but the Romans' persistence in pressing the siege of Capua was not matched by that of Hannibal in defending it.
for through Samnium and Apulia and Lucania he hastened into the Bruttian region, to the strait and Regium, at such a pace as almost to overwhelm them unawares by arriving suddenly.
Capua, although during that time it had been besieged with no less spirit, nevertheless was aware of the coming of Flaccus, and began to wonder that Hannibal had not returned at the same time.
then by conversing with the enemy they learned that they had been deserted and abandoned, and that the hope of retaining Capua had been given up by the Carthaginians.
there was also an edict of the proconsuls, posted and published among the enemy in accordance with a decree of the senate, that any Capuan citizen who changed sides before a certain date should suffer no penalty.
and yet there was no changing of sides, for fear restrained them more than honour, because in their revolt they had committed offences too serious to be pardoned. but just as no one of his own motion went over to the enemy, so they made no promising plans for the common interest.
the nobility had deserted the state and could not be brought together in the senate.
in the office of magistrate was a man who had not gained additional honour for himself, but by his own unworthiness had [p. 45]
taken away power and authority from the office which1
he was holding.2
no longer did any one of the foremost citizens show himself even in the forum or any public place.
shut up in their houses they were awaiting from day to day the fall of their native city and their own destruction.
the chief responsibility had fallen wholly to Bostar and Hanno, commanders of the Carthaginian garrison, and they were concerned only for their own danger, not that of their allies.
they wrote a letter to Hannibal in terms not only outspoken, but also bitter, in which they charged that it was not Capua alone that had been delivered into the hands of the enemy, but that they themselves also and the garrison had been abandoned to every kind of torture; that he had gone away to the land of the Bruttii, as though turning his back so that Capua should not be captured before his eyes.
but assuredly, they said, the Romans could not be drawn away from besieging Capua even by an assault upon the city of Rome; so much more steadfast was the Roman as an enemy than the Carthaginian as a friend.
if he should return to Capua and there concentrate the whole war, they and the Capuans likewise would be ready for a sally.
it was not to wage war with the people of Regium and Tarentum that they had crossed the Alps. where the Roman legions were, there ought the Carthaginian armies also to be. Thus at Cannae, thus at Trasumennus, by coming to grips and pitching camp near the enemy, by trying their luck they had met with success.
a letter to this effect was given to Numidians who with a reward set before them promised to perform that service. posing as deserters they had come before Flaccus in his camp, with the [p. 47]
intention of choosing the right moment and then3
departing —and the famine which had lasted so long at Capua gave every man a plausible reason for deserting —when
suddenly a Campanian woman, mistress of one of the deserters, came into the camp and informed the Roman general that the Numidians by agreement had pretended to change sides and were bearing a letter to Hannibal: that she was prepared to prove that charge against one of their number who had revealed the matter to her.
on being produced, he at first quite firmly pretended that he did not know the woman. then by degrees he was overpowered by the facts, and seeing that they were demanding and preparing torture, he admitted that it was true, and the letter was produced.
she added to her information what they were trying to conceal, namely, that other Numidians also were abroad in the Roman camp playing the part of deserters.
over seventy of them were arrested, and together with the new deserters they were scourged with rods, and after their hands had been cut off4
they were sent back to Capua.