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What if Appian and Orosius are right about Publius Scipio the Elder being at the Trebbia?

Orosius (4 14) The consul Scipio was the first to meet Hannibal. They joined battle at the Ticinus...In that battle almost the whole Roman army was cut to pieces. Another battle was fought by the same consul at the river Trebia. Again the Romans were defeated and suffered as great losses as before. When the consul Sempronius learned of the fate of his colleague, he returned from Sicily with his army. In like manner he engaged in battle at the same river, lost his army, and was himself almost the sole survivor. Hannibal was also wounded in this battle.
Appian (The Hannibalic War 7) describing the battle of the Trebbia.
“The order of battle on each side was as follows. The Roman cavalry were posted on the wings in order to protect the infantry. Hannibal ranged his elephants opposite the Roman horse and his foot-soldiers against the legions, and he ordered his own cavalry to remain quiet behind the elephants until he should give the signal. When battle was joined the horses of the Romans, terrified by the sight and smell of the elephants, broke and fled. The foot-soldiers, although suffering much and weakened by cold, wet clothes, and want of sleep, nevertheless boldly attacked these beasts, wounded them, and cut the hamstrings of some, and were already pushing back the enemy's infantry. Hannibal, observing this, gave the signal to his horse to attack the Roman flank. The Roman horse having been just dispersed by fear of the elephants, the foot-soldiers were left without protection, and were now in difficulties. Fearing lest they should be surrounded, they everywhere broke in flight to their own camp. Many foot-soldiers were cut off by the enemy's horse and many perished in the swift stream, for the river was now swollen with melting snow so that they could not wade, on account of its depth, nor could they swim, on account of the weight of their armour. Scipio, who followed trying to rally them, was wounded and almost killed, and was with difficulty rescued and carried to Cremona.”
Having read every paper on the Trebbia and the debate over which side of the river the battle was fought, Polybius’ version of events is unfathomable. I’ve been for the last few months going over Polybius version of the Second Punic War line by line, followed by Livy line by line, and the all the other writes, line by line. Then it becomes a process of checks and balances, highlighting which authors leave out what, and which event occurs when.

Well this makes for interesting reading. One gets a different picture of events. So sign me up for the “there was two battles at the Trebbia,” school.
I’m always on the watch for Livy’s sentence structure. His rapid changes show a change of source, which alters his story structure, and this is a hint of the chronology is in the wrong place. I’m not blaming Livy, and I’m not blaming Polybius (to a point), but they are both using a source that exaggerates events, and places them in another time frame, but in a reversed order.
At the Ticinus, Publius Scipio is wounded in a cavalry engagement. At Placentia, Hannibal is wounded in a cavalry engagement. This is how this source works....anything the Carthaginians do, so do the Romans. This source does not like the Romans loosing, and as I consider this emotional writing, I believe it is Fabius Pictor, who lived during the Second Punic War. However, this source’s numbers given is accurate, so he has access to some good records.
Livy uses this source for the early years in Iberia before the arrival of Scipio Africanus. This period is riddled with doublets of Roman battles. I had become aware of this source via Livy after Cannae, where it has become a nightmare tracking the movement of the Roman armies and Hannibal in Southern Italy. Hannibal captures a Roman camp, Fabius Pictor then has the Romans capture a Carthaginian camp. However, the trick is where and when Fabius inserts this into his narrative. It can be in the same year, or some years apart.
My latest discovering relating to this source is the cavalry engagement at the Rhone and the cavalry engagement at the Ticinus. The Rhone is the Ticinus. Fabius Pictor wanted Rome’s first engagement to be a Roman victory so reversed the situation at the Ticinus and invented the engagement at the Rhone. The numbers given for the Rhone give the game away.
The account of the Ticinus as used by Polybius is the Roman right cavalry wing at the battle of Trebbia. The reason why the Celts are mentioned in the first line is because Celtic scouts are mentioned at the Rhone, so there were some Celtic scouts at the Ticinus, which makes sense. By blending in Livy, at the Ticinus, Publius Scipio with 300 men was engaged by Maharbal with 500 cavalry. It was a chance encounter, and both sides were not crossing an open plain where they could see each other’s dust clouds. That belongs to the Trebbia, and whether it be the first battle of the Trebbia or the second battle is another question.
So writing about the Second Punic War is first recognising what the weeds are and then pulling them out, to reveal the flowers.
In his paper “Placentia and the battle of the Trebbia,” JRS Vol. 9. (1919), Professor Tenney Frank writes:

“The location of the battle of the Trebbia is still a matter of dispute...There is more at stake in the problem than mere curiosity about the place, more even than a desire to appraise rightly the military judgement of Scipio and Hannibal. There is involved the reputation for reliability of Polybius and Livy, faith in whom is severely shaken if we must adopt any of the views hitherto offered.”
Rather than explore the possibility that Polybius could have confused the various crossings of the three rivers, the Trebbia, the Ticinus and the Po, Tenney Frank has this to say”
“I wish to indicate a solution of the difficulty which makes it possible to find quite a perfect agreement between these two authors (Livy and Polybius) and to accept both of their accounts as they stand. The key to the solution is very simple: we have to only recognize the possibility that the original Placentia, presently destroyed, was about fifteen miles west of the later Placentia, founded in 190 BC, and that Polybius and Livy are both, with varying degrees of fullness, excerpting Fabius who wrote when Placentia was still situated west of the Trebbia.”
Frank’s solution of moving Placentia during the arrival of Hannibal some 15 miles west has been debunked by archaeologists. Frank’s paper is another example of historians failing to determine if Polybius could be the actual problem.
Lazenby “Hannibal’s War,” page 60 writes: “the tradition recorded by Livy (21 59 10) of a move (by Hannibal) into Liguria during the winter, countered by a move by Sempronius to Luca, can probably be ignored.”
I cannot even fathom Lazenby’s logic for ignoring Livy. Even Nepos (Hannibal 4) writes that Hannibal passed through the country of the Ligurians over the chain of the Apennines, directing his course towards Etruria.
After the Trebbia, Polybius next mentions Hannibal being at Faesulae, which just happens to be a little south of Luca. Obviously Sempronius was shadowing Hannibal’s army. As Polybius does not inform us of which direction Hannibal travelled to arrive at Faesulae, Lazenby opts for Hannibal travelling south east after leaving the Trebbia, approaching near Ariminus (the Adriatic coast) and then marching through the Appenines to arrive at Faesulae. However, this would place Hannibal between the consular army at Ariminus and Arretium, which is a little south of Faesulae.
Interestingly, Polybius mentions a Carthaginian fleet of 70 ships arriving at Pisa hoping to make contact with Hannibal. Now Pisa is a directly to the west of Faesulae and but a short distance away. There is nothing wrong in Hannibal marching through Liguria as Livy claims. Following Livy, once leaving the Trebbia, Hannibal travels west to Clastidium, which was the Carthaginian granary, and with the supplies taken from Clastidium, Hannibal then moved via Dertona to Genua, Pisa and then to Faesulae.
Hannibal’s journey from Faesulae to Cortona and finally Lake Trasimene is straight forward in both Livy and Polybius. This is because no longer are any Scipio’s involved in the story and the events of Sempronius after the Trebbia have been purposely omitted by Polybius’ after his defeat at the Trebbia, so as not to reveal that Polybius has merged the two battles of the Trebbia into one battle, and in doing so, Sempronius takes the rap for Scipio’s defeat at the first battle of the Trebbia. That meant Polybius had to then omit all historical details of Sempronius after Scipio’s defeat at the first battle of the Trebbia.
Dexter Hoyos “Hannibal’s Legacy,” page 106-107, when discussing Hannibal’s manpower losses from Cartagena to arriving in Italy writes:
“Therefore if the original strength is correct too, the general’s forces must have fallen by 43,000 men—over 40 per cent—even before he reached the Pyrenees, which is extraordinary...But that would mean his fighting losses in the north-east were great indeed, over 20,000 men—more than his coming losses at the Trebia, Lake Trasimene and Cannae. This is not very plausible.”
Dexter Hoyos provides an answer to Hannibal’s high losses, especially as no reason has been given by Polybius as to how these losses occurred. Hoyos writes that:
“Hannibal may have chosen to give, the wrong impression about the starting total...He may have chosen to blur this in his Cape Lacinium record to impress readers with both the vastness of his original resources and, contrastingly, the smallness of the army he actually brought into Italy and with which he wrought such monumental havoc on the Romans.”
So Hannibal is the problem, and no investigation into Polybius is warranted. This has come about because too many historians have this unfounded view that Polybius is the most reliable historian, and therefore above reproach. However, I sadly have not found this paper that contains the evidence that Polybius is the reliable historian he is portrayed as. Where is the evidence?
