Before the Battle of Cannae, in which Hannibal defeated a larger Roman army, Hannibal made the following quip:

Reportedly, a Carthaginian officer named Gisgo commented on how much larger the Roman army was. Hannibal replied, "another thing that has escaped your notice, Gisgo, is even more amazing—that although there are so many of them, there is not one among them called Gisgo".

What is the intended meaning of this phrase? Is he attempting to praise the man under his command?

  • 1
    This has reminded me of the Russian saying "we are few, but we're wear(ing) the sailor stripes" (sailors' striped shirts). ("Нас мало, но мы в тельняшках"). When Germany overran part of the Russian navy capacity during WWII, the marines taken ashore to fight alongside traditional infantry units came to be valued as elite troops. The saying serves to underscore the uniquness of "our side" in terms of morale, fighting qualities. Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 15:55
  • 2
    I doubt Hannibal spoke English?
    – user26236
    Commented Nov 20, 2015 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


Referencing the top answer from a similar question on Quora by Steve Theodore.

My feeling is that it's It's a morale-boosting quip: "they may be numerous but they don't have anybody as awesome as you!". Or, more generally, "they may be more numerous but they are not us," since Gisgo was a fairly common first name.

I agree with Steve's interpretation of the text and also feel that Hannibal is praising his officer, Gisgo.

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