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Book XIV

This webpage reproduces a Book of
Roman History

Cassius Dio

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1914

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
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Book XVI

Cassius Dio
Roman History

Thayer's Note: Before e-mailing me with questions, comments, or corrections involving the numbering of Books, chapters, and sections in this text, please read the orientation page.

Fragments of Book XV


Zonaras 9
in Lycophr. Alex. 602
Chil. 1, 757‑59

Although in these matters they were fortunate, they encountered elsewhere a disaster as terrible as any which they ever suffered either before or afterwards. It was preceded by certain portents and the oracles of the Sibyl, who had prophesied the disaster to them so many years before. Remarkable also was the prediction of Marcus.​1 He was a certain soothsayer who foretold that, inasmuch as they were Trojans of old, they should be overthrown in the Plain of Diomed. This is in Daunian Apulia and has taken its name from the settlement of Diomed, which he made there in the course of his wanderings. In that plain is also Cannae, where the present misfortune occurred, close to the Ionian Gulf and near the mouths of the Aufidus. The Sibyl had admonished them to beware of the spot, yet said it would avail them naught, even if they should keep it under the strictest guard.

The Iapygians and Apulians dwell along the Ionian Gulf. The tribes of the Apulians, according to Dio, are the Peucetii, Pediculi, Daunii, the Tarentines. There is also Cannae, the Plain of Diomed, near Daunian Apulia. Messapia and Iapygia were later called Salentia, and then Calabria. Argyrippa, the city of Diomed, was renamed Arpi by the Apulians.

Later he arrayed himself against the Romans at Cannae, when the Roman generals were Paulus and Terentius. Cannae is a plain of Argyrippa, where Diomed founded the city Argyrippa, that is to say, "Argos, the Horse City," in the tongue of the Greeks. And this plain came to belong later to the Iapygian Daunii, then to the Salentini, and now to those whom all call by the name Calauri [Calabrians].

5722 With regard to divination and astrology Dio says: "I, however, cannot form any opinion either about these events or about others that are foretold by divination. For what does prophesying mean, if a thing is going to occur in any case, and if there can be no averting it either by human skill or by divine providence? Let each man, then, look at these matters in whatsoever way he pleases."

Text, 57 1 

23 The commanders were Paulus and Terentius, men  p137 not of similar temperament, but differing alike in family and character. The former was a patrician, possessed of the graces of education, and esteemed safety before haste; he was somewhat chastened, more, as a result of the censure he had received for his former conduct in office. Hence he was not inclined to boldness, but was considering how he might keep from going into trouble again rather than how he might achieve success by some desperate venture. 24 Terentius, however, had been brought up among the rabble, was practised in vulgar bravado, and so everywhere displayed a lack of prudence; for instance, he was already promising himself the control of the war, was inveighing much against the patricians, and thought that he alone held the command in view of the amiability of his colleague.

 p139  25 The heedlessness of Terentius and the amiability of Paulus, who always desired the proper course but assented to his colleague in most points (so apt is gentleness to yield to boldness), compassed their defeat.

Such were the oracular utterances; now what befell the Romans was this. The commanders were named Paulus and Terentius Varro, men not only similar temperament. The former was a patrician, possessed of the graces of education, and esteemed safety before haste; but Terentius had been brought up among the rabble, was practised in vulgar bravado, and everywhere displayed a lack of prudence; for instance, he thought that he alone held the command in view of the amiability of his colleague. Now they both reached the camp at a most opportune time; for Hannibal had no longer any provisions, Spain was in turmoil, and the allies were being alienated from him; and if they had waited for even the very shortest time, they would have conquered without any trouble. As matters went, however, the recklessness of Terentius and the amiability of Paulus compassed their defeat. Hannibal attempted to lead them into a conflict at once: with a few followers he drew near their stronghold, and then, when a sortie was made, purposely fell back to create the impression of being afraid and so drew them more securely into a pitched battle. But when Paulus restrained his own soldiers from pursuit, Hannibal simulated terror and at night packed up as if to depart; he left behind him numerous articles lying within the palisade and ordered the rest of the baggage to be escorted with a considerable show of carelessness, so that the Romans might turn to plundering it and thus give him a chance to attack them. Indeed, he would have translated his wish into fact, if Paulus had not restrained his soldiers and Terentius quite against their will.

