Publius Cornelius Scipio, afterwards called Africanus, elected ædile before he had attained the age required by the law. The citadel of Tarentum, in which the Roman garrison had taken refuge, betrayed to Hannibal. Games instituted in honour of Apollo, called Apollinarian. Quintus Fulvius and Appius Claudius, consuls, defeat Hanno the Carthaginian general. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus betrayed by a Lucanian to Mago, and slain. Centenius Penula, who had been a centurion, asks the senate for the command of an army, promising to engage and vanquish Hannibal; is cut off with eight thousand men. Cneius Fulvius engages Hannibal, and is beaten, with the loss of sixteen thousand men slain; he himself escapes with only two hundred horsemen. Quintus Fulvius and Appius Claudius, consuls, lay siege to Capua. Syracuse taken by Claudius Marcellus, after a siege of three years. In the tumult occasioned by taking the city, Archimedes is killed, while intently occupied upon some figures which he had drawn in the sand. Publius and Cornelius Scipio, after having performed many eminent services in Spain, are slain, together with nearly the whole of their armies, eight years after their arrival in that country; and the possession of that province would have been entirely lost, but for the valour and activity of Lucius Marcius, a Roman knight, who, collecting the scattered remains of the vanquished armies, utterly defeats the enemy, storming their two camps, killing thirty-seven thousand of them, and taking eighteen hundred, together with an immense booty.
Y.R. 539. 213.I. HANNIBAL passed the summer, during which these events took place in Africa and Spain, in the territory of Tarentum, in continual expectation of having that city betrayed into his hands. Meanwhile some inconsiderable towns of that district, with others belonging to the Sallentines, revolted to him. At the same time, of the twelve Bruttian States which had, a year or two before, gone over to the Carthaginians, the Consentians and Thurians put themselves again under the protection of the Roman people, and more of them would have done the same, had not Lucius Pomponius Veientanus, præfect of the allies, who, in consequence of several predatory expeditions in the territory of Bruttium, had acquired an appearance of a regular commander, assembled a tumultuary army, and fought a battle with Hanno. A vast number of his men were killed or taken on the occasion, but they were only an undisciplined rabble of peasants and slaves; and the least part of the loss was the præfect himself being taken among the rest; for, besides his inconsiderate rashnesss in bringing on this engagement, having been formerly a farmer of the revenue, he had, by every iniquitous practice, proved faithless and detrimental, both to the state and to the companies concerned in that business. The consul Sempronius had many slight skirmishes in Lucania, none worthy of mention, but reducing several inconsiderable towns. In proportion as the war was protracted to a greater length, and successes and disappointments produced various alterations, not only in the situations, but in the sentiments of men, superstitious observances, and these mostly introduced from abroad, gained such ground among the people in general, that it seemed as if either mankind or the deities had undergone a sudden change. And now the customed rites were disused, not only in private, and within doors, but even in the public streets, the Forum, and the Capitol. These were frequented by crowds of women sacrificing, and offering prayers to their gods, in modes hitherto unknown at Rome. A low sort of sacrificers, and soothsayers, had enslaved the people’s understandings, and the number of these were increased in consequence of the great influx of the peasantry from the country, who, as their lands lay long untilled by reason of the continuance of the war, and the inroads of the enemy, were driven into the city through want and fear. These found an easy means of profit, in working on the deluded minds of the multitude, which practice they carried on as if it were a lawful occupation. At first, every well-judging person expressed indignation at such proceedings; afterwards, the matter came to be noticed by the senators, and attracted public censure from the government. The ædiles, and the judges of criminal causes*, were sharply rebuked by the senate, for not having prevented these practices, although, when they had attempted to disperse from the Forum the crowd assembled on such an occasion, and to remove the implements of their rites, they were in imminent danger of personal injury. The evil now appearing too powerful to be checked by the efforts of the inferior magistrates, the senate gave a charge to Marcus Atilius, prætor of the city, to free the public from those superstitious nuisances. For this purpose, he read their decree in a general assembly; and, at the same time, gave notice, that “whosoever had any books of divination, and forms of prayer used on such occasions, or the art of sacrificing in writing, should bring all such books and writings to him before the calends of April, and that no person should in any place, either public or consecrated, perform sacrifice in any new or foreign mode.”
II. Several of the priests established by law died this year, Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, chief pontiff, Caius Papirius Maso, son of Caius, a pontiff, Publius Furius Philus, an augur, and Caius Papirius Maso, son of Furius, a decemvir for the direction of religious rites. In the room of Lentulus was substituted, in the college of pontiffs, Marcus Cornelius Cethegus; in that of Papirius, Cneius Servilius Cœpio: Lucius Quintius Flaminius was created augur, and Lucius Cornelius Lentulus decemvir for the direction of religious rites. The time of the consular election now drew nigh; but, as it was not judged expedient to call away the consuls from the war, which they were prosecuting with vigour, Tiberius Sempronius, consul, nominated Caius Claudius Centho dictator, to hold the elections, and he appointed Quintus Fulvius Flaccus his master of the horse. The dictator, on the first day whereon the assembly could meet, elected consuls Quintus Fulvius Flaccus the master of the horse, and Appius Claudius Pulcher, who had held the government of Sicily, as prætor. Then were elected prætors, Cneius Fulvius Flaccus, Caius Claudius Nero, Marcus Junius Silanus, Publius Cornelius Sulla. As soon as the elections were finished, the dictator resigned his office. This year, with Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, Publius Cornelius Scipio, afterwards surnamed Africanus was curule ædile. The plebeian tribunes opposed the pretensions of the latter to the ædileship, and insisted that he ought not to be admitted as a candidate, because he was not of the age required by law*, on which he answered, “If it is the will of all the citizens to make me ædile, I am old enough:” on this, the people hastened into their respective tribes, to give their votes in his favour, and with such a degree of zeal, that the tribunes at once relinquished their design. The compliments paid to the public by those ædiles were these: the Roman games were exhibited with magnificence, considering the circumstances of the times, and repeated during one day; with a donation of a gallon of oil to each street. The plebeian ædiles, Lucius Villius Tappulus, and Marcus Fundanius Fundulus, brought before the people a charge of incontinency against a considerable number of matrons, and several who were convicted were driven into exile. The plebeian games were repeated during two days; and, on occasion of these games, a banquet in honour of Jupiter was celebrated.
Y.R. 540. 212.III. Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, a third time, and Appius Claudius, entered upon the administration of the consulship. The provinces were assigned to the prætors by lot; the administration of justice, both to citizens and foreigners, formerly divided between two, now fell to Publius Cornelius Sulla; Apulia was allotted to Cneius Fulvius Flaccus, Suessula to Caius Claudius Nero, and Etruria to Marcus Junius Silanus. It was decreed, that the consuls should conduct the war against Hannibal, and that each should receive two legions, one from Quintus Fabius consul of the former year, the other from Fulvius Centumalus; that, of the prætors, Fulvius Flaccus should command those legions which were at Luceria, under the prætor Æmilius, and Claudius Nero those which were in Picenum under Caius Terentius, and that they themselves should raise recruits to fill up the numbers of their respective armies. To Marcus Junius, for the service in Etruria, were given the two city legions of the preceding year. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and Publius Sempronius Tuditanus were continued in command of their provinces, Lucania and Gaul, with the same forces as before; as was Publius Lentulus in the old Roman province in Sicily; Marcus Marcellus in Syracuse, and the late dominions of Hiero; Titus Otacilius in the command of the fleet, Marcus Valerius in that of Greece, Quintus Mucius Scævola in that of Sardinia, and the two Cornelii, Publius and Cneius, in that of Spain. In addition to the troops already on foot, two city legions were levied by the consuls, the number of these this year being raised to twenty-three. The behaviour of Marcus Postumius Pyrgensis impeded these levies of the consuls, and went very near exciting a great and general commotion. This man was a farmer of the revenue, and for many years had not, in the whole empire, any equal in fraud and avarice, excepting Lucius Pomponius Veientanus, who was made prisoner by the Carthaginians under Hanno, while he was inconsiderately ravaging the lands of Lucania. As the public were to undergo any loss of the supplies sent for the use of the armies, which should be occasioned by storm, these two had fabricated accounts of pretended shipwreck; and even such as they reported with a degree of truth, had happened through their own fraudulent contrivance, not through accident. Having put a few goods, of little worth, on board of old shattered vessels, they sunk these in the deep, after taking out the sailors into boats prepared for the purpose, and then made a false return of the cargoes, as of much more considerable value than they really were. A discovery of this fraud had been made the year before to Marcus Atilius the prætor, and by him communicated to the senate; but still no vote of censure had passed on it, because the senators were unwilling to disoblige, at such a time as that, the body of revenue farmers. The assembly of the people, however, proved a more strict avenger of it; and two plebian tribunes, Spurius and Lucius Carvilius, exerting themselves at last, when they saw that such conduct was become generally odious and scandalous, proposed a fine on Marcus Postumius of two hundred thousand asses in weight.* When the day arrived on which the cause was to be argued, such vast numbers of the commons attended the assembly, that the area of the Capitol could scarcely contain them; and when the pleadings were finished, the only hope which the defendant seemed to have, was, that Caius Servilius Casca, a plebian tribune, his near relation and intimate friend, should interpose a protest, before the tribes were called on for their opinions. After the witnesses had been examined, the tribunes desired the people to withdraw, and the urn was brought, in order that the tribes should draw lots, and then proceed to determine the matter. Meanwhile the revenue farmers urged Casca to stop the proceedings for that day, at which the commons loudly declared their displeasure, and Casca happening to sit foremost at a front corner of the Rostrum, his mind was highly agitated at once by fear and shame. Finding no support in him, the revenue farmers, for the purpose of obstructing the business, rushed, in a compact body, into the space which had been cleared by the withdrawing of some, wrangling at the same time with the remaining people and with the tribunes. The dispute now seemed likely to proceed to violence, when the consul Fulvius said to the tribunes, “Do you not see that your authority is annihilated, and that an insurrection will probably be the consequence, unless you quickly dismiss the assembly of the commons?”
IV. The commons were accordingly dismissed; and the consuls, having assembled the senate, required their judgment concerning the interruption given to the assembly of the people, and the audacious violence of the revenue farmers, representing at the same time, that “Marcus Furius Camilus, whose banishment was followed by the downfall of the city, had submitted to a sentence of condemnation, passed on him by his angry countrymen. That before him, the decemvirs, whose laws were the public rule of conduct to the present day, and, afterwards, many of the most distinguished personages in the state, had yielded themselves to the public judgment. But Postumius, an obscure individual of Pyrgi, had wrested from the Roman people their right of suffrage; had dissolved an assembly of the commons, annihilated the authority of the tribunes, arrayed a band of men, and seized on a post, with design to cut off all communication between the commons and their tribunes, and to prevent the tribes being called to vote. That nothing had restrained the people from riot and bloodshed, but the calmness and moderation of the magistrates, in giving way for the time to the desperate audaciousness of a few, in suffering themselves and the Roman people to be overcome, and rather than an occasion should be given to those, who wished for a riot, dissolving, according to the defendant’s desire, the assembly, whose proceedings he intended to hinder by force of arms.” Every man of character reprobatd such conduct as its heinousness deserved, and a decree of the senate was passed, declaring such violent outrage treason against the state, and of pernicious example; on which the Carvilii, plebeian tribunes, desisting from the prosecution of the fine, immediately brought forward a capital accusation against Postumius, and ordered, that unless he gave bail, he should be taken into custody by the beadle, and carried to prison. Postumius, after giving bail, did not appear. The tribunes then proposed to the commons, and the commons passed this order, that “if Marcus Postumius did not appear before the calends of May, and, being summoned on that day, did not answer to the charge, or show sufficient cause for his non-appearance, he should be adjudged an exile, his goods should be confiscated, and himself interdicted from fire and water* .” They then proceeded to prosecute on capital charges, and compelled to give bail, each of those who had fomented the tumult and disorder. At first, they threw into prison such as could not find security, and afterwards, even such as could; to avoid the danger of which treatment, most of those concerned went into exile. Such were the consequences of the fraud of the revenue farmers, and of their daring attempt to screen themselves from punishment.
V. An assembly was then held for the election of a chief pontiff, at which Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, the new pontiff, presided. Three candidates maintained a very obstinate contest, Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, now a third time consul, who had formerly served the office of censor; Titus Manlius Torquatus, distinguished likewise by two consulships and the censorship; and Publius Licinius Crassus, who was also to solicit for the office of curule ædile. The latter, young as he was, gained a complete victory over his competitors in this dispute, notwithstanding their advantages in respect of years, and the honours with which they were decorated. Before him there had not occurred, in the course of an hundred and twenty years, an instance of any person who had not sat in a curule chair, being created chief pontiff, excepting Publius Cornelus Calussa. Although the consuls found it very difficult to complete the levies of young men for the purposes of filling up vacancies in the old legions and raising new ones for the city, yet the senate forbade them to cease their endeavours, and ordered two sets of triumvirs to be appointed, one of which within, and the other beyond, the distance of fifty miles, should inspect into the number of free-born men in all the market-towns and villages, and enlist such for soldiers as had strength enough to carry arms, though they should not yet have attained the regular age for service; and that “the plebian tribunes would be pleased to propose to the people the passing of an order, That all persons under the age of seventeen years, who should take the military oath, should be allowed their years of service, in like manner as if they had been of the age of seventeen, or older, when enlisted.” In pursuance of this decree of the senate, two sets of triumvirs were appointed, who enlisted free-born youths in every part of the country.
