Restat ut copiae copiis comparentur vel numero vel militum genere vel multitudine auxiliorum. censebantur eius aetatis lustris ducena quinquagena milia capitum. itaque in omni defectione sociorum Latini nominis urbano prope dilectu decem scribebantur legiones; quaterni quinique exercitus saepe per eos annos in Etruria, in Umbria Gallis hostibus adiunctis, in Samnio, in Lucanis gerebat bellum. Latium deinde omne cum Sabinis et Volscis et Aequis et omni Campania et parte Umbriae Etruriaeque et Picentibus et Marsis Paelignisque ac Vestinis atque Apulis, adiuncta omni ora Graecorum inferi maris a Thuriis Neapolim et Cumas et inde Antio atque Ostiis tenus aut socios validos Romanis aut fractos bello invenisset hostes. ipse traiecisset mare cum veteranis Macedonibus non plus triginta milibus hominum et quattuor milibus equitum, maxime Thessalorum; hoc enim roboris erat. Persas Indos aliasque si adiunxisset gentes, impedimentum maius quam auxilium traheret. adde quod Romanis ad manum domi supplementum esset, Alexandro, quod postea Hannibali accidit, alieno in agro bellanti exercitus consenuisset. arma clupei essent illis sarisaeque; Romano scutum, maius corpori tegumentum, et pilum, haud paulo quam hasta vehementius ictu missuque telum. statarius uterque miles, ordines servans; sed illa phalanx immobilis et unius generis, Romana acies distinctior, ex pluribus partibus constans, facilis partienti, quacumque opus esset, facilis iungenti. iam in opere quis par Romano miles? quis ad tolerandum laborem melior? uno proelio victus Alexander bello victus esset: Romanum, quem Caudium, quem Cannae non fregerunt, quae fregisset acies? ne ille saepe, etiamsi prima prospere evenissent, Persas et Indos et imbellem Asiam quaesisset et cum feminis sibi bellum fuisse dixisset, quod Epiri regem Alexandrum mortifero vulnere ictum dixisse ferunt, sortem bellorum in Asia gestorum ab hoc ipso iuvene cum sua conferentem. equidem cum per annos quattuor et viginti primo Punico bello classibus certatum cum Poenis recordor, vix aetatem Alexandri suffecturam fuisse reor ad unum bellum. et forsitan, cum et foederibus vetustis iuncta res Punica Romanae esset et timor par adversus communem hostem duas potentissimas armis virisque urbes armaret, simul Punico Romanoque obrutus bello esset. non quidem Alexandro duce nec integris Macedonum rebus sed experti tamen sunt Romani Macedonem hostem adversus Antiochum Philippum Persen non modo cum clade ulla sed ne cum periculo quidem suo. absit invidia verbo et civilia bella sileant: numquam a pedite, numquam aperta acie, numquam aequis, utique numquam nostris locis laboravimus: equitem, sagittas, saltus impeditos, avia commeatibus loca gravis armis miles timere potest. mille acies graviores quam Macedonum atque Alexandri avertit avertetque, modo sit perpetuus huius qua vivimus pacis amor et civilis cura concordiae.
(Livy 9.19.1-17)

It remains to compare the forces on both sides, whether for numbers, or types of soldiers, or size of their contingents of auxiliaries. The quinquennial enumerations of that period put the population at 250,000. And so at the time when all the Latin allies were in revolt it was the custom to enroll ten legions, by a levy which was virtually limited to the City. In those years frequently four and five armies at a time would take the field, in Etruria, in Umbria (where they also fought the Gauls), in Samnium, and in Lucania. Later on Alexander would have found all Latium, with the Sabines, the Volsci and the Aequi, all Campania, and a portion of Umbria and Etruria, the Picentes and the Marsi and Paeligni, the Vestini and the Apulians, together with the whole coast of the Lower Sea, held by the Greeks, from Thurii as far as Naples and Cumae, and thence all the way to Antium and Ostia—all these, I say, he would have found either powerful friends of the Romans or their defeated enemies. He himself would have crossed the sea with veteran Macedonians to the number of not more than thirty thousand foot and four thousand horse—mostly Thessalians—for this was his main strength. If to these he had added Persians and Indians and other nations, he would have found them a greater burden to have dragged about than a help. Add to this, that the Romans would have had recruits ready to call upon, but Alexander, as happened afterwards to Hannibal, would have found his army wear away, while he warred in a foreign land. His men would have been armed with targets and spears: the Romans with an oblong shield, affording more protection to the body, and the Roman javelin, which strikes, on being thrown, with a much harder impact than the lance. Both armies were formed of heavy troops, keeping to their ranks; but their phalanx was immobile and consisted of soldiers of a single type; the Roman line was opener and comprised more separate units; it was easy to divide, wherever necessary, and easy to unite. Moreover, what soldier can match the Roman in entrenching? Who is better at enduring toil? Alexander would, if beaten in a single battle, have been beaten in the war; but what battle could have overthrown the Romans, whom Caudium could not overthrow, nor Cannae? Nay, many a time—however prosperous the outset of his enterprise might have been—would he have wished for Indians and Persians and unwarlike Asiatics, and would have owned that he had before made war upon women, as Alexander, King of Epirus, is reported to have said, when mortally wounded, contrasting the type of war waged by this very youth in Asia, with that which had fallen to his own share. Indeed when I remember that we contended against the Carthaginians on the seas for four-and-twenty years. I think that the whole life of Alexander would hardly have sufficed for this single war; and perchance, inasmuch as the Punic State had been by ancient treaties leagued with the Roman, and the two cities most powerful in men and arms might well have made common cause against the foe whom both dreaded, he had been crushed beneath the simultaneous attacks of Rome and Carthage. The Romans have been at war with the Macedonians—not, to be sure, when Alexander led them or their prosperity was unimpaired, but against Antiochus, Philippus, and Perses—and not only without ever suffering defeat, but even without incurring any danger. Proud word I would not speak, but never—and may civil wars be silent!—never have we been beaten by infantry, never in open battle, never on even, or at all events on favourable ground: cavalry and arrows, impassable defiles, regions that afford no road to convoys, may well occasion fear in heavy-armed troops. A thousand battle-arrays more formidable than those of Alexander and the Macedonians have the Romans beaten off—and shall do—if only our present love of domestic peace endure and our concern to maintain concord. (tr. Benjamin Oliver Foster)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: