this war was immediately followed by the outbreak of another, with the Greeks of the eastern coast.
for the Tarentines, after sustaining the people of Palaepolis for some time with delusive hopes of succour, when they learned that the Romans had got possession of the city, inveighed against the Palaepolitans, as though, instead of deserting them, they themselves had been deserted, and were raging with hatred and envy against the Romans: the more so, because they learnt that the Lucanians and Apulians had made their submission to the Roman People —for an alliance was formed that year with both these nations.
The Romans, they said, were almost at the gates of Tarentum, and matters would soon be come to such a pass, that they must needs have them for enemies or masters;
it was clear that their own future hinged on the outcome of the war then being waged by the Samnites;
this was the only nation that continued to hold out, and indeed that nation was none too strong since the defection [p. 107]
of the Lucanians; but the latter might even yet be1
brought back and induced to repudiate the Roman alliance, if a little art were employed in sowing discord.
These counsels having prevailed —for they were eager to fall in with novel schemes —they
bribed certain young Lucanians, of greater prominence among their countrymen than respectability, who lacerated one another with rods and then exhibited their naked bodies before a concourse of their fellow citizens, crying out that for having dared to enter the Roman camp they had been ordered by the consuls to be scourged, and had narrowly escaped losing their heads.
this spectacle, so hideous in itself, pointed clearly to injury and not to guile. in an uproar of excitement, the people obliged their magistrates to convoke the senate.
at the meeting some crowded round and clamoured for war against the Romans, while others hurriedly departed this way and that, to rouse the inhabitants of the countryside to arms, till even the prudent lost their heads in the tumult, and it was voted to renew the alliance with the Samnites; and ambassadors were sent off to arrange it.
this impulsive action, as it had no cause, so it carried no conviction; they were forced by the Samnites both to give hostages and also to admit garrisons within their strongholds; but, blinded by the cheat and by resentment, they stuck at nothing.
a little later, when the false witnesses had retired to Tarentum, they began to see through the imposition; but having lost all power of independent action, they could only indulge in vain regrets.