VI. At this time a letter was read in the senate, written from Sicily by Marcus Marcellus, relative to a request of the troops serving under Publius Lentulus. This army consisted of those who had been in the battle of Cannæ; they had been sent abroad into Sicily, as mentioned before, under a rule, that they should not be brought home to Italy before the conclusion of the Carthaginian war. With the permission of Lentulus, they sent the most respectable among the horsemen and centurions, and a chosen number of the legionary infantry as deputies to Marcus Marcellus, to his winter-quarters; and, when they were admitted to an audience, one of them addressed him in this manner: “Marcus Marcellus, we would have carried our remonstrances into Italy to you, while you were consul, immediately after the passing of that severe, if we may not call it unjust, decree of the senate concerning us, had we not entertained the hope, that being sent into a province full of disturbance, in consequence of the death of their kings, to maintain a war of difficulty against the united forces of the Sicilians and Carthaginians, we might, by our wounds and blood, have made satisfaction to the anger of the senate, as, in the memory of our fathers, our countrymen, taken by Pyrrhus at Heraclea, made atonement by their exertions in arms against the same Pyrrhus. Yet, Conscript Fathers, for what demerit on our part did you then conceive, or do you now retain, displeasure against us? Addressing you, Marcus Marcellus, I consider myself as addressing both the consuls and the whole senate; for had you been our consul at Cannæ, both our affairs and those of the public would have been in a happier state. Suffer me then, I beseech you, before I complain of the hardship of our situation, to clear ourselves of the guilt which is laid to our charge. If the cause of our ruin at Cannæ was not the wrath of the gods, nor the decree of fate, under whose laws the immutable series of human events is carried on in a regular chain, but misconduct in some, to whom, I pray you, is that misconduct to be imputed? To the soldiers, or to the commanders? As a soldier, I shall certainly never say anything of my commander, especially since I know that thanks have been given him by the senate, for not having despaired of the commonwealth, and that, since his flight from Cannæ, he has been continued in command through every succeeding year. We have heard, moreover, that others who saved their lives on that melancholy occasion, and who were then our military tribunes, sue for, and administer offices of honour, and hold the command of provinces: Is it, Conscript Fathers, that you easily grant pardon to yourselves, and to your offspring, while you inexorably pour vengeance on our worthless heads? Was it no disgrace for a consul, and other chiefs of the state, to fly, when no other hope was left; and did you send your soldiers into the field, under a particular obligation to die there? At the Allia, almost the whole army fled; at the Caudine Forks, the troops, without even attempting opposition, surrendered to the enemy; not to mention other and shameful defeats. Nevertheless, so far were these armies from having any mark of ignominy contrived for them, that the city of Rome was recovered by means of those very troops who had fled from the Allia to Veii; and the Caudine legions, who had returned without arms to Rome, being sent back armed into Samnium, sent under the yoke, that very enemy who had so lately exulted in their disgrace. But can any one make a charge of cowardice, or running away, on the troops who fought in the battle of Cannæ, in which more than fifty thousand men fell; from which the consul made his escape with only seventy horsemen; and from which no one brought away his life, who does not owe it to the enemy’s being fatigued with killing? At the time when the proposal of ransoming the prisoners was rejected, people, in general, bestowed praises on us, for having reserved ourselves for the use of the commonwealth, for having gone back to the consul to Venusia, and formed an appearance of a regular army. Now, we are in a worse condition than were those taken by an enemy in the time of our fathers: for, in their case, there was only an alteration made in their arms, in their station in the army, and in the place where they were to pitch their tents in camp; all which, however, they reversed, at once, by a strenuous exertion in the service of the public, by one successful battle. None of them were sent into banishment; not one was precluded from the hope of serving out his legal term, and gaining a discharge; in short, they were brought face to face with an enemy, in fighting whom they might at once put an end either to their life or their dishonour. We, to whom nothing can be imputed, except that our conduct was the cause that any one Roman soldier survived the battle of Cannæ, are driven away to a distance, not only from our native country, and from Italy, but even from an enemy, to a place where we may grow old in exile, shut out from all hope, all opportunity of obliterating our disgrace, or of appeasing the wrath of our countrymen, or, in fine, of dying with honour. However, we seek not either an end of our ignominy, or the rewards of valour; we desire only permission to give a proof of our spirit, and to exercise our courage; we seek labour and danger, that we may discharge the duties of men, and of soldiers. This is now the second year, during which war is maintained in Sicily with great vigour on both sides; the Carthaginians conquer some cities, the Romans others; armies of infantry, and of cavalry, engage in battle; the operations are carried on at Syracuse by land and by sea; we plainly hear the shouts of the combatants, and the din of their arms, while we lie inactive and torpid, as if we had neither hands nor armour. With legions composed of slaves, the consul Tiberius Sempronius fought many pitched battles: they enjoy the fruits of their labour, freedom, and the rights of citizens. Let us be considered at least as slaves, purchased for the purpose of the present war. Let us be allowed to face the enemy, and to acquire freedom in battle. Do you choose to try our courage on sea, or on land; in the field, or in assaulting towns? Our petition is for the most arduous enterprizes, the greatest labour, and the utmost danger: that what ought to have happened at Cannæ, may happen as soon as possible, since the whole remainder of our lives, from that day, has been doomed to shame.”
VII. At the conclusion of this speech they prostrated themselves at Marcellus’s feet. Marcellus told them, that a business of that sort lay not within his authority, or his power; that he would write to the senate, and govern himself, in every particular, by the judgment of that body. His letter on the subject was brought to the new consuls, and read by them in the senate, when the matter being taken into consideration, a decree was passed to this purpose, that “the senate saw no reason why the interests of the commonwealth should be entrusted to men who had deserted their fellow-soldiers in battle at Cannæ. That if Marcus Claudius, the proconsul, was of a different opinion, he should act as he might judge consistent with the public good, and his own honour; provided that none of those persons should be excused from labour, or receive any military present in reward of courage, or be brought home to Italy while the enemy had any footing there.” After this, in pursuance of a decree of the senate, and an order of the people, an assembly of election was held by the city prætor, in which were created five commissioners for repairing the walls and towers, and two sets of triumvirs; one, to search for the effects belonging to the temples, and register the offerings; the other, to repair the temples of Fortune, and Mother Matuta, within the Carmental gate, and likewise that of Hope, on the outside of the gate, which had been consumed by fire the year before. There were dreadful storms at this time: on the Alban mount, a shower of stones lasted, without intermission, for two days; many places were struck with lightning; two buildings in the Capitol, the rampart of the camp above Suessula, in many places, and two of the men on guard were killed. A wall and some towers at Cumæ were not only struck, but demolished by lightning. At Reate, a huge rock was seen to fly about, and the sun appeared more red than usual, and of a colour like blood. On account of these prodigies there was a supplication for one day, the consuls employing themselves, for several others, in the performance of religious rites; at the same time solemn worship was performed, during nine days. The revolt of the Tarentines, after having been long hoped for by Hannibal, and apprehended by the Romans, happened to be accelerated by a cause which originated at a distance: a Tarentine, named Phileas, had been a long time at Rome under the pretext of political business. Being a man of a restless disposition, and conceiving that he was losing his active powers during his stay in that city, he contrived to gain access to the hostages from Tarentum, who were kept in the court of the Temple of Liberty, and guarded with the less care, because it was not the interest either of themselves or of their state to impose upon the Romans. Having, after frequent conversations, procured their concurrence in his scheme, and bribed two of their keepers, he brought them out of their confinement in the beginning of the night, and fled in company with them. As soon as day arrived, the news of their escape spread through the city, and a party, sent in pursuit of them, seized them all at Tarracina, and brought them back. They were led into the Comitium, and with the approbation of the people scourged with rods, and thrown down from the rock.
VIII. The cruelty of this punisment exasperated the inhabitants of the two most considerable Grecian cities in Italy, both as communities, and as individuals connected in relation, or friendship, with the persons thus put to death. A conspiracy was formed in consequence, by about thirteen of the young nobility at Tarentum, at the head of whom were Nico and Philemenus. Judging it necessary, before they took any step, to confer with Hannibal, they went out of the city by night, under pretence of hunting, and repaired to the place where he lay. When they came within a small distance of his camp, the rest concealed themselves in a wood near the road, while Nico and Philemenus, proceeding to the advanced guard, were taken into custody, and, at their own request, conducted into the presence of Hannibal. When they had laid before him the reasons for their undertaking, and what they intended to perform, they received high commendations, and a profusion of promises; and were desired, in order to make their countrymen believe that they came out of the city in search of plunder, to drive home before them some cattle belonging to the Carthaginians, which had been turned into pasture; at the same time, assurance was given them, that they might do it with safety, and without a dispute. Such a booty acquired by the young men was much noticed, and people wondered the less at their frequently repeating the same kind of enterprize. At another meeting with Hannibal, a covenant was solemnly ratified, that the Tarentines should, together with freedom, retain their own laws, and all their rights; that they should neither pay any kind of tribute to the Carthaginians, nor, without their own consent, receive a garrison from them; but that the present garrisons, when overpowered, should be put into the hands of the Carthaginians. After the terms were thus settled, Philemenus continued his practice of going out, and returning into the city, by night, with still greater frequency, attended by dogs and other requisites for hunting, of which he was remarkably fond; then, bringing home something, which he either took himself in the chase, or carried off from the enemy, who laid it purposely in his way, he generally presented it to the commander, or to the watchmen at the gates, who supposed that he chose to pass particularly by night, through fear of surprize. When this practice had now become so customary, that, at whatever time of night he gave the signal by a whistle, the gate would be opened, Hannibal thought it was time to put their design into execution. He lay at the distance of three days’ journey, and, in order that his keeping his camp fixed in one and the same spot, for such a length of time, might create the less wonder, feigned himself sick. Even the Romans in garrison at Tarentum had now ceased to look with suspicion on his remaining so long inactive.
IX. But when he determined to go on to Tarentum, choosing out of the infantry and cavalry ten thousand men, who, in activity of body, and lightness of their armour, seemed best qualified for expedition, he began his march at the fourth watch of the night; having first detached about eighty Numidian horsemen, with orders to scour the country on each side of the road, examining every place carefully, least any of the people who might observe his approach from a distance should escape: to bring back such as were before them on the way, and to kill all whom they met, in order that the neighbouring inhabitants might have reason to suppose it a plundering party, rather than an army. Hannibal, after marching with rapid speed, pitched his camp at the distance of about fifteen miles from Tarentum: nor did he, even there, discover to the soldiers their destination, only giving it in charge not to suffer any one to turn aside, or quit the line; and, above all, to keep their attention alert to receive orders, and to do nothing without the command of their officers; adding, that in due time he would let them know what he wished to be done. About the same hour, a report had reached Tarentum, that a small number of Numidian horsemen were ravaging the lands, and had spread terror among the inhabitants through a great part of the country: but the Roman commander paid no farther regard to this intelligence, than to order a party of cavalry to go out very early next morning, to stop these depredations; and, so far was he from increasing his vigilance in other respects, that, on the contrary, he considered this inroad of the Numidians as a proof, that Hannibal and his army had not stirred from their camp. Early in the night, the Carthaginian put his troops in motion, and Philemenus, with his usual burthen, taken in hunting, served him as a guide, while the rest of the conspirators waited for the concerted signals. It had been settled among them, that Philemenus, bringing in his game through the gate where he was accustomed to pass, should introduce some men in arms, while Hannibal should, on another side, approach the gate called Temenis, which, being about the middle of the land side, faced towards the east and near which, within the walls, stood some tombs, where Nico waited his arrival. On approaching the place, Hannibal, according to agreement, raised up a fire, and made it blaze. The same signal was returned by Nico, and then the fires were extinguished on both sides. Hannibal led on his men in silence to the gate. Nico, falling suddenly on the guards, who were fast asleep, slew them in their beds, and threw the gate open. Hannibal then entered with his infantry, but ordered the cavalry to halt without, in order that if occasion should require, they might have open ground to act in. At the same time, Philemenus, on the other side, drew nigh the postern through which he had usally passed, and his signal, which had now become familiar, with his well known voice, saying that he was hardly able to bear the weight of a huge beast he had killed, soon brought out a watchman, and the gate was opened. While two young men carried in a boar, he himself followed with a huntsman unincumbered, and while the watchman, astonished at the size of the animal, turned incautiously to those who carried it, he ran him through with a hunting spear. About thirty armed men then pushed in, slew the rest of the watchmen, and broke open the next gate, through which a band of soldiers in array immediately burst in. These were conducted thence, in silence, to the Forum, and there joined Hannibal. The Carthaginian now sent the Tarentines of his party, with two thousand Gauls, formed in three divisions, through the several parts of the city with orders to take possession of the most frequented streets, and, on a tumult arising, to kill the Romans every where, and spare the townsmen. But to render this practicable, he gave direction to the young Tarentines, that whenever they saw any of their countrymen at a distance, they should bid them be quiet and silent, and fear nothing.
X. Now all was tumult and uproar as usual in a city newly taken, but how occasioned, no one knew with certainty. The Tarentines supposed, that the Romans had risen in arms to sack the city; the Romans, that an insurrection, with some treacherous intent, had taken place among the townsmen. The commander, being roused at the beginning of the disturbance, fled away to the port, and getting into a boat was carried round to the citadel. The consternation was increased by the sound of a trumpet heard from the theatre: it was a Roman one, procured before hand by the conspirators for this purpose, and being unskilfully blown by a Greek, it was impossible to discover who gave that signal, or to whom it was given. When day appeared, the sight of the Carthaginian and Gallic arms removed all doubt from the minds of the Romans; and, on the other side, the Greeks seeing these lie slaughtered in every quarter, perceived that the city was taken by Hannibal. When the light became more clear, and the Romans, who survived the carnage, had fled into the citadel, the tumult began gradually to subside, then Hannibal ordered the Tarentines to be called together without their arms. They all attended, some few excepted, who had accompanied the Romans in their retreat into the citadel, resolved to share every fortune with them. Here Hannibal addressed the Tarentines in terms of much kindness; reminded them of his behaviour to their countrymen, whom he had taken at the Trasimenus or Cannæ, inveighing, at the same time, against the overbearing tyranny of the Romans. He then ordered each to retire to his own house, and to write his name on the door; because, on a signal shortly to be given, he would order every house, not so inscribed, to be plundered; adding, that if any should write his name on the habitation of a citizen of Rome, (for the Romans lived in houses of their own,) he should be treated as an enemy. The assembly was then dismissed, and as soon as the doors were marked with inscriptions, so as to distinguish the houses of friends from those of enemies, the signal was given, and the troops spread themselves through all parts of the town to plunder the quarters of the Romans, in which a considerable booty was found.
