Stories of Famous Generals

Quintus Fabius upon being urged by his son to seize an advantageous position at the expense of losing a few men, asked: “Do you want to be one of those few?”

When Xerxes was defied by the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae and with difficulty destroyed them he declared he had been deceived because though he had numbers enough, yet of real men who adhered to discipline he had none.

When Camillus was besieging the Faliscans, a school teacher took the sons of the Faliscans outside the walls, as though for a walk, and then delivered them up, saying that, if they should be retained as hostages, the city would be forced to execute the orders of Camillus. But Camillus not only spurned the teacher’s perfidy, but tying his hands behind his back, turned him over to the boys to be driven back to their parents with switches. He thus gained by kindness a victory which he had scorned to secure by fraud; for the Faliscans, in consequence of this act of justice, voluntarily surrendered to him.

Scipio Aemilianus, in the operations before Numantia, distributed archers and slingers not only among all his cohorts, but even among all the centuries.

After the complete rout of the Romans at Cannae, when Sempronius Tuditanus and Gnaeus Octavius, tribunes of the soldiers, were besieged in the smaller camp,76 they urged their comrades to draw their swords and accompany them in a dash through the forces of the enemy, declaring that they themselves were resolved on this course, even if no one else possessed the courage to break through. Although among the wavering crowd only twelve knights and fifty foot-soldiers were found who had the courage to accompany them, yet they reached Canusium unscathed


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