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Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, Quintus

(d. 203 bc)


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As consul 233 bc celebrated a triumph over the Ligurians and unsuccessfully opposed the agrarian bill of Flaminius. He was censor 230, consul for the second time 228, and dictator (probably) 221. Dictator again in 217, after the Roman defeat at Lake Trasimene, he began his famous policy of attrition, believing that Hannibal could not be defeated in a pitched battle; this earned him the name ‘Cunctator’ (the Delayer). He allowed Hannibal to ravage the plain of Campania, but then blocked his exits; Hannibal, however, escaped by a stratagem. Opposition to Fabius' policy at Rome led to his magister equitum, Minucius Rufus, receiving imperium equal to his. When Minucius was enticed into a rash venture, Fabius rescued him. The traditional policy of fighting fixed battles was resumed in 216, but after the disaster at Cannae there was no alternative to Fabius' policy. Helped by his position as the senior member of the college of augurs, he became suffect consul for the third time for 215, operating in Campania. He was re‐elected for 214, helped to recapture Casilinum and had a number of successes in Samnium. Direct control of affairs now passed to other men, but Fabius reached his final consulship in 209, when he recaptured Tarentum and was made princeps senatus. In 205 he strongly opposed Cornelius Scipio Africanus' plan to invade Africa. He was no doubt alarmed by Scipio's growing prestige, but genuinely believed that taking the war to Africa posed unnecessary dangers. Scipio brought the war to an end, but Fabius' cautious strategy had made victory possible. Fabius died in 203. He had been pontifex since 216 as well as augur, a distinction unique until Sulla and Caesar.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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