Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus
|Born||circa 280 BC|
|Known for||Fabian strategy|
|Office|| Dictator (221, 217 BC)|
Consul (233, 228, 215, 214, 209 BC)
Censor (230 BC)
|Children||Quintus Fabius Maximus|
|Battles/wars||Second Punic War|
|Awards|| Grass Crown |
Roman triumph (233 BC)
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, surnamed Cunctator (c. 280 – 203 BC), was a Roman statesman and general of the third century BC. He was consul five times (233, 228, 215, 214, and 209 BC) and was appointed dictator in 221 and 217 BC. He was censor in 230 BC. His agnomen, Cunctator, usually translated as "the delayer", refers to the strategy that he employed against Hannibal's forces during the Second Punic War. Facing an outstanding commander with superior numbers, he pursued a then-novel strategy of targeting the enemy's supply lines, and accepting only smaller engagements on favourable ground, rather than risking his entire army on direct confrontation with Hannibal himself. As a result, he is regarded as the originator of many tactics used in guerrilla warfare.
Born at Rome c. 280 BC, Fabius was a descendant of the ancient patrician Fabia gens. He was the son or grandsonof Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges, three times consul and princeps senatus , and grandson or great-grandson of Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, a hero of the Samnite Wars, who like Verrucosus held five consulships, as well as the offices of dictator and censor. Many earlier ancestors had also been consuls. His cognomen, Verrucosus, or "warty", used to distinguish him from other members of his family, derived from a wart on his upper lip.
According to Plutarch, Fabius possessed a mild temper and slowness in speaking. As a child, he had difficulties in learning, engaged in sports with other children cautiously and appeared submissive in his interactions with others. All the above were perceived by those who knew him superficially to be signs of inferiority. However, according to Plutarch, these traits proceeded from stability, greatness of mind, and lion-likeness of temper. By the time he reached adulthood and was roused by active life, his virtues exerted themselves; consequently, his lack of energy displayed during his earlier years was revealed as a result of a lack of passion and his slowness was recognised as a sign of prudence and firmness.
While still a youth in 265 BC, Fabius was consecrated an augur.It is unknown whether he participated in the First Punic War, fought between the Roman Republic and Carthage from 264 to 241 BC, or what his role might have been. Fabius' political career began in the years following that war. He was probably quaestor in 237 or 236 BC, and curule aedile about 235. During his first consulship, in 233 BC, Fabius was awarded a triumph for his victory over the Ligurians, whom he defeated and drove into the Alps. He was censor in 230, then consul a second time in 228. It is possible that he held the office of dictator for a first time around this time: according to Livy, Fabius's tenure of the dictatorship in 217 was his second term in that office, with Gaius Flaminius as his deputy and magister equitum during the first term: however Plutarch suggests that Flaminius was deputy instead to Marcus Minucius Rufus - presumably Fabius's great political rival of that name, who later served as deputy to Fabius himself (see below). It is of course possible that Flaminius was successively deputy to both, after Minucius's apparently premature deposition following bad augural omens: and also possible that little of note (other than, possibly, holding elections during the absence of consuls) was accomplished during either dictatorship.
According to Livy, in 218 BC Fabius took part in an embassy to Carthage, sent to demand redress for the capture of the supposedly neutral town of Saguntum in Spain. After the delegation had received the Carthaginians' reply, it was Fabius himself who, addressing the Carthaginian senate, issued a formal declaration of war between Carthage and the Roman Republic.However, Cassius Dio, followed by Zonaras, calls the ambassador Marcus Fabius, suggesting that it was his cousin, Marcus Fabius Buteo, who issued the declaration of war against the Carthaginians.
When the Consul Gaius Flaminius was killed during the disastrous Roman defeat at the Battle of Lake Trasimene in 217 BC, panic swept Rome. With Consular armies destroyed in two major battles, and Hannibal approaching Rome's gates, the Romans feared the imminent destruction of their city. The Roman Senate decided to appoint a dictator, and chose Fabius for the role - possibly for the second time, though evidence of a previous term seems to be conflicting - in part due to his advanced age and experience. However, he was not allowed to appoint his own magister equitum; instead, the Romans chose a political enemy, Marcus Minucius. Then Fabius quickly sought to calm the Roman people by asserting himself as a strong Dictator at the moment of what was perceived to be the worst crisis in Roman history. He asked the Senate to allow him to ride on horseback, which Dictators were never allowed to do. He then caused himself to be accompanied by the full complement of twenty-four lictors, and ordered the surviving Consul, Gnaeus Servilius Geminus, to dismiss his lictors (in essence, acknowledging the seniority of the dictator), and to present himself before Fabius as a private citizen.