In relation to Hannibal’s army consisting of about 90,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry, and Hannibal arriving in Italy with 20,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry, Polybius writes:
“No one need be surprised at the accuracy of the information I give here about Hannibal’s arrangements in Iberia, an accuracy which even the actual organiser of the details would have some difficulty in attaining, and I need not be condemned off-hand under the idea that I am acting like those authors who try to make their misstatements plausible. The fact that I found on the Lacinian promontory a bronze tablet on which Hannibal himself had made out these lists during the time he was in Italy, and thinking this an absolutely first hand authority, decided to follow the document.” (2)
Polybius claim he is “not acting like those authors who try to make their misstatements plausible,” is doing exactly that. The size of Hannibal’s army that set out for Italy by the various ancient historians is:
Alimentus          80000 infantry and 10000 cavalry
Appian              90000 infantry and 12000 cavalry
Eutropius          80000 infantry and 20000 cavalry
Livy                   90000 infantry and 12000 cavalry
Orosius           100000 infantry and 20000 cavalry
Polybius            90000 infantry and 12000 cavalry
If Alimentus is the same Alimentus that was captured by Hannibal in 208 BC and wrote a history of the Second Punic War, then Alimentus is the most original source we have. To bring Polybius in line with Alimentus, Polybius’ 12,000 cavalry is subtracted from Polybius’ 90,000 infantry to arrive at:

Polybius: 78,000 infantry and 12,000 cavalry = 90,000 men
Alimentus: 80,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry = 90,000 men
Alimentus rounds up the infantry by 2,000 men and rounds down the cavalry by 2,000 men, a common occurrence in the primary sources.
Polybius’ 78,000 infantry when divided by three amounts to 26,000 infantry, which just happens to be the number of men in Hannibal’s army when he arrived in Italy as given by Polybius. However, Polybius does contradict himself when he also claims that Hannibal arrived in Italy with less than 20,000 men. At the battle of the Trebbia, Polybius mentions 8,000 light infantry, and this is where Polybius has made his mistake. He has taken the figure of 26,000 infantry and believing it also included the light infantry, has subtracted the 8,000 light infantry from the 26,000 infantry, thereby leaving him with 18,000 infantry. However, the original 26,000 infantry are Hannibal’s heavy infantry, and the light infantry have not been included. Now with his remaining 18,000 infantry, Polybius rounds this to 20,000 infantry, and the residue 6,000 infantry transforms into 6,000 cavalry.
It is possible that Hannibal’ army amounted to 42,000 men consisting of 26,000 heavy infantry, 8,000 light infantry and 8,000 cavalry.
Livy writes that Hannibal attacked a place called Victumviae. When the townspeople heard of the heroic defence of Placentia, they armed themselves and went out to meet Hannibal’s army, which was on the march and approaching Victumviae. Livy claims the crowd was an undisciplined mob amounting to as many as 35,000 men, which Hannibal’s army quickly routed, leaving the people of Victumviae no course but to surrender.
My bet is the 35,000 men are Hannibal’s 34,000 infantry rounded to 35,000 men (the nearest half way point when using increments of 10,000 men).
So we have Hannibal’s 26,000 infantry (and most likely heavy) being multiplied by three, and then having two third die between Cartagena and Italy. Yet Polybius tell us he alone “found the Lacinian promontory a bronze tablet on which Hannibal himself had made out these lists during the time he was in Italy,” reeks of fabrication.
Unfortunately, accounts of the Second Punic War from the various ancient historians are riddled with inconsistencies, and these inconsistencies highlight the fact that there are historical inaccuracies and fabrication. I would say and equal balance of fabrication and inaccuracies. Polybius has fabricated events to hide any shame to the Scipio family, and has falsified battles to bring glory to the Scipio family. Livy has used too many sources and in doing so, has confused the chronology. Fabius Pictor has fabricated events and falsified events in his hate for Hannibal, and in some cases has protected senatorial colleagues and most likely friends, from shame and embarrassment. I believe one such person Fabius Pictor did not like, and in the senate he was not alone, was Gaius Flaminius who perished at the Trasimene.
My conclusion of the Second Punic War is we have been handed a bastardised account of events, based on the writings of Fabius Pictor, who was too emotionally involved to be objective.
My methodology of research for the past 12 years follows the blitzkrieg concept. That is if I find something I cannot understand, I simply isolate it, and move on. Over the years those pieces of information that were isolated in their own folder, have slowly been explained until that folder and the questions have been so greatly reduced. The two major questions at present in that folder was why did the Romans during the republic reduce the ratio of allied cavalry to Roman cavalry from three to one to two to one. The other question remained was as to why Polybius believed in times of crisis the cavalry was increased from 200 men to 300 men.

Now 200 men is one third of 300 men, which in the past led me to believe Polybius was referring to the 40 century legion, which existed as was one third of the 60 century legion. I had come to the conclusion the 40 century legion was used for a garrisoning a place.
