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pour out at once from all the gates. This gave the besiegers a most violent alarm: for, while he carried on his attack on one side, all the Campanians, both horse and foot, and with them the Carthaginian garrison, commanded by Bostar, and Hanno, sallied out on the other. In this dangerous situation the Romans, lest by running together to one part they should leave any other unguarded, divided their forces in this manner. Appius Claudius was opposed to the Campanians; Fulvius to Hannibal; Caius Nero, proprætor, with the cavalry of the sixth legion, took post on the road leading to Suessula, and Caius Fulvius Flaccus, lieutenant-general, with the cavalry of the confederates, on the side opposite the river Vulturnus. The fight began with the usual shouting and tumult. But, besides the other noises of men, horses, and weapons, the multitude of Campanians, unable to bear arms, being spread along the walls, raised so loud a shout, accompanied with the clangor of brazen instruments, such as is commonly made in the dead of night on occasion of eclipses of the mocn, that it drew the attention even of the combatants. Appius easily repulsed the Campanians from the rampart. Hannibal and his Carthaginians, a more powerful force, pressed hard on Fulvius. There the sixth legion gave way to the enemy, and, on its being broken, a cohort of Spaniards, with three elephants pushed through to the very rampart. It had made an effectual breach in the Roman line; but while flattered, on the one hand, with the hope of forcing into the camp, it was threatened on the other with being cut off from the main body of the army. When Fulrius saw the dastardly behaviour of the legion, and the danger of the camp, he exhorted Quintus Navius, and the other principal centurions, to fall on that cohort that was fighting close to the rampart, and to cut it in pieces; he observed to them, that “ the juncture was critical in the last degree; that these men must either be al. lowed a passage--and then they would break into the camp with less labour than they had exerted in forcing their way through a thick line of troops,-or they must be despatched at the foot of the rampart. This would not be a matter of much contest; they were few in number, and shut out from their friends, and the very breach, which, while the Romans were dispirited, was seen in their line, would, if they faced about upon the foe, prove the means of inclosing and attacking them on all sides at once.” Navius, on hearing these words of the general, took, from the standard-bearer, the standard of the second company of spearmen, and advanced with it against the enemy, threatening to throw it into the midst of them if the soldiers did not instantly follow him, and take a share in the fight. His person was very large, and the standard, raised aloft, attracted the eyes of all. When he came up to the front of the Spaniards, showers of javelins were poured on him from all sides, almost the whole body directing their attacks against him alone; but neither the multitude of the enemies, nor the force of their weapons, could repel the onset of this single combatant.
VI. At the same time, Marcus Atilius, a lieutenant-general, caused the standard of the first company of principes belonging to the same legion to be brought forward against the enemy. The officers commanding in the camp, Lucius Porcius Licinus and Titus Popilius, lieutenants-general, fought with vigour in defence of their trenches, and killed on the very rampart some elephants in the act of attempting to cross it. The bodies of these filling up the ditch, as by a mound or a bridge, afforded a passage to the assailants, and a desperate slaughter was made here, fighting on the bodies of the dead elephants. On the other side of the camp, the Campanians, and the Carthaginian garrison had been repulsed, and the fight was now maintained close to the gate of Capua, which opens toward the city of Vulturnus. The Romans were hindered from forcing their way in, not so much by the arins of the soldiers, as by the ballistæ and scorpions with which the gate was furnished; and which, by the missile
weapons they threw, kept the assailants at a great distance. The ardour of the Romans was, besides, checked by their commander, Appius Claudius, being wounded; for while he was encouraging his men in the van, he received a thrust from a javelin in the upper part of his breast below the left shoulder. Nevertheless a vast number of the enemy was killed before the gate, and the rest were driven in disorder into the city. When Hannibal saw that the Spanish cohort, was slain to a man, and that the Romans maintained the defence of their camp with the utmost degree of vigour, he gave over the assault, and began to retreat; making his line of infantry face about, and the cavalry cover their rear against any attack.
The legions were ardently intent on pursuing the enemy; but Flaccus ordered a retreat to be sounded, supposing that enough had been done to make the Campanian, and Hannibal himself, sensible, how little able he was to protect them. Some who have written accounts of this battle inform us, that there were slain on that day, of Hannibal's army, eight thousand men, and three thousand of the Campanians; and that fifteen standards were taken from the Carthaginians, eighteen from the Campanians. In other accounts I find that the importance of the battle was not by any means so great, and that there was more of alarm in the case, than of fighting; that a party of Numidians and Spaniards, with some elephants, having, by surprise, broken into the Roman camp, the elephants going through the middle of it overthrew the tents with great noise, so that the beasts of burden broke their collars and ran about frightened; that to increase the disorder a stratagem was used. Hannibal sending in some persons who could speak the Latin language, of whom he had many, giving orders, in the name of the consuls, that, as the camp was lost, every man should fly, as he was able, to the nearest mountains; but that the imposition was quickly detected; and its progress stopped by a great slaughter of the enemy, and that the elephants were
driven out of the camp with firebrands. This battle, in whatsoever manner begun and ended, was the last that was fought, previous to the surrender of Capua. The medixtuticus, or chief magistrate of the Campanians, for this year, was Seppius Lesius, a man of obscure birth and small property. There is a story, that, at a former time, when his mother was, in his behalf (he being under age,) expiating a prodigy which happened in the family, the aruspex answered her, that the supreme power at Capua, would come to that boy: on which knowing no circumstance that could countenance such an expectation, she replied,“ What you say supposes the affairs of the Campanians in a trulyfdesperate state, when the supreme magistracy is to come to my son.” This expression, meant in derision of a true prediction, proved itself true in the event; for the people being distressed by the sword and by famine, and destitute of every kind of hope, those who were entitled by birth to expect the posts of honour, declining to accept them, Lesius, who exclaimed that Capua was deserted and betrayed by the nobility, obtained the post of supreme magistrate, and was the last Campanian who held it.
VII. Hannibal, seeing that he could neither bring the enemy to another engagement, nor force a passage through their camp into Capua, and fearing, lest the new consuls might cut off his supplies of provisions, determined to drop a design in which he had no prospect of success, and to remove from the place. To what quarter he should next direct his route was then to be resolved; and, while he was earnestly deliberating on this head, he felt his mind strongly impelled to make an attempt on Rome itself, the grand source of the war: a measure always ardently wished for, and the omis. sion of which, on the favourable occasion after the battle of Cannæ, was generally censured by others, and not defended by himself. He thought that he need not despair of gaining possession of some part of the city during the panic and tumult which his unexpected approach would occasion; and that when Rome should be in danger, either both the commanders or at least one of them, would leave Capua; and that, should they divide their forces, this, by weakening both, would afford either him or the Campanians a chance of acting with success. One consideration made him uneasy, that, on his departure, the Capuans might perhaps immediately surrender. He therefore by rewards, engaged a Numidian, who was of a disposition to undertake any thing for pay, to be the bearer of a letter to the people, and, going into the Roman camp in character of a deserter, to pass out privately on the other side to Capua. This letter was full of encou. ragements to hold out: "his departure,” he told them,“ would prove the means of their safety, as it would draw away the Roman generals and armies from before Capua to the defence of Rome.” He exhorted them“ not to let their spirits sink; for by patient resolution, for a few days, they would free themselves entirely from the siege.” He then ordered all the vessels on the river Vulturnus to be siezed, and brought up to a fort which he had before erected for the security of his camp. As soon as he was informed that a sufficient number of these had been procured to carry over his troops,
he led them down by night to the river, provided with victuals for ten days, and, before morning they gained the other side.
VIII. That this step was intended, Fulvius Flaccus had discovered, from deserters, before it was put in execution; and had apprised the senate of it by a letter sent to Rome, where men's minds were variously affected by the intelligence. At a meeting of the senate, which was immediately convens ed on this alarming emergency, Publius Cornelius, surnamed Asina, recommended, that all concern about Capua, with every other matter, should be laid aside, and all the generals and arınies called home, from every part of Italy, for the defence of the capital. Fabius Maximus represented it as utterly disgraceful to retire from Capua, and to let their