XI. On the following day, he led on his forces to attack the citadel; but found, that on the side towards the sea, which flows almost round it, forming it into a peninsula, it was defended by very high rocks, and, on the side towards the town, by a wall, and a very large ditch; and that consequently it was impregnable, either in the way of assault, or by regular approaches. Not choosing either to be detained from more important business, by taking on himself the care of defending the Tarentines, or in case he left them without a strong garrison, to put it in the power of the Romans to attack them from the citadel whenever they pleased, he determined to cut off the communication between the citadel and the city by a rampart. Besides, he entertained some hopes, that the Romans, attempting to hinder this, might be brought to an engagement, and that, should they sally forth with more than ordinary eagerness, great numbers of them might be cut off, and the strength of the garrison thereby reduced to such a degree, that the Tarentines could alone defend the city against them. As soon as the work was begun, the garrison, suddenly throwing open one of the gates, made an attack on the workmen. The guard there stationed suffered themselves to beaten off, in order that the others might grow bolder on success, and that great numbers of them might join the pursuit, and advance to a greater distance. This they did: when on a signal given, the Carthaginians, whom Hannibal had kept in readiness for this purpose, rushed forward on all sides. The Romans were unable to withstand their onset; while the narrowness of the ground, and the difficulties caused by the part of the work already begun, and the implements collected for carrying it on, obstructed their hasty flight, so that most of them tumbled headlong into the ditch, and more lives were thus lost than in the battle. The work was then carried on without any farther obstruction. A ditch of vast dimensions was dug, and on the inner side of that a rampart thrown up. It was resolved likewise to add at a small distance behind, and in the same direction, a wall, so that even without a garrison the townsmen might be able to secure themselves against any attack of the Romans. Hannibal, however, left a company to serve as such, and at the same time to assist in completing the wall; and then marching out with the rest of his forces, he encamped at the river Galesus, about five miles distant from the city. From this post he returned to inspect the work, and finding that it had advanced much more briskly than he had expected, conceived hopes of being able even to make himself master of the citadel, which is not secured, like other fortresses of the kind, by height of situation, but built on level ground, and divided from the city only by a wall and a trench. The approaches were now pushed forward with every kind of machinery, when a reinforcement, sent from Metapontum, inspired the Romans with courage to assail the works of the enemy, by surprize, in the night. Some of them they levelled, others they destroyed by fire, this put an end to Hannibal’s attacks on the citadel in that quarter. His only prospect of success was now in a blockade, and that not very flattering, because the citadel, being seated on a peninsula, commanded the entrance of the harbour, and had the sea open; while the city was of course debarred from the importation of provisions, and the besiegers were in more danger of want, than the besieged. Hannibal, calling together the chiefs of the Tarentines, enumerated all the present difficulties, and added, that “he could neither see any way of storming so strong a fortress, nor place any hope in a blockade, as long as the enemy had the command of the sea. But if he were possessed of ships, by means of which he could prevent the introduction of supplies, the garrison would speedily either abandon the place, or surrender.” In this the Tarentines agreed with him, but they were of opinion, that “he who offered the counsel ought likewise to offer aid to put it in execution: for, if the Carthaginian ships were called over from Sicily, they would be able to effect the purpose; as to their own, which were shut up in a narrow creek, how could they, while the enemy commanded the harbour’s mouth, ever make their way into the open sea?”—“They shall make their way,” said Hannibal: “many things, difficult in their nature, are made easy by good management. Your city lies in a plain; very wide and level roads stretch out to every side; by that which runs across the middle of the city, from the harbour to the sea, I will, without much labour, carry over your ships on waggons. The sea, now in possession of the foe, will then be ours; we will invest the citadel on that side, and on this by land; or rather, we will shortly take possession of it, for the garrison will either abandon it, or surrender themselves with it.” This discourse excited not only hopes of the design being accomplished, but the highest admiration of the general’s skill. Immediately waggons were collected from all parts, and fastened together; machines were applied to haul up the ships, and the road was repaired, in order that the vehicles might meet the less obstruction in passing. Beasts for drawing, with a number of men, were then procured; the work was commenced with briskness, so that, in a few days, the fleet, equipped and manned, sailed round the citadel, and cast anchor just before the mouth of the harbour. In this state Hannibal left affairs at Tarentum, and returned to his winter-quarters. Whether the defection of the Tarentines took place in this, or the preceding year, authors are not agreed: the greater number, and those who lived nearest to the time of these transactions, represent it as having happened as here stated.
XII. At Rome, the Latine festival detained the consuls and prætors until the fifth of the calends of May: on that day, having completed the solemnities on the mount, they set out for their respective provinces. A new perplexity, respecting religious matters, afterwards occurred, arising from the divinations of Marcius. This Marcius had been a celebrated soothsayer, and when, in the preceding year, an inquiry after such books as regarded them was made, according to the decree of the senate, his had come into the hands of Marcus Atilius, the city prætor, who was employed in that business, and he had handed them over to the new prætor Sulla. Of two predictions of this Marcius, one, on account of its verity, for it was actually fulfilled, procured credit to the other, the time of whose completion had not yet arrived. In the former of these, the defeat at Cannæ was foretold, nearly in these words: “Roman of Trojan race, fly the river Cannæ, lest foreigners compel thee to fight in the plain of Diomede. But thou wilt not believe me until thou fillest the plain with blood, and the river carry many of thy thousands slain from the fruitful land into the great sea. To fishes, and birds, and beasts of prey inhabiting the earth, to these, thy flesh be food. For so has Jupiter said to me.” Those who had served in the army in those parts recollected the plains of the Argive Diomede and the river Cannæ, as well as the defeat itself. The other prophecy was then read: it was more obscure; and the expression more perplexed:—“Romans, if you wish to expel the enemy, and the ulcer which has come from afar, I direct, that games be vowed to Apollo, and that they be performed in honour of that deity, every year, with cheerfulness. When the people shall have granted a particular sum out of the public fund, let private persons contribute, each according to his ability. At the performance of these games, that prætor will preside who shall hold the supreme administration of justice in respect to the people and commons. Let the decemvirs sacrifice victims after the Grecian mode. If you do these things properly you shall ever rejoice, and your state will improve; for Apollo will extirpate your foes who quietly feed on your plains.” They took one day to explain this prophecy, and on the following, a decree of the senate was passed, that the decemvirs should examine the books concerning the performance of games and sacrifices to Apollo. When the examination was made, and the result reported to the senate, they voted, that games should be vowed to Apollo, and that when these should be finished, ten thousand asses in weight* should be given to the prætor to defray the expenses of the public worship, and also two victims of the larger sort.” By another decree they ordered, that “the decemvirs should sacrifice according to the Grecian rites, and with the following victims: to Apollo, with a gilded steer; to Diana, with two white gilded goats; and to Latona, with a gilded heifer.” The prætor, when about to exhibit the games in the great circus, published a proclamation, that the people should, during those games, pay in their contributions, proportioned to their ability, for the service of Apollo. This was the origin of the Apollinarian games, which were vowed and performed for the attaining of success, and not of health, as is generally supposed. At the exhibition of the games all wore garlands, the matrons made supplications, and people in general feasted in the courts of their houses, with their doors open; and the day was solemnized with every kind of religious ceremony.
XIII. While Hannibal was in the neighbourhood of Tarentum, both the consuls continued in Samnium, showing every appearance of an intention to besiege Capua. The inhabitants of that city began already to feel a calamity, usually attendant on long sieges, a famine, the consequence of their having been hindered by the Roman armies from tilling their lands. They therefore sent deputies to Hannibal, entreating that, before the consuls should march the legions into their country, and all the roads should be occupied by their parties, he would order corn to be conveyed into Capua from the neighbouring places. On this, Hannibal immediately commanded Hanno to march away with his army from Bruttium into Campania, and to take care that the Capuans should be well supplied with corn. Hanno, on leaving Bruttium, was careful to avoid the camps of the enemy, and the consuls who were in Samnium; and coming near Beneventum, encamped on an elevated spot, three miles from that town. From thence he issued orders that the corn collected in the summer should be brought in from the states of that country, who were of his party, to his camp, and appointed troops to escort the convoys. He then sent an express to the Capuans, fixing a day on which they should attend, to receive the corn, with the carriages of all kinds, and beasts of burthen, which they could collect. This business the Campanians conducted with their usual carelessness and indolence; little more than forty carriages were sent, and with them a few beasts of burthen: for which they were sharply rebuked by Hanno, who observed, that even hunger, which kindled a spirit in dumb beasts, could not stimulate those people to active diligence; however, he appointed another day, when they were to come for the corn with more sufficient means of conveyance. The people of Beneventum being informed of every particular of these transactions, instantly despatched ten deputies to the consuls encamped near Bovianum, who, as soon as they heard what was going on at Capua, agreed between themselves, that one of them should lead his army into Campania; and, accordingly, Fulvius, to whose lot that province had fallen, setting out by night, marched into the town of Beneventum. Here, the distance being short, he quickly learned, that Hanno had gone out with a division of his army to forage; that the business of delivering the corn to the Capuans was managed by a quæstor; that two thousand carts had arrived, attended by a disorderly unarmed rabble; that every thing was done with hurry and confusion, and that the regularity of a camp, and military subordination were entirely banished by the intermixture of such a number of peasants. This intelligence being sufficiently authenticated, the consul issued orders that the soldiers should get in readiness, against the next night, their standards and arms, as he intended to attack the Carthaginian camp. Leaving all their knapsacks and baggage at Beneventum, they began their march at the fourth watch; and arriving, a little before day, at the camp, struck such terror there, that if it had stood on level ground, they might undoubtedly have taken it at the first assault: it was protected by the height of its situation, and its fortifications, which could not be approached on any side, except by a steep and difficult ascent.
XIV. At the dawn of day a furious battle commenced: the Carthaginians not only maintained their rampart, but, having the advantage of the ground, tumbled down the enemy as they climbed up the steeps; nevertheless, the obstinate courage of the latter overcame all obstacles, and they made their way in several parts at once up to the rampart and trenches, but at the expense of many wounds, and a great loss of men. The consul, therefore, calling together the military tribunes, told them, that “this inconsiderate attempt must be given up, and that he judged it the safer course to carry back the army, immediately, to Beneventum, and then, on the day following, to pitch his camp so close to that of the enemy, as to put it out of the power, either of the Campanians to go out, or of Hanno to return into it; and that, in order to effect this with the greater ease, he should send for his colleague, and the army under his command; and that they should direct their whole force to that point.” This plan of the general was disconcerted, after the retreat began to sound, by the shouts of the soldiers, expressing their scorn of such pusilanimous orders. Close to one of the enemy’s gates was a Pelignian cohort, whose commander, Vibius Accuæus, snatched the standard, and threw it over the rampart; uttering imprecations on himself and the cohort, if they left their ensign in the hands of the enemy. He then rushed forwards, across the ditch and rampart, into the camp. The Pelignians now fought within the rampart, when Valerius Flaccus, a military tribune of the third legion, began upbraiding the Romans with dastardly behaviour, in yielding up to the allies the honour of taking the camp. On this, Titus Pedanius, first centurion, and who commanded the first century, snatching the ensign from the standard-bearer, cried out, “this standard too, and I your centurion, will instantly be within the rampart; let those follow who wish to save the same from falling into the enemy’s hands.” Then crossing the ditch, he was followed, first, by the men of his century, and, afterwards, by the whole legion. The consul now, seeing them mount the rampart, altered his design, and instead of calling off the troops, exerted himself to incite and animate them; representing the imminent hazard and danger to which that very gallant cohort of their allies, and a legion of their own countrymen, were exposed. On which they, one and all, with the utmost ardour, regardless whether the ground was easy or difficult, pushed onwards through every obstacle; and, in spite of the showers of weapons, which fell on every side, and of all the opposition which the enemy with their arms and bodies could give them, forced their way in. Many even of the wounded, and of those whose blood and strength began to fail them, struggled forward, that they might fall in the camp of the enemy. It was entered therefore in as short a space as if it had stood in a plain, and had no fortification to protect it. Both armies being now shut up together within the rampart, the sequel was a carnage, not a fight: upwards of six thousand of the enemy were slain, and above seven thousand taken, together with the Campanians who came for the corn, and all their train of waggons and beasts of burthen. There was also great abundance of other booty, which Hanno and his plunderers had collected out of the lands of the states in alliance with the Roman people. After demolishing the enemy’s camp, the army returned to Beneventum, and there the consuls (for Appius Claudius came thither in a few days after), divided and sold the spoil. Those who were chiefly instrumental in this affair, particularly Accuæus the Pelignian, and Titus Pedanius first centurion of the third legion, received honorary presents. Hanno, who was then at Caminium, in the territory of Cæres, on being informed of the loss of his camp, returned with the small party of foragers which he had with him, into Bruttium, in a manner more like a flight than a march.
XV. The Campanians, when informed of the disaster which had fallen on them and their allies, despatched deputies to Hannibal, to acquaint him, that “the two consuls were at Beneventum, within one day’s march of Capua; so that the war might almost be said to be close to their gates and walls. That unless he afforded them speedy succour, Capua would fall into the enemy’s power in a shorter time than Arpi had done. That even Tarentum, taken in its whole extent, not to speak of its citadel, ought not to be deemed of such consequence, as to induce him to neglect the defence of Capua, (a city which he used to compare to Carthage,) and to throw it into the hands of the Roman people.” Hannibal promised to pay due attention to the affairs of the Campanians; and, for the present, sent with their deputies a body of two thousand horsemen, to assist them in protecting their lands from depredations. Meanwhile, the Romans, among the variety of their other concerns, were not disregardful of the citadel of Tarentum, and the garrison besieged in it. By direction of the senate, Caius Servilius, lieutenant general, was sent by Publius Cornelius, prætor, into Etruria, to purchase corn; with which having loaded several vessels, he passed through the guardships of the enemy, and arrived in the port of Tarentum. His coming produced such a change in their disposition, that they who, a little before, when their hopes of relief were small, had frequently, in conferences, been solicited by the Carthaginian to desert the Roman cause, began now to solicit him to come over to them. The garrison was abundantly strong, for the troops stationed at Metapontum had been brought hither for the defence of the citadel. The Metapontines being hereby freed from the restraint under which they had been held, instantly revolted to Hannibal; as did the Thurians, on the same coast, induced, not only by the example of the Tarentines and Metapontines, with whom they were connected by consanguinity, being originally descended from natives of the same country of Achaia, but principally by resentment against the Romans, for the late execution of the hostages. The friends and relations of these sent letters and messages to Hanno and Mago, who were at no great distance in Bruttium, that if they brought their army near the walls, they would deliver the city into their hands. There was a small garrison at Thurium commanded by Marcus Atinius, and they supposed that he might be easily tempted to engage rashly in a battle; not from any confidence in his own troops, (for they were very few,) but from relying on the support of the young men of the place, whom he had purposely formed into companies and armed, that he might have them ready to aid him in exigencies of the kind. The Carthaginian commanders, dividing their forces, entered the territory of Thurium; and then Hanno, at the head of the infantry, in hostile array, advanced towards the city; while Mago, with the cavalry, halted under the cover of some hills, which stood conveniently for concealing the stratagem. Atinius learning nothing from his scouts but the march of the infantry, and ignorant both of the treachery within the city, and of the enemy’s ambush, led out his forces to battle. The infantry engaged without any degree of vigour, the only exertions being made by the few Romans in front, the Thurians rather waiting for the issue, than taking any part in the action, while the Carthaginian line retreated on purpose to draw the incautious enemy to the back of the hill, where their horse was posted. No sooner did they arrive here, than the cavalry, rushing on with loud shouts, instantly put to flight the crowd of Thurians, who were almost ignorant of discipline, and not very faithfully attached to the party on whose side they appeared. The Romans, notwithstanding their being surrounded, and hard pressed, by the infantry on one side, and the cavalry on the other, maintained the fight for a considerable time: at last, they also turned their backs, and fled towards the city. Here the conspirators were collected together in a body, and received with open gates the multitude of their countrymen; but when they saw the routed Romans making towards them, they cried out, that the Carthaginians were close at hand, and if the gates were not speedily closed, the enemy, and all together, would pour in. In this manner they shut out the Romans, and left them to perish by the sword. Atinius, however, with a few others, gained admittance. A dispute now arose, and lasted for some time, one party maintained that they ought to defend the city, another, that they ought to yield to fortune, and surrender it to the conquerors. But, as is too often the case, bad counsels prevailed. They conveyed Atinius, with a few attendants, to the ships near the shore, which they did out of personal regard to himself, and on account of the justice and mildness of his conduct in command, rather than out of good will to the Romans, and then opened their gates to the Carthaginians. The consuls led their legions from Beneventum into the territory of Campania, with the intention not only of destroying the corn, which was now in the blade, but of laying siege to Capua; hoping to signalize their consulate by the destruction of so opulent a city, and, at the same time, to free their government from the great shame of suffering a revolt so near home to pass unpunished during the space of three years. But, that Beneventum should not be without a garrison, and that, in case of sudden emergencies, if Hannibal should come to Capua to succour his allies, as they had no doubt but he would, there might be a body of cavalry to oppose his, they ordered Tiberius Gracchus to come from Lucania to Beneventum, with his horse and light infantry, and to appoint some officer to command the legions in camp, in order to preserve peace in Lucania.