So Hannibal, having failed in this attempt also, came by night to Cannae, and since he knew the place as one fit for ambuscades as well as for a pitched battle, he encamped there. And first he plowed up the whole site, which had a sandy subsoil, in order that a cloud of dust might be raised in the conflict, since the wind generally springs up  p141 there in summer about noon; and he contrived to have it behind his own back. The consuls, seeing at dawn that his stockade was empty of men, at first waited, suspecting an ambush, but later came by daylight to Cannae and encamped beside the river, each by himself; for since they were not congenial they avoided association together. Paulus remained quiet, but Terentius was anxious to force the issue; when he saw, however, that the soldiers were listless, he had to give up the plan. But Hannibal, who was determined to goad them into battle even against their will, shut them off from their water supply, prevented their scattering in small parties, and threw the bodies of the slain into the stream higher up in front of their intrenchments, in order to disgust them with the drinking supply. Then the Romans, on their side, hastened to array themselves for battle. Hannibal, anticipating this movement, had planted ambuscades at the foot of the hills but had the remainder of his army drawn up in line. He also ordered some men at a given signal to simulate desertion: they were to throw away their shields and spears and great swords, but secretly to retain their daggers, so that after their antagonists had received them as unarmed men, they might attack them unexpectedly.

The Romans, accordingly, after having had in view since early morning the troops arrayed with Hannibal, were now arming themselves and forming in battle line. The trumpets roused the men on both sides, the signals were raised, and then ensued the clash of battle and a many-sided contest.

Text, 57 1 
Chil. 1, 771‑74

26 In the shock of the battle not even the boldest possessed a hope so buoyant as to rise above the fear inspired by its uncertainty, but the surer they felt of conquering the more did they fear that they might  p145 in some way meet with disaster. For those who are ignorant of a matter do not, in their blind folly, look for anything terrible, but the boldness derived from calculation . . .

Until noon the advantage had not fallen to either army. Then the wind came up and the pretended deserters were received, apparently destitute of arms, and got in the Romans' rear, in order, as they claimed, that the Carthaginian might not attack them. At this point the men rose from ambush on both sides, while Hannibal with his cavalry charged the Roman front; and not only did the enemy cause them confusion on every hand, but the wind and the dust blew violently into their faces, embarrassing them, and interfering with their breathing, which was already becoming laboured from their exertion, so that, deprived at once of sight and voice, they perished amid utter confusion, preserving no semblance of order. So great a multitude fell that Hannibal did not even try to find out the number of the common soldiers, and in regard to the number of the knights and members of the senate he did not write to the Carthaginians at home, but indicated it by the finger-rings, which he measured off by the quart and sent home; for only the senators and the knights wore finger-rings.

At last so great a multitude of Romans fell that Hannibal, the general, filled many bushel and quart measures with the finger-rings of the generals and the other prominent men and sent them to Sicily.

Nevertheless a number made good their escape then as it was, among them Terentius; but Paulus was killed. Hannibal did not pursue, nor did he hasten to Rome. He might have set out at once for Rome with either his entire army or at least a portion of it, and quickly ended the war; yet he did not do so, although Maharbal urged him to this course. Hence the criticism was made of him that although able to win victories, he did not understand how to use them. And having delayed this time, they never again made haste. Therefore Hannibal himself used to regret it, feeling that he had committed a blunder, and was ever crying out: "O Cannae! Cannae!"

Text, 57 1 

28 Scipio, on learning that some of the Romans were preparing to abandon Rome, and indeed all Italy, because they felt it was destined to belong to the Carthaginians, nevertheless found a way to restrain them. Sword in hand he sprang suddenly into the room where they were conferring, and after  p147 himself swearing to take proper measures both in word and deed he made them swear likewise, on pain of instant death if they failed to give him their pledge. 29 So these men thereupon became harmonious and wrote to the consul that they were safe. Scipio, however, did not at once write or send a messenger to Rome; but going to Canusium, he set in order affairs at that place, sent to the regions near by such garrisons as circumstances permitted, and repulsed a cavalry attack upon the city. In fine, he displayed neither dejection or terror, but with an unbroken spirit, as if no serious evil had befallen them, he both planned and carried out all measures suitable to the present situation.

2 1 The Romans, who had been in such imminent danger of being destroyed, regained their supremacy through Scipio. He was a son of the Publius Scipio in Spain, and had saved the life of his father when the latter was wounded; at present he was serving in the army and had fled to Canusium, and later he achieved renown. By common consent of the fugitives assembled at Canusium he assumed command, set affairs in order there, sent garrisons to the regions near by, and both planned and executed all measures well.

The people of Rome heard of the defeat but would not believe it. When they did come to believe it, they were filled with sorrow, and met in the senate-house, but were ready to break up without accomplishing anything, when finally Fabius proposed that they send scouts to bring a report of what had happened and what Hannibal was doing. He urged that they themselves should not lament, but go about in silence, so that the necessary  p149 measures might be taken in time, and that they should collect as large a force as they could and also call upon their neighbours for aid. After this, upon learning that Hannibal was in Apulia, and upon receiving a letter from Terentius stating that he was alive and what he was doing, they recovered a little of their courage. Marcus Junius was named dictator and Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus master of the horse. Immediately they enrolled not only those of the citizens who were in their prime but also those who were now past the military age; they added to their forces prisoners on promise of pardon, slaves on promise of freedom, and a few brigands; moreover, they called on their allies to help, reminding them of any kindness ever shown them, and others money — a thing they had never done before; they also sent emissaries to Greece to persuade or hire men to serve as their allies.

Hannibal, learning that the Romans were showing a united front and were engaged in preparations, still delayed at Cannae, having given up all thought of capturing Rome by assault. Of the captives he released the allied contingent without ransom, as before, but the Romans he kept, hoping to dispose of them by sale, and thus increase his own resources while diminishing those of the Romans. But when no one came from Rome in quest of the captives, he ordered them to send some of their number home for ransom, after they had first taken an oath to return. When even then the Romans refused to ransom them, he sent those who were of any prominence to Carthage, and the rest he either  p151 tortured and put to death or forced to fight as gladiators, pitting friends and relatives against each other. Those who were sent for ransom returned in order to be true to their oaths, but later fled. Disfranchised then by the censors, they committed suicide.

Hannibal sent his brother Mago to report the victory to the Carthaginians and to ask them for money and troops. So Mago on his arrival counted over the rings and even magnified the success: thus everything that he asked for was voted, and they would not listen to Hanno, who opposed this course and advised them to end the war while they seemed to have the upper hand. However, they did not put their vote into effect, but delayed. Hannibal meanwhile advanced into Campania, seized a Samnite fortress, and marched upon Neapolis. He sent before him a few soldiers with the booty, and when the people of the city, thinking them alone, rushed out upon them, he unexpectedly appeared in person and slew a large number; but he did not capture the city, nor did he lay siege to it long — for a reason now to be given. Of the Campanian inhabitants of Capua a part clung to Roman friendship, while others favoured Hannibal. After his success at Cannae and when some of their men taken captive had been released, the populace was eager to revolt to Hannibal, but the leaders waited for a time. Finally, the crowd made a rush upon them as they were assembled in the senate-house, and would have made away with them all but for the action of some one of the crowd who saw how great a misfortune this would be. This  p153 man denounced the senators as by all means deserving to perish, but said that they ought first to choose others to fill their places; for the state could not endure without some men to concert measures for the rest. Having gained the assent of the Capuan people, he ejected each of the members in turn from the senate-house, asking the populace, as he did so, whom they chose in his place; and thus, when they found themselves unable to choose others on short notice, he let all the senators go unharmed, because they appeared to be indispensable. Later the Capuans became reconciled with one another and made peace with Hannibal. This was the reason why he quickly retired from Neapolis and came to Capua. He held a conference with the people and made many attractive offers, among other things promising to give them the leader­ship in Italy; for he wished to encourage them with the hope that they would be actually labouring in their own behalf, so that they might fight with greater zeal.

