Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

to set up to sale the silversmith's shops, which at that time stood round the Roman Forum. Discouraged by all these circumstances, he moved his camp to the river Tutia, six miles from the city, and proceeded thence to the grove of Feronia, where was a temple at that time, much celebrated for its riches; the Capenatians and other neighbouring states being accustomed to bring hither the first fruits of their lands, and other offerings, according to their abilities, by which means it was decorated with abundance of gold and silver: of all these offerings the temple was then despoiled. After Hannibal's departure, large heaps of brass were found in it, the soldiers having through remorse for this impious proceeding, thrown in pieces of uncoined metal. That this temple was pillaged, all writers agree. But Cælius asserts, that Hannibal, in his march towards Rome, turned aside thither from Eretum; and he traces his route through Amiternum, Cutilii, and Reate; alleging, that, from Campania, he came into Samnium, thence into Pelignia; then, passing near the town of Sulmo, proceeded into the territory of the Marrucinians, thence through the lands of Alba into Marsia, and so on to Amiternum, and the village of Foruli. Nor is this diversity of opinion owing to people's having lost within so short a period, a distinct remembrance of the traces of so great an army: for, that he went in that track, is certain; the only matter in doubt is, whether he took this route in advancing towards Rome, or in his return thence to Campania.

XII. But Hannibal showed not such obstinate perseverance in his endeavours to raise the siege of Capua, as the Romans did in pushing it forward: for, from Lucania, he hastened away into Bruttium, and all the way to the very strait and the city of Rhegiuın, with such speed, that in consequence of his sudden arrival he was very near taking that place by surprise. Capua, though the vigour of the siege had not in the mean-time been at all relaxed, yet felt the return of Flaccus; and it was matter of great wonder to the besieged, that Hannibal had not come back at the same time. But, in discoursing with some of the besiegers, they soon learned, that they were left to themselves and abandoned; and that the Carthaginians considered the hope of maintaining possession of Capua as desperate. This afflicting intelligence was followed by an edict of the proconsul, published by direction of the senate, and spread among the enemy, that“ any native of Campania who should come over before a certain day should be indemnified for all that was past.” But not one embraced the offer, though they were not restrained by fidelity to their associates, so much as by their fears, because at the time of their revolting they had committed crimes too enormous, as they supposed, to be forgiven. However, though none of them were led to desert by a regard to private interest, yet neither was any proper care taken to promote the interest of the public. The nobility had renounced all public business, and could not be compelled to meet in the senate; and he who was in the office of chief magistrate, was a man who had not, from thence, derived any honour on himself, but had, from his own worthlessness, stripped the office of its weight and authority. Not one of the nobles even appeared in the Forum, or in any public place; but kept themselves shut up in their houses, in daily expectation of the downfall of their city, and the ruin of their country, together with their own destruction. The administration of all business had devolved on Bostar and Hanno, the como manders of the Carthaginian garrison, the chief object of whose concern was, their own danger, not that of their allies. These men wrote to Hannibal in terms not only free, but harsh, charging him, that “ besides surrendering Capua into the hands of the enemy, he had abandoned them and their garrison to the hazard of all kinds of torture: that he had gone off to Bruttium as if on purpose to be out of the way, lest the city should be taken in his sight. This was not like the conduct of the Romans, whom not even an attack on the

a

city of Rome could draw away from the siege of Capua: so much more steady were Romans in enmity, than Carthaginians in friendship.” They told him, that “ if he would return to Capua, and bring his whole force thither, both they and the Campanians would be ready to sally forth to his assistance. They had not crossed the Alps for the

purpose

of waging war with the people of Rhegium, or of Tarentum: wherever the Roman legions were, there ought likewise to be Carthaginian armies. In this manner success had been obtained at.Cannæ; in this manner at the Trasimenus; by uniting, by keeping their camp close to that of the enemy, by making trial of fortune.” Having written a letter to this effect, they gave it to some Numidians, who had before promised their service for a reward agreed on.

