and Marcus Atilius, the lieutenant, started to carry the standard of the first maniple of the prin- [p. 23]cipes1
of the same legion towards the cohort of2
Spaniards, and at the same time Lucius Porcius Licinus and Titus Popilius, the lieutenants in command of the camp, fought with spirit on the earthwork and slew the elephants directly on the wall, as they were trying to cross.
when the trench was filled with their bodies, it furnished the enemy with a passage, just as if an embankment or a bridge had been thrown over it.
there, all over the heap of fallen elephants, a terrible slaughter ensued. on the other side of the camp the Capuans and the Carthaginian garrison had already been repulsed, and fighting was going on just outside the gate of Capua leading toward Volturnum.3
and it was not so much the armed men that were resisting the Romans trying to burst in, as that the gate, armed with larger and smaller artillery, kept the enemy back by missiles hurled from a distance.
the attack of the Romans was further checked by the wounding of Appius Claudius, the general encouraging his men at the front, when the upper part of his chest was struck by a javelin below the left shoulder.
nevertheless a great number of the enemy were slain before the gate, and the rest driven in disorder into the city. Hannibal likewise, seeing the slaughter of the Spanish cohort, and that the enemy's camp was being defended with the utmost vigour, gave up the attack upon it and began to recall his standards and to make his advancing infantry retreat, while interposing his cavalry in the rear, to prevent the enemy from pursuing.
the legions showed great eagerness to pursue the enemy; but Flaccus ordered the recall to be sounded thinking that enough had been [p. 25]
accomplished for both purposes —that the Campanians4
should appreciate how little defence they had in Hannibal, and that Hannibal himself should be aware of it.
some of the authorities5
on this battle relate that eight thousand men were slain in Hannibal's army, three thousand in the Campanian, and that fifteen standards were taken from the Carthaginians and eighteen from the Campanians.
in other writers I have found that the battle was by no means on such a scale, but that there was more panic than fighting, when Numidians and
Spaniards with elephants had burst into the Roman camp unexpectedly, and while the elephants, on their way straight through the camp, were causing wreckage of tents in the midst of a terrible din, and making the beasts of burden break their halters and flee;
that, in addition to the uproar, there was also a ruse;
for Hannibal sent in men in Italian dress and acquainted with the Latin language, to bid the soldiers, in the name of the consuls,6
each for himself to flee to the neighbouring mountains, since the camp had been taken; but that the ruse was quickly recognized and frustrated with great loss to the enemy; that the elephants were driven out of the camp by the use of fire.
in whatever way it began and ended, this was the last battle before the surrender of Capua.
as medix tuticus,7
which is the highest office among the Campanians, Seppius Loesius was serving that year, though born in a humble station and having slender means. they say that his mother on his behalf as a minor was once expiating a household portent, and when the soothsayer had given his answer that the very highest authority at Capua would come to that
boy, she, finding nothing to [p. 27]
justify that hope, said “surely you mean the ruin8
of the Campanians, when the highest office shall come to my son.” that mockery of a true prediction also came true.
for when they were hard pressed by starvation and the sword, and there remained no hope that they could hold out, while those who were born to the expectation of public offices were refusing them, Loesius, who complained that Capua had been
abandoned and betrayed by its leading men, was the last of all the Campanians to receive their highest magistracy.