- Nov 2011
- The Bluff
When the Romans in the city learned of this third defeat on the Po (for they had in fact been beaten by the Boii before Hannibal arrived), they levied a new army of their own citizens which, with those already on the Po, amounted to thirteen legions, and they called for double that number from the allies. At this time the legion consisted of 5000 foot and 300 horse. Some of these they sent to Spain, some to Sardinia (for they were at war there also), and some to Sicily. The greater part were despatched against Hannibal under Cn. Servilius and Gaius Flaminius, who had succeeded Scipio and Sempronius as consuls...
What is at question is the number which Scipio takes to Africa and, on that, I think Livy is pretty plain. Dismissals of those overstrength legions, based on the fact such aren't attested until Pydna in 168, I find intellectually curious. To paraphrase the argument: "this number is unlikely as we aren't told of legions in such strength until the campaign of Pydna where they were brought up to 6,000 foot". Thus, arguing that the Pydna campaign is the first time our sources attest such numbers involves dismissing the actual first time such numbers are attested. The evidence for Pydna is Livy. Curious, as Spock would intone. Even more curious is the fact that the reported number of hastai with Flamininus before Thebes (in 196) indicate that his legions, too, were overstrength (Livy, 33.1.2):
Thence the next day, taking the soldiers of one company and Attalus and the numerous embassies which had come in from all directions, he set out to march towards the city, ordering the hastati of the legion — they amounted to two thousand men — to follow at the distance of a mile.