Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

WILLIAM Hague continues to be the Invisible Man of British politics. Is this wise? Two ancient precedents suggest it could be. When Hannibal crossed the Alps to attack Rome, he immediately inflicted appalling losses on the Romans in battles at Trasimene (217 Bc) and Cannae (216 Bc). So Quintus Fabius Maximus, arguing that Hannibal could not be defeated in pitched battle, advocated a policy of attrition and delay - to dog Hannibal round Italy, but never engage him. This policy turned out to be very successful, frustrating Hannibal at every turn and preventing him landing a knock-out blow. As a result, Fabius was nicknamed Cunctator, `the delayer'. Hague Cunctator? He certainly has plenty to cunctate about.

Then there was Claudius, born 10 Bc and emperor AD 43-54. Stricken with cerebral palsy, he was described by his mother Antonia as 'a monstrosity of a human being, one that Nature began and never finished'. When he assumed the toga of manhood at the age of 14, usually an event of some importance, it was done secretly, at night. When he was seen in public, he was dressed as an invalid. The first emperor Augustus took a policy decision never to give him proper public office, and his successor Tiberius maintained it. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.