Hannibal, thinking that great terror had been inspired in the enemy by the death of one consul and the wounding of the other, not to miss any opportunity, at once removed his camp to the hill on which they had fought.
There Marcellus' body was found and buried.1
Crispinus, alarmed both by the death of his colleague and by his own wound, set out in the silence of the following night and in the first mountains which he reached pitched camp on a high place that was also safe on every side.
There the two generals set their wits to work, the one to employ, the other to guard against, a ruse.
had come into the hands of Hannibal along with the body. Fearing some trickery might be contrived by the Carthaginian through a fraudulent use of that seal, Crispinus had sent word around to the nearest city-states that his colleague had been slain and the enemy was in possession of his ring; [p. 325]
that they should not trust any letters written in the3
name of Marcellus.
This message of the consul had come to Salapia4
a little before a letter from Hannibal written in Marcellus' name arrived, saying that he would come to Salapia in the night following that day; that the soldiers on garrison duty should be ready, in case he should have any need of their services.
The men of Salapia were aware of the deception, and thinking that Hannibal, out of anger not only because of their revolt, but also for the slaughter of his cavalry, was seeking an excuse for punishing them, they sent back the messenger —he
was, in fact, a Roman deserter —that the soldiers might do what they wished unobserved. And they posted men of the town along the walls and at favourable positions in the city in detachments on guard duty.
For that night they established guard-lines and sentries with more than usual care. Around the gate by which they thought the enemy would come they drew up the best men in the garrison. Hannibal approached the city about the fourth watch.
At the head of the column were the Roman deserters, and they had Roman arms. When they came up to the gate, all of them, speaking Latin, called out to the sentinels and bade them open the gate.
The consul, they said, was coming. The sentries, pretending to have been awakened by their outcry, were in a turmoil, excited and labouring to open the gate. The portcullis5
had been closed. Some raised it with levers, some hoisted it with ropes, just high enough for men to pass [p. 327]
under it upright.
Hardly had the way been quite6
cleared, when the deserters vied with each other in dashing through the gate. And when about six hundred had entered and the rope by which it was held up had been let go, the portcullis fell with a great crash.
Some of the Salapians attacked the deserters, who fresh from their march were carrying arms carelessly slung from their shoulders, as if among peaceable people; others from towers of the gate and from the walls frightened off the enemy with stones, poles and javelins.
Thus Hannibal, having been ensnared by his own ruse, went away; and he set out to raise the siege of Locri, a city which Lucius Cincius was besieging with great violence by means of siege-works and with every sort of artillery brought from Sicily.
who no longer was confident that he would hold and defend the city, the first ray of hope came with the news of Marcellus' death.
Then followed the news that Hannibal had sent the Numidian cavalry in advance and was himself following with the infantry column, making all possible speed.
Accordingly, as soon as Mago knew from signals given from watch-towers that the Numidians were approaching, he also suddenly opens a gate and sallies out confidently against the enemy. And at first it was a doubtful conflict, rather because his action had been unexpected than because he was a match in forces.
Then when the Numidians came up, such terror was inspired among the Romans that they fled pell-mell to the sea and the ships, leaving siege-works and engines with which they were battering the walls. Thus by Hannibal's coming the siege of Locri was raised. [p. 329]