Fabius MaximusQuintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator
- 203 BC
) was a Roman general
, twice consul
, and twice dictator
. His nickname Cunctator
(akin to the English noun cunctation
) means "delayer" in Latin
, and refers to his tactics
in deploying the troops during the Second Punic War
. By keeping his soldiers close to Hannibal's invading
forces - while avoiding combat - he was able to harass the Carthaginian
foraging parties, limiting Hannibal's ability to wreak destruction while conserving his own military force.
The Romans at first gave him the nickname as an insult, but following the disaster of the Battle of Cannae, the wisdom of this tactic was understood, and Cunctator became an honorific title.
His cautiousness gives rise to the noun phrase "Fabian policy."