Then followed a scene of indescribable fury and madness such as the Mænads are said to enact in the Bacchic mysteries. Some fell upon those senators who had advised giