From the Founding of the City/Book 26
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The new consuls, Cn, Fulvius Centimalus and P. Sulpicius Galba, entered upon office on the 15th of March, and at once convened a meeting of the senate in the Capitol to discuss questions of State, the conduct of the war and the distribution of the provinces and the armies. The retiring consuls - Q. Fulvius and Appius Claudius - retained their commands and were instructed to prosecute the siege of Capua unremittingly until they had effected its capture. The recovery of this city was the main concern of the Romans now. What determined them was not only the bitter resentment which its defection had evoked, a feeling which was never more justified in the case of any city, but also the certainty they felt that, as in its revolt it had drawn many communities with it, owing to its greatness and strength, so its recapture would create amongst these communities a feeling of respect for the power whose sovereignty they had formerly acknowledged. The praetors of the past year, M. Junius in Etruria and P. Sempronius in Gaul, had their commands extended and were each to retain the two legions they had. M. Marcellus was to act as proconsul and finish the war in Sicily with the army which he had. If he needed reinforcements he was to take them from the troops which P. Cornelius was commanding in Sicily, but none were to be selected from those who had been forbidden by the senate to take a furlough or return home before the end of the war. The province of Sicily was assigned to C. Sulpicius, and he was to take over the two legions which were with P. Cornelius; any reinforcements he needed were to be supplied from the army of Cn. Fulvius which had been so disgracefully routed and cut up the previous year in Apulia. The soldiers who had so disgraced themselves were placed under the same conditions with regard to length of service as the survivors of Cannae. As an additional brand of ignominy the men of both these armies were forbidden to winter in towns or to construct winter quarters for themselves within ten miles of any town. The two legions which Q. Mucius had commanded in Sardinia were given to L. Cornelius, and any additional force he might require was to be raised by the consuls. T. Otacilius and M. Valerius were ordered to cruise off the coasts of Sicily and Greece respectively with the fleets and soldiers they had previously commanded. The former had a hundred ships with two legions on board; the latter, fifty ships and one legion. The total strength of the Roman armies engaged on land and sea this year amounted to twenty-five legions.
At the beginning of the year a despatch from L. Marcius was laid before the senate. The senators fully appreciated the successful way in which he had conducted his operations, but a good many of them were indignant at the honorific title he had assumed. The superscription of the letter was "The propraetor to the senate," though the imperium had not been conferred upon him by an order of the people nor with the sanction of the senate. An evil precedent had been set, they said, when a commander was chosen by his army, and the solemn procedure at elections, after the auspices were duly taken, was transferred to camps and provinces far away from the magistrates and the laws, and left to the caprice of the soldiers. Some thought the senate ought to take the matter up, but it was thought better to adjourn the consideration of it until the horsemen who had brought the despatch had left the City. With regard to the food and clothing of the army, they ordered a reply to be sent to the effect that both these matters would be attended to by the senate. They refused, however, to allow the despatch to be addressed "To the propraetor L. Marcius," lest it should appear that the question which was to be discussed had been prejudged. After the messengers had been dismissed the consuls gave this question priority over everything else, and it was unanimously agreed that the tribunes should consult the plebs as soon as possible as to whom they wished to have sent to Spain with the imperium as commander-in-chief to take over the army which Cn. Scipio had commanded. The tribunes undertook to do so, and due notice of the question was given to the Assembly. But the citizens were preoccupied with a controversy of a very different nature. C. Sempronius Blaesus had fixed a day for bringing Cn. Fulvius to trial for losing his army in Apulia, and made a very bitter attack upon him beforehand in the Assembly. "Many commanders," he said, "have through rashness and inexperience led their armies into most dangerous positions, but Cn. Fulvius is the only one who has demoralised his army by every form of vice before betraying them. They may with perfect truth be said to have been destroyed before they saw the enemy; they owed their defeat to their own commander, not to Hannibal.
"Now no man, when he is going to vote, takes sufficient trouble to find out what sort of a man it is to whom he is entrusting the supreme command of the army. Think of the difference between Tiberius Sempronius and Cn. Fulvius. Tiberius Sempronius had an army of slaves given to him, but in a short time, thanks to the discipline he maintained and the wise use he made of his authority, there was not a man amongst them who when he was in the field of battle gave a thought to his birth or his condition. Those men were a protection to our allies and a terror to our enemies. They snatched, as though from the very jaws of Hannibal, cities like Cumae and Beneventum and restored them to Rome. Cn. Fulvius, on the other hand, had an army of Roman citizens, born of respectable parents, brought up as free men, and he infected them with the vices of slaves, and made them such that they were insolent and riotous amongst our allies, weaklings and cowards in face of the enemy; they could not stand even the war-cry of the Carthaginians, let alone their charge. Good heavens! no wonder the soldiers gave ground, when their commander was the first to run away; the wonder is that any stood their ground and fell, and that all did not accompany Cn. Fulvius in his panic and flight. C. Flaminius, L. Paulus, L. Postumius, and the two Scipios, Cnaeus and Publius, all chose to fall in battle rather than desert their armies, when they were hemmed in by the foe. Cn. Fulvius came back to Rome as the all-but solitary herald of the annihilation of his army. After the army had fled from the field of Cannae it was deported to Sicily, not to return till the enemy had evacuated Italy, and a similar decree was recently passed in the case of Fulvius' legions. But, shame to relate, the commander himself remained unpunished after his flight from a battle brought on by his own headstrong folly; he is free to pass the rest of his life where he passed it in youth - in stews and brothels - whilst his soldiers, whose only fault is that they copied their commander, are practically sent into exile and have to undergo a service of disgrace. So unequal are the liberties enjoyed in Rome by the rich and the poor, the men of rank and the men of the people."
In his defence Fulvius threw all the blame upon his men. They clamoured, he said, for battle, and he led them out, not at the moment, for it was late in the day, but on the following morning. Though they were drawn up on favourable ground, at an early hour they found either the terror of the enemy's name or the strength of his attack too much for them. When they were all flying in disorder he was swept away by the rush as Varro was at Cannae and as many other commanders have been at different times. What help would he have given to the republic by staying there alone? unless indeed his death would have warded off other national disasters. His failure was not due to lack of supplies, or to incautiously taking up a position on unfavourable ground; he had not been ambushed through insufficient reconnoitring; he had been beaten in a fair fight on an open field. Men's tempers, on whichever side they were, were beyond his control, a man's natural disposition made him either brave or cowardly. The speeches of the prosecutor and the defendant occupied two days, on the third day the witnesses were produced. Besides all the other serious charges brought against him, a great many men stated on oath that the panic and flight began with the praetor, and that when the soldiers found that they were left to themselves, and thought that their commander had good ground for fear, they too turned their backs and fled. The prosecutor had in the first instance asked for a fine, but the evidence which had been given roused the anger of the people to such an extent that they insisted upon a capital charge being laid. This led to a fresh contest. As the prosecutor during the first two days had limited the penalty to a fine and only on the third day made the charge a capital one, the defendant appealed to the other tribunes, but they refused to interfere with their colleague. It was open to him by ancient custom to proceed either by statute law or by customary precedent, whichever he preferred, until he had obtained judgment, whether the penalty were a capital or a pecuniary one. On this Sempronius announced that he should prosecute C. Fulvius on the charge of treason and requested the City praetor to convene the Assembly for the purpose on the appointed day. Then the accused tried another way of escape. His brother Quintus was in high favour with the people at the time, owing to his former successes and the general conviction that he would soon take Capua, and the defendant hoped that he might be present at his trial. Quintus wrote to the senate for their permission, appealing to their compassion and begging to be allowed to defend his brother's life, but they told him in reply that it would militate against the interests of the State for him to leave Capua. Just before the day of trial Cn. Fulvius went into exile at Tarquinii. The plebs affirmed by resolution his legal status as exile and all the consequences it involved.
Meanwhile the whole stress of the war bore on Capua. The blockade was proving more effective than direct assault; the common people and the slaves could not endure the famine, nor could they send messengers to Hannibal owing to the strict watch which was kept. At last a Numidian was found who promised to get through with the despatches, and he succeeded. He escaped through the Roman lines by night, and this encouraged the Capuans to attempt sorties in all directions while they still had some strength left. Numerous cavalry encounters took place in which they generally had the advantage, but their infantry got the worst of it. The gratification which the Romans derived from their infantry successes was considerably damped by their finding themselves beaten in any arm by an enemy whom they had invested and almost conquered. At length they devised a clever plan by which they could make up for their inferiority in the mounted arm. Young men of exceptional speed and agility were selected from all the legions and supplied with bucklers somewhat shorter than those used by the cavalry. Each was furnished with seven javelins, four feet long and tipped with iron heads similar to those on the darts of the velites. The troopers each took one of these upon his horse and trained them to ride behind and leap down briskly at a given signal. As soon as their daily training had given them sufficient confidence, the cavalry advanced against the Capuans, who were drawn up on the level ground between the Roman camp and the city walls. As soon as they came within range the signal was given and the velites sprang down to the ground. The line of infantry thus formed made a sudden attack on the Capuan horse; shower after shower of javelins was flung at the men and horses all along the line. A great many were wounded, and the novel and unexpected form of attack created widespread consternation. Seeing the enemy shaken the Roman cavalry charged home, and in the rout that followed they drove them with much loss right up to their gates. From that time the Romans had the superiority in their cavalry also. The velites were subsequently incorporated in the legions. This plan of combining infantry and cavalry in one force is said to have originated with one of the centurions - Q. Navius, and he received special honour from his commander in consequence.
Such was the position of affairs at Capua. During this time Hannibal was drawn in two directions; he was anxious to get possession of the citadel of Tarentum and he was equally anxious to retain his hold on Capua. Regard for Capua however carried the day, for he saw that it was the spot to which all eyes were turned, of friends and foes alike, and its fate would show conclusively, one way or the other, the consequences of defection from Rome. Leaving therefore his baggage and heavy-armed troops in Bruttium, he hurried into Campania with a force of horse and foot selected for their capacity for rapid marching. Swift as his advance was, however, three and thirty elephants followed him. He took up his position in a secluded valley at the back of Mount Tifata which overlooked Capua. On his march he captured the fortified post of Calatia. He then turned his attention to the besiegers of Capua, and sent a message to the city telling them at what time he intended to attack the Roman lines, so that they might be ready to make a sortie and pour in full strength out of all their gates. The investing force was thrown into a state of great alarm, for while Hannibal was delivering his assault on one side, the whole of the forces of Capua, mounted and unmounted, supported by the Punic garrison under Bostar and Hanno were making a vigorous sortie on the other. Realising their critical position and the danger of leaving a portion of their lines unprotected by concentrating their defence in any one direction, the Romans divided their force; Appius Claudius confronted the Capuans, Fulvius was opposed to Hannibal; the propraetor C. Nero with the cavalry of the six legions held the road to Suessula, and C. Fulvius Flaccus with the cavalry of the allies took up a position towards the Volturnus. There was not only the usual shouting and uproar when the battle commenced; the din of horses and men and arms was aggravated by the non-combatant population of Capua. They crowded on to the walls, and by clashing brazen vessels together, as people do in the dead of the night when there is an eclipse of the moon, they made such a dreadful noise that it even distracted the attention of the combatants.
Appius had no difficulty in driving the Capuans from his earthworks, but Fulvius had to meet a much heavier attack from Hannibal and his Carthaginians on the other side. Here the sixth legion gave way and a cohort of Spaniards with three elephants succeeded in getting up to the breastwork. They had penetrated the Roman line, and whilst they saw their chance of breaking through into the camp they saw also the danger of being cut off from their supports. When Fulvius saw the disorder of the legion and the danger which threatened the camp, he called upon Q. Navius and other centurions of the first rank to charge the enemy's cohort which was fighting just under the breastwork. "It is a most critical moment," he told them; "either you must allow the enemy to go on, in which case they will break into the camp with less difficulty than they found in breaking through the closed ranks of the legion, or you must dispose of them whilst they are still below the breastwork. It will not be a hard fight; they are a small body, cut off from their support; and the very fact of the Roman line being broken will be an advantage if both sections close on the enemy's flanks, who would then be hemmed and exposed to a double attack." On hearing this Navius took the standard of the second maniple of hastati from the bearer and advanced with it against the enemy, threatening at the same time to throw it into their midst if his men did not promptly follow him and take their share in the fighting. He was a huge man and his armour set him off, and as he lifted the standard high in the air, he attracted all eyes. But when he was close to the Spaniards they hurled their javelins at him from all sides, and almost the whole of their line turned their attention to this one man. Neither the number of the enemy, however, nor the force of their missiles were able to check the gallant fellow's onset.
M. Atilius now brought up the leading maniple of the sixth legion against the Spanish cohort; L. Porcius Licinius and T. Popilius, who were in command of the camp, were keeping up a fierce struggle in front of the breastwork, and killed some of the elephants whilst they were actually clambering over it. Their bodies rolled down into the fosse and filled it up, making a bridge for the passage of the enemy, and a terrible carnage began over the prostrate elephants. On the other side of the camp the Capuans and their Punic garrison had by this time been repulsed, and the fighting went on right up to the city gate which leads to the Volturnus. The efforts of the Romans to break in were frustrated not so much by the arms of the defenders as by the ballistae and scorpions which were mounted over the gate and kept the assailants at a distance by the missiles they discharged. A further check was given them by a wound received by Appius Claudius; he was struck by a heavy javelin in the upper part of the chest under the left shoulder, whilst he was riding along the front encouraging his men. A great many of the enemy were however killed outside the gate; the rest were driven in hasty flight into the city. When Hannibal saw the destruction of his Spanish cohort and the energy with which the Romans were defending their lines, he gave up the attack and recalled the standards. The retiring column of infantry was followed by the cavalry who were to protect the rear in case the enemy harassed their retreat. The legions were burning to pursue them, but Fulvius ordered the "retire" to be sounded, as he considered that he had gained quite enough in making both the Capuans and Hannibal himself realise how little he could do in their defence.
Some authors who describe this battle say that 8000 of Hannibal's men were killed that day and 3000 Capuans, and that 15 standards were taken from the Carthaginians and 18 from the Capuans. In other accounts I find that the affair was nothing like so serious, there was more excitement and confusion than actual fighting. According to these writers the Numidians and Spaniards broke unexpectedly into the Roman lines with the elephants, and these animals, trotting all over the camp, upset the tents and created terrible uproar and panic during which the baggage animals broke their tethers and bolted. To add to the confusion Hannibal sent some men got up as Italians, who could speak Latin, to tell the defenders in the name of the consul that as the camp was lost each man must do his best to escape to the nearest mountains. The trick was, however, soon detected and frustrated with heavy loss to the enemy, and the elephants were driven out of the camp with firebrands. In any case, however it began or ended, this was the last battle fought before Capua surrendered. The "medix tuticus," the supreme magistrate of Capua, happened for that year to be Seppius Loesius, a man of humble birth and slender fortune. The story goes that owing to a portent which had occurred in his mother's household she consulted a soothsayer on behalf of her little boy, and he told her that the highest official position in Capua would come to her son. As she was not aware of anything which would justify such expectations she replied, "You are indeed describing a desperate state of things in Capua when you say that such an honour will come to my son." Her jesting reply to what was a true prediction turned out itself to be true, for it was only when famine and sword were pressing them sorely and all hope of further resistance was disappearing that Loesius accepted the post. He was the last Capuan to hold it, and he only did so under protest; Capua, he declared, was abandoned and betrayed by all her foremost citizens.
