Book 25: The Fall of Syracuse
[25.1]While these operations in Spain and Africa were going on, Hannibal spent the whole summer in the Sallentine territory in the hope of securing the city of Tarentum by treachery, and whilst he was there some unimportant towns seceded to him. Out of the twelve communities in Bruttium who had gone over to the Carthaginians the year before, two, namely Consentia and Thurii, returned to their old allegiance to Rome, and more would have done so had it not been for T. Pomponius Veientanus, an officer of allies. He had made several successful raids in Bruttium and had in consequence began to be regarded as a regularly commissioned general. With the raw and undisciplined army which he had got together he engaged Hanno. In that battle a great number of men, who were simply a confused crowd of peasants and slaves, were killed or made prisoners; the least important loss was that of the officer himself, who was made prisoner. For not only was he responsible for such a reckless and ill-advised battle, but in his capacity as a public contractor he had previously been guilty of all sorts of dishonest practices and robbed both the State and the City guilds. The consul Sempronius fought several trifling actions in Lucania, none of which are worth recording, and took some unimportant towns belonging to the Lucanians.
The longer the war continued, and the more men's minds as well as their fortunes were affected by the alternations of success and failure, so much the more did the citizens become the victims of superstitions, and those for the most part foreign ones. It seemed as though either the characters of men or the nature of the gods had undergone a sudden change. The Roman ritual was growing into disuse not only in secret and in private houses; even in public places, in the Forum and the Capitol, crowds of women were to be seen who were offering neither sacrifices nor prayers in accordance with ancient usage. Unauthorised sacrificers and diviners had got possession of men's minds and the numbers of their dupes were swelled by the crowds of country people whom poverty or fear had driven into the City, and whose fields had lain untilled owing to the length of the war or had been desolated by the enemy. These impostors found their profit in trading upon the ignorance of others, and they practiced their calling with as much effrontery as if they had been duly authorised by the State. Respectable citizens protested in private against the state of things, and ultimately the matter became a public scandal and formal complaint was made to the senate. The aediles and commissioners of police were severely reprimanded by the senate for not preventing these abuses, but when they attempted to remove the crowds from the Forum and destroy the altars and other preparations for their rites they narrowly escaped being roughly handled. As the mischief appeared to be too much for the inferior magistrates to deal with, M. Aemilius, the City praetor, was entrusted with the task of delivering the people from these superstitions. He read the resolution of the senate before the Assembly and gave notice that all those who had in their possession any manuals of divination or forms of prayers or sacrificial ritual in writing were to bring all their books and writings to him before the first of April, and no one was to use any strange or foreign form of sacrifice in any public or consecrated place.
[25.2]Several officials connected with the State religion died this year: L. Cornelius Lentulus the chief pontiff, C. Papirius, son of C. Masso, one of the pontiffs, P. Furius Philus the augur, and C. Papirius, son of L. Maso, one of the Keepers of the Sacred Books. M. Cornelius Cethegus was appointed chief pontiff in place of Lentulus, and Cn. Servilius Caepio in place of Papirius. L. Quintius Flamininus was appointed augur and L. Cornelius Lentulus Keeper of the Sacred Books. The time for the consular elections was now drawing near, and as it was decided not to recall the consuls who were engaged in the war, Tiberius Sempronius nominated C. Claudius Cento Dictator for the purpose of conducting the elections. He appointed Q. Fulvius Flaccus as his Master of the Horse. The elections were completed on the first day; the Dictator returned as duly elected consuls Q. Fulvius Flaccus, Master of the Horse, and Appius Claudius Pulcher, who was at the time praetor in Sicily. Then the praetors were elected; Cn. Fulvius Flaccus, C. Claudius Nero, M. Junius Silanus, and P. Cornelius Sulla. When the elections were over the Dictator resigned. The curule aediles for the year were M. Cornelius Cethegus and P. Cornelius Scipio, who was subsequently known as Africanus. When the latter offered himself as a candidate, the tribunes of the plebs objected to him, and said that he could not be allowed to stand because he had not yet reached the legal age. His reply was: "If the Quirites are unanimous in their desire to appoint me aedile, I am quite old enough." On this the people hurried to give their tribal votes for him with such eagerness that the tribunes abandoned their opposition. The new aediles discharged their functions with great munificence; the Roman Games were celebrated on a grand scale considering their resources at the time; they were repeated a second day and a congius of oil was distributed in each street. L. Villius Tappulus and M. Fundanius Fundulus, the plebeian aediles, summoned several matrons before the people on a charge of misconduct; some of them were convicted and sent into exile. The celebration of the Plebeian Games lasted two days and there was a solemn banquet in the Capitol on the occasion of the Games.
[25.3]Q. Fulvius Flaccus and Appius Claudius entered on their consulship, the former for the third time. The praetors drew lots for their provinces; P. Cornelius Sulla had assigned to him both the home and foreign jurisdiction, which had previously been held separately; Apulia fell to Cn. Fulvius Flaccus; Suessula to C. Claudius Nero; Etruria to M. Junius Silanus. Two legions were decreed for each of the consuls in the operations against Hannibal; one consul took over the army from Q. Fabius, the consul of the previous year, the other that of Fulvius Centumalus. With regard to the praetors, Fulvius Flaccus was to have the legions which were at Luceria under Aemilius, Claudius Nero those which were serving in Picenum under C. Terentius, and they were each to raise their force to its full complement. The City legions raised the previous year were assigned to M. Junius to meet any movement from Etruria. Ti. Sempronius Gracchus and P. Sempronius Tuditanus had their commands extended in their respective provinces of Lucania and Cis-Alpine Gaul, as also had P. Lentulus in the Roman province of Sicily and M. Marcellus in Syracuse and that part of the island over which Hiero had reigned. The command of the fleet was left in the hands of T. Otacilius, the operations in Greece in those of M. Valerius, the campaign in Sardinia was still to be under the conduct of Q. Mucius Scaevola, whilst the two Scipios were to continue their work in Spain. In addition to the existing armies two fresh legions were raised in the City by the consuls, thus bringing up the total number to twenty-three legions for the year.
The enrolment was interrupted by the conduct of M. Postumius Pyrgensis which might have endangered the stability of the republic. This man was a public contractor and for many years had had only one man to match him in dishonesty and greed, and that was T. Pomponius Veientanus, whom the Carthaginians under Hanno got hold of while he was recklessly raiding Lucania. The State had made itself responsible where supplies intended for the armies were lost through storms at sea, and these men invented stories of shipwrecks, and when they did not invent, the shipwrecks which they reported were due to their dishonesty, not to accident. They placed small and worthless cargoes on old shattered ships, which they sank when out at sea, the sailors being taken into boats which were kept in readiness, and then they made a false declaration as to the cargo, putting it at many times its real value. This fraud had been disclosed to M. Aemilius, the praetor, and he laid the matter before the senate, but they had taken no action because they were anxious not to offend the body of public contractors at such a time as that. The people, however, took a much severer view of the case, and at length two tribunes of the plebs, Spurius Carvilius and L. Carvilius, seeing the public indignation and disgust aroused, demanded that a fine of 200,000 ases should be imposed on them. When the day came for the question to be decided, the plebs were present in such great numbers that the space on the Capitol hardly held them, and after the case had been gone through, the only hope left to the defence was the chance of C. Servilius Casca, a tribune of the plebs and a near relative of Postumius, interposing his veto before the tribes proceeded to vote. When the evidence had been given, the tribunes ordered the people to withdraw and the voting urn was brought in, in order that it might be determined in what tribe the Latins were to vote. While this was being done the contractors urged Casca to stop the proceedings for the day, and the people loudly opposed that step. Casca happened to be sitting in front at the end of the tribunal seats, and he was labouring under the conflicting emotions of fear and shame. Seeing that no dependence was to be placed upon him, the contractors determined to create a disturbance and rushed in a compact body into the space left vacant by the withdrawal of the Assembly, loudly abusing both the people and the tribunes. As there was every prospect of a hand-to-hand fight the consul Fulvius said to the tribunes: "Do you not see that your authority has gone, and that there will certainly be a riot if you do not dismiss the meeting?"
[25.4]After the Assembly of the plebs was dismissed a meeting of the senate was called, and the consuls brought forward the question of "the disturbance of a meeting of the plebs through the violence and audacity of the public contractors." "M. Furius Camillus," they said, "whose exile was followed by the downfall of Rome, submitted to condemnation at the hands of the irate citizens; before his time the decemvirs - whose laws are in force today - and after him many of our foremost citizens have bowed to the sentence of the people. Whereas Postumius Pyrgensis has deprived the people of their right to vote, broken up a meeting of the plebs, destroyed the authority of the tribunes, levied war upon the people of Rome, made forcible seizure of a position in the City to cut off the plebs from its tribunes, and prevented the tribes from being called to vote. There was nothing to restrain men from fighting and bloodshed except the forbearance of the magistrates, who for the time being yielded to the furious audacity of a few men and allowed themselves and the Roman people to be successfully defied, and, rather than give any occasion for a conflict to those who were seeking one, they voluntarily closed the elections which the accused was going to stop by armed force." This indictment was listened to by all good citizens with feelings of indignation proportioned to the atrocity of the outrage, and the senate passed a decree affirming that "that violent conduct was an offence against the republic and set a most vicious precedent." Immediately on this the two Carvilii dropped the proposal for a fine and indicted Postumius for high treason, and ordered him to find sureties for his appearance on the day of trial, or failing that to be at once arrested and taken to prison. He found sureties, but did not appear. The resolution proposed by the tribunes and adopted by the plebs was in the following terms: "If M. Postumius does not enter an appearance before the first day of May and when cited into court does not answer his name on that day, and has not been lawfully excused from so appearing, he shall be deemed to be an exile, his goods shall be sold, and he himself placed under outlawry." Then all those who had taken the lead in the riotous disturbance were one by one indicted on the same charge and ordered to find sureties. Those who did not find them and afterwards even those who could find them were alike cast into prison. Most of them, to escape the danger, went into exile.
[25.5]Such was the issue of the dishonesty of the State contractors, and their daring attempt to screen themselves. The next thing was the election of the chief pontiff. The new pontiff, M. Cornelius Cethegus, conducted the election, which was very keenly contested. There were three candidates: Q. Fulvius Flaccus, the consul, who had previously been twice consul as well as censor; T. Manlius Torquatus, who could also point to two consulships and the censorship; and P. Licinius Crassus, who was about to stand for the curale aedileship. This young man defeated his old and distinguished competitors; before him there had been no one for a hundred and twenty years, with the sole exception of P. Cornelius Calussa, who had been elected chief pontiff without having first sat in a curule chair. The consuls found the levying of troops a difficult task, for there were not sufficient men of the required age to answer both purposes, that of raising the new City legions and also bringing the existing armies up to their full strength. The senate, however, would not allow them to give up the attempt, and ordered two commissions, each consisting of three members, to be appointed, one to work within a radius of fifty miles from the City, the other outside that radius. They were to inspect all the villages, market towns, and boroughs, and ascertain the total number of free-born men in each, and were to make soldiers of all who appeared strong enough to bear arms, even though they were below the military age. The tribunes of the plebs might, if they thought good, make a proposal to the people that those who had taken the military oath when under seventeen years of age should have their pay reckoned to them on the same scale as if they had been enlisted at seventeen, or older. The commissions so appointed recruited all the free-born men in the country districts. About this time a despatch was read in the senate from M. Marcellus in Sicily, in which he put forward the request made to him by the soldiers who were serving with P. Lentulus. These were the remains of the army of Cannae, they had been sent away to Sicily, as has been stated above, and were not to be brought back to Italy before the Punic war had come to an end.
[25.6]The principal officers of the cavalry, with the centurions of highest rank and the pick of the legionaries, had been allowed by Lentulus to send a deputation to M. Marcellus in Italy. One was allowed to speak on behalf of the rest, and this is what he said: "We should have approached you, Marcellus, when you were consul, in Italy, as soon as that severe if not unjust resolution of the senate was passed concerning us, had we not hoped that after being sent into a province thrown into confusion by the death of its kings, to take part in a serious war against Sicilians and Carthaginians combined, we should have made reparation to the senate by our blood and our wounds in the same way that those who were taken by Pyrrhus at Heraclea, within the memory of our fathers, made reparation by fighting against Pyrrhus afterwards. And yet, what have we done, senators, that you should be wrath with us then or that we should deserve your anger now? I seem to myself to be gazing on the faces of both the consuls and of the whole senate when I look at you, Marcellus; if we had had you as our consul at Cannae, both we and the republic would have met with better fortune.
