Book 24: The Revolution in Syracuse
[24.1]After his return to Bruttium, Hanno, with the assistance and guidance of the Bruttians, made an attempt on the Greek cities. They were steadfast in their adherence to Rome, and all the more so because they saw that the Bruttians, whom they feared and hated, were taking sides with the Carthaginians. Rhegium was the first place he attempted, and several days were spent there without any result. Meanwhile the Locrians were hastily carrying their corn and wood and everything else they might want out of the fields into the city, not only for safety, but also that no plunder whatever might be left for the enemy. Every day larger numbers of people poured out of all the gates, till at last only those remained in the city whose duty it was to repair the walls and gates and provide a store of weapons on the ramparts. Against this miscellaneous crowd of all ranks and ages wandering through the fields mostly unarmed, Hamilcar sent his cavalry with orders not to injure any one but simply to scatter them in flight and then cut them off from returning to the city. He had taken up his position upon some high ground where he had a view of the country and the city, and he sent orders to one of the Bruttian cohorts to go up to the walls and invite the principal men of the place to a conference, and if they consented they were to endeavour to persuade them to betray the city, promising them, if they did so, Hannibal's friendship. The conference took place, but no credence was placed in what the Bruttians said, until the Carthaginians showed themselves on the hills and a few who escaped to the city brought the news that the whole population was in the hands of the enemy. Unnerved by terror they replied that they would consult the people, and a meeting was at once convened. All who were restless and discontented preferred a fresh policy and a fresh alliance, whilst those whose kinsfolk had been shut out of the city by the enemy felt as much pledged as though they had given hostages. A few were in favour of maintaining their loyalty to Rome, but they kept silence rather than venture to defend their opinion. A resolution was passed with apparent unanimity in favour of surrendering to the Carthaginians. L. Atilius, the commandant of the garrison, and his men were conducted down to the harbour and placed on board ship for conveyance to Regium; Hamilcar and his Carthaginians were received into the city on the understanding that a treaty with equal rights should be at once concluded. This condition was within a very little of being broken, for the Carthaginians charged the Locrians with treachery in sending away the Romans, whilst the Locrians pleaded that they had escaped. Some cavalry went in pursuit in case the tide in the straits should either delay the departure of the ships or drift them ashore. They did not overtake those whom they were in pursuit of, but they saw some other ships crossing the straits from Messana to Regium. These were Roman soldiers who had been sent by Claudius to hold the city. So the Carthaginians at once retired from Regium. By Hannibal's orders peace was granted to the Locrians; they were to be independent and live under their own laws; the city was to be open to the Carthaginians, the Locrians were to have sole control of the harbour, and the alliance was to be based on the principle of mutual support: the Carthaginians were to help the Locrians and the Locrians the Carthaginians in peace and in war.
[24.2]Thus the Carthaginians marched back from the straits amidst the protests of the Bruttians, who complained that the cities which they had marked for themselves for plunder had been left unmolested. They determined to act on their own account, and after enrolling and arming 15,000 of their own fighting men they proceeded to attack Croto, a Greek city situated on the coast. They imagined that they would gain an immense accession of strength if they possessed a seaport with a strongly fortified harbour. What troubled them was that they could not quite venture to summon the Carthaginians to their aid lest they should be thought not to have acted as allies ought to act, and again, if the Carthaginian should for the second time be the advocate of peace rather than of war, they were afraid that they would fight in vain against the freedom of Croto as they had against that of Locri. It seemed the best course to send to Hannibal and obtain from him an assurance that on its capture Croto should pass to the Bruttians. Hannibal told them that it was a matter for those on the spot to arrange and referred them to Hanno, for neither he nor Hanno wanted that famous and wealthy city to be plundered, and they hoped that when the Bruttians attacked it and it was seen that the Carthaginians neither assisted nor approved of the attack, the defenders would come over to Hannibal all the sooner.
In Croto there was neither unity of purpose nor of feeling; it seemed as though a disease had attacked all the cities of Italy alike, everywhere the populace were hostile to the aristocracy. The senate of Croto were in favour of the Romans, the populace wanted to place their state in the hands of the Carthaginians. This division of opinion in the city was reported by a deserter to the Bruttians. According to his statements, Aristomachus was the leader of the populace and was urging the surrender of the city, which was extensive and thickly populated, with fortifications covering a large area. The positions where the senators kept watch and ward were few and scattered, wherever the populace kept guard the way lay open into the city. At the suggestion of the deserter and under his guidance the Bruttians completely invested the town, and at the very first assault were admitted by the populace and took possession of the whole place with the exception of the citadel. This was held by the aristocrats, who had prepared it beforehand as a place of refuge in case anything of this sort should happen. Aristomachus, too, fled there, and gave out that he had advised the surrender of the city to the Carthaginians, not to the Bruttians.
[24.3]Before Pyrrhus' arrival in Italy, the city of Croto had walls which formed a circuit of twelve miles. After the devastation caused by that war hardly half the place was inhabited; the river which used to flow through the middle of the city now ran outside the part where the houses were, and the citadel was at a considerable distance from them. Sixteen miles from this famous city there was a still more famous temple to Juno Lacinia, an object of veneration to all the surrounding communities. There was a grove here enclosed by a dense wood and lofty fir-trees, in the middle of which there was a glade affording delightful pasture. In this glade cattle of every kind, sacred to the goddess, used to feed without any one to look after them, and at nightfall the different herds separated each to their own stalls without any beasts of prey lying in wait for them or any human hands to steal them. These cattle were a source of great profit, and a column of solid gold was made from the money thus gained and dedicated to the goddess. Thus the temple became celebrated for its wealth as well as for its sanctity, and as generally happens in these famous spots, some miracles also were attributed to it. It was commonly reported that an altar stood in the porch of the temple, the ashes on which were never stirred by any wind.
The citadel of Croto, which overhung the sea on one side and on the other faced the land, was formerly protected by its natural position; afterwards it was further protected by a wall, on the side where Dionysius, the Sicilian tyrant, had captured it by stratagem, scaling it on the side away from the sea. It was this citadel that the aristocrats of Croto now occupied, regarding it as a fairly safe stronghold, while the populace in conjunction with the Bruttians besieged them. At last the Bruttians saw that they could never take the place in their own strength, and found themselves compelled to appeal to Hanno for help. He tried to bring the Crotonians to a surrender on condition that they would admit a Bruttian colony and allow their city, wasted and desolate as it was by war, to recover its ancient populousness. Not a single man amongst them, except Aristomachus, would listen to him. They said that they would sooner die than be mingled with Bruttians and change to alien ceremonies, customs, and laws, and soon even to a foreign speech. Aristomachus, finding himself powerless to persuade them to surrender and not getting any opportunity of betraying the citadel as he had betrayed the city, went off by himself to Hanno. Shortly after some envoys from Locri, who had, with Hanno's permission, obtained access to the citadel, persuaded them to suffer themselves to be transferred to Locri instead of facing the last extremity. They had already sent to Hannibal and obtained his consent to this course. So they left Croto and were conducted to the sea and put on board ship and sailed in a body for Locri. In Apulia even the winter did not pass quietly so far as the Romans and Hannibal were concerned. Sempronius was wintering at Luceria and Hannibal not far from Arpi; skirmishes took place between them as occasion offered or either side saw its opportunity, and these brushes with the enemy made the Romans more efficient every day and more familiar with the cunning methods of their opponents.
[24.4]In Sicily the position of the Romans was totally altered by the death of Hiero and the demise of the crown to his grandson, Hieronymus, who was but a boy and hardly likely to use his own liberty much less his sovereign power with moderation. At such an age and with such a temperament guardians and friends alike sought to plunge him into every kind of excess. Hiero, it is said, seeing what was going to happen, was anxious at the close of his long life to leave Syracuse as a free State, lest the kingdom which had been acquired and built up by wise and honourable statesmanship should go to ruin by being made the sport of a boy tyrant. His project met with the most determined opposition from his daughters. They imagined that whilst the boy retained the name of king, the supreme power would really rest with them and their husbands, Andranodorus and Zoippus, whom the king purposed to leave as the boy's principal guardians. It was no easy matter for a man in his ninetieth year, subject night and day to the coaxing and blandishments of two women, to keep an open mind and make public interests predominant over private ones in his thoughts. So all he could do was to leave fifteen guardians for his son, and he implored them on his deathbed to maintain unimpaired the loyal relations with Rome which he had cultivated for fifty years, and to see to it that the young man, above all things, followed in his footsteps and adhered to the principles in which he had been brought up. Such were his instructions. When the king had breathed his last the guardians produced the will and brought the boy, who was then about fifteen, before the assembled people. Some who had taken their places in different parts to raise acclamations shouted their approval of the will, the majority, feeling that they had lost a father, feared the worst now that the State was orphaned. Then followed the king's funeral, which was honoured more by the love and affection of his subjects than by any grief amongst his own kindred. Shortly afterwards Andranodorus got rid of the other guardians by giving out that Hieronymus was now a young man and capable of assuming the government; by himself resigning the guardianship which he shared with several others, he concentrated all their powers in his own person.
[24.5]Even a good and sensible prince would have found it difficult to win popularity with the Syracusans as successor to their beloved Hiero. But Hieronymus, as though he were anxious by his own vices to make the loss of his grandfather more keenly felt, showed on his very first appearance in public how everything was changed. Those who had for so many years seen Hiero and his son, Gelo, going about with nothing in their dress or other marks of royalty to distinguish them from the rest of their countrymen, now saw Hieronymus clad in purple, wearing a diadem, surrounded by an armed escort, and sometimes even proceeding from his palace in a chariot drawn by four white horses, after the style of Dionysius the tyrant. Quite in harmony with this extravagant assumption of state and pomp was the contempt he showed for everybody; the insolent tone in which he addressed those who sought audiences of him; the way he made himself difficult of access not only to strangers but even to his guardians; his monstrous lusts; his inhuman cruelty. Such terror seized everybody that some of his guardians anticipated a death of torture by suicide or flight. Three of them, the only ones who had familiar access to the palace, Andranodorus and Zoippus, Hiero's sons-in-law, and a certain Thraso, did not rouse much interest in him when talking of other matters, but as two of them took the side of the Carthaginians and Thraso that of the Romans, their heated arguments and quarrels attracted the young king's attention. A conspiracy formed against the despot's life was disclosed by a certain Callo, a lad of about the same age as Hieronymus and accustomed from his boyhood to associate with him on terms of perfect familiarity. The informer was able to give the name of one of the conspirators, Theodotus, by whom he had himself been invited to join in the plot. This man was at once arrested and handed over to Andranodorus for torture. He confessed his own complicity without any hesitation, but was silent about the others. At last, when he was racked with tortures too terrible for human endurance, he pretended to be overcome by his sufferings, and instead of disclosing the names of the guilty informed against an innocent man, and falsely accused Thraso of being the ringleader of the plot. Unless, he said, they had had such an influential man to lead them they would never have ventured upon so serious an undertaking. He went on inventing his story amidst groans of anguish and mentioning names just as they occurred to him, taking care to select the most worthless amongst the king's courtiers. It was the mention of Thraso that weighed most in persuading the king of the truth of the story; he accordingly was at once given up for punishment, and the others, as innocent as he was, shared his fate. Though their accomplice was under torture for a long time, not one of the actual conspirators either concealed himself or sought safety in flight, so great was their confidence in the courage and honour of Theodotus, and so great the firmness with which he kept their secret.
[24.6]The one link with Rome had now gone with Thraso, and there was no doubt about the movement towards revolt. Envoys were sent to Hannibal, and he sent back, together with a young noble, also named Hannibal, two other agents, Hippocrates and Epicydes, natives of Carthage and Carthaginians on the mother's side, but their grandfather was a refugee from Syracuse. Through their agency an alliance was formed between Hannibal and the Syracusan tyrant, and with Hannibal's consent they stayed on with Hieronymus. As soon as Appius Claudius, who was commanding in Sicily heard of this, he sent envoys to the king. When they announced that they had come to renew the alliance which had existed with his grandfather, they were laughed at, and as they were leaving the king asked them in jest what fortune they had met with in the battle of Cannae, for he could hardly believe what Hannibal's envoys told him; he wanted to know the truth so that he might make up his mind which course to follow as offering the best prospects. The Romans said that they would come back to him when he had learnt to receive embassies seriously, and, after warning him, rather than asking him, not to abandon their alliance lightly, they departed. Hieronymus sent envoys to Carthage to conclude a treaty in the terms of their alliance with Hannibal. It was agreed in this compact that after they had expelled the Romans from Sicily - and that would soon be done if they sent a fleet and an army - the river Himera, which almost equally divides the island, was to be the boundary between the dominions of Syracuse and that of Carthage. Puffed up by the flattery of people who told him to remember not only Hiero but his maternal grandfather, King Pyrrhus, Hieronymus sent a second legation to Hannibal to tell him that he thought it only fair that the whole of Sicily should be ceded to him and that Carthage should claim the empire of Italy as their own. They expressed neither surprise nor displeasure at this fickleness and levity in the hot-headed youth provided only they could keep him from declaring for Rome.
[24.7]But everything was hurrying him headlong into ruin. He had sent Hippocrates and Epicydes in advance, each with 2000 troops, to attempt some cities which were held by Roman garrisons, whilst he himself advanced to Leontini with 15,000 foot and horse, which comprised the rest of his army. The conspirators, all of whom happened to be in the army, took an empty house overlooking the narrow road by which the king usually went down to the forum. Whilst they were all standing in front of the house, fully armed, waiting for the king to pass, one of them, Dinomenes by name, in the royal body-guard, had the task assigned to him of keeping back the crowd in the rear, by some means or other, when the king approached the gate of the house. All was done as had been arranged. Pretending to loosen a knot which was too tight on his foot, Dinomenes stopped the crowd and made so wide a gap in it that when the king was attacked in the absence of his guards he was stabbed in several places before help could reach him. As soon as the shouting and tumult were heard the guard hurled their missiles on Dinomenes who was now unmistakably stopping the way, but he escaped with only two wounds. When they saw the king lying on the ground the attendants fled. Some of the assassins went to the people who had assembled in the forum, rejoicing in their recovered liberty, others hastened to Syracuse to forestall the designs of Andranodorus and the rest of the king's men. In this critical state of affairs Appius Claudius saw that a war was beginning close at hand, and he sent a despatch to the senate informing them that Sicily was being won over to Carthage and Hannibal. To frustrate the plans being formed at Syracuse, he moved all the garrisons to the frontier between the Roman province and the late king's dominion. At the close of the year Q. Fabius was authorised by the senate to fortify Puteoli, where there had grown up a considerable trade during the war, and also to place a garrison in it. On his way to Rome, where he was to conduct the elections, he gave notice that they would be held on the first election day that he could fix, and then to save time he marched past the City straight to the Campus Martius. That day the first voting fell by lot to the junior century of the tribe of the Anio, and they were giving their vote for T. Otacilius and M. Aemilius Regillus, when Q. Fabius, having obtained silence, made the following address:
[24.8]"If Italy were at peace, or if we had on our hands such a war and such an enemy as to allow room for less care on our part, I should consider any one who sought to check the eagerness with which you have come here to confer honour on the men of your choice as very forgetful of your liberties. But in this war, in dealing with this enemy, none of our generals has ever made a single mistake which has not involved us in the gravest disasters, and therefore it is only right that you should exercise your franchise in the election of consuls with as much circumspection as you show when going armed into battle. Every man must say to himself, 'I am nominating a consul who is to be a match for Hannibal.' It was during this year that Vibellius Taurea, the foremost of the Campanian knights challenged and was met by Asellus Claudius, the finest Roman horseman, at Capua. Against a Gaul, who once offered his defiance on the bridge over the Anio, our ancestors sent T Manlius, a man of undaunted courage and prowess. Not many years later it was in the same spirit of fearless confidence, I will make bold to say, that M. Valerius armed himself against the Gaul who challenged him in the same way to single combat. Just as we desire to have our infantry and cavalry stronger, or if that is impossible at least equal to the enemy, so we should look for a commander equal to his. Even if we choose as our commander the finest general in the republic, still he is only chosen for a year, and immediately after his election he will be pitted against a veteran and permanent strategist who is not shackled by any limitations of time or authority, or prevented from forming and executing any plans which the necessities of war may require. In our case, on the other hand, the year is gone simply in making preparations and commencing a campaign. I have said enough as to the sort of men you ought to elect as your consuls; let me say a word about the men in whose favour the first vote has already been given. M. Aemilius Regillus is a Flamen or Quirinus; we cannot discharge him from his sacred duties without neglecting our duty to the gods nor can we keep him at home without neglecting proper attention to the war. Otacilius married my sister's daughter and has children by her, but the obligations you have conferred on me and my ancestors are not such that I can place private relationship before the welfare of the State. In a calm sea any sailor, any passenger, can steer the ship, but when a violent storm arises and the vessel is driven by the wind over the raging waters then you want a man who is really a pilot. We are not sailing now in smooth water, already we have almost foundered in the many storms that have overtaken us, and therefore you must use the utmost foresight and caution in choosing the man who is to take the helm.
"As for you, T. Otacilius, we have had some experience of your conduct of comparatively unimportant operations, and you have certainly not shown any grounds for our entrusting you with more important ones. There were three objects for which we equipped the fleet this year which you commanded: it was to ravage the African coast, to render the coast of Italy safe for us, and, what was most important of all, to prevent any reinforcements, money, or supplies from being sent from Carthage to Hannibal. If T. Otacilius has carried out - I will not say all, but - any one of these objects for the State, then by all means elect him consul. But if, whilst you were in command of the fleet, everything required reached Hannibal safe and sound from home, if the coast of Italy has this year been in greater danger than the coast of Africa, what possible reason can you give why they should put you up, most of all, to oppose Hannibal? If you were consul we should have to follow the example of our forefathers and nominate a Dictator, and you could not take it as an insult that somebody amongst all the citizens of Rome was looked upon as a better strategist than yourself. It is of more importance to you, T. Otacilius, than it can be to any one else that you should not have a burden placed upon your shoulders whose weight would crush you. And to you, my fellow-citizens, I appeal most solemnly to remember what you are about to do. Imagine yourselves standing in your armed ranks on the field of battle; suddenly you are called upon to choose two commanders under whose auspicious generalship you are to fight. In the same spirit choose the consuls today to whom your children must take the oath, at whose edict they must assemble, under whose tutelage and protection they must serve. Trasumennus and Cannae are melancholy precedents to recall, but they are solemn warnings to guard against similar disasters. Usher! call back the century of juniors in the tribe of the Anio to give their votes again."
[24.9]T. Otacilius was in a state of great excitement, loudly exclaiming that Fabius wanted to have his consulship prolonged, and as he persisted in creating a disturbance the consul ordered the lictors to approach him and warned him that as he had marched straight to the Campus without entering the City, the axes were still bound up in the fasces. The voting had in the meantime recommenced, and the first was given in favour of Q. Fabius Maximus as consul for the fourth time and M. Marcellus for the third. All the other centuries voted without exception for the same men. One praetor was re-elected, Q Fulvius Flaccus, the others were fresh appointments; T. Otacilius Crassus, now praetor for the second time; Q. Fabius, a son of the consul and curule aedile at the time of his election; and P. Cornelius Lentulus. When the election of the praetors was finished the senate passed a resolution that Quintus Fulvius should have the City as his special province, and when the consuls had gone to the war he should command at home. There were two great floods this year; the Tiber inundated the fields, causing widespread destruction of farm-buildings and stock and much loss of life. It was in the fifth year of the second Punic war that Q. Fabius Maximus assumed the consulship for the fourth time and M. Claudius Marcellus for the third time. Their election excited an unusual amount of interest amongst the citizens, for it was many years since there had been such a pair of consuls. Old men remembered that Maximus Rullus had been similarly elected with P. Decius in view of the Gaulish war, and in the same way afterwards Papirius and Carvilius had been chosen consuls to act against the Samnites and Bruttians and also against the Lucanians and Tarentines. Marcellus was elected in his absence whilst he was with the army. Fabius was re-elected when he was on the spot and actually conducting the election. Irregular as this was, the circumstances at the time, the exigencies of the war, the critical position of the State prevented any one from inquiring into precedents or suspecting the consul of love of power. On the contrary, they praised his greatness of soul, because when he knew that the republic needed its greatest general, and that he was unquestionably himself the one, he thought less of any personal odium which he might incur than of the interest of the republic.
[24.10]On the day when the consuls entered upon office, a meeting of the senate was held in the Capitol. The very first decree passed was that the consuls should either draw lots or arrange between themselves which of them should conduct the election of censors before he left for the army. A second decree extended the command of the former consuls who were with their armies, and they were ordered to remain in their respective provinces; Ti. Gracchus at Luceria, where he was stationed with his army of volunteer slaves; C. Terentius Varro in the district of Picenum; Manius Pomponius in the land of the Gauls. The praetors of the former year were to act as propraetors; Q. Mucius was to hold Sardinia, and M. Valerius was to continue in command of the coast with his headquarters at Brundisium, where he was to be on the watch against any movement on the part of Philip of Macedon. The province of Sicily was assigned to P. Cornelius Lentulus, one of the praetors, and T. Otacilius was to command the same fleet which he had had the previous year, to act against the Carthaginians. Many portents were announced that year, and the more readily men of simple and pious minds believed in them the more numerously were they reported. Right in the inside of the temple of Juno Sospita at Lanuvium some crows had built a nest; in Apulia a green palm-tree had caught fire; at Mantua a pool formed by the overflow of the Mincius presented the appearance of blood; at Cales there was a rain of chalk stones, and at Rome, in the Forum Boarium, one of blood; in the Insteian quarter a subterranean spring flowed with such violence that it carried off some casks and jars in the cellars there as though they had been swept away by a torrent; various objects were struck by lightning, a public hall in the Capitol, the temple of Vulcan in the Campus Martius, some farm buildings in the Sabine territory; and the public road, the walls, and one of the gates of Gabii. Then other marvels were reported; the spear of Mars at Praeneste had moved of its own accord; in Sicily an ox had spoken; amongst the Marrucini an infant had cried "Io triumphe" in its mother's womb; at Spoletum a woman had been turned into a man; at Hadria an altar had been seen in the sky with men clothed in white standing round it; and lastly at Rome, in the very City itself, a swarm of bees was seen in the Forum and immediately afterwards some people raised the cry "To arms!" declaring that they saw armed legions on the Janiculum, though the people who were on the hill at the time said that they saw no one except those who were usually at work in the gardens there. These portents were expiated by victims of the larger kind in accordance with the directions of the diviners, and solemn intercessions were ordered to be made to all the deities who possessed shrines in Rome.
[24.11]When all had been done to secure "the peace of the gods," the consuls brought before the senate the questions relating to the policy of the State, the conduct of the war, and the amount and disposition of the military and naval forces of the republic. It was decided to place eighteen legions in the field. Each of the consuls was to have two, Gaul, Sicily, and Sardinia were each to be held by two, Q. Fabius, the praetor, was to take command of two in Apulia, and Ti. Gracchus was to keep his two legions of volunteer slaves at Luceria. One legion was left with C. Terentius at Picenum, and one also with M. Valerius at Brundisium for the fleet, and two were to defend the City. To make up this number of legions six new ones had to be raised. The consuls were directed to raise these as quickly as possible, and to fit out a fleet so that with the vessels stationed off the Calabrian coast the navy might that year be increased to 150 vessels of war. After the troops were levied and 100 new vessels launched, Q. Fabius held the election for the appointment of censors; those elected were M. Atilius Regulus and P. Furius Philus. As the rumours of war in Sicily became more frequent, T. Otacilius was directed to sail thither with his fleet. As there was a deficiency of sailors, the consuls, acting upon the instructions of the senate, published an order to meet the case. Every one who had been assessed or whose father had been assessed in the censorship of L. Aemilius and C. Flaminius at from 50,000 to 100,000 ases or whose property had since reached that amount, was to furnish one sailor with six months' pay; those whose assessment was from 100,000 to 300,000 were to supply three sailors with twelve months' pay; from 300,000 to 1,000,000 the contribution was to be five sailors, and above that amount seven. The senators were to furnish eight sailors and a year's pay. The sailors forthcoming under this order, after being armed and equipped by their masters, went on board with thirty days' rations. This was the first occasion on which a Roman fleet was manned by seamen provided at private cost.
[24.12]The extraordinary scale on which these preparations were made threw the Campanians into a state of consternation; they were in dread lest the Romans should begin their campaigns for the year by besieging Capua. So they sent to Hannibal imploring him to move his army to Capua; fresh armies, they informed him, had been raised in Rome with a view to attacking them, and there was no city whose defection the Romans more bitterly resented than theirs. Owing to the urgency of the message, Hannibal felt he ought to lose no time in case the Romans anticipated him, and leaving Arpi he took up his position in his old camp at Tifata, overlooking Capua. Leaving his Numidians and Spaniards to protect the camp and Capua at the same time, he descended with the rest of his army to Lake Avernus, ostensibly for the purpose of offering sacrifice, but really to make an attempt on Puteoli and the garrison there. As soon as the news of Hannibal's departure from Arpi and his return to Campania reached Maximus, he returned to his army, travelling night and day, and sent orders to Ti. Gracchus to move his forces from Luceria to Beneventum, whilst Q. Fabius, the praetor, the consul's son, was instructed to take Gracchus' place at Luceria. Two praetors started at the same time for Sicily, P. Cornelius to the army and T. Otacilius to take charge of the coast and direct the naval affairs. The others all left for their respective provinces, and those whose command had been extended kept the districts they had held the year before.