Finding that his enemy could not be drawn into an engagement and that it was impossible to break through their lines and relieve Capua, Hannibal decided to abandon his attempt and march away from the place, for he was afraid of being cut off from his supplies by the new consuls. He was anxiously turning over in his mind the question of his future movements when the idea occurred to him of marching upon Rome, the head and guiding spirit of the whole war. He had always set his heart upon this, and men blamed him for letting the opportunity slip, immediately after the battle of Cannae; he himself admitted that he had made a mistake in not doing so. He was not without hope of seizing some part of the City in the confusion caused by his unexpected appearance, and if Rome were in danger, he expected that both the consuls - or at all events, one of them - would at once quit their hold on Capua. Then, as they would be weakened by their forces being divided, they would give either him or the Capuans the opportunity of fighting a successful action. One thing made him anxious, the possibility of the Capuans surrendering as soon as he had withdrawn. Amongst his men there was a Numidian who was ready for any desperate enterprise, and he induced this man, by the offer of a reward, to carry a despatch and enter the Roman lines in the guise of a deserter, then steal away on the opposite side and enter Capua. He wrote in a very encouraging strain, and pointed out that his departure would be the means of saving them, as it would draw off the Roman generals from their attack on Capua to defend Rome. They were not to be despondent, a few days' patience would completely break up the siege. He then ordered the boats which were on the Volturnus to be seized and brought up to a fort which he had previously constructed to secure the passage of the river. He was informed that there was a sufficient number of them to admit of his entire army being taken across in one night. Ten days' rations were supplied to the men; they marched down to the river, and all his legions were across before day-break.
Fulvius Flaccus was informed by deserters of this project before it was put into execution, and at once sent intelligence of it to the senate. The news was received with varying feelings as men's temperaments differed. Naturally, at such a crisis, a meeting of the senate was instantly convened. Publius Cornelius Asina was for recalling all the generals and armies from every part of Italy for the defence of the City, regardless of Capua or any other object they had in view. Fabius Maximus considered that it would be a disgrace for them to quit their hold on Capua and allow themselves to be scared by Hannibal and marched up and down at his beck and menaces. "Do you suppose," he asked the senators, "that the man who did not venture to approach the City after his victory at Cannae, really hopes to capture it now that he has been driven away from Capua? His object in coming here is not to attack Rome but to raise the siege of Capua. The army which is now in the City will be sufficient for our defence, for it will be aided by Jupiter and the other gods who have witnessed Hannibal's violation of treaty engagements." P. Valerius Flaccus advocated a middle course, which was ultimately adopted. He recommended that a despatch should be sent to the generals commanding at Capua, telling them what defensive force the City possessed. They themselves would know what troops Hannibal was bringing and how large an army was required to maintain the siege of Capua. If one of the generals commanding could be sent with a part of the army to Rome without interfering with the effective conduct of the siege by the other general, Claudius and Fulvius might arrange which of them should continue the investment of Capua and which should go to Rome to prevent their own city from being invested. When this decision of the senate reached Capua, the proconsul Q. Fulvius, whose colleague had been obliged to leave for Rome owing to his wound, selected a force out of the three armies and crossed the Volturnus with 15,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry. When he had definitely ascertained that Hannibal was advancing by the Latin Road, he sent men on in advance through the burghs situated on the Appian Way and also to some lying near it, to warn the inhabitants to have supplies stored in readiness in their towns and to bring them in from the outlying fields to the line of march. They were further to call in their fighting men to defend their homes, and each municipality was to provide for its own protection.
After crossing the Volturnus Hannibal fixed his camp a short distance from the river, and the next day he marched past Cales into the Sidicine territory. One day was devoted to laying waste the district, and then he proceeded along the Latin Road through the lands of Suessa, Allifae, and Casinum up to the walls of the last-mentioned place. Here he remained encamped for two days and ravaged the whole of the surrounding country. From there he went on past Interamna and Aquinum into the territory of Fregellae as far as the Liris. Here he found that the bridge had been destroyed by the people of Fregellae in order to delay his advance. Fulvius too had been delayed at the Volturnus, owing to Hannibal having burnt his boats, and he had considerable difficulty in procuring rafts for the transport of his troops, owing to the lack of timber. When, however, he had once crossed, the remainder of his march was uninterrupted, as he found ample supplies of provisions waiting for him in each city he came to, and also put out by the side of the road in the country districts. His men, too, in their eagerness urged one another to march more quickly, for they were going to defend their homes. A messenger who had travelled from Fregellae for a day and a night without stopping created great alarm in Rome, and the excitement was increased by people running about the City with wildly exaggerated accounts of the news he had brought. The wailing cry of the matrons was heard everywhere, not only in private houses but even in the temples. Here they knelt and swept the temple-floors with their dishevelled hair and lifted up their hands to heaven in piteous entreaty to the gods that they would deliver the City of Rome out of the hands of the enemy and preserve its mothers and children from injury and outrage. The senators remained in session in the Forum so as to be at hand should the magistrates wish to consult them. Some received orders and went off to execute their commissions, others offered their services in case they could be of use anywhere. Troops were posted at the Capitol, on the walls, round about the City and even as far as the Alban Mount and the fortress of Aesula. In the midst of all this excitement word was brought that the proconsul Q. Fulvius was on his way from Capua with an army. As proconsul he could not hold command in the City, the senate therefore passed a decree conferring upon him consular powers. After completely destroying the territory of Fregellae in revenge for the destruction of the bridge over the Liris, Hannibal continued his march through the districts of Frusinum, Ferentinum and Anagnia into the neighbourhood of Labicum. He then crossed Algidus and marched on Tusculum, but he was refused admittance, so he turned to the right below Tusculum towards Gabii, and still descending, came into the district of Pupinia where he encamped, eight miles from Rome. The nearer his approach the greater was the slaughter of those who were fleeing to the City at the hands of the Numidians who rode in front of the main body. Many, too, of all ages and conditions were made prisoners.
In the midst of this turmoil and excitement Fulvius Flaccus entered Rome with his army. He passed through the Porta Capena and marched right through the City past the Cavinae and the Esquiliae, and out again through the Colline Gate, entrenching himself on ground between the Colline and Esquiline Gates. Here the plebeian aediles furnished him with provisions. The consuls, attended by the senate, visited him in his camp, and a council was held to consider what measures the supreme interests of the republic demanded. It was decided that the consuls should form entrenched camps in the vicinity of the Colline and Esquiline Gates, the City praetor taking command of the Citadel and the Capitol, and that the senate should remain in permanent session in the Forum in case any sudden emergency should need to be provided against. Hannibal had now moved his camp to the Anio at a distance of three miles from the City. From this position, he advanced with a body of 2000 cavalry towards the Colline Gate as far as the temple of Hercules, and from that point he rode up and made as close an inspection as he could of the walls and the situation of the City. Flaccus was furious with indignation at this calm and leisurely proceeding and sent some cavalry with orders to clear the enemy and drive them back to their camp. There were some 1200 Numidian deserters stationed on the Aventine at the time, and the consuls sent orders to them to ride through the City to the Esquiliae, as they considered none more fitted to fight amongst the hollows and garden walls and sepulchres and enclosed paths all around that part of the City. When those on guard at the Citadel and the Capitol saw them trotting down the Publician hill they shouted out that the Aventine was taken. This caused so much confusion and panic that, had not the Carthaginian camp been outside the City, the terrified population would have poured out of the gates. As it was, they took refuge in the houses and various buildings, and seeing some of their own people walking in the streets, they took them for enemies and attacked them with stones and missiles. It was impossible to calm the excitement or to rectify the mistake, as the streets were packed with crowds of country people with their cattle, whom the sudden danger had driven into the City. The cavalry action was successful and the enemy were driven off. It became necessary, however, to quell the disturbances which, without the slightest reason, were breaking out in many quarters, and the senate decided that all who had been Dictators, consuls or censors should be invested with the imperium until the enemy had retired from the walls. During the remainder of the day and throughout the night, many such disturbances arose and were promptly repressed.
The following day Hannibal crossed the Anio and led out the whole of his force to battle; Flaccus and the consuls did not decline the challenge. When both sides were drawn up to decide an action in which Rome was the victor's prize, a tremendous hailstorm threw the two armies into such disorder that they had difficulty in holding their arms. They retired to their respective camps, fearing everything rather than their enemy. The following day, when the armies were drawn up in the same position, a similar storm separated them. On each occasion, after they were once more in camp, the weather cleared up in an extraordinary way. The Carthaginians looked upon the occasion as preternatural, and the story runs that Hannibal was heard to say that at one time he lacked the will, at another the opportunity, of becoming master of Rome. His hopes were further damped by two incidents, one of some importance, the other less so. The more important was his receiving information that while he was actually in arms near the walls of Rome a force had marched out fully equipped, under their standards, to reinforce the army in Spain. The other incident, which he learnt from a prisoner, was the sale by auction of the spot on which he had fixed his camp, and the fact that, in spite of his occupation of it, there was no abatement in the price. That any one should have been found in Rome to buy the ground which he was holding in possession as spoil of war, seemed to Hannibal such an insulting piece of arrogance that he instantly summoned a crier and made him give notice of the sale of the silversmiths' shops round the Forum of Rome.
These incidents led to his withdrawal from Rome, and he retired as far as the river Tutia, six miles distant from the City. From there he marched to the grove of Feronia and the temple, which was celebrated in those days for its wealth. The people of Capena and other cities round used to bring their first-fruits and other offerings, according to their ability, and they had also embellished it with a considerable quantity of gold and silver. Now the temple was despoiled of all its treasures. Great heaps of metal, where the soldiers, struck by remorse, had thrown pieces of uncoined brass, were found there after Hannibal's departure. All writers are agreed as to the plundering of this temple. Coelius tell us that Hannibal diverted his march to it while he was going from Eretum to Rome, after marching from Amiternum by Reate and Cutiliae. According to this writer, on leaving Capua, Hannibal entered Samnium, and from there passed to the Peligni; then, marching past the town of Sulmo, he crossed the frontiers of the Marrucini and then advanced through the Alban territory to the country of the Marsi, and from there to Amiternum and the hamlet of Foruli. There can be no uncertainty as to the route he took, for the traces of that great commander and his large army could not have been lost in so short a space of time; the only point at issue is whether that was the route he took when he marched to Rome or whether he followed it on his return to Campania.
The energy with which the Romans pressed the siege of Capua was far greater than that which Hannibal exhibited in its defence, for he hurried away through Lucania to Bruttium in the hope of surprising Regium. Though the siege was in no way relaxed during Fulvius' absence, his return made a sensible difference in the conduct of operations, and it was a matter of general surprise that Hannibal had not returned at the same time. The Capuans gradually learnt through their conversations with the besiegers that they were abandoned and left to themselves, and that the Carthaginians had given up all hope of saving Capua. In accordance with a resolution of the senate, the proconsul issued an edict which was published in the city, that any Campanian burgher who went over to the Romans before a certain day would be amnestied. Not a single man went over; their fears prevented them from trusting the Romans, for they had in their revolt committed crimes too great for any hope of pardon. But whilst no one would provide for his own safety by going over to the enemy, there was nothing done for the public safety in the way of wise or prudent counsel. The nobility had deserted their public duties; it was impossible to get together a meeting of the senate. The supreme magistracy was held by a man who conferred no honour on his office; on the contrary, his unfitness detracted from its authority and power. None of the nobility were to be seen in the forum, or indeed anywhere in public; they shut themselves up at home waiting for their country's downfall and their own destruction. All responsibility was thrown upon the commandants of the Punic garrison, Bostar and Hanno, and they were much more concerned for their own safety than for that of their supporters in the city. A communication was drawn up for the purpose of forwarding it to Hannibal, in which he was directly charged with surrendering Capua into the enemy's hands and exposing his garrison to every kind of torture. He had gone off, so the despatch hinted, to be out of the way, lest Capua should be taken before his eyes, The Romans could not be drawn off from besieging Capua even when an attack was threatened on their city; so much more determination did the Romans show as enemies, than the Carthaginians as friends. If Hannibal would return to Capua and turn the whole tide of war in that direction, then the garrison were prepared to make an attack on the besiegers. He had not crossed the Alps to make war with Regium or Tarentum; where the legions of Rome were, there ought the armies of Carthage to be. That was how he had conquered at Cannae, and at Thrasymenus, by meeting the enemy face to face, army to army, and trying his fortune in battle.
This was the main drift of the despatch. It was handed to some Numidians who had undertaken to carry it on promise of a reward. They had come into Fulvius' camp as deserters, intending to seize a favourable opportunity of slipping away, and the famine from which Capua had long been suffering was a very good reason why they should desert. A Campanian woman, however, the mistress of one of these deserters, suddenly appeared in the camp and informed the Roman commander that the Numidians had come in as part of a pre-arranged plot, and were really carrying a despatch to Hannibal, and that she was prepared to prove it, as one of them had disclosed the affair to her. When this man was brought forward, he at first stoutly denied all knowledge of the woman, but gradually he gave way before the truth, especially when he saw that instruments of torture were being sent for and got ready, and at last made a complete confession. The despatch was produced, and further evidence came to light, as it was found that other Numidians were at large in the Roman camp under the guise of deserters. Above seventy of them were arrested and together with the recent arrivals were all scourged, and their hands were cut off, after which they were sent back to Capua. The sight of this terrible punishment broke the spirit of the Capuans.
The people went in a body to the senate house and insisted on Loesius summoning the senate. They openly threatened the nobles who had so long absented themselves from the senate, that they would go round to their houses and drag them all by main force into the streets. These threats resulted in a full meeting of the senate. The general opinion was in favour of sending a deputation to the Roman commander, but Vibius Virrius, the prime author of the revolt from Rome, when asked his opinion, told those who were talking about a deputation and terms of peace and surrender that they were forgetting what they would have done had they had the Romans in their power, or what, as circumstances now were, they would have to suffer. "Why! ," he exclaimed, "do you imagine that our surrender now will be like the one we made in old days when, in order to get help against the Samnites, we surrendered ourselves and all that belonged to us to Rome? Have you already forgotten at what a critical moment for Rome we revolted from her? How we put to death with every torture and indignity the garrison which we could easily have sent away? What numerous and desperate sorties we have made against our besiegers, how we have assaulted their lines and called Hannibal in to crush them? Have you forgotten this last act of ours when we sent him to attack Rome?
"Now look at the other side, consider their determined hostility to us and see if you have anything to hope for. Though there was a foreign enemy on Italian soil, and that enemy Hannibal, though the flames of war were being kindled in every quarter, they neglected everything, even Hannibal himself, and sent both the consuls, each with an army, to Capua. For two years now have they hemmed us in with their lines of circumvallation, and are wearing us down with famine. They have endured as much as we have in the extremity of peril, the utmost severity of toil; often have they been slaughtered about their entrenchments, and all but driven out of them. But I pass over these things; the labours and dangers of a siege are an old and common experience. But to show their rage and implacable hatred against us I will remind you of these incidents: Hannibal assaulted their lines with an enormous force of infantry and cavalry, and partly captured them, but they did not raise the siege; he crossed the Volturnus and desolated the district of Calenum with fire; the sufferings of their allies failed to call off the Romans; he ordered a general advance on Rome itself, they disregarded the threatening storm; he crossed the Anio and encamped within three miles of the City, and at last rode up to its walls and gates and made as though he would take their city from them if they did not loose their hold on Capua; they did not loose their hold. When wild beasts are mad with rage you can still divert their blind fury by approaching their lairs and young ones which they will hasten to defend. The Romans were not diverted from Capua by the prospect of their city being besieged, or by the terrified cries of their wives and children which could almost be heard here, or by the threatened desecration of their hearths and altars, of the shrines of their gods and the tombs of their ancestors. So eager are they to visit us with punishment, so greedily do they thirst for our blood. And, perhaps, rightly; we should have done the same had fortune favoured us.
"Heaven, however, has ordered otherwise, and so, though I am bound to meet my death in any case, I can, whilst I am still free, escape the insults and the tortures which the enemy is preparing for me, I can dispose of myself by a death as peaceful as it is honourable. I refuse to look upon Appius Claudius and Q. Fulvius exulting in all the insolence of victory; I refuse to be dragged in chains through the streets of Rome to grace their triumph, and then in the dungeon or bound to the stake, with my back torn with the scourge, pass under the headsman's axe. I will not see my city plundered and burnt, and the matrons and maidens and noble boys of Capua ravished and outraged. Alba, the mother city of Rome, was rased by the Romans to its foundations in order that no memorial of their origin and of the stock whence they sprung might survive; much less can I believe that they will spare Capua which they hate more bitterly than they hate Carthage. So, for those of you who intend to meet your fate before you witness all these horrors I have prepared a banquet today at my house. When you have taken your fill of food and wine, the same goblet that is handed to me will be passed round to you. That draught will free our bodies from torture, our spirits from insult, our eyes and ears from seeing and hearing all the suffering and outrage which await the vanquished. Men will be in readiness to place our lifeless bodies on a vast pile which will be kindled in the court-yard of the house. This is the only path to death which is honourable and worthy of free men. Even the enemy will admire our courage, and Hannibal will know that the allies whom he has abandoned and betrayed were, after all, brave men."
This speech of Virrius was received with approbation by many who had not the courage to carry out what they approved of. The majority of the senators were not without hope that the clemency of the Roman people so often experienced in former wars would be once more extended to them, and they determined to send envoys to make a formal surrender of Capua. About seven-and-twenty accompanied Virrius home and banqueted with him. When they had as far as possible deadened their feelings with wine against the sense of impending evil, they all partook of the poisoned cup. Then they rose from table and grasped each other's hands and took a last embrace of one another, weeping for their own and their country's doom. Some remained that they might be cremated together on the same funeral pyre, others departed for their homes. The congestion of the veins caused by the food and wine they had taken made the action of the poison somewhat slow, and most of them lingered through the whole night and part of the following day. All however, expired before the gates were opened to the enemy. The following day, the gate called "the Gate of Jupiter," opposite the Roman camp, was opened by the proconsul's order. One legion was admitted through it and two squadrons of allied cavalry, with C. Fulvius in command. First he took care that all the weapons of war in Capua were brought to him; then, after stationing guards at all the gates to prevent any exit or escape, he arrested the Punic garrison and ordered the senate to go to the Roman commanders. On their arrival in the camp they were manacled, and ordered to send word for all the gold and silver they possessed to be brought to the quaestors. This amounted to 2072 pounds of gold and 31,200 pounds of silver. Twenty-five senators were sent to be kept in custody at Cales, and twenty-eight who were proved to have been mainly instrumental in bringing about the revolt were sent to Teanum
As to the punishment to be meted out to the senators of Capua, Claudius and Fulvius were anything but unanimous. Claudius was prepared to grant them pardon, but Fulvius took a much sterner line. Appius Claudius wished to refer the whole question to the senate at Rome. He maintained that it was but right that the senators should have an opportunity of investigating all the circumstances and finding out whether the Capuans had made any of the allies or the Latins or the municipal burghs privy to their designs, and if so, whether any of these had given them assistance in the war. Fulvius, on the other hand, declared that the very last thing they ought to do was to harass their faithful allies by vague charges and put them at the mercy of informers who were perfectly indifferent as to what they said or what they did. Any such investigation therefore he should stifle. After this interchange of views they parted, Appius feeling no doubt that in spite of his violent language his comrade would, in such an important matter, await instructions from Rome. Fulvius, determined to forestall any such obstacle to his designs, dismissed the council and ordered the military tribunes and the officers of the allies to select 2000 horsemen and warn them to be in readiness by the time the third watch was sounded. Starting with this force in the night, he reached Teanum at day-break and rode straight into the forum. A crowd had collected at the first entry of the cavalry, and Fulvius ordered the chief magistrate of the district to be summoned, and on his appearance commanded him to produce the Capuans who were in his custody. They were all brought forward and then scourged and beheaded. Then putting spurs to his horse he rode to Cales. When he had taken his seat on the tribunal and the Capuans who had been brought out were being bound to the stake, a mounted messenger arrived post-haste from Rome and handed Fulvius a despatch from the praetor C. Calpurnius containing the decree of the senate. The spectators guessed the nature of the contents, and those standing round the tribunal expressed their belief - a belief which soon found expression throughout the Assembly - that the whole question of the treatment of the Capuan prisoners was to be left to the senate. Fulvius thought so too; he took the letter and without opening it placed it in his breast and then ordered his marshal to tell the lictor to carry out the law. Thus, those who were at Cales were also executed. Now he read the despatch and the decree of the senate. But it was too late to prevent a deed accomplished, which had been hurried on as quickly as possible in order that it might not be prevented. Just as Fulvius was leaving the tribunal a Capuan named Taurea Vibellius strode through the middle of the crowd and addressed him by name. Fulvius resumed his seat, wondering what the man wanted. "Order me too," he cried, to be put to death so that you may boast of having caused the death of a braver man than yourself." Fulvius declared that the man was certainly out of his mind, and added that even if he wished to kill him he was prevented from doing so by the decree of the senate. Then Vibellius exclaimed, "Now that my native city has been taken, my friends and relations lost to me, my wife and children slain by my own hand to save them from insult and outrage, and since even the opportunity of dying as my fellow-countrymen here have died is refused me, let me seek in courage a release from the life which has become so hateful to me." With these words he drew out a sword which he had concealed in his garment, and plunging it into his heart fell dying at the general's feet.
As the execution of the Capuans and most of the other steps taken were carried out by the instructions of Fulvius alone, some authors assert that Appius Claudius died immediately after the surrender of Capua. According to this account, Taurea did not come voluntarily to Cales, nor did he perish by his own hand; when he had been tied to the stake along with the others he shouted repeatedly, and as owing to the noise they could not hear what he was saying, Fulvius ordered silence. Then Taurea said, as I have already related, that he was being done to death by a man who was far from being his equal in courage. At these words, the marshal, on the proconsul's order gave this direction to the lictor: "Lictor, let this brave man have more of the rod, and execute the law upon him first of all." Some authors assert that the decree of the senate was read before the men were beheaded, but there was a proviso in it to the effect that if he thought fit, he might refer the question to the senate, and Fulvius took this to mean that he was at liberty to decide as to what would be the best course in the interests of the republic. After Fulvius returned to Capua, he received the submission of Atella and Calatia. Here too the ringleaders in the revolt were punished; seventy of the leading senators were put to death, and three hundred Campanian nobles thrown into prison. Others who were distributed amongst the various Latin cities to be kept in custody perished from various causes; the rest of the population of Capua were sold as slaves. The question now was what was to be done with the city and its territory. Some were of opinion that a city so strong, so near to Rome and so hostile to it, ought to be utterly destroyed. Utilitarian considerations however prevailed. The territory was generally allowed to be the first in Italy in point of productiveness, and the only reason why the city was spared was that there might be a place for the tillers of the soil to live in. A motley throng of peasants, freedmen, small tradesmen and artisans were told off to occupy the place; the whole of the territory with the buildings on it became the property of the Roman State. It was settled that Capua itself should be simply a lodgment and a shelter, a city merely in name; there was to be no corporate life, no senate, no council of the plebs, no magistrates; the population were without any right of public assembly or self-government; they had no common interest and were incapable of taking any common action. The administration of justice was in the hands of a praetor who was to be sent annually from Rome. In this way matters were arranged at Capua in pursuance of a policy which commends itself from every point of view. Sternly and swiftly was punishment meted out to those who had been most guilty, the civic population was scattered far and wide with no hope of return, the unoffending walls and houses were spared from the ravages of fire and demolition. The preservation of the city, whilst it was a material advantage to Rome, afforded to the friendly communities a striking proof of her lenity; the whole of Campania and all the surrounding nationalities would have been horror-struck at the destruction of such a famous and wealthy city. The enemy, on the other hand, was made to realise the power of Rome to punish those who were faithless to her, and the powerlessness of Hannibal to protect those who had gone over to him.
Now that the senate was relieved from its anxiety about Capua, it was able to turn its attention to Spain. A force of 6000 infantry and 300 cavalry was placed at Nero's disposal, and he selected it from the two legions he had had with him at Capua; an equal number of infantry and 600 cavalry were to be furnished by the allies. He embarked his army at Puteoli and landed at Tarraco. Here he hauled his ships ashore and furnished the crews with arms, thus augmenting his strength. With this composite force he marched to the Ebro and took over the army there from Ti. Fonteius and L. Marcius. He then advanced against the enemy. Hasdrubal - Hamilcar's son - was encamped at the Lapides Atri (the "Black Boulders"). This is a place in the Auretanian country between the towns of Iliturgis and Mentissa. Nero occupied the two exits of the pass. Hasdrubal, finding himself shut in, sent a herald to promise in his name that he would deport the whole of his army from Spain if he were allowed to leave his position. The Roman general was glad to accept the offer, and Hasdrubal asked for an interview the following day. At this conference they were to draw up in writing the terms upon which the various citadels were to be handed over, and the date at which the garrisons were to be withdrawn, on the understanding that they should take with them all their goods and chattels.
His request was granted, and Hasdrubal ordered the most heavily armed portion of his army to get out of the pass as best they could as soon as darkness set in. He was careful to see that not very many went out that night, as a small body would make but little noise and be more likely to escape observation. They would also find their way more easily through the narrow and difficult foot-paths. The next day he kept the appointment, but so much time was taken up in discussing and writing down a number of things which had nothing to do with the matters they had agreed to discuss, that the whole day was lost and the business adjourned till the morrow. So another opportunity was afforded him of sending off a fresh body of troops by night. The discussion was not brought to a close the next day, and so it went on; several days were occupied in discussing terms, and the nights in despatching the Carthaginians secretly from their camp. When the greater part of the army had escaped, Hasdrubal no longer kept to the conditions which he had himself proposed, and there was less and less desire to come to terms as his sincerity diminished with his fears. Almost the entire force of infantry had now got out of the defile when, at daybreak, a dense fog covered the valley and the whole of the surrounding country. No sooner did Hasdrubal become aware of this than he sent a message to Nero begging that the interview might be put off for that day as it was a day on which the Carthaginians were forbidden by their religion to transact any important business. Even this did not arouse any suspicion of trickery. On learning that he would be excused for that day, Hasdrubal promptly left his camp with the cavalry and elephants, and by keeping his movements secret, emerged into safety. About ten o'clock the sun dispersed the mist, and the Romans saw that the hostile camp was deserted. Then, recognising at last the trick which the Carthaginian had played upon him and how he had been befooled, Nero hurriedly prepared to follow him and force him to an engagement. The enemy, however, declined battle; only a few skirmishes took place between the Carthaginian rear and the Roman advanced guard.
The Spanish tribes who had revolted after the defeat of the two Scipios showed no signs of returning to their allegiance; there were not, however, any fresh instances. After the recovery of Capua the public interest both in senate and people centered in Spain quite as much as in Italy; and it was decided that the army serving there should be increased and a commander-in-chief appointed. There was, however, much uncertainty felt as to whom they ought to appoint. Two consummate generals had fallen within thirty days of each other, and the selection of a man to take their place demanded exceptional care. Various names were proposed, and at last it was arranged that the matter should be left to the people, and a proconsul for Spain formally elected. The consuls fixed a day for the election. They were in hopes that those who felt themselves qualified for such an important command would become candidates. They were, however, disappointed, and the disappointment renewed the grief of the people, as they thought of the defeats they had sustained and the generals they had lost. The citizens were depressed, almost in despair, nevertheless they went out to the Campus Martius on the day fixed for the election. All turned their eyes to the magistrates and watched the expression of the leaders of the republic as they looked enquiringly at one another. Everywhere men were saying that the State was in such a hopeless condition that no one dared to accept the command in Spain. Suddenly, Publius Cornelius Scipio, the son of the Scipio who had fallen in Spain, a young man barely twenty-four years old, took his stand upon a slight eminence where he could be seen and heard, and announced himself as a candidate. All eyes were turned towards him, and the delighted cheers with which his announcement was received were at once interpreted as an omen of his future good fortune and success. On proceeding to vote, not only the centuries but even the individual voters were unanimous to a man in favour of entrusting P. Scipio with the supreme command in Spain. When, however, the election was decided and their enthusiasm had had time to cool down, there was a sudden silence as the people began to reflect on what they had done, and ask themselves whether their personal affection for him might not have got the better of their judgment. What gave them the greatest concern was his youth. Some, too, recalled with dread the fortune that had attended his house, and regarded as ominous of evil even the name of the man who was quitting two bereaved families in order to carry on a campaign round the tombs of his uncle and his father.
Seeing how the step which they had taken so impetuously now filled them with anxiety, Scipio called the voters together and spoke to them about his age and the command which they had entrusted to him, and the war which he had to conduct. He spoke in such lofty and glowing words that he evoked their enthusiasm once more, and inspired them with more hopeful confidence than is usually called out by faith in men's promises or by reasonable anticipations of success. Scipio won people's admiration not only by the sterling qualities which he possessed, but also by his cleverness in displaying them, a cleverness which he had developed from early youth. In his public life he generally spoke and acted as though he were guided either by visions of the night or by some divine inspiration, whether it was that he was really open to superstitious influences or that he claimed oracular sanction for his commands and counsels in order to secure prompt adoption. He sought to create this impression on men's minds from the beginning, from the day when he assumed the toga virilis, for he never undertook any important business, either public or private, without first going to the Capitol, where he sat for some time in the temple in privacy and alone. This custom, which he kept up all through his life, gave rise to a widespread belief, whether designedly upon his part or not, that he was of divine origin, and the story was told of him which was commonly related of Alexander - a story as silly as it was fabulous - that he was begotten by an enormous serpent which had been often seen in his mother's bedroom, but on any one's approach, suddenly uncoiled itself and disappeared. The belief in these marvels was never scoffed at by him; on the contrary, it was strengthened by deliberate policy on his part in refusing to deny or to admit that anything of the kind ever occurred. There were many other traits in this young man's character, some of which were genuine, others the result of studied acting, which created a greater admiration for him than usually falls to the lot of man.
It was the confidence with which he had in this way inspired his fellow-citizens that led them to entrust to him, young as he was, a task of enormous difficulty, and a command which involved the gravest responsibilities. The force which he had formed out of the old army in Spain, and that which sailed from Puteoli with C. Nero, were further reinforced by 10,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry. M. Junius Silanus was appointed as his second in command. Setting sail from the mouth of the Tiber with a fleet of thirty vessels, all quinqueremes, he coasted along the Etruscan shore, crossed the Gulf of Gaul, and after rounding the Pyrenaean Promontory brought up at Emporiae, a Greek city, founded by settlers from Phocaea. Here he disembarked his troops and proceeded overland to Tarraco, leaving orders for his fleet to follow his movements. At Tarraco he was met by deputations which had been sent from all the friendly tribes as soon as they knew of his coming. The vessels were hauled ashore, and the four Massilian triremes which had acted as convoy were sent home. The deputations informed Scipio of the unsettlement amongst their tribes due to the varying fortunes of the war. He replied in a bold and assured tone, full of self-confidence, but no expression savouring of presumption or arrogance escaped him, everything he said was marked by perfect dignity and sincerity.
Tarraco was now his headquarters. From there he paid visits to the friendly tribes, and also inspected the winter quarters of the army. He praised them warmly for having maintained their hold on the province after sustaining two such terrible blows, and also for keeping the enemy to the south of the Ebro, thereby depriving them of any advantages from their victories, and also affording protection to their own friends. Marcius, whom he kept with him, he treated with so much honour that it was perfectly obvious that Scipio had not the slightest fear of his reputation being dimmed by anybody. Soon afterwards Silanus succeeded Nero and the new troops were sent into winter quarters. After making all the necessary visits and inspections and completing the preparations for the next campaign Scipio returned to Tarraco. His reputation was quite as great among the enemy as among his own countrymen; there was amongst the former a foreboding, a vague sense of fear which was all the stronger because no reason for it could be given. The Carthaginian armies withdrew into their respective winter-quarters: Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, to Gades on the coast, Mago into the interior above the forest of Castulo, Hasdrubal, the son of Hamilcar, near the Ebro in the neighbourhood of Saguntum. This summer, marked by two important events, the recovery of Capua and the despatch of Scipio to Spain, was drawing to a close when a Carthaginian fleet was sent from Sicily to Tarentum to intercept supplies from the Roman garrison in the citadel. It certainly succeeded in blocking all access to the citadel from the sea, but the longer it remained the greater was the scarcity amongst the townspeople as compared with that amongst the Romans in the citadel. For though the coast was clear and open access was secured to the harbour by the Carthaginian fleet, it was impossible to convey to the population of the city as much corn as was consumed by the crowd of sailors, drawn from every class, on board the fleet. The garrison in the citadel, on the other hand, being only a small body, were able to exist on what they had previously laid in, without any external supply. At length the ships were sent away, and their departure was hailed with more delight than their arrival had been. But the scarcity was not in the slightest degree lessened, for when their protection was withdrawn, corn could not be brought in at all.
Towards the end of this summer M. Marcellus left Sicily for Rome. On his arrival in the City he was granted an audience of the senate in the Temple of Bellona. After giving a report of his campaign and gently protesting on his own behalf and on that of his soldiers against not being allowed to bring them home, though he had completely pacified the province, he requested to be allowed to enter the City in triumph. After a lengthy debate his request was refused. On the one hand, it was argued, it was most inconsistent to refuse him a triumph now that he was on the spot after the way in which the news of his successes in Sicily had been received, and public thanksgivings and special rites ordered while he was still in his province. Against this it was alleged that as the senate had ordered him to hand over his army to his successor, it was a proof that a state of war still existed in the province, and he could not enjoy a triumph since he had not brought the war to a close, nor was his army present to testify as to whether he deserved a triumph or not. They decided upon a middle course, he was to be allowed an ovation. The tribunes of the plebs were authorised by the senate to propose as an ordinance to the people "that for the day on which he entered the City in ovation M. Marcellus should retain his command."
The day previous to this he celebrated his triumph on the Alban Mount. From there he marched into the City in ovation. An enormous quantity of spoil was carried before him together with a model of Syracuse at the time of its capture. Catapults and ballistae and all the engines of war taken from the city were exhibited in the procession, as were also the works of art which had been accumulated in royal profusion during the long years of peace. These included a number of articles in silver and bronze, pieces of furniture, costly garments and many famous statues with which Syracuse, like all the principal cities of Greece, had been adorned. To signalise his victories over the Carthaginians eight elephants were led in the procession. Not the least conspicuous feature of the spectacle was the sight of Sosis the Syracusan and Moericus the Spaniard who marched in front wearing golden crowns. The former had guided the nocturnal entry into Syracuse, the latter had been the agent in the surrender of Nasos and its garrison. Each of these men received the full Roman citizenship and 500 jugera of land. Sosis was to take his allotment in that part of the Syracusan territory which had belonged to the king or to those who had taken up arms against Rome, and he was allowed to choose any house in Syracuse which had been the property of those who had been put to death under the laws of war. A further order was made that Moericus and the Spaniards should have assigned to them a city and lands in Sicily out of the possessions of those who had revolted from Rome. M. Cornelius was commissioned to select the city and territory for them, where he thought best, and 400 jugera in the same district were also decreed as a gift to Belligenes through whose instrumentality Moericus had been induced to change sides. After Marcellus' departure from Sicily a Carthaginian fleet landed a force of 8000 infantry and 3000 Numidian horse. The cities of Murgentia and Ergetium revolted to them, and their example was followed by Hybla and Macella and some other less important places. Muttines and his Numidians were also roaming all through the island and laying waste the fields of Rome's allies with fire. To add to these troubles the Roman army bitterly resented not being withdrawn from the province with their commander and also not being allowed to winter in the towns. Consequently they were very remiss in their military duties; in fact it was only the absence of a leader that prevented them from breaking out into open mutiny. In spite of these difficulties the praetor M. Cornelius succeeded by remonstrances and reassurances in calming the temper of his men, and then reduced all the revolted cities to submission. In pursuance of the senate's orders he selected Murgentia, one of those cities, for the settlement of Moericus and his Spaniards.
As both the consuls had Apulia for their province, and as there was less danger from Hannibal and his Carthaginians, they received instructions to ballot for Apulia and Macedonia. Macedonia fell to Sulpicius, and he superseded Laevinus. Fulvius was recalled to conduct the consular elections in Rome. The Veturian century of juniors was the first to vote, and they declared for T. Manlius Torquatus and T. Otacilius, the latter being at the time absent from Rome. The voters began to press round Manlius to congratulate him, regarding his election as a certainty, but he at once proceeded, surrounded by a large crowd, to the consul's tribunal and begged to be allowed to make a brief speech and also asked that the century which had voted might be recalled. When all were on the tiptoe of expectation to learn what he wanted, he began by excusing himself on the score of his eyesight. "A man must have little sense of shame," he continued "whether he be pilot of a ship or commander of an army, who asks that the lives and fortunes of others should be committed to him when, in all he does, he has to depend upon other people's eyes. If, therefore, you approve, order the Veturian century of juniors to cast their vote again, and to remember, whilst they are choosing their consuls, the war in Italy and the critical position of the republic. Your ears can hardly yet have recovered from the uproar and confusion caused by the enemy a few months ago, when he brought the flames of war almost up to the very walls of Rome." The century replied with a general shout that they had not changed their minds, they should vote as before. Then Torquatus said, "I shall not be able to tolerate your manners and conduct, nor will you submit to my authority. Go back and vote again, and bear in mind that the Carthaginians are carrying war in Italy, and that their leader is Hannibal." Then the century, swayed by the speaker's personal authority and by the murmurs of admiration which they heard all around them, begged the consul to call up the Veturian century of seniors, as they wished to consult their elders and be guided by their advice in the choice of consuls. They were accordingly called up and an interval was allowed for the two bodies to consult privately in the ovile. The seniors maintained that the choice really lay between three men, two of them already full of honours - Q. Fabius and M. Marcellus - and, if they particularly wished a new man to be appointed consul to act against the Carthaginians, M. Valerius Laevinus, who had conducted operations against Philip both by sea and land with conspicuous success. So they discussed the claims of these three, and after the seniors had withdrawn the juniors proceeded to vote. They gave their vote in favour of M. Marcellus Claudius, resplendent with the glory of his conquest of Sicily, and, as the second consul, M. Valerius. Neither of them had put in a personal appearance. The other centuries all followed the leading century. People nowadays may laugh at the admirers of antiquity. I for my part do not believe it possible, even if there ever existed a commonwealth of wise men such as philosophers dream of but have never really known, that there could be an aristocracy more grave or more temperate in their desire for power or a people with purer manners and a higher moral tone. That a century of juniors should have been anxious to consult their seniors as to whom they were to place in supreme authority is a thing hardly credible in these days, when we see in what contempt children hold the authority of their parents.
Then followed the election of praetors. The successful candidates were P. Manlius Vulso, L. Manlius Acidinus, C. Laetorius and L. Cincius Alimentus. When the elections were over news came of the death of T. Otacilius in Sicily. He was the man whom the people would have given to T. Manlius as his colleague in the consulship, if the order of the proceedings had not been interrupted. The Games of Apollo had been exhibited the previous year, and when the question of their repetition the next year was moved by the praetor Calpurnius, the senate passed a decree that they should be observed for all time. Some portents were observed this year and duly reported. The statue of victory which stood on the roof of the temple of Concord was struck by lightning and thrown down on to the statues of Victory which stood above the facade in front of the pediment, and here it was caught and prevented from falling lower. At Anagnia and Fregellae the walls and gates were reported to have been struck. In the forum of Subertum streams of blood had flowed for a whole day. At Eretium there was a shower of stones and at Reate a mule had produced offspring. These portents were expiated by sacrifices of full-grown victims; a day was appointed for special intercessions and the people were ordered to join in solemn rites for nine days. Some members of the national priesthood died this year, and others were appointed in their stead. Manlius Aemilius Numida, one of the Keepers of the Sacred Books, was succeeded by M. Aemilius Lepidus. C. Livius was appointed pontiff in the room of M. Pomponius Matho, and M. Servilius, augur, in the place of Spurius Carvilius Maximus. The death of the pontiff T. Otacilius Crassus did not occur before the close of the year, so no one was appointed in his place. C. Claudius, one of the Flamens of Jupiter, was guilty of irregularity in laying the selected parts of the victim on the altar and consequently resigned his office.
M. Valerius Laevinus had been holding private interviews with some of the leading Aetolians with the view of ascertaining their political leanings. It was arranged that a meeting of their national council should be convened to meet him, and thither he proceeded with some fast-sailing vessels. He commenced his address to the assembly by alluding to the captures of Syracuse and Capua as instances of the success which had attended the arms of Rome in Sicily and Italy, and then proceeded: "It is the practice of the Romans, a practice handed down from their ancestors, to cultivate the friendship of other nations; some of them they have received into citizenship on the same footing as themselves; others they have allowed to remain under such favourable conditions that they preferred alliance to full citizenship. You, Aetolians, will be held in all the greater honour because you will have been the first of all the oversea nations to establish friendly relations with us. Philip and the Macedonians you find to be troublesome neighbours; I have already dealt a fatal blow to their ambitions and aggressiveness, and I shall reduce them to such a pass that they will not only evacuate those cities which they have wrested from you, but will have enough to do to defend Macedonia itself. The Acarnanians, too, whose secession from your league you feel so keenly, I shall bring back to the old terms by which your rights and suzerainty over them were guaranteed." These assertions and promises of the Roman commander were supported by Scopas, the chief magistrate of Aetolia at the time, and by Dorimachus, a leading man amongst them, both of whom from their official position spoke with authority. They were less reserved, and adopted a more confident tone as they extolled the power and greatness of Rome. What weighed most, however, with the Assembly was the hope of becoming masters of Acarnania.
The terms on which they were to become the friends and allies of Rome were reduced to writing and an additional clause was inserted that if it was their will and pleasure the Eleans and Lacedaemonians as well as Attalus, Pleuratus and Scerdilaedus might be included in the treaty. Attalus was king of Pergamum in Asia Minor; Pleuratus, king of the Thracians; Scerdilaedus, king of the Illyrians. The Aetolians were at once to commence war with Philip on land, and the Roman general would assist them with not less than twenty-five quinqueremes. The territories, buildings and walls of all the cities as far as Corcyra were to become the property of the Aetolians, all the other booty was to go to the Romans, who were also to be responsible for Acarnania passing under the dominion of the Aetolians. Should the Aetolians make peace with Philip, one of the conditions was to be that he would abstain from hostilities against Rome and her allies and dependencies. Similarly, if the Romans made a treaty with him it was to be a provision that he should not be allowed to make war upon the Aetolians and their allies. These were the agreed conditions, and after a lapse of two years, copies of the treaty were deposited by the Aetolians at Olympia, and by the Romans in the Capitol, in order that the sacred memorials round them might be a perpetual witness to their obligation. The reason for this delay was that the Aetolian envoys had been detained for a considerable time in Rome. No time, however, was lost in commencing hostilities, and Laevinus attacked Zacynthus. This is a small island adjacent to Aetolia, and it contains one city of the same name as the island; this city, with the exception of its citadel, Laevinus captured. He also took two cities belonging to the Acarnanians -Oeniadae and Nasos - and handed them over to the Aetolians. After this he withdrew to Corcyra, feeling satisfied that Philip had enough on his hands with the war on his frontiers to prevent him from thinking about Italy and the Carthaginians and his compact with Hannibal.
Philip was wintering in Pella when the news of the defection of the Aetolians reached him. He had intended to march into Greece at the beginning of the spring, and with the view of keeping the Illyrians and the cities adjacent to his western frontier quiet he made a sudden invasion into the territories of Oricum and Apollonia. The men of Apollonia came out to give battle, but he drove them back in great panic to their walls. After devastating the neighbouring district of Illyria, he turned swiftly into Pelagonia and captured Sintia, a city of the Dardani, which gave them easy access into Macedonia. After these rapid incursions he turned his attention to the war which the Aetolians, in conjunction with the Romans, were commencing against him. Marching through Pelagonia, Lyncus and Bottiaea he descended into Thessaly, whose population he hoped to rouse to joint action with him against the Aetolians. Leaving Perseus with a force of 4000 men to hold the pass into Thessaly against them he returned to Macedonia, before engaging in the more serious contest, and from there marched into Thrace to attack the Maedi. This tribe were in the habit of making incursions into Macedonia whenever they found the king occupied with some distant war and his kingdom unprotected. To break their aggressiveness he devastated their country, and attacked Iamphoryna, their chief city and stronghold.
When Scopas heard that the king had gone into Thessaly, and was engaged in hostilities there, he called up all the fighting men of Aetolia and prepared to invade Acarnania. The Acarnanians were inferior to their enemy in strength; they were also aware that Oeniadae and Nasos were lost, and above all, that the arms of Rome were turned against them. Under these circumstances they entered upon the struggle more in a spirit of rage and despair than with prudence and method. Their wives and children and all men over sixty years of age were sent into the adjoining country of Epirus. All who were between fifteen and sixty bound themselves by oath not to return home unless they were victorious, and if any one left the field, defeated, no man should receive him into any city or house or admit him to his table or his hearth. They drew up a form of words, invoking a terrible curse upon any of their countrymen who should prove recreants, and a most solemn appeal to their hosts, the Epirotes, to respect their oath. They also begged them to bury those of their countrymen who fell in battle in one common grave and place over it this inscription: "Here lie the Acarnanians who met their death whilst fighting for their country against the violence and injustice of the Aetolians." In this determined and desperate mood, they fixed their camp on the extreme limit of their borders and awaited the enemy. Messengers were despatched to Philip to announce their critical situation, and in spite of his recapture of Iamphoryna and other successes in Thrace he was compelled to abandon his northern campaign and go to their assistance. Rumours of the oath which the Acarnanians had taken arrested the advance of the Aetolians; the news of Philip's approach compelled them to withdraw into the interior of their country. Philip had made a forced march to prevent the Acarnanians from being crushed, but he did not advance beyond Dium, and on learning that the Aetolians had retired he returned to Pella.
At the beginning of spring Laevinus set sail from Corcyra and after rounding the promontory of Leucata reached Naupactus. He announced that he was going on to attack Anticyra, so that Scopas and the Aetolians might be ready for him there. Anticyra is situated in Locris, on the left hand as you enter the Corinthian Gulf, and is only a short distance either by sea or land from Naupactus. In three days the attack began in both directions; the naval attack was the heavier one because the ships were furnished with artillery and engines of every kind, and it was the Romans who were delivering the attack on this side. In a few days the place surrendered and was made over to the Aetolians; the booty in accordance with the treaty became the property of the Romans. During the siege a despatch was handed to Laevinus informing him that he had been made consul, and that P. Sulpicius was coming to succeed him. Whilst he was there he was overtaken by a tedious illness, and consequently arrived in Rome much later than was expected. M. Marcellus entered upon his consulship on March 15, and in order to comply with traditional usage summoned a meeting of the senate on the same day. The meeting was a purely formal one; he announced that in his colleague's absence he should not submit any proposals either in respect of the policy of the State or the assignment of provinces. "I am quite aware," he told the senators, "that there are a large body of Sicilians quartered in the country houses of my detractors round the City. I have no intention of preventing them from publishing here in Rome the charges which have been got up by my enemies; on the contrary, I was prepared to give them an immediate opportunity of appearing before the senate had they not pretended to be afraid of speaking about a consul in his colleague's absence. When, however, my colleague has come I shall not allow any business to be discussed before the Sicilians have been brought into the senate house. M. Cornelius has issued what is practically a formal summons throughout the island in order that as many as possible might come to Rome to lay their complaints against me. He has filled the City with letters containing false information about a state of war existing in Sicily, solely that he may tarnish my reputation." The consul's speech won for him the reputation of being a man of moderation and self-control. The senate adjourned, and it seemed as though there would be a total suspension of business pending the other consul's arrival. As usual, idleness led to discontent and grumbling. The plebs were loud in their complaints about the way the war dragged on, the devastation of the land round the City wherever Hannibal and his army moved, the exhaustion of Italy by the constant levies, the almost annual destruction of their armies. And now the new consuls were both of them fond of war, far too enterprising and ambitious, quite capable, even in a time of peace and quiet, of getting up a war, and now that war was actually going on all the less likely to allow the citizens any respite or breathing space.
All this talk was suddenly interrupted by a fire which broke out in the night in several places round the Forum on the eve of the Quinquatrus. Seven shops which were afterwards replaced by five were burning at the same time, as well as the offices where the New Banks now stand. Soon after, private buildings - the Basilicae did not yet exist - the Lautumiae, the Fish Market and the Hall of Vesta were alight. It was with the utmost difficulty that the Temple of Vesta was saved, mainly through the exertions of thirteen slaves, who were afterwards manumitted at the public cost. The fire raged all through the next day and there was not the smallest doubt that it was the work of incendiaries, for fires started simultaneously in several different places. The senate accordingly authorised the consul to give public notice that whoever disclosed the names of those through whose agency the conflagration had been started should, if he were a freeman, receive a reward, if a slave, his liberty. Tempted by the offer of a reward, a slave belonging to the Capuan family of the Calavii, called Manus, gave information to the effect that his masters, together with five young Capuan nobles, whose fathers had been beheaded by Q. Fulvius, had caused the fire and were prepared to commit every description of crime if they were not arrested. They and their slaves were at once apprehended. At first they endeavoured to throw suspicion upon the informer and his statement. It was asserted that after being beaten by his master, the day before he gave information, he had run away and had made out of an occurrence which was really accidental the foundation of a false charge. When, however, the accused and accuser were brought face to face and the slaves were examined under torture, they all confessed. The masters as well as the slaves who had been their accessories were all executed. The informer was rewarded with his liberty and 20,000 ases.
When Laevinus was passing Capua on his way to Rome he was surrounded by a crowd of the inhabitants who implored him with tears to allow them to go to Rome and try if they could not awaken the compassion of the senate and persuade them not to allow Q. Flaccus to ruin them utterly and efface their name. Flaccus declared that he had no personal feeling against the Capuans, it was as public enemies that he regarded them, and should continue to do so as long as he knew that they maintained their present attitude towards Rome. He had shut them up, he said, within their walls, because if they got out anywhere they would prowl about the country like wild beasts, and mangle and murder whatever came in their way. Some had deserted to Hannibal, others had gone off to burn down Rome. The consul would see in the half-burnt Forum the result of their crime. They had tried to destroy the temple of Vesta, with its perpetual fire, and the image which was concealed in the sacred shrine - that image which Fate had decreed to be the pledge and guarantee of Roman dominion. He considered that it would be anything but safe to give the Capuans a chance of entering the City. After hearing this Laevinus made the Capuans take an oath to Flaccus that they would return within five days after receiving the reply of the senate. Then he ordered them to follow him to Rome. Surrounded by this crowd and by a number of Sicilians who had also met him, he entered the City. It seemed just as though he were bringing in a body of accusers against the two commanders who had distinguished themselves by the destruction of two famous cities and who would now have to defend themselves against those they had vanquished.
The first questions, however, which the two consuls brought before the senate were those relating to foreign policy and the allocation of the various commands. Laevinus made his report on the situation in Macedonia and Greece, and the unrest amongst the Aetolians, the Acarnanians and the Locrians. He also gave details as to his own military and naval movements, and stated that he had driven Philip, who was meditating an attack on the Aetolians, back into the interior of his kingdom. The legion could now be safely withdrawn, as the fleet was sufficient to protect Italy from any attempt on the part of the king. After this statement about himself and the province of which he had had charge, he and his colleague raised the question of the various commands. The senate made the following dispositions. One consul was to operate in Italy against Hannibal; the other was to succeed T. Otacilius in command of the fleet and also to administer Sicily with L. Cincius as praetor. They were to take over the armies in Etruria and Gaul, each of which comprised two legions. The two City legions which the consul Sulpicius had commanded the previous year were sent to Gaul, and the consul who was to act in Italy was to appoint to the command in Gaul. C. Calpurnius had his office of propraetor extended for a year, and was sent into Etruria, Q. Fulvius also received a year's extension of his command at Capua. The composite force of citizens and allies was reduced, one strong legion being formed out of the two; this consisted of 5000 infantry and 300 cavalry, those who had served longest being sent home. The army of the allies was reduced to 7000 infantry and 300 cavalry, the same rule being observed as to the release of the veterans who had seen the longest service. In the case of the retiring consul, Cn. Fulvius, no change was made; he retained his army and his province, Apulia, for another year. His late colleague, P. Sulpicius, received orders to disband his entire army with the exception of the naval force. Similarly the army which M. Cornelius had commanded was to be sent home from Sicily. The men of Cannae, who practically represented two legions, were still to remain in the island, under the command of the praetor L. Cincius. L. Cornelius had commanded the same number of legions the previous year in Sardinia, and these were now transferred to the praetor P. Manlius Vulso. The consuls received instructions to see that in raising the City legions, none were enrolled who had been in the army of M. Valerius, or in that of Q. Fulvius. So the total number of Roman legions in active service that year was not to exceed one-and-twenty.
When the senate had finished making the appointments, the consuls were ordered to ballot for their commands. Sicily and the fleet fell to Marcellus, Italy and the campaign against Hannibal to Laevinus. This result utterly appalled the Sicilians, to whom it seemed as though all the horrors of the capture of Syracuse were to be repeated. They were standing in full view of the consuls, waiting anxiously for the result of the balloting, and when they saw how it was decided, they broke out into loud laments and cries of distress, which drew the eyes of all upon them for the moment, and became the subject of much comment afterwards. Clothing themselves in mourning garb they visited the houses of the senators and assured each of them in turn that if Marcellus went back to Sicily with the power and authority of a consul they would every one of them abandon his city and quit the island for ever. He had, they said, before shown himself vindictive and implacable towards them; what would he do now, furious as he was at the Sicilians who had come to Rome to complain of him? It would be better for the island to be buried beneath the fires of Aetna or plunged in the depths of the sea than to be given up to such an enemy to wreak his rage and vengeance on it. These remonstrances of the Sicilians were made to individual nobles in their own homes, and gave rise to lively discussions, in which sympathy with the sufferers and hostile sentiments towards Marcellus were freely expressed. At last they reached the senate. The consuls were requested to consult that body as to the advisability of a rearrangement of the provinces. In addressing the House Marcellus said that had the Sicilians been already admitted to an audience he would have taken a different line, but as matters stood, he did not wish it to be open to any one to say that they were afraid to lay their complaints against the man in whose power they would shortly be placed. If, therefore, it made no difference to his colleague he was prepared to exchange provinces with him. He begged the senate not to make any order, for since it would have been unfair to him for his colleague to have chosen his province without recourse to the ballot, how much more unfair and even humiliating to him would it be now to have the province which had fallen to him formally transferred to his colleague! After indicating their wish, without embodying it in a decree, the senate adjourned, and the consuls themselves arranged to exchange provinces. Marcellus was being hurried on by his destiny to meet Hannibal, in order that, as he was the first Roman general to win the distinction of a successful action with him after so many disastrous ones, so he would be the last to contribute to the Carthaginian's reputation by his own fall, and that just at the time when the war was going most favourably for the Romans.
When the exchange of provinces had been decided, the Sicilians were introduced into the senate. After expatiating at some length upon the unbroken loyalty of Hiero to Rome, and claiming the credit of it for the people rather than for the king, they proceeded: "There were many reasons for the hatred we felt towards Hieronymus and afterwards towards Hippocrates and Epicydes, but the principal one was their abandoning Rome for Hannibal. It was this that led some of the foremost of our younger men to assassinate Hieronymus close to the senate-house, and also induced some seventy who belonged to our noblest houses to form a plot for the destruction of Epicydes and Hippocrates. As Marcellus failed to support them by bringing up his army to Syracuse at the time he promised, the plot was disclosed by an informer, and they were all put to death by the tyrants. Marcellus was really responsible for the tyranny, owing to his ruthless sacking of Leontium. From that time the Syracusan leaders never ceased to go over to Marcellus and undertake to deliver up the city to him whenever he wished. He would rather have taken it by storm, but when all his attempts by sea and land failed, and he saw that the thing was impossible, he chose as agents of the surrender an artisan called Sosis and the Spaniard Moericus, rather than let the leaders of the city, who had so often offered in vain to do so, undertake the task. No doubt he considered that he would thus have more justification for plundering and massacring the friends of Rome. Even if the revolt to Hannibal had been the act of senate and people and not simply of Hieronymus; if it had been the government of Syracuse who closed the gates against Marcellus, and not the tyrants Hippocrates and Epicydes who had ousted the government; if we had warred against Rome in the spirit and temper of the Carthaginians, what greater severity could Marcellus have shown towards us than that which he actually practiced, unless he had blotted Syracuse out from the face of the earth? At all events, nothing has been left to us beyond our walls and our houses stripped of everything, and the defaced and despoiled temples of our gods, from which even the gods themselves and their votive offerings have been carried off. Many have been deprived of their land, so that they have not even the bare soil on which to support themselves, and all who belong to them, with the remains of their wrecked fortunes. We beg and entreat you, senators, if you cannot order all that we have lost to be restored to us, at least to insist upon the restitution of what can be found and identified." After they had stated their grievances, Laevinus ordered them to withdraw, that their position might be discussed. "Let them stop," exclaimed Marcellus, "that I may make my reply in their presence, since we who conduct war on your behalf, senators, must do so on condition of those whom we have vanquished coming forward as our accusers. Two cities have been taken this year: let Capua call Fabius to account, and Syracuse, Marcellus."
When they had been brought back into the senate-house, Marcellus made the following speech: "I have not so far forgotten, senators, the majesty of Rome or the dignity of my office as to stoop to defend myself, as consul, against the charges of these Greeks, if they concerned me alone. The question is not so much what I have done as what they ought to have suffered. Had they not been enemies it is a matter of indifference whether I maltreated Syracuse now or in Hiero's lifetime. But if they have proved false to us, opened their gates to the enemy, threatened our envoys with drawn swords, shut their city and walls against us and called in a Carthaginian army to protect them against us, who is there who can feel any indignation at their having suffered hostile violence after having practiced it? I declined the offers of their leaders to deliver up the city, and looked upon Sosis and the Spaniard Moericus as much more suitable persons to be trusted in a matter of such importance. As you make their humble station in life a reproach to others, you do not yourselves belong to the lowest class in Syracuse, and yet who amongst you promised to open your gates and admit my armed force into your city? Those who did this are the objects of your hatred and execration; not even in this place do you shrink from insulting them, showing thereby how far you yourselves were from contemplating anything of the kind. That low social position, senators, which these men make a ground of reproach, proves most clearly that I discouraged no man who was willing to render effectual help to the commonwealth. Before commencing the siege of Syracuse, I made various attempts at a peaceful settlement, first by sending envoys and then by personal interviews with the leaders. It was only when I found that no reverence for the persons of my envoys protected them from violence and that I was unable to get any reply from the leaders with whom I conferred at their gates, that I took action and finally took the city by storm, after a vast expenditure of toil and exertion by sea and land. As to the incidents attending its capture, these men would be more justified in laying their complaints before Hannibal and his vanquished Carthaginians than before the senate of the people who vanquished them. If, senators, I had intended to conceal my spoliation of Syracuse I should never have adorned the City of Rome with its spoils. With regard to what I, as conqueror, took away or bestowed in individual cases, I am quite satisfied that I acted in accordance with the laws of war, according to the deserts of each individual. Whether you approve of my action or not is a question that concerns the State more than it concerns me. I only did my duty, but it will be a serious matter for the republic, if by rescinding my acts you make other generals in the future more remiss in doing their duty. And since you have heard what both the Sicilians and I have had to say in each other's presence, we will leave the House together in order that the senate may be able to discuss the matter more freely in my absence." The Sicilians were accordingly dismissed; Marcellus proceeded to the Capitol to enrol troops.
The other consul, Laevinus, then consulted the senate as to what reply was to be given to the petition of the Sicilians. There was a long debate and great divergence of opinion. Many of those present supported the view expressed by T. Manlius Torquatus. They were of opinion that hostilities ought to have been directed against the tyrants, who were the common enemies of Syracuse and of Rome. The city ought to have been allowed to surrender, not taken by storm, and when surrendered it ought to have had its own laws and liberties guaranteed to it, instead of being ruined by war after it had been worn out by a deplorable servitude under its tyrants. The struggle between the tyrants and the Roman general in which Syracuse was the prize of victory had resulted in the utter destruction of a most famous and beautiful city, the granary and treasury of the Roman people. The commonwealth had frequently experienced its generosity, especially in the present Punic war, and the City had been embellished by its munificent gifts. If Hiero, that loyal supporter of the power of Rome, could rise from the dead, with what face would any one dare to show him either Rome or Syracuse? In the one - his own city - he would see universal spoliation and a large part of it burnt, and as he approached the other he would see just outside its walls, almost within its gates, the spoils of his country. This was the line of argument urged by those who sought to create a feeling against the consul and evoke sympathy for the Sicilians. The majority, however, did not take such an unfavourable view of his conduct, and a decree was passed confirming the acts of Marcellus both during the war and after his victory, and declaring that the senate would for the future make the interests of the Syracusans their charge and would instruct Laevinus to safeguard the property of the citizens so far as he could without inflicting any loss on the State. Two senators were sent to the Capitol to request the consul to come back, and after the Sicilians had again been brought in, the decree was read to them. Some kind words were addressed to the envoys and they were dismissed. Before they left the House they flung themselves on their knees before Marcellus and implored him to forgive them for what they had said in their anxiety to gain sympathy and relief in their distress. They also begged him to take them and their city under his protection, and look upon them as his clients. The consul promised that he would do so, and after a few gracious words dismissed them.