XVI. While Gracchus was performing sacrifices, preparatory to his departure from Lucania, a prodigy of disastrous import occurred: when a victim was killed, two snakes, creeping up from some hiding-place to the entrails, eat the liver, and after being seen by all present, suddenly vanished. It is even said, that when, by advice of the aruspices, the same sacrifice was repeated, and the pots containing the entrails were more carefully watched, the snakes came a second, and a third time; and after eating the liver, went away unhurt. Though the diviners gave warning, that this portent concered the general, and that he ought to be on his guard against secret enemies, and plots, yet his impending fate could not be averted by any effort of prudence. There was a Lucanian, called Flavius, the head of that division of his countrymen who adhered to the Romans when the other went over to Hannibal; and he was, that year, in the chief magistracy, having been elected prætor by his party. This man, changing his mind on a sudden, and seeking some means of ingratiating himself with the Carthaginian, did not think it enough to draw his countrymen into a revolt, unless he ratified the league between him and the enemy with the head and blood of his commander, to whom he was also bound by ties of hospitality, and whom, notwithstanding, he determined to betray. He held a private conference with Mago, who commanded in Bruttium, and having received from him a solemn promise, that if he would deliver the Roman general into the hands of the Carthaginians, the Lucanians should be received into friendship, and retain their own laws and their liberty, he conducted the Carthaginian to a spot, whither, he said, he would bring Gracchus with a few attendants. He then desired Mago to arm both horsemen and footmen, and to take possession of that retired place, where a very large number might be concealed. After thoroughly examining the same on all sides, they appointed a day for the execution of the plan. Flavius then went to the Roman general, and told him, that “he had made some progress in an affair of great consequence, to the completion of which the assistance of Gracchus himself was necessary. That he had persuaded all the prætors of those states in Lucania, who, during the general defection in Italy, had revolted to the Carthaginians, to return into friendship with the Romans, alleging that the power of Rome, which, by the defeat at Cannæ, had been brought to the brink of ruin, was every day improving and increasing, while Hannibal’s strength was declining, and had sunk almost to nothing. That with regard to their former transgression, the Romans would not be implacable; for never was there a nation more easily appeased, and more ready to grant pardon; and asking, how often had their own ancestors received pardon of rebellion? These things,” he said, “he had represented to them; but that it would be more pleasing to them to hear the same from Gracchus himself, to be admitted into his presence, and to touch his right-hand, that they might carry with them that pledge of faith. He had fixed a place,” he said, “for the parties to meet, remote from observation, and at a small distance from the Roman camp; there the business might be finished in a few words, and the alliance and obedience of the whole nation of Lucania secured to the Romans.” Gracchus, not perceiving, either in this discourse, or in the proposition itself, any reason to suspect perfidy, and being imposed on by the plausibility of the tale, left the camp with his lictors and one troop of horse, and following the guidance of his guest, fell precipitately into the snare. The enemy at once rose from their ambush, and, what removed all doubt of treachery, Flavius joined himself to them. Weapons were now poured from all sides on Gracchus and his horsemen. He immediately leaped down from his horse, ordered the rest to do the same, and exhorted them, “as fortune had left them but one part to act, to dignify that part by their bravery. To a handful of men, surrounded by a multitude in a valley hemmed in by woods and mountains, what else was left than to die? The only alternative they had was, either tamely waiting their blows, to be massacred, like cattle, without the pleasure of revenge, or with minds totally abstracted from the thoughts of pain or of what the issue might be, and actuated solely by resentment and rage, to exert every vigorous and daring effort, and to fall covered with the blood of their expiring foes.” He desired that “all should aim at the Lucanian traitor, and deserter;” adding that “whoever should send that victim before him to the infernal regions, would acquire distinguished glory, and the greatest consolation for his own loss of life.” While he spoke thus, he wrapped his robe about his left arm, (for they had not even brought bucklers with them,) and then rushed on the murderers. The fight was maintained with greater vigour than could have been expected, considering the smallness of their number. The Romans, whose bodies were uncovered and exposed, on all sides, to weapons thrown from the higher grounds into a deep valley, were mostly pierced through with javelins. Gracchus being now left without support, the Carthaginians endeavoured to take him alive; but, observing his Lucanian guest among them, he rushed with such fury into the thickest of the band, that they could not sieze him without the loss of many lives. Mago immediately sent his body to Hannibal, desiring that it should be laid, with the fasces taken at the same time, before the general’s tribunal. This is the true account of the matter: Gracchus was cut off in Lucania, near the place called the Old Plains.
XVII. Some lay the scene of this disaster in the territory of Beneventum, at the river Calor, where they say, he went from the camp to bathe, attended by his lictors and three servants; that he was slain by a party of the enemy, who happened to be lurking in the oziers which grew on the bank, while he was naked and unarmed, attempting, however to defend himself with the stones brought down by the river. Others write, that, by direction of the aruspices, he went out a half a mile from the camp, that he might expiate the prodigies before-mentioned in a place free from defilement, and that he was surrounded by two troops of Numidians, who were lying in wait there. So far are writers from agreeing with regard either to the place or the manner of the death of a man so renowned and illustrious. There are also various accounts of his funeral: some say that he was burried by his own men in the Roman camp; others, whose account is more generally received, that a funeral pile was erected for him by Hannibal, at the entrance of the Carthaginian camp, and that the troops under arms marched in procession round it, with the dances of the Spaniards, and the several motions of their arms and bodies peculiar to each nation; while Hannibal himself joined in solemnizing his obsequies with every mark of respect, both in the terms in which he spoke of him, and in the manner of performing the rites. Such is the relation of those who state the affair as having happened in Lucania. If those are to be believed who affirm that he was killed at the river Calor, the enemy kept possession of Gracchus’s head only, which being brought to Hannibal, he immediately sent Carthalo to convey it into the Roman camp to Cneius Cornelius, the quæstor; solomnizing the funeral of the general in his camp; in, the performance of which the Beneventans joined with the soldiers.
XVIII. The consuls, having entered the Campanian territories, spread devastation on all sides, but were soon alarmed by the townsmen, in conjunction with Mago and his cavalry, marching hastily out against them. They called in the troops to their standards, from the several parts where they were dispersed; but, before they had completed the forming of their line of battle, they were put to the rout, and lost above fifteen hundred men. On this success, that people, naturally disposed to arrogance, assumed the highest degree of confidence, and endeavoured to provoke the Romans by frequent skirmishes: but the battle, into which they had been incautiously drawn, had rendered the consuls more circumspect. However, the spirit of their party was revived, and the boldness of the other diminished, by an occurrence, in itself, of a trivial nature, but that, in war, scarcely any incident is so insignificant, that it may not, on some occasion, give cause to an event of much importance. A Campanian, called Badius, had been a guest of Titus Quintius Crispinus, and lived on terms of the closest friendship and hospitality with him, and their intimacy had increased in consequence of Crispinus having, in his own house at Rome, given very kind and affectionate attendance to Badius in a fit of sickness which he had there before the defection of Campania. This Badius, now, advancing in front of the guards posted before one of the gates desired that Crispinus might be called: on being told of it, Crispinus, retaining a sense of private duties even after the dissolution of the public treaties, imagined that his old acquaintance wished for an amicable interview, and went out to some distance. As soon as they came within sight of each other, Badius cried out, “Crispinus, I challenge you to combat: let us mount our horses, and, making the rest keep back, determine which of us is superior in arms.” To which Crispinus answered, that “they were neither of them at a loss for enemies, on whom they might display their valour: that, for his part, should he even meet him in the field of battle, he would turn aside, to avoid imbruing his hands in the blood of a guest;” he then attempted to go away. Whereupon, the Campanian, with greater passion, upbraided him as a coward; casting on him undeserved reproaches, which might with greater propriety have been applied to himself, at the same time charging him as being an enemy to the laws of hospitality, and as pretending to be moved by concern for a person to whom he knew himself unequal; he said, that “if not sufficiently convinced, that by the rupture of the public treaties, private obligations were at the same time dissolved, Badius, the Campanian, now, in presence of all, in the hearing of the two armies, renounced all connections of hospitality with Titus Quintius Crispinus, the Roman. He was under no bond of society with him; an enemy had no claim of alliance on an enemy, whose country and whose tutelary deities, both public and private, he had come to invade: if he were a man, he would meet him. Crispinus hesitated long, but, at last, the men of his troop persuaded him not to suffer the Campanian to insult him with impunity. Wherefore, waiting only to ask leave of the generals to fight, out of rule, with one who gave him a challenge, with their permission he took arms, mounted his horse, and calling Badius by name, summoned him to the combat. The Campanian made no delay, and they encountered in full career. Crispinus passing his spear over Badius’s buckler, ran it through his left shoulder, and, on his falling in consequence of the wound, dismounted in order to despatch him as he lay, but Badius, to avoid impending death, left his horse and his buckler, and ran off to his own party. Crispinus seized the horse and arms, and with these glorious badges of victory, and with his bloody weapon held up to view, was conducted by the soldiers, amidst praises and congratulations, to the consuls, from whom he received ample commendations, and honourable presents.
XIX. Hannibal marched from the territory of Beneventum to Capua, and, on the third day after his arrival there, drew out his forces to face the enemy, confident that after the Campanians had a few days before, without his assistance, fought them with success, the Romans would be much less able to withstand him and his army, which had so often defeated them. When the battle began, the Roman army was in danger of being worsted, in consequence, principally, of a charge made by the enemy’s cavalry, who overwhelmed them with darts, until the signal was given to their own cavalry to charge; and now the contest lay between the horse, when Sempronius’s army, commanded by the quæstor Cneius Cornelius, being descried at a distance, gave an equal alarm, each party fearing that it was a reinforcement coming to his antagonist. The signal of retreat was therefore given on both sides, as if by concert; and quitting the field on almost equal terms, they retired to their several camps: the Romans, however, had lost the greater number of men by the first onset of the horse. Next night, the consuls, in order to draw Hannibal from Capua, marched away by different routes, Fulvius to the territory of Cumæ, Appius Claudius into Lucania. On the day following, when Hannibal was informed that the Romans had forsaken their camp, and gone off in two divisions, by different roads, he hesitated at first, considering which of them he should pursue; and at length determined to follow Appius, who, after leading him about through whatever track he chose, returned by another road to Capua. Hannibal met, in that part of the country, an unlooked for opportunity of striking an important blow: there was one Marcus Centenius, surnamed Penula, distinguished among the centurions of the first rank both by the size of his body, and by his courage: this man, who had served his time in the army, being introduced to the senate by the prætor, Publius Cornelius Sulla, requested of the senators to grant him the command of five thousand men, assuring them, that “being thoroughly acquainted both with the enemy and the country, he would speedily perform something that should give them satisfaction; and that the same wiles, by which hitherto the Roman commanders used to be entrapped, he would practise against the inventor of them.” The folly of this proposal was equalled by the folly with which it was assented to; as if the qualifications of a centurion and a general were the same. Instead of five, eight thousand men were granted him, half citizens and half allies; besides these, he collected in his march through the country a considerable number of volunteers; and, having almost doubled the number of his army, he arrived in Lucania, where Hannibal, after a vain pursuit of Appius, had halted. There was no room for doubt about the result of a contest between such a captain as Hannibal, and a sabaltern; in short, between armies, of which one was become veteran in a course of conquest, the other entirely new raised, for the most part undisciplined and but half armed. As soon as the parties came within view of each other, neither declining an engagement, the lines were instantly formed. Notwithstanding the disparity of the forces, the battle was maintained in a manner unprecedented under such circumstances, the Roman soldiers, for more than two hours, making the most strenuous efforts, as long as their commander stood: but he, anxious to support his former reputation, and dreading moreover the disgrace which would afterwards fall on him, if he survived a defeat occasioned by his own temerity, exposed himself rashly to the weapons of the enemy, and was slain; on which the Roman line immediately fell into confusion, and gave way. But even flight was now out of their power, for so effectually had the enemy’s cavalry shut up every pass, that, out of so great a multitude, scarcely a thousand made their escape; the rest, meeting destruction on every side, were all cut off in various ways.
