Biography of Quinto Fabio Máximo (275 a.C.-203 a.C.)

General and Roman statesman, born in the year 275 BC and died in 203 BC, who was nicknamed Verrucosus (by a huge wart that was on the upper lip) and Cunctator (to defend the tactic when faced with the Carthaginians), which together with his grandfather, Fifth Fabio maximum Rullianus, was the most prominent member of his family.

He became famous among Roman generals in 233 BC, when he/she was its first Consulate, thanks to an important victory against the ligurians; shortly after, in the year 230, went on to play the position of censor. He/She returned to have access to the Consulate, which renewed for three times more (in 215, 214 and 209 years), always with a great capacity for command and excess patriotism and self-sacrifice to defend the interests of Rome in the year 228. During the year 218 was sent to Carthage under the command of a delicate diplomatic mission to demand that Hannibal the fulfilment of what has been agreed in the Treaty of Sagunto (226 BC), could not carry that out faced with the refusal of the Carthaginian general, which erupted again the war between both powers. (See the reference to history at the entrance to Sagunto).

After the landslide victory of Hannibal in the Lake Trisimeno (217 BC), Fabio Máximo was appointed dictator of Rome by popular acclamation, taking into account that seemed to be the only one able to stop the unstoppable progress that Hannibal had been making from the North of the Italian peninsula, in the direction of Rome with guarantees.

After Fabio Máximo agreed to the higher judiciary, you were studying an effective military plan and decided to use military tactics based, mainly in refuse, whenever possible, any direct attack with troops of Hannibal, best trained and most experienced in the art of war, which the Roman. With this great practical and realistic sense, Fabio Máximo preferred, on numerous occasions, removed to a secure disaster; He/She understood that the only way to hurt the Carthaginian troops was atacandolas by surprise, with rapid lances to the rearguard, which undermined the morale of the enemy and hindered the necessary supply of food.

Military decisions taken by Fabio Máximo soon gave positive results, but in the own bosom of Roman generals and strategists did not anything like stalling tactic, since they believed that that way is facilitated the progress of the enemy to the South and, ultimately, to Rome. One of these contrary to Fabio Máximo Roman generals was the head of the Cavalry, Minucius Rufo, who after a controversial hard with Fabio Máximo did succeed his thesis deal directly with Anibal and put an end once with the constant threat of the Carthaginian. Minucius Rufo was elevated to the same position that Fabio Máximo, so it opted to resign from his post and leave the direct command of the Roman army which until then had been his subordinate.

Minucius Rufo adopted the tactic against which Fabio Máximo had employed, and willing to deal soon with Hannibal, led his Roman armies to the greater collapse military suffered by Rome in its military history. On 2 August 216 BC, Rome was humiliated and destroyed by the troops of Hannibal at the battle of Cannae. The Roman armies, commanded by the consuls Lucius Emilio Paulo and Marco Terentius Varro, despite being much more numerous than Hannibal, were overwhelmed by the troops of the Carthaginian, who crushed the Roman thanks to the tactics used by the Punic legions envelope. By Rome fell a total of fifty thousand legionaries about, what he/she did was to recognize the talent of Fabio Máximo who, the following year, again chosen consul, resumed a military campaign in the South of Italy which allowed Rome to recover Tarentum (Taranto) and other cities in the year 209, in addition to brilliantly take care of the defence of Rome and give encouragement to its citizens.

For his services to the State, Fabio Máximo was appointed Prince of the Senate, as they were on three of their ancestors. Thanks to his military work, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus found the appropriate bases to resume successful war against the Carthaginians, defeat them permanently and impose the Roman as sole hegemony in the Mediterranean world.


ROLDÁN HERVÁS, J.M. The army of the Roman Republic. (Madrid, 1996).

-History of Rome. (Madrid, 1981).

CRAWFORD, M. The Roman Republic. (Madrid, 1982).

MOMMSEN, th. history of Rome: from the revolution to the Empire. (vol. II), (Madrid, 1987).

HEURGON, J. Rome and the Western Mediterranean to the Punic Wars. (Barcelona, 1982).

BEER, G. Hannibal: the struggle for power in the Mediterranean. (Barcelona, 1979).

CONNOLLY, P. Hannibal and the enemies of Rome. (Madrid, 1981).