[24.13]While Hannibal was at Lake Avernus he was visited by five young nobles from Tarentum who had been made prisoners, some at Trasumennus and the others at Cannae, and afterwards sent to their homes with the same courteous treatment that the Carthaginian had shown to all the allies of Rome. They told him that they had not forgotten his kindness, and out of gratitude had persuaded most of the younger men in Tarentum to choose the friendship and alliance of Hannibal in preference to that of the Romans; they had been sent by their compatriots to ask him to march his army nearer to Tarentum. "If only," they declared, "your standards and camp are visible at Tarentum, there will be no hesitation in making the city over to you. The populace is in the hands of the younger men, and the government of Tarentum is in the hands of the populace." Hannibal expressed his warm approval of their sentiments, loaded them with splendid promises, and bade them return home to mature their plans. He would himself be with them at the right time. With this hope the Tarentines were dismissed. Hannibal himself was extremely anxious to gain possession of Tarentum; he saw that it was a wealthy and famous city, and, what was more, it was a maritime city on the coast opposite Macedonia, and as the Romans were holding Brundisium, this would be the port that King Philip would make for if he sailed to Italy. After performing the sacred rites which were the object of his coming, and having during his stay laid waste the territory of Cumae as far as the promontory of Misenum, he suddenly marched to Puteoli, hoping to surprise the Roman garrison. There were 6000 troops there, and the place was not only one of great strength, but had also been strongly fortified. The Carthaginian spent three days there in attempting the fortress on every side, and as he met with no success he proceeded to ravage the district round Naples, more out of disappointed rage than in hopes of gaining possession of the city. The populace of Nola, who had long been disaffected towards Rome and at variance with their own senate, were greatly excited by his presence in a territory so close to their own. Their envoys accordingly came to invite Hannibal and brought him a positive assurance that the city would be delivered up to him. Their design was forestalled by the consul Marcellus, who had been summoned by the leading citizens. In one day he marched from Cales to Suessula in spite of the delay involved in crossing the Vulturnus, and the following night he threw into Nola 6000 infantry and 500 cavalry as a protection to the senate. While the consul was acting with the utmost energy in making Nola safe against attack, Hannibal was losing time, and after two unsuccessful attempts was less inclined to put faith in the populace of Nola.
[24.14]During this time the consul, Q. Fabius, made an attempt on Casilinum, which was held by a Carthaginian garrison, while, as though they were acting in concert, Hanno, marching from Bruttium with a strong body of horse and foot, reached Beneventum on the one side and Ti. Gracchus, from Luceria, approached it in the opposite direction. He got into the town first, and hearing that Hanno had encamped by the river Caloris about three miles from the city and was ravaging the country, he moved out of the place and fixed his camp about a mile from the enemy. Here he harangued his troops. His legions were composed mostly of volunteer slaves who had made up their minds to earn their liberty, without murmuring, by another year's service rather than demand it openly. He had, however, on leaving his winter quarters noticed that there were discontented "rumblings going on in the army, men were asking whether they would ever serve as free men. In consequence of this he had sent a despatch to the senate in which he stated that the question was not so much what they wanted as what they deserved; they had rendered him good and gallant service up to that day, and they only fell short of the standard of regular soldiers in the matter of personal freedom. On that point permission had been granted to him to do what he thought best in the interests of the State. So before closing with the enemy he announced that the hour which they had so long hoped for, when they would gain their freedom, had now come. The next day he was going to fight a pitched battle in a free and open plain where there would be full scope for true courage without any fear of ambuscade. Whoever brought back the head of an enemy would be at once by his orders declared to be a free man; whoever quitted his place in the ranks he would punish with a slave's death. Every man's fortune was in his own hands. It was not he alone that guaranteed their liberty, but the consul Marcellus also and the whole of the senate whom he had consulted and who had left the question of their liberty to him. He then read the despatch from Marcellus and the resolution passed in the senate. These were greeted with a loud and ringing cheer. They demanded to be led at once to battle and pressed him forthwith to give the signal. Gracchus announced that the battle would take place the next day and then dismissed the men to quarters. The soldiers were in high spirits, those especially who had the prospect of earning their freedom by one day's strenuous work, and they spent the rest of the day in getting their arms and armour ready.
[24.15]When the bugles began to sound the next morning the volunteer slaves were the first to muster in front of the headquarters' tent, armed and ready. As soon as the sun was risen Gracchus led his forces into the field, and the enemy showed no slackness in meeting him. He had 17,000 infantry, mostly Bruttians and Lucanians, and 1200 cavalry, amongst whom were very few Italians, the rest were almost all Numidians and Moors. The battle was a severe and protracted one; for four hours neither side gained any advantage. Nothing hampered the Romans more than the setting a price upon the heads of their foes, the price of liberty, for no sooner had any one made a furious attack upon an enemy and killed him than he lost time in cutting off his head - a difficult matter in the tumult and turmoil of the battle - and then, as their right hands were occupied in holding the heads all the best soldiers were no longer able to fight, and the battle was left to the slow and the timid. The military tribunes reported to their general that not a man of the enemy was being wounded as he stood, whilst those who had fallen were being butchered and the soldiers were carrying human heads in their right hands instead of swords. Gracchus made them at once give the order to throw down the heads and attack the enemy, and to tell them that their courage was sufficiently clear and conspicuous, and that there would be no question about liberty for brave men. On this the fighting was renewed and even the cavalry were sent against the enemy. The Numidians made a countercharge with great impetuosity, and the fighting became as fierce between the cavalry as it was amongst the infantry, making the issue of the contest again uncertain. The generals on both sides now appealed to their men; the Roman pointed to the Bruttians and Lucanians who had been so often defeated and crushed by their ancestors; the Carthaginian showered contempt upon Roman slaves and soldiers taken out of the workshops. At last Gracchus gave out that there would be no hope whatever of liberty if the enemy were not routed and put to flight that day.
[24.16]These words so kindled their courage that they seemed like different men; they raised the battle shout again and flung themselves on the enemy with such force that their attack could no longer be withstood. The Carthaginian ranks in front of the standards were broken, then the soldiers round the standards were thrown into disorder, and at last their entire army became a scene of confusion. Soon they were unmistakably routed, and they rushed to their camp in such haste and panic that not even in the gates or on the rampart was there any attempt at resistance. The Romans followed almost on their heels and commenced a fresh battle inside the enemies' rampart. Here the combatants had less space to move and the battle was all the more bloody. The prisoners in the camp also helped the Romans, for they snatched up swords amid the confusion and, forming a solid phalanx, they fell upon the Carthaginians in the rear and stopped their flight. Out of that large army not 2000 men escaped, and amongst these were the greater part of the cavalry who got clear away with their general, all the rest were either killed or made prisoners, and thirty-eight standards were captured. Of the victors hardly 2000 fell. The whole of the plunder, with the exception of the prisoners, was given to the soldiers; whatever cattle the owners claimed within thirty days were also excepted.
On their return to camp, laden with booty, some 4000 of the volunteer slaves who had shown remissness in the fighting and had not joined in the rush into the camp took possession of a hill not far from their own camp as they were afraid of punishment. The next day Gracchus ordered a parade of his army, and these men were brought down by their officers and entered the camp after the rest of the army was mustered. The proconsul first bestowed military rewards on the veterans, according to the courage and activity they had shown in the battle. Then turning to the volunteer slaves he said that he would much rather have praised all alike, whether deserving or undeserving, than that any man should be punished that day. "And," he continued, "I pray that what I am now doing may prove to be for the benefit, happiness, and felicity of yourselves and of the commonwealth - I bid you all be free." At these words they broke out into a storm of cheering; at one moment they embraced and congratulated each other, at another they lifted up their hands to heaven and prayed that every blessing might descend upon the people of Rome and upon Gracchus himself. Gracchus continued: "Before making you all equal as free men I did not want to affix any mark by which the brave soldier could be distinguished from the coward, but now that the State has fulfilled its promise to you I shall not let all distinction between courage and cowardice be lost. I shall require the names to be brought to me of those who, conscious of their skulking in battle, lately seceded from us, and when they have been summoned before me I shall make each of them take an oath that he will never as long as he is with the colours, unless prevented by illness, take his meals other than standing. You will be quite reconciled to this small penalty when you reflect that it would have been impossible to mark you with any lighter stigma for your cowardice."
He then gave orders for the tents and other things to be packed up, and the soldiers carrying their plunder or driving it in front of them with mirth and jest returned to Beneventum in such happy laughing spirits that they seemed to be coming back after a day of revelry rather than after a day of battle. The whole population of Beneventum poured out in crowds to meet them at the gates; they embraced and congratulated the soldiers and invited them to partake of their hospitality. Tables had been spread for them all in the forecourts of the houses; the citizens invited the men and begged Gracchus to allow his troops to enjoy a feast. Gracchus consented on condition that they all banqueted in public view, and each citizen brought out his provision and placed his tables in front of his door. The volunteers, now no longer slaves, wore white caps or fillets of white wool round their heads at the feast; some were reclining, others remained standing, waiting on the others and taking their food at the same time. Gracchus thought the scene worth commemorating, and on his return to Rome he ordered a representation of that celebrated day to be painted in the temple of Liberty; the temple which his father had built and dedicated on the Aventine out of the proceeds of the fines.
[24.17]During these proceedings at Beneventum, Hannibal, after ravaging the Neapolitan territory, shifted his camp to Nola. As soon as the consul became aware of his approach he sent for Pomponius, the propraetor, to join him with the army which was in camp above Suessula, and prepared to meet the enemy without delay. He sent C. Claudius Nero with the best of the cavalry out through the camp gate which was furthest from the enemy, in the dead of night, with instructions to ride round to the rear of the enemy without being observed and follow him slowly, and when he saw the battle begin, throw himself across his rear. Nero was unable to follow out his instructions, whether because he lost his way or because he had not sufficient time is uncertain. The battle commenced in his absence and the Romans undoubtedly had the advantage, but owing to the cavalry not making their appearance in time the general's plans were all upset. Marcellus did not venture to pursue the retreating Carthaginians, and gave the signal for retreat though his soldiers were actually conquering. It is asserted that more than 2000 of the enemy were killed that day, whilst the Romans lost less than 400. About sunset Nero returned with his horses and men tired out to no purpose and without having even seen the enemy. He was severely censured by the consul who even went so far as to say that it was entirely his fault that they had not inflicted on the enemy in his turn a defeat as crushing as the one at Cannae. The next day the Romans marched into the field, but the Carthaginian remained in camp, thereby tacitly admitting that he was vanquished. The following day he gave up all hope of gaining possession of Nola, his attempts having been always foiled, and proceeded to Tarentum, where he had better hopes of securing the place through treachery.
[24.18]The government showed quite as much energy at home as in the field. Owing to the emptiness of the treasury the censors were released from the task of letting out public works to contract, and they devoted their attention to the regulation of public morals and the castigation of the vices which sprang up during the war, just as constitutions enfeebled by long illness naturally develop other evils. They began by summoning before them those who were reported to have formed plans for abandoning Italy after the defeat of Cannae; the principal person concerned, M. Caecilius Metellus, happened to be praetor at the time. He and the rest who were involved in the charge were put upon their trial, and as they were unable to clear themselves the censors pronounced them guilty of having uttered treasonable language both privately and publicly in order that a conspiracy might be formed for abandoning Italy. Next to these were summoned those who had been too clever in explaining how they were absolved from their oath, the prisoners who imagined that when they had furtively gone back, after once starting, to Hannibal's camp they were released from the oath which they had taken to return. In their case and in that of those above mentioned, all who possessed horses at the cost of the State were deprived of them, and they were all removed from their tribes and disfranchised. Nor were the attentions of the censors confined to the senate or the equestrian order, they took out from the registers of the junior centuries the names of all those who had not served for four years, unless formally exempted or incapacitated by sickness, and the names of above 2000 men were removed from the tribes and the men disfranchised. This drastic procedure of the censors was followed by severe action on the part of the senate. They passed a resolution that all those whom the censors had degraded were to serve as foot soldiers and be sent to the remains of the army of Cannae in Sicily. This class of soldiers was only to terminate its service when the enemy had been driven out of Italy.
As the censors were now abstaining, owing to the emptiness of the treasury, from making any contracts for repairs to the sacred edifices or for supplying chariot horses or similar objects, they were frequently approached by those who had been in the habit of tendering for these contracts, and urged to conduct all their business and let out the contracts just as if there was money in the treasury. No one, they said, would ask for money from the exchequer till the war was over. Then came the owners of the slaves whom Tiberius Sempronius had manumitted at Beneventum. They stated that they had had notice from the financial commissioners that they were to receive the value of their slaves, but they would not accept it till the war was at an end. While the plebeians were thus showing their readiness to meet the difficulties of an empty exchequer, the moneys of minors and wards and then of widows began to be deposited, those who brought the money believing that their deposits would not be safer or more scrupulously protected anywhere than when they were under the guarantee of the State. Whatever was bought or provided for the minors and widows was paid for by a bill of exchange on the quaestor. This generous spirit on the part of individual citizens spread from the City to the camp, so that not a single horse soldier, not a single centurion would accept pay; whoever did accept it received the opprobrious epithet of "mercenary."
[24.19]It has been stated above that the consul, Q. Fabius, was encamped near Casilinum, which was held by a garrison of 2000 Campanians and 700 of Hannibal's troops. Statius Metius had been sent by Gnaevius Magius of Atella, who was the "medixtuticus" for that year, to take command, and he had armed the populace and the slaves indiscriminately in order to attack the Roman camp while the consul was engaged in the assault on the town. Fabius was perfectly aware of all that was going on, and he sent word to his colleague at Nola that a second army would be needed to hold the Campanians while he was delivering the assault, and either he should come himself and leave a sufficient force at Nola, or, if there was still danger to be apprehended from Hannibal and Nola required his presence, he should recall Tiberius Gracchus from Beneventum. On receipt of this message Marcellus left 2000 men to protect Nola and came with the rest of his army to Casilinum. His arrival put an end to any movement on the part of the Campanians, and Casilinum was now besieged by both consuls. Many of the Roman soldiers were wounded by rashly venturing too near the walls, and the operations were by no means successful. Fabius thought that the enterprise, which was of small importance though quite as difficult as more important ones, ought to be abandoned, and that they ought to go where more serious business awaited them. Marcellus urged that while there were many things which a great general ought not to undertake, still, when he had undertaken them, he ought not to let them drop, as in either case it had great influence on public opinion. He succeeded in preventing the siege from being abandoned. Now the assault commenced in earnest, and when the vineae and siege works and artillery of every kind were brought against the walls, the Campanians begged Fabius to be allowed to depart under safe conduct to Capua. After a few had got outside the town Marcellus occupied the gate through which they were leaving, and an indiscriminate slaughter began, first amongst those near the gate and then, after the troops burst in, in the city itself. About fifty of the Campanians had already passed out and they fled to Fabius, under whose protection they reached Capua. During these parleys, and the delay occasioned by those who appealed for protection, the besiegers found their opportunity and Casilinum was taken. The Campanians and those of Hannibal's troops who were made prisoners were sent to Rome and shut up in prison; the mass of the townsfolk were distributed amongst the neighbouring communities to be kept in custody.
[24.20]Just at the time when the consuls were withdrawing from Casilinum after their success, Gracchus sent some cohorts, which he had raised in Lucania under an officer of the allies, on a plundering expedition in the enemy's territory. Whilst they were scattered in all directions Hanno attacked them and inflicted on them as great a loss as he had suffered at Beneventum, after which he hurriedly retreated into Bruttium lest Gracchus should be on his track. Marcellus went back to Nola, Fabius marched into Samnium to lay waste the country and to recover by force of arms the cities which had revolted. His hand fell most heavily on Caudium; the crops were burnt far and wide, cattle and men were driven away as plunder, their towns were taken by assault; Compulteria, Telesia, Compsa, and after these Fugifulae and Orbitanium, amongst the Lucanians Blandae and the Apulian town of Aecae, were all captured. In these places 25,000 of the enemy were either killed or made prisoners and 370 deserters were taken, whom the consul sent on to Rome; they were all scourged in the Comitium and then flung from the rock. All these successes were gained by Q. Fabius within a few days. Marcellus was compelled to remain quiet at Nola owing to illness. The praetor, Q. Fabius, was also meeting with success; he was operating in the country round Luceria and captured the town of Acuca, after which he established a standing camp at Ardaneae.
While the Roman generals were thus engaged elsewhere Hannibal had reached Tarentum, utterly ruining and destroying everything as he advanced. It was not till he was in the territory of Tarentum that his army began to advance peaceably; no injury was inflicted, no foragers or plunderers left the line of march, and it was quite apparent that this self-restraint on the part of the general and his men was solely with a view to winning the sympathies of the Tarentines. When, however, he went up to the walls and there was no such movement as he expected at the sight of his army, he went into camp about a mile from the city. Three days before his arrival M. Valerius, the propraetor, who was in command of the fleet at Brundisium, had sent M. Livius to Tarentum. He speedily embodied a force out of the young nobility, and posted detachments at the gates and on the walls wherever it seemed necessary, and by being ever on the alert day and night gave no chance to either the enemy or the untrustworthy allies of making any attempt themselves or hoping for anything from Hannibal. After spending some days there fruitlessly and finding that none of those who had paid him a visit at Lake Avernus either came in person or sent any messenger or letter, he recognised that he had been misled by empty promises and withdrew his army. He still abstained from doing any injury to the Tarentine territory, although this affectation of mildness had done him no good so far. He still clung to the hope of undermining their loyalty to Rome. When he came to Salapia the summer was now over, and as the place seemed suitable for winter quarters he provisioned it with corn collected from the country round Metapontum and Heraclea. From this centre the Numidians and Moors were sent on marauding expeditions through the Sallentine district and the pasture lands bordering on Apulia; they brought away mostly quantities of horses, not much plunder of other kinds, and as many as 4000 of these were distributed amongst the troopers to be trained.
[24.21]A war was threatening in Sicily which could by no means be treated lightly, for the death of the tyrant had rather furnished the Syracusans with able and energetic leaders than produced any change in their political sentiments. The senate accordingly placed the other consul, M. Marcellus, in charge of that province. Immediately after the death of Hieronymus a disturbance broke out among the soldiery at Leontini; they loudly demanded that the murder of the king should be atoned for by the blood of the conspirators. When, however, the words, so delightful to hear, "the restoration of liberty," were constantly uttered, and they were led to hope that they would receive a largesse out of the royal treasure and would henceforth serve under more able generals, when, too, the foul crimes and still fouler lusts of the late tyrant were recounted to them, their feelings were so completely changed that they allowed the body of the king, whose loss they had regretted, to lie unburied. The rest of the conspirators remained behind to secure the army, whilst Theodotus and Sosis, mounting the king's horses, rode at full speed to Syracuse to crush the royalists while still ignorant of all that had happened. Rumour, however, which on such occasions travels more quickly than anything else, reached the city before them, and also one of the royal servants had brought the news. Thus forewarned, Andranodorus had occupied with strong garrisons the Island, the citadel, and all the other suitable positions. Theodotus and Sosis rode in through the Hexapylon after sunset when it was growing dark and displayed the blood-stained robe of the king and the diadem that had adorned his head. Then they rode on through the Tycha, and summoning the people to liberty and to arms bade them assemble in the Achradina. Some of the population ran out into the streets, others stood in the doorways, others looked out from the windows and the roofs inquiring what was the matter. Lights were visible everywhere and the whole city was in an uproar. Those who had arms mustered in the open spaces of the city; those who had none tore down the spoils of the Gauls and Illyrians which the Roman people had given to Hiero and which he had hung up in the temple of Olympian Jupiter, and as they did so prayed to the deity that he would of his grace and mercy lend them those consecrated arms to use in defence of the shrines of the gods and in defence of their liberty. The citizens were joined by the troops who had been posted in the different parts of the city. Amongst the other places in the Island Andranodorus had strongly occupied the public granary. This place, enclosed by a wall of large stone blocks and fortified like a citadel, was held by a body of young men told off for its defence, and they sent messengers to the Achradina to say that the granaries and the corn stored there were in the possession of the senate.
[24.22]As soon as it was light the whole population, armed and unarmed, assembled at the Senate-house in the Achradina. There, in front of the temple of Concord, which was situated there, Polyaenus, one of the prominent citizens, made a speech which breathed of freedom but at the same time counselled moderation. "Men," he said, "who have experienced the fear and the humiliation of slavery are stung to rage against an evil which they know well. What disasters civil discord brings in its train, you, Syracusans, have heard from your fathers rather than witnessed yourselves. I praise your action in so promptly taking up arms, I shall praise you more if you do not use them unless compelled to do so as a last resort. I should advise you to send envoys at once to Andranodorus and warn him to submit to the authority of the senate and people, to open the gates of the Island, and surrender the fort. If he chooses to usurp the sovereignty of which he has been appointed guardian, then I tell you you must show much more determination in recovering your liberties from him than you did from Hieronymus."
Envoys were accordingly sent. A meeting of the senate was then held. During the reign of Hiero this body had continued to act as the great council of the nation, but after his death it had never up to that day been summoned or consulted about any matter whatever. Andranodorus, on the arrival of the envoys, was much impressed by the unanimity of the people and also by the seizure of various points in the city, especially in the Island, the most strongly fortified position in which had been betrayed to his opponents. But his wife, Demarata, a daughter of Hiero, with all the spirit of a princess and the ambition of a woman, called him aside from the envoys and reminded him of an oft-quoted saying of Dionysius the tyrant that one ought to relinquish sovereign power when dragged by the heels not when mounted on a horse. It was easy for any one who wished to resign in a moment a great position, but to create and secure it was a difficult and arduous task. She advised him to ask the envoys for time for consultation, and to employ that time in summoning the troops from Leontini; if he promised to give them the royal treasure, he would have everything in his own power. These feminine suggestions Andranodorus did not wholly reject, nor did he at once adopt them. He thought the safest way of gaining power was to yield for the time being, so he told the envoys to take back word that he should submit to the authority of the senate and people. The next day as soon as it was light he opened the gates of the Island and entered the forum in the Achradina. He went up to the altar of Concord, from which the day before Polyaenus had addressed the people; and began his speech by apologising for his delay. "I have," he went on, "it is true, closed the gates, but not because I regard my interests as separate from those of the State, but because I felt misgivings, when once the sword was drawn, as to how far the thirst for blood might carry you, whether you would be content with the death of the tyrant, which amply secures your liberty, or whether every one who had been connected with the palace by relationship or by official position was to be put to death as being involved in another's guilt. As soon as I saw that those who freed their country meant to keep it free and that all were consulting the public good, I had no hesitation in giving back to my country my person and all that had been entrusted to my protection now that he who committed them to me has perished through his own madness." Then turning to the king's assassins and addressing Theodotus and Sosis by name, he said, "You have wrought a deed that will be remembered but, believe me, your reputation has yet to be made, and unless you strive for peace and concord there is a most serious danger ahead; the State will perish in its freedom."
[24.23]With these words he laid the keys of the gates and of the royal treasury at their feet. The assembly was then dismissed for the day and the joyful citizens accompanied by their wives and children offered thanksgivings at all the temples. The next day the election was held for the appointment of praetors. Amongst the first to be elected was Andranodorus, the rest were mostly men who had taken part in the tyrant's death; two were elected in their absence, Sopater and Dinomenes. These two, on hearing what had happened at Syracuse, brought that part of the royal treasure which was at Leontini and delivered it into the charge of specially appointed quaestors, that portion which was in the Island was also handed over to them in Achradina. That part of the wall which shut off the Island from the city by a needlessly strong barrier was with the unanimous approval of the citizens thrown down, and all the other measures taken were in harmony with the general desire for liberty. As soon as Hippocrates and Epicydes heard of the tyrant's death, which Hippocrates had tried to conceal by putting the messenger to death, finding themselves deserted by their soldiers they returned to Syracuse, as this seemed the safest course under the circumstances. To avoid attracting observation or being suspected of plotting a counter-revolution, they approached the praetors, and through them were admitted to an audience of the senate. They declared publicly that they had been sent by Hannibal to Hieronymus as to a friend and ally; they had obeyed the commands of the men whom their general Hannibal had wished them to obey, and now they were anxious to return to Hannibal. The journey, however, was not a safe one, for the Romans were to be found in every part of Sicily; they requested therefore that they might have an escort to conduct them to Socri in Italy, in this way the Syracusans would confer a great obligation on Hannibal with very little trouble to themselves. The request was very readily granted, for they were anxious to see the last of the king's generals who were not only able commanders but also needy and daring adventurers. But Hippocrates and Epicydes did not execute their purpose with the promptness which seemed necessary. These young men, thorough soldiers themselves and living in familiar intercourse with soldiers, went about amongst the troops, amongst the deserters, consisting to a large extent of Roman seamen, and even amongst the dregs of the populace, spreading libellous charges against the senate and the aristocracy, whom they accused of secretly plotting and contriving to bring Syracuse under the suzerainty of Rome under the presence of renewing the alliance. Then, they hinted, the small faction which had been the prime agents in renewing the treaty would be the masters of the city.
[24.24]These slanders were listened to and believed in by the crowds which flocked to Syracuse in greater numbers every day, and not only Epicydes but even Andranodorus began to entertain hopes of a successful revolution. The latter was constantly being warned by his wife that now was the time to seize the reins of power whilst a new and unorganised liberty had thrown everything into confusion, while a soldiery, battening on the royal donative, was ready to his hand, and while Hannibal's emissaries, generals who could handle troops, were able to aid his enterprise. Wearied out at last by her importunity he communicated his design to Themistus, the husband of Gelo's daughter, and a few days later he incautiously disclosed it to a certain Aristo, a tragic actor to whom he had been in the habit of confiding other secrets. Aristo was a man of respectable family and position, nor did his profession in any way disgrace him, for among the Greeks nothing of that kind is a thing to be ashamed of. This being his character, he thought that his country had the first and strongest claim on his loyalty, and he laid an information before the praetors. As soon as they ascertained by decisive evidence that it was no merely trumped up affair they consulted the elder senators and on their authority placed a guard at the door and slew Themistus and Andranodorus as they entered the Senate-house. A disturbance was raised at what appeared an atrocious crime by those who were ignorant of the reason, and the praetors, having at last obtained silence, introduced the informer into the senate. The man gave all the details of the story in regular order. The conspiracy was first started at the time of the marriage of Gelo's daughter Harmonia to Themistus; some of the African and Spanish auxiliary troops had been told off to murder the praetor and the rest of the principal citizens and had been promised their property by way of reward; further, a band of mercenaries, in the pay of Andranodorus, were in readiness to seize the Island a second time. Then he put before their eyes the several parts which each were to play and the whole organisation of the conspiracy with the men and the arms that were to be employed. The senate were quite convinced that the death of these men was as justly deserved as that of Hieronymus, but clamours arose from the crowd in front of the Senate-house, who were divided in their sympathies and doubtful as to what was going on. As they pressed forward with threatening shouts into the vestibule, the sight of the conspirators' bodies so appalled them that they became silent and followed the rest of the population who were proceeding calmly to hold an assembly. Sopater was commissioned by the senate and by his colleagues to explain the position of affairs.
[24.25]He began by reviewing the past life of the dead conspirators, as though he were putting them on their trial, and showed how all the scandalous and impious crimes that had been committed since Hiero's death were the work of Andranodorus and Themistus. "For what," he asked, "could a boy like Hieronymus, who was hardly in his teens, have done on his own initiative? His guardians and masters reigned unmolested because the odium fell on another; they ought to have perished before Hieronymus or at all events when he did. Yet these, men, deservedly marked out for death, committed fresh crimes after the tyrant's decease; at first openly, when Andranodorus closed the gates of the Island and, by declaring himself heir to the crown, seized, as though he were the rightful owner, what he had held simply as trustee. Then, when he was abandoned by all in the Island and kept at bay by the whole body of the citizens who held the Achradina, he tried by secret craft to attain the sovereignty which he had failed to secure by open violence. He could not be turned from his purpose even by the favour shown him and the honour conferred, when he who was plotting against liberty was elected praetor with those who had won their country's freedom. But it was really the wives who were responsible and who, being of royal blood, had filled their husbands with a passion for royalty, for one of the men had married Hiero's daughter, the other a daughter of Gelo." At these words shouts rose from the whole assembly declaring that neither of these women ought to live, and that no single member of the royal family ought to survive. Such is the character of the mob; either they are cringing slaves or ruthless tyrants. As for the liberty which lies between these extremes, they are incapable of losing it without losing their self-respect, or possessing it without falling into licentious excesses. Nor are there, as a rule, wanting men, willing tools, to pander to their passions and excite their bitter and vindictive feelings to bloodshed and murder. It was just in this spirit that the praetors at once brought forward a motion which was adopted almost before it was proposed, that all the blood royal should be exterminated. Emissaries from the praetors put to death Demarata and Harmonia, the daughters of Hiero and Gelo and the wives of Andranodorus and Themistus.
[24.26]There was another daughter of Hiero's, Heraclia, the wife of Zoippus, a man whom Hieronymus had sent on an embassy to Ptolemy, and who had chosen to remain in voluntary exile. As soon as she learned that the executioners were coming to her she fled for sanctuary into the private chapel where the household gods were, accompanied by her unmarried daughters with their hair dishevelled and everything in their appearance which could appeal to pity. This silent appeal she strengthened by remonstrances and prayers. She implored the executioners by the memory of her father Hiero and her brother Gelo not to allow an innocent woman like her to fall a victim to the hatred felt for Hieronymus. "All that I have gained by his reign is my husband's exile; in his lifetime my sisters' fortunes were very different from mine and now that he has been killed our interests are not the same. Why! had Andranodorus' designs succeeded, her sister would have shared her husband's throne and the rest would have been her slaves. Is there one of you who doubts that if any one were to announce to Zoippus the assassination of Hieronymus and the recovery of liberty for Syracuse, he would not at once take ship and return to his native land? How are all human hopes falsified! Now his country is free and his wife and children are battling for their lives, and in what are they opposing freedom and law? What danger is there for any man in a lonely, all but widowed woman and daughters who are living in orphanhood? Ah, but even if there is no danger to be feared from us, we are of the hated royal birth. Then banish us far from Syracuse and Sicily, order us to be transported to Alexandria, send the wife to her husband, the daughters to their father."
She saw that ears and hearts were deaf to her appeals and that some were getting their swords ready without further loss of time. Then, no longer praying for herself, she implored them, to spare her daughters; their tender age even an exasperated enemy would respect. "Do not," she cried, "in wreaking vengeance on tyrants, imitate the crimes which have made them so hated." In the midst of her cries they dragged her out of the chapel and killed her. Then they attacked the daughters who were bespattered with their mother's blood. Distracted by grief and terror they dashed like mad things out of the chapel, and, could they have escaped into the street, they would have created a tumult all through the city. Even as it was, in the confined space of the house they for some time eluded all those armed men without being hurt, and freed themselves from those who got hold of them, though they had to struggle out of so many strong hands. At last, exhausted by wounds, while the whole place was covered by their blood, they fell lifeless to the ground. Their fate, pitiable in any case, was made still more so by an evil chance, for very soon after all was over a messenger came to forbid their being killed. The popular sentiment had changed to the side of mercy, and mercy soon passed into self-accusing anger for they had been so hasty to punish that they had left no time for repentance or for their passions to cool down. Angry remonstrances were heard everywhere against the praetors, and the people insisted upon an election to fill the places of Andranodorus and Themistus, a proceeding by no means to the liking of the other praetors.
[24.27]When the day fixed for the election arrived, to the surprise of all, a man from the back of the crowd proposed Epicydes, then another nominated Hippocrates. The voices of their supporters become more and more numerous and evidently carried with them the assent of the people. As a matter of fact the gathering was a very mixed one; there were not only citizens, but a crowd of soldiers present, and a large proportion of deserters, ripe for a complete revolution, were mingled with them. The praetors pretended at first not to hear and tried hard to delay the proceedings; at last, powerless before a unanimous assembly, and dreading a seditious outbreak, they declared them to be duly elected praetors. They did not reveal their designs immediately they were appointed, though they were extremely annoyed at envoys having gone to Appius Claudius to arrange a ten days' truce, and at others having been sent, after it was arranged, to discuss the renewal of the ancient treaty. The Romans had at the time a fleet of a hundred vessels at Murgantia awaiting the issue of the disturbances which the massacre of the royal family had created in Syracuse and the effect upon the people of their new and untried freedom. During that time the Syracusan envoys had been sent by Appius to Marcellus on his arrival in Sicily, and Marcellus, after hearing the proposed terms of peace, thought that the matter could be arranged and accordingly sent envoys to Syracuse to discuss publicly with the praetors the question of renewing the treaty. But now there was nothing like the same state of quiet and tranquillity in the city. As soon as news came that a Carthaginian fleet was off Pachynum, Hippocrates and Epicydes, throwing off all fear, went about amongst the mercenaries and then amongst the deserters declaring that Syracuse was being betrayed to the Romans. When Appius brought his ships to anchor at the mouth of the harbour in the hope of increasing the confidence of those who belonged to the other party, these groundless insinuations received to all appearance strong confirmation, and at the first sight of the fleet the people ran down to the harbour in a state of great excitement to prevent them from making any attempt to land.
[24.28]As affairs were in such a disturbed condition it was decided to hold an assembly. Here the most divergent views were expressed and things seemed to be approaching an outbreak of civil war when one of their foremost citizens, Apollonides, rose and made what was under the circumstances a wise and patriotic speech. "No city," he said, "has ever had a brighter prospect of permanent security or a stronger chance of being utterly ruined than we have at the present moment. If we are all agreed in our policy, whether it take the side of Rome or the side of Carthage, no state will be in a more prosperous and happy condition; if we all pull different ways, the war between the Carthaginians and the Romans will not be a more bitter one than between the Syracusans themselves, shut up as they are within the same walls, each side with its own army, its own munitions of war, its own general. We must then do our very utmost to secure unanimity. Which alliance will be the more advantageous to us is a much less important question, and much less depends upon it, but still I think that we ought to be guided by the authority of Hiero in choosing our allies rather than by that of Hieronymus; in any case we ought to prefer a tried friendship of fifty years' standing to one of which we now know nothing and once found untrustworthy. There is also another serious consideration - we can decline to come to terms with the Carthaginians without having to fear immediate hostilities with them, but with the Romans it is a question of either peace or an immediate declaration of war." The absence of personal ambition and party spirit from this speech gave it all the greater weight, and a council of war was at once summoned, in which the praetors and a select number of senators were joined by the officers and commanders of the auxiliaries. There were frequent heated discussions, but finally, as there appeared to be no possible means of carrying on a war with Rome, it was decided to conclude a peace and to send an embassy along with the envoys who had come from Marcellus to obtain its ratification.
[24.29]Not many days elapsed before a deputation came from Leontini begging for a force to protect their territory. This request seemed to afford a most favourable opportunity for relieving the city of a number of insubordinate and disorderly characters and getting rid of their leaders. Hippocrates received orders to march the deserters to Leontini, with these and a large body of mercenaries he made up a force of 4000 men. The expedition was welcomed both by those who were despatched and those who were despatching them: the former saw the opportunity, long hoped for, of effecting a revolution; the latter were thankful that the dregs of the city were being cleared out. It was, however, only a temporary alleviation of the disease, which afterwards became all the more aggravated. For Hippocrates began to devastate the country adjacent to the Roman province; at first making stealthy raids, then, when Appius had sent a detachment to protect the fields of the allies of Rome, he made an attack with his entire force upon one of the outposts and inflicted heavy loss. When Marcellus was informed of this he promptly sent envoys to Syracuse to say that the peace they had guaranteed was broken, and that an occasion of war would never be wanting until Hippocrates and Epicydes had been banished far away, not only from Syracuse, but from Sicily. Epicydes feared that if he remained he should be held responsible for the misdeeds of his absent brother, and also should be unable to do his share in stirring up war, so he left for Leontini, and finding the people there sufficiently exasperated against Rome, he tried to detach them from Syracuse as well. "The Syracusans," he said, "have concluded a peace with Rome on condition that all the communities which were under their kings should remain under their rule; they are no longer content to be free themselves unless they can rule and tyrannise over others. You must make them understand that the Leontines also think it right that they should be free, and that for two reasons; it was on Leontine soil that the tyrant fell, and it was at Leontini that the cry of liberty was first raised, and from Leontini the people flocked to Syracuse, after deserting the royal leaders. Either that provision of the treaty must be struck out, or if it is insisted upon, the treaty must not be accepted." They had no difficulty in persuading the people, and when the Syracusan envoys made their protest against the massacre of the Roman outpost and demanded that Hippocrates and Epicydes should go to Locri or any other place which they preferred so long as they left Sicily, they received the defiant reply that the Leontines had given no mandate to the Syracusans to conclude a treaty with Rome, nor were they bound by any compacts which other people made. The Syracusans reported this to the Romans, and said that the Leontines were not under their control, "in which case," they added, "the Romans may carry on war with them without any infringement of their treaty with us, nor shall we stand aloof in such a war, if it is clearly understood that when they have been subjugated they will again form part of our dominions in accordance with the terms of the treaty."
[24.30]Marcellus advanced with his whole force against Leontini and summoned Appius to attack it on the opposite side. The men were so furious at the butchery of the outpost while negotiations were actually going on that they carried the place at the first assault. When Hippocrates and Epicydes saw that the enemy were getting possession of the walls and bursting in the gates, they retreated with a small following to the citadel, and during the night made their escape secretly to Herbesus. The Syracusans had already started with an army of 8000 men, and were met at the river Myla with the news that the city was captured. The rest of the message was mostly false: their informant told them that there had been an indiscriminate massacre of soldiers and civilians, and he thought that not a single adult was left alive; the city had been looted and the property of the wealthy citizens given to the troops. On receiving this shocking intelligence the army halted; there was great excitement in all ranks, and the generals, Sosis and Dinomenes, consulted as to what was to be done. What lent a certain plausibility to the story and afforded apparent grounds for alarm was the scourging and beheading of as many as two thousand deserters, but otherwise not one of the Leontines or the regular troops had been injured after the city was taken and every man's property was restored to him beyond what had been destroyed in the first confusion of the assault. The men could not be induced to continue their march to Leontini, though they loudly protested that their comrades had been given up to massacre, nor would they consent to remain where they were and wait for more definite intelligence. The praetors saw that they were inclined to mutiny, but they did not believe that the excitement would last long if those who were leading them in their folly were put out of the way. They conducted the army to Megara and rode on with a small body of cavalry to Herbesus, hoping in the general panic to secure the betrayal of the place. As this attempt failed, they resolved to resort to force, and the following day marched from Megara with the intention of attacking Herbesus with their full strength. Now that all hope was cut off, Hippocrates and Epicydes thought that their only course, and that not at first sight a very safe one, was to give themselves up to the soldiers, who knew them well, and were highly incensed at the story of the massacre. So they went to meet the army. It so happened that the front ranks consisted of a body of 600 Cretans who had served under these very men in Hieronymus's army and had had experience of Hannibal's kindness, having been taken prisoners with other auxiliary troops at Trasumennus and afterwards released. When Hippocrates and Epicydes recognised them by their standards and the fashion of their arms they held out olive branches and other suppliant emblems and begged them to receive and protect them and not give them up to the Syracusans, who would surrender them to the Romans to be butchered.