Plutarch tells us that Fabius believed that the disaster at Lake Trasimene was due, in part, to the fact that the gods had become neglected. Before that battle, a series of omens had been witnessed, including a series of lightning bolts, which Fabius had believed were warnings from the gods. He had warned Flaminius of this, but Flaminius had ignored the warnings. And so Fabius, as Dictator, next sought to please the gods. He ordered a massive sacrifice of the whole product of the next harvest season throughout Italy, in particular that of cows, goats, swine, and sheep. In addition, he ordered that musical festivities be celebrated, and then told his fellow citizens to each spend a precise sum of 333 sestertii and 333 denarii. Plutarch isn't sure exactly how Fabius came up with this number, although he believes it was to honor the perfection of the number three, as it is the first of the odd numbers, and one of the first of the prime numbers. It is not known if Fabius truly believed that these actions had won the gods over to the Roman side, although the actions probably did (as intended) convince the average Roman that the gods had finally been won over.
Fabius respected Hannibal's military skill and so refused to meet him in a pitched battle. Instead, he kept his troops close to Hannibal, hoping to exhaust him in a long war of attrition. Fabius was able to harass the Carthaginian foraging parties, limiting Hannibal's ability to wreak destruction, while conserving his own military force. The delaying tactics involved not directly engaging Hannibal, while also exercising a "scorched earth" practice to prevent Hannibal's forces from obtaining grain and other resources.
The Romans were unimpressed with this defensive strategy and at first gave Fabius his epithet Cunctator (delayer) as an insult. The strategy was in part ruined because of a lack of unity in the command of the Roman army, since Fabius' Master of the Horse, Minucius, was a political enemy of Fabius. At one point, Fabius was called by the priests to assist with certain sacrifices, and as such, Fabius left the command of the army in the hands of Minucius during his absence. Fabius had told Minucius not to attack Hannibal in his absence, but Minucius disobeyed and attacked anyway. The attack, though of no strategic value, resulted in the retreat of several enemy units, and so the Roman people, desperate for good news, believed Minucius to be a hero. On hearing of this, Fabius became enraged, and, as Dictator, could have ordered Minucius' execution for his disobedience. One of the Plebeian Tribunes (chief representatives of the people) for the year, Metilius, was a partisan of Minucius, and as such he sought to use his power to help Minucius. The Plebeian Tribunes were the only magistrates independent of the Dictator, and so with his protection, Minucius was relatively safe. Plutarch states that Metilius "boldly applied himself to the people in the behalf of Minucius", and had Minucius granted powers equivalent to those of Fabius. By this, Plutarch probably means that as a Plebeian Tribune, Metilius had the Plebeian Council, a popular assembly which only Tribunes could preside over, grant Minucius quasi-dictatorial powers.
Fabius did not attempt to fight the promotion of Minucius, but rather decided to wait until Minucius' rashness caused him to run headlong into some disaster. He realized what would happen when Minucius was defeated in battle by Hannibal. Fabius, we are told, reminded Minucius that it was Hannibal, and not he, who was the enemy. Minucius proposed that they share the joint control of the army, with command rotating between the two every other day. Fabius rejected this, and instead let Minucius command half of the army, while he commanded the other half. Minucius openly claimed that Fabius was cowardly because he failed to confront the Carthaginian forces. Near Larinum in Samium, Hannibal had taken up position in a town called Geronium. In the leadup to the battle of Geronium, Minucius decided to make a broad frontal attack on Hannibal's troops in the valley between Larinum and Geronium. Several thousand men were involved on either side. It appeared that the Roman troops were winning, but Hannibal had set a trap. Soon the Roman troops were being slaughtered. Upon seeing the ambush of Minucius' army, Fabius cried "O Hercules! how much sooner than I expected, though later than he seemed to desire, hath Minucius destroyed himself!" On ordering his army to join the battle and rescue their fellow Romans, Fabius exclaimed "we must make haste to rescue Minucius, who is a valiant man, and a lover of his country."
Fabius rushed to his co-commander's assistance and Hannibal's forces immediately retreated. After the battle, there was some feeling that there would be conflict between Minucius and Fabius; however, the younger soldier marched his men to Fabius' encampment and is reported to have said, "My father gave me life. Today you saved my life. You are my second father. I recognize your superior abilities as a commander."[ citation needed ] When Fabius' term as Dictator ended, consular government was restored, and Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Marcus Atilius Regulus assumed the consulship for the remainder of the year.
The once-looked-down-upon tactics employed by Fabius came then to be respected. It is said, asserts Plutarch, that even Hannibal acknowledged and feared the Fabian strategy and the Roman inexhaustible manpower. After Fabius lured him away from Apulia into the Bruttian territory and then proceeded to besiege Tarentum by treachery in 209 BC, Hannibal commented, "It seems that the Romans have found another Hannibal, for we have lost Tarentum in the same way that we took it."
