Another war soon after arose with the Greeks of the other coast.
For the Tarentines having, for a considerable time, buoyed up the state of Palaepolis with delusive hopes of assistance, when they understood that the Romans had gotten possession of that city, as if they were the persons who had suffered the disappointment, and not the authors of it, they inveighed against the Palaepolitans, and became furious in their anger and malice towards the Romans; on this account also, because information was brought that the Lucanians and Apulians had submitted to the Roman people; for a treaty of [p. 540]
alliance had been this year concluded with both these nations.
“The business,” they observed, “was now brought almost to their doors;
and that the matter would soon come to this, that the Romans must either be dealt with as enemies, or received as masters: that, in fact, their interests were involved in the war of the Samnites, and in its issue.
That that was the only nation which continued to make opposition; and that with power very inadequate, since the Lucanians left them: these however might yet be brought back, and induced to renounce the Roman alliance, if proper skill were used in sowing dissension between them.”
These reasonings being readily adopted, by people who wished for a change, some young Lucanians of considerable note among their countrymen, but devoid of honour, were procured for money;
these having lacerated each other's persons with stripes, after they had come naked into a public meeting of their countrymen, exclaimed that, because they had ventured to go into the Roman camp, they had been thus beaten with rods, by order of the consul, and had hardly escaped the loss of their heads.
A circumstance, so shocking in its nature, carrying strong proofs of the ill-treatment, none of artifice, the people were so irritated, that, by their clamours, they compelled the magistrates to call together the senate; and some standing round that assembly, insisted on a declaration of war against the Romans, others ran different ways to rouse to arms the multitude residing in the country.
Thus the tumult hurrying into imprudence the minds even of rational men, a decree was passed, that the alliance with the Samnites should be renewed, and ambassadors sent for that purpose.
Because this so sudden a proceeding was totally devoid of any obvious cause for its adoption, and consequently was little relied on for its sincerity; they were, however, obliged both to give hostages, and also to receive garrisons into their fortified places; and they, blinded by fraud and resentment, refused no terms.
In a little time after, on the authors of the false charges removing to Tarentum, the whole imposition came to light. But as they had given all power out of their own hands, nothing was left them but unavailing repentance.