Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/195

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Hannibal had either detached Rome's allies from her, or had impoverished them by the ravages of his army. If Hasdrubal could have done the same in Upper Italy; if Etruria, Umbria, and northern Latium, had either revolted or been laid waste, Rome must have sunk beneath sheer starvation; for the hostile or desolated territory would have yielded no supplies of corn for her population; and money, to purchase it from abroad, there was none. Instant victory was a matter of life or death. Three of her six armies were ordered to the north, but the first of these was required to overawe the disaffected Etruscans. The second army of the north was pushed forward, under Porcius, the prætor, to meet and keep in check the advanced troops of Hasdrubal; while the third, the grand army of the north, which was to be under the immediate command of the consul Livius, who had the chief command in all North Italy, advanced more slowly in its support. There were similarly three armies in the south, under the orders of the other consul, Claudius Nero.

The lot had decided, that Livius was to be opposed to Hasdrubal, and that Nero should face Hannibal. And "when all was ordered as themselves thought best, the two consuls went forth of the city; each his several way. The people