Upon the revolt of Capua the rest of Campania also became restive, and the news of the town's secession troubled the Romans.

Text, 57 1 

30 Hannibal took possession of Nuceria under an  p155 agreement that each man should leave the city with a single garment. As soon, however, as he had them in his power, he shut the senators into bath-houses and suffocated them; and even in the case of the others, although he had pretended to grant them permission to go away wherever they pleased, he cut down many of them on the road. This course, however, did not turn out to his advantage; for the rest became afraid that they might suffer a similar fate, and so would not come to terms with him, but resisted as long as they could hold out.

31 Marcellus was a man of great bravery, moderation, and justice. The demands he made on those under him were not all rigorous or harsh, near was he careful to see that they too performed their duty. Those of them who committed any errors he pardoned, out of fellow-feeling, and was not angry if they failed to be like him.

 p157  32 When many citizens of Nola stood in dread of the men captured at Cannae and later released by Hannibal, because they thought that such persons favoured the invader's cause, and when they were even desirous of putting them to death, he [Marcellus] opposed it. And thereafter he concealed the suspicion that he felt toward them, and treated them in such a way that they chose his side by preference, and became extremely useful both to their native land and to the Romans.

33 The same Marcellus, when he perceived that one of the Lucanian cavalry­men was in love with a woman, permitted him to keep her in the camp, because he was a most excellent fighter; and this in spite of the fact that he had forbidden any woman to enter the entrenchments.

34 He pursued the same course with the people of Acerrae as he had with those of Nuceria, except that he cast the senators into wells instead of bathhouses.

As for Hannibal, he set out on a campaign against Nuceria. Under stress of siege and owing to lack of food the inhabitants thrust out those of their number whose age rendered them unserviceable. Hannibal would not receive these, however, and gave them assurance of safety only in case they should go back to the city. Therefore the rest also agreed to leave the city with a single garment. As soon, however, as Hannibal was master of the situation, he shut the senators into bathhouses and suffocated them, and even in the case of the others, although he had told them to go away wherever they pleased, he cut down many on the road; yet a number of them managed to escape by taking refuge in the woods. Thereupon the rest became afraid, and would no longer come to terms with him, but resisted while they were able. Now the people of Nola were planning to join his cause, but when they saw what had been done to their neighbours, they quietly let Marcellus in and later repulsed Hannibal when he assaulted their city. Repelled from Nola, he captured the people of Acerrae by starving them out. He made the same terms with them as with the people of Nuceria, and also accorded them the same treatment.

After that he made an expedition against Basilinae,​2 where Romans and about a thousand of the allies had taken refuge. These put to death the native citizens, who had been planning to betray them, repulsed Hannibal several times, and held out nobly against hunger. When food was failing them, they sent a man by way of the river on an inflated skin to the dictator. The latter proceeded to put jars filled with meal into the river at night, after bidding them watch the stream in the darkness. For a while he thus supplied them with food without being discovered, but eventually a jar was dashed against some obstacle and shattered; then the Carthaginians became aware of what was going on and put chains across the river. After a number had perished of hunger and of their wounds, they abandoned one half of the city, cut down the bridge, and held out in the other half. They now threw turnip seed from the wall upon a spot outside, doing this in order to dishearten the enemy and make them believe that they were likely to endure for a long time. Hence Hannibal, thinking that they must have plenty of food, and astonished at their endurance, invited them to surrender, and released them for money. For the Romans outside were glad to ransom them, and furthermore, they showed them honour.

 p161  35 Fabius got back some of the men captured in former battles by exchanging man for man, and agreed to ransom the others for money. When, however, the senate failed to confirm the expenditure, because it did not approve their ransom at all, he offered for sale his own farms, as I have said, and from the proceeds of them furnished the ransom for the men.

