Duff’s first recommendation from the Punica is V.344. This is a scene from the battle of Lake Trasimene. After chasing the Carthaginians into a foggy defile between the lake and some nearby hills, the Romans were ambushed; 15,000 were killed outright, another 5,000 captured and sold into slavery, and a relief force of 4,000 that appeared a few days later was also destroyed.
Duff singles out this scene for its narrative skill. Hannibal’s brother Mago has been in single combat with the Roman Appius, a fearsome warrior who had already slain Mago’s son-in-law. Mago fatally pierced Appius’ skull with his spear, but not before the Roman dealt a debilitating blow to the Carthaginian’s shoulder. Hannibal, ductor Libyae, is alarmed…
Let’s take a look at the passage. I’ll break it down by sentences and offer an “English order” version, along with very brief notes.
As I previously mentioned, I’ve been reading Robert O’Connell’s The Ghosts of Cannae, an engrossing review of the second Punic war and its most pivotal battle. Early on O’Connell reviews the literary sources. As expected Polybius and Livy loom large, followed by a second tier of later authorities and biographers–important because they had access to records and histories that no longer exist. Beyond these there are other precious scraps–here a reference in Ovid’s Fasti, there a note from the elder Pliny, that sort of thing.
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