Fabius Maximus, Quintus, Surnamed Verrucosus And Cunctator

, a noble Roman, was the fourth in decent from the preceding, and in a very similar career of honours, obtained yet more glory than his ancestor. He also was consul five times, in the years 233 Ant. Chr. 228, C 15, 214, and 210; and dictator in the years 221 and 217. His life is among those written by Plutarch. In his first consulship, he obtained the honour of a triumph for a signal victory over the Ligurians. His second consulship produced no remarkable event, nor, indeed, his first dictatorship, which seems to have been only a kind of civil appointment, for the sake of holding comitia, and was frustrated by some defect in the omens. But in the consternation which followed the defeat at Thrasymene, his country had recourse to him as the person most able to retrieve affairs, and he was created dictator a second time. In this arduous situation he achieved immortal fame, by his prudence in perceiving that the method of wearing out an invader was to protract the war, and avoid a general engagement, and his steady perseverance in preserving that system. By this conduct he finally attained the | honourable title of Cunctator, or protector. But before he could obtain the praise he merited, he had to contend not only with the wiles and abilities of Hannibal, but with the impatience and imprudence of his countrymen. The former he was able to baffle, the latter nearly proved fatal to Rome. “If Fabius,” said Hannibal, “is so great a commander as he is reported to be, let him come forth and give me battle.” “If Hannibal,” said Fabius in reply, “is so great a commander as he thinks himself, let him compel me to it.A battle in Apulia, however, was brought on by the rashness of his master of the horse, Minucius, and it required all the ability of Fabius to prevent an entire defeat. His moderation towards Minucius afterwards, was equal to his exertions in the contest. After he had laid down his office, the consul Paulus jEmilius endeavoured to tread in his steps; but rashness again prevailed over wisdom, and the defeat at Cannae ensued in the year 215, and then the Romans began to do full justice to the prudence of Fabius. He was called the ^ield, as MarcelU is the sword of the republic; and, by an honour almost unprecedented, was continued in the consulship for two successive years. He recovered Tarentum before Hannibal could relieve it, and continued to oppose that general with great and successful skill. It has been laid to his charge that when Scipio proposed to carry the war into Africa, he opposed that measure through envy; and Plutarch allows that though he was probably led at first to disapprove, from the cautious nature of his temper, he afterwards became envious of the rising glory of Scipio. It is, however, possible, that he might think it more glo rious to drive the enemy by force out of Italy, than to draw" him away by a diversion. Whether this were the case or not, he did not live to see the full result of the measure, for he died in the year 203, at a very advanced age, being, according to some authors, near a hundred. This was the very year preceding the decisive battle of Zama, winch concluded the second Punic war. The highest encomiums are bestowed by Cicero upon Fabius, under the person of Cato, who just remembered him, and had treasured many of his sayings. 1

1 Plutarch. Livy. Hooke’s Roman Hist.