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Fabius Maximus

From Academic Kids

Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus (c. 275 BC-203 BC), called Cunctator (the Delayer;), was a Roman politician and soldier, born in Rome around 275 BC and died in Rome in 203 BC. He was consul five times (233 BC, 228 BC, 215 BC, 214 BC and 208 BC) and was twice dictator, 221?219 BC, and 217 BC. His nickname Cunctator (akin to the English noun cunctation) means "delayer" in Latin, and refers to his tactics in deploying the troops during the Second Punic War. His cognomen Verrucosus means warty.

Descended from a very ancient patrician family, he probably participated in the First Punic War, although no details of his role are known. After the end of the war he rapidly advanced his political career. He served twice as consul and censor and in 218 BC he took part in the embassy to Carthage. It was Fabius who formally declared war on the city after the capture of Sagonte by Hannibal. The Senate named him dictator in 217 BC after the disaster at the Battle of Lake Trasimene in June of that year; this was unusual, as dictators were usually elected by the consuls.

Fabius was well-aware of the military superiority of the Carthaginians, and when Hannibal invaded Italy he refused to meet him in a pitched battle. Instead he kept his troops close to Hannibal, hoping to exhaust him in a long war of attrition. Fabius was able to harass the Carthaginian foraging parties, limiting Hannibal's ability to wreak destruction while conserving his own military force.

The Romans were unimpressed with this defensive strategy and at first gave Fabius his nickname as an insult. The strategy was in part ruined because of a lack of unity in the command of the Roman army: the magister equitum, Minucius, was a political enemy of Fabius. It was only after Fabius had saved him from an attack by Hannibal that Minucius placed himself under Fabius' command.

At the end of his dictatorship, the command was given back to the consuls Gnaeus Servilius Geminus and Marcus Atilius Regulus and in the following year (216 BC) to the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. After Paullus and Varro were defeated at the battle of Cannae that year, the wisdom of Fabius' tactic was understood and Cunctator became an honorific title. This tactic was followed for the rest of the war, as long as Hannibal remained in Italy.

Fabius' own military success was small, aside from the reconquest of Tarentum in 209 BC. He was named consul twice more after serving as dictator. However, he opposed the young and ambitious Scipio Africanus, who wanted to carry the war to Africa.

Later, he became a legendary figure and the model of a tough, courageous Roman. According to Ennius, unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem one man, by delaying, has restored the state to us.

His cautiousness gave rise to the noun phrase "Fabian strategy."

See also

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Missing image
Bronze-Augustus-Fabius_Maximus-RPC_2941.jpg
Fabius Maximus coin. The fact that the coin bears the image of Fabius, instead of that of Augustus, shows the firendship between the two of them.

Fabius Maximus was also the name of a close friend of Augustus Caesar cited by Tacitus, who in 13 AD may have been murdered after a supposed visit with the emperor to the island of Planasia to see Postumus Agrippa.de:Fabius Maximus Verrucosus fr:Fabius Maximus he:פאביוס מאקסימוס la:Fabius Maximus nl:Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator

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