Friday, November 16, 2012

On the Eve of Battle

"Do not imagine that victory will be as difficult as the fame of the war might suggest. Often an underrated enemy has put up a bloody fight, and famous peoples and kings have been defeated with little effort. For set aside this one thing, the shining name of Rome, and how are they compared with you? I say nothing of the twenty years you have served with the valour and success for which you are famous. Now you have come to this place, triumphant, from the Pillars of Hercules, and from the Ocean and the bounds of the earth, passing through all the most violent tribes of Spain and Gaul. You will fight against an inexperienced army that was massacred, beaten, and blockaded by Gauls this very summer, an army that its commander does not know and which does not know its commander...

"Wherever my eyes have fallen I see courage and strength: a veteran infantry; cavalry, with and without bridles, drawn from tribes of noble spirit; you our allies, loyal and brave; and you Carthaginians, who will not only fight for your country, but fight also with righteous indignation. We are on the offensive; we are going down to attack Italy. We shall fight all the more boldly and courageously -- as the invader we have higher hopes, and greater morale, than the defender. In addition, our hearts are afire and spurred on by resentment, by our unjust treatment, and by humiliation....

"But you, you must be men of courage. You must set aside as absolutely hopeless any result between victory and death, and either win, or if fortunes waver, meet your end in battle rather than in flight. If you are all firmly resolved on this and if it is fixed in your minds, then -- I shall say it again -- you are already victors. Man has been given by immortal gods no sharper an incentive to conquer than indifference to death."


Those are the words of Hannibal to his army on the banks of the river Po just prior to engaging the Roman army of Publius Cornelius Scipio. The words were written by the historian Livy, and while they are certainly not the exact words spoken by Hannibal, they may be near to what was said, if not in actual words, than in spirit.

Tomorrow, my small Carthaginian army will be on the gaming table for the first time against a formidable Roman enemy. I am extremely excited about this. We will be playing using the Hail Caesar rules, which will also be a first for me. So, a battle report and photos will be coming soon,  and hopefully news of a glorious Carthaginian victory -- but as Hannibal said in his speech, if victory cannot be found, then we will die in battle rather than flee!


  1. That is a good looking force. I look forward to the report.

  2. Sadly the Romans are not completely painted. We'll have to ensure that the pictures only show half of my army.

  3. After all the hard work, there's nothing quite like putting your troops on the tabletop for the first time. They're a great looking bunch.

    Good luck!

  4. Hope the game is/was good. Have fun