The Capuans were then admitted to an audience. Their case was a harder one, and their appeal for mercy was all the stronger. They could not deny that they deserved punishment, and there were no tyrants on whom they could throw the blame, but they considered that they had paid an adequate penalty after so many of their senators had been carried off by poison, and so many had died under the axe. Some of their nobles, they said, were still living, who had not been driven by the consciousness of guilt into doing away with themselves, nor had the victor in his wrath condemned them to death. These men begged that they and their families might be set at liberty, and some portion of their goods restored to them. They were for the most part Roman citizens, connected with Roman families by intermarriage. After the envoys had withdrawn, there was some doubt as to whether they ought to summon Q. Fulvius from Capua - the consul Claudius had died soon after its capture - in order that the matter might be debated in the presence of the general whose proceedings were being called in question. This had just been done in the case of Marcellus and the Sicilians. When, however, some senators were seen sitting in the House who had been through the whole of the siege - M. Atilius Regulus and Caius the brother of Flaccus, both on his staff, and Q. Minucius and L. Veturius Philo, who had been members of Claudius' staff - they would not have Q. Fulvius recalled, nor the hearing of the Capuans adjourned. Amongst those who had been at Capua, the man whose opinion carried most weight was M. Atilius, and he was asked what course he would advise. He replied: "I believe I was present at the military council which met after the fall of Capua, when the consuls made enquiry as to which of the Capuans had assisted our republic. They discovered only two, and those were women. One was Vestia Oppia of Atella, who was living in Capua and who offered sacrifices daily for the welfare and triumph of Rome; the other was Cluvia Pacula, at one time a woman of loose character, who secretly supplied the starving prisoners with food. The rest of the Capuans were just as hostile to us as the Carthaginians themselves, and those whom Q. Fulvius executed were selected rather on account of their higher rank than of their greater guilt. I do not quite see how the senate is competent to deal with the Capuans, who are Roman citizens, without an order of the people. After the revolt of the Satricans, the course adopted by our ancestors was for a tribune of the plebs, M. Antistius, to bring the matter first before the Assembly, and a resolution was passed empowering the senate to decide what should be done to them. I therefore advise that we arrange with the tribunes of the plebs for one or more of them to propose a resolution to that body empowering us to settle the fate of the Capuans." L. Atilius, tribune of the plebs, was authorised by the senate to put the question in the following terms: "Whereas the inhabitants of Capua, Atella and Calatia, and also the dwellers in the valley of the Sabatus have yielded themselves to the proconsul Fulvius to be at the arbitrament and disposal of the people of Rome, and whereas they have surrendered divers persons together with themselves, as also their land and city with all things therein, sacred and profane, together with their goods and chattels and whatsoever else they had in possession, I demand of you Quirites to know what it is your will and pleasure shall be done in regard of all these persons and things?" The resolution of the Assembly ran thus: "What the senate, or the greater part of those who are present, shall, on oath, decree and determine, that we will and order shall be done."
The plebs having thus resolved, the senate made the following orders: First they restored their liberty and property to Oppia and Cluvia; if they wished to ask the senate for a further reward, they were to come to Rome. Separate decrees were made in the case of each of the Capuan families; it is not worth while giving a complete enumeration. Some were to have their property confiscated, they themselves with their wives and children were to be sold, with the exception of those of their daughters who had married outside the territory before they passed under the power of Rome. Others were to be thrown into chains, and their fate settled afterwards. In the case of the rest, the question whether their property should be confiscated or not depended upon the amount at which they were assessed. Where property was restored it was to include all the captured live stock except the horses, all the slaves except the adult males, and everything which was not attached to the soil. It was further decreed that the populations of Capua, Atella, Calatia and the valley of the Sabatus should all retain their liberty, except those who themselves, or whose parents had been with the enemy, but none of them could become a Roman citizen or a member of the Latin League. None of those who had been in Capua during the siege could remain in the city or its neighbourhood beyond a certain date; a place of residence was assigned to them beyond the Tiber at some distance from it. Those who had not been in Capua during the war, nor in any revolted Campanian city, were to be settled to the north of the Liris in the direction of Rome; those who had gone over to the side of Rome before Hannibal came to Capua were to be removed to this side of the Volturnus, and no one was to possess any land or building within fifteen miles of the sea. Those who had been deported beyond the Tiber were forbidden to acquire or to hold either for themselves or their posterity landed property anywhere except in the territories of Veii, Sutrium and Nepete, and in no case was such holding to exceed fifty jugera. The property of all the senators and of all who had held any magistracy in Capua, Atella and Calatia was ordered to be sold in Capua, and those persons whom it had been decided to sell into slavery were sent to Rome and sold there. The disposal of the images and bronze statues which were alleged to have been taken from the enemy, and the question which of them were sacred and which profane, were referred to the Pontifical College. After hearing these decrees. the Capuans were dismissed in a much more sorrowful state of mind than that in which they had come. It was no longer Q. Fulvius' cruelty to them, but the injustice of the gods and their accursed fate that they denounced.
After the departure of the Sicilian and Capuan envoys, the enrolment of the new legions was completed. Then came the question of providing the fleet with its proper complement of rowers. There was not a sufficient number of men available, nor was there any money at the time in the treasury with which to procure them or to pay them. In view of this state of things the consuls issued an order requiring private individuals to furnish seamen in proportion to their income and their rank, as they had done on a previous occasion, and also to supply them with thirty days' provision and pay. This order excited such a widespread feeling of indignation and resentment that if the people had had a leader they would have risen in insurrection. The consuls, they said, after ruining the Sicilians and Capuans, had seized upon the Roman plebs as their next victim to mangle and destroy. "After being drained by the war-tax," they complained, "for so many years, we have nothing left but the bare and wasted soil. Our houses have been burnt by the enemy, our slaves who tilled our fields have been appropriated by the State, first buying them for a few coppers to make soldiers of them, and now requisitioning them for seamen. Whatever silver or gold we had has been taken to pay the rowers and furnish the annual war-tax. No resort to force, no exercise of authority can compel us to give what we do not possess. Let the consuls sell our goods, then let them glut their rage on our bodies which are all we have left; nothing remains with which we can even ransom ourselves." Language of this kind was used not only in private conversation, but openly in the Forum, before the very eyes of the consuls. A vast crowd had gathered round the tribunal, uttering angry cries, and the consuls were powerless to allay the agitation either by fair speeches or by threats. Ultimately they announced that they would give them three days to think the matter over, and they themselves devoted that time to seeing whether they could not find some way out of the difficulty. The next day they called the senate together to consider the matter, and many arguments were advanced to prove that the plebs were acting fairly and reasonably in their protest. At last the discussion came round to this point, that whether fair or unfair the burden must fall on the individual citizens. From what source, it was asked, could they procure seamen and sailors, when there was no money in the treasury, and how could they keep their hold on Sicily, or render the shores of Italy safe against any attempt by Philip, if they had no fleet?
As there seemed to be no solution of the difficulty and a kind of mental torpor appeared to beset the senate, the consul Laevinus came to the rescue. "As the magistrates," he said, "take precedence of the senate and the senate of the people in honour and dignity; so they ought to lead the way in discharging unpleasant and difficult tasks. If, in laying any obligation on an inferior, you have first decided that it is binding on you and those connected with you, you will find that all are more ready to obey you. They do not feel an expense to be burdensome when they see each of their leaders bearing more than his due share of it. We want the Roman people to have fleets and to equip them, we want each citizen to furnish rowers and not to shirk his duty; then let us impose the burden on ourselves first of all. Let us, every one of us, bring our gold and silver and bronze money, tomorrow, to the treasury, only reserving the rings for ourselves, our wives and our children, and the bullae for our boys. Those who have wives and daughters may keep an ounce of gold for each of them. With regard to silver, those who have occupied curule chairs should keep the plating on their horse-trappings and two pounds of silver that they may have a dish and saltcellar for the gods. All the other senators should keep only one pound of silver. In the case of bronze coin let us retain 5000 ases for each household. All the rest of our gold and silver and money let us place in the hands of the commissioners of the treasury. No formal resolution should be passed; our contributions must be strictly voluntary; and our mutual rivalry to assist the commonwealth may stir up the equestrian order to emulate us, and after them, the plebs. This is the only course which we consuls have been able to devise after our lengthy discussion, and we beg you to adopt it with the help of the gods. As long as the commonwealth is safe, each man's property is safe under its protection, but if you desert it, it will be in vain that you try to keep what you have." These suggestions were so favourably received that the consuls were even thanked for them. No sooner did the senate adjourn, than they each brought their gold and silver and bronze to the treasury, and they were so eager to be among the first to have their names inscribed in the public register that the commissioners were not able to take over the amounts or the clerks to enter them fast enough. The equestrian order showed quite as much zeal as the senate, and the plebs were not behind the equestrian order. In this way, without any formal order or compulsion by the magistrates, the full complement of rowers was made up, and the State put in a position to pay them. As the preparations for war were now complete the consuls started for their respective provinces.
At no period of the war were the Carthaginians and the Romans alike subjected to greater vicissitudes of fortune, or to more rapid alternations of hope and fear. In the provinces, the disasters in Spain on the one hand and the successes in Sicily on the other filled the Romans with mingled feelings of sorrow and joy. In Italy the loss of Tarentum was felt to be a grievous blow, but the unexpected stand by the garrison in the citadel made all hearts glad, and the sudden panic at the prospect of Rome being besieged and stormed gave way to universal rejoicings when Capua was taken a few days later. In the campaign overseas a kind of balance was struck. Philip began hostilities at an inopportune moment for Rome, but in the new alliance with the Aetolians and Attalus, king of Pergamum, it seemed as though Fortune were giving a pledge of Rome's dominion in the East. The Carthaginians, again, felt that the capture of Tarentum was a set-off against the loss of Capua, and though they prided themselves on having marched unopposed up to the walls of Rome they were mortified at the futility of their enterprise, and humiliated by the contempt shown for them when a Roman army marched out on its way to Spain whilst they were actually lying under the very walls. Even in Spain itself, where the destruction of two great generals with their armies had raised their hopes of finally expelling the Romans and finishing the war, the higher their hopes had been, the greater the disgust they felt at their victory being robbed of all its importance by L. Marcius, who was not even a regular general. So whilst Fortune was holding the scales evenly and everything was in suspense, both sides felt the same hopes and fears as though the war were only just beginning.
Hannibal's principal cause of anxiety was the effect produced by the fall of Capua. It was generally felt that the Romans had shown greater determination in attacking than he had in defending the place, and this alienated many of the Italian communities from him. He could not occupy them all with garrisons unless he was prepared to weaken his army by detaching numerous small units from it; a course at that time highly inexpedient. On the other hand he did not dare to withdraw any of his garrisons and so leave the loyalty of his allies to depend upon their hopes and fears. His temperament, prone as it was to rapacity and cruelty, led him to plunder the places which he was unable to defend, in order that they might be left to the enemy waste and barren. This evil policy had evil results for him, for it aroused horror and loathing not only amongst the actual sufferers but amongst all who heard of them. The Roman consul was not slow in sounding the feelings of those cities where any hope of recovering them had shown itself. Amongst these was the city of Salapia. Two of its most prominent citizens were Dasius and Blattius. Dasius was friendly to Hannibal; Blattius favoured the interests of Rome as far as he safely could, and had sent secret messages to Marcellus holding out hopes that the city might be surrendered. But the thing could not be carried through without the help of Dasius. For a long time he hesitated, but at last he addressed himself to Dasius, not so much in the hope of success as because no better plan presented itself. Dasius was opposed to the project, and by way of injuring his political rival disclosed the affair to Hannibal. Hannibal summoned them both before his tribunal. When they appeared, he was occupied with business, intending to go into their case as soon as he was at liberty, and the two men, accuser and accused, stood waiting, apart from the crowd. Whilst thus waiting Blattius approached Dasius on the subject of the surrender. At this open and barefaced conduct, Dasius called out that the surrender of the city was being mooted under the very eyes of Hannibal. Hannibal and those round him felt that the very audacity of the thing made the charge improbable, and regarded it as due to spite and jealousy, since it was easy to invent such an accusation in the absence of witnesses. They were accordingly dismissed. Blattius, however, did not desist from his venturesome project. He was perpetually urging the matter and showing what a beneficial thing it would be for them both and for their city. At last he succeeded in effecting the surrender of the city with its garrison of 5000 Numidians. But the surrender could only be effected with a heavy loss of life. The garrison were by far the finest cavalry in the Carthaginian army, and although they were taken by surprise and could make no use of their horses in the city, they seized their arms in the confusion and attempted to cut their way out. When they found escape impossible they fought to the last man. Not more than fifty fell into the hands of the enemy alive. The loss of this troop of horse was a heavier blow to Hannibal than the loss of Salapia; never from that time was the Carthaginian superior in cavalry, hitherto by far his most efficient arm.
During this period the privations of the Roman garrison in the citadel of Tarentum had become almost insupportable; the men and their commandant M. Livius placed all their hopes in the arrival of supplies sent from Sicily. To secure a safe passage for these along the coast of Italy, a squadron of about twenty vessels was stationed at Regium. The fleet and the transports were under the command of D. Quinctius. He was a man of humble birth, but his many deeds of gallantry had gained him a high military reputation. He had only five ships to begin with, the largest of these - two triremes - had been assigned to him by Marcellus; subsequently, owing to the effective use he made of these, three quinqueremes were added to his command, and at last, by compelling the allied cities, Regium, Velliea and Paestum to furnish the ships which they were bound by treaty to supply, he made up the above-mentioned squadron of twenty vessels. As this fleet was setting out from Regium, and was opposite Sapriportis, a place about fifteen miles from Tarentum, it fell in with a Tarentine fleet, also of twenty ships, under the command of Democrates. The Roman commander, not anticipating a fight, had all sail set; he had, however, got together his full complement of rowers while he was in the neighbourhood of Croton and Sybaris, and his fleet was excellently equipped and manned, considering the size of the vessels. It so happened that the wind completely died down just as the enemy came into sight, and there was ample time to lower the sails and get the rowers and soldiers into readiness for the approaching conflict. Seldom have two regular fleets gone into action with such determination as these small flotillas, for they were fighting for larger issues than their own success. The Tarentines hoped that as they had already recovered their city from the Romans after the lapse of nearly a century, so they might now rescue their citadel, by cutting off the enemy's supplies after they had deprived them of the mastery of the sea. The Romans were eager to show, by retaining their hold on the citadel, that Tarentum had not been lost in fair fight. but by a foul and treacherous stroke. So, when the signal was given on each side, they rowed with their prows straight at each other; there was no backing or maneuvering, nor did they let go of any ship when once they had grappled and boarded. They fought at such close quarters that they not only discharged missiles, but even used their swords in hand-to-hand fighting. The prows were locked together and remained so while the hinder part of the vessel was pushed about by the oars of hostile ships. The vessels were so crowded together that hardly any missile failed to reach its aim or fell into the water. They pressed forward front to front like a line of infantry, and the combatants made their way from ship to ship. Conspicuous amongst all was the fight between the two ships which had led their respective lines and were the first to engage.