"Allow me, I pray you, before I complain of our treatment, to clear ourselves of the guilt which is laid to our charge. If it was not through the anger of the gods or through the ordering of that destiny by whose laws the chain of human affairs is immutably linked together, but by the fault of man that we perished at Cannae, whose fault, pray, was it? The fault of the soldiers or of their commanders? As a soldier I will never say a word about my commander, though I know that he was specially thanked by the senate because he did not despair of the republic, and has had his command extended every year since his flight from Cannae. Those of the survivors from that disaster, who were our military tribunes at the time, solicited and obtained office, as we have heard, and are in command of provinces. Do you lightly forgive yourselves and your children, senators, whilst you reserve your anger for poor wretches like us? While it was no disgrace for the consul and the foremost men in the State to flee when all hope was lost, did you send us, the common soldiers, to meet certain death in the battle field? At the Alia almost the entire army fled, at the Caudine Forks they delivered up their arms to the enemy without even attempting to fight, not to mention other shameful defeats that our armies have suffered. But so far were those armies from having any humiliation inflicted upon them, that the City of Rome was recovered by the very army which had fled from the Alia to Veii, and the Caudine legions who had returned to Rome without their arms were sent back armed to Samniun, and made that same enemy pass under the yoke who had enjoyed seeing them undergo that humiliation. Can any man charge the army at Cannae with flight or cowardice when more than 50,000 men fell there, when the consul fled with only seventy horsemen, when not one survives who fought there except those whom the enemy, wearied with slaughter, left alone. When the ransom of the prisoners was vetoed we were universally praised because we had saved ourselves for our country, because we returned to the consul at Venusia and presented the appearance of a regular army. But as it is, we are in a worse case than those prisoners in our fathers' days; for all that they had to endure was a change in their arms, in their military status, in their quarters in camp, and these they recovered by the one service they rendered to the State in fighting a successful battle. Not one of them was sent into exile, not one was deprived of the prospect of obtaining his discharge, and above all they had the chance of putting an end either to their life or their disgrace by fighting the enemy. But we, against whom no charge can be brought except that it is through our fault that a single Roman soldier is left alive after the battle of Cannae - we, I say, have not only been sent far away from our native soil and from Italy, but we have been placed out of reach of the enemy, we are to grow old in exile, with no hope, no chance, of wiping out our shame, or of appeasing our fellow-citizens, or even of dying an honourable death. We are not asking for an end to our ignominy or for the rewards of valour, we only ask to be allowed to prove our mettle and to show our courage. We ask for labours and dangers, for a chance of doing our duty as men and as soldiers. This is the second year of the war in Sicily with all its hard-fought battles. The Carthaginians are capturing some cities, the Romans are taking others, infantry and cavalry meet in the shock of battle, at Syracuse a great struggle is going on by land and sea, we hear the shouts of the combatants and the clash of their arms, and we are sitting idly by, as though we had neither weapons nor hands to use them. The legions of slaves have fought many pitched battles under Tiberius Sempronius; they have as their reward freedom and citizenship, we implore you to treat us at least as slaves who have been purchased for this war, and to allow us to meet and fight the enemy and so win our freedom. Are you willing to make proof of our courage by sea or by land, in the open field or against city walls? We ask for whatever brings the hardest toil and the greatest danger, if only what ought to have been done at Cannae may be done as soon as we can do it, now. For all our life since has been but one long agony of shame."
[25.7]When he had finished speaking they prostrated themselves at the knees of Marcellus. He told them that he had not the authority or the power to grant their request, but said that he would write to the senate and would be guided entirely by their decision. The despatch was delivered into the hands of the new consuls and read by them to the senate. After discussing its contents, the senate decided that they saw no reason why the safety of the republic should be entrusted to soldiers who had deserted their comrades at Cannae. If M. Claudius, the propraetor, thought otherwise, he was to act as he thought best in the interests of the State, but only on this condition, that none of them should get their discharge or receive any reward for valour or be conveyed back to Italy as long as the enemy remained on Italian soil. After this an election was held by the City praetor, in accordance with a decision of the senate and a resolution of the plebs, for the appointment of special commissioners of works. Five commissioners were chosen to undertake the repair of the walls and towers of the City, and two boards, each consisting of three members, were selected; one to inspect the contents of the temples and to make an inventory of the offerings; the other to rebuild the temples of Fortune and Mater Matuta inside the Porta Carmentalis and the temple of Spes outside, all of which had been destroyed by fire the previous year. Frightful storms occurred: on the Alban Mount it rained stones incessantly for two days. Many places were struck by lightning, two buildings in the Capitol, the rampart of the camp above Suessula in many places, two sentinels being killed. The wall and some of the towers at Cumae were not only struck, but even thrown down by the lightning. At Reate a huge rock was seen to fly about, and the sun was unusually red, in fact the colour of blood. By reason of these portents a day was set apart for special intercessions, and for several days the consuls devoted their attention to religious matters, and special services were held for nine days. The betrayal of Tarentum had long been an object of hope with Hannibal and of suspicion with the Romans, and now an incident which occurred outside its walls hastened its capture. Phileas had been a long time in Rome, ostensibly as the Tarentine envoy. He was a restless character and chafed under the inaction in which he seemed likely to spend the greater part of his life. The hostages from Tarentum and Thurii were kept in the Hall of Liberty, but not under strict surveillance, because it was neither for their own interest nor for that of their city to play the Romans false. Phileas found means of access to them and had frequent interviews, in which he won them over to his design, and by bribing two of the watchmen he brought them out of confinement as soon as it was dark, and they made their secret escape from Rome. As soon as it was light their flight became known throughout the City, and a party was sent in pursuit. They were caught at Tarracina and brought back; then they were marched into the Comitium and, with the approval of the people, scourged with rods and thrown from the Rock.
[25.8]The cruelty of this punishment produced a feeling of bitter resentment in the two most important Greek cities in Italy, not only amongst the population at large, but especially amongst those who were connected by ties of relationship or friendship with the men who had met with such a horrible fate. Amongst these there were thirteen young nobles of Tarentum who entered into a conspiracy; the ringleaders were Nico and Philemenus. Before taking any action they thought that they ought to have an interview with Hannibal. They left the city by night on the presence that they were going on a hunting expedition and took the direction of his camp. When they were not far from it, the others concealed themselves in a wood near the road while Nico and Philemenus went on to the outposts. They were seized, as they intended to be, and were conducted to Hannibal. After explaining to him the motives which had prompted them and the nature of the step they were contemplating they were warmly thanked and loaded with promises, and Hannibal advised them to drive to the city some cattle belonging to the Carthaginians which had been turned out to pasture, so that they might make their fellow-townsmen believe that they had really gone out, as they said, to get plunder. He promised that they should be safe and unmolested while so engaged. Every one saw the plunder which the young men had brought, and as they did the same thing over and over again people wondered less at their daring. At their next interview with Hannibal they obtained from him a solemn promise that the Tarentines should preserve their freedom and retain their own laws and all that belonged to them, they were to pay no taxes or tribute to Carthage, nor be required to admit a Carthaginian garrison against their will. The Roman garrison was to be at the mercy of the Carthaginians. When this understanding had been arrived at, Philemenus made a regular habit of leaving the city and returning to it by night. He was noted for his passion for hunting and he had his dogs and other requisites for the sport with him. Generally he brought back something which had purposely been placed in his way and gave it either to the commanders or the men on guard. They imagined that he chose night time for his expeditions through fear of the enemy. When they had become so accustomed to his movements that the gate was opened at whatever hour of the night he gave the signal by whistling, Hannibal thought the time had come for action. He was three days' march distant, and in order to lessen any surprise that might be felt at his remaining encamped on one and the same spot so long he feigned illness. The Romans who were garrisoning Tarentum had ceased to view his remaining there with suspicion.
[25.9]When he had made up his mind to march to Tarentum, he picked out a force of 10,000 infantry and cavalry, who, from their agility and the lightness of their armour, would be most suitable for a dash upon the city. At the fourth watch of the night he made his advance and sent forward about eighty Numidian troopers with orders to patrol the roads in the neighbourhood and keep a sharp look out so that none of the rustics might espy his movements from a distance. Those in front of them they were to bring back, any whom they met they were to kill in order that the inhabitants of the district might take them for a marauding force rather than an army. Marching his men rapidly forward he encamped about fifteen miles from Tarentum, and without saving a word as to where they were going he called his men together and warned them all to keep in the line of march and not to allow any one to fall out or leave the ranks. They were above all things to listen to orders with attention and not to do anything that they were not told to do. He would tell them, when the time came, what he wanted them to do. Almost at the same hour a rumour reached Tarentum that a small body of Numidian horse were ravaging their fields and creating a panic far and wide amongst the peasantry. This news did not disturb the Roman commandant farther than that he ordered a portion of his cavalry to ride out the next morning early to drive off the enemy. As to guarding against any other contingency, so little care was shown that this movement on the part of the Numidians was actually taken as a proof that Hannibal and his army had not stirred from their camp.
Hannibal resumed his advance soon after dark; Philemenus leading the way with the usual load of game on his shoulders, the rest of the conspirators waiting inside the town to carry out their part in the plot. The arrangement was that Philemenus should carry his prey through the wicket gate which he always used and at the same time admit some armed men; Hannibal was to approach the Temenide gate from another direction. This gate was on the landward part of the city and looked eastwards near the public cemetery inside the walls. As he approached the gate Hannibal gave the signal by showing a light, the signal was answered in the same way by Nico; then both lights were extinguished. Hannibal marched up to the gate in silence; Nico made a sudden attack upon the sentinels who were sleeping soundly in their beds and killed them, then he opened the gate. Hannibal entered with his infantry, but the cavalry were ordered to remain outside, ready to meet any attack in the open plain. In the other direction Philemenus also reached the wicket gate which he had been in the habit of using, and whilst he was calling out that they could hardly stand the weight of the huge beast they were carrying, his voice and well-known signal roused the sentry and the gate was opened. Two young men carrying a wild boar entered, Philemenus and a lightly equipped huntsman followed close after, and whilst the sentinel, astonished at its size, turned unsuspectingly towards those who were carrying it, Philemenus ran him through with a hunting spear. Then about thirty armed men ran in and massacred the rest of the sentinels and broke open the large gate adjoining and the army at once entered in fighting order and marched in perfect silence to the forum where they joined Hannibal. The Carthaginian general formed 2000 of his Gauls into three divisions, furnishing each with Tarentines to guide them, and sent them into different parts of the city with orders to occupy the main streets, and if a tumult arose they were to cut down the Romans and spare the townsfolk. To secure this latter object he gave instructions to the conspirators to tell any of their people whom they saw at a distance to keep quiet and silent and fear nothing.
[25.10]By this time there was as much shouting and uproar as usually happens when a city is taken, but nobody knew for certain what had happened. The Tarentines thought that the Roman garrison had started to pillage the town; the Romans were under the impression that the townsfolk had got up a disturbance with some treacherous design. The commandant, awakened by the tumult, hurried away to the harbour, and getting into a boat was rowed round to the citadel. To add to the confusion the sound of a trumpet was heard from the theatre. It was a Roman trumpet which the conspirators had procured for the purpose, and being blown by a Greek who did not know how to use it, no one could make out who gave the signal or for whom it was intended. When it began to grow light, the Romans recognised the arms of the Carthaginians and Gauls, and all doubt was removed; the Greeks, too, seeing the bodies of the Romans lying about everywhere, became aware that the city had been taken by Hannibal. When the light grew clearer and the Romans who survived the massacre had taken refuge in the citadel, the tumult having somewhat subsided, Hannibal ordered the Tarentines to assemble without their arms. After they had all assembled, with the exception of those who had accompanied the Romans into the citadel to share their fate whatever it might be, Hannibal addressed some kind words to them, and reminded them of the way he had treated their compatriots whom he had taken in the battle of Cannae. He went on to inveigh bitterly against the tyranny of Roman domination, and ended by ordering them each to return to their homes and write their names over their doors; if any houses were not so inscribed he should at once give the signal for them to be plundered, and if any one placed an inscription on a house occupied by a Roman - they were in a separate quarter - he should treat him as an enemy. The people were dismissed, and after the inscriptions had been placed on the doors, so that the houses could be distinguished from those of the enemy, the signal was given and the troops dispersed in all directions to plunder the Roman houses. There was a considerable amount of plunder seized.
[25.11]The next day he advanced to attack the citadel. It was protected by lofty cliffs on the side of the sea which surrounded the greater part of it like a peninsula, and on the side of the city it was enclosed by a wall and a very deep moat; Hannibal saw at once that it could successfully defy any attack either by storm or by siege works. As he did not wish to be delayed from undertaking more important operations by having to protect the Tarentines nor to leave them without adequate defence against any attacks which the Romans might make at their pleasure from the citadel, he decided to cut off communication between the city and the citadel by earthworks. He rather hoped, too, that the Romans might attempt to interfere whilst these were being constructed and give him a chance of fighting, and in case they made a sortie in force he might inflict such heavy loss upon them and so weaken them that the Tarentines could easily hold their own against them unaided. No sooner was the work commenced than the Romans suddenly flung open the citadel gates and attacked the working party. The detachment who were on guard along the front allowed themselves to be driven in, and the Romans, emboldened by success, followed them up in greater numbers and to a greater distance. Then a signal was given and the Carthaginians whom Hannibal had drawn up in readiness rushed upon them from all sides. The Romans could not withstand their attack, but their flight was checked by the narrow space and the obstructions caused by the work which had been begun and the preparations made for continuing it. A great many flung themselves headlong into the fosse, and more were killed in the flight than in the fighting. After this the work proceeded without molestation. An enormous fosse was dug and on its inner side a breastwork and parapet thrown up, and a little further off in the same direction he made preparations for adding a wall, so that the town could protect itself against the Romans without his aid. He left, however, a small detachment to garrison the place and also help to complete the wall, while he himself with the rest of his force fixed his camp by the river Galaesus about five miles from Tarentum. Returning from this position to inspect the work, and finding it much more advanced than he expected, he became hopeful of successfully attacking the citadel. It was not, like other similar places, protected by its lofty position, as it stood on level ground and was separated from the city by a moat and a wall. While the attack was being pressed with siege works, machines, and artillery of every kind, reinforcements arrived from Metapontum, and thus strengthened, the Romans were encouraged to make a night attack upon the enemies' works. Some they broke up, others they burnt, and that was the end of Hannibal's attempts to storm the walls. His only hope now was to invest the citadel, but that seemed useless, for standing as it did on a promontory and overlooking the mouth of the harbour, those who held it could make free use of the sea. The city, on the other hand, was cut off from all sea-borne supplies, and the besiegers were more likely to starve than the besieged.