After these had come into the camp to Flaccus as deserters, intending to watch for an opportunity, of proceeding thence, (the famine which had raged so long in Capua affording any one a colourable pretence for deserting,) a Campanian woman, who had been mistress to one of these, came unexpectedly into the camp, and informed the Roman general that the Numidians had came over with a treacherous design, and were carrying a letter to Hannibal; and that of this she was ready to convict one of them, who had disclosed the matter to her. On being brought to an examination, he at first maintained firmly that he did not know the woman ; but afterwards, yielding reluctantly to the force of truth, on seeing that the racks were called for and brought out, he confessed the fact. The letter was produced, and a farther discovery made of a matter not hitherto mentioned, that several other Numidians, under the appearance of deserters, were strolling about in the Roman camp. These, in number about seventy, were apprehended, and, together with the late deserters, beaten with rods; their hands were then cut cff, and they were driven back to Capua.

XIII. . The sight of a punishment so grievous quite broke VOL, 111.-Uu

the spirits of the Campanians. The populace, crowding about the senate-house, compelled Lesius to call a meeting of the senate, and openly threatened the nobles, who, for a long time past, had absented themselves from public assemblies, that, if they did not attend the meeting, they would go round to each of their houses, and drag them out by force. The fear of this procured the magistrate a full senate. At this meeting, while the rest proposed sending ambassadors to the Roman generals, Vibius Virius, who had been the principal promoter of the revolt from the Romans, on being asked his opinion, said, that “those who spoke of sending ambassadors, and of peace, and a surrender, did not consider either what they themselves would do, if they had the Romans in their power, or what they must expect to suffer from them. What!” said he,“ do you imagine that your surrender now will be of the same kind with that, whereby, in order to obtain support against the Samnites, we delivered ourselves and all belonging to us into the hands of the Romans? Have you already forgotten at what season and in what circumstances, we revolted from the Romans? Have you already forgotten how, at the time of this revolt, we put to death, with indignity and torture, their garrison, which might have been dismissed? How often, and with what bitter animosity, we have sallied out against them, since they began the siege; and even attacked their camp? That we invited Hannibal, in hopes of crushing them; and that we lately sent him hence to attack the city of Rome? Recollect, on the other hand, the instances of their animosity against us; that you may, from thence, be able to estimate what room there is for hope. When there was a foreign enemy in Italy, and that enemy was Hannibal; when war blazed in every quarter, they, neglecting every other concern, neglecting Hannibal himself, sent both their consuls with two consular armies to attack Capua. These two years they have kept us shut up, surrounded with trenches, and

[ocr errors]

consuming us by famine; although they themselves, together with us, undergo the extremest dangers, and the severest labours; often losing many at their rampart and trenches, and, at last, being nearly beaten out of their camp. But I will not enlarge upon these matters. To endure toils and hardships in attacking an enemy's city, is no new thing; it is usual. What I am going to mention, affords a proof of resentment and implacable hatred. Hannibal, with a powerful army of horse and foot, assaulted their camp, and got possession of a part of it. The greatness of their danger did not, in the least, dispose them to drop the siege. Crossing the Vulturnus, he laid waste the territory of Cales with fire: such a severe calamity of their allies called them not away. He ordered his troops to march in hostile array to the city of Rome itself: this storm, ready to burst on their heads, they likewise slighted. Passing the Anio, he encamped within three miles of Rome, and at last advanced to the very walls and gates, showing a determination to deprive them of their city, unless they quitted Capua. They did not quit it. Wild beasts inflamed with blind fury and rage, you may draw away to the assistance of their

young,

if you go up to their dens and cubs. As to the Romans, not the blockade of Rome, nor their wives and children, whose lamentations might almost be heard even here, not their altars, their houses, the temples of their gods, and the sepulchres of their ancestors profaned and violated, could draw them away from Capua; so keen are their wishes to bring us to punishment, so eager their thirst for our blood. And, perhaps, not without reason: for we, on our parts, would have done the same, had fortune given us the power. Wherefore, since the immortal gods have determined otherwise, and though I ought not to decline death; yet while I am free, while I am master of myself, I can, by a death both honourable and easy, avoid the tortures and indignities which the enemy hopes to inflict on me. Never will I see Appius

.

« IndietroContinua »