3 1 While these events were taking place the messengers returned from Delphi saying that the Pythia bade them cease from sloth and devote themselves to the war. This gave them new strength. They overtook Hannibal and encamped near him, so as to watch his movements. Junius, the dictator, ordered the Romans to do exactly as the Carthaginians were commanded to do. So they took their food and sleep at the same time, visited the sentries in the same manner, and were doing everything else in similar fashion. When Hannibal became aware of this, he waited for a stormy night and then gave notice to some of his soldiers of an attack to be made in the evening. Junius did the same thing. Thereupon Hannibal ordered different detachments to attack him in succession one after the other, in order that his opponents might be involved in constant hardship as a result of sleeplessness and the storm; but he himself rested together with the troops not in action. When day was about to break, he recalled the army, to all appearances, and the Romans put away their weapons and retired to rest; then all of a sudden he attacked them, with the result that he killed a number and captured the entrenchments, which were deserted.

Conditions in Sicily and Sardinia grew unsettled,  p163 but did not receive any consideration at the hands of the Romans. The consuls chosen were Gracchus, previously master of the horse, and Postumius Albinus. Now Albinus was ambushed and destroyed with his entire army by the Boii as he was traversing a wooded mountain. The barbarians cut off his head, scooped out the interior, and after gilding it used it for a bowl in their sacred rites. Portents also occurred at this time: a cow gave birth to a horse and fire shone out at sea. The consuls Gracchus and Fabius encamped and kept watch of Hannibal who was at Capua, to see what he did. They also sent out envoys in every direction, defended the allies, endeavoured to win back the revolted, and ravaged the possessions of those who opposed them. Hannibal, as long as his food supply was scanty and was obtained at the cost of encountering dangers, led a temperate life, as did his army; but after taking Capua and wintering there in idleness with ample provisions, they deteriorated in physical strength, as a result of no longer toiling, and in moral vigour, through pleasure, and in changing their ancestral habits they learned an accomplishment that was new to them — to be defeated in battle. When the business of war finally became pressing, Hannibal transferred his quarters to the mountains and went to exercising the army; but they could not grow strong in a short space of time. He was encouraged, however, by the arrival of elephants and other reinforcements from home. He now set out against Nola, intending to capture it or at least to draw Marcellus away from Samnium, which he was ravaging. When  p165 he could accomplish nothing, he withdrew from the city, but laid waste the country, until he suffered a decisive defeat in battle. At this he was indeed grieved, since many Spaniards and even many of the Africans now forsook him and deserted to the Romans — a new experience for him. Disgusted, therefore, but with himself and with his soldiers, he abandoned that entire region and retired to Capua. Afterward he left that place also.

The Scipios had crossed the river Iberus and were ravaging the country; they had secured control of various cities, and when Hasdrubal for this reason hastened to oppose them, they had conquered him in battle. The Carthaginians, upon learning of this, thought that Hasdrubal needed more assistance than Hannibal did, and fearing that the Scipios might also attempt to cross into Africa, they despatched only a small body of troops to Hannibal, but sent the larger part with Mago to Spain with the utmost speed; and they ordered the latter after the reduction of Spain to remain to guard their interests there, whereas Hasdrubal was to be sent with a force against Italy. The Scipios, learning their plan, no longer gave battle, for fear that Rome Hasdrubal might perchance win a victory and then hasten into Italy. However, as the Carthaginians went on ravaging the region that was friendly to the Romans, Publius engaged in a struggle with such of his opponents as met him and won a victory, while Gnaeus intercepted those of the enemy who were retiring from the battle and completed their destruction. As a result of this disaster, and because numerous cities were transferring  p167 their allegiance to the Romans, and some of the Africans had also gone over to their side, Hasdrubal remained there longer than he was intending. The Scipios sent their accessions at once to Italy, and they themselves continued to settle affairs in Spain. They captured the subjects of the Saguntines who had brought upon them the fatal war, and they razed the town and sold the population. After this they took possession of Saguntum and restored it to its original inhabitants. They were so scrupulous in regard to the plunder that they sent nothing home; to be sure, they allowed their soldiers to do so, but as for themselves, they sent only some jackstones to their children. Hence the senate, when Gnaeus asked for a furlough, in order that he might go home and secure a dowry for his daughter, who was of marriageable age, voted that a dowry be given her from the public funds.

4 1 During this same period both Sicily and Sardinia became openly hostile. But the disturbance in these regions soon subsided. Hasdrubal, who was aiding them, was captured, and Manlius Torquatus recovered almost the entire island. For the time being affairs in Sicily were quit, but later there was trouble. Philip, the king of Macedonia, showed himself a most open partisan of the Carthaginians. In his desire to add Greece to his possessions he came to an agreement with Hannibal that they should conduct the war in common, and that the Carthaginians should receive Italy, while he should have Greece and Epirus together with the  p169 islands. The agreement was made on this basis; but through the capture of the herald who had been sent to Hannibal by Philip, the Romans learned what was taking place, and forthwith sent the praetor Marcus Valerius Laevinus​3 against him. They intended to cause him anxiety about his own possessions, so that he should stay at home. And thus it turned out. Philip advanced as far as Corcyra with the intention of sailing to Italy, but on learning that Laevinus was already at Brundisium, he returned home. When Laevinus had sailed as far as Corcyra, Philip set out against the Roman allies; he captured Oricum and proceeded to besiege Apollonia. But Laevinus once more made an expedition against him, recovered Oricum, and rescued Apollonia. Then Philip, after burning the ships which he had used, returned home by land.

The people of Rome chose Fabius and Marcellus consuls. Hannibal was then moving about in what is now called Calabria and the adjacent regions, and they assigned the care of him to Gracchus, who had held office before them. Gracchus routed Hanno, who had come from Bruttium and confronted him near Beneventum, and then going on, he watched Hannibal closely, ravaged the possessions of those who had revolted, and won back some cities. The consuls themselves turned their attention to Campania, for they were anxious to subdue it and so leave no hostile force behind them when they marched against Hannibal.

Chil. 2, 109‑23

They then divided forces: Fabius overran the districts of Campania and Samnium, while Marcellus crossed into Sicily and proceeded to besiege Syracuse. The city had submitted to  p171 him, but then had revolted again as the result of a false message sent by the treachery of certain men. Now he would have subdued it very speedily, as the result of a joint assault upon the wall by land and sea, had not Archimedes with his inventions enabled the inhabitants to resist for a very long time. For this man by his devices suspended stones and heavy-armed soldiers in the air, and these he would let down suddenly, and presently draw them up again. And he would lift up ships, even those equipped with towers, by means of other appliances which he dropped upon them; and raising them aloft, would let them drop suddenly, so that when they fell into the water they were sunk by the impact. At last in an incredible manner he burned up the whole Roman fleet. For by tilting a kind of  p173 mirror towards the sun he concentrated the sun's beam upon it; and owing to the thickness and smoothness of the mirror he ignited the air from this beam and kindled a great flame, the whole of which he directed upon the ships that lay at anchor in the path of the fire, until he consumed them all.

Marcellus, therefore, despairing of capturing the city on account of the inventiveness of Archimedes, planned to take it by famine after a regular investment. This duty he assigned to Pulcher, while he himself turned his attention to those who had revolted at the same time as Syracuse. Any who yielded were granted pardon, but those who resisted he treated harshly; and he captured a number of the cities by force, and some also by betrayal. In the meantime Himilco had come from Carthage with an army, had occupied Agrigentum and Heraclea, and had reached Syracuse. There he was at first defeated, then was in turn victorious, and finally was again beaten by a sudden assault on the part of Marcellus.

And when once Marcellus, the Roman general, was assaulting Syracuse by land and sea, this man first by his engines drew up some merchantmen, and lifting them up against the wall of Syracuse dropped them again sent them every one to the bottom, crews and all. Again, when Marcellus removed his ships to a little distance, the old man gave all the Syracusans the power to lift stones of a waggon's size, and hurling them one at a time, to sink the ships. When Marcellus withdrew them a bow-shot thence, the old man constructed a kind of hexagonal mirror, and at an interval proportionate to the size of the mirror, he set similar small mirrors with four edges, moving by links and by a kind of hinge, and made the glass the centre of the sun's beams — its noontide beam, whether in summer or in the dead of winter. So after that, when the beams were reflected into this, a terrible kindling of flame arose upon the ships, and he reduced them to ashes a bow-shot off. Thus by his contrivances did the old man vanquish Marcellus.

46b Dio, Book XV. "For fear the Syracusans, in despair of assistance, might commit some act of rebellion."

 p175  5 1 After this Marcellus continued the investment of Syracuse. Hannibal was passing his time in Calabria. The Romans, however, again met with many reverses. The consuls received a setback near Capua, Gracchus perished in Lucania, Tarentum and other cities revolted, Hannibal, previously cowed, remained in Italy and marched upon Rome, and both the Scipios perished. Elated by these events, Hannibal undertook to render assistance to Capua. He went as far as Beneventum; then, ascertaining that Claudius had returned from Samnium into Lucania on account of the death of Gracchus, he became afraid that the Romans might secure control of parts of that region, and he advanced no further, but turned to meet Claudius. Upon the death of the Scipios the whole of Spain was thrown into disorder; some towns voluntarily went over to the Carthaginians, and others under compulsion, though later they again leaned to the Roman side.

Marcellus, finding that he was accomplishing nothing by his assault on Syracuse, devised the following plan. There was a weak spot in the Syracusans' wall which they called Galeagra; it had never before been recognized as such, but the fact was discovered at this time. He waited until the whole city of Syracuse was celebrating an all-night festival to Artemis, and then bade some soldiers scale the wall at that point. Accordingly some of the gates were opened by these men, and as soon as a few others had entered, all, both inside and outside, at a given signal, raised a shout and struck their spears upon their shields, and the trumpeters blew a blast, with the result that utter panic overwhelmed  p177 the Syracusans, who were in any case somewhat the worse for drink, and the city was captured with the exception of Achradina and what is called "The Island." Marcellus plundered the captured portions and assaulted those not yet taken, and with time and labour he finally succeeded in conquering the remainder of Syracuse.

Chil. 2, 136‑49

The Romans, when they became masters of these districts, killed many persons, among them Archimedes. He was constructing some figure or other, and hearing that the enemy were at hand, exclaimed: "Let them come at my head, but not at my line!" When a hostile warrior confronted him, he was little disturbed and called out: "Fellow, stand away from my line!" This exasperated the man and he struck him down.

He was bent over, drawing some mechanical figure, and a Roman, coming upon him, began to drag him off as his prisoner; but he, with all his attention fixed just then upon his figure, not knowing who it was that pulled him, said to the man: "Stand aside, fellow, from my figure." But as the other kept on pulling, he turned, and recognizing him as a Roman cried out: "Let somebody give me one of my machines." The Roman, in terror, immediately killed him, a decrepit old man, but marvellous for his works. Marcellus straightway mourned on learning this, and buried him with splendour in his ancestral tomb, assisted by the noblest citizens and all the Romans; and the man's murderer, I trow, he slew with an axe. Dio and Diodorus​a record the story.

 p179  Marcellus, as a result of capturing Syracuse and winning over most of the remainder of Sicily, received high praise, and was also appointed consul. The Romans had nominated Torquatus, who once had put his son to death, but he declined with the remark, "I could not endure your blunders, nor you my punctiliousness"; whereupon they elected Marcellus and Valerius Laevinus.

6 1 After Marcellus had left Sicily, Hannibal sent a force of cavalry there, and the Carthaginians despatched another. They won several battles and acquired some cities; and if the praetor Cornelius Dolabella had not come against them, they would have subjugated all Sicily.

Capua was at this time taken by the Romans. It availed not that Hannibal marched upon Rome in order to draw away from Capua the forces besieging it, that he traversed Latium, came to the Tiber, and was laying waste the suburbs of the city. The people of Rome were indeed frightened, but still they voted that one of the consuls​4 should remain at Capua while the other came to their defence. So Claudius remained at Capua, since he had been wounded, and Flaccus hastened to Rome.