However, my revision into the Second Punic War, which concentrates on the differing events found in the various ancient writers, has made me rethink the possibility of the 40 century legion being a garrison legion.
With the reduction in the allied cavalry from 3 to 1 to 2 to 1, I felt I needed to show the reader how a consular army following the 2 to 1 ratio was arrayed in comparison to the 3 to 1 cavalry ratio. This did not turn out to be an easy matter, and to make it work and keep in line with the Roman method of deploying an army, a doctrine I learnt from Polybius’ description on a consular army on the march, I had squadrons left over.
And this is where Appian comes to the rescue. At Cannae Appian has allocated 1,000 cavalry to each of the three commanders, and these cavalry are to be sent wherever they are needed. The problem is Appian has allocated each of the three commanders 1,000 cavalry, for a total of 3,000 cavalry, when there should only be 1,000 cavalry.
So the Romans have a small cavalry reserve made up of squadrons taken from the rest of the cavalry, both Roman and allied. As Polybius was only describing the Roman legion, the allied legion did not get mentioned. I would term this reserve cavalry as flank guards, and possibly came about in response to Hannibal’s cavalry being able to outflank the Roman cavalry at the Trebbia.
For now the theory is holding up, but who knows what the future will reveal.
After the battle of Lake Trasimene, Polybius (3 86) has the consul Gnaeus Servilius, on learning that Hannibal had invaded Etruria, dispatched Gaius Centenius with 4,000 cavalry to advance ahead of Gnaeus Servilius’ consular army and make contact with Gaius Flaminius. However, the cavalry arrived too late to assist Gaius Flaminius. Polybius has the 4,000 Roman cavalry captured by a body of Carthaginian cavalry and infantry under the command of Maharbal.

Other ancient writers give Gaius Centenius the rank of praetor. However, there is another version of how Gaius Centenius was killed along with around 4,000 men.
Appian (The Hannibalic War 8-10) has Gaius Centenius with 8,000 men been sent into Umbria to the Plestine marshes in order to occupy the narrow passages, which offered the shortest route to Rome.
Following Appian (The Hannibalic War 11), after defeating Gaius Flaminius at Lake Trasimene, when Hannibal approached the Plestine marsh and saw the mountain overhanging it, and Centenius’ forces guarding the passage, Hannibal questioned guides as to whether there was another way around. Finding there was no other path, Hannibal sent Maharbal with a body of light troops to explore the district, and to pass around the mountain at night. When Hannibal had determined that Maharbal had reached the agreed destination, Hannibal frontally attacked Centenius’ force. While Hannibal’s forces engaged the Romans, on reaching the summit of the mountain, Maharbal’s forces raised a shout, and the Romans, seeing they were surrounded, took to flight. Appian has 3,000 Romans killed and 800 taken prisoner, with the remainder of the Roman army escaping with difficulty.
Nepos also writes that when Hannibal had defeated Gaius Flaminius at Lake Trasimene, shortly after, Hannibal then defeated and killed the praetor Caius Centenius, who had occupied the forest with a choice body of troops. Nepos (Hannibal 4)
So which is the fabricated version, Appian/Nepos or Polybius? The answer is in the details.
well if you would take my answer Polybius is the closest to the source (in time) so I would tend to believe him, Nepos is short actually which may confirm the shortness in Polybius as well.
Gunthamund wrote:
Well if you would take my answer Polybius is the closest to the source (in time) so I would tend to believe him, Nepos is short actually which may confirm the shortness in Polybius as well.
When there are diverging accounts of the same event, it can only mean there is historical inaccuracy or fabrication. If you studied the accounts of Cicero, Livy and Polybius relating to Gaius Flaminius the consul at Lake Trasimene, you find contradictory accounts of his actions and events during his life. Gaius Flaminius introduced a bill that limited the money making potential of the senators. This made him very unpopular. Every time Gaius Flaminius was elected as consul or dictator, bad omens are reported. This is a pattern of character assassination of Gaius Flaminius, or a witch hunt, of which Polybius has partaken.
My research into the Roman legion has found a set of military doctrines that the Romans strictly adhere to.
Appian and Nepos are correct. Polybius is the fabrication, because Polybius’ account and figures do not adhere to this strict Roman military doctrine, whereas Appian's figures of the men under the command of Gaius Centenius does.
In 218 BC, Gnaeus Scipio landed at Emporium, and reduced any town on the coast as far as the Ebro River that did not ally themselves to Rome. At Cissa, Gnaeus Scipio defeated Hanno, whom Hannibal had left behind to guard the district. The Carthaginians lost 6,000 men.

Hasdrubal incited the Ilergetes to revolt. In response, Gnaeus Scipio invaded the territory of the Ilergetes, and besieged Antanagrum, the capital of the Ilergetes. After a few days, the Ilergertes surrendered. Gnaeus Scipio then marched against the Ausetani, allies of the Carthaginians, and began besieging their city. The Laeetani, neighbours of the Ausetani, sent men at night to assist the Ausetani, but these were ambushed before they could enter the city and 12,000 were killed. After a siege of thirty days, the Ausetani surrendered. Gnaeus Scipio’s army then returned to its winter quarters at Tarracona. Unfortunately, no one explains why Hasdrubal remained inactive during this period.
Gnaeus Scipio sailed from Tarraco with 35 ships and defeated a Carthaginian fleet of 40 ships, under the command of Hamilcar, or in Livy’s version, Himilco. After defeating the Carthaginian fleet, the Roman fleet then sailed to Onusa, plundered the city, and then marched to Cartagena, and ravaged the entire countryside, and even managed to set fire to the houses that adjoined the walls and gate of Cartagena. Wow, actually managed to burn the houses that adjoined the walls of Cartagena. Why didn’t the Romans capture Cartagena? It seemed it was there for the taking. Maybe the house burning belongs to Scipio Africanus’ capture of Cartagena.
Having shown the Carthaginians a thing or two, Gnaeus Scipio and the Roman fleet then sailed to Longuntica, plundered the area, and then sailed to the island of Ebusus, and after two days unsuccessfully trying to capture the capital, contented themselves with plundering the countryside. What, a Roman failure! Heaven forbid. The Roman fleet then sailed back to the eastern side of the province, where envoys were assembled from all the tribes (120 in total) in the district of the Ebro, and many from the remotest parts of Iberia to pledge their loyalty and love to Gnaeus Scipio. The love of the Scipio’s, whether it be Publius Scipio, his son Publius Scipio soon to be Africanus or Gnaeus Scipio, were the most beloved figures in Iberia. The Scipio’s were godly beyond measure. So the Iberians love the Scipio’s but also like to fight them. Hmmm.
Wow! In complete contradiction to Livy and Polybius’ account of the exploits of Gnaeus Scipio, Appian states that Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio achieved nothing of worth before the return of his brother Publius Scipio.
Because of their methodology of having favourites, modern scholars regard Appian as an unreliable source, so his version of events is discarded. Has there been an investigation into determining if Appian is right or wrong? Actually there is none. Modern scholars are just followers of fashion, and Appian is not fashionable.
At the naval battle, where Gnaeus Scipio defeated the Carthaginian fleet, the Scipio fleet is reported as numbering 60 ships in 219 BC, and only 35 ships taking part in the battle against the Carthaginian fleet. So the Roman fleet is missing 25 ships (35 + 25 = 60 ships). However, the Carthaginians in the battle happen to conveniently lose 25 ships. Publius Scipio the Elder also returns to Iberia with 20 ships according to Polybius and 30 ships according to Livy. So both numbers are rounded.
In 219 BC Polybius has the consul Sempronius with 220 ships, and Publius Scipio, also a consul with 60 ships. And yet not one modern scholar believed this discrepancy warranted investigation. That is because they have no idea about the Roman army. If they had they would have know how the glaring mistake was made. So for 219 BC, in relation to Publius Scipio’s fleet, Polybius has used another source, which has made one mathematical miscalculation, and this continues with the naval battle between Gnaeus Scipio and the Carthaginian fleet. This naval battle is a fabrication with the number of ships involved based on a mathematical mistake.
The battle between Hanno and Gnaeus Scipio at Cissis is also a fabrication. From the study of the numbers of men in Hannibal’s army, he never left 10,000 men with Hanno.
The battle of Ibera in 215 BC between the Scipio brothers and Hasdrubal Barca is also a fabrication taken from another historical battle.
After the battle of Iberia, the town of Iliturgi, which had aligned itself to Rome, was under attack by three Carthaginian armies, numbering 60,000 men. Between the spaces of the three Carthaginian camps, the Scipio brothers, after much hard fighting, and heavy losses, managed with a quantity of corn, to force their way into the town of Iliturgi. The Romans with a force of 16,000 men then advanced and attacked Hasdrubal’s camp, which was the largest of the three Carthaginian camps. The other two Carthaginian generals, Mago and Hannibal, son of Bomilcar, immediately came to the assistance of Hasdrubal Barca. Even though heavily outnumbered by nearly four to one, the Romans inflicted a crushing defeat on the Carthaginians and also managed to capture all three Carthaginian camps. The Romans slew more Carthaginians than there were Romans (16,000 men), and captured 3,000 infantry, less than 1,000 cavalry, and seven elephants of which five elephants were killed in the battle.
