While this was happening at Canusium, about four thousand five hundred horse and foot, who had scattered over the country-side in flight, [p. 377]
made their way to Venusia, to the consul.
these the inhabitants distributed amongst various families where they might be kindly received and cared for, and bestowed on each horseman a toga and a tunic and twenty-five chariot-pieces, and on each foot-soldier ten pieces, together with arms, where they were needed.2
In all other matters, too, they dealt hospitably by them, both as a town and as individuals, in their zeal that the People of Venusia should not lag behind a Canusian woman in friendly offices.
But the great multitude was beginning to be too heavy a burden upon
Busa —and indeed there were now as many as ten thousand men3
—and Appius and Scipio, when they learned that the other consul was alive, immediately dispatched a messenger to let him know what forces of infantry and cavalry they had with them, and at the same time to enquire whether he desired the army to be brought to Venusia or remain
at Canusium. Varro transferred his own troops to Canusium; and they now had something resembling a consular army, and might look to defend themselves against the enemy, behind walls, at all events, if not in
But at Rome it was reported that not even these pitiful remnants of citizens and allies survived, but that the army with its two consuls was clean destroyed and all their forces
blotted out. Never, save when the City had been captured, was there such terror and confusion within the walls of Rome. I shall therefore confess myself unequal to the task, [p. 379]
nor attempt a narrative where the fullest description4
would fall short of the truth. The year before a consul and his army had been lost at Trasumennus, and now it was not merely one blow following another, but a calamity many times as great that
was reported; two consuls and two consular armies had been lost, and there was no longer any Roman camp, or general, or soldier; Hannibal was master of Apulia, Samnium, and well-nigh the whole
of Italy. Surely there was no other people that would not have been overwhelmed by a disaster of such
vast proportions. Would you compare the disaster off the Aegatian islands, which the Carthaginians suffered in the sea-fight, by which their spirit was so broken that they relinquished Sicily and Sardinia and suffered themselves to become tax-payers and tributaries? or the defeat in Africa to which this very Hannibal afterwards succumbed? In no single aspect are they to be compared with this calamity, except that they were endured with less of fortitude.