Hannibal called the principal men of the place together and explained all the difficulties of the situation. He told them that he saw no way of carrying a citadel so strongly fortified by storm, and there was nothing to hope for from a blockade as long as the enemy were masters of the sea. If he had ships, so that all supplies could be stopped from reaching them, they would then have to evacuate the citadel or surrender. The Tarentines quite agreed with him, but they thought that the man who gave the advice ought to help in carrying it out. If he sent for Carthaginian vessels from Sicily the thing could be done, but their own ships were locked up in a narrow bay; so how could they escape into the open sea as long as the enemy held the mouth of the harbour? "They shall escape," Hannibal replied. "Many things which nature makes difficult become easy to the man who uses his brains. You have a city situated in a flat country; broad and level roads lead in all directions. I will transport your ships without much trouble on wagons and along the road which leads from the harbour through the heart of the city to the sea. Then the sea which the enemy are now masters of will be ours, we shall invest the citadel by sea on the one side, by land on the other, or rather I would say we shall very soon capture it, either after the enemy have evacuated it or with the enemy inside as well." These words excited not only hopes of success but also an intense feeling of admiration for the general. Wagons were speedily collected from all sides and fastened together; machines were employed for hauling the ships ashore, and the surface of the road was made good so that the wagons could be drawn more easily and the transport effected with less difficulty. Then draught animals and men were got together, and the work promptly began. After a few days a completely equipped fleet sailed round the citadel and cast anchor off the very mouth of the harbour. Such was the condition of affairs which Hannibal left behind him at Tarentum when he returned to his winter quarters. Authorities, however, are divided on the question whether the defection of Tarentum occurred this year or last, but the majority, including those who lived nearest to the time of the events, assert that it happened this year.
[25.12]The consuls and praetors were detained in Rome by the Latin Festival until the 27th of April. That day the sacred rites were completed on the Alban Mount, and they all set out for their various provinces. Subsequently the need of fresh religious observances was brought to their notice in consequence of the prophetic utterances of Marcius. This Marcius was a famous seer and his prophecies had come to light the previous year when by order of the senate an inspection was made of all books of a similar character. They first came into the hands of M. Aemilius who, as City praetor, was in charge of the business, and he at once handed them to the new praetor, Sulla. One of the two referred to events which had already happened before it saw the light, and the authority thus acquired by its fulfilment gained more credence for the other, which had yet to be fulfilled. In the first the disaster of Cannae was foretold in words to this effect:
"Thou who art sprung from Trojan blood, beware
The stream by Canna. Let not aliens born
Force thee to battle on the fatal plain
Of Diomed. But thou wilt give no heed
To this my rede until that all the plain
Be watered by thy blood, and mighty hosts
The stream shall bear into the boundless deep
From off the fruitful earth, and they who till
Its soil shall be for food to birds and beasts
And fishes. Such is Great Jove's word to me."
Those who had fought there recognised the truth of the description - the plains of Argive Diomed and the river Canna and the very picture of the disaster. Then the second prophecy was read. It was not only more obscure than the first because the future is more uncertain than the past, but it was also more unintelligible owing to its phraseology. It ran as follows:
"If, Romans, ye would drive the foemen forth
Who come from far to mar your land, then see
That Games be held as each fourth year comes round
In honour of Apollo and your State
Shall bear its part and all your folk shall share
The holy work, each for himself and his.
Your praetor, who shall justice do for each
And all, shall have the charge. Then let there be
Ten chosen who shall offer sacrifice
In Grecian fashion. This if ye will do
Then shall ye evermore rejoice and all
Your State shall prosper; yea, the god shall bring
Your foes to nought, who now eat up your land."
They spent one day interpreting this prophecy. The day following, the senate passed a resolution that the Ten should inspect the sacred books with reference to the institution of Games to Apollo and the proper form of sacrifice. After they had made their investigations and reported to the senate, a resolution was passed "that Games be vowed and celebrated in honour of Apollo, and that when they were finished, 12,000 ases were to be given to the praetor for the expenses of the sacrifice and two victims of large size." A second resolution was passed that "the Ten should sacrifice according to Greek ritual the following victims: to Apollo, an ox with gilded horns and two white she-goats with gilded horns, and to Latona a heifer with gilded horns." When the praetor was about to celebrate the Games in the Circus Maximus he gave notice that during the Games the people should contribute a gift to Apollo, according to each man's convenience. Such is the origin of the Apollinarian Games, which were instituted for the cause of victory and not, as is generally thought, in the interests of the public health. The people wore garlands whilst witnessing them, the matrons offered up intercessions; feasting went on in the forecourts of the houses with open doors, and the day was observed with every kind of ceremonious rite.
[25.13]Hannibal was still in the neighbourhood of Tarentum and both the consuls were in Samnium apparently making preparations for besieging Capua. Famine, generally the result of a long siege, was already beginning to press upon the Campanians, as they had been prevented by the Roman armies from sowing their crops. They sent a message to Hannibal asking him to give orders for corn to be conveyed to Capua from places in the neighbourhood before the consuls sent their legions into their fields and all the roads were rendered impassable by the enemy. Hannibal ordered Hanno who was in Bruttium to march his army into Campania and see to it that the people of Capua were plentifully supplied with corn. Hanno accordingly marched into Campania and, carefully avoiding the consuls who were both encamped in Samnium, he selected a position for his camp on some rising ground about three miles from Beneventum. He then issued orders for the corn which had been stored in the friendly cities round to be carried to his camp, and assigned detachments to guard the convoys. A message was despatched to Capua stating the day on which they were to appear in the camp to receive the corn, bringing with them all the vehicles and beasts they could collect. The Campanians carried out his instructions with the same slackness and carelessness that they showed in everything else. Hardly more than four hundred country carts were sent and a few draught cattle. Hanno scolded them severely, telling them that even the hunger which rouses the energies of dumb animals failed to stimulate them to exertion. He then fixed another day for them to come for corn provided with much more efficient means of transport.
Everything was reported to the people of Beneventum exactly as it happened. They at once sent a deputation of ten of their principal citizens to the consuls, both of whom were near Bovianum. On hearing what was going on at Capua they arranged that one of them should march into Campania. Fulvius, to whom that province had been assigned, made a night march and entered Beneventum. He was now in Hanno's immediate neighbourhood and was informed that he had left with a portion of his army on a foraging expedition, that corn was supplied to Capua under the superintendence of the head of his commissariat, that two thousand wagons with a disorderly and unarmed crowd had arrived at his camp, that haste and confusion prevailed everywhere, and that the rustics had invaded the camp from all the country round and destroyed all semblance of military order and all chance of military discipline. When he had satisfied himself that this information was correct, he issued an order for his men to get ready their standards and arms against nightfall - and nothing else - as they would have to attack the Carthaginian camp. Leaving their kits and all their baggage in Beneventum, they started at the fourth watch and reached the camp just before dawn. Their appearance created such alarm that, had the camp been on level ground, it could undoubtedly have been carried at the first assault. Its elevated position and its entrenchments saved it; in no direction could it be approached except by steep and difficult climbing. When day broke a hot fight commenced; the Carthaginians did not confine themselves to defending their lines; but being on more even ground themselves they threw down the enemy who were struggling up the heights.
[25.14]Courage and resolution, however, overcame all difficulties, and in some places the Romans had forced their way to the breastwork and fosse, but with heavy loss in killed and wounded, when the consul, calling round him the superior officers, told them that they must desist from the hazardous attempt. He thought it would be wiser to march back to Beneventum for that day, and on the next day to bring their camp close up to the enemy's camp, so that the Campanians could not quit it and Hanno would be unable to return to it. To make more certain of this, he prepared to send for his colleague and his army and direct their joint operations against Hanno and the Campanians. The "retire" was already being sounded when the general's plans were shattered by the angry shouts of the soldiers who spurned such feeble tactics. The Paelignian cohort happened to be in closest touch with the enemy, and their commanding officer, Vibius Accaus, snatched up a standard and flung it across the enemies' rampart, at the same time invoking a curse on himself and his cohort if the enemy got possession of the standard. He was the first to dash over fosse and rampart into the camp. Now the Paelignians were fighting inside the lines, and Valerius Flaccus, the commanding officer of the third legion, was rating the Romans for their cowardice in letting the allies have the glory of capturing the camp, when T. Pedanius, a centurion in command of the leading maniples' took a standard out of the bearer's hands and shouted, "This standard and this centurion will be inside the rampart in a moment, let those follow who will prevent its capture by the enemy." His own maniples followed him as he sprang across the fosse, then the whole of the legion pressed hard after. By this time even the consul, when he saw them climbing over the rampart, changed his mind, and instead of recalling the troops began to urge them on by pointing to the dangerous position of their gallant allies and their own fellow citizens. Every man did his best to push on; over smooth and rough ground alike, amidst missiles showered upon them from all directions, against the desperate resistance of the enemy who thrust their persons and their weapons in the way, they advanced step by step and broke into the camp. Many who were wounded, even those who were faint from loss of blood, struggled on that they might fall within the enemies' camp. In this way the camp was taken, and taken too as quickly as though it lay on level ground, entirely unfortified. It was no longer a fight but a massacre, for they were all crowded together inside the lines. Over l0,000 of the enemy were killed and over 7000 made prisoners, including the Campanians who had come for corn, and all the wagons and draught animals were captured. There was also an immense quantity of plunder which Hanno, who had been raiding everywhere, had carried off from the fields of the allies of Rome. After totally destroying the enemies' camp they returned to Beneventum. There the two consuls - Appius Claudius had arrived a few days before - sold and distributed the spoil. Those to whose exertions the capture of the camp was due were rewarded, especially Accaus the Paelignian and T. Pedanius the centurion who headed the first legion. Hanno was at Cominium-Ocritum with a small foraging party when he heard of the disaster to his camp, and he retreated to Bruttium in a way which suggested flight rather than an orderly march.
[25.15]When the Campanians, in their turn, heard of the disaster which had overtaken them and their allies, they sent to Hannibal to inform him that the two consuls were at Beneventum, a day's march from Capua, and that the war had all but reached their walls and gates. If he did not come with all speed to their help Capua would fall into the hands of the enemy more rapidly than Arpi had done. Not even Tarentum, much less its citadel, ought to be of so much importance in his eyes as to make him give up to Rome, abandoned and defenceless, the Capua which he always used to say was as great as Carthage. Hannibal promised that he would take care of Capua, and sent a force of 2000 cavalry by whose aid they would be able to keep their fields from being devastated. The Romans, meanwhile, amongst their other cares, had not lost sight of the citadel of Tarentum and its beleaguered garrison. P. Cornelius, one of the praetors, had, acting on the instructions of the senate, sent his lieutenant, C. Servilius, to purchase corn in Etruria, and after loading some ships sailed to Tarentum and made his way through the enemies' guard ships into the harbour. His arrival produced such a change that the very men who, having lost almost all hope, had been frequently invited by the enemy in their colloquies with them to go over to them, now actually invited and tried to persuade the enemy to come over to them. Soldiers, too, had been sent from Metapontum, so the garrison was now strong enough for the defence of the citadel. The Metapontines, on the other hand, relieved from their fears by the departure of the Romans, promptly went over to Hannibal. The people of Thurii, on the same part of the coast, took the same step. Their action was due in some measure to the defection of Tarentum and Metapontum, but it was due quite as much to their feeling of exasperation against the Romans at the recent massacre of their hostages. It was the relations and friends of these who sent messengers with despatches to Hannibal and Mago, who were in the neighbourhood, promising to put the city in their power if they would march up to the walls. M. Atinius was in command at Thurii with a small garrison, and they thought that he would easily be drawn into a precipitate engagement, not because he trusted to his own small garrison, but because he relied upon the soldiery of Thurii, whom he had carefully drilled and armed against such an emergency.
After the Carthaginian generals had entered the country of Thurii they divided their forces: Hanno proceeded with the infantry in battle order up to the city; Mago and his cavalry halted and took up a position behind some hills admirably adapted for concealing his movements. Atinius understood from his scouts that the hostile force consisted entirely of infantry, accordingly he went into battle quite unaware of the treachery of the citizens or the maneuver of the enemy. The contest was a very spiritless one, only a few Romans were in the fighting line, and the Thurians were awaiting the issue rather than helping to decide it. The Carthaginian line purposely fell back in order to draw their unsuspecting enemy behind the hill where the cavalry were waiting. No sooner had they reached the place than the cavalry dashed forward with their battle cry. The Thurians, an ill-disciplined crowd, disloyal to the side on which they fought, were at once put to flight; the Romans kept up the fight for some time in spite of their being attacked on one side by the infantry and on the other by the cavalry, but at last they, too, turned and fled to the city. There a body of the traitors admitted the stream of their fellow townsmen through the open gate, but when they saw the Romans routed and running towards the city they shouted that the Carthaginians were at their heels and the enemy would enter the city pell mell with the Romans unless they instantly closed the gates. The Romans accordingly were shut out for slaughter by the enemy, Atinius and a few others being alone allowed to enter. A heated discussion thereupon arose amongst the townsmen; some were for maintaining their loyalty to Rome, others thought they ought to yield to fate and surrender the city to the victors. As usual, evil counsels and the desire to be on the winning side carried the day. Atinius and his men were conducted down to the sea and placed on board ship, not because they were Romans, but because, after Atinius' mild and impartial administration, they wished to provide for his safety. Then the Carthaginians were admitted into the city. The consuls left Beneventum and marched their legions into the territory of Capua, partly to destroy the crops of corn which were now in the blade, and partly with the view of making an attack upon the city. They thought that they would make their consulship illustrious by the destruction of so wealthy and prosperous a city and at the same time they would wipe out a great stain from the republic which had allowed the defection of so close a neighbour to go for three years unpunished. They could not, however, leave Beneventum unguarded. If, as they felt certain would be the case, Hannibal came to Capua to help his friends, it would be necessary, in view of the sudden emergency, to provide against the attacks of his cavalry. They sent orders, therefore, to Tiberius Gracchus, who was in Lucania, to come to Beneventum with his cavalry and light infantry, and to leave some one in command of the legions in the standing camp who were protecting Lucania.
[25.16]Before he left Lucania a most ill-omened portent happened to Gracchus whilst he was offering sacrifice. The sacrifice itself was just finished when two snakes glided unobserved up to the reserved parts of the victim and devoured the liver; as soon as they were seen they suddenly disappeared. On the advice of the augurs a fresh sacrifice was offered and the parts reserved with greater care, but according to the tradition the same thing happened a second and even a third time; the snakes glided up and after tasting the liver slipped away untouched. The augurs warned the commander that the portent concerned him and they bade him be on his guard against secret foes and secret plots. But no foresight could avert the impending doom. There was a Lucanian named Flavus, the head of that section of the Lucanians who stood by Rome - one section had gone over to Hannibal - and they elected him praetor. He had already been a year in office when suddenly he changed his mind and began to look out for an opportunity of ingratiating himself with the Carthaginians. He did not think it enough to go over himself and draw the Lucanians with him into revolt, unless he could make his league with the enemy sure by the life-blood of the very man who was his guest-friend, and betray the Roman commander. He had a secret interview with Mago, who was commanding in Bruttium, and obtained his solemn pledge that if he would betray the Roman commander to the Carthaginians the Lucanians should be taken into friendship and allowed to live as a free people under their own laws. He then took Mago to the spot where he said he would bring Gracchus with a small escort. Mago was to bring foot and horse fully armed to the place and place a large force in concealment. After the spot had been thoroughly examined and an investigation made of every part, a day was fixed for carrying out the project. Flavus went to the Roman commander and told him that he had an important enterprise on hand and required Gracchus' help for its accomplishment. He had persuaded the chief magistrates of all the communities which in the general disturbance of Italy had seceded to the Carthaginians to return to friendship with Rome, since the cause of Rome which had been all but ruined at Cannae was every day becoming stronger and more popular, whilst the strength of Hannibal was waning and had almost reached the vanishing point. The Romans, he knew, would not be implacable to those who had formerly offended, there had never been a nation more ready to listen to prayers and more quick to grant forgiveness. How often had they pardoned even their own ancestors after their repeated renewal of hostilities! This was the language he had addressed to them. "But," he went on, "they would rather hear all this from Gracchus himself in person, and touch his right hand, and carry away with them that pledge of good faith." He explained that he had mentioned a place to those whom he had taken into confidence not far from the Roman camp, and only a few words would be needed so to arrange matters there that the entire Lucanian nation would become faithful allies of Rome.
Gracchus, impressed by the apparent sincerity of the man's language and the proposal he made, and carried away by his smooth and plausible address, started from camp with his lictors and a troop of cavalry under the guidance of his guest-friend. He rode straight into the snare; suddenly enemies showed themselves on all sides, and to take away all doubt as to his being betrayed Flavus joined them. Missiles were hurled from every quarter upon Gracchus and his cavalry. He sprung from his horse, and ordered the rest to do the same, and called upon them to make the one thing which Fortune had left them glorious by their courage. "For what is left," he cried, "to a little band surrounded by an enormous host in a valley shut in by forest and mountain, except death? The one question is, are you going to offer yourselves like cattle to be butchered without striking a blow, or are you going to turn all your thoughts from passively awaiting the end and make a fierce and furious onslaught, doing and daring, until you fall, covered with your enemies blood, amidst the heaped-up bodies and arms of your dying foes? Make, every one of you, for the Lucanian traitor and renegade! The man who sends him beforehand as a victim to the gods below will find in his own death a glorious honour and unspeakable consolation." Whilst saying this he wound his paludamentum round his left arm - for they had not even brought their shields with them - and charged the enemy. There was more fighting than might have been expected from the number of the combatants. The Romans were most exposed to the darts, and as they were hurled from the higher ground all round they were pierced by them. Gracchus was now left without any defence and the Carthaginians tried to take him alive, but catching sight of his Lucanian guest-friend amongst the enemy, he made such a furious onslaught on their serried ranks that it became impossible to save his life without incurring heavy loss. Mago sent his dead body to Hannibal and ordered it and the captured fasces to be placed before the general's tribunal. If this is the true story, Gracchus perished in Lucania at the place called the "Old Fields."
[25.17]There are some who point to a place in the neighbourhood of Beneventum, near the river Calor, as the scene of his death. He had left the camp with his lictors and three attendants to bathe in the river, whilst the enemy were concealed in osier beds on the bank, and whilst naked and defenceless was killed, after vainly endeavouring to drive off the enemy by stones from the bed of the river. Others say that, acting on the advice of the augurs, he had gone about half a mile from the camp for the purpose of averting the above-mentioned portents in a place free from defilement, when he was surrounded by two squadrons of Numidians who happened to have taken up their position there. So little agreement is there as to the place and circumstances of the death of this brilliant and famous man. And there are different versions of the account of his funeral. Some say that his men buried him in his own camp; others say that he was buried by Hannibal, and this is the more generally accepted account. According to this version, a funeral pyre was erected on the open space in front of the camp and the whole army fully accoutred went through various evolutions with Spanish dances and the movements of limbs and weapons peculiar to each tribe, Hannibal doing honour to the dead in every way by his acts and words. This is the account given by those who say that his death took place in Lucania. If you choose to believe those who place it at the river Calor, it would appear that the enemy only got possession of the head; this was sent to Hannibal, and he at once despatched Carthalo to carry it to Cn. Cornelius, the quaestor, who carried out the obsequies in the Roman camp, the people of Beneventum taking their part in the ceremony as well as the soldiers.
[25.18]The consuls had invaded the territory of Capua and were devastating it far and wide when great alarm and confusion were caused by a sudden sortie of the townsmen supported by Mago and his troopers. They hurriedly recalled to the standards the men who were scattered in all directions, but they had hardly time to form their line before they were routed and lost more than 1500 men. The self-confidence and arrogance of the people of Capua were immensely strengthened by this success and they were continually challenging the Romans to fight. But that one engagement brought about by want of caution and foresight put the consuls much more on their guard. An incident occurred, however, which put heart into the Romans and lessened the confidence of the other side, an insignificant one it is true, but in war nothing is so insignificant as not sometimes to involve serious consequences. T. Quinctius Crispinus had a friend in Capua called Badius, and their friendship was a very close and intimate one. The intimacy had been formed before the defection of Capua when Badius was lying ill in Rome at Crispinus' house and received the kindest and most careful attention from his host. One day this Badius walked up to the sentinels on duty before the camp gate and asked them to call Crispinus. Crispinus, on receiving the message, imagined that he had not forgotten the old ties of friendship even though public treaties were torn up, and that he wanted a friendly and familiar talk, and accordingly he went on a short distance from his comrades. As soon as they came in sight of one another Badius called out: "I, Badius, challenge you, Crispinus, to battle. Let us mount our horses and, when the others have withdrawn, decide who of us is the better fighter." Crispinus replied that neither he nor his challenger lacked enemies upon whom they could display their courage, but as for himself, even if he met Badius on the field of battle, he would avoid him sooner than pollute his right hand with a friend's blood. Then he turned round and was in the act of departing when Badius became more insolent and began to taunt him with effeminacy and cowardice and hurled at him abusive epithets which he himself more properly deserved. He said that he was an enemy masquerading as a friend and pretending to spare a man for whom he knew he was no match. If he were under the impression that when the bonds which held states together were broken the bonds of private friendship were not broken at the same time, then he, Badius of Capua, openly renounced in the hearing of both armies the friendship of T. Quinctius Crispinus the Roman. "There is," he went on, "no fellowship, no bond of alliance between foe and foe, between me and the man who has come to attack my home, my country, and my country's gods. If you are a man, meet me!" For a long time Crispinus hesitated, but the men of his troop at last prevailed upon him not to let the Campanian insult him with impunity, and so, only waiting till he could ask his commanders if they would allow him, against regulations, to fight an enemy who challenged him, he mounted his horse with their permission and called upon Badius by name to come out and fight. The Campanian showed no hesitation; they spurred their horses against each other and met. Crispinus with his lance wounded Badius in his left shoulder above his shield. He fell from his horse and Crispinus leaped down from the saddle to despatch him as he lay. Badius, before he was overpowered, escaped to his comrades, leaving shield and horse behind. Crispinus, proudly displaying his spoils, the horse and shield which he had taken, was conducted amid the cheers and congratulations of the soldiers to the consuls. Here he was addressed in terms of high praise and loaded with gifts.
[25.19]Hannibal left the neighbourhood of Beneventum and encamped close to Capua. Three days afterwards he led out his force to battle, feeling quite certain that as the Campanians had fought a successful action a short time before in his absence, the Romans would be far less able to withstand him and the army which had been so often victorious. As soon as the battle commenced the Roman line was in difficulties, chiefly owing to the attack of cavalry, as they were almost overwhelmed by their darts. The signal was given for the Roman cavalry to charge the enemy at full gallop, and now it had become simply a cavalry engagement when the sight of Sempronius' army in the distance commanded by Cn. Cornelius created equal alarm on both sides, as each feared that a fresh enemy was coming on. The signal to retire was given in both armies as if by mutual consent, and the combatants separated on almost equal terms and returned to camp. The loss on the Roman side was, however, somewhat the greater owing to the cavalry attack at the beginning. In order to draw Hannibal away from Capua the consuls left in the night after the battle for different destinations; Fulvius went into the neighbourhood of Cumae and Claudius into Lucania. On being informed the next day that the Roman camp was evacuated, and that they had gone in two divisions by different routes, Hannibal was at first undecided which he should follow; he decided to follow Appius. After leading his enemy about just as he pleased, Appius returned by a circuitous route to Capua.
Another chance of achieving success in this country presented itself to Hannibal. There was a certain M. Centenius, surnamed Paenula, who was conspicuous among the centurions of the first rank for his physical stature and his courage. After completing his period of service he was introduced by P. Cornelius Sulla, the praetor, to the senate. He requested the senators to allow him 5000 men; he was well acquainted with the enemy and the country where he was operating and would very soon do something worth the doing; the tactics by which our generals and their armies had been outwitted up to that time he would employ against the man who invented them. Stupid as the promise was it was quite as stupidly given credence to, as though the qualifications of a soldier were the same as those of a general. Instead of 5000 he was given 8000 men, half of them Romans and half troops furnished by the allies. He himself, too, picked up a considerable number of volunteers in the country through which he was marching, and he arrived in Lucania with double the army he started with. Here Hannibal had come to a halt after his fruitless pursuit of Claudius. The result could not be doubtful, seeing it was a contest between armies one of which consisted of veterans habituated to victory, the other a hastily raised and half-armed force. As soon as they caught sight of each other, neither side declined battle and they at once got into fighting order. For more than two hours, however, in spite of the utterly unequal conditions, the Roman army kept up the fighting as long as their leader stood his ground. At last, out of regard for his former reputation and also fearing the disgrace he would incur if he survived a defeat brought on by his own headlong folly, he rushed upon the weapons of the foe and fell, and the Roman army was instantly routed. But even when they fled they found no way of escape, for all avenues were closed by the cavalry, so that out of that multitude of men only a thousand escaped, all the rest perished in one way or another.
[25.20]The consuls now resumed the siege of Capua in earnest, and everything necessary for the task was brought together and got into readiness. Corn was stored at Casilinum; at the mouth of the Vulturnus, where the town of Vulturnum now stands, a fort was constructed and a garrison was placed in it and in Puteoli also, which Fabius had previously fortified, so that they might command both the river and the adjacent sea. The corn which had lately been sent from Sardinia as well as that which M. Junius had purchased in Etruria was conveyed from Ostia into these two maritime fortresses, that the army might have a supply throughout the winter. Meantime the disaster which had overtaken Centenius in Lucania was aggravated by another which resulted from the death of Gracchus. The volunteer slaves who had done excellent service when he was alive to lead them, looked upon his death as discharging them from further military duties and accordingly disbanded themselves. Hannibal was anxious not to neglect Capua or desert friends who were in such a critical position, but after his easy victory through the foolhardiness of one Roman general he was watching for an opportunity of crushing another. Envoys from Apulia had informed him that Cn. Fulvius, who was attacking some of their cities which had seceded to him, had at first conducted his operations with care and prudence, but afterwards, intoxicated with success and loaded with plunder, he and his men had given themselves up to such idleness and self-indulgence that all military discipline had disappeared. Hannibal knew by repeated experience, and especially within the last few days, what state an army gets into under an incompetent commander and he at once moved into Apulia.
[25.21]Fulvius and his legions were in the neighbourhood of Heraclea. When they heard that the enemy were approaching they were almost on the point of dragging up the standards and going into battle without waiting for orders. In fact the one thing that restrained them more than anything else was the confidence they felt of being able to choose their own time for fighting. The following night, when Hannibal became aware that the camp was in a state of tumult and that most of the men were defying their commander and insisting that he should give the signal, and that there was a general cry, "To arms!" he was quite certain that the opportunity was presented of a successful battle. He quietly disposed some three thousand of his light infantry in the surrounding homesteads and in the woods and copses. They were all to spring from their concealment at the same moment when the signal was given, and Mago had orders to place about two thousand cavalry along all the roads which he thought the direction of the flight might take. After making these dispositions during the night, he marched out to battle at dawn. Fulvius did not hesitate, though he was not drawn on so much by any hopes of success on his own part as by the blind impetuosity of his men. The same recklessness which sent them on to the field appeared in the formation of their line. They went forward in a haphazard way and took their places in the ranks just where they chose, and left them again as their caprices or fears dictated. The first legion and the left wing of the allies were drawn up in front and the line was extended far beyond its proper length. The officers called out that it possessed neither strength nor depth and wherever the enemy made their attack they would break through, but the men would not even listen to, much less attend to anything that was for their good. And now Hannibal was upon them; a general so different from their own, with an army so different and in such different order! As might be expected, the Romans were unable to withstand the very first attack; their general, quite as foolish and reckless as Centenius, though not to be compared with him in courage, no sooner saw the day going against him and his men in confusion than he seized a horse and made his escape with about two hundred of his cavalry. The rest of the army, repulsed in front and then surrounded in rear and flanks, was so completely cut up that out of 12,000 men not more than 2000 escaped. The camp was taken.
[25.22]The news of these disasters, one after another, created very great grief and alarm amongst the citizens in Rome, still, as they knew that the consuls were so far successful where success was most important, they were not so much disturbed by the tidings as they might have been. The senate despatched C. Laetorius and M. Metilius with instructions to the consuls, telling them to carefully get together the remains of the two armies and to see to it that the survivors were not driven by fear and despair to surrender to the enemy, as had happened after the disaster at Cannae. They were also to find out who had deserted amongst the volunteer slaves. Publius Cornelius also was charged with this latter task, as he was with the raising of fresh troops, and he caused notices to be published through the market-towns and boroughs, ordering that search should be made for the volunteer slaves, and that they should be brought back to their standards. These instructions were all most carefully carried out. Appius Claudius placed D. Junius in command at the mouth of the Vulturnus, and M. Aurelius Cotta at Puteoli; whenever the vessels arrived from Etruria and Sardinia they were at once to have the corn sent on to the camp. Claudius then returned to Capua and found his colleague Q. Fulvius bringing everything from Casilinum and making preparations to attack the city. Both of them now commenced the investment of the place, and they summoned the praetor, Claudius Nero, who was in Claudius' old camp at Suessula. He, too, leaving a small force to hold the position, came down with the rest of his army to Capua. So three commanders had their headquarters now established round Capua, and three armies working on different sides were preparing to ring the city round with fosse and dyke. They erected blockhouses at certain intervals, and battles took place in several places at once with the Campanians as they tried to stop the work, the result being that at last the Campanians kept within their walls and gates.
Before, however, the circle of investment was completed, envoys were despatched to Hannibal to remonstrate with him for having abandoned Capua which was now almost restored to the Romans, and to implore him to bring them succour now, at all events, as they were no longer merely besieged but completely blockaded. A despatch was sent to the consuls by P. Cornelius bidding them give an opportunity to the inhabitants, before they completed the investment, of leaving the place and carrying away their property with them. Those who left before the 15th of March would be free and remain in possession of all their property; after that date those who left and those who remained would be alike treated as enemies. When this offer was announced to the Campanians they treated it not only with scorn but with gratuitous insults and threats as well. Shortly before this Hannibal had left Herdonea for Tarentum in the hope of acquiring the place either by treachery or by force, and as he failed to do so he bent his course towards Brundisium, under the impression that the town would surrender. It was whilst he was spending time here to no purpose that the envoys from Capua came to him with their remonstrances and appeals. Hannibal answered them in high-sounding words; "he had raised the siege of Capua once already, and the consuls would not wait for his approach even now." Dismissed with this hope the envoys had considerable difficulty in getting back to Capua, surrounded as it now was with a double fosse and rampart.
[25.23]Just when the circumvallation of Capua was being completed the siege of Syracuse came to an end. This result was due in a large measure to the energy and courage of the general and his army, but it had been helped on by domestic treachery. At the commencement of the spring Marcellus was undecided whether to turn the stress of war to Agrigentum against Himilco and Hippocrates, or whether he should press the siege of Syracuse. He saw that this place could not be carried by assault, as it was unassailable by sea or land owing to its position, nor could it be reduced by famine, since it was nourished by a free supply of provisions from Carthage. However, he determined to leave nothing untried. There were with the Romans some leading members of the Syracusan nobility who had been expelled when the defection took place, and Marcellus told these refugees to sound the feelings of the men of their own party, and give them an assurance that if Syracuse were surrendered they should be free and live under their own laws. It was impossible to get any chance of interviews, for the fact of many being suspected made all more careful and watchful, so that no attempt of the kind should escape detection. A slave belonging to the exiles was admitted into the city as a deserter, and after getting a few men together, broached the subject in conversation. Subsequently some were hidden under the nets in a fishing boat and in that way taken round to the Roman camp where they had conversations with the refugees. Different people, one after another, did the same thing, until at last there were as many as eighty concerned in the matter. When all the arrangements for surrender had been made, information was given to Epicydes by a certain Attalus who resented not having been intrusted with the secret, and they were all tortured to death.
This hope, which had proved so illusory, was soon succeeded by another. A certain Damippus, a Lacedaemonian, had been sent from Syracuse on a mission to King Philip and was captured by some Roman ships. Epicydes was particularly anxious to ransom this man, and Marcellus raised no objection, as just at that time the Romans were bidding for the friendship of the Aetolians with whom the Lacedaemonians were in alliance. Those who were sent to discuss the terms of the ransom thought that the most central place for the conference, and the one most convenient to both sides, was a spot near the tower called Galeagra, at the Trogilian port. As they went to and fro there several times, one of the Romans took a near view of the wall, counted the stones and formed an estimate in his mind of the thickness of each stone. Having thus calculated the height of the wall as well as he could by conjecture, and finding it lower than he or any one else had supposed and capable of being scaled by a ladder of even moderate length, he made a report to the consul. Marcellus attached considerable importance to his suggestion, but as that part of the wall, being lower, was for that very reason more carefully guarded, it was impossible to approach it and they had to watch their opportunity, which soon came. A deserter brought word that the townspeople were keeping the festival of Diana which lasted three days, and that, through lack of other things, owing to the siege, they were celebrating the feast mostly with wine, which Epicydes had distributed amongst the populace, and the leading citizens amongst the tribes. On hearing this, Marcellus talked the matter over with a few of the military tribunes, and through them selected the centurions and private soldiers who were fittest for such a daring enterprise. Scaling ladders were quietly got ready, and then all the rest of the men were ordered to seek refreshment and rest as soon as they could, as a nocturnal expedition was in front of them. As soon as he thought the time had come when, after feasting all day, the men would have their fill of wine and be in their first sleep, the consul ordered one maniple to carry scaling ladders, and about a thousand men were silently marched in a narrow column up to the spot. They got up on to the wall without any confusion or noise and others at once followed in order; even those who felt nervous were reassured by the daring of those in front.
[25.24]By this time a thousand men had got possession of that section of the wall. They went on as far as the Hexapylon without meeting a soul, as the majority of those on guard in the bastions were either stupid with wine after their revels or were drinking themselves drunk. They killed a few, however, whom they surprised in their beds. When they reached the Hexapylon they gave the signal, and the rest of the troops marched up to the walls bringing more scaling ladders with them. The postern gate near the Hexapylon was giving way to the violence of the blows, and the agreed signal was given from the wall. They no longer attempted to conceal their movements, but commenced an open attack, as they had now reached Epipolae, where there was a large force on guard, and their object was now to frighten rather than elude the enemy. They succeeded perfectly. For no sooner were the notes of the trumpets heard and the shouts of those who held the wall and a part of the city, than the men on guard thought that every part was taken, and some fled along the wall, others leaped from it, and a crowd of panic-struck citizens took to headlong flight. A great many, however, were ignorant of the great disaster that had befallen them, for everybody was heavy with, wine and sleep, and in a city of such vast extent what was happening in one part was not known to the population generally.
At daybreak Marcellus forced the gates of the Hexapylon and entered the city with his entire force, rousing the citizens who all betook themselves to arms, prepared to render what help they could to a city which was all but captured. Epicydes made a hurried march from the Island - its local name is Nasos - under the impression that a few men had succeeded in scaling the walls owing to the negligence of the guards and that he would soon drive them out. He told the terrified fugitives whom he met that they were adding to the confusion and making things out to be more serious and alarming than they really were. When, however, he saw every place round Epipolae full of armed men, he simply discharged a few missiles at the enemy and marched back to the Achradina, not so much through fear of the strength and numbers of the enemy as of some opening for treason from within, which might close the gates of Achradina and the Island against him in the confusion. When Marcellus mounted the fortifications and saw from his higher ground the city below him, the fairest city of the time, he is said to have shed tears at the sight, partly through joy at his great achievement, partly at the memory of its ancient glories. He thought of the Athenian fleets which had been sunk in that harbour, of the two great armies with their famous generals which had been annihilated there, of all of its many powerful kings and tyrants, above all, of Hiero, whose memory was so fresh, and who, in addition to all his endowments of fortune and character, had distinguished himself by his services to Rome. As all this passed through his mind and with it the thought that in one short hour all he saw round him would be burnt and reduced to ashes, he decided, before advancing against Achradina, to send the Syracusans, who, as already stated, were with the Roman troops, into the city to try if kind words could induce the enemy to surrender the place.
[25.25]The gates and walls of Achradina were mostly held by the deserters who were hopeless of obtaining mercy on any terms, and they allowed no one to approach the walls or to speak to them. So Marcellus, finding that his project had failed, ordered the troops to return to Euryalus. This was a hill in the furthest part of the city, away from the sea, and overlooking the road which leads into the country and the inland part of the island. It was, therefore, admirably adapted for the reception of supplies from the interior. The command of the citadel here had been entrusted by Epicydes to Philodemus an Argive. Sosis, one of the regicides, had been sent by Marcellus to open up negotiations, but after a long conversation in which he found himself put off with evasive replies he reported to Marcellus that Philodemus was taking time for consideration. He continued to procrastinate from day to day, to allow time for Hippocrates and Himilco to bring up their legions, feeling quite sure that if he had them in his stronghold the Romans would be shut up within the walls and annihilated. As Marcellus saw that Euryalus could not be taken by either treachery or force, he established his camp between Neapolis and Tycha - parts of the city, and almost cities in themselves - as he was afraid if he entered the more populous parts he would not be able to keep his soldiers from dispersing in their eagerness for plunder. Envoys came to him from these two places with olive branches and woollen fillets, imploring him that they might be spared from fire and sword. Marcellus held a council of war to consider this request, or rather this entreaty, and in accordance with the wish of all present he gave notice to the soldiers that they were not to lay hands on any free citizen; everything else they were at liberty to appropriate. Instead of fosse and rampart the camp was protected by the private houses which served it for walls, and sentinels and pickets were posted at the gates of the houses which stood open to the street to secure the camp against attack while the soldiers were dispersed in the city. After this the signal was given and the soldiers ran in all directions, breaking open the house doors and filling everything with uproar and panic, but they refrained from bloodshed. There was no limit to the work of rapine until they had cleared the houses of all the goods and possessions which had been accumulating during the long spell of prosperity. Whilst this was going on, Philodemus saw that there was no hope of succour, and after getting the promise of a safe conduct for him to return to Epicydes, he withdrew his garrison and handed the position over to the Romans. Whilst everybody was preoccupied with the tumult in the captured part of the city, Bomilcar seized the opportunity to escape. The night was a tempestuous one, and the Roman fleet were unable to keep their anchorage off the harbour, so he slipped out with thirty-five ships, and finding the sea clear set sail for Carthage, leaving fifty-five ships for Epicydes and the Syracusans. After making the Carthaginians realise the critical state of affairs at Syracuse he returned with a hundred ships a few days later and was rewarded - so they say - by Epicydes with gifts from Hiero's treasury.