XX. The consuls resumed the siege of Capua with the utmost vigour, and took measures for procuring and collecting every thing requisite for carrying it on. A magazine of corn was formed at Casilinum; a strong post was fortified at the mouth of the Vulturnus, where now stands a city: and a garrison was put into Puteoli: formerly fortified by Fabius Maximus, in order to secure the command both of the river, and of the sea adjoining. The corn lately sent from Sardinia, and that which the prætor, Marcus Junius, had bought up in Etruria, was conveyed from Ostia into these two maritime fortresses, to supply the army during the winter. Meanwhile, in addition to the misfortune sustained in Lucania, the army of volunteer slaves, who, during the life of Gracchus, had performed their duty with the strictest fidelity, supposing themselves at liberty by the death of their commander, forsook their standards, and disbanded. Hannibal, though not inclined to neglect Capua, or to abandon his allies at such a dangerous crisis, yet, having reaped such signal advantage from the inconsiderate conduct of one Roman commander, was induced to turn his attention to an opportunity which offered of crushing another. Some deputies from Apulia informed him, that Cneius Fulvius, the prætor, had at first, while engaged in the sieges of several cities of that country, which had revolted to Hannibal, acted with care and circumspection; but that afterwards, in consequence of an overflow of success, both himself and his men being glutted with booty, had so entirely given themselves up to licentiousness, that they neglected all military discipline. Wherefore, having on many other occasions, and particularly a few days before, learned from experience how little formidable an army was when under an unskilful commander, he marched away into Apulia.
XXI. Fulvius and the Roman legions lay near Herdonia, where intelligence no sooner arrived that the enemy was approaching, than the troops were very near snatching up their standards, and marching out to battle without the prætor’s orders; and the suffering themselves to be restrained was owing to the opinion entertained by them, that they might act as they chose. During the following night, Hannibal, who had learned the disorder in their camp, and that most of them, calling the whole to arms, had presumptuously insisted on their commander’s giving the signal, concluded with certainty, that he should now have an opportunity of fighting with advantage. He posted in the houses all around, and in the woods and thickets, three thousand light-armed soldiers, who, on notice given, were suddenly to quit their concealments; at the same time ordering Mago, with about two thousand horsemen, to secure all the passes on that side, to which he supposed the enemy would direct their flight. Having made these preparatory dispositions during the night, at the first dawn of day he led out his forces to the field: nor did Fulvius decline the challenge, though not so much led by any hope conceived by himself, as forcibly drawn by the blind impetuosity of his men. The line was therefore formed with the same inconsiderate hurry with which they came out of the camp, just as the humour of the soldiers directed; for each, as he happened to come up, took whatever post he liked, and afterwards, either as whim or fear directed, forsook that post. The first legion, and the left wing, were drawn up in front, extending the line in length; and, notwithstanding the loud remonstrances of the tribunes, that it was not deep enough to have any strength or firmness, and that the enemy would break through wherever they attacked, so far were they from paying attention, that they would not even listen to any wholesome advice. Hannibal now came up, a commander of a very different character, and with an army neither of a like kind, nor marshalled in like manner. The Romans consequently withstood not their first attack. Their commander, in folly and rashness equal to Centenius, but far his inferior in spirit, as soon as he saw the matter going against him, and his men in confusion, hastily mounted his horse, and fled with about two hundred horsemen. The rest of the troops, vanquished in front, and surrounded on the flanks and rear, were put to the sword, in such a manner, that out of eighteen thousand men, not more than two thousand escaped. The camp fell into the enemy’s hands.
XXII. The news of these defeats, happening so quickly after one another, being brought to Rome, filled the minds of the public with much grief and consternation. However, as the consuls were hitherto successful in their operations in the quarter where the principal stress of the war lay, the alarm occasioned by these misfortunes was the less. The senate despatched Caius Lætorius and Marcus Metilius deputies to the consuls, with directions, that they should carefully collect the remains of the two armies, and use their endeavours to prevent them from surrendering to the enemy, through fear and despair, as had been the case after the defeat at Cannæ; and that they should make search for the deserters from the army of the volunteer slaves. The same charge was given to Publius Cornelius, who was also employed to raise recruits; and he caused proclamation to be made at all the fairs and markets, that the slaves in question should be searched for, and brought back to their standards. All this was executed with the strictest care. Appius Claudius, the consul, after fixing Decius Junius in the command at the mouth of the Vulturnus, and Marcus Aurelius Cotta at Puteoli, with orders that when any ships should arrive from Etruria and Sardinia, to send off the corn directly to the camp, went back himself to Capua, where he found his colleague Quintus Fulvius busy in bringing in supplies of all kinds from Casilinum, and making every preparation for prosecuting the siege of Capua. They then joined in forming the siege, and also sent for Claudius Nero, the prætor, from the Claudian camp at Suessula; who, leaving behind a small garrison to keep possession of the post, marched down with all the rest of his forces to Capua. Thus there were three prætorian pavilions erected round that city, and the three armies, commencing their operations in different quarters, proceeded to inclose it with a rampart and trench, erecting forts at moderate distances; so that when the Campanians attempted to obstruct their works, they fought them, in several places at once, with such success, that, at last, the besieged confined themselves within their walls and gates. However, before these works were carried quite round, the townsmen sent deputies to Hannibal, to complain of his abandoning Capua, and delivering it, in a manner, into the hands of the Romans; and to beseech him, now at least, when they were not only invested, but even pent up, to bring them relief. The consuls received a letter from Publius Cornelius the prætor, that “before they completed the circumvallation of Capua, they should give leave to such of the Campanians as chose it, to retire from the town, and carry away their effects with them. That as many as withdrew before the Ides of March should enjoy their liberty and their property entire: but that both those who withdrew after that day, and those who remained in the place should be treated as enemies.” This notice was accordingly given to the Campanians, who received it with such scorn, that they answered with reproaches, and even menaces. Hannibal had led his legions from Herdonia to Tarentum, in hopes that, either by force or stratagem, he might gain possession of the citadel of that town; but, being disappointed therein, he turned his route toward Brundusium, which he expected would be betrayed to him. While he was wasting time here, also, to no purpose, the deputies from Capua came to him, bringing at the same time, their complaints, and intreaties for succour. To these Hannibal answered in an arrogant style, that he had before raised the siege of their town; and that the consuls would not now wait his coming. With this encouragement the deputies were dismissed, and with difficulty made their way back into the city, which was by this time surrounded with a double trench and a rampart.
XXIII. At the very time when the circumvallation of Capua was going on, the siege of Syracuse came to a conclusion, having been forwarded not only by the vigour and spirit of the besieging general and his army, but also by treachery within. For in the beginning of the spring, Marcellus had deliberated some time, whether he should turn his arms against Himilco and Hippocrates, who were at Agrigentum, or stay and press forward the siege of Syracuse, though he saw that the city could neither be reduced by force, as being from its situation impregnable by land or sea, nor by famine, as supplies from Carthage had almost open access. Nevertheless, that he might leave no expedient untried, he had enjoined some deserters from Syracuse — many of whom of the highest rank were then in the Roman camp, having been banished when the defection from the Romans took place, on account of their disapprobation of the design of changing sides — to confer with persons of their own way of thinking, to sound the temper of the people, and to give them solemn assurances, that if the city were delivered into his hands, they should live free under their own laws. There was no opportunity of conversing on the subject, because the great number of persons suspected of disaffection had made every one attentive and vigilant to prevent any such attempt passing unobserved. A single slave, belonging to some of the exiles, was sent as a deserter into the city, and he, communicating the business to a few, opened a way for a negotiation of the kind. After this, some few getting into a fishing boat, and concealing themselves under the nets, were carried round in this manner to the Roman camp, where they held conferences with the deserters, and the same was done frequently, in the same manner, by several other parties; at last, the number amounted to eighty, and their plot was now ripe for execution, when a person called Attalus, offended that some part of the business had been concealed from him, discovered their design to Epicydes, and they were all put to death with torture. This project, thus rendered abortive, was soon succeeded by another: one Damippus, a Lacedæmonian, being sent from Syracuse to king Philip, had been taken prisoner by the Roman fleet; Epicydes earnestly wished to ransom him in particular, and from this Marcellus was not averse; for the Romans, even at that time, were desirous of procuring the friendship of the Ætolians, with which nation the Lacedæmonians were in alliance. Some persons were accordingly deputed to treat for his release, and the place judged the most central and convenient to both parties was at the Trogilian port, adjoining the tower called Galeagra. As they came several times to this spot, one of the Romans, having a near view of the wall, by reckoning the stones, and estimating, as far as he was able, the measure of each in the face of the work, conjectured nearly as to its height, and finding it considerably lower than he or any of the rest had hitherto supposed, so that it might be scaled with ladders of even a moderate length, he represented the matter to Marcellus. The information was deemed not unworthy of attention, but as that spot could not be openly approached, being, for the very reason mentioned, guarded with particular care, it was determined to watch for a favourable opportunity: this was soon found, through the means of a deserter, who brought intelligence that the besieged were celebrating the festival of Diana, which was to last three days; and as, in consequence of the siege, most kinds of provisions were scarce, they indulged themselves in greater quantities of wine, which Epicydes supplied to the whole body of the plebeians, and which was distributed among the tribes by the people of distinction. Marcellus, on hearing this, communicated his design to a few military tribunes; and having, by their means, selected centurions and soldiers properly qualified for an enterprise at once important and daring, he privately procured scaling ladders, and ordered directions to be conveyed to the rest of the troops, that they should take their suppers early, and go to rest, because they were to be employed on an expedition in the night. Then, at the hour when he judged that the people, who had begun to feast early in the day, would be surfeited with wine, and begin to sleep, he ordered the men of one company to proceed with their ladders, while about a thousand men in arms were with silence conducted in a slender column to the spot. The foremost having, without noise or tumult, mounted the wall, the rest followed in order, the boldness of the former giving courage even to the timorous.
XXIV. This body of a thousand men had now gained possession of a part of the city, when the rest, bringing up greater numbers of ladders, scaled the wall; the first party having given them a signal from the Hexapylos, to which they had penetrated without meeting a single person in the streets: for the greater part of the townsmen having feasted together in the towers, were now either overpowered by wine, and sunk in sleep, or, being half inebriated, still continued their debauch. A few of them, however, who were surprised in their beds, were put to death. Vigorous efforts were then made to force open a postern gate near the Hexapylos, and at the same time, the signal agreed on was returned from the wall by a trumpet. And now the attack was carried on in all quarters, not secretly, but with open force; for they had reached the Epipolæ, where there were great numbers of the guards stationed, and it became requisite not to elude the notice of the enemy, but to terrify them; and terrified they were: for as soon as the sound of the trumpet was heard, and the shouts of the troops who had mastered part of the city, the guards thought that the whole was taken, and some of them fled along the wall, others leaped down from the ramparts, and crowds flying in dismay, were tumbled headlong. A great part of the townsmen, however, were still ignorant of the misfortune which had befallen them, being all of them overpowered with wine and sleep; and in a city of such vast extent, what happened in any one quarter, could not be very readily known in all the rest. A little before day, a gate of the Hexapylos being forced, Marcellus, with all his troops, entered the city. This roused the townsmen, who betook themselves to arms, endeavouring, if possible, to preserve the place. Epicides hastily led out some troops from the island called Nasos, not doubting but he should be able to drive out what he conjectured to be a small party, and which he supposed had found entrance through the negligence of the guards, telling the affrighted fugitives whom he met, that they were adding to the tumult, and that they represented matters greater and more terrible than they were. But when he saw every place round the Epipolæ filled with armed men, he waited only to discharge a few missive weapons, and marched back into the Achradina, dreading not so much the number and strength of the enemy, as that some treachery might, on such an opportunity, take place within, and that he might find the gates of the Achridina and the island shut against him. When Marcellus entered the gate, and had from the high grounds a full view of the city, the most beautiful perhaps of any in those times, he is said to have shed tears partly out of joy at having accomplished an enterprise of such importance, and partly from the sensations excited by reflecting on the high degree of renown which the place had enjoyed through a long series of years. Memory represented to him the Athenian fleet sunk there; two vast armies cut off with two generals of the highest reputation: the many wars maintained against the Carthaginians with such equality of success; the great number of powerful tyrants and kings, especially Hiero, whom all remembered very lately reigning, and who besides all the distinctions which his own merit and good fortune conferred on him, was highly remarkable for his zealous friendship to the Roman people: when all these reflections occurred to his mind, and were followed by the consideration, that every object then under his view would quickly be in flames, and reduced to ashes — thus reflecting, before he advanced to attack the Achridina, he sent forward some Syracusans, who, as has been mentioned, were within the Roman quarters, to try if they could, by mild persuasions, prevail on the Syracusans to surrender the town.
XXV. The fortifications of the Achradina were occupied by deserters, who could have no hope of a pardon in case of a capitulation; these, therefore, would not suffer the others to come nigh the walls, nor to hold conversation with any one. Marcellus, finding that no opportunity could offer of effecting any thing by persuasion, ordered his troops to move back to the Euryalus. This is an eminence at the verge of the city, on the side most remote from the sea, commanding the road which leads into the country and the interior parts of the island, and therefore very commodiously situate for securing admittance to convoys of provisions. The commander of this fortress was Philodemus, an Argive, stationed here by Epicydes. To him Sosis, one of the regicides, was sent by Marcellus with certain propositions; who, after a long conversation, being put off with evasions, brought back an account that the Argive required time for deliberation. He deferred giving any positive answer from day to day, in expectation that Hippocrates and Himilco, with their legions, would come up; and he doubted not that if he could once receive them into the fortress, the Roman army hemmed in as it was within walls, might be effectually cut off. Marcellus, therefore, seeing no probability of the Euryalus being either surrendered or taken, encamped between Neapolis and Tycha, parts of the city so named, and in themselves equal to cities; for he feared, lest, if he went into the more populous parts, the greedy soldiers might not, by any means, be restrained from pillaging. Hither came deputies from the Neapolis and the Tycha, with fillets and other badges of supplicants, praying him to spare the lives of the inhabitants, and to refrain from burning their houses. On the subject of these petitions, offered in the form of prayers rather than of demands, Marcellus held a council; and according to the unanimous determination of all present, published orders to the soldiers, to “offer no violence to any person of free condition, but that they might seize every thing else as spoil.” The walls of the houses surrounding his camp served it as a fortification, and, at the gates facing the wide streets, he posted guards and detachments of troops, to prevent any attack on it while the soldiers should be in search of plunder. On a signal given the men dispersed themselves for that purpose: and, though they broke open doors, and filled every place with terror and tumult, yet they refrained from bloodshed, but put no stop to their ravages, until they had removed all the valuable effects which had been amassed there in a long course of prosperous fortune. Meanwhile Philodemus, seeing no prospect of relief, and receiving assurances that he might return to Epicydes in safety, withdrew the garrison, and delivered up the fortress to the Romans. While the attention of all was turned to the commotion in that part of the city which was taken, Bomilcar, taking advantage of a stormy night, when the violence of the weather would not allow the Roman fleet to ride at anchor in the deep, slipped out of the harbour of Syracuse with thirty-five ships, and finding the sea open, sailed forth into the main, leaving fifty-five ships to Epicydes and the Syracusans. After informing the Carthaginians of the perilous state of affairs in Syracuse, he returned thither, in a few days, with an hundred ships, when he received, as is said, many valuable presents from Epicydes out of the treasure of Hiero.
XXVI. Marcellus by gaining possession of the Euryalus, and putting a garrison into it, was freed from one cause of anxiety; for he had apprehended that a body of the enemy’s forces might get into that fortress on his rear, and thence annoy his troops, pent up as they were, and entangled among walls. He then invested the Achradina, forming three camps in proper situations, in hopes, by a close blockade, of reducing it by a want of necessaries. The out-guards on both sides, had been quiet for several days, when Hippocrates and Hamilco suddenly arrived; and the consequence was an attack on the Romans in different quarters at once. For Hippocrates, having fortified a camp at the great harbour, and given a signal to the garrison in the Achradina, fell on the old camp of the Romans, where Crispinus commanded; and, at the same time, Epicydes sallied out against the posts of Marcellus, while the Carthaginian fleet warped in close to the shore, which lay between the city and the Roman station, in order to prevent any succour being sent by Marcellus to Crispinus. Their attacks, however, caused more alarm than real injury; for Crispinus, on his part, not only repulsed Hippocrates from his works, but made him fly with precipitation, and pursued him to some distance; and, in the other quarter, Marcellus beat back Epicydes into the town. It was even supposed that enough was now done to prevent any danger in future, from their making sudden sallies. To other evils attendant on the siege, was added a pestilence; a calamity felt by both parties, and fully sufficient to divert their thoughts from plans of military operations. It was now autumn; the places, where they lay, were in their nature unwholesome, but much more so on the outside of the city than within; and the heat was so intense, as to impair the health of almost every person in both the camps. At first, the insalubrity of the season and the soil produced both sicknesses and deaths: afterwards the attendance on the diseased, and the handling of them, spread the contagion wide; insomuch, that all who were seized by it either died neglected and forsaken, or, also infecting such as ventured to take care of them, these were carried off also. Scarcely any thing was seen but funerals; and both day and night, lamentations from every side rang in their ears. At last, habituated to these scenes of woe, they contracted such savageness, that so far from attending the deceased with tears and sorrowings, they would not even carry them out and inter them, so that they lay scattered over the ground in the view of all, and who were in constant expectation of a similar fate. Thus the dead contributed to the destruction of the sick, and the sick to that of the healthy, both by the apprehensions which they excited, and by the contagion and noisome stench of their bodies; while some, wishing rather to die by the sword, singly assailed the enemy’s posts. But the distemper raged with much greater fury in the Carthaginian camp than in that of the Romans: for the latter, by lying so long before Syracuse, were become more hardened against the air and the rains. Of the enemy’s troops, the Sicilians, as soon as they saw that the spreading of the distemper was owing to an unhealthy situation, left it, and retired to the several cities in the neighbourhood, which were of their party: but the Carthaginians, who had no place of retreat, perished (together with their commanders, Hippocrates and Himilco,) to a man. Marcellus, when he perceived the violence of the disorder increasing, had removed his troops into the city, where being comfortably lodged, and sheltered from the inclemency of the air, their impaired constitutions were soon restored: nevertheless great numbers of the Roman soldiers were swept away by this pestilence.
XXVII. The land forces of the Carthaginians being thus entirely destroyed, the Sicilians, who had served under Hippocrates, collected from their several states stores of provisions, which they deposited in two towns, of no great size, but well secured by strong situations and fortifications; one three miles distant from Syracuse, the other five; and, at the same time, they solicited succours. Meanwhile Bomilcar, going back again to Carthage with his fleet, gave such a representation of the condition of the allies, as afforded hopes that it might be practicable, not only to succour them in such a manner as would ensure their safety, but also to make prisoners of the Romans in the very city which they had, in a manner, reduced; and by this means he prevailed on the government to send with him as many transport vessels as could be procured laden with stores of every kind, and to make an addition to his own fleet. Accordingly he set sail with an hundred and thirty ships of war, and seven hundred transports, and met with a wind very favourable for his passage to Sicily, but the same wind prevented his doubling Cape Pachynum. The news of Bomilcar’s arrival first, and afterwards his unexpected delay, gave joy and grief alternately both to the Romans and Syracusans. But Epicydes, dreading lest, if the same easterly wind which then prevailed should continue to blow for some days longer, the Carthaginian fleet might sail back to Africa, delivered the command of the Achradina to the generals of the Mercenaries, and sailed away to Bomilcar. Him he found lying to, with the heads of his vessels turned towards Africa, being fearful of an engagement with the enemy, not on account of any superiority in their strength or number of ships (for his own was the greater,) but because the wind was the more advantageous to the Roman fleet. With difficulty, then, he prevailed on him to consent to try the issue of a naval engagement. On the other side, Marcellus, seeing that an army of Sicilians was assembling from all quarters of the island, and that the Carthaginian fleet was approaching with abundance of supplies, began to fear, lest, if he should be shut up in an hostile city, and that every passage being barred both by land and sea, he should be reduced to great distress. Although unequal to the enemy in number of ships, he yet determined to oppose Bomilcar’s passage to Syracuse. The two hostile fleets lay off the promontory of Pachynum, ready to engage as soon as moderate weather should allow them to sail out into the main. On the subsiding of the easterly wind, which had blown furiously for several days, Bomilcar first put his fleet in motion, and his van seemed to make out to sea with intent to clear the cape; but, when he saw the Roman bearing down on him, and being suddenly alarmed, from what circumstance is not known, he bore away to sea, and sending messengers to Heraclea, ordering the transports to return to Africa, he sailed along the coast of Sicily to Tarentum. Epicydes, thus disappointed in a measure from which he had conceived very sanguine hopes, and unwilling to go back into the besieged city, whereof a great part was already in possession of the enemy, sailed to Agrigentum, where he proposed rather to wait the issue of affairs than to attempt any new enterprise.
XXVIII. When the Sicilians in camp were informed of all these events, (that Epicydes had withdrawn from Syracuse, that the Carthaginians had abandoned the island, and in a manner, surrendered it a second time to the Romans,) they demanded a conference with those who were shut up in the town, and learning their inclinations, they sent deputies to Marcellus, to treat about terms of capitulation. There was scarcely any debate about the conditions, which were — that whatever parts of the country had been under the dominion of the kings should be ceded to the Romans; and the rest, together with independence, and their own laws, should be guaranteed to the Sicilians. Then the deputies invited the persons entrusted with the command by Epicydes to a meeting, and told them, that they had been sent by the Sicilian army to them as well as to Marcellus, in order that those within the city, as well as those without, should all share one fortune, and that neither should stipulate any article, separately, for themselves. From these they obtained permission to enter the place, and converse with their relations and friends, to whom they recited the terms which they had already adjusted with Marcellus; and, by the prospect of safety which they held out to their view, prevailed on them to unite in an attack on Epicydes’s generals, Polyclitus, Philistio, and Epicydes, surnamed Syndos. These they put to death, and then calling the multitude to an assembly, and lamenting the famine they had undergone, insisted, that “notwithstanding they were pressed by so many calamities, yet they had no reason to complain of fortune, because it was in their power to determine how long they would endure their sufferings. The reason which induced the Romans to besiege Syracuse was, affection to its inhabitants, not enmity. For when they heard that the government was seized on by the partizans of Hannibal, and afterwards by those of Hieronymus, Hippocrates, and Epicydes; they then took arms, and laid siege to the city, with the purpose of subduing, not the city itself, but those who cruelly tyrannised over it. But after Hippocrates had been carried off, Epicydes excluded from Syracuse, his generals put to death, and the Carthaginians expelled, and unable to maintain any kind of footing in Sicily, either by fleets or armies, what reason could the Romans then have for not wishing the safety of Syracuse, as much as if Hiero himself, so singularly attached to the Roman interest, were still alive? Neither the city, therefore, nor the inhabitants, stood in any other danger than what they might bring on themselves, by neglecting an opportunity of reconciliation with the Romans: but such another opportunity they never could have, as that which presented itself at that instant, on its being once known that they were delivered from their insolent tyrants.”
XXIX. This discourse was listened to with universal approbation; but it was resolved that, before any deputies should be appointed, prætors should be elected: and then some of the prætors themselves were sent deputies to Marcellus. The person at the head of the commission addressed him to this effect “Neither was the revolt, at the beginning, the act of us Syracusans, but of Hieronymus, whose conduct towards you, was not near so wicked as his treatment of us; nor, afterwards, was it any Syracusan, but Hippocrates and Epicydes, two instruments of the late king, who while we were distracted between fear on one side and treachery on the other, broke through the peace established on the death of the tyrant; nor can any period be named, in which we were at liberty, and were not at the same time in friendship with you. At present it is manifest, that as soon as ever, by the death of those who held Syracuse in bondage, we became our own masters, we have come, without a moment’s hesitation, to deliver up our arms, to surrender ourselves, our city, and fortifications, and to refuse no conditions which you shall think fit to impose. Marcellus, the gods have given you the glory of taking the most renowned and most beautiful of all the Grecian cities; whatever memorable exploits we have at any time performed, either on land or sea, all will go to augment the splendour of your triumph. Let it not be your wish, that men shall learn, from tradition, how great a city you have reduced, but rather, that the city itself may stand a monument to posterity, exhibiting to the view of every one who shall approach it, by land or by sea, our trophies over the Athenians and Carthaginians; then, yours over us; and that you may transmit Syracuse, unimpaired, to your family, to be kept under the patronage and guardianship of the race of the Marcelli. Let not the memory of Hieronymus weigh more with you, than that of Hiero. The latter was much longer your friend, than the former your enemy; and, besides, you have felt many effects of the kindness of the one, while the other’s madness tended only to his own ruin.” From the Romans all their requests were easily obtained, and their safety ran no hazard from that quarter: there was more danger from an hostile disposition among themselves, for the deserters, apprehending that they were to be delivered up to the Romans, brought the auxiliary troops of mercenaries to entertain the same fears. Hastily taking arms, they first slew the prætors; then spreading themselves over the city, put to death in their rage every person whom chance threw in their way, pillaging every thing on which they could lay hands. Afterwards, that they might not be without leaders, they created six præfects three to command in the Achradina, and three in the island. The tumult at length subsiding, the mercenaries discovered, on inquiry, the purport of the articles concluded on with Marcellus, and then began to see clearly, what was really the case, that their situation was widely different from that of the deserters. Very seasonably the deputies returned at this time from Marcellus, and assured them, that the suspicion which had provoked their fury was groundless, and that the Romans had no kind of reason to demand their punishment.
XXX. One of the three commanders in the Achradina was a Spaniard, by name Mericus. To sound him, a Spanish auxiliary in the camp of the Romans was purposely sent in the train of the deputies, who, taking an opportunity when he found Mericus alone, first informed him in what state he had left the affairs of Spain, from whence he had lately come; that “every thing there was under subjection to the Roman arms;” and added, “that it was in his power, by some service of importance, to become distinguished among his countrymen; whether it were that he chose to accept a commission in the Roman army, or to return to his native country. On the other hand, if he persisted in attempting to hold out the siege, what hope could he entertain when he was so closely invested both by sea and land?” Mericus was so much affected by these arguments, that, when it was determined to send deputies to Marcellus, he appointed, as one of them, his own brother, who being conducted by the same Spaniard to a secret interview with Marcellus, and having received satisfactory assurances from him, and concerted the method of conducting the business they had planned, returned to the Achradina. Then Mericus, with design to prevent all suspicion of treachery, declared, that “he did not approve of deputies thus going backwards and forwards; that none such ought to be received or sent; and, that the guard might be kept with the stricter care, the proper posts ought to be divided among the præfects, so that each should be answerable for the safety of his own quarter.” Every one approved of this division of the posts; and the tract which fell to his own lot, was that from the fountain Arethusa, to the mouth of the great harbour: of this he apprised the Romans. Marcellus therefore gave orders, that a transport ship, full of soldiers, should be towed in the night, by the barge of a quadrireme, to the Achradina; and that they should be landed opposite to the gate which is near the said fountain. This being executed at the fourth watch, and Mericus having, according to concert, admitted the soldiers into the gate, Marcellus, at the first light, assaulted the walls of the Achradina with all his forces, by which means he not only engaged the attention of those who guarded it, but caused several battalions to flock thither from the island, quitting their own posts to repel the furious assault of the Romans. While this alarm was at the height, some light gallies, prepared beforehand, sailed round, and landed a body of troops on the island; and these, making an unexpected attack on the half-manned posts, and the open gate, without much difficulty made themselves masters of the island; for it was abandoned to them by the garrison, who fled in consternation. The deserters maintained their ground with no more steadiness than these; for, being diffident in some degree even of each other, they betook themselves to flight during the heat of the conflict. When Marcellus learned that the island was taken, that one quarter of the Achradina was in possession of his troops, and that Mericus had joined them with the party under his command, he sounded a retreat, lest the royal treasure, which fame represented much larger than it was, should be rifled by the soldiers.
