Marcellus, thinking it was a veritable outrage for him, a man who had driven Hannibal, backed by his victory at Cannae, from Nola, to yield to these enemies whom he had himself defeated on land and sea, ordered his soldiers to take up their arms in haste and the standard-bearers to set out.
As he was drawing up his army, ten Numidians rode out of the enemy's ranks and at full speed up to him, reporting that their countrymen were aroused, first by the mutiny in which
three hundred of their number had retired to Heraclea, and then by seeing their commander sent away just on the eve of battle by generals who belittled his reputation, and that in the fight they would remain inactive.
A deceitful race kept its promise faithfully. And so the Romans' spirits rose when the message was sent swiftly through the ranks that the enemy had been deserted by his cavalry, which they had particularly dreaded;
at the same time the enemy were terrified not only because they were having no help from the largest part of their forces, but also by the fear thus aroused that they might themselves be attacked by their own cavalry.
Accordingly it was no great struggle; the first shout, the first onset, decided the matter.
The Numidians, having remained motionless on the wings at the beginning of the battle, seeing their men retreating, shared only the flight with them for a short time. When they saw them all making for [p. 501]
Agrigentum in a panic-stricken column, they1
themselves scattered in every direction to the neighbouring cities, fearing a siege. Many thousand men were slain . . . thousand captured, also eight elephants. This was Marcellus' last battle in Sicily; from it he returned as victor to Syracuse.
By this time the year was nearly at an end. Accordingly the senate at Rome decreed that Publius Cornelius, the praetor,
should send a letter to the consuls at Capua, saying that, while Hannibal was far away and there was no decisive action around Capua, one of them, if they thought it best, should come to Rome for the replacement of magistrates.
On receiving the letter the consuls arranged between them that Claudius should conduct the elections, and Fulvius remain near Capua.
For the consulship Claudius announced the election of Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus and Publius Sulpicius Galba, son of Servius, although he had previously held no curule office.
As praetors the following were then elected: Lucius Cornelius Lentulus, Marcus Cornelius Cethegus, Gaius Sulpicius, Gaius Calpurnius Piso.
The duties of the city praetor fell to Piso,2
Sicily to Sulpicius, Apulia to Cethegus, Sardinia to Lentulus. As for the consuls, their military authority was continued for one year.