Page:15 decisive battles of the world Vol 1 (London).djvu/204

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
190
BATTLE OF THE METAURUS.

alarm. All men felt the full audacity of the enterprise, but hesitated what epithet to apply to it. It was evident that Nero's conduct would be judged of by the events that most unfair criterion, as the Roman historian truly terms it.[1] People reasoned on the perilous state in which Nero had left the rest of his army, without a general, and deprived of the core of its strength, in the vicinity of the terrible Hannibal. They speculated on how long it would take Hannibal to pursue and overtake Nero himself, and his expeditionary force. They talked over the former disasters of the war, and the fall of both the consuls of the last year. All these calamities had come on them while they had only one Carthaginian general and army to deal with in Italy. Now they had two Punic wars at a time. They had two Carthaginian armies, they had almost two Hannibals in Italy. Hasdrubal was sprung from the same father; trained up in the same hostility to Rome; equally practised in battle against their legions; and, if the comparative speed and success with which he had crossed the Alps was a fair test, he was even a better general than his brother. With fear for their interpreter of every rumour, they exaggerated the strength of their

  1. "Adparebat (quo nihil iniquius est) ex eventu famam habiturum." — Livy, lib. xxvii. c. 44.