[25.26]The capture of Euryalus and its occupation by a Roman garrison relieved Marcellus of one cause of anxiety; he had no longer to dread an attack from the rear which might have created confusion amongst his men, shut in and hampered as they were by walls. His next move was against Achradina. He established three separate camps in suitable positions and sat down before the place, hoping to reduce it by famine. For some days the outposts were undisturbed, when the sudden arrival of Hippocrates and Himilco led to a general attack upon the Roman lines. Hippocrates had formed an entrenched camp at the Great Harbour, and after giving a signal to the troops in Achradina he made an attack on the old camp of the Romans which Crispinus commanded. Epicydes made a sortie against Marcellus and the Carthaginian fleet which lay between the city and the Roman camp was brought ashore and so prevented Crispinus from sending any help to Marcellus. The excitement which the enemy caused was, however, much more alarming than the fighting, for Crispinus not only drove Hippocrates back from his entrenchments, but actually went in pursuit as he fled hurriedly away, whilst Marcellus drove Epicydes back into the city. And now, apparently, ample provision was made against danger arising from any sudden attacks in the future.
To add to their troubles both sides were visited by pestilence, a calamity almost heavy enough to turn them from all thoughts of war. It was the time of autumn and the locality was naturally unhealthy, more so, however, outside the city than within it, and the insupportable heat affected the constitutions of almost all who were in the two camps. In the beginning people fell ill and died through the effects of the season and the unhealthy locality; later, the nursing of the sick and contact with them spread the disease, so that either those who had caught it died neglected and abandoned, or else they carried off with them those who were waiting on them and nursing them, and who had thus become infected. Deaths and funerals were a daily spectacle; on all sides, day and night, were heard the wailings for the dead. At last familiarity with misery so brutalised men that not only would they not follow the dead with tears and the lamentations which custom demanded, but they actually refused to carry them out for burial, and the lifeless bodies were left lying about before the eyes of those who were awaiting a similar death. So what with fear and the foul and deadly miasma arising from the bodies, the dead proved fatal to the sick and the sick equally fatal to those in health. Men preferred to die by the sword; some, single-handed, attacked the enemies' outposts. The epidemic was much more prevalent in the Carthaginian camp than in that of the Romans, for their long investment of Syracuse had made them more accustomed to the climate and to the water. The Sicilians who were in the hostile ranks deserted as soon as they saw that the disease was spreading through the unhealthiness of the place, and went off to their own cities. The Carthaginians, who had nowhere to go to, perished to a man together with their generals, Hippocrates and Himilco. When the disease assumed such serious proportions Marcellus transferred his men to the city, and those who had been weakened by sickness were restored by shade and shelter. Still, many of the Roman soldiers, too, were carried off by that pestilence.
[25.27]When the land army of the Carthaginians had been thus wiped out, the Sicilians who had been with Hippocrates took possession of two walled towns, not large ones certainly, but made safe by their situation and strong fortifications. One was three miles from Syracuse, the other fifteen. They carried supplies to these towns from their own states and asked for reinforcements. Bomilcar had in the meantime paid a second visit to Carthage with his fleet and had drawn such a picture of the state of things in Syracuse as to lead the government to hope that they might not only render effectual assistance to their friends, but even succeed in capturing the Romans inside that city, which they had in some measure captured. He persuaded them to despatch as many cargo ships as they could, laden with stores of all kinds, and also to augment his force of fighting ships. The result was that he left Carthage with 130 ships of war and 700 transports. The winds were favourable for him whilst sailing for Sicily, but they prevented him from rounding the promontory of Pachinus. The news of Bomilcar's approach and then his unexpected delay excited first hope and then fear amongst the Syracusans and just the reverse among the Romans. Epicydes was afraid that if the east wind lasted much longer the Carthaginian fleet would return to Africa, and he handed Achradina over to the commanders of the mercenaries and put off to meet Bomilcar. He found him at anchor with his ships headed for the African coast and anxious to avoid a naval engagement, not because he was inferior in the strength or number of his ships - he really had more than the Romans - but because the winds were more favourable to them than to him; Epicydes, however, persuaded him to try his chance in a sea fight. When Marcellus became aware that an army of Sicilians was being raised from the whole of the island, and that a Carthaginian fleet was approaching with vast supplies, he determined, though inferior in the number of ships to prevent Bomilcar from reaching Syracuse, lest he should be shut in by sea and land whilst he was confined and hampered in a hostile city. The two fleets lay facing each other off the promontory of Pachinus, ready to engage as soon as the sea was calm enough to allow them to sail into deep water. As soon as the east wind, which had been blowing strongly for some days, dropped Bomilcar made the first move. It seemed as though he was making for the open sea in order the better to round the promontory, but when he saw the Roman ships sailing straight for him he crowded on all sail and skirting the coast of Sicily made for Tarentum, having previously sent a message to Heraclea ordering the transports to return to Africa. Finding all his hopes suddenly crushed, Epicydes did not care to go back to a city which was in a state of siege and a large part of which was already taken. He sailed for Agrigentum, to watch events rather than to control them.
[25.28]When the news of what had happened reached the camp of the Sicilians, viz. that Epicydes had left Syracuse and that the island had been abandoned by the Carthaginians and almost surrendered a second time to the Romans, they sent envoys to Marcellus to treat for the surrender of the city, having previously sounded in frequent interviews the feelings of those who were undergoing the siege. They were practically united on these two points, that all that had been included in the king's dominions should belong to Rome, and that all else was to be retained by the Sicilians together with their liberty and their laws. They then invited those who had been left in charge by Epicydes to a conference, the envoys telling them that the army of the Sicilians had sent them to them as well as to Marcellus, so that those who were within and those who were outside of the beleaguered city might share the same fortune, and neither should make separate terms for themselves. Admission was granted to them that they might converse with their friends and relatives. After explaining the nature of their understanding with Marcellus and holding out a prospect of safety, they persuaded them to join in an attack upon those to whom Epicydes had committed the government - Polyclitus, Philistio, and Epicydes, surnamed Sindon. They were put to death and the citizens were summoned to a public meeting. Here the envoys complained bitterly of the straits they were in for food, and the other evils which they had been in the habit of grumbling about in secret; they said that although they had so much to distress them, they must not throw the blame on Fortune; it was in their own power to decide how long they would endure it. The motives which led the Romans to attack Syracuse were those of affection, not animosity. When they heard that the reins of government had been seized by Hippocrates and Epicydes, who had been first creatures of Hannibal and then of Hieronymus, they set their armies in motion and began the siege, not for the purpose of destroying the city but of crushing those who were tyrannising over it. But now that Hippocrates was disposed of and Epicydes shut out from Syracuse and his officers put to death, what was there left to prevent the Romans from wishing that Syracuse should be free from all harm, just as they would have wished it had Hiero, that eminently loyal friend of Rome, been still alive? There was, then, no danger either to the city or its people other than what would arise from their own action if they let slip that chance of reconciliation with Rome. There would never be another so favourable as the one they had at that moment, just when it was plain to all that Syracuse had been delivered from an impotent tyranny.
[25.29]This address was received with universal approval. It was, however, decided to elect magistrates before sending the envoys. From amongst the magistrates so elected they selected the envoys who were to be sent to Marcellus. Their leader addressed him in the following terms: "It is not we, the people of Syracuse, who have revolted from you, but Hieronymus, who acted much more wickedly towards us than towards you. And when peace had been restored by the tyrant's death it was no Syracusan, but the king's creatures Hippocrates and Epicydes, who disturbed it, by crushing us on the one hand by fear, on the other by treachery. No man can say that there was ever a time during which we enjoyed liberty when we were not at peace with you. Now, at all events, no sooner have we become our own masters through the death of the oppressors of Syracuse than we come to you to give up our arms, to surrender ourselves, our city and its fortifications, to accept any condition which you may lay upon us. To you, Marcellus, the gods have vouchsafed the glory of capturing the noblest and fairest of Grecian cities. Whatever memorable achievement we have wrought by sea or land enhances the splendour of your triumph. Would you wish that it should be only a glorious tradition how great a city you have captured, rather than that it should be a spectacle for the eyes of posterity to rest upon? That it should exhibit to all who visit it by land or sea the trophies we have won from Athenians and Carthaginians, which are now the trophies you have won from us? That you should hand down to your house an unharmed Syracuse to be kept under the patronage and protection of all who bear the name of Marcellus? Let not the memory of Hieronymus weigh more with you than that of Hiero. He was your friend for a far longer time than the other was your enemy. You found in him a real benefactor; this man's madness only availed to his own destruction." As far as the Romans were concerned they could have gained all they wanted in perfect security. It was amongst the besieged themselves that war existed with all its perils. The deserters, thinking that they were being betrayed, communicated their fears to the mercenaries; they all flew to arms, and beginning with the murder of the magistrates they commenced a general massacre of the citizens, killing in their desperate madness everybody they met, and plundering all they could lay hands on. Then, that they might not be without officers, they elected six, three to command in Achradina and three in Nasos. When the tumult had somewhat subsided and the mercenaries found out on inquiry what agreement had been come to with the Romans, the truth began to dawn upon them, and they realised that their case was quite distinct from that of the deserters.
[25.30]The envoys came back from their interview with Marcellus just at the right moment, and were able to assure them that their suspicions were groundless and that the Romans saw no reason why they should visit them with punishment. One of the three commanders in Achradina was a Spaniard named Moericus, and amongst those who accompanied the envoys a soldier from the Spanish auxiliaries had designedly been introduced. When they had entered Achradina this man obtained a private interview with Moericus and described to him the state of affairs in Spain, which he had quite recently left, and how everything there was under the power of Rome. If Moericus chose to make himself of use to the Romans, he might be a leading man among his countrymen, and either take service under the Roman standard or return to his own country, whichever he chose. But if on the other hand he preferred to remain under siege, what hope had he of relief, shut in as he was by sea and land? Moericus was impressed by the force of these arguments, and after it had been decided to send envoys to Marcellus, he sent his brother as one of them. The same Spanish soldier conducted him by himself to Marcellus. In this interview the details were settled and Marcellus pledged himself to observe the conditions, after which the envoys returned to Achradina. In order to avoid the least chance of suspicion Moericus made it known that he disapproved of envoys going to and fro, and gave orders that none were to be admitted and none sent. Also, with a view to greater security, he thought that the conduct of the defence ought to be properly distributed amongst the three commanders, so that each might be responsible for his own section of the fortifications. They all agreed. In the division, his command extended from the fountain of Arethusa to the mouth of the Great Harbour, and he managed to let the Romans know that. So Marcellus ordered a cargo ship filled with troops to be towed by a quadrireme to the Island, and the men to land near the gate adjoining the fountain. This order was carried out in the fourth watch, and Moericus, as previously arranged, admitted the soldiers through the gate. At dawn Marcellus attacked Achradina with his full strength, and not only those who were actually holding it, but the troops in Nasos also, left their posts and ran to defend Achradina from the assault of the Romans. In the confusion of the attack some swift vessels, which had previously been brought round to Nasos, landed troops. These making an unexpected attack upon the half-manned posts, and rushing through the gates, still open, out of which the garrison had just sallied to defend Achradina, had little trouble in capturing a position which had been abandoned owing to the flight of its defenders. There were none who did less to defend the place or to maintain their ground with any spirit than the deserters; they did not even trust their own comrades, and fled in the middle of the fighting. When Marcellus learnt that Nasos was captured and one district of Achradina occupied, and that Moericus with his men had joined the Romans, he ordered the retreat to be sounded, for he was afraid that the royal treasure, the fame of which exceeded the reality, might fall into the hands of plunderers.
[25.31]The impetuosity of the soldiers being thus checked and time and opportunity given for the deserters in Achradina to effect their escape, the Syracusans were at last relieved of their apprehensions and opened the gates. They at once sent a deputation to Marcellus with the one request that they and their children might remain unharmed. He called a council of war, to which he summoned the Syracusan refugees in the Roman camp, and made the following reply to the deputation: "The crimes committed against the people of Rome during these last few years by those who have held Syracuse quite outweigh all the good services which Hiero rendered us during his fifty years' reign. Most of these, it is true, have recoiled on the heads of those who were guilty of them, and they have punished themselves for their breach of treaties far more severely than the Roman people could have wished. I have been for three years investing Syracuse, not that Rome may make the city her slave, but that the leaders of deserters and renegades may not keep it in a state of oppression and bondage. What the Syracusans could have done has been shown by those amongst them who have been living within the Roman lines, by the Spaniard Moericus who brought over his men, and last of all by the belated but courageous resolution which the Syracusans have now taken. After all the toils and dangers which have endured for so long a time round the walls of Syracuse by sea and land, the fact that I have been able to capture the city is nothing like such a reward as I should have received had I been able to save it." After giving this reply he sent the quaestor with an escort to Nasos to receive the royal treasure into his custody. Achradina was given up for plunder to the soldiers, after guards had been placed at the houses of the refugees who were within the Roman lines.