[24.31]"Be of good heart," came back the answering shout, "we will share all your fortunes." During this colloquy the standards had halted and the whole army was stopped, but the generals had not yet learnt the cause of the delay. As soon as the rumour spread that Hippocrates and Epicydes were there, and cries of joy from the whole army showed unmistakably how glad they were that they had come, the praetors rode up to the front and sternly demanded: "What is the meaning of this conduct? What audacity is this on the part of the Cretans, that they should dare to hold interviews with an enemy and admit him against orders into their ranks? "They ordered Hippocrates to be arrested and thrown into chains. At this order such angry protests were made by the Cretans, and then by others, that the praetors saw that if they went any further their lives would be in danger. Perplexed and anxious they issued orders to return to Megara, and sent messengers to Syracuse to report as to the situation they were in. Upon men who were ready to suspect everybody Hippocrates practiced a fresh deceit. He sent some of the Cretans to lurk near the roads, and read a despatch which he had put together himself, giving out that it had been intercepted. It bore the address, "The praetors of Syracuse to the consul Marcellus," and after the usual salutation went on to say, "You have acted rightly and properly in not sparing a single Leontine, but all the mercenaries are making common cause and Syracuse will never be at peace as long as there are any foreign auxiliaries either in the city or in our army. Do your best, therefore, to get into your power those who are with our praetors in camp at Megara and by their punishment secure liberty at last for Syracuse." After the reading of this letter there was a general rush to arms and such angry shouts were raised that the praetors, appalled by the tumult, rode off to Syracuse. Not even their flight quieted the disturbance, and the Syracusan soldiers were being attacked by the mercenaries, nor would a single man have escaped their violence had not Epicydes and Hippocrates withstood their rage, not from any feeling of pity or humanity, but the fear of cutting off all hopes of their return. Besides, by thus protecting the soldiers they would have them as faithful adherents as well as hostages, and they would at the same time win over their friends and relations in the first place by doing so great a service and afterwards by keeping them as guarantees of loyalty. Having learnt by experience how easy it is to excite the senseless mob, they got hold of one of the men who had been in Leontini when it was captured, and bribed him to carry intelligence to Syracuse similar to what they had been told at Myla, and to rouse the passions of the populace by personally vouching for the truth of his story and silencing all doubts by declaring that he had been an eyewitness of what he narrated.
[24.32]This man not only obtained credence with the mob, but after being introduced into the senate actually produced an impression on that body. Some of those present who were by no means lacking in sense openly averred that it was a very good thing that the Romans had displayed their rapacity and cruelty at Leontini for, had they entered Syracuse, they would have behaved in the same way or even worse, since there was more to feed their rapacity. It was the unanimous opinion that the gates should be shut and the city put in a state of defence, but they were not unanimous in their fears and hates. To the whole of the soldiery and to a large proportion of the population the Romans were the objects of detestation; the praetor and a few of the aristocracy were anxious to guard against a nearer and more pressing danger, though they too were excited by the false intelligence. For as a matter of fact, Hippocrates and Epicydes were already at the Hexapylon, and conversations were going on amongst the relations of the Syracusan soldiers about opening the gates and letting their common country be defended from any attack by the Romans. One of the gates of the Hexapylon had already been thrown open and the troops were beginning to be admitted when the praetors appeared on the scene. At first they used commands and threats, then they brought their personal authority to bear, and at last, finding all their efforts useless, they resorted to entreaties, regardless of their dignity, and implored the citizens not to betray their country to men who had once danced attendance on a tyrant and were now corrupting the army. But the ears of the maddened people were deaf to their appeals and the gates were battered as much from within as from without. After they had all been burst open the army was admitted through the whole length of the Hexapylon. The praetors and the younger citizens took refuge in the Achradina. The enemies' numbers were swelled by the mercenaries, the deserters, and all the late king's guards who had been left in Syracuse, with the result that the Achradina was captured at the first attempt, and all the praetors who had failed to make their escape in the confusion were put to death. Night put an end to the massacre. The following day the slaves were called up to receive the cap of freedom and all who were in gaol were released. This motley crowd elected Hippocrates and Epicydes praetors, and Syracuse, after its short-lived gleam of liberty, fell back into its old bondage.
[24.33]When the Romans received information of what was going on they at once broke their camp at Leontini and marched to Syracuse. Some envoys had been sent by Appius to pass through the harbour on board a quinquereme, and a quadrireme which had sailed in advance of them was captured, the envoys themselves making their escape with great difficulty. It soon became apparent that not only the laws of peace but even the laws of war were no longer respected. The Roman army had encamped at the Olympium - a temple of Jupiter - about a mile and a half from the city. It was decided to send envoys again from there; and Hippocrates and Epicydes met them with their attendants outside the gate, to prevent them from entering the city. The spokesman of the Romans said they were not bringing war to the Syracusans but help and succour, both for those who had been cowed by terror and for those who were enduring a servitude worse than exile, worse even than death itself. "The Romans," he said, "will not allow the infamous massacre of their allies to go unavenged. If, therefore, those who have taken refuge with us are at liberty to return home unmolested, if the ringleaders of the massacre are given up and if Syracuse is allowed once more to enjoy her liberty and her laws, there is no need of arms; but if these things are not done we shall visit with all the horrors of war those, whoever they are, who stand in the way of our demands being fulfilled." To this Epicydes replied: "If we had been the persons to whom your demands are addressed we should have replied to them; when the government of Syracuse is in the hands of those to whom you were sent, then you can return again. If you provoke us to war you will learn by experience that to attack Syracuse is not quite the same thing as attacking Leontini." With these words he left the envoys and closed the gates. Then a simultaneous attack by sea and land was commenced on Syracuse. The land attack was directed against the Hexapylon; that by sea against Achradina, the walls of which are washed by the waves. As they had carried Leontini at the first assault owing to the panic they created, so the Romans felt confident that they would find some point where they could penetrate into the wide and scattered city, and they brought up the whole of their siege artillery against the walls.
[24.34]An assault begun so vigorously would have undoubtedly succeeded had it not been for one man living at the time in Syracuse. That man was Archimedes. Unrivalled as he was as an observer of the heavens and the stars, he was still more wonderful as the inventor and creator of military works and engines by which with very little trouble he was able to baffle the most laborious efforts of the enemy. The city wall ran over hills of varying altitude, for the most part lofty and difficult of access, but in some places low and admitting of approach from the level of the valleys. This wall he furnished with artillery of every kind, according to the requirements of the different positions. Marcellus with sixty quinqueremes attacked the wall of Achradina, which as above stated is washed by the sea. In the other ships were archers, slingers, and even light infantry, whose missile is an awkward one to return for those who are not expert at it, so they hardly allowed any one to remain on the walls without being wounded. As they needed space to hurl their missiles, they kept their ships some distance from the walls. The other quinqueremes were fastened together in pairs, the oars on the inside being shipped so as to allow of the sides being brought together; they were propelled like one ship by the outside set of oars, and when thus fastened together they carried towers built up in stories and other machinery for battering the wall.
To meet this naval attack Archimedes placed on the ramparts engines of various sizes. The ships at a distance he bombarded with immense stones, the nearer ones he raked with lighter and therefore more numerous missiles; lastly he pierced the entire height of the walls with loopholes about eighteen inches wide so that his men might discharge their missiles without exposing themselves. Through these openings they aimed arrows and small so-called "scorpions" at the enemy. Some of the ships which came in still more closely in order to be beneath the range of the artillery were attacked in the following way. A huge beam swinging on a pivot projected from the wall and a strong chain hanging from the end had an iron grappling hook fastened to it. This was lowered on to the prow of a ship and a heavy lead weight brought the other end of the beam to the ground, raising the prow into the air and making the vessel rest on its stern. Then the weight being removed, the prow was suddenly dashed on to the water as though it had fallen from the wall, to the great consternation of the sailors; the shock was so great that if it fell straight it shipped a considerable amount of water. In this way the naval assault was foiled, and all the hopes of the besiegers now rested upon an attack from the side of the land, delivered with their entire strength. But here too Hiero had for many years devoted money and pains to fitting up military engines of every kind, guided and directed by the unapproachable skill of Archimedes. The nature of the ground also helped the defence. The rock on which the foundations of the wall mostly rested was for the greater part of its length so steep that not only when stones were hurled from the engines but even when rolled down with their own weight they fell with terrible effect on the enemy. The same cause made any approach to the foot of the walls difficult and the foothold precarious. A council of war was accordingly held and it was decided, since all their attempts were frustrated, to desist from active operations and confine themselves simply to a blockade, and cut off all supplies from the enemy both by land and sea.
[24.35]Marcellus in the meanwhile proceeded with about one-third of his army to recover the cities which in the general disturbance had seceded to the Carthaginans. Helorum and Herbesus at once made their submission, Megara was taken by assault and sacked and then completely destroyed in order to strike terror into the rest, especially Syracuse. Himilco, who had been for a considerable time cruising with his fleet off the promontory of Pachynus, returned to Carthage as soon as he heard that Syracuse had been seized by Hippocrates. Supported by the envoys from Hippocrates and by a despatch from Hannibal in which he said that the time had arrived for winning back Sicily in the most glorious way, and by the weight of his own personal presence, he had no difficulty in persuading the government to send to Sicily as large a force as they could of both infantry and cavalry. Sailing back to the island he landed at Heraclea an army of 20,000 infantry, 3000 cavalry, and twelve elephants, a very much stronger force than he had with him at Pachynus. Immediately on his arrival he took Heraclea and a few days later Agrigentum. Other cities which had taken the side of Carthage were now so hopeful of expelling the Romans from Sicily that even the spirits of the blockaded Syracusans began to rise. Their generals considered that a portion of their army would be adequate for the defence of the city, and accordingly divided their force; Epicydes was to superintend the defence of the city, whilst Hippocrates was to conduct the campaign against the Roman consul in conjunction with Himilco. Hippocrates marched out of the city in the night through an unguarded part of the Roman lines and selected a site for his camp near the city of Acrillae. Marcellus came upon them while they were entrenching themselves. He had marched hastily to Agrigentum in the hope of reaching it before the enemy, but, finding it already occupied, was returning to his position before Syracuse and expected least of all to find a Syracusan force at that time and in that place. Knowing that he was no match with the troops he had for Himilco and his Carthaginians, he had advanced with the utmost caution, keeping a sharp look-out and guarding against any possible surprise.
[24.36]Whilst thus on the alert he fell in with Hippocrates, and the preparations he had made to meet the Carthaginians served him in good stead against the Syracusans. He caught them whilst forming their camp, dispersed and in disorder, and for the most part unarmed. The whole of their infantry were cut off, the cavalry offered but slight resistance and escaped with Hippocrates to Acrae. That battle checked the Sicilians in their revolt from Rome and Marcellus returned to Syracuse. A few days later Himilco, who had been joined by Hippocrates, fixed his camp by the river Anapus, about eight miles from Syracuse. A Carthaginian fleet of fifty-five vessels of war sailed about the same time into the great harbour of Syracuse from the high seas; and a Roman fleet, also, of thirty quinqueremes, landed the first legion at Panormus. It looked as if the war had been wholly diverted from Italy, so completely were both peoples devoting their attention to Sicily. Himilco fully expected that the legion which had been landed at Panormus would fall into his hands on its march to Syracuse, but he was disappointed as it did not take the route he expected. Whilst he marched inland, the legion proceeded along the coast, accompanied by the fleet, and joined Appius Claudius who had come to meet it with a portion of his force. Now the Carthaginians despaired of relieving Syracuse and left it to its fate. Bomilcar did not feel sufficient confidence in his fleet as the Romans had one of double the number, and he saw that by remaining there inactive he was only aggravating the scarcity which prevailed amongst his allies, so he put out to sea and sailed across to Africa. Himilco had followed upon Marcellus' track to Syracuse, hoping for a chance of fighting before he was joined by superior forces; and as no opportunity of doing so occurred and he saw that the enemy were in great strength and safe within their lines round Syracuse he marched away, not caring to waste time by looking on in idleness at the investment of his allies. He also wished to be free to march wherever any hope of defection from Rome summoned him that he might by his presence encourage those whose sympathies were with Carthage. He began with the capture of Murgantia, where the populace betrayed the Roman garrison, and where a large quantity of corn and provisions of all kinds had been stored for the use of the Romans.
[24.37]Other cities took courage from this example of defection, and the Roman garrisons were either expelled from their strongholds or treacherously overpowered. Henna, situated on a lofty position precipitous on all sides was naturally impregnable, and it had also a strong Roman garrison and a commandant who was not at all a suitable man for traitors to approach. L. Pinarius was a keen soldier and trusted more to his own vigilance and alertness than to the fidelity of the Sicilians. The numerous betrayals and defections which reached his ears and the massacre of Roman garrisons made him more than ever careful to take every possible precaution. So by day and night alike, everything was in readiness, every position occupied by guards and sentinels, and the soldiers never laid aside their arms or left their posts. The chief citizens of Henna had already come to an understanding: with Himilco about betraying the garrison, and when they observed all this vigilance and recognised that the Romans were not open to any treacherous surprise, they saw that they would have to use forcible measures. "The city and its stronghold," they said, "are under our authority; if as free men we accepted the Roman alliance we did not hand ourselves over to be kept in custody as slaves. We think it right, therefore, that the keys of the gates should be given up to us; the strongest bond between good allies is to trust one another's loyalty; it is only if we remain friends with Rome voluntarily and not by constraint that your people can feel grateful to us." To this the Roman commandant replied: "I have been placed in charge here by my commanding officer, it is from him that I have received the keys of the gates and the custody of the citadel; I do not hold these things at my own disposal or at the disposal of the citizens of Henna, but at the disposal of the man who committed them to my charge. To quit one's post is with the Romans a capital offence, and fathers have even punished it as such in the case of their own children. The consul Marcellus is not far away, send to him, he has the right and authority to act in the matter." They said that they should not send, and if argument failed they would seek some other method of vindicating their liberty. To this Pinarius answered: "Well if you think it too much trouble to send to the consul, you can, at all events, give me an opportunity of consulting the people, that it may be made clear whether this demand proceeds from a few or from the whole body of the citizens." They agreed to convene a meeting of the assembly the following day.