Shortly after Fabius had laid down his dictatorship, Gaius Terentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paullus were elected as consuls. They rallied the people through the assemblies, and won their support for Varro's plan to abandon Fabius' strategy, and engage Hannibal directly. Varro's rashness did not surprise Fabius, but when Fabius learned of the size of the army (eighty-eight thousand soldiers) that Varro had raised, he became quite concerned. Unlike the losses that had been suffered by Minucius, a major loss by Varro had the potential to kill so many soldiers that Rome might have had no further resources with which to continue the war. Fabius had warned the other consul for the year, Aemilius Paullus, to make sure that Varro remained unable to directly engage Hannibal. According to Plutarch, Paullus replied to Fabius that he feared the votes in Rome more than Hannibal's army.
When word reached Rome of the disastrous Roman defeat under Varro and Paullus at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, the Senate and the People of Rome turned to Fabius for guidance. They had believed his strategy to be flawed before, but now they thought him to be as wise as the gods. He walked the streets of Rome, assured as to eventual Roman victory, in an attempt to comfort his fellow Romans. Without his support, the senate might have remained too frightened to even meet. He placed guards at the gates of the city to stop the frightened Romans from fleeing, and regulated mourning activities. He set times and places for this mourning, and ordered that each family perform such observances within their own private walls, and that the mourning should be complete within a month; following the completion of these mourning rituals, the entire city was purified of its blood-guilt in the deaths.Although he did not again hold the office of dictator - and indeed, it was granted to others over him - he might as well have been one unofficially at this time, because whatever measures he proposed were immediately adopted with little or no further debate.
Cunctator became an honorific title, and his delaying tactic was followed in Italy for the rest of the war. Fabius' own military success was small, aside from the reconquest of Tarentum in 209 BC. For this victory, Plutarch tells us, he was awarded a second triumph that was even more splendid than the first. When Marcus Livius Macatus, the governor of Tarentum, claimed the merit of recovering the town, Fabius rejoined, "Certainly, had you not lost it, I would have never retaken it."After serving as Dictator, he served as a Consul twice more (in 215 BC and 214 BC), and for a fifth time in 209 BC. He was also chief augur (at a very young age) and pontifex, but never pontifex maximus according to Gaius Stern (citing Livy on Fabius). The holding of seats in the two highest colleges was not repeated until either Julius Caesar or possibly Sulla.
In the senate, he opposed the young and ambitious Scipio Africanus, who wanted to carry the war to Africa. Fabius continued to argue that confronting Hannibal directly was too dangerous. Scipio planned to take Roman forces to Carthage itself and force Hannibal to return to Africa to defend the city. Scipio was eventually given limited approval, despite continuous opposition from Fabius, who blocked levies and restricted Scipio's access to troops. Fabius wished to ensure that sufficient forces remained to defend Roman territory if Scipio was defeated. Fabius became gravely ill and died in 203 BC, shortly after Hannibal's army left Italy, and before the eventual Roman victory over Hannibal at the Battle of Zama won by Scipio.
Part of his eulogy is preserved on a fragment, which praised his delaying strategy in his altercations with Hannibal during the Second Punic War. The inscription reads as follows: "...[as censor] he conducted the first revision of the senate membership and held committal elections in the consulship of Marcus Junius Pera and Marcus Barbula; he besieged and recaptured Tarentum and the strong-hold of Hannibal, and [obtained enormous booty?]; he won surpassing glory by his military [exploits?]."
Later, he became a legendary figure and the model of a tough, courageous Roman, and was bestowed the honorific title, "The Shield of Rome" (similar to Marcus Claudius Marcellus being named the "Sword of Rome"). According to Ennius, unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem – "one man, by delaying, restored the state to us." Virgil, in the Aeneid, has Aeneas' father Anchises mention Fabius Maximus while in Hades as the greatest of the many great Fabii, quoting the same line. While Hannibal is mentioned in the company of history's greatest generals, military professionals have bestowed Fabius' name on an entire strategic doctrine known as "Fabian strategy", and George Washington has been called "the American Fabius". Mikhail Kutuzov has likewise been called "the Russian Fabius" for his strategy against Napoleon.[ citation needed ]
According to its own ancient legend, the Roman princely family of Massimo descends from Fabius Maximus.[ citation needed ]
Hannibal was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage in their battle with the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest military commanders in history.
This article concerns the period 219 BC – 210 BC.