XXXI. The impetuosity of the soldiers being restrained, the deserters in the Achradina found time and opportunity to escape. The Syracusans, at length delivered from their fears, opened the gates of the fortress, and sent an humble deputation to Marcellus, asking nothing more than their own lives, and those of their children. Marcellus summoned a council, to which he likewise invited those Syracusans who, having been driven from home in consequence of the disturbances in the city, had remained in the Roman quarters; and he gave the deputies this answer, that “the friendly acts of Hiero, through a space of fifty years, were not more in number than the injuries committed against the Roman people within a few years past, by those who were in possession of Syracuse. But most of these had recoiled on the heads where they ought to fall; and those people had inflicted on each other much more severe punishments for their infraction of treaties, than the Romans would have wished. That he had, indeed, laid siege to Syracuse, and prosecuted it through the three last years, not with design that the Roman people might keep that state in servitude to themselves, but that the leaders of the deserters might not hold it under captivity and oppression. What part the Syracusans might have acted for the promoting of this design, was manifest from those of their countrymen who were within the Roman quarters; from the conduct of the Spanish general Mericus, who surrendered the quarter under his command; and from the late, indeed, but resolute measure adopted by themselves. That the advantages accruing to him, from all the toils and dangers by sea and land, which he had undergone through such a length of time under the Syracusan walls, were by no means equal to what Syracuse might have procured to itself.” The quæstor was then sent with a guard to the island, to receive and secure the royal treasure; and the city was given up to the troops to be plundered, centinels being first placed at the several houses of those who had staid in the Roman quarters. While numberless horrid acts of rage and of avarice were perpetrated, it is related that, in the violence of the tumult, which was as great as greedy soldiers ever caused in sacking a captured city, Archimedes, while intent on some geometrical figures which he had drawn in the sand, was slain by a soldier, who knew not who he was; that Marcellus lamented his death, and gave him an honourable funeral, and that inquiry was also made for his relations, to whom his name and memory proved a protection and an honour. In this manner nearly, was Syracuse taken, and in it such a quantity of booty, as Carthage, which waged an equal contest with Rome, would scarcely have afforded at that time. A few days before the conquest of Syracuse, Titus Otacilius, with eighty quinqueremes, sailed over from Lilybæum to Utica, and, entering the harbour before day, seized a number of transports laden with corn; he then landed his troops, ravaged a great part of the country round the city, and brought back to his fleet much booty of all kinds. On the third day from his departure, he returned to Lilybæum, with an hundred and thirty vessels filled with corn and spoil. He sent off their cargoes immediately to Syracuse, where, if this supply had not arrived so seasonably, both the conquerors and the vanquished were threatened alike with a destructive famine.
XXXII. As to the affairs of Spain, near two years had passed without any thing very material being done, and the business of the war consisted rather in scheming than in acting; but now, the Roman generals, quitting their winter-quarters, united their forces, and a council being held, all concurred in opinion that, since their sole object had hitherto been to detain Hasdrubal from the prosecution of his intended march into Italy, it was now time to think of an end to the war in Spain; and they trusted that their strength was rendered adequate to the undertaking, by the addition of thirty thousand Celtiberians, whom they had, during the preceding winter, engaged to join their arms. There were three armies of the enemy; one under Hasdrubal, son of Gisgo, and another under Mago, were encamped together at the distance of about five days march. The third lay nearer, and was commanded by Hasdrubal, son of Hamilcar, the oldest general in Spain, who was posted near a city named Anitorgis. Him the Roman generals wished to overpower first, and they were confident that their strength was abundantly sufficient to effect it: their only concern was, lest Hasdrubal and Mago, dispirited by his retreat, might retire into the inaccessible forests and mountains, and thus protract the war. They therefore concluded, that it would be most advisable by separating their forces, to extend the compass of their operations, so as to comprehend the whole war at once. Accordingly, they divided them in such a manner that Publius Cornelius was to lead two-thirds of the Romans and allies against Mago and Hasdrubal; and Cneius Cornelius, with the other third of the veteran troops, and the Celtiberian auxiliaries, was to act against the Barcine Hasdrubal. The commanders began their march together, the Celtiberians advancing before them, and pitched their camp near the city of Anitorgis, within view of the enemy, from whom they were separated by a river. There Cneius Scipio, with the forces before-mentioned, halted, and Publius Scipio proceeded, according to his allotment, to the scene of action.
XXXIII. When Hasdrubal observed that there were but few Roman soldiers in the camp, and that all their dependance was on the Celtiberian auxiliaries, being well acquainted with the perfidious disposition of every barbarous nation, and particularly of these, among whom he had waged war for so many years, he contrived secret conferences with their leaders; for as both camps were full of Spaniards, an intercourse was easy; and with whom he concluded a bargain, that, for a valuable consideration, they should carry away their troops. Nor did this appear to them a heinous crime: for it was not required that they should turn their arms against the Romans, and the hire given for not fighting was as great as could be expected for fighting; besides, rest from fatigue, the returning to their homes, and the pleasure of seeing their friends and families, all these were matters highly agreeable to them, so that the chiefs were not more easily persuaded than were their followers. It was farther considered, that they need not fear the Romans, whose number was small, even if they should attempt to detain them by force. It will ever, indeed, be incumbent on Roman generals to avoid carefully such kind of mistakes, and to consider instances like this as powerful warnings, never to confide so far in foreign auxiliaries, as not to keep in their camps a superior force of their native troops, and of their own proper strength. The Celtiberians, on a sudden, took up their standards and marched off, giving no other answer to the Romans (who besought them to stay), than that they were called away by a war at home. When Scipio saw that it was impossible to detain the auxiliaries either by intreaties or force; that, without them, he was unable either to cope with the enemy, or effect a re-union with his brother; and that there was no other resource at hand, from which he could hope for safety, he resolved to retreat as far back as possible, avoiding, with the utmost caution, any encounter with the enemy on equal ground; — for they had crossed the river, and followed almost at the heels of his retreating troops.
XXXIV. At the same time Publius Scipio was surrounded with equal fears and greater danger, occasioned by a new enemy: this was young Masinissa, at that time an ally of the Carthaginians, afterwards rendered illustrious and powerful by the friendship of the Romans. He, with his Numidian cavalry, met Publius Scipio as he approached, harrassing him incessantly night and day. Not only were strangglers, who went to a distance from the camp for wood and forage, intercepted by him, but he would even ride up to the very intrenchments; and often, charging into the midst of the advance guards, fill every quarter with the utmost confusion. In the night-time also, by sudden attacks, he frequently caused terror and alarm at the gates, and on the rampart; nor did any place, or any time, afford the Romans respite from fear and anxiety, confined as they were within their trenches, and debarred from procuring every kind of necessary, suffering almost a regular blockade; and which they knew would be still more close, if Indibilis, who was said to be approaching, with seven thousand five hundred Suessetanians, should join the Carthaginians. Impelled by the inextricable difficulties of his situation, Scipio, heretofore a commander of known caution and prudence, adopted the rash resolution of going out by night to meet Indibilis, and to fight him. Accordingly, leaving a small guard in the camp, under the command of Titus Fonteius, lieutenant-general, he marched out at midnight, and falling in with the enemy, began an engagement. The troops encountered each other in the order of march rather than of battle; however, irregular as the manner of fighting was, the Romans had the advantage. But on a sudden the Numidian cavalry, whose observation the general thought he had escaped, falling on his flanks, struck great terror into the troops, and, while they had this new contest to maintain, a third enemy fell upon them, the Carthaginian generals coming up with their rear during the heat of the battle. Thus the Romans were assailed on every side, unable to judge against which enemy they might best direct their united strength, in order to force a passage. While their commander fought, and encouraged his men, exposing himself to every danger, he was run through the right side with a lance. The party who made the attack on the band collected about the general, when they saw Scipio fall lifeless from his horse, being elated with joy, ran shouting up and down through the whole line, crying out, that the Roman commander was killed; which words clearly determined the battle in favour of the enemy. The latter, immediately on losing their general, began to fly from the field; but though they might have found no great difficulty in forcing their way through the Numidians, and the other light-armed auxiliaries, yet it was scarcely possible that they should escape from such a multitude of cavalry, and of footmen who were nearly equal to the horses in speed. Accordingly, almost as many fell in the flight as in the battle, nor probably would one have survived, had not the night stopped the pursuit, it being by this time late in the evening.
XXXV. The Carthaginian generals were not remiss in making advantage of their good fortune: without losing time after the battle, and scarcely allowing the soldiers necessary rest, they marched away, with rapid haste to Hasdrubal, son of Hamilcar, confidently assured, that after uniting their forces with his, they should be able to bring the war to a speedy conclusion. On their arrival at his camp, the warmest congratulations passed between the commanders and the armies, overjoyed at their late successes, in which so great a general, with his whole army, had been cut off; and they expected, as a matter of certainty, another victory equally important. Not even a rumour of this great misfortune had yet reached the Romans; but there prevailed among them a melancholy kind of silence, and a tacit foreboding; such a presage of impending evil as the mind is apt to feel when looking forward with anxiety. Cornelius, after the desertion of the auxiliaries, had nothing to dispirit him except the augmentation which he observed in the enemy’s force, yet was he led by conjectures and reasoning, rather to entertain a suspicion of some disaster, than any favourable hopes. “For how,” said he, “could Hasdrubal and Mago, unless decisively victorious in their own province, bring hither their army without oppositions? And how could it happen, that Publius had neither opposed their march, nor followed on their rear, in order that, if he found it impracticable to prevent the junction of the enemy’s armies, he might, in any case, unite his forces with those of his brother.” Distracted with these perplexing thoughts, he could see no other means of safety at present, than by retreating as fast as possible. Accordingly, in the night, and while the enemy, ignorant of his departure, remained quiet, he performed a march of considerable length. On the return of day, the enemy, perceiving that his army had decamped, sent forward the Numidians, and set out on the pursuit with all the expedition in their power. Before night, the Numidians overtook them, and harrassed them with attacks, sometimes on the flanks, sometimes on the rear. They then began to halt, and defend themselves: but Scipio earnestly exhorted them to fight and advance at the same time, lest the enemy’s infantry should overtake them.
XXXVI. But as by this method of advancing at one time, and halting at another, they made but little progress on their way, and as the night now approached, Scipio called in his men, and collecting them in a body, drew them off to a rising ground, not very safe indeed, especially for dispirited troops, yet higher than any of the surrounding grounds. Here the infantry, receiving the baggage and the cavalry into the centre, and forming a circle round them, at first repelled, without difficulty, the attacks of the Numidian skirmishers. Afterwards, the three regular armies of the enemy approached with their entire force; when the general saw that without some fortification his men would never be able to maintain their post; he therefore began to look about, and consider whether he could by any means raise a rampart round it. But the hill was so bare, and the surface so rocky, that not so much as a bush was to be found which could be cut for palisadoes, nor earth with which to raise a mound, nor any means of forming a trench, or any other work; nor was any part of it such as to render it of difficult approach or ascent, every side rising with a gentle acclivity. However, that they might place in the way of the enemy some resemblance of a rampart, they tied the panniers together, and building them as it were on one another, formed a mound about their post, throwing on bundles of every kind of baggage where there was a deficiency of panniers for raising it. When the Carthaginian armies came to the place, they mounted the hill with perfect ease, but were at first so surprised at this strange appearance of a fortification that they halted, notwithstanding their officers every where called out, and asked them, “why did they stop, and not tear down and scatter about that ridiculous work, scarcely strong enough to stop women or children;” adding, that “they now had the enemy shut up as prisoners, and hiding themselves behind their baggage.” Such were their contemptuous reproofs; but it was no easy matter either to climb over, or to remove, the bulky loads which lay in the way, or to cut through the panniers so closely compacted and burried under heaps of baggage. The packages which obstructed them were at length removed, and a passage opened to the troops; and the same being done in several parts, the camp was forced on all sides, while the Romans, inferior in number, and dejected by misfortunes, were every where put to the sword by the more numerous enemy, elated with victory. However, a great number of the soldiers fled into the woods which lay at a small distance behind, and thence made their escape to the camp of Publius Scipio, where Titus Fonteius his lieutenant-general, commanded. Cneius Scipio, according to some accounts, was killed on the hill, in the first assault; according to others, he fled into a castle standing near the camp; this was surrounded with fire, and the doors, which were too strong to be forced, being thus burned, they were taken; and all within, together with the general himself were put to death. Cneius Scipio perished in the seventh year after his coming into Spain, the twenty-ninth day after the fall of his brother. Their deaths caused not greater grief at Rome, than in every part of Spain. Nay, among their countrymen, the loss of the armies, the alienation of the province, the misfortune of the public, challenged a share of their sorrow; whereas Spain lamented and mourned for the commanders themselves, and for Cneius even more than for his brother, because he had been longer in the government of their country, had earlier engaged their affections, and was the first who gave them a specimen of the Roman justice and moderation.
XXXVII. The army was now supposed to be utterly ruined, and Spain to be entirely lost, when one man retrieved the Roman affairs from this desperate condition: this was Lucius Marcius, son of Septimus, a Roman knight, a young man of an enterprising temper, and of a capacity which would do credit to a rank much superior to that in which he was born. These very great talents had been improved by the discipline of Cneius Scipio, under which he had, in a course of many years, acquired a thorough knowledge of all the arts of war. Collecting the soldiers, after their dispersion in the flight and drafting others out of the garrisons, he formed an army far from contemptible, with which he joined Titus Fonteius, the lieutenant-general of Publius Scipio. Such a superior ascendancy was possessed by a Roman knight in the respect and esteem of the soldiery, that, after fortifying a camp on the hither side of the Iberus, they determined that a commander should be chosen for the two armies by the suffrages of the soldiers. On this, relieving each other successively in the guard of the rampart and other posts, until every one had given his vote, they all concurred in conferring the chief command on Lucius Marcius. The remaining time of their stay there, which was but short, was employed in strengthening the camp, and collecting provisions; the soldiers executing every order not only with diligence, but without betraying any dejection whatever. But when intelligence was brought that Hasdrubal, son of Gisgo, was coming to crush the last remains of opposition; that he had passed the Iberus and was drawing near; and when they saw the signal of battle displayed by a new commander — then, recollecting what captains and what forces had used to support their confidence when going out to fight, they all on a sudden burst into tears, and beat their heads. Some raised their hands towards heaven, taxing the gods with cruelty; others prostrate on the ground, invoked by name each his own former commander: nor could their lamentations be restrained by all the efforts of the centurions, or by the soothings and expostulations of Marcius himself, who asked them, “why they abandoned themselves to womanly and unavailing tears, and did not rather summon up their fiercest courage, for the common defence of themselves and the commonwealth, and for avenging their slaughtered generals?” Meanwhile, on a sudden, the shout and the sound of trumpets were heard, for the enemy were by this time near the rampart; and now their grief being instantly converted into rage, they hastily snatched up their arms, and, as if instigated by madness, ran to the gates, and made a furious attack on the forces, who were advancing in a careless and irregular manner. This unexpected reception immediately struck the Carthaginians with dismay: they wondered whence such a number of enemies could have started up, since the almost total extinction of their force; whence the vanquished and routed derived such boldness, such confidence in themselves; what chief had arisen since the death of the two Scipios; who should command in their camp; who could have given the signal for battle? Perplexed and astonished at so many incidents, so unaccountable, they first gave way; and then, on being pushed with a vigorous onset, turned their backs: and now, either a dreadful havoc would have been made among the flying party, or the pursuers would have found their impetuosity turn out inconsiderate and dangerous to themselves, had not Marcius quickly sounded a retreat, and by stopping them in the front, and even holding back some with his own hands, repressed the fury of the troops. He then led them into the camp, with their rage for blood and slaughter still unabated. The Carthaginians at first retreated precipitately from the rampart; but when they saw that there was no pursuit, they imagined that the others had halted through fear; and then, as if holding them in contempt, they returned to their camp at an easy pace. Conformable to the same notion was their careless manner of guarding their works; for although the Romans were at hand, yet they considered them merely as the remains of the two armies vanquished a few days before: and, in consequence of this error, negligence prevailed among the Carthaginians in every particular. Marcius, having discovered this, resolved on an enterprise, at first view rather rash than bold; which was, to go and attack the enemy’s post; for, he considered that it would be easier to storm the camp of Hasdrubal while he stood single, than to defend his own, in case the three generals and three armies should again unite; and besides, that, on one hand should he succeed in his attempt, he would gain relief from the distresses that encompassed him; and on the other, should he be repulsed, yet his daring to make the attack would rescue him from contempt.
