They joined battle at the entrance to the market-place with more spirit than persistence. The Tarentine was no match for the Roman in courage, in arms, in the art of war, in bodily energy and strength.
Therefore, after merely throwing their javelins, they retreated almost before they came to blows, and slipped away along the familiar streets of the city to their homes and those of friends. Two of their commanders, Nico and Democrates, fell fighting bravely.
who was the originator of the betrayal to Hannibal, had ridden away at full speed from the battle; and a little later his riderless horse was recognized wandering about [p. 275]
the city, but his body was nowhere found. It was2
generally believed that he had thrown himself from his horse into an open well.
Moreover Carthalo, commander of the Punic garrison, mentioning his father's guest-friendship,3
had laid down his arms
and was on his way to the consul, when he was slain by a soldier who met him. Other soldiers slew other men everywhere, whether armed or unarmed, Carthaginians and Tarentines alike.
Everywhere Bruttians also were slain, many of them, either by mistake or out of old, inbred hatred of them, or to blot out the report of treachery, that Tarentum might be thought to have been captured rather by force of arms. Then from the slaughter they dispersed to plunder the city.
Thirty thousand slaves are said to have been captured, an immense quantity of silver, wrought and coined, of gold three thousand and eighty pounds,4
statues and paintings, so that they almost rivalled the adornments of Syracuse.5
But Fabius showed more magnanimity in refraining from plunder of that kind than did Marcellus.
When a clerk asked what he wished to have done with statues of colossal size —they are gods in the form of warriors, but each in his own attitude —Fabius ordered that their angry gods be left to the Tarentines.6 [p. 277]
Then the wall which separated the city from7
the citadel was torn down and completely destroyed.
While these things were going on, Hannibal received the surrender of the force besieging Caulonia and, on hearing of the attack upon Tarentum, urged his column rapidly forward day and night. When informed, while hastening to bring aid, that the city had been taken, “The Romans also,” he said, “have their Hannibal; by the same art by which we had captured Tarentum we have lost it.”
Nevertheless, in order not to appear to have reversed his column as if in retreat, he pitched camp just where he had halted, about five miles from the city.
After lingering there a few days he withdrew to Metapontum.
From there he sent to Fabius at Tarentum two men of Metapontum carrying a letter from the leading men of that city and expecting to receive the consul's promise that their previous acts would go unpunished, if they should betray Metapontum and its Punic garrison.
Fabius, assuming their message to be true, appointed a day on which he would come to Metapontum, and gave them a letter addressed to the leading citizens —a letter which was delivered to Hannibal.
Pleased indeed at the success of the ruse, if even Fabius was to prove not unconquerable by trickery, Hannibal laid an ambush not far from Metapontum. When Fabius endeavoured to take the auspices before leaving Tarentum, the fowls were again and again unfavourable.8
And when with the slaughter of a victim also he consulted the gods, the soothsayer declared that he must be on his guard against a ruse of the enemy and against an [p. 279]
The men of Metapontum, when the consul10
had not come on the appointed day, were sent back to urge him if he hesitated; and being suddenly seized, in fear of a more relentless inquiry11
they revealed the plot.