While these transactions were going on in Spain, Petilia, in Bruttium, was taken by Himilco, an officer of Hannibal's, several months after the siege of it began.
This victory cost the Carthaginians much blood and many wounds, nor did any power more subdue the besieged than that of famine;
for after having consumed their means of subsistence, derived from fruits and the flesh of every kind of quadrupeds, they were at last compelled to live upon skins found in shoemakers' shops, on herbs and roots, the tender barks of trees, and berries gathered from brambles:
nor were they subdued until they wanted strength to stand upon the walls and support their arms.
After gaining Petilia, the Carthaginian marched his forces to Consentia, which being less obstinately defended, he compelled to surrender within a few days.
Nearly about the same time, an army of Bruttians invested Croton, a Greek city, formerly powerful in men and arms, but at the present time reduced so low by many and great misfortunes, that less than twenty thousand inhabitants of all ages remained.
The enemy, therefore, easily got possession of a city destitute of defenders: of the citadel alone possession was retained, into which some of the inhabitants fled from the midst of the carnage during the confusion created by the capture of the city.
The Locrians too revolted to the Bruttians and Carthaginians, the populace having been betrayed by the nobles.
The Rhegians were the only people in that quarter who continued to the last in faithful attachment to the Romans, and in the enjoyment of their independence.
The same alteration of feeling extended itself into Sicily also; and not even the family of Hiero altogether abstained from defection;
for Gelo, his eldest son, conceiving a contempt for his father's old age, and, after the defeat of Cannae, for the alliance with Rome, went over to the Carthaginians;
and he would have created a disturbance in Sicily, had he not been carried off, when engaged in arming the people and soliciting the allies, by a death so seasonable, that it threw some degree of suspicion even upon [p. 872]
Such, with various result, were the transactions in Italy, Africa, Sicily, and Spain during this year.
At the close of the year, Quintus Fabius Maximus requested of the senate, that he might be allowed to dedicate the temple of Venus Erycina, which he had vowed when dictator. The senate decreed, that Tiberius Sempronius, the consul elect, as soon as ever he had entered upon his office, should propose to the people, that they should create Quintus Fabius duumvir, for the purpose of dedicating the temple.
Also, in honour of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, who had been consul twice and augur, his three sons, Lucius, Marcus, and Quintus exhibited funeral games and twenty-two pairs of gladiators for three days in the forum.
The curule aediles, Caius Laetorius, and Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus consul elect, who during his aedileship had been master of the horse, celebrated the Roman games, which were repeated for three days.
The plebeian games of the aediles, Marcus Aurelius Cotta and Marcus Claudius Marcellus, were thrice repeated.
At the conclusion of the third year of the Punic war, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus the consul entered upon his office on the ides of March. Of the praetors, Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, who had before been consul and censor, had by lot the city jurisdiction; Marcus Valerius Laevinus, the foreign. Sicily fell to the lot of Appius Claudius Pulcher; Sardinia to Quintus Mucius Scaevola.
The people ordered that Marcus Marcellus should be in command as proconsul, because he was the only Roman general who had been successful in his operations in Italy since the defeat at Cannae.