XXXVIII. However, lest the suddenness of the affair, and the apprehensions incident to men acting by night, might disconcert an undertaking which, at best, seemed but ill suitable to his present condition, he judged it advisable to communicate his design to the soldiers, and to animate their spirits. Accordingly, being assembled, he addressed them in a speech to this effect: “Soldiers, either my dutiful affection to our late commanders, both during their lives and since their death, or the present situation of us all, might be sufficient to convince every one of you, that the command with which I am invested, though highly honourable, as the gift of your judgment, is still in reality full of labour and anxiety. For at the time when (only that fear benumbs the sense of grief) I should not be so far master of myself as to be able to find any consolation for our losses, I am compelled singly to study the safety of you all; a task most difficult to a mind immersed in sorrow; so much so, that while I am devising the means of preserving to our country these remnants of the two armies, I cannot, even in those moments, be wholly abstracted from it. For bitter remembrance haunts me; and the two Scipios, by day and by night, disquiet me with anxious cares and dreams, and often awake me out of sleep. They charge me, not to let them, or their men, (your fellow-soldiers, who for eight years maintained in this country a superiority in arms,) or our commonwealth, remain unrevenged; to follow their discipline, and their maxims; and that as, during their lives, no one was more obedient to their commands than I was, so I should, after their death, ever deem that conduct the best, which I have most reason to think that they would have pursued on any emergency. I could wish, soldiers, that you, on your part, would not pay them the tribute of tears and lamentations, as if they were no longer in existence; they who live and flourish in the fame of their achievements; but that, whenever the memory of them recurs, you would go into battle, as if you saw them encouraging you, and giving you the signal. Most certainly it must have been their image presenting itself to your eyes and minds that animated you yesterday to that memorable action, in which you gave the enemies a proof that the Roman race had not become extinct with the Scipios, and that the strength and valour of that nation, which was not crushed by the disaster at Cannæ, will ever rise superior to the severest inflictions of fortune. Now, after you have, from the suggestions of your own courage, braved danger with such intrepidity, I wish to try how much of the same bravery you will exert under the direction of your commander: for yesterday, when I gave the signal of retreat, on seeing, you pursue the routed Carthaginians with precipitation, I did not mean to break your spirit, but to reserve it for a more glorious and more advantageous opportunity; that you might afterwards, in short, and at a more favourable juncture, with full preparation, and well armed, assail your enemy unprepared, unarmed, and even buried in sleep. Nor, soldiers, did I conceive the hope of such an occasion offering, inconsiderately, and without reason, but founded it on the real state of things. Suppose any one should ask you, by what means, with your small numbers, and after suffering a defeat, you defended your camp against numerous forces elated with victory; you would surely give no other answer than that, being from these very circumstances apprehensive of danger, you had strengthened your quarters on every side with works, and kept yourselves ready and prepared for action. And this is always the case: men are least secure on that side, where their situation removes the apprehension of danger: because wherever they think care unnecessary, they will be there unguarded and open. There is no one thing which the enemy at present less apprehend, than that we, so lately blockaded and assaulted, should have the confidence to assault their camp. Let us dare then to do what no one will believe we dare to undertake: the very persuasion of its difficulty will make it easy to us. At the third watch of the night I will lead you thither in silence. I know, certainly, that they have not a course of watches, nor regular guards. The noise of our shout at their gates, and the first attack, will carry the camp. Then, while they are torpid with sleep, dismayed by the sudden tumult, and surprised, unarmed in their beds, let that carnage be made, from which you were vexed at your being recalled yesterday. I am aware that the enterprise must appear presumptuous; but in cases of difficulty, and when hopes are small, the most spirited counsels are the safest; because, if in the moment of opportunity, which quickly fleets away, you hesitate, even but a little, you will in vain wish for it afterwards, when it is no more. They have one army in our neighbourhood, and two others at no great distance. From an immediate attack we have reason to expect success; you have already made trial of your own strength, and of theirs; but if we defer the matter, and they, on being informed of our behaviour in yesterday’s irruption, cease to look on us with contempt, it is probable that all their commanders, and all their forces, will unite in one body. In that case, can we hope to be able to withstand the enemy’s three generals, and three armies, whom Cneius Scipio, with his army entire, could not withstand? As our generals were ruined by the dividing of their forces, so may the enemy, while separate and divided, be overpowered. There is no other way in which we can act with effect: let us therefore wait for nothing beyond the opportunity which the next night will afford us. Retire now, with the favour of the gods; refresh yourselves with food and rest, that you may, strong and vigorous, break into the camp of the enemy with the same spirit with which you defended your own.” They heard with joy this new plan proposed by their new general, which pleased them the more, on account of its daring boldness. The remainder of the day was employed in preparing their arms, and taking their victuals, and the greater part of the night was given to rest. At the fourth watch they were in motion.
XXXIX. At the distance of six miles beyond the nearest camp lay another body of Carthaginians. Between the two was a deep valley, thick set with trees. About the middle of this wood, by a stratagem worthy the genius of a Carthaginian, a Roman cohort and some cavalry were placed in concealment. The communication being thus cut off, the rest of the troops were led in silence to the nearest body of the enemy, and finding no advanced guard before the gates, or watches on the rampart, they marched in, without meeting an opposer, as they would into their own camp. The charge was then sounded, and the shout raised; some kill the assailed before they are quite awake, some throw fire on the huts which were covered with dry straw, some seize the gates to cut off their flight. The fire, the shouting, and the slaughter, all together, so stunned and confounded the enemy’s senses, that they neither could hear each other, nor think of what they should do. Unarmed, they every where fell in among troops of armed foes: some hastened to the gates; others, finding the passes shut, leaped over the rampart: and every one as soon as he got out, fled directly towards the other camp. These were intercepted by the cohort and cavalry rushing out from their ambush, and were all slain to a man, and even had any escaped, the Romans, having taken the nearer camp, ran forward to the other with such rapid haste, that no one could have arrived before them with the news of the disaster. At this camp, as it lay at a greater distance from an enemy, and as many had gone out before day in quest of forage, wood, and booty, they found every thing in a still more neglected and careless state; the weapons only standing at the outposts, the men unarmed, sitting or lying on the ground, or walking about before the gates and rampart. In this unguarded situation they were attacked by the Romans, yet warm from the late fight, and flushed with victory. No opposition therefore could be given them at the entrances; within, indeed, the first shout and the tumult having brought many together from all parts of the camp, a fierce conflict arose, which would have lasted long, had not the sight of the blood on the shields of the Romans, discovered to the Carthaginians the defeat of their other party, and struck them with dismay. This panic occasioned a general flight; every one, except such as the sword overtook, rushing out wherever a passage could be found. Thus, in one night and day, through the successful conduct of Lucius Marcius, were two of the Carthaginian camps taken by storm. Claudius, who translated the annals of Acilius from the Greek language into the Latin, affirms, that there were thirty-seven thousand of the enemy killed, one thousand eight hundred and thirty taken, and a vast booty acquired; among which was a silver shield of an hundred and thirty-eight pounds weight, embossed with the image of the Barcine Hasdrubal. Valerius Antias says, that Mago’s camp only was taken, where seven thousand were killed; and that, in the other battle, when the Romans sallied out and fought Hasdrubal, ten thousand fell, and that four thousand three hundred and thirty were taken. Piso writes, that Mago, having hastily pursued our troops who were retreating, five thousand of his men were killed in an ambuscade. All mention the name of the commander, Marcius, with great honour; and to his real glory they added also miraculous incidents; among others, that while he was haranguing his men, a flame was seen at the top of his head, without being felt by him, to the great fright of the surrounding soldiers. It is said, that, as a monument of his victory over the Carthaginians, the shield with the image of Hasdrubal, styled the Marcian, remained in the Capitol until the burning of that temple.* After this, hostilities were suspended in Spain for a long time, both parties being unwilling, after such severe shocks given and received, to risk an action which might be wholly destructive to one or both.
XL. During the time of these transactions in Spain, Marcellus having, after the taking of Syracuse, adjusted the other affairs of Sicily with such integrity and good faith as augmented not only his own glory, but likewise the majesty of the Roman people carried off to Rome the ornaments of the city, the statues and pictures with which it abounded. These were no doubt the spoils of enemies, and acquired by the right of war, yet they first gave rise to a taste for the works of Grecian artists, and to the consequent unbounded rapacity with which all places, indiscriminately, both sacred and profane, have been plundered; and which, at last, has been exercised even against the deities of Rome, and that very temple itself, in the first instance, which was decorated by Marcellus with peculiar elegance: for formerly, those which he dedicated near the Capuan gate were visited by foreigners on account of their exquisite ornaments, of which a very small portion remains. Supplicatory embassies came to Marcellus from almost every state in Sicily; as their cases were dissimilar, so were the terms granted them. Such as either had not revolted, or had returned into amity, before the reduction of Syracuse, were received as faithful allies, and treated with kindness; while such as, after that event, had submitted through fear, being considered as conquered, had terms dictated to them by the victor. Still, however, the Romans had remaining, at Agrigentum, some enemies far from contemptible — Epicydes and Hanno, who had been commanders in the late war, with a third and new one, sent by Hannibal in the room of Hippocrates, of a Lybophœnician race, a native of Hippo, called by his countrymen Mutines, an enterprising man, and instructed under no less a master than Hannibal himself in all the arts of war. To him Epicydes and Hanno assigned the auxiliary Numidians; with these he overran the lands of their enemies in such a manner, and was so active in visiting their allies for the purpose of securing their fidelity, and of giving them succour as occasion required, that, in a short time, he filled all Sicily with his fame, and was considered as one of the principal supports of the Carthaginian party. The Carthaginian general therefore, and the Syracusan, who had hitherto remained shut up within the walls of Agrigentum, were induced, not only by the advice of Mutines, but by confidence in their strength, to venture out of the town, and they pitched their camp on the bank of the river Himera. When Marcellus was informed of this, he instantly put his troops in motion, and sat down, at the distance of about four miles from them, to observe their motions and intentions. But Mutines left him neither room nor time for deliberation, for he crossed the river, and charged his advanced guards with such fury as to cause great terror and disorder. Next day, in a kind of regular engagement, he drove the Romans back into their fortifications. He was then called away by a mutiny of the Numidians which broke out in the camp, and as about three hundred of them had retired to a town called Heraclea of Minos, he went thither, in order to pacify and bring them back. At his departure he is said to have recommended earnestly to the other generals not to come to an engagement with the enemy during his absence. This gave much offence to both, particularly to Hanno, who was already jealous of his reputation: “that Mutines should dictate to him; a mongrel African to a Carthaginian general, commissioned by the senate and people.” He prevailed on Epicydes, who was disinclined to the measure, to consent that they should cross the river, and offer battle; alleging, that if they waited for Mutines, and the issue of the battle should prove fortunate, the honour would all be ascribed to him.
XLI. Marcellus, fired with indignation at the thought that he, who had beaten off from Nola, Hannibal, when elated with his victory at Cannæ, should give way to such adversaries as these, and whom he had repeatedly defeated on land and sea, ordered his men to take arms hastily, and march out to meet them. While he was arranging his troops, ten Numidians from the enemy’s line came to him at full gallop, and told him, that their countrymen, influenced first by the same motive which caused the mutiny, in which three hundred of their number had retired to Heraclea, and secondly, by seeing their own commander, at the very eve of a battle, sent out of the way, by officers who wished to derogate from his merit, had resolved to remain inactive during the fight. Contrary to the insidious character of their nation, they fulfilled their promise. This added new spirits to the Romans, for the intelligence was quickly conveyed along the ranks, that the enemy were forsaken by their horse, which had been considered as the most formidable part of their force. At the same time, it damped the courage of the Carthaginians, who, besides seeing themselves deprived of the support of the principal part of their strength, became even apprehensive of being attacked by their own cavalry. There was therefore no great contest: the first onset decided the affair. The Numidians stood quiet, on the wings, during the action, and when they saw their confederates turning their backs, accompanied them only a short way on their flight; for, observing that all in confusion made towards Agrigentum, in order to avoid the hardships of a siege, they withdrew themselves into several of the neighbouring cities. Many thousands were killed, and many taken, together with eight elephants. This was the last battle fought by Marcellus in Sicily, after which he returned in triumph to Syracuse. The year was now near to a close. The Roman senate therefore decreed that Publius Cornelius, prætor, should write to the consuls at Capua, that while Hannibal was at a great distance, and no business of moment was going on there, one of them should, if they thought proper, come to Rome to elect new magistrates. On receiving the letter, the consuls settled between themselves, that Claudius should hold the elections, and Fulvius remain at Capua. Claudius elected consuls, Cneius Fulvius Centumalus, and Publius Sulpicius Galba, son of Servius, who had not before held any curule office. Then Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, Caius Sulpicius, and Caius Calpurnius Piso were elected prætors. The city jurisdiction fell to Piso, Sicily to Sulpicius, Apulia to Cethegus, and Sardinia to Lentulus. The present consuls were continued in command for the ensuing year.
* These were three. They were elected by the people to judge in criminal causes, superintend the prisons, and the execution of the condemned.
* No person could obtain a curule office until he had served ten campaigns; and, as the military age commenced at seventeen, a man must be at least twenty-seven before he was qualified to sue for the quæstorship. It seems that by this law the requisite ages were settled thus:
|For the quæstorship||31 years.|
* 645l. 16s. 8d.
* There was no law which authorised the sentencing a Roman citizen, directly, to banishment: but by the interdiction above mentioned, the criminal was deprived of every right of a citizen; and, it being declared unlawful to supply him with any necessary, he was compelled to go into exile.
* 32l. 5s. 10d.
* In the year of Rome 669.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:10