Undeterred by their defeat, the Carthaginians then attacked the town of Intibili. Apparently the Carthaginians had replaced their losses because the province was, above all other provinces, abounded in young men eager to fight for plunder and money. At Intibili, the Romans defeated the Carthaginians, with 13,000 Carthaginians killed, more than 2,000 men and nine elephants captured. This Roman victory resulted in nearly all of the Iberian tribes aligning with Rome. That would mean the Romans had no Iberians left to fight.
The Roman army of 16,000 men mentioned at Iliturgi is the key to all of this. It is an accurate figure for the Roman army. In his writings, Livy makes mention that Fabius Pictor’s figures are reliable, and that is why I believe the source for these fabricated battles in Iberia and elsewhere during the Second Punic War belong to Fabius Pictor. If modern scholars believe they know something about the Roman army, they would be able to identify who those 16,000 Romans are, and from this know part of that story at Iliturgi was wrong.
When I combine other battles of the Second Punic War that I have found to be fictitious, they always occur in periods when nothing major happened. Following Appian, with Gnaeus Scipio only spending his time consolidating his position north of the Ebro, this would be fertile ground for Fabius Pictor to take small events and fabricate them into large events, and all ending in great Carthaginian defeats. Watch out for major Roman defeats having the events reversed and then made into Carthaginian defeats.
In 214/213 BC, Publius Scipio crossed the Ebro and encamped at Castrum Album. The Carthaginians attacked the Romans while on the march, with the loss of 2,000 Romans, which caused the Romans to withdraw to the Mount of Victory, where they were joined by Gnaeus Scipio, with his entire force. Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, arrived with his army, and the three Carthaginian generals encamped on the other side of the river opposite the Roman camp. Publius Scipio then set out with some light cavalry to reconnoitre, but was observed by the Carthaginians, and would have been overpowered had he not seized some rising ground nearby. Publius Scipio was then surrounded by the Carthaginians but the timely arrival of his brother Gnaeus Scipio saved him from destruction.
When describing the events that lead to the death of Publius Scipio and Gnaeus Scipio, Appian writes that when Publius Scipio heard the news of Hasdrubal’s arrival, he went out of the city to reconnoitre Hasdrubal’s camp, and while doing so, Publius Scipio was surrounded by the Carthaginian cavalry and killed with all his men. Gnaeus Scipio, unaware of his brother’s fate, had sent out some soldiers to procure corn, and this force fell into fighting with another force of Carthaginians. This engagement ended in Gnaeus Scipio and his followers also being killed.
So in both accounts, Publius Scipio sets out to reconnoitre Hasdrubal’s camp. Therefore, Livy’s source has taken the events that lead to the death of the Scipio brothers and rewritten them with a better outcome and then Livy’s source has also placed them in the wrong chronological order.
After Gnaeus Scipio supposedly saved Publius Scipio, the Carthaginians attacked the Roman garrison at Illiturgis, who were on the brink of famine. The fact the Roman garrison was starving indicates that Illiturgis had been under siege by the Carthaginians for some time. Gnaeus Scipio, with a legion in light marching order, after inflicting heavy losses on the Carthaginians, managed to fight their way into Illiturgis. Wow! Some years earlier, the Scipio brothers, after much hard fighting, and heavy losses, managed with a quantity of corn, to also force their way into the town of Iliturgi. The name Iliturgi and Illiturgis, now who could get confused?
After fighting their way into Illiturgis, on the following day the Romans made a sortie and defeated the Carthaginians. In two days of fighting, the Romans killed more than 12,000 Carthaginians and more than 1,000 were captured. Wow, one Roman legion killed 12,000 Carthaginians.
Undeterred by their defeat at Illiturgis, the Carthaginians then attacked Bigerra, an ally of Rome, but the Carthaginians retired on the arrival of Gnaeus Scipio. The Carthaginians, who still remain impervious to being defeated, then encamp near Munda. The Romans followed, and a pitched battle lasting four hours was fought, with the Romans winning a victory. The Carthaginians had 12,000 men killed, 3,000 captured and 39 elephants transfixed. This is the third engagement in which the Carthaginians have lost 12,000 men since 215 BC.
The Carthaginians, then retreated to Auringis, closely followed by the Romans, and another battle was fought with Gnaeus Scipio. The Roman victory was decisive, but the Carthaginian losses were only half that of the battle of Munda. Although Livy states there was fewer Carthaginians left to fight, Livy writes that the Iberians had a natural instinct for replacing their losses, and after the Carthaginian commander Mago had raised enough troops to replace their losses, he encouraged the other generals to try another battle. Maybe the Carthaginians have become addicted to defeat. Not surprisingly, this battle again ended in another Carthaginian defeat with 8,000 men killed, and less than 1,000 captured, three elephants killed and eight elephants captured. Oh where have I seen those numbers before? Oh yes, now I remember.
