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Stanza lxiii. line 5. 66 And such was their mutual animosity, so intent were they upon the battle, that the earthquake, which overthrew in great part many of the cities of Italy, which turned the course of rapid streams, poured back the sea upon the rivers, and tore down the very mountains, was not felt by one of the com. batants.”í Such is the description of Livy. It may be doubted whether modern tactics would admit of such an abstraction.
The site of the battle of Thrasimene is not to be mistaken. The traveller from the village under Cortona to Casa di Piano, the next stage on the way to Rome, has for the first two or three miles, around him, but more particularly to the right, that flat land which Hannibal laid waste in order to induce the Consul Flaminius to move from Arezzo. On his left, and in front of him, is a ridge of hills, bending down towards the lake of Thrasimene, called by Livy “ montes Cortonenses,” and now named the Gualandra. These hills he approaches at Ossaja, a village which the itineraries pretend to have been so denominated from the bones found there: but there have been no bones found there, and the battle was fought on the other side of the hill. From Ossaja the road begins to rise a little, but does not pass into the roots of the mountains until the sixty-seventh milestone from Florence. The ascent thence is not steep but perpetual, and continues for twenty minutes. The lake is soon seen below on the right with Borghetto, a round tower close upon the water; and the undulating hills partially covered with wood, amongst which the road winds, sink hy degrees into the marshes near to this tower. Lower than the road, down to the right amidst these woody hillocks, Hannibal placed his horse,' in the jaws of or rather above the pass, which was between the lake and the present road, and most probably close to Borghetto, just under the lowest of the “ tumuli.”' On a summit to the left, above the road, is an old circular ruin which the peasants call " the Tower of Hannibal the Carthaginian.” Arrived at the highest point of the road, the traveller has a partial view of the fatal plain which opens fully upon him as he descends the Gualandra. He soon finds himself in a vale inclosed to the left and in front and behind him by the Gualandra hills, bending round in a segment larger than a semicircle, and running down at each end to the lake, which obliques to the right and forms the chord of this mountain arc. The position cannot be guessed at from the plains of Cortona, nor appears to be so completely inclosed unless to one who is fairly within the hills. It then, indeed, appears “ a place made as it were on purpose for a snare,” locus insidiis natus. “ Borghetto is then found to stand in a narrow marshy pass close to the hill and to the lake, whilst there is no other outlet at the opposite turn of the mountains than through the little town of Passignano, which is pushed into the water by the foot of a high rocky acclivity.”3 There is a woody eminence branching down from the mountains into the upper end of the plain nearer to the side of Passignano, and on this stands a white village called Torre. Polybius seems to allude to this eminence as the one on which Hannibal encamped and drew out his heavyarmed Africans and Spaniards in a conspicuous position.* From
1 " Tantusque fuit ardor animorum, adeo intentus pugnæ animus, ut eum terræ motum qui multarum urbium Italiæ magnas partes prostravit, avertitque cursu rapido amnes, mare fluminibus invexit, montes lapsu ingenti proruit, nemo pugnantium senserit." ... Tit. Liv, lib. xxii. cap. xii.
T“ Equites ad ipsas fauces saltus tumulis apte tegentibus locat." T. Livii, lib. xxii. cap. iv.
2 « Ubi maxime montes Cortonenses Thrasimenus subit.” Ibid. 3 « Inde colles assurgunt.” Ibid.
* Τον μεν κατα πρόσωπος της πορείας λόψον αυτός κατελάβετο και τους Λίβυος και τους Ιβηρας έχων επ' αυτού κατεστρατοπέδευσε. Hist. lib. iii. cap. 83. The account in Polybius is not so easily reconcileable with present appearances as that in Livy: he talks of hills to the right and left of the pass and valley; but when Flaminius entered he had the lake at the right of both.