Amongst many horrible instances of fury and rapacity the fate of Archimedes stands out. It is recorded that amidst all the uproar and terror created by the soldiers who were rushing about the captured city in search of plunder, he was quietly absorbed in some geometrical figures which he had drawn on the sand, and was killed by a soldier who did not know who he was. Marcellus was much grieved and took care that his funeral was properly conducted; and after his relations had been discovered they were honoured and protected by the name and memory of Archimedes. Such, in the main, were the circumstances under which Syracuse was captured, and the amount of plunder was almost greater than if Carthage had been taken, the city which was waging war on equal terms with Rome. A few days prior to the capture of Syracuse, T. Otacilius crossed over from Lilybaeum to Utica with eighty quinqueremes. He entered the harbour before daylight and captured some transports laden with corn, and then landing his men ravaged a considerable portion of the country round Utica and carried back to his ships every description of plunder. He returned to Lilybaeum three days after he had started with a hundred and thirty transports laden with corn and booty. The corn he at once sent on to Syracuse; had it not been for that timely assistance, victors and vanquished alike would have been in danger of a very serious famine.
[25.32]For two years nothing very remarkable had happened in Spain; the contest was carried on by diplomacy more than by arms. This summer the Roman commanders on leaving their winter quarters united their forces. A council of war was called and they came to a unanimous decision that as up to that time all they had done was to keep Hasdrubal from marching to Italy, it was now high time to make an effort to finish the war. During the winter they had raised a force of 20,000 Celtiberians, and with this reinforcement they considered themselves strong enough for the task. The enemies' force consisted of three armies. Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, had united his army with Mago, and their joint camp was about a five days' march from the Romans. Somewhat nearer to them was Hasdrubal, the son of Hamilcar, an old commander in Spain, who was in camp at a city called Amtorgis. The Roman commanders wanted to dispose of him first, and they believed that they had more than enough strength for the purpose; the only doubt in their minds was whether, after his defeat, the other Hasdrubal and Mago would not retreat into the trackless forest and mountains and keep up a guerilla warfare. The best plan, they thought, would be to form their force into two armies and finish the war in Spain at one stroke. They arranged accordingly that P. Cornelius was to advance against Mago and Hasdrubal with two-thirds of the army of Romans and allied troops, and Cn. Cornelius with the remaining third of the old army and the recently raised Celtiberians was to oppose the Barcine Hasdrubal. Both generals with their armies advanced together as far as the town of Amtorgis where they encamped in full view of the enemy with the river between them. Here Cn. Scipio took his stand with the force above mentioned, while Publius Scipio went on to execute his share of the operations.
[25.33]When Hasdrubal became aware that the Romans formed only a small portion of the army and that they were depending entirely upon their Celtiberian auxiliaries, he determined to detach the latter from their Roman service. He was quite at home with every form of treachery known to barbarians, and especially those practised by the tribes amongst whom he had for so many years been campaigning. Both camps were full of Spaniards, who had no difficulty in understanding each other's language, and secret interviews were held, in the course of which he made an agreement with the Celtiberian chieftains, by the offer of a large bribe, that they should withdraw their forces. They did not look upon this as very atrocious conduct, for it was not a question of turning their arms against the Romans, and though the money was quite equal to the pay they received in war, it was given them to abstain from war. Then, too, the mere rest from the toils of the campaign, the thought of returning home, the delight of seeing their friends and their possessions were universally welcomed. So the mass of the troops were quite as easily persuaded as their chiefs, and they had nothing to fear from the Romans who were too few in number to keep them lack by force. This is a thing against which Roman generals will always have to be on their guard, and instances such as these ought to serve as warnings that they must not depend upon foreign auxiliaries to such an extent as not to have in their camp a preponderance of that solidity and fighting power which native troops can alone supply. The Celtiberians took up their standards and marched off. The Romans asked them why they were going, and appealed to them to stay where they were, but the only answer they got was that they were called away by a war at home. When Scipio saw that his allies could not be detained by either appeals or force and that without them he was no match for the enemy, whilst a junction with his brother was out of the question, he determined to retreat as far as he could; this seemed the only safe measure to adopt. His one object was to avoid an encounter on open ground with the enemy who had crossed the river and were pressing closely at his heels.
[25.34]P. Scipio was at the same time placed in a position quite as alarming but fraught with much greater danger by the appearance of a new enemy. This was young Masinissa, at that time an ally of the Carthaginians, but afterwards raised to fame and power by his friendship with Rome. He first sought to check Scipio's advance with a body of Numidian horse, and he kept up incessant attacks upon him day and night. He not only cut off all who had wandered too far from camp in search of wood and fodder, but he actually rode up to the camp and charged into the middle of the outposts and pickets, creating alarm and confusion everywhere. In the night he frequently upset the camp by making a sudden rush at the gates and the stockade; there was no place and no time at which the Romans were free from anxiety and fear, and they were compelled to keep within their lines, unable to obtain anything they wanted. It was fast becoming a regular siege and would evidently become a still closer one if Indebilis, who was reported to be approaching with 7500 Suessetanians, should join the Carthaginians. Cautious and prudent general though he was, Scipio was compelled by his position to take the hazardous step of making a night march to oppose Indebilis' advance and to fight him wherever he met him. Leaving a small force to guard the camp and placing Tiberius Fonteius in command, he started at midnight and encountered the enemy. They fought in order of march rather than of battle; the Romans, however, had the advantage, in spite of its being an irregular battle. But the Numidian horse, whom Scipio thought he had eluded, swept round both flanks and created the greatest alarm. A fresh action had now begun against the Numidians when a third enemy appeared; the Carthaginian generals had come up and were attacking the rear. The Romans had to face a battle on both flanks and on their rear, and could not make up their minds against what enemy to make their main attack or in what direction to close their line and charge. Whilst their commander was fighting and encouraging his men and exposing himself in the hottest of the turmoil he was run through by a lance in his left side. The massed body of the enemy who had charged the closed ranks round their general, as soon as they saw Scipio falling lifeless from his horse were wild with joy and ran in all directions shouting that the Roman commander had fallen. The news spread over the whole field, and the enemy at once regarded themselves as unquestionably victorious, while the Romans equally felt themselves vanquished. With the loss of the general there began at once a flight from the field. It was not difficult to break through the Numidians and other light-armed troops, but it was almost impossible to make one's escape amidst such numbers of cavalry and of foot soldiers who rivalled horses in speed. Almost more were killed in flight than in battle, and not a man would have survived had not the day been rapidly drawing to a close so that night put an end to the carnage.
[25.35]The Carthaginian generals were not slow to take advantage of their success. After allowing their men the needful rest, they proceeded straight from the battle-field by forced marches to Hasdrubal, fully expecting that when they had joined forces the war could be brought to a close. When they reached his camp, the generals and the soldiers, in high spirits over their recent victory, exchanged hearty congratulations at the destruction of so great a commander and his entire army, and looked forward with confidence to winning another victory as complete. The report of the terrible disaster had not reached the Romans, but there was a gloomy silence, a secret foreboding, such as usually happens when men feel a presentiment of coming misfortune. The general, who saw himself deserted by his allies and knew that the forces of the enemy were so largely augmented, was led still further by his own conjectures and inferences to suspect the occurrence of some disaster much sooner than to entertain any hopes of success. "How," he asked himself, "could Hasdrubal and Mago have brought up their army without opposition if they had not brought their own share of the war to a successful close? How could his brother have failed to stop them or to follow them up so that if he could not prevent their forming a junction he could at least have united his own forces with those of his brother?" Filled with these anxieties he believed that the only safe course for him for the time being was to retreat from his present position as far as he could. He accordingly accomplished a considerable march in a single night, unobserved by the enemy and therefore unmolested. When it grew light the enemy became aware of his departure, and sending on the Numidians in advance, commenced the pursuit with the utmost speed of which they were capable. The Numidians came up with them before nightfall, and by making repeated charges on flank and rear compelled them to come to a halt and defend themselves. Scipio, however, urged them to fight as well as they could and keep moving forward before they were overtaken by the infantry.
[25.36]As, however, what with fighting and halting, they had for some time been making very little progress and night was close at hand, Scipio called his men off from battle, massed them in close order, and led them to some rising ground, not, indeed, a very safe position, especially for unnerved troops, but still somewhat more elevated than the ground round it. The baggage and the cavalry were placed in the centre and the infantry drawn up round them, and at first they had no difficulty in repelling the attacks of the Numidians. But when the three commanders appeared in full force with three regular armies it was obvious that they would be unable to defend the position by arms alone in the absence of entrenchments. The general began to look round him and consider whether it were in any way possible to surround himself with an earthwork. But the hill was so bare and the ground so rocky that there was no brushwood to cut for a stockade nor earth for constructing a rampart or carrying a fosse or for any other work. No part was naturally so steep or precipitous as to render the approach or ascent difficult for the enemy; the whole surface of the hill rose in a gentle slope. In order, however, to present to the enemy something which might look like a rampart they tied together their saddles and the packs which the animals carried and piled them up all round them as if they were building up a rampart to the usual height, and where there were not enough saddles they made it up by throwing all the kits and packages of every kind into the gaps, as a barricade.
When the Carthaginian armies came up, their column had no difficulty in mounting the hill, but they stopped short at the sight of the novel defence as though it were something uncanny. Their officers shouted out on all sides: "Why are you stopping? Why do you not tear down and demolish that juggler's trick, which is hardly strong enough to stop women and children? The enemy, hiding behind his baggage, is caught and held!" But in spite of the taunts and sarcasms of the officers, it was anything but easy either to clamber over or to push away the heavy obstacles in front of them, or to cut through the tightly packed saddles, buried as they were beneath the baggage. After a considerable time they succeeded in forcing away the heavy obstacles and opened a way for the troops, and when they had done this in several places the camp was rushed on all sides and captured; the little band of defenders were slaughtered by the masses of the enemy, helpless in the hands of their victors. Still a good many found refuge in the neighbouring woods and escaped to P. Scipio's camp where Ti. Fonteius was in command. Some traditions assert that Cn. Scipio was killed in the first onset of the enemy on the hill; according to others he escaped to a tower near the camp, and as they were unable to break down the door with all their efforts, they lighted fires against it, and after it was burnt away they slew all inside including the commander. Cn. Scipio was killed after he had been eight years in Spain, and twenty-nine days after his brother's death. The grief felt at their death was as great throughout Spain as it was in Rome. The City had to mourn not only for them, but for the loss of its armies, the defection of the province, and the blow inflicted on the republic; in Spain it was the generals themselves whose loss was so bitterly felt, more so in the case of Cnaeus, because he had held his command there for a longer time; he too was the first to win popularity amongst the people, the first to show what Roman justice and Roman self-control and moderation really meant.
[25.37]With the destruction of the armies it seemed as though Spain must be lost. But one man restored the fallen fortunes of the State. There was in the army a Lucius Marcius, the son of Septimius, a Roman knight, an active and energetic youth whose character and abilities were somewhat superior to the position in which he had been born. His many natural gifts had been developed by Scipio's training, under whom he had learnt all the arts of war. Out of the fugitive soldiers whom he had rallied, and some whom he had drawn from the garrisons in Spain, he had formed quite a respectable army, and with it had joined Ti. Fonteius, Scipio's lieutenant. After they had entrenched themselves in a camp on this side of the Ebrot his soldiers decided to hold a regular election for the purpose of choosing a general to command the united armies, and they relieved each other on sentinel and outpost duty so that every man might give his vote. So far did the Roman knight surpass all others in the authority and respect which he possessed with the soldiers that the whole army unanimously conferred the supreme command on L. Marcius. After this he spent the whole of the time - and short enough it was - in strengthening the defences of the camp and storing supplies in it, and the soldiers carried out all his commands with alacrity and in anything but a despondent mood. But when the news arrived that Hasdrubal - Gisgo's son - had crossed the Ebro and was coming to stamp out the remains of the war and the soldiers saw the signal for battle put out by their new general they gave way completely. The recollection of the men who had so lately commanded them, the proud confidence which they had always felt in their generals and their armies when they went into battle quite unnerved them; they all burst into tears and smote their heads; some raised their hands to heaven and reproached the gods; others lay on the ground and invoked the names of their old commanders. Nothing could check these wild outbursts of grief, though the centurions tried to rouse their men, and Marcius himself went about calming them and at the same time reproaching them for their unmanly conduct. "Why," he asked them, "have you given way to womanish and idle tears instead of bracing yourselves up to defend yourselves and the republic and not allowing your commanders' death to go unavenged?"