Year 217 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Geminus and Flaminius/Regulus. The denomination 217 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
The gens Fabia was one of the most ancient patrician families at ancient Rome. The gens played a prominent part in history soon after the establishment of the Republic, and three brothers were invested with seven successive consulships, from 485 to 479 BC, thereby cementing the high repute of the family. Overall, the Fabii received 45 consulships during the Republic. The house derived its greatest lustre from the patriotic courage and tragic fate of the 306 Fabii in the Battle of the Cremera, 477 BC. But the Fabii were not distinguished as warriors alone; several members of the gens were also important in the history of Roman literature and the arts.
Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, son of Marcus Fabius Ambustus, of the patrician Fabii of ancient Rome, was five times consul and a hero of the Samnite Wars. He was brother to Marcus Fabius Ambustus.
A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, and the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was extremely limited. In order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers, as a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority, and was obliged to resign his office once his appointed task had been accomplished, or at the expiration of six months. Dictators were frequently appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy then went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a significantly modified form, first by Sulla between 82 and 79 BC, and then by Julius Caesar between 49 and 44 BC. The office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, and not revived under the Empire.
Titus Quinctius Flamininus was a Roman politician and general instrumental in the Roman conquest of Greece.
Gaius Flaminius C. f. L. n. was a leading Roman politician in the third century BC. Twice consul, in 223 and 217, Flaminius is notable for the Lex Flaminia, a land reform passed in 232, the construction of the Circus Flaminius in 221, and his death at the hands of Hannibal's army at the Battle of Lake Trasimene in 217, during the Second Punic War. Flaminius is celebrated by ancient sources as being a skilled orator and a man possessed of great piety, strength, and determination. He is, however, simultaneously criticised by ancient writers such as Cicero and Livy for his popular policies and disregard of Roman traditions, particularly during the terms of his tribunate and second consulship.
Gaius Terentius Varro was a Roman politician and general active during the Second Punic War. A plebeian son of a butcher, he was a populist politician who was elected consul for the year 216. While holding that office, he was decisively defeated by Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae.
Titus Manlius Torquatus was a politician of the Roman Republic. He had a long and distinguished career, being consul in 235 BC and 224 BC, censor in 231 BC, and dictator in 208 BC. He was an ally of Fabius Maximus "Cunctator".
Quintus Fabius Q. f. M. n. Maximus Gurges, the son of Quintus Fabius Maximus Rullianus, was consul in 292, 276, and 265 BC. After a dissolute youth and a significant military defeat during his first consulate, he was given the opportunity to salvage his reputation through the influence of his father, and became a successful general, eventually holding the highest honours of the Roman state. He was slain in battle during his third and final consulate.
The gens Terentia was a plebeian family at ancient Rome. Dionysius mentions a Gaius Terentilius Arsa, tribune of the plebs in 462 BC, but Livy calls him Terentilius, and from inscriptions this would seem to be a separate gens. No other Terentii appear in history until the time of the Second Punic War. Gaius Terentius Varro, one of the Roman commanders at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC, was the first to hold the consulship. Members of this family are found as late as the third century AD.
Quintus Fabius Maximus Gurges was Roman consul in 265 BC, and died of wounds received in battle at Volsinii, where he had been sent to help put down a revolt. There is some uncertainty as to his identity.
The Battle of Canusium also known as the Battle of Asculum was a three-day engagement between the forces of Rome and Carthage. It took place in Apulia during the spring of 209 BC, the tenth year of the Second Punic War. A larger Roman offensive, of which it was a part, aimed to subjugate and to punish cities and tribes that had abandoned the alliance with Rome after the Battle of Cannae, and to narrow the base of the Carthaginian leader, Hannibal, in southern Italy.
The gens Minucia was an ancient Roman family, which flourished from the earliest days of the Republic until imperial times. The gens was apparently of patrician origin, but was better known by its plebeian branches. The first of the Minucii to hold the consulship was Marcus Minucius Augurinus, elected consul in 497 BC.
Marcus Minucius Rufus was a Roman consul in 221 BC. He was also Magister Equitum during the dictatorship of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus known as Cunctator.
Quintus Fabius Maximus was a consul of the Roman Republic in 213 BC. He was the son of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, the famous dictator who invented Fabian strategy, and served with his father during the Second Punic War.
Publius Cornelius Scipio Asina was a Roman politician and general who served as consul in 221 BC, and as such campaigned against the Histri, a people in the northern Adriatic. Asina belonged to the Scipionic-Aemilian faction which dominated Roman politics at the beginning of the Second Punic War, and advocated for an aggressive policy against Hannibal. This stance led him to oppose the more prudent strategy of Fabius Maximus. He was notably appointed Interrex in 216 BC, probably in order to manipulate the elections.
In Roman law, abrogatio is in general an annulment of a law or legal procedure.
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