The wall of the city of Croto in circuit extended through a space of twelve miles, before the arrival of Pyrrhus in Italy.
After the devastation occasioned by that war, scarcely half the city was inhabited. The river which had flowed through the middle of the town, now ran on the outside of the parts which were occupied by buildings, and the citadel was at a distance from the inhabited parts.
Six miles from this celebrated city stood the temple of Juno Lacinia, more celebrated even than the city itself, and venerated by all the surrounding states.
Here was a grove fenced with a dense wood and tall fir trees, with rich pastures in its centre, in which cattle of every kind, sacred to the goddess, fed without any keeper;
the flocks of every kind going out separately and returning to their folds, never being injured, either from the lying in wait of wild beasts, or the dishonesty of men.
These flocks were, therefore, a source of great revenue, from which a column of solid gold was formed and consecrated; and the temple became distinguished for its wealth also, and not only for its sanctity.
Some miracles are attributed to it, as is generally the case with regard to such remarkable places. Rumour says that there is an altar in the vestibule of the temple, the ashes of which are never moved by any wind.
But the citadel of Croto, overhanging the sea on one side, on the other, which looks towards the land, was protected formerly by its natural situation only, but was afterwards surrounded by a wall.
It was in this part that Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, took it by stratagem, approaching by way of some rocks which faced from it. This citadel, which was considered sufficiently secure, was now occupied by the nobles of Croto, the
Bruttians, in conjunction even with their own commons, besieging them.
The Bruttians, however, perceiving at length that it was impossible to take the citadel by their own efforts, compelled by necessity, implored the aid of Hanno. He endeavoured to bring the Crotonians to surrender, under an agreement that they should allow a colony of Bruttians to [p. 900]
so that their city, desolate and depopulated by wars, might recover its former populousness: but not a man besides Aristomachus did he move;
they affirmed, that “they would die sooner than, mixing with Bruttians, be turned to the rites, manners, and laws, and soon the language also of others.”
Aristomachus alone, since he was neither able to persuade them to surrender, nor could obtain an opportunity for betraying the citadel as he had betrayed the city, deserted to Hanno.
A short time afterwards ambassadors of Locri, entering the citadel with the permission of Hanno, persuaded them to allow themselves to be removed to Locri, and not resolve to hazard extremities. They had already obtained leave from Hannibal to do this, by ambassadors sent for this purpose.
Accordingly, Croto was evacuated, and the inhabitants were conducted to the sea, where they embarked; and the whole multitude removed to Locri. In Apulia, Hannibal and the Romans did not rest even during the winter.
The consul Sempronius wintered at Luceria, Hannibal not far from Arpi. Slight engagements took place between them, accordingly as either side had an opportunity or advantage; by which the Roman soldiery were improved, and became daily more guarded and more secure against stratagems.