this spot he despatched his Balearic and light-armed troops round through the Gualandra heights to the right, so as to arrive unseen and form an ambush amongst the broken acclivities which the road now passes, and to be ready to act upon the left flank and above the enemy, whilst the horse shut up the pass behind. Flaminius came to the lake near Borghetto at sunset ; and, without sending any spies before him, marched through the pass the next morning before the day had quite broken, so that he perceived nothing of the horse and light troops above and about him, and saw only the heavy-armed Carthaginians in front on the hill of Torre.' The consul began to draw out his army in the flat, and in the mean time the horse in ambush occupied the pass behind him at Borghetto. Thus the Romans were completely inclosed, having the lake on the right, the main army on the hill of Torre in front, the Gualandra hills filled with the light-armed on their left Aank, and being prevented from receding by the cavalry, who, the farther they advanced, stopped up all the outlets in the rear. A fog rising from the lake now spread itself over the army of the consul, but the high lands were in the sunshine, and all the different corps in ambush looked towards the hill of Torre for the order of attack. Hanni. bal gave the signal, and moved down from his post on the height. At the same moment all his troops on the eminences behind and in the flank of Flaminius, rushed forwards as it were with one accord into the plain. The Romans, who were forming their array in the mist, suddenly heard the shouts of the enemy amongst them, on every side, and before they could fall into their ranks, or draw their swords, or see by whom they were attacked, felt at once that they were surrounded and lost.
There are two little rivulets which run from the Gualandra into the lake. The traveller crosses the first of these at about a mile after he comes into the plain, and this divides the Tuscan from the Papal territories. The second, about a quarter of a
I "A tergo et super caput decepere insidiæ.”
T. Liv. &c.
mile further on, is called “the bloody rivulet,” and the peasants point out an open spot to the left between the “ Sanguinetto" and the hills, which, they say, was the principal scene of slaughter. The other part of the plain is covered with thick set olivetrees in corn-grounds, and is nowhere quite level except near the edge of the lake. It is, indeed, most probable that the battle was fought near this end of the valley, for the six thousand Romans, who, at the beginning of the action, broke through the enemy, escaped to the summit of an eminence which must have been in this quarter, otherwise they would have had to traverse the whole plain and to pierce through the main army of Han. nibal.
The Romans fought desperately for three hours, but the death of Flaminius was the signal for a general dispersion. The Carthaginian horse then burst in upon the fugitives, and the lake, the marsh about Borghetto, but chiefly the plain of the Sanguinetto and the passes of the Gualandra, were strewed with dead. Near some old walls on a bleak ridge to the left above the rivulet many human bones have been repeatedly found, and this has confirmed the pretensions and the name of the “ stream of blood.”
Every district of Italy has its hero. In the north some painter is the usual genius of the place, and the foreign Julio Romano more than divides Mantua with her native Virgil.' To the south we hear of Roman names. Near Thrasimene tradition is still faithful to the fame of an enemy, and Hannibal the Carthaginian is the only ancient name remembered on the banks of the Perugian lake. Flaminius is unknown ; but the postilions on that road have been taught to show the very spot where il Console Romano was slain. Of all who fought and fell in the battle of Thrasimene, the historian himself has, besides the generals and Maharbal, preserved indeed only a single name. You overtake the Carthaginian again on the same road to Rome. The antiquary, that is, the hostler, of the posthouse at Spoleto, tells you that his town repulsed the victorious enemy, and shows you the gate still called Porta di Annibale. It is hardly worth while to remark that a French travel writer, well known by the name of the President Dupaty, saw Thrasimene in the lake of Bolsena, which lay conveniently on his way from Sienna to Rome.
1 About the middle of the XIIth century the coins of Mantua bore on one side the image and figure of Virgil. Zecca d'Italia, pl. xvii. i. 6. ... Voyage dans le Milanais, &c. par A. Z. Millin. tom. ii. pag. 291. Paris, 1817.
Stanza lxvi. line 1. No book of travels has omitted to expatiate on the temple of the Clitumnus, between Foligno and Spoleto ; and no site, or scenery, even in Italy, is more worthy a description. For an account of the dilapidation of this temple, the reader is referred to Historical Illustrations of the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold.
Stanza lxxi. line 9. I saw the “ Cascata del marmore” of Terni twice, at different periods ; once from the summit of the precipice, and again from the valley below. The lower view is far to be preferred, if the traveller has time for one only; but in any point of view, either from above or below, it is worth all the cascades and torrents of Switzerland put together: the Staubach, Reichenbach, Pisse Vache, fall of Arpenaz, &c. are rills in comparative appearance. Of the fall of Schaffhausen I cannot speak, not yet having seen it.