ON his return from Campania into Bruttium, Hanno, with the assistance and under the guidance of the Bruttians, made an attempt upon the Greek cities; which were the more disposed to continue in alliance with the Romans, because they perceived that the Bruttians, whom they feared and hated, had taken part with the Carthaginians.
The first place attempted was Rhegium, where several days were spent without effect. Meanwhile the Locrians hastily conveyed from the country into the city, corn, wood, and other things necessary for their use, as also that no booty might be left for the enemy.
The number of persons which poured out of every gate increased daily, till at length those only were left in the city whose duty it was to repair the walls and gates, and to collect weapons in the fortresses.
Against this mixed multitude, composed of persons of all ages and ranks, while rambling through the country, and for the most part unarmed, Hamilcar, the Carthaginian, sent out his cavalry, who, having been forbidden to hurt any one, only interposed their squadrons, so as to cut them off from the city when dispersed in flight.
The general himself, having posted himself upon an eminence which commanded a view of the country and the city, ordered a cohort of Bruttians to approach the walls, call out [p. 897]
the leaders of the Locrians to a conference, and promising them the friendship of Hannibal, exhort them to deliver up the city.
At first the Bruttians were not believed in any thing they stated in the conference, but afterwards, when the Carthaginian appeared on the hills, and a few who had fled back to the city brought intelligence that all the rest of the multitude were in the power of the enemy, overcome with fear, they said they would consult the people.
An assembly of the people was immediately called, when, as all the most fickle of the inhabitants were desirous of a change of measures and a new alliance, and those whose friends were cut off by the enemy without the city, had their minds bound as if they had
given hostages, while a few rather silently approved of a constant fidelity than ventured to support the opinion they approved, the city was surrendered to the Carthaginians, with an appearance of perfect unanimity.
Lucius Atilius, the captain of the garrison, together with the Roman soldiers who were with him, having been privately led down to the port, and put on board a ship, that they might be conveyed to Rhegium, Hamilcar and the Carthaginians were received into the city on condition that an alliance should be formed on equal terms;
which condition, when they had surrendered, the Carthaginian had very nearly not performed, as he accused them of having sent away the Roman fraudulently, while the Locrians alleged that he had spontaneously fled.
A body of cavalry went in pursuit of the fugitives, in case the tide might happen to detain them in the strait, or might carry the ships to land. The persons whom they were in pursuit of they did not overtake, but they descried some ships passing over the strait from Messana to Rhegium.
These contained Roman troops sent by the praetor, Claudius, to occupy the city with a garrison. The enemy therefore immediately retired from Rhegium.
At the command of Hannibal, peace was concluded with the Locrians on these terms: that “they should live free under their own laws; that the city should be open to the Carthaginians, the harbour in the power of the Locrians. That their alliance should rest on the principle, that the Carthaginian should help the Locrian and the Locrian the Carthaginian in peace and war.”