[24.38]After he had returned from the interview to the citadel, he called his men together and addressed them as follows: "I think, soldiers, you have heard what has happened lately and how the Roman garrisons have been surprised and overwhelmed by the Sicilians. That treachery you have escaped, in the first place by the good providence of the gods and next by your own steady courage and by your persistent watchfulness and remaining under arms night and day. I only hope the rest of our time may be spent without suffering or inflicting things too horrible to speak about. The precautions we have so far taken have been against secret treachery; as that has proved unsuccessful they are now openly demanding the keys of the gates; and no sooner will they be delivered than Henna will be in the power of the Carthaginians, and we here shall be butchered with greater cruelty than the garrison of Murgantia. I have succeeded with difficulty in getting one night allowed for deliberation so that I could inform you of the impending peril. At daybreak they are going to hold an assembly of the people at which they will fling charges against me and stir up the populace against you. So tomorrow Henna will run with blood, either yours or that of its own citizens. If you are not beforehand with them, there is no hope for you; if you are, there is no danger. Victory will fall to him who first draws the sword. So all be on the alert and wait attentively for the signal. I shall be in the assembly and will spin out the time by speaking and arguing till everything is perfectly ready, and when I give the signal with my toga, raise a loud shout and make an attack on the crowd from all sides and cut everything down with the sword, and take care that nothing survives from which either open violence or treachery is to be feared." Then he continued, "You, Mother Ceres and Proserpina, and all ye deities, celestial and infernal, who have your dwelling in this city and these sacred lakes and groves - I pray and beseech you to be gracious and merciful to us if we are indeed purposing to do this deed not that we may inflict but that we may escape treachery and murder. I should say more to you, soldiers, if you were going to fight with an armed foe; it is those who are unarmed and unsuspecting whom you will slay till you are weary of slaughter. The consul's camp, too, is in the neighbourhood, so nothing need be feared from Himilco and the Carthaginians."
[24.39]After this speech he dismissed them to seek refreshment and rest. The next morning some of them were posted in various places to block the streets and close the exits from the theatre, the majority took their stand round the theatre and on the ground above it; they had frequently watched the proceedings of the assembly from there, and so their appearance aroused no suspicion. The Roman commandant was introduced to the assembly by the magistrates. He said that it was the consul and not he who had the right and the power to decide the matter, and went pretty much over the same ground as on the day before. At first one or two voices were heard and then several, demanding the surrender of the keys, till the whole assembly broke out into loud and threatening shouts, and seemed on the point of making a murderous attack upon him as he still hesitated and delayed. Then, at last, he gave the agreed signal with his toga, and the soldiers, who had long been ready and waiting, raised a shout and rushed down upon the crowd, while others blocked the exits from the densely packed theatre. Hemmed in and caged, the men of Henna were ruthlessly cut down and lay about in heaps; not only where the dead were piled up, but where in trying to escape they scrambled over each other's heads and fell one upon another, the wounded stumbling over the unwounded, the living over the dead. Then the soldiers dispersed in all directions and the city was filled with dead bodies and people fleeing for their lives, for the soldiers slew the defenceless crowd with as much fury as though they were fighting against an equal foe, and glowing with all the ardour of battle.
So Henna was saved for Rome by a deed which was criminal if it was not unavoidable. Marcellus not only passed no censure on the transaction, but even bestowed the plundered property of the citizens upon his troops, thinking that by the terror thus inspired the Sicilians would be deferred from any longer betraying their garrisons. The news of this occurrence spread through Sicily almost in a day, for the city, lying in the middle of the island, was no less famous for the natural strength of its position than it was for the sacred associations which connected every part of it with the old story of the Rape of Proserpine. It was universally felt that a foul and murderous outrage had been offered to the abode of gods as well as to the dwellings of men, and many who had before been wavering now went over to the Carthaginians. Hippocrates and Himilco, who had brought up their forces to Henna on the invitation of the would-be betrayers, finding themselves unable to effect anything retired, the former to Murgantia, the latter to Agrigentum. Marcellus marched back to Leontini, and after collecting supplies of corn and other provisions for the camp he left a small detachment to hold the city and returned to the blockade of Syracuse. He gave Appius Claudius leave to go to Rome to carry on his candidature for the consulship, and placed T. Quinctius Crispinus in his stead in command of the fleet and the old camp, whilst he himself constructed and fortified winter quarters in a place called Leon about five miles from Hexapylon. These were the main incidents in the Sicilian campaign up to the beginning of the winter.
[24.40]The war with Philip which had been for some time apprehended actually broke out this summer. The praetor, M. Valerius, who had his base at Brundisium and was cruising off the Calabrian coast, received information from Oricum that Philip had made an attempt on Apollonia by sending a fleet of 120 light vessels up the river Aous, and then finding that matters were moving too slowly, he had brought up his army by night to Oricum, and as the place lay in a plain and was not strong enough to defend itself either by its fortifications or its garrison, it was taken at the first assault. His informants begged him to send help and to keep off one who was unmistakably an enemy to Rome from injuring the cities on the coast which were in danger solely because they lay opposite to Italy. M. Valerius complied with their request, and leaving a small garrison of 2000 men under P. Valerius, set sail with his fleet ready for action, and such soldiers as the warships had not room for he placed on the cargo boats. On the second day he reached Oricum, and as the king on his departure had only left a weak force to hold it, it was taken with very little fighting. Whilst he was there envoys came to him from Apollonia with the announcement that they were undergoing a siege because they refused to break with Rome, and unless the Romans protected them, they should be unable to withstand the Macedonian any longer. Valerius promised to do what they wanted and he sent a picked force of 2000 men on warships to the mouth of the river under the command of Q. Naevius Crista, an active and experienced soldier. He disembarked his men and sent the ships back to rejoin the fleet at Oricum, whilst he marched a some distance from the river, where he would be least likely to meet any of the king's troops, and entered the city by night, without being observed by any of the enemy. The following day they rested to give him an opportunity of making a thorough inspection of the armed force of Apollonia and the strength of the city. He was much encouraged by the result of his inspection and also by the account which his scouts gave of the indolence and negligence which prevailed amongst the enemy. Marching out of the city in the dead of the night, without the slightest noise or confusion, he got within the enemy's camp, which was so unguarded and open that it is credibly stated that more than a thousand men were inside the lines before they were detected, and if they had only refrained from using their swords they could actually have reached the king's tent. The slaughter of those nearest the camp gates aroused the enemy, and such universal panic and terror ensued that no one seized his weapons or made any attempt to drive out the invaders. Even the king himself, suddenly wakened from sleep, fled half-dressed, in a state not decent for a common soldier, to say nothing of a king, and escaped to his ships in the river. The rest fled wildly in the same direction. The losses in killed and prisoners were under three thousand, the prisoners being much the most numerous. After the camp had been plundered the Apollonians removed the catapults, the ballistae, and the other siege artillery, which had been put in readiness for the assault, into the city for the defence of their own walls if such an emergency should ever occur again; all the other booty was given to the Romans. As soon as the news of this action reached Oricum, Valerius sent the fleet to the mouth of the river to prevent any attempt on the part of Philip to escape by sea. The king did not feel sufficient confidence in risking a contest either by sea or land, and hauled his ships ashore or burnt them and made his way to Macedonia by land, the greater part of his army having lost their arms and all their belongings. M. Valerius wintered with his fleet at Oricum.
[24.41]The fighting went on in Spain this year with varying success. Before the Romans crossed the Ebro Mago and Hasdrubal defeated enormous forces of Spaniards. All Spain west of the Ebro would have abandoned the side of Rome had not P. Cornelius Scipio hurriedly crossed the Ebro and by his timely appearance confirmed the wavering allies. The Romans first fixed their camp at Castrum Album, a place made famous by the death of the great Hamilcar, and had accumulated supplies of corn there. The country round, however, was infested by the enemy, and his cavalry had attacked the Romans while on the march with impunity; they lost as many as 2000 men who had fallen behind or were straying from the line of march. They decided to withdraw to a less hostile part and entrenched themselves at the Mount of Victory. Cn. Scipio joined them here with his entire force, and Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, came up also with a complete army. There were now three Carthaginian generals and they all encamped on the other side of the river opposite the Roman camp. Publius Scipio went out with some light cavalry to reconnoitre, but in spite of all his precautions he did not remain unobserved, and would have been overpowered in the open plain had he not seized some rising ground that was near. Here he was surrounded and it was only his brother's timely arrival that rescued him. Castulo, a powerful and famous city of Spain, and in such close alliance with Carthage that Hannibal took a wife from there, seceded to Rome. The Carthaginians commenced an attack upon Illiturgis, owing to the presence of a Roman garrison there, and it looked as if they would certainly reduce it by famine. Cn. Scipio went to the assistance of the besieged with a legion in light marching order, and fighting his way between the two Carthaginian camps, entered the town after inflicting heavy losses upon the besiegers. The following day he made a sortie and was equally successful. Above 12,000 men were killed in the two battles and more than a thousand were made prisoners; thirty-six standards were also captured. In this way the siege of Illiturgis was raised. Their next move was to Bigerra - also in alliance with Rome - which they proceeded to attack, but on Cn. Scipio's appearance they retired without striking a blow.
[24.42]The Carthaginian camp was next shifted to Munda, and the Romans instantly followed them. Here a pitched battle was fought for four hours and the Romans were winning a splendid victory when the signal was given to retire. Cn. Scipio was wounded in the thigh with a javelin and the soldiers round him were in great fear lest the wound should prove fatal. There was not the smallest doubt that if that delay had not occurred the Carthaginian camp could have been captured that same day, for the men and the elephants, too, had been driven back to their lines, and thirty-nine of the latter had been transfixed by the heavy Roman javelins. It is stated that 12,000 men were killed in this battle and about 3000 made prisoners, whilst fifty-seven standards were taken. From there the Carthaginians retreated to Auringis, the Romans following them up slowly and allowing them no time to recover from their defeats. There another battle was fought, and Scipio was carried into the field on a litter. The victory was decisive, though not half as many of the enemy were killed as on the previous occasion, for there were fewer left to fight. But the Spaniards have a natural instinct for repairing the losses in war, and when Mago was sent by his brother to raise troops, they very soon filled up the gaps in the army and encouraged their generals to try another battle. Though they were mostly fresh soldiers, yet as they had to defend a cause which had been repeatedly worsted in so short a time, they fought with the same spirit and the same result as those before them had done. More than 8000 men were killed, not less than 1000 made prisoners, and fifty-eight standards were captured. Most of the spoil had belonged to Gauls, there were a large number of golden armlets and chains, and two distinguished Gaulish chieftains, Moeniacoepto and Vismaro, fell in the battle. Eight elephants were captured and three killed. As things were going so prosperously in Spain, the Romans at last began to feel ashamed of having left Saguntum, the primary cause of the war, in the possession of the enemy for almost eight years. So after expelling the Carthaginian garrison they recovered the town and restored it to all the former inhabitants whom the ravages of war had spared. The Turdetani, who had brought about the war between Saguntum and Carthage, were reduced to subjection and sold as slaves; their city was utterly destroyed.
[24.43]Such was the course of events in Spain in the year when Q. Fabius and M. Claudius were consuls. Immediately the new tribunes of the plebs entered office, M. Metellus, one of their number, indicted the censors, P. Furius and M. Atilius, and demanded that they should be put on their trial before the people. His reason for taking this course was that the year before they had deprived him of his horse, degraded him from his tribe, and disfranchised him on the ground that he was involved in the plot which had been formed after the battle of Cannae for abandoning Italy. The other nine tribunes, however, interposed their veto against their being tried whilst holding office, and the matter fell through. The death of P. Furius prevented them from completing the lustrum and M. Atilius resigned office. The consular elections were held under the presidency of Q. Fabius Maximus, the consul. Both consuls were elected in their absence - Q. Fabius Maximus, the son of the consul, and Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, for the second time. The praetors elected were M. Atilius and three who were at the time curule aediles, namely, P. Sempronius Tuditanus, Cnaeus Fulvius Centimalus, and M. Aemilius Lepidus. It is recorded that the scenic games were celebrated for the first time this year by the curule aediles and that the celebration lasted four days. The aedile Tuditanus was the officer who led his men through the midst of the enemy after the defeat at Cannae when all the others were paralysed with terror. As soon as the elections were over, the consuls elect were, on the advice of Q. Fabius, recalled to Rome to enter upon their duties. After they had returned they consulted the senate on the conduct of the war, the allocation of provinces to themselves and the praetors, the armies to be raised, and the men who were to command them.