At this stage, the Romans, now feeling guilty for not helping the city of Saguntum, their ally in 219 BC, after eight years under Carthaginian rule, in 211 BC, the Romans attacked and captured Saguntum. In the summer of 211 BC, Gnaeus and Publius Scipio left their winter quarters and united their forces. At the war council, Livy makes the remarkable comment that the Roman commanders came to the unanimous decision that up to that time, all they had done was keep Hasdrubal from marching to Italy (the fictitious battle of Ibera in 215 BC), and that now it was time to make an effort to finish the war in Iberia. This goes against all the battles which had cost the Carthaginians around 57,000 killed, 11,000 captured, and the loss of 27 elephants since 217 BC, not to mention the 39 transfixed elephants.
At this point in time, the Romans with their 20,000 Celtiberian allies decided they were now strong enough for the task of defeating the three Carthaginian armies. Well hang on, they had been beating the three Carthaginian armies motherless for some years now.
The Romans decided to attack Hasdrubal, son of Gisgo, who had united with Mago. Nearby Hasdrubal Barca was encamped at Amtorgis, some five days march from the Romans. It was decided that Publius Scipio with two thirds of the army of Roman and allied troops would advance against Hasdrubal Gisgo and Margo, while Gnaeus Scipio with the remaining third of the army and the 20,000 Celtiberian allies was to march against Hasdrubal Barca at Amtorgis.
OH, would two thirds of the Roman army with Publius Scipio amount to 16,000 men?
Both Roman armies marched to Amtorgis, and encamped with a river between the Carthaginians and the Romans. Publius Scipio then left Gnaeus Scipio and marched against Hasdrubal Gisgo and Margo. When Hasdrubal Barca learned that Gnaeus Scipio army was mostly comprised of Celtiberians, he successfully bribed the Celtiberians to desert the Roman army. Gnaeus Scipio, realising he now was outnumbered, and that a junction with his brother was out of the question, began to retreat with the Carthaginians closely keeping in contact. Livy does not explain why it was not possible for Gnaeus Scipio to form a junction with Publius Scipio. Both Roman forces were within a five day march.
When Publius Scipio learnt that Indebilis with a force of 7,500 Suessetanians were approaching to join the Carthaginians, Publius Scipio decided to make a night march to oppose Indebilis. Oh, could this event be similar to those of 217 BC, in which Polybius describes the Romans besieging Antanagrum, and on hearing that the Laeetani had sent men at night to assist the Ausetani, the Romans ambushed the Laeetani at night before they could enter the city. Also, during the Celtiberian revolt against the Carthaginians, Livy writes that in two engagements, the Carthaginians had 15,000 men killed, which equates to the loss of 7,500 men killed per engagement, and is the same number of Suessetanians (7,500 men), coming to the aid of the Carthaginians.
After leaving a small force to guard the camp, Publius Scipio set out at midnight and encountered the enemy, here possibly meaning the 7,500 Suessetanians. The Romans fought in order of march, and had the advantage until the arrival in their rear of the Numidian cavalry. While directing the battle, Publius Scipio was run through by a lance in his left side, and fell from his horse. With the death of Publius Scipio, the Roman army routed.
After the battle, Hasdrubal Gisgo and Mago allowed their forces to rest, and then by forced marches, joined Hasdrubal Barca. While stopping to fend off the attacks of the Numidians, which slowed their progress, and with night closing in, Gnaeus Scipio ordered his men to form up on some rising ground in close order. Wow! In 214/213BC Livy has Publius Scipio, in order not to be overpowered, had seized some rising ground nearby. Publius Scipio was then surrounded by the Carthaginians but the timely arrival of his brother Gnaeus Scipio saved him from destruction.
After the loss of Gnaeus and Publius Scipio, Lucius Marcius, an equites, rallied the fugitive soldiers and formed an army. When the Carthaginians approached the Roman camp in a careless and disorderedly manner, the Romans attacked them and created panic among the Carthaginians. The next day, after noticing the Carthaginian camp was poorly guarded, Lucius Marcius decided to attack the Carthaginian camp. The forces of Hasdrubal Barca and Margo were about six miles away from Hasdrubal Gisgo’s camp, and on the road in the thickly wooded valley between the Carthaginian forces, a Roman cohort with some cavalry concealed themselves in ambush. OH, wow! Just like what happened at Baecula in 208 BC.
