« IndietroContinua »
them but the flight and slaughter of the Sardinians, they also gave way. But just as they were turning their backs, the Roman general, wheeling round with that wing of his army which had beaten the Sardinians, inclosed their rear, and then followed a carnage rather than a fight. Of the Sardinians and Carthaginians together, there fell twelve thousand; about three thousand six hundred, with twenty-seven military standards, were taken.
XLI. But what contributed, above all, to render this success brilliant and memorable, was, the taking of the general Hasdrubal, and two other Carthaginians of high distinction, Hanno and Mago; Mago being of the Barcine family, and nearly related to Hannibal, and Hanno the person who instigated the Sardinians to a revolt, and unquestionably the author of the present war. Nor was the fortune of the Sardinian commanders, on this occasion, less remarkable; for Hiostus, son of Hampsicora, fell in the fight; and the father, after having fled with a few horsemen, when, in addition to his other misfortunes, he heard also of his son's death, put an end to his own life in the night-time, lest some interruption might prevent his design: to the rest, the city of Cornus, as on the former occasion, afforded a refuge; but Manlius attacking it with his victorious troops, made himself master of it in a few days. On this, the rest of those states, which had joined Hampsicora and the Carthaginians, made their submission, and gave hostages. Having imposed on these, in proportion to the power or delinquency of each, contributions of corn, and pay for the troops, he led back his army to Carale; and there, launching the ships of war, and embarking the troops which he had brought to the island, he sailed to Rome, and informed the senate of the total reduction of Sardinia, delivered the money raised by the contributions to the quæstors, the corn to the ædiles, and the prisoners to the prætor Quintus Fulvius. About the same time Titus Otacilius, proprætor, sailing over from Lilybæum
to Africa, with a fleet of fifty ships, ravaged the Carthaginian territories. As he was returning to Sardinia, on hearing that Hasdrubal had lately crossed over thither from the Baleares, he met his fleet on its way from Africa; and, after a slight engagement in the open sea, took seven of the ships, with their crews. Their fears dispersed the rest not less effectually than a storm would have done It happened that, at the same time, Bomilcar, with supplies of men and provisions, and forty elephants sent from Carthage, put into the harbour of Locri. On which Appius Claudius, intending to surprise him, drew all his forces hastily to Messana, under a pretext of making a circuit round the island, and with the favour of the tide crossed over to Locri; but Bomilcar had already left the place, and gone to join Hanno in Bruttium, and the Locrians shut their gates against the Romans. Without effecting any thing by such a powerful effort, Appius returned to Messana.
XLII. During this summer Marcellus made frequent excursions from Nola, where he was stationed in garrison, into the lands of the Hirpinians and Caudine Samnites, and with fire and sword caused such utter devastation through every part of the country, as renewed in Samnium the memory of those calamities which they had suffered of old. Both nations therefore immediately joined in sending ambassadors to Hannibal, who addressed him in this manner: “ Hannibal, we, by ourselves, waged war against the Roman people, as long as our own arms, and our own strength, were sufficient for our defence: when we found that we could no longer trust to these, we united ourselves to king Pyrrhus; by whom being deserted, we submitted to a peace,
circumstances made necessary, and which we continued to observe, through a space of almost sixty years, to the time when you came into Italy. Your kind demeanour and singular generosity to our countrymen, whom, when prisoners in your hands, you restored to us, as well as your bravery and success, in
spired us with such esteem and admiration, that having you in health and safety to befriend us, we feared not the resentment of the Roman people, nor (if it is allowable so to speak) even that of the gods. But now, indeed, while you are not only in safety, and possessed of victory, but while you are present, and can, in a manner, hear the lamentations of our wives and children, and see our houses in flames; still, we say, we have experienced, in the course of this summer, such depredations, that it seems as if Marcus Marcellus, not Hannibal, were the conqueror at Cannæ; the Romans boasting, that you had just vigour enough for that one stroke, and having as it were lost your sting, are now become a drone. For near one hundred years, we maintained a war against the Roman people, without the assistance of any foreign leader or army, since in the two years that Pyrrhus was joined with us, he rather augmented his own forces with our strength, than defended us with his. I shall not make a display of our successes, except