Quinctius himself was in the Roman ship, and in the Tarentine vessel was a man named Nico Perco, who hated the Romans for private as well as public grounds, and who was equally hated by them, for he was one of the party who betrayed Tarentum to Hannibal. Whilst Quinctius was fighting and encouraging his men, Nico took him unawares and ran him through with his spear. He fell headlong over the prow, and the victorious Tarentine springing on to the ship dislodged the enemy, who were thrown into confusion by the loss of their leader. The foreship was now in the hands of the Tarentines, and the Romans in a compact body were with difficulty defending the hinder part of the vessel, when another of the hostile triremes suddenly appeared astern. Between the two the Roman ship was captured. The sight of the admiral's ship in the enemy's hands created a panic, and the remainder of the fleet fled in all directions; some were sunk, others were hurriedly rowed to land and were seized by the people of Thurium and Metapontum. Very few of the transports which were following with supplies fell into the enemy's hands; the rest, shifting their sails to meet the changing winds, were carried out to sea. An affair took place at Tarentum during this time which led to a very different result. A foraging force of 4000 Tarentines were dispersed through the fields, and Livius, the Roman commandant, who was always looking out for a chance of striking a blow, sent C. Persius, an able and energetic officer, with 2500 men from the citadel to attack them. He fell upon them while they were dispersed in scattered groups all through the fields, and after inflicting great and widespread slaughter, drove the few who escaped in headlong flight through their half-opened gates into the town. So matters were equalised as far as Tarentum was concerned; the Romans were victorious by land, and the Tarentines by sea. Both were alike disappointed in their hopes of obtaining the corn which had been within their view.
Laevinus' arrival in Sicily had been looked forward to by all the friendly cities, both those who had been old allies of Rome, and those who had recently joined her. His first and most important task was the settlement of the affairs of Syracuse, which, as peace had only quite recently been established, were still in confusion. When he had accomplished this task he marched to Agrigentum, where the embers of war were still smouldering, and a Carthaginian garrison still in occupation. Fortune favoured his enterprise. Hanno was in command, but the Carthaginians placed their chief reliance on Muttines and his Numidians. He was scouring the island from end to end and carrying off plunder from the friends of Rome; neither force nor stratagem could keep him from entering Agrigentum and leaving it on his raids whenever he chose. His reputation as a dashing officer was beginning to eclipse that of the commandant himself, and at last created so much jealousy that even the successes he gained were unwelcome to Hanno, because of the man who gained them. It ended in his giving the command of the cavalry to his own son in the hope that by depriving Muttines of his post he would also destroy his influence with the Numidians. It had just the opposite effect, for the ill-feeling created only made Muttines more popular, and he showed his resentment at the injustice done to him by at once entering into secret negotiations with Laevinus for the surrender of the city. When his emissaries had come to an understanding with the consul and arranged the plan of operations, the Numidians seized the gate leading to the sea after driving off or massacring the men on guard, and admitted a Roman force which was in readiness into the city. As they were marching in serried ranks into the forum and the heart of the city, amidst great confusion, Hanno, thinking it was only a riotous disturbance caused by the Numidians, such as had often happened before, went to allay the tumult. When, however, he saw in the distance a larger body of troops than the Numidians amounted to, and when the well-known battle shout of the Romans reached his ears, he at once took to flight before a missile could reach him. Escaping with Epicydes through a gate on the other side of the city, and attended by a small escort, he reached the shore. Here they were fortunate enough to find a small ship, in which they sailed across to Africa, abandoning Sicily, for which they had fought through so many years, to their victorious enemy. The mixed population of Sicilians and Carthaginians whom they had left behind, made no attempt at resistance, but rushed away in wild flight, and, as the exits were all closed, they were slaughtered round the gates. When he had gained possession of the place, Laevinus ordered the men who had been at the head of affairs in Agrigentum to be scourged and beheaded; the rest of the population he sold with the plunder, and sent all the money to Rome.
When the fate of the Agrigentines became generally known throughout Sicily, all the cities at once declared for Rome. In a short time twenty towns were clandestinely surrendered and six taken by storm, and as many as forty voluntarily surrendered on terms. The consul meted out rewards and punishments to the chief men in these cities, according to each man's deserts, and now that the Sicilians had at last laid arms aside he obliged them to turn their attention to agriculture. That fertile island was not only capable of supporting its own population, but had on many occasions relieved the scarcity in Rome, and the consul intended that it should do so again if necessary. Agathyrna had become the seat of a motley population, numbering some 4000 men, made up of all sorts of characters - refugees, insolvent debtors - most of them had committed capital offences at the time when they were living in their own cities and under their own laws and afterwards when similarity of fortunes arising from various causes had drawn them together at Agathyrna. Laevinus did not think it safe to leave these men behind in the island, as a material for fresh disturbances, whilst things were settling down under the newly established peace. The Regians too would find a body so experienced in brigandage as they were, very useful; accordingly Laevinus transported them all to Italy. As far as Sicily was concerned, the state of war was put an end to this year.
At the commencement of spring P. Scipio issued orders for the allied contingents to muster at Tarraco. He then launched his ships and led the fleet and transports to the mouth of the Ebro, where he had also ordered the legions to concentrate from their winter quarters. He then left Tarraco, with an allied contingent of 5000 men for the army. On his arrival he felt that he ought to address some words of encouragement to his men, especially to the veterans who had gone through such terrible disasters. He accordingly ordered a parade and addressed the troops in the following words: "No commander before my time, who was new to his troops, has been in a position to express well-deserved thanks to his men before he made use of their services. Fortune laid me under obligations to you before I saw my province or my camp, first because of the devoted affection you showed towards my father and my uncle during their lifetime and after their death, and then again, because of the courage with which you kept your hold on the province when it was apparently lost after their terrible defeat, and so retained it unimpaired for Rome and for me their successor. It must be our aim and object now with the help of heaven not so much to maintain our own footing in Spain as to prevent the Carthaginians from maintaining theirs. We must not remain stationary here, defending the bank of the Ebro against the enemy's passage of the river; we must cross over ourselves and shift the seat of war. To some of you at least, I fear that this plan may seem too large and bold when you remember the defeats we have lately sustained, and when you think of my youth. No man is less likely to forget those fatal battles in Spain than I am, for my father and my uncle were killed within thirty days of each other, so that my family was visited by one death upon another.
"But though I am almost heart-broken at the orphanhood and desolation of our house, the good fortune and courage of our race forbid me to despair of the State. It has been our lot and destiny to conquer in all great wars only after we have been defeated. Not to mention the earlier wars - Porsena and the Gauls and the Samnites - I will take these two Punic wars. How many fleets and generals and armies were lost in the first war! And what about this war? In all our defeats I was either present in person, or where I was not, I felt them more keenly than any one. The Trebia, Lake Thrasymenus, Cannae - what are they but records of Roman consuls and their armies cut to pieces? Add to these the defection of Italy, of the greatest part of Sicily, of Sardinia, and then the crowning terror and panic - the Carthaginian camp pitched between the Anio and the walls of Rome, and the sight of the victorious Hannibal almost within our gates. In the midst of this utter collapse one thing stood unshaken and unimpaired, the courage of the Roman people; it and it alone raised up and sustained all that lay prostrate in the dust. You, my soldiers, under the conduct and auspices of my father were the first to retrieve the defeat of Cannae by barring the way to Hasdrubal when he was marching to the Alps and Italy. Had he joined forces with his brother the name of Rome would have perished; this success of yours held us up under those defeats. Now, by the goodness of heaven, everything is going in our favour; the situation in Italy and Sicily is becoming better and more hopeful day by day. In Sicily, Syracuse and Agrigentum have been captured, the enemy has been everywhere expelled and the whole of the island acknowledges the sovereignty of Rome. In Italy, Arpi has been recovered and Capua taken, Hannibal in his hurried flight has traversed the whole breadth of Italy from Rome to the furthest corners of Bruttium, and his one prayer is that he may be allowed to make a safe retreat and get away from the land of his enemies. At a time when one defeat followed close on the heels of another, and heaven itself seemed to be fighting on Hannibal's side, you, my soldiers, together with my two parents - let me honour them both with the same appellation - upheld in this country the tottering fortunes of Rome. What then can be more foolish than for you to fail in courage now when all is going on prosperously and happily there? As to recent events, I could wish that they had caused as little pain to me as to you.
"The immortal gods who watch over the fortunes of the dominions of Rome, and who moved the electors in their centuries to insist with one voice upon the supreme command being given to me - the gods, I say, are assuring us through auguries and auspices and even through visions of the night that all will go successfully and happily with us. My own heart too, hitherto my truest prophet, presages that Spain will be ours and that ere long all who bear the name of Carthage will be driven away from this soil and will cover sea and land in their shameful flight. What my breast thus divines is confirmed by solid reasoning from facts. Owing to the maltreatment they have received their allies are sending envoys to us to appeal for protection. Their three generals are at variance, almost in active opposition to each other, and after breaking up their army into three separate divisions have marched away into different parts of the country. The same misfortune has overtaken them which was so disastrous to us, they are being deserted by their allies as we were by the Celtiberians, and the army which proved so fatal to my father and my uncle they have split up into separate bodies. Their domestic quarrel will not let them act in unison, and now that they are divided they will not be able to withstand us. Welcome, soldiers, the omen of the name I bear, be loyal to a Scipio who is the offspring of your late commander, the scion of a stock which has been cut down. Come on then, my veterans, and lead a new army and a new commander across the Ebro into the lands which you have so often traversed and where you have given so many proofs of your prowess and your courage. You recognise a likeness to my father and my uncle in figure, face, and expression, I will soon show you that I am like them also in character and fidelity and courage, so that each of you may say that the Scipio who was his old commander has either come to life again or reappeared in his son."
After kindling the spirits of his men by this speech, he crossed the Ebro with 25,000 infantry and 2500 cavalry, leaving M. Silanus in charge of the country north of the Ebro with 3000 infantry and 300 cavalry. As the Carthaginian armies had all taken different routes, some of his staff urged him to attack the one which was nearest, but he thought that if he did that there would be a danger of their all concentrating against him, and he would be no match for the three together. He decided to begin with an attack on New Carthage, a city not only rich in its own resources, but also with the enemy's war-stores, their arms, their war-chest and hostages drawn from every part of Spain. It possessed an additional advantage in its situation, as it afforded a convenient base for the invasion of Africa, and commanded a harbour capable of holding any fleet however large, and, as far as I know, the only one of the kind on that part of the coast which abuts on our sea. No one knew of his intended march except C. Laelius, who was sent round with his fleet and instructed to regulate the pace of his vessels so that he might enter the harbour at the same time that the army showed itself. Seven days after leaving the Ebro, the land and sea forces reached New Carthage simultaneously. The Roman camp was fixed opposite the north side of the city, and to guard against attacks from the rear was strengthened by a double rampart; the front was protected by the nature of the ground. The following is the situation of New Carthage. There is a bay about half-way down the coast of Spain, opening to the south-west and stretching inland about two-and-a-half miles. A small island at the mouth of the harbour forms a breakwater and shelters it from all winds, except those from the south-west. From the innermost part of the bay stretches a promontory on the slopes of which the city stands, surrounded on the east; and south by the sea. On the west it is enclosed by a shallow sheet of water which extends northward and varies in depth with the rise and fall of the tide. A neck of land about a quarter of a mile in length connects the city with the mainland. The Roman commander did not throw an earthwork across this isthmus, though it would have cost him very little trouble to do so; whether it was that he wished to impress the enemy with his confidence in his strength, or because he wished to have an unimpeded retirement in his frequent advances against the city.
When the necessary intrenchments were completed he drew up the vessels in the harbour as though he were going to blockade the place by sea. Then he was rowed round the fleet and warned the captains to be careful in keeping a look-out by night, as an enemy when first besieged makes counter-attacks in all directions. On his return to camp he explained to his soldiers his plan of operations and his reasons for beginning the campaign with an attack upon a solitary city in preference to anything else. After they were mustered on parade he made the following speech to them: "Soldiers, if any one supposes that you have been brought here for the sole purpose of attacking this city, he is making more account of the work before you than of the advantage you will reap from it. You are going, it is true, to attack the walls of a single city, but in the capture of this one city you will have secured the whole of Spain. Here are the hostages taken from all the nobles and kings and tribes, and when once these are in your power, everything which the Carthaginians now hold will be given up to you. Here is the enemy's war-chest, without which they cannot keep up the war, seeing that they have to pay their mercenaries, and the money will be of the utmost service to us in gaining over the barbarians. Here are their artillery, their armoury, the whole of their engines of war, which will at once provide you with all you want, and leave the enemy destitute of all he needs. And what is more, we shall become masters, not only of a most wealthy and beautiful city, but also of a most commodious harbour, from which all that is requisite for the purposes of war, both by sea and land, will be supplied. Great as our gains will be, the deprivations which the enemy suffers will be still greater. Here is their stronghold, their granary, their treasure, their arsenal - everything is stored here. Here is their direct route from Africa. This is their only naval base between the Pyrenees and Gades; from this Africa threatens the whole of Spain. But I see that you are all perfectly ready; let us pass over to the assault on New Carthage, with our full strength and a courage that knows no fear." The men all shouted with one voice, that they would carry out his orders, and he marched them up to the city. Then he ordered a general attack to be made by the army and the fleet.
When Mago, the Carthaginian commander, saw that an attack was being prepared both by land and sea, he made the following disposition of his forces. Two thousand townsmen were posted in the direction of the Roman camp; the citadel was occupied by 500 soldiers; 500 more were stationed in the higher part of the city, towards the east. The rest of the townsmen were ordered to be in readiness to meet any sudden emergency and to hasten in whatever direction the shouting of the enemy might summon them. Then the gate was thrown open and those who had been drawn up in the street leading to their enemy's camp were sent forward. The Romans, at the direction of their general, retired a short distance in order to be nearer to the supports which were to be sent up. At first the lines stood confronting each other in equal strength; but as the successive reinforcements came up they not only turned the enemy to flight, but pressed upon them so closely as they fled in disorder that if the "retire" had not sounded they would in all probability have burst into the city pell-mell with the fugitives. The confusion and terror of the battlefield spread right through the city; many of the pickets fled from their stations panic-struck; the defenders of the walls leaped down the shortest way they could and deserted the fortifications. Scipio had taken his stand on an eminence which they called Mercury's Hill, and from here he became aware that the walls were in many places without defenders. He at once called out the whole force in the camp to the attack, and ordered the scaling ladders to be brought up. Covered by the shields of three powerful young men - for missiles of every description were flying from the battlements - he went up close to the walls, encouraging his men, giving the necessary orders, and, what did most to stimulate their efforts, observing with his own eyes each man's courage or cowardice. So they rushed on, regardless of missiles and wounds, and neither the walls nor the men upon them could prevent them from striving who should be the first to mount. At the same time the ships commenced an attack upon that part of the city which faced the sea. Here, however, there was too much noise and confusion to admit of a regular assault, for what with bringing up the vessels and hauling out the scaling ladders, and clambering ashore as quickly as they could, the men only got in one another's way through their hurry and eagerness.
