But the siege of Saguntum did not flag. Maharbal, the son of Himilco, whom Hannibal had left in charge, so bestirred himself that the absence of the general was felt neither by his countrymen nor by the enemy.
He fought a number of successful skirmishes, and with three battering-rams laid low a considerable portion of the wall, and on Hannibal's return, showed him the place all covered with the newly fallen ruins.
And so the troops were led at once against the citadel itself, and a fierce battle began, in which many on both sides were killed and a part of the citadel was taken.
An all but hopeless attempt to arrange a peace was then made by two men, Alco, a Saguntine, and a Spaniard named Alorcus.
Alco, thinking that [p. 37]
something might be effected by entreaties, went over to1
Hannibal in the night, without the knowledge of the Sanguntines. But finding that tears were of no avail and that the terms obtainable were such as a wrathful conqueror would impose, he changed from pleader to deserter, and remained with the enemy, declaring that anybody who should treat for peace on those conditions would be put to death.
The conditions were as follows: they must make restitution to the Turdetani, and, delivering up all their gold and silver, quit their city with a single garment each and take up their abode where the Phoenician should direct them.
When Alco asserted that the Saguntines would not accept such terms, Alorcus, affirming that where all else is conquered the heart is conquered too, undertook the negotiation of a peace. He was at that time a soldier in the service of Hannibal, but was officially recognized by the Saguntines as their friend and guest.2
Openly surrendering his weapon to the sentries, he passed the enemy's lines, and was conducted —by his own command —before the Saguntine general.
A crowd of all descriptions immediately flocked together there; but all save the senators were sent away, and Alorcus, being permitted to address them, spoke as follows: