Livy Recounts how the Romans Responded to the Disaster at Trasimene

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[22.7] This was the famous battle at Trasumennus, and a disaster for Rome memorable as few others have been. Fifteen thousand Romans were killed in action; 1000 fugitives were scattered all over Etruria and reached the City by divers routes; 2500 of the enemy perished on the field, many in both armies afterwards of their wounds. Other authors give the loss on each side as many times greater, but I refuse to indulge in the idle exaggerations to which writers are far too much given, and what is more, I am supported by the authority of Fabius, who was living during the war.

Hannibal dismissed without ransom those prisoners who belonged to the allies and threw the Romans into chains. He then gave orders for the bodies of his own men to be picked out from the heaps of slain and buried; careful search was also made for the body of Flaminius that it might receive honourable interment but it was not found. As soon as the news of this disaster reached Rome the people flocked into the Forum in a great state of panic and confusion. Matrons were wandering about the streets and asking those they met what recent disaster had been reported or what news was there of the army. The throng in the Forum, as numerous as a crowded Assembly, flocked towards the Comitium and the Senate–house and called for the magistrates. At last, shortly before sunset, M. Pomponius, the praetor, announced, ""We have been defeated in a great battle."" Though nothing more definite was heard from him, the people, full of the reports which they had heard from one another, carried back to their homes the information that the consul had been killed with the greater part of his army; only a few survived, and these were either dispersed in flight throughout Etruria or had been made prisoners by the enemy.

The misfortunes which had befallen the defeated army were not more numerous than the anxieties of those whose relatives had served under C. Flaminius, ignorant as they were of the fate of each of their friends, and not in the least knowing what to hope for or what to fear. The next day and several days afterwards, a large crowd, containing more women than men, stood at the gates waiting for some one of their friends or for news about them, and they crowded round those they met with eager and anxious inquiries, nor was it possible to get them away, especially from those they knew, until they had got all the details from first to last. Then as they came away from their informants you might see the different expressions on their faces, according as each had received good or bad news, and friends congratulating or consoling them as they wended their way homewards. The women were especially demonstrative in their joy and in their grief. They say that one who suddenly met her son at the gate safe and sound expired in his arms, whilst another who had received false tidings of her son's death and was sitting as a sorrowful mourner in her house, no sooner saw him returning than she died from too great happiness. For several days the praetors kept the senate in session from sunrise to sunset, deliberating under what general or with what forces they could offer effectual resistance to the victorious Carthaginian.

— Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 22.7 (translated by C. Roberts)