Whilst this was going on the Carthaginian general had manned the walls with his regular soldiers, and they were amply supplied with missiles, great heaps of which had been stored in readiness. But neither the men, nor their missiles, nor anything else proved such a sure defence as the walls themselves. Very few of the ladders were long enough to reach to the top of the wall, and the longer the ladders the weaker they were. The consequence was that whilst each man who reached the top was unable to get on to the wall, the others who came up behind him were unable to advance and the ladder was broken by the mere weight of men. Some who were on ladders which stood the strain grew dizzy from the height and fell to the ground. As men and ladders were crashing down in all directions and the spirits and courage of the enemy were rising with their success, the signal was sounded for retiring. This led the besieged to hope that they would not only gain a respite from their hard and wearisome struggle for the time being, but would also be safe for the future, as they believed that the city could not be taken by escalade and storm, whilst the construction of siege works would be a difficult matter and would allow time for succours to be sent. The noise and tumult of this first attempt had hardly subsided when Scipio ordered fresh troops to take the ladders from those who were exhausted and wounded and make a more determined attack upon the city. He had ascertained from the fishermen of Tarraco, who were in the habit of crossing these waters in light skiffs and when these ran aground of wading ashore through the shallows, that it was easy at low water to approach the walls on foot. It was now reported to him that the tide was on the ebb; and he at once took about 500 men with him and marched down to the water. It was about midday, and not only was the falling tide drawing the water seaward, but a strong northerly wind which had sprung up was driving it in the same direction, and the lagoon had become so shallow that in some places it was waist-deep and in others only reached to the knee. This state of things, which Scipio had ascertained by careful investigation and reasoning, he ascribed to the direct intervention of the gods, who he said were turning the sea into a highway for the Romans, and by withdrawing its waters were opening up a path which had never before been trodden by mortal feet. He bade his men follow the guidance of Neptune and make their way through the middle of the lagoon up to the walls.
Those who were making the attack on the land side were in very great difficulties. Not only were they baffled by the height of the walls, but as they approached them they were open to showers of missiles on both hands, so that their sides were more exposed than their front. In the other direction, however, the 500 found their passage through the lake and their ascent from there to the foot of the walls an easy matter. No fortifications had been constructed on this side, as it was considered to be sufficiently protected by the lake and by the nature of the ground, nor were there any outposts or pickets on guard against any attack, as all were intent on rendering assistance where danger was actually visible. They entered the city without meeting any opposition, and at once marched full speed to the gate round which all the fighting had gathered. All had their attention absorbed in the struggle; even the eyes and ears of the combatants, as of those who were watching and cheering them on, were so riveted on the fighting that not a single man was aware that the city behind him was captured until the missiles began to fall upon them from the rear. Now that they had the enemy in front and rear they gave up the defence, the walls were seized, the gate was battered from both sides, smashed to pieces, and carried out of the way to allow a free passage to the troops. A large number surmounted the walls and inflicted heavy slaughter on the townsmen, but those who entered through the gate marched in unbroken ranks through the heart of the city into the forum. From this point Scipio saw the enemy retreating in two directions; one body was making for a hill to the east of the city, which was being held by a detachment of 500 men; the others were going to the citadel where Mago, together with the men who had been driven from the walls, had taken refuge. Sending a force to storm the hill, he led the rest of his troops against the citadel. The hill was taken at the first charge, and Mago, seeing that the whole of the city was in occupation of the enemy, and that his own position was hopeless, surrendered the citadel and its defenders. Until the citadel was surrendered the carnage went on everywhere throughout the city, no adult male who was met with was spared, but on its surrender the signal was given and an end put to the slaughter. The victors then turned their attention to the plunder, of which there was a vast amount of every kind.
As many as 10,000 freemen were made prisoners. Those who were citizens were set free and Scipio gave them back their city and all the property which the war had left them. There were some 2000 artisans; these Scipio allotted to the public service, and held out to them hopes of recovering their liberty if they did their best in the tasks which the war demanded. The rest of the able-bodied population and the sturdiest of the slaves he assigned to the fleet to make up the complement of rowers. He also augmented his fleet by five vessels which he had seized. Besides all this population there were the Spanish hostages; these he treated with as much consideration as though they had been children of the allies of Rome. An enormous amount of munitions of war was also secured; 120 catapults of the largest size and 281 smaller ones, 23 of the heavier ballistae and 52 lighter ones, together with an immense number of scorpions of various calibre, as well as missiles and other arms. 73 military standards were also captured. A vast quantity of gold and silver was brought to the general, including 287 golden bowls, almost all of which were at least a pound in weight, 18,300 pounds of silver plate and coinage, the former comprising a large number of vessels. This was all weighed and counted and then made over to the quaestor C. Flaminius, as were also 10,000 bushels of wheat and 270 pecks of barley. In the harbour 63 transports were captured, some of them with their cargoes of corn and arms, as well as bronze, iron, sails, esparto grass, and other articles required for the fleet. Amidst such an enormous supply of military and naval stores, the actual city itself was regarded as the least important capture of all.
Leaving C. Laelius with the marines in charge of the city, Scipio led his legions the same day back into camp. They were well-nigh worn out; they had fought in the open field, had undergone much toil and danger in the capture of the city, and after capturing it had sustained a conflict on unfavourable ground with those who had taken refuge in the citadel. So he gave them one day's respite from all military duties and ordered them to seek refreshment and rest. The next day he issued orders for all the soldiers and marines to appear on parade that he might address them. First he offered up a thanksgiving to the immortal gods because they had not only made him master in a single day of the wealthiest city in all Spain, but had also brought together beforehand into the place all the resources of Africa and Spain, so that whilst nothing was left to the enemy he and his men had a superabundance of everything. Then he praised the courage of his troops, whom, he said, nothing had daunted, neither the sortie of the enemy, nor the height of the walls, nor the untried depth of the lagoon, nor the fort on the hill, nor the unusual strength of the citadel. Nothing had prevented them from surmounting every obstacle and forcing their way everywhere. Though every man amongst them deserved all the rewards he could give, the glory of the mural crown belonged especially to him who was the first to scale the wall, and the man who considered that he deserved it should claim it.
Two men came forward, Q. Tiberilius, a centurion of the fourth legion, and Sextus Digitius, one of the marines. The contention between them was not so heated as the excitement with which each body advocated the claim of its own representative. C. Laelius, the commander of the fleet, supported the marine, M. Sempronius Tuditanus took the part of his legionaries. As the dispute was almost becoming a mutiny, Scipio announced that he would allow three arbitrators to be named who should investigate the case and take evidence and give their decision as to which had been the first to scale the wall and enter the town. C. Laelius and M. Sempronius were named by their respective parties, and Scipio added the name of P. Cornelius Caudinus, who belonged to neither party, and bade the three sit at once and try the case judicially. As they proceeded, the dispute became hotter than ever, for the two men whose dignity and authority had helped to restrain the excitement were now withdrawn to the tribunal. At last Laelius left his colleagues and stepped down in front of the tribunal to Scipio and pointed out to him that the proceedings were being carried on in defiance of all order and self-restraint, and the men were almost coming to blows. And even if there were no resort to violence the precedent that was being set was none the less detestable, since men were trying to win the reward of valour by falsehood and perjury. On the one side were the soldiers of the legion, on the other those of the fleet, all alike ready to swear by all the gods to what they wanted rather than to what they knew to be true, and prepared to involve in the guilt of perjury not themselves only, but the military standards, the eagles and their solemn oath of allegiance. Laelius added that he was making these representations to him at the wish of P. Cornelius and M. Sempronius. Scipio approved of the step Laelius had taken and summoned the troops to assembly. He then announced that he had definitely ascertained that Q. Tiberilius and Sextius Digitius had both surmounted the wall at the same moment, and he should honour their bravery by presenting them each with a mural crown. Then he bestowed rewards upon the rest according to each man's merit. C. Laelius, the commander of the fleet, was singled out for special distinction, and in the praises which he lavished upon him he placed him on an equality with himself, finally presenting him with a golden crown and thirty oxen.
After this he ordered the hostages from the various Spanish states to be summoned into his presence. It is difficult to give their number, for I find in one place 300 mentioned and in another 3724. There is a similar discrepancy amongst the authorities on other points. One author asserts that the Carthaginian garrison amounted to 10,000 men, another puts it at 7000, whilst a third estimates it as not more than 2000. In one place you will find that there were 10,000 prisoners, in another the number is said to have exceeded 25,000. If I followed the Greek author Silenus I should give the number of scorpions large and small as 60; according to Valerius Antias there were 6000 large ones and 13,000 small ones; so wildly do men invent. It is even a matter of dispute who were in command. Most authorities agree that Laelius was in command of the fleet, but there are some who say that it was M. Junius Silanus. Antias tells us that Arines was the Carthaginian commandant when the garrison surrendered, other writers say it was Mago. Nor are authors agreed as to the number of ships that were captured, or the weight of gold and silver, or the amount of money that was brought into the treasury. If we are to make a choice, the numbers midway between these extremes are probably nearest the truth. When the hostages appeared Scipio began by reassuring them and dispelling their fears. They had, he told them, passed under the power of Rome, and the Romans preferred to hold men by the bonds of kindness rather than by those of fear. They would rather have foreign nations united to them on terms of alliance and mutual good faith than kept down in hard and hopeless servitude. He then ascertained the names of the States from which they came and made an inventory of the number belonging to each State. Messengers were then despatched to their homes, bidding their friends to come and take charge of those who belonged to them - where envoys from any of these States happened to be present he restored their own relations to them on the spot; the care of the rest he entrusted to C. Flaminius the quaestor, with injunctions to show them all kindness and protection. Whilst he was thus engaged a high-born lady, wife of Mandonius the brother of Indibilis, chief of the Ilergetes, came forward from the crowd of hostages and flinging herself in tears at the general's feet implored him to impress more strongly on their guards the duty of treating the women with tenderness and consideration. Scipio assured her that nothing would be wanting in this respect. Then she continued: "We do not set great store on those things, for what is there that is not good enough for the condition that we are in? I am too old to fear the injury to which our sex is exposed, but it is for others that I am anxious as I look at these young girls." Round her stood the daughters of Indibilis and other maidens of equal rank in the flower of their youthful beauty, and they all looked up to her as a mother. Scipio replied: "For the sake of the discipline which I in common with all Romans uphold, I should take care that nothing which is anywhere held sacred be violated amongst us; your virtue and nobility of soul, which even in misfortune is not forgetful of matronly decorum, make me now still more careful in this matter." He then delivered them into the charge of a man of tried integrity, with strict injunctions to protect their innocence and modesty as carefully as though they were the wives and mothers of his own guests.
Soon afterwards an adult maiden who had been captured was brought to him by the soldiers, a girl of such exceptional beauty that she attracted the eyes of all wherever she moved. On enquiring as to her country and parentage, Scipio learnt, amongst other things, that she had been betrothed to a young Celtiberian noble named Aluccius. He at once sent for her parents and also for her betrothed, who, he learnt, was pining to death through love of her. On the arrival of the latter Scipio addressed him in more studied terms than a father would use. "A young man myself," he said, "I am addressing myself to a young man, so we may lay aside all reserve. When your betrothed had been taken by my soldiers and brought to me, I was informed that she was very dear to you, and her beauty made me believe it. Were I allowed the pleasures suitable to my age, especially those of chaste and lawful love, instead of being preoccupied with affairs of state, I should wish that I might be forgiven for loving too ardently. Now I have the power to indulge another's love, namely yours. Your betrothed has received the same respectful treatment since she has been in my power that she would have met with from her own parents. She has been reserved for you, in order that she might be given to you as a gift inviolate and worthy of us both. In return for that boon I stipulate for this one reward - that you will be a friend to Rome. If you believe me to be an upright and honourable man such as the nations here found my father and uncle to be, you may rest assured that there are many in Rome like us, and you may be perfectly certain that nowhere in the world can any people be named whom you would less wish to have as a foe to you and yours, or whom you would more desire as a friend."
The young man was overcome with bashfulness and joy. He grasped Scipio's hand, and besought all the gods to recompense him, for it was quite impossible for him to make any return adequate to his own feelings, or the kindness Scipio had shown him. Then the girl's parents and relatives were called. They had brought a large amount of gold for her ransom, and when she was freely given back to them, they begged Scipio to accept it as a gift from them; his doing so, they declared, would evoke as much gratitude as the restoration of the maiden unhurt. As they urged their request with great importunity, Scipio said that he would accept it, and ordered it to be laid at his feet. Calling Aluccius, he said to him: "In addition to the dowry which you are to receive from your future father-in-law you will now receive this from me as a wedding present." He then told him to take up the gold and keep it. Delighted with the present and the honourable treatment he had received, the young man resumed home, and filled the ears of his countrymen with justly-earned praises of Scipio. A young man had come among them, he declared, in all ways like the gods, winning his way everywhere by his generosity and goodness of heart as much as by the might of his arms. He began to enlist a body of his retainers, and in a few days returned to Scipio with a picked force of 1400 mounted men.
Scipio kept Laelius with him to advise as to the disposal of the prisoners, the hostages and the booty, and when all had been arranged, he assigned him one of the captured quinqueremes, and placing on board Mago and some fifteen senators who had been made prisoners with him, he sent Laelius to Rome to report his victory. He had himself decided to spend a few days in New Carthage, and he employed this time in exercising his military and naval forces. On the first day the legions, fully equipped, went through various evolutions over a space of four miles; the second day was employed in rubbing up and sharpening their weapons in front of their tents; the third day they engaged in regular battle. practice with single-sticks and darts, the points of which were muffled with balls of cork or lead; the fourth day they rested, and on the fifth they were again exercised under arms. This alternation of exercise and rest was kept up as long as they remained in Carthage. The rowers and marines put out to sea when the weather was calm and tested the speed and handiness of their ships in a sham fight. These maneuvers going on outside the city on land and sea sharpened the men both physically and mentally for war; the city itself resounded with the din of warlike constructions carried on by the artisans of every kind who were kept together in the Government workshops. The general devoted his attention equally to everything. At one time he was present with the fleet watching a naval encounter; at another he was exercising his legions; then he would be giving some hours to an inspection of the work which was going on in the shops and in the arsenal and dockyards, where the vast number of artisans were vying with each other as to who could work the hardest. After starting these various undertakings and seeing that the damaged portions of the walls were repaired, he started for Tarraco, leaving a detachment in the city for its protection. On his way he was met by numerous delegations; some of them he dismissed, after giving his reply while still on the march; others he put off till he reached Tarraco, where he had given notice to all the allies, old and new, to meet him. Almost all the tribes south of the Ebro obeyed the summons, as did many also from the northern province. The Carthaginian generals did their best to suppress any rumours of the fall of New Carthage, then when the facts came out too clearly to be either suppressed or perverted, they tried to minimise its importance. It was by a sudden ruse, almost by stealth, they said, that one city out of the whole of Spain had been filched from them in a single day; a young swaggerer elated with this trifling success had in the intoxication of his delight made believe that it was a great victory. But when he learnt that three generals and three victorious armies were bearing down upon him he would be painfully reminded of the deaths which had already visited his family. This was what they told people generally, but they themselves were perfectly aware how much their strength was in every way weakened by the loss of New Carthage.