Suddenly a shout was heard and the sound of trumpets, for the enemy was now close up to the rampart. In an instant their grief changed to fury, they rushed to arms, and racing to the gates like madmen they dashed upon the enemy who were coming on carelessly and in disorder. The sudden and unlooked for movement created a panic among the Carthaginians. They wondered whence all these enemies had arisen, after their army had been all but annihilated, what gave such daring and self-confidence to men who had been vanquished and put to flight, who had come forward as their commander now that the two Scipios were killed, who was over the camp, who had given the signal for battle. Bewildered and astounded at all these utterly unlooked-for surprises they at first slowly retired, then as the attack became heavier and more insistent they turned and fled. There would have been either a frightful slaughter amongst the fugitives or a rash and dangerous attack on the part of the pursuers if Marcius had not hurriedly given the signal to retire and kept back the excited troops by throwing himself in front of the foremost and even holding some back with his hands. Then he marched them back to camp still thirsting for blood. When the Carthaginians saw that none were pursuing them after the first repulse from the rampart they imagined that they had been afraid to go any further, their feelings of contempt returned, and they marched at a leisurely pace back to their camp. They showed as much carelessness in guarding their own camp as they had shown in attacking the Roman, for although their enemy was near them they regarded them as only the wreckage of two armies which had been destroyed a few days before. Whilst they were, in consequence of this, neglectful of everything, Marcius, who had become thoroughly aware of it, thought out a plan, at first glance hazardous rather than bold, which was to assume the aggressive and attack the enemy's camp. He thought it would be easier to storm Hasdrubal's camp whilst he was alone than to defend his own, in case the three commanders united their forces once more. Besides, if he succeeded he would have gone far to retrieve their late disasters; if he failed the enemy could no longer despise him, since he would have been the first to attack.
[25.38]His plan seemed a desperate one, considering the position he was in, and might easily be upset by some unforeseen incident creating a panic in the night. To guard against these dangers as far as possible, he thought it well to address some words of encouragement to his men. He called them together and made the following speech to them: "My loyalty and affection for my old commanders whether living or dead, as well as the situation in which we now find ourselves, ought to convince every one of you, soldiers, that this command, honourable as you rightly deem it to be, is, as a matter of fact, a position of very grave anxiety. For at a moment when I was hardly sufficient master of myself - did not fear dull the sense of pain - to find any comfort in my distress, I saw myself compelled to take thought alone for you all, the hardest thing in the world in a time of grief. Even when I have to consider how I can possibly preserve for my country you who are all that remain out of two armies, it is still a grief to have to divert my thoughts from a sorrow that is ever with me. Bitter memories vex me; the two Scipios haunt me in anxious thoughts by day and in dreams at night; they rouse me from my slumbers and forbid me to suffer them or their soldiers - your own comrades who never for eight years knew defeat in these lands - or the republic, to remain unavenged. They call upon me to follow their example and act on the principles they laid down; as no man obeyed them more faithfully while they lived, so now that they are gone they would have me think that what they would have done on any occasion that arose is the best thing for me also to do. And I would have you, my soldiers, not follow them with tears and laments as though they had ceased to be, for they live and are strong in the glory of all that they have done, but go into battle thinking of them as if they were here to encourage you and give you the signal. Surely it was nothing else than their image before your eyes which brought about that memorable battle yesterday, in which you showed your enemy that the Roman name did not perish with the Scipios, and that a people whose strength and courage even Cannae could not crush will rise superior to the hardest blows of fortune.
"Well, as you showed such daring yesterday on your own account, I want now to see if you will show as much daring at the bidding of your commander. When I gave the signal yesterday to recall you from your hot pursuit of your disordered foe it was from no wish to damp your courage but to reserve it for a greater and more glorious occasion, when you will shortly be able, prepared and armed, to fall upon the enemy when he is off his guard, without his arms and even wrapped in slumbers. And in thus hoping, I am not trusting simply to chance, but have good grounds for what I say. If any one were to ask you how, few as you are, you managed to defend your camp against a mighty host, how after your defeat you were able to repel those who had defeated you from your rampart, you would, I am sure, reply that this was the very danger you feared, and therefore you strengthened your defences in every possible way and held yourselves at your posts in readiness. And such is generally the case; men are least safe when their circumstances give them no cause for fear; what you think of no importance you leave open and unguarded. There is nothing which the enemy are less afraid of than that we who were lately surrounded and attacked should of our own motion attack their camp. Let us venture where no one can believe we will venture. The fact that it is thought too difficult will make it all the easier. I will lead you out in a silent march at the third watch of the night. I have ascertained that they have no proper arrangement of sentinels and pickets. When once our shout is heard in their gates the camp will be carried at the first rush. Then, whilst they are heavy with sleep, panic-struck at the unlooked-for tumult, and surprised defenceless in their beds, that slaughter will take place amongst them from which you were, to your intense disappointment, recalled yesterday.
"I know that the plan seems a daring one, but in difficult circumstances which leave little to hope for the boldest measures are always the safest. If, when the critical moment comes, you hang back ever so little and do not catch the opportunity as it flies past, you will look for it in vain when once you have let it go. There is one army near us, two more are not very far away. If we attack them now, there is some hope for us; you have already tried your strength against theirs. If we put off the day, and after yesterday's sortie are no longer regarded with contempt, there is the danger of all the generals and their armies uniting. In that case, shall we withstand the three generals, the three armies, which Cn. Scipio did not withstand when his army was in its full strength? As our generals perished owing to their forces being divided, so the enemy can be crushed in detail while they are divided. There is no other way of carrying on war; let us, then, wait for nothing beyond the opportunity of the coming night. Now go, trusting to the help of the gods and get food and rest so that, fresh and vigorous, you may break into the enemies' camp in the same courageous spirit in which you defended your own." They were delighted to hear this new plan from their new general, and the more daring it was the more it pleased them. The rest of the day was spent in getting their arms ready and in looking after themselves. At the fourth watch they began to move.
[25.39]The other Carthaginian forces were about six miles beyond the camp nearest to the Romans. Between them lay a valley thickly wooded, and on some ground about half-way through the wood a Roman cohort, adopting Punic tactics, concealed themselves with some cavalry. After the road was thus occupied midway, the rest of the force marched in silence to the enemy nearest to them, and as there were no outposts in front of the gates and no guard mounted they penetrated without any opposition into the camp just as if they were entering their own. Then the signals were sounded and the battle shout raised. Some slew the enemy while half asleep, others threw firebrands on to their huts, which were thatched with dry straw, others held the gates to intercept the fugitives. The fire, the shouting, and the slaughter, all combined, bereft the enemy almost of their senses and prevented them from either hearing one another on taking any measures for their safety. Without arms themselves they fell amongst troops of armed men; some rushed to the gates, others, finding the ways blocked, sprang over the rampart, and all who escaped in this way fled at once to the other camp, where they were met by the cohort and the cavalry running out from their concealment and all cut down to a man. Even if any one had escaped from the carnage the Romans, after taking that camp, ran on so swiftly to the other one that no one could get there before them to announce the disaster.
When they got to the second camp they found neglect and disorder everywhere, partly owing to its greater distance from them and partly because some of the defenders had dispersed in quest of fodder and wood and plunder. At the outposts the arms were actually piled, the soldiers, all unarmed, were sitting and lying about on the ground or walking up and down in front of the gates and rampart. In this state of careless disorder they were assailed by the Romans who were tired by their recent fighting and flushed with victory. It was impossible to hold the gates against them, and once within the gates a desperate battle began. At the first alarm there was a rush from all parts of the camp, and there would have been a long and obstinate struggle if the Carthaginians had not seen in the blood-stained shields of the Romans plain traces of the former contest, which filled them with dismay and terror. They all turned and fled wherever they could find the way open to escape, and all but those who had been already killed were driven out of the camp. So in a night and a day two of the enemies' camps had been carried under the leadership of L. Marcius. According to Claudius, who translated the annals of Acilius from Greek into Latin, as many as 37,000 of the enemy were slain, 1830 being prisoners, besides an immense amount of plunder. The latter included a silver shield one hundred and thirty-seven pounds in weight, together with a statuette of Hasdrubal. Valerius Antias relates that only Mago's camp was taken, when the enemy lost 7000 killed; in the other battle when the Romans made the sortie and fought with Hasdrubal 10,000 were killed and 4380 made prisoners. Piso says that 5000 men were killed when Mago was ambushed while recklessly pursuing our men. All these authors dwell upon the greatness of Marcius, and they exaggerate the glory he really won by describing a supernatural incident. Whilst he was addressing his troops they say that a flame shot from his head, without his being aware of it, to the great terror of the soldiers standing round. It is also stated that there was in the temple on the Capitol before it was burnt a shield called "the Marcian" with a statuette of Hasdrubal, as memorials of his victory. For some time after this, matters were quiet in Spain, neither side after the defeats they had suffered being anxious to risk a decisive action.
[25.40]While these events were occurring in Spain, Marcellus, after the capture of Syracuse, settled the affairs of Sicily with so much justice and integrity as to enhance not merely his own reputation but the greatness and dignity of Rome as well. He removed to Rome the ornaments of the city, the statues and pictures in which Syracuse abounded; they were, it is true, spoils taken from the enemy and acquired by the laws of war, but that was the beginning of our admiration for Greek works of art, which has led to the present reckless spoliation of every kind of treasure, sacred and profane alike. This has at last recoiled upon the gods of Rome, upon that temple especially which Marcellus so splendidly adorned. For the shrines near the Capena Gate, which Marcellus dedicated, used to be visited by strangers on account of the very beautiful specimens of that class of ornament; but very few are to be seen today. Whilst Marcellus was settling the affairs of Sicily, deputations from nearly all the communities in the island visited him. The treatment they received varied with their circumstances. Those who had not revolted or had returned to our friendship prior to the capture of Syracuse were welcomed and honoured as loyal allies; those who after its capture had surrendered through fear, had to accept the terms which the victor imposes on the vanquished. The Romans, however, had considerable remnants of the war still on their hands round Agrigentum. There were still left in the field the generals Epicydes and Hanno who had commanded in the late war, and a fresh general who had been sent in place of Hippocrates by Hannibal, a man of Libyphoeniclan nationality, called Hippacritanus - his fellow-countrymen called him Muttines - a man of energy and enterprise, who had had a thorough military training under that master of war, Hannibal. He was furnished by Epicydes and Hanno with a force of Numidians, and with these troopers he committed such extensive depredations on the lands of those who were hostile and was so active in keeping his friends loyal by always bringing them help at the right moment, that in a short time all Sicily had heard of him and there was no one from whom the supporters of Carthage expected greater things.
Up to that time Epicydes and Hanno had been compelled to keep within the fortifications of Agrigentum; now, however, in a spirit of self-confidence quite as much as in compliance with the advice of Muttines, they ventured outside and fixed their camp by the Himera. No sooner was this reported to Marcellus than he promptly moved up and encamped about four miles from the enemy with the intention of waiting for any action he might take. But no time was allowed him for either delay or deliberation; Muttines crossed the river and charged his enemy's outposts, creating the greatest terror and confusion. The next day there was almost a regular battle and he drove the Romans within their lines. Then he was recalled by tidings of a mutiny which had broken out amongst the Numidians in Hanno's camp. Nearly three hundred of them had gone off to Heraclea Minoa. When he left the camp to reason with them and recall them, he is said to have most earnestly advised the generals not to engage the enemy in his absence. They both resented this; more especially Hanno who had long been jealous of Muttines' reputation. "Is Muttines," he exclaimed, "to dictate to me; a low-born African to give orders to a Carthaginian general bearing the commission of the senate and people? "Epicydes wished to wait, but he brought him over to his view, that they should cross the river and offer battle, for, he argued, if they waited for Muttines, and then fought a successful action, he would undoubtedly get all the credit for it.
[25.41]Marcellus was of course intensely indignant at the idea of the man who had turned Hannibal, flushed with his victory at Cannae, aside from Nola now giving way before enemies whom he had defeated by sea and land, and he ordered his men to seize their arms at once and march out in order of battle. Whilst he was forming his lines, ten Numidians from the opposing army galloped up to him at full speed with the announcement that their countrymen would take no part in the fighting, first because they sympathised with the three hundred mutineers who had gone to Heraclea, and secondly because they saw that their leader had been got rid of on the very day of battle by generals who wanted to cast a cloud on his reputation. Deceitful as that nation usually is, they kept their promise on that occasion. The news flew quickly through the ranks that the cavalry of whom they stood in greatest fear had left the enemy in the lurch, and their courage rose accordingly. The enemy, on the other hand, were in a great state of alarm because, not only were they losing the support of their strongest arm, but there was a chance of their being attacked by their own cavalry. So there was not much of a conflict, the action was decided by the first battle shout and charge. When the opposing lines met, the Numidians were standing quietly on the wings; when they saw their own side turn tail they joined them in their flight for a short distance, but when they saw them making in all haste for Agrigentum they dispersed to all the neighbouring cities for fear of having to stand a siege. Several thousand men were killed and eight elephants captured. This was the last battle Marcellus fought in Sicily. After his victory he returned to Syracuse. As the year was now almost at an end, the senate decreed that the praetor P. Cornelius should send instructions to the consuls at Capua for one of them, if they approved, to come to Rome to appoint new magistrates while Hannibal was at a distance and no very critical operations were going on at Capua. After receiving the despatch the consuls came to a mutual arrangement that Claudius should conduct the elections and Fulvius remain at Capua. The new consuls were Cn. Fulvius Centimalus and P. Sulpicius Galba, the son of Servius, a man who had never before filled a curule office. The election of praetors followed; those elected were L. Cornelius Lentulus, M. Cornelius Cethegus, C. Sulpicius, and C. Calpurnius Piso. Piso took over the urban jurisdiction, Sicily was allotted to Sulpicius, Apulia to Cethegus, Sardinia to Lentulus. The consuls had their commands extended for another year.
End of Book 25
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
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