Hannibal kept making his raids before their eyes and working much havoc, but for some time they were content to preserve their possessions within the walls. When, however, he was on the point of assaulting both the city and their armies at the same time, they risked the proverbial cast of the die and made  p181 a sortie. They were already engaged in skirmishing when an extraordinary storm, accompanied by an inconceivably strong wind as well as thunder, hail, and lightning, broke from a clear sky, so that both sides were glad enough to retire, as if by mutual consent, to their original positions. They were just laying aside their arms when the sky became clear. Now although Hannibal concluded that this event, coming as it did precisely at the moment of conflict, had not occurred without divine ordering, yet he did not give up the siege, and even attempted again on a subsequent occasion to join battle. But when the same things occurred then also, he became terrified. He was amazed, moreover, that the Romans, although in so great danger, not only did not withdraw from Capua, but were even getting ready to send soldiers and a praetor into Spain, and that, being in need of funds, they sold along with other public lands the very spot where he was encamped. Accordingly, he retired in despair, often crying aloud, "O Cannae, Cannae!" And he no longer cared even to render aid to Capua.

The people of that city, although in the direst straits, still held out, since they despaired of obtaining pardon from the Romans; and they sent a letter to Hannibal begging him to assist them. The bearers of the letter were seized by Flaccus (Claudius had before this time died of his wound), and had their hands cut off. Upon seeing them, the Campanians were terribly dismayed and took counsel as to what they should do. After considerable talk a certain Jubius​5 Virius, one of the foremost men and one most responsible for the revolt, exclaimed: "Our only refuge and freedom is in death. Accompany me home. I have a poison made ready." So he took with him those who were willing to accept his advice, and with them voluntarily sought death. The rest opened the gates to the Romans. Flaccus took away all their arms and money, put to death some of the chief men, and sent others to Rome. The only ones that he left unmolested were the survivors of the common people, and he spared them only on the condition that they receive a Roman governor, maintain no senate, and hold no assembly.


 p183  Dio, Roman History, XV. "For in view of their very ancient prestige and their long-standing friendship for the Romans, they would not submit to their condemnation, but the Campanians undertook to accuse Flaccus and the Syracusans Marcellus. And the accusers were condemned in the senate.

Later, they incurred further penalties by daring to accuse Flaccus. The Campanians undertook to accuse Flaccus, and the Syracusans Marcellus, when the latter was already consul. And Marcellus made a defence; for he refused to perform any of the duties of his office until he had defended himself. The Syracusans, when given a hearing, presented their case tactfully: they devoted themselves not to accusing Marcellus, but to supplication and defence, declaring that they had not of their own free will revolted from the Romans, and asking for pardon. While making this plea they fell upon the ground and bewailed their lot. When a decision was rendered, it was to the effect that Marcellus was not guilty, but that the Syracusans, nevertheless, were deserving of some leniency, not for their deeds, but for their pleas and entreaties. But Marcellus asked to be excused from returning to Sicily, and they sent Laevinus. The Syracusans in this way obtained some consideration; but the Campanians, being led by stupidity to deliver their accusation with too much audacity, actually had their punishment increased. And yet Flaccus was not present, but one of his ex-lieutenants conducted his defence for him.

After the capture of Capua the other strongholds in the vicinity went over to the Romans, with the exception of Atella. The inhabitants of this place abandoned their city and went in a body to Hannibal. Also the rest of Italy that had favoured the Carthaginian cause was changing sentiment, and the consuls in their tours of the country were taking possession of it. The Tarentines did not as yet openly avow their allegiance to the Romans, but secretly they were getting tired of the Carthaginians.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Probably an error for Marcius; cf.Livy, 25.12.

2 An error for Casilinum.

3 Zonaras always spells this name Lavinius; cf. 8.3.

4 Apparently an error of Zonaras for proconsuls.

5 An error for Vibius.

Thayer's Note:

a Diodorus Siculus' treatment of the siege of Syracuse has not survived; but this brief excerpt of Tzetzes' Chiliades is part of a longer passage out of which editors have reconstituted some of it: it may be found online under Diodorus Siculus, XXVI.18. The excerpt here is from that same Greek text: only the translation is different.

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