« A.U.C. 538 = 216 B.C. »

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.16.26, gives the date of the battle of Cannae as a.d. IV Non. Sex. If A.U.C. 537 = 217 was intercalary, this places Cannae in the range 11-16 August 216; if not, the range is 19-27 July 216.

Polybius 3.107 notes that manouvres did not begin till the campaigning season was well advanced, so that the two sides could collect grain supplies from winter stores. Hannibal then seized the Roman grain store at Cannae. The Roman field commanders requested help from Rome, and the senate told them to wait for the consuls to reach Cannae with an army. The consuls immediately headed out for the army, led it to Cannae the day after reaching it, and came within view of Hannibal's army on the second day (Polybius 3.110.1). The consuls, who had completely different views of the tactics to be employed, took command on alternate days (no wonder they lost), and Polybius' detailed account makes it clear that the battle was fought on the seventh day (Polybius 3.113.1). Thus, Cannae was fought within a few weeks of the start of campaigning, and in any case at a time when it was not possible for the armies to live off the land. But both the dates given above are well after harvest, so this datum is not chronologically useful in isolation.

The analysis of A.U.C. 539 = 215 indicates that A.U.C. 537 = 217 and this year were both in fact intercalary.

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