in sending under the yoke two consuls and two consular armies; though it is certain that other events have contributed to our glory. As to the difficulties and misfortunes which we then underwent, we can recount them with less indignation, than those which fall upon us this day. Renowned dictators, with their masters of horse; two consuls, with two consular armies at a time, were used to enter our territories; and, with every precaution of first exploring the country, and posting rear guards, proceeded in order of battle to commit depredations; at present we are in a manner the prey of one little garrison, which is scarcely sufficient to man the walls of Nola. They scour every quarter of our country; not in companies, but like common robbers, with less precaution than they would use in rambling through the province of Rome. Now the cause of this is, that you do not afford us protection, and that at the same time our youth, who, if at home, would defend us, are all employed under your standards. As we are not unacquainted with
your forces; as we know that you have defeated and cut off so many armies of Romans; surely we must judge it an easy matter for you to overpower those marauders amongst us, who straggle about without order, and ramble wherever allured by the slightest hope of gain. They may be instantly subdued by a handful of Numidians; and while you send supporters to us, you will, by the same means, strip the Nolans of theirs. In fine, it is hoped that after having taken us under your protection, and deemed us worthy of alliance, you do not now judge us undeserving your interference in our defence.”
XLIII. To this Hannibal answered, that “ the Hirpinians and Samnites did too many things at once; they represented their sufferings, petitioned for protection, and at the same time complained of being undefended and neglected. Whereas, they ought first to make the representation; then to re . quest protection; and, in the last place, if their request were not complied with, then, and not before, to complain of having implored aid in vain. That he would lead his army not into the territories of the Hirpinians or Samnites, lest he should prove an additional burthen, but into the nearest places belonging to the allies of the Roman people; by the plunder of which, he would enrich his soldiers, and, at the same time, by the terror of his arms, drive far away
the enemy from them.
As to what concerned the war between him and Rome, if the fight at the Trasimenus was more honourable than that at the Trebia, and the one at Cannæ than that at the Trasimenus, he was resolved, by a still more complete and more splendid victory, to eclipse the lustre of the battle of Cannæ.” With this answer, and with ample presents, he dismissed the ambassadors; and leaving a small body of troops on the Tifata, began his march with the rest of his army, and proceeded to Nola. Thither also came Hanno from Bruttium, with the supplies and the elephants hrought from Carthage. Having encamped at no great dis
tance from the town, he found, on inquiry, every circumstance widely different from the representations made by the ambassadors of his allies. For no part of Marcellus's conduct was such, as could be said to leave an unguarded opening either to fortune or to an enemy. When going to a plundering expedition, his practice had been to procure a knowledge of the country; to provide strong supports and a safe retreat; and to use every care and caution just as if Hannibal were present. At this time, when he perceived the Carthaginian approaching, he kept his troops within the walls, and ordered the senators of Nola to walk round on the ramparts, and take a view on every side of what passed among the enemy. From the other side, Hanno, coming up to the wall, invited Herennius Bassus and Herius Pettius to a conference; and when, with the permission of Marcellus, they came out, he addressed them by an interpreter, extolled Hannibal's
courage and success, and in the most contemptuous terms vilified the majesty of the Roman people, as mouldering into decay, together with their strength. “But,” said he, “supposing all matters were on the same footing as before, yet as it is found by experience how burthensome the government of Rome is to its confederates, and how great the generosity of Hannibal has been, even to every one of his prisoners, who bore the name of an Italian, an alliance of friendship with the Carthaginians was surely to be wished in preference to one with the Romans. If both the consuls, with their armies, were at Nola, they would no more be able to cope with Hannibal, than they had been at Cannæ; much less would a single prætor, with a handful of men, and these raw recruits, be equal to the defence of Nola. Whether Hannibal was to gain possession of that town by storm, or by capitulation, was a matter which concerned themselves more than him, for gain it he would, as he had gained Capua and Nuceria; and how different the fate of Capua was from that of Nuceria, the Nolans themselves, situated about midway