[24.44]The following was the distribution of the provinces and the armies. The operations against Hannibal were entrusted to the two consuls, and Sempronius was to retain the army he had been commanding. Fabius was to take over his father's army. Each consisted of two legions. M. Aemilius, the praetor, who had the jurisdiction over aliens, was to have Luceria for his province and the two legions which Q. Fabius, the newly elected consul, had been commanding as praetor; P. Sempronius Tuditanus received Ariminum as his province and Cn. Fulvius, Suessula, each likewise with two legions, Fulvius being in command of the City legions and Tuditanus taking over those from Manius Pomponius. The commands were extended in the following cases: M. Claudius was to retain that part of Sicily which had constituted Hiero's kingdom, Lentulus as propraetor was to administer the old province; Titus Otacilius was to continue in command of the fleet, no fresh troops being supplied him, and M. Valerius was to operate in Greece and Macedonia with the legion and ships which he had; Q. Mucius was to continue in command of his old army of two legions in Sardinia, and C. Terentius was to keep his one legion at Picenum. Orders were given for two legions to be raised in the City and 20,000 men to be furnished by the allies.
These were the generals and the troops that were to be the bulwark of Rome against the many wars, some actually going on, some anticipated, that were threatening the existence of her dominion. After raising the City contingent, and recruiting fresh drafts for other legions, the two consuls before they left the City set about the expiation of certain portents which had been announced. Part of the City wall and some of the gates had been struck by lightning, as had also the temple of Jupiter at Aricia. Other things which people imagined they had seen or heard were believed to be true; warships were supposed to have been seen in the river at Tarracina, whilst there were none there; a clashing of arms was heard in the temple of Jupiter Vicilinus in the neighbourhood of Compsa, and the river at Amiternum was said to have run with blood. When these portents had been expiated in accordance with the directions of the pontiffs, the consuls left for the front; Sempronius for Lucania, Fabius for Apulia. Old Fabius came into his son's camp at Suessula as his lieutenant. The son went out to meet him with the twelve lictors preceding him in single file. The old man rode past eleven of them, all of whom out of respect for him remained silent, whereupon the consul ordered the remaining lictor who was immediately in front of him to do his duty. The man thereupon called to Fabius to dismount, and he springing from his horse said to his son, "I wanted to find out, my son, whether you sufficiently realised that you are consul."
[24.45]One night, Dasius Altinius of Arpi paid a stealthy visit to this camp, accompanied by three slaves, and offered for a fitting reward to betray Arpi. Fabius referred the matter to the council of war, and some thought he ought to be treated as a deserter, scourged and beheaded. They said he was a trimmer, an enemy to both sides, for, after the defeat of Cannae, as though loyalty depended on success, he had gone over to Hannibal and had drawn Arpi over with him, and now that the cause of Rome was, in the teeth of all his hopes and wishes, springing up, as it were, again from its roots, he was promising a fresh treason by way of indemnifying those whom he betrayed before. He openly espoused one side while all his sympathies were with the other, faithless as an ally, contemptible as an enemy; like the man who would have betrayed Falerii, or the man who offered to poison Pyrrhus, let him be made a third warning to all renegades. The consul's father took a different view. "Some men," he said, "oblivious of times and seasons, pass judgment upon everything as calmly and impartially in the excitement of war as though they were at peace. The more important matter for us to discuss and decide is how we can possibly prevent our allies from deserting us, but this is the last thing we are thinking about; we are talking about the duty of making an example of any one who sees his error and looks back with regret to the old alliance. But if a man is at liberty to forsake Rome, but not at liberty to return to her, who can fail to see that in a short time the Roman empire, bereft of its allies, will find every part of Italy bound by treaty to Carthage? Still I am not going to advise that any confidence be placed in Altinius; I shall suggest a middle course in dealing with him. I should recommend that he be treated neither as an enemy nor as a friend, but be interned in some city we can trust not far from our camp and kept there during the war. When that is over, then we should discuss whether he deserves punishment for his former disloyalty more than he merits pardon for his coming back to us now. Fabius' suggestions met with general approval, and Altinius was handed over to some officials from Cales together with those who accompanied him. He had brought with him a considerable amount of gold, and this was ordered to be taken care of for him. At Cales he was free to move about in the daytime, but was always followed by a guard, who kept him in confinement at night. At Arpi he was missed from home and a search was commenced, rumours soon ran through the city and naturally caused intense excitement, seeing they had lost their leader. Fears were entertained of a revolution, and messengers were at once despatched to Hannibal. The Carthaginian was not at all concerned at what had happened; he had long suspected the man and doubted his loyalty, and he had now a plausible reason for seizing and selling the property of a very rich man. But, in order to create a belief that he was swayed more by anger than by avarice, he aggravated his rapacity by an act of atrocious cruelty. He sent for the wife and children, and after questioning them first about the circumstances under which Altinius had disappeared, and then about the amount of gold and silver which he had left at home, and so finding out all he wanted to know, he had them burnt alive.
[24.46]Fabius broke up his camp at Suessula and decided to begin by an attack on Arpi. He encamped about half a mile from it, and on examining from a near position the situation of the city and its fortifications, he saw one part where it was most strongly fortified and, therefore, less carefully guarded, and at this point he determined to deliver his assault. After seeing that everything required for the storm was in readiness, he selected out of the whole army the pick of the centurions and placed them under the command of tribunes who were distinguished for courage. He then furnished them with six hundred of the rank and file, a number which he deemed quite sufficient for his purpose, and gave them orders to carry scaling ladders to that point when they heard the bugles sound the fourth watch. There was a low narrow gate which led into an unfrequented street running through a lonely part of the city. His orders were that they were first to scale the wall with their ladders, and then open the gate or break the bolts and bars from the inside and when they were in possession of that quarter of the city they were to give a signal on the bugle, so that the rest of the troops might be brought up, and he would have everything in order and ready. His instructions were carried out to the letter, and what seemed likely to prove a hindrance turned out to be of the greatest help in concealing their movements. A rain storm which began at midnight drove all the sentries and outposts to seek shelter in the houses, and the roar of the rain which at first came down like a deluge prevented the noise of those who were at work on the gate from being heard. Then when the sound of the rain fell upon the ear more gently and regularly, it soothed most of the defenders to sleep. As soon. as they were in possession of the gate, they placed the buglers at equal distances along the street and ordered them to sound the signal to give notice to the consul. This having been done as previously arranged, the consul ordered a general advance, and shortly before daylight he entered the city through the broken down gate.
[24.47]Now at last the enemy was roused; there was a lull in the storm and daylight was approaching. Hannibal's garrison in the city amounted to about 5000 men, and the citizens themselves had raised a force of 3000. These the Carthaginians put in front to meet the enemy, that there might be no attempt at treachery in their rear. The fighting began in the dark in the narrow streets, the Romans having occupied not only the streets near the gate but the houses also, that they might not be assailed from the roofs. Gradually as it grew light some of the citizen troops and some of the Romans recognised one another, and entered into conversation. The Roman soldiers asked what it was that the Arpinians wanted, what wrong had Rome done them, what good service had Carthage rendered them that they, Italians-bred and born, should fight against their old friends the Romans on behalf of foreigners and barbarians, and wish to make Italy a tributary province of Africa. The people of Arpi urged in their excuse that they knew nothing of what was going on, they had in fact been sold by their leaders to the Carthaginians, they had been victimised and enslaved by a small oligarchy. When a beginning had been once made the conversations became more and more general; at last the praetor of Arpi was conducted by his friends to the consul, and after they had given each other mutual assurances, surrounded by the troops under their standards, the citizens suddenly turned against the Carthaginians and fought for the Romans. A body of Spaniards also, numbering something less than a thousand, transferred their services to the consul upon the sole condition that the Carthaginian garrison should be allowed to depart uninjured. The gates were opened for them and they were dismissed, according to the stipulation, in perfect safety, and went to Hannibal at Salapia. Thus Arpi was restored to the Romans without the loss of a single life, except in the case of one man who had long ago been a traitor and had recently deserted. The Spaniards were ordered to receive double rations, and the republic availed itself on very many occasions of their courage and fidelity.
While one of the consuls was in Apulia and the other in Lucania some hundred and twelve Campanian nobles left Capua by permission of the magistrates for the purpose, as they alleged, of carrying away plunder from the enemy's territory. They really, however, rode off to the Roman camp above Suessula, and when they came up to the outposts they told them that they wished for an interview with the commander, Cn. Fulvius. On being informed of their request he gave orders for ten of their number to be conducted to him, after they had laid aside their arms. When he heard what they wanted, which was simply that, after the recapture of Capua, their property might be restored to them, he received them all under his protection. The other praetor took the town of Atrinum by storm. More than 7000 were taken prisoners and a considerable quantity of bronze and silver coinage seized. At Rome there was a dreadful fire which lasted for two nights and a day. All the buildings between the Salinae and the Porta Carmentalis, including the Aequimaelium, the Vicus Jugarius, and the temples of Fortune and Mater Matuta were burnt to the ground. The fire travelled for a considerable distance outside the gate and destroyed much property and many sacred objects.
[24.48]The two Scipios, Publius and Cnaeus, after their successful operations in Spain, in the course of which they won back many old allies and gained new ones, during the year began to hope for similar results in Africa. Syphax, king of the Numidians, had suddenly taken up a hostile attitude towards Carthage. The Scipios sent three centurions on a mission to him, with instructions to conclude a friendly alliance with him and to assure him that if he would go on persistently harassing the Carthaginians he would confer an obligation on the senate and people of Rome, and it would be their endeavour to repay the debt of gratitude at a fitting time end with large interest. The barbarian was delighted at the mission and held frequent conversations with the centurions upon the methods of warfare. As he listened to the seasoned soldiers he found out how many things he was ignorant of, and how great the contrast was between his own practice and their discipline and organisation. He asked that whilst two of them carried back the report of their mission to their commanders, the third might remain with him as a military instructor. He explained that the Numidians made very poor infantry soldiers, they were only useful as mounted troops; he explained that this was the style of warfare which his ancestors had adopted from the very earliest times, it was the style to which he had been trained from his boyhood. They had an enemy who depended mainly upon his infantry, and if he wished to meet him with equal strength he must provide himself also with infantry. His kingdom contained an abundant population fit for the purpose, but he did not know the proper method of arming and equipping and drilling them. All was disorderly and haphazard, just like a crowd collected together by chance.
The envoys replied that for the time being they would do what he wished, on the distinct understanding that if their commanders did not approve of the arrangement he would at once send back the one who remained. This man's name was Statorius. The king sent some Numidians to accompany the two Romans to Spain and obtain sanction for the arrangement from the commanders. He also charged them to take immediate steps to persuade the Numidians who were acting as auxiliaries with the Carthaginian troops to come over to the Romans. Out of the large number of young men which the country contained Statorius enrolled a force of infantry for the king. These he formed into companies pretty much on the Roman model, and by drilling and exercising them he taught them to follow their standards and keep their ranks. He also made them so familiar with the work of entrenchment and other regular military tasks that the king placed quite as much confidence in his infantry as in his cavalry, and in a pitched battle fought on a level plain he proved superior to the Carthaginians. The presence of the king's envoys in Spain proved very serviceable to the Romans, for on the news of their arrival numerous desertions took place amongst the Numidians. So between Syphax and the Romans friendly relations were established. As soon as the Carthaginians heard what was going on, they sent envoys to Gala, who reigned in the other part of Numidia over a tribe called Maesuli.
[24.49]Gala had a son called Masinissa, seventeen years old, but a youth of such a strong character that even then it was evident that he would make the kingdom greater and wealthier than he received it. The envoys pointed out to Gala that since Syphax had joined the Romans in order to strengthen his hands, by their alliance, against the kings and peoples of Africa, the best thing for him to do would be to unite with the Carthaginians as soon as possible, before Syphax crossed into Spain or the Romans into Africa. Syphax, they said, could easily be crushed, for he had got nothing out of the Roman alliance except the name. Gala's son asked to be entrusted with the management of the war and easily persuaded his father to send an army, which in conjunction with the Carthaginians conquered Syphax in a great battle, in which it is stated that 30,000 men were killed. Syphax with a few of his horse fled from the field to the Maurusii, a tribe of Numidians who dwell at almost the furthest point of Africa near the ocean, opposite Gades. At the news of his arrival the barbarians flocked to him from all sides and in a short time he armed an immense force. Whilst he was preparing to cross over with them into Spain, which was only separated by a narrow strait, Masinissa arrived with his victorious army, and won a great reputation by the way in which he concluded the war against Syphax without any help from the Carthaginians. In Spain nothing of any importance took place except that the Romans secured for themselves the services of the Celtiberians by offering them the same pay which the Carthaginians had agreed to pay. They also sent to Italy three hundred of the leading Spanish nobility to win over their countrymen who were serving with Hannibal. That is the solitary incident in Spain worth recording for the year, and its interest lies in the fact that the Romans had never had a mercenary soldier in their camp until they employed the Celtiberians.
End of Book 24
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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