Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Marcellus and Hannibal at Nola
By Philemon Holland (15521637) and the Classical Translators
From the Romane Historie written by T. Livius of Padua. Translated out of Latin into English by Philemon Holland, Doctor in Physicke
THIS emparle1 put Hannibal clean besides all hope of gaining Nola by treason. Therefore he beleaguered the town on every side, and invested it round about like a garland, to the end, that in one instant he might give the assault on every part of the walls. When Marcellus saw him under the walls, he set his people first in battle array within the gate, and then with a great noise and tumult he suddenly sallied out. At their first set and onset, divers of the enemies were beaten down and slain; but after that, they ran from all parts to battle, and were come together with equal forces; the fight began to be hot and sharp, and a memorable conflict it had been, and few like it, but that it rained and poured down so fast, and with so many storms and tempests, that it parted both the battles, and stayed the fight. So for that day, having with that small skirmish kindled their courages, and set their blood in heat, they retired back, the Romans within the city, and the Carthaginians to their camp. Howbeit, of the Carthaginians there were slain, upon the first sally and charge given, not above thirty, and of the Romans not one man. This tempestuous shower of rain lasted all night long, and continued still, and never gave over until nine of the clock before noon the next day. And therefore, albeit they were sharp set, and their fingers itched on both sides to be a fighting, yet for that day they kept within their hold and strength. So the third day Hannibal sent out certain companies into the territory about Nola, for to forray and fetch in booties: which, so soon as Marcellus understood, he presently set his men in array, and entered the field, neither was Hannibal for his part behind. Now there was a mile distance, or very near, between the city and the enemys camp. In this space between (for all about Nola is plain and champian) they encountered and joined battle. The shout that they set up on both sides, reclaimed and caused to return unto the fight already begun, the nearest of those cohorts and bands, which were gone a-foraging into the country. The men of Nola likewise came unto the Romans, and mended their battle: whom Marcellus commended for their forwardness, and gave them in charge to abide in the rearward, to help as occasion served, and to carry forth of the skirmish those that were hurt and wounded, and to forbear fight in any case, unless they had a signal and token given them by him. The fight was doubtful, for both the generals gave encouragement effectually, and also the soldiers did their best, and fought right manfully. Marcellus was earnest with his men to press hard and charge still upon their enemies, whom they had defeated not three days ago, who not many days past were put to flight, and driven from Cumæ, and who the year before were beaten from Nola, under his conduct, by other soldiers, saying, That they were not all there in the field, but many of them gone ranging abroad into the country, for to hale booties and get prizes. As for them that fought, they were such as were decayed with rioting and following their delights in Capua, such as with wine-bibbing in every tavern, all the whole winter, were become enfeebled in body, spent, and wasted utterly. As for that lively strength and vigour of theirs, it was clean gone: those able and lusty bodies were decayed, those courageous hearts abated, wherewith they passed over the Pyrennean mountains, and the high cliffs of the Alps. There remained now nothing but the relics and shadow of those men to fight, who are scarce able to bear their very armour, to lift up their arms, and carry their own bodies. Adding withal, that Capua was another Cannæ unto Hannibal: there died his warlike prowess, there lost he his militare discipline; there was the glorious fame of former days buried; there the hope of future time for ever suppressed and stifled. As Marcellus by reproving these and such like things in his enemies, animated his own soldiers: so Hannibal rebuked his men with more sharp words and bitter checks. I know these to be (quoth he) the same arms and weapons, the very same engines and standards, which I saw and had at Trebia, at Thrasymenus, and last of all at Cannæ. But surely, methinks, when I went to Capua, there to winter, I carried with me thither, other manner of soldiers than I have brought again from thence. Have ye indeed so much ado to maintain fight with a Roman lieutenant, leader of one only legion and cornet; whom heretofore two full Consular armies were never able to abide in the field? Shall Marcellus with young and raw soldiers of his own, seconded only with the aid of the Nolanes, challenge and bid us battle the second time? Where is that soldier of mine, that unhorsed C. Flaminius the Consul, and stracke off his head? What is become of him that at Cannæ slew L. Paulus? What? Is the edge of your sword dull, and the point blunt? Or are your right hands asleep and benumbed? Or what strange and wonderful accident is befallen you? Ye that were wont, being few in number, to vanquish many, are ye now, being many in number, hardly able to withstand and abide the violence of a few? Ye spake big, and gave out great brags and proud words, that if any man would lead you, you would win Rome, that you would. Behold now, a smaller piece of service. Here I would have you prove your strength, and make trial of your valour. Let us see now, win me Nola, a city situate in the champian, on a plain, defended neither with sea nor river. O, out of this so wealthy a city, will I be ready either to lead you, laden with rich pillage and spoil, whithersoever ye will, or follow you, wheresoever ye would have me. But nothing availed either his cheerful words, or his checking rebukes, to encourage and confirm their hearts.