The rest of the Roman forces silently made their way to the camp of Hasdrubal Gisgo, which fortunately for the Romans, had no outposts, and no guards mounted in the camp, the Romans entered the camp without any opposition. A camp with no guards again. Sounds just like that Roman camp that was captured by Hannibal in Italy. The Roman commander (a consul) must have been a good friend of Fabius Pictor, and it seems Fabius Pictor wants this event to be all too common for both Carthaginians and Romans. That way, his friend’s loss of the camp won’t seem to be such a shameful event. After all, everyone was doing it.
According to Claudius Quadrigarius, as many as 37,000 Carthaginians were killed and 1,830 were captured. The figure of 37,000 Carthaginians killed is equivalent to the total number of Carthaginians killed at Intibili (13,000 killed), Illiturgis (12,000 killed) and Munda (12,000 killed).
13000 killed + 12000 killed + 12000 killed = 37000 killed
After the death of the Scipio brothers, the Roman senate sent Claudius Nero to Iberia. More deeds of greatness are performed by the Romans, with Nero trapping Hasdrubal army in a pass between the towns of Iliturgis and Mentissa. Hello! Appian writes that after the arrival of Claudius Nero, nothing of importance was achieved by the Romans, and that the Carthaginian power increased in Iberia, and although the Roman senate desired to evacuate Iberia, they feared if they did, the Carthaginians would send reinforcements from Iberia into Italy to join Hannibal.
I think Appian is on the money. The Roman forces in Iberia were a holding action to prevent reinforcements reaching Hannibal. However, all that changed with Scipio Africanus. Even then certain events and their chronology had been altered, and whether by Fabius Pictor of Polybius, I have yet to determine. I am sure that Baecula and Illipa occurred in the same year.
Many of Appian’s battle accounts dealing with the Second Punic War are described as being convoluted. However, I always believed there was a reason for this. The main reason is because many of the battles of the Second Punic War have been reshaped by other authors. At Cannae, Appian has Hannibal extended his cavalry frontage, which forced the Romans to do the same and therefore, left the Roman cavalry dangerously thin. Cannae is described by other ancient authors as the Roman cavalry being in close order, so a similar event from another battle must have confused Appian it was relating to Cannae.
Appian’s event at Cannae of Hannibal extending his cavalry and forcing the Roman cavalry to do so, I have found perfectly fits the Roman army at the Trebbia. This tells me Hannibal was well aware of the modus operandi of the Roman army at this time, and he knew the triarii and those cavalry allocated to the triarii would be left to protect the camp, and with this information, knew exactly how many Roman cavalry would be on the field and what depth they would be arrayed. When Appian makes the comment about the Roman cavalry being thin, I have learnt it does not mean their cavalry formations had only a few ranks in depth, it means the Roman cavalry had no reserves. After the Trebbia, the Romans abandoned the doctrine of leaving the triarii and their allocated cavalry to guard the camp. Allocating troops to guard the camp was left to the prerogative of the consul, as was the case when Scipio marched and captured Cartagena.
The doctrine of permanently leaving the triarii and their allocated cavalry to guard the camp, appears to have started with the Third Samnite War.
At Lake Trasimene, Flaminius’ camp was badly guarded, which resulted in Hannibal’s forces entering and going on a killing spree. Other ancient authors have Flaminius’ army ambushed while in march order. Here again, the Roman camp being badly guarded and captured makes yet another appearance.
At Zama, because the Roman cavalry were not accustomed to elephants, Appian has the Roman cavalry stationed at the back of the infantry. However, when the elephants attack and head down the lanes, Appian has Scipio with the cavalry travel down the lanes and engage the elephants. This event does not belong at Zama, but at Ilipa, and concerns part of Scipio’s outflanking force, which is in dire straits and Scipio has to intervene and attack through the cavalry lanes made by the velites so as to restore the situation. The decision was made out of necessity, and required the Roman cavalry to dismount.
The problem I am having at the moment is how much the fabrication belongs to Fabius Pictor and how much to Polybius. In my posting on “Zama, the battle that never was?” I showed how Polybius arrived at his figure of 93,000 men at Utica for the Carthaginian army. Another source of data found in Appian indicates Fabius Pictor’s style, that it leaves me with the conclusion Utica was the work of Polybius. It is almost like Polybius has followed Fabius Pictor’s style so as to embellish the reputation of Scipio Africanus with fabrications. Anyway I have decided not to make a firm decision until I have studied the whole Second Punic War.
However, I will add that we have a bastardised account of the Second Punic War that is riddled with more propaganda than fact.

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