The consuls —Atilius taking over the army of Fabius and Geminus Servilius that of Minucius —constructed a winter camp betimes, and carried on the war for the rest of the autumn with the greatest harmony, on the lines laid down by Fabius.
As often as Hannibal went out to forage, they were sure to appear, at one place or another, harassing his march and cutting off the stragglers: a general engagement, which the enemy sought with all the arts at his command, they declined to risk;
and Hannibal was driven to such extremity of want, that if he had not thought that his departure would [p. 309]
necessarily look like flight, he would have gone back1
into Gaul. For he had given up all hope of supporting his army in those regions, if the next consuls should make use of the same strategy.
Winter had already brought the fighting about Gereonium to a standstill, when envoys from Neapolis arrived in Rome.
Bringing forty massive golden bowls into the senate-house, they delivered themselves to this effect: that they knew that the treasury of the Roman People was becoming exhausted by the war, and since it was being waged no less in behalf of the cities and lands of the allies than for the capital and citadel of Italy —the City of Rome —and
for its empire, the Neapolitans had deemed it right to employ the gold which their ancestors had bequeathed them, whether for the adornment of their temples or as a subsidy in time of need, to assist the Roman People;
had they thought themselves capable of helping with their persons, they would have offered these with the same heartiness; it would gratify them if the Roman senators and people would look on all the possessions of the Neapolitans as their own, and consider
that their gift deserved a willing acceptance, as being greater and of more account in respect of the friendliness and good-will of the givers than in actual value.
The envoys received a vote of thanks for this generosity and thoughtfulness, and the bowl of least weight was accepted.