakes in a short essay, which included some humorous advice by Cicero to Pompey. When Pompey was unsure whether he should inscribe tertium or tertio on the dedication of his theater in Rome, Cicero advised he should just avoid the question by using the abbreviation "TERT" [supplementary text: confusion about how to indicate consulships].

in Lūcānīs: "among the Lucanians," a tribe who lived in southern Italy. This phrase continues the sequence of information about Gracchus 1) iterum cōnsulem, 2) in Lūcānīs, and 3) in īnsidiās inductum.

absēns: i.e., Hannibal, who was away from the army when the battle was fought.

in īnsidiās inductum: Gracchus was said to have been ambushed and killed while bathing with a small group of men as his army marched to support the siege of Capua. The ambushes of Gracchus and Marcellus are typical of the indecisive victories won by Hannibal during the later stages of the war in Italy. 

M. Claudium Marcellum: Marcus Claudius Marcellus (c. 268–208 BC) was among the most illustrious Romans during this period. Marcellus was one of only three Roman generals to have won the spolia opima ("rich spoils"), when he killed the Gallic king Viridomarus in single combat at the First Battle of Clastidium in 222 BC. Winning the spolia opima, awarded to a Roman general who stripped the armor of an enemy leader after killing him in single combat, was the highest honor a Roman could achieve [supplementary text: Marcellus kills a king in single combat]. Earlier in the Second Punic War, Marcellus had twice repulsed Hannibal from the strategic city of Nola. He had captured the major Sicilian city of Syracuse after a protracted siege, during which the scholar and inventor Archimedes was killed [supplementary text: Marcellus Overcomes Archimedes' super-weapons and captures Syracuse]. For the losses he inflicted on the enemies of Rome, Marcellus earned the nickname, "the Sword"—recall that Fabius Maximus was called "the Shield."

apud Venusiam: a town in Apulia near Mount Vultur. It is best known as the birthplace of the poet Horace (65–8 BC).

parī modō: i.e. in insidiās indictum. Marcellus was ambushed while on a reconnaissance mission with a small band of cavalry.

(4) longum: neuter with infinitive, ēnumerāre; "it would be (too) long," in the sense of "tedious." English idiom requires the subjunctive ("would"); in Latin, the indicative is used.

Quā rē: = the adverb, quārē.

ex quō intellegī possit: relative clause of result (AG §537.2); the subject of possit is provided by the indirect question, quantus ille fuerit.

quantus: interrogative adjective introducing an indirect question with the subjunctive, fuerit.

eī: dative with the compound verb, re–stitit.

in aciē: "in battle" (see also 6.4, 11.1).

adversus eum: the first of three consecutive prepositional phrases (post Cannēnsem pugnam; in campō). Latin authors usually avoided stringing together prepositional phrases in this way.

Cannēnsem: adjective modifying pugnam.

in campō: "in the open field, on open ground." This is an exaggeration, but one made by many historians, even to this day. In fact Roman and Carthaginian forces were constantly skirmishing and they engaged in over a dozen significant battles in Italy after Cannae (see "Chronology of Hannibal's Life"). After Cannae, however, no Roman army in Italy dared challenge Hannibal on level ground, where Hannibal's cavalry could provide a decisive advantage.

Supplementary Essay on Chapter 5: the End of Hannibal's Campaign in Italy (218–203 BC)

(1) Rōma –ae f.: Rome ※

resistō –stere –stitī: resist, oppose ※

propinquus –a –um: near, neighboring (+dat.) ※

aliquot: several, some ※

Capua –ae f.: Capua (city southeast of Rome)

Quintus –ī m.: Quintus ※

Fabius –i m.: Fabius ※

Māximus –ī m.: Maximus

dictātor dictātōris m.: dictator ※

Falernus –ī m.: Falernus (region in Campania, south of Rome)

obiciō –icere –iēcī –iectum: oppose, set against ※

(2) angustia –ārum f.: narrowness; a defile, strait 

noctū: by night

dētrīmentum –ī n.: harm, loss

expediō –pedīre –pedīvī –pedītum: extricate, set free

callidus –a –um: clever, cunning, shrewd ※

obdūcō –dūcere –dūxī –ductum: envelop, overspread

sarmentum –ī n.: twig, branch

iuvencus –ī m.: bull

dēligō –āre: tie, bind

incendō –cendere –cendī –censum: set fire to, inflame ※

dispālor –pālārī –pālātus sum: to wander around, straggle

immittō –mittere –mīsī –missum: send in

repentīnō: suddenly

vīsus vīsūs m.: sight, appearance, vision

ōbicio obicere obiēci obiectum: throw at or in front of (+dat.)

terror terrōris m.: terror

iniciō –icere –iēcī –iectum: inspire, cause, put in

extrā: outside (+acc.)

vāllum –ī n.: rampart; protection

(3) Marcus –ī m.: Marcus ※

Minucius –ī m.: Minucius ※

Rūfus –ī m.: Rufus

dictātor dictātōris m.: dictator ※

prōdūco -dūcere -dūxī -ductum: lead forth

Semprōnius –ī m.: Sempronius

Gracchus –ī: Gracchus

Lūcānī –ōrum m.: Lucanians, from the region of Lucania in southern Italy

absēns absentis: absent ※

īnsidiae –ārum f.: ambush ※

indūcō –dūcere –dūxī –ductum: lead in, entice ※

Claudius –ī m.: Claudius ※

Marcellus –ī m.: Marcellus ※

quīnquiēns: five times

Venusia –ae f.: Venusia (town in southern Italy)

(4) ēnumerō –āre: enumerate, recount

quamdiū: as long as

Cannēnsis Cannēnse: of Cannae (town in southeastern Italy)

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Suggested Citation

Bret Mulligan, Nepos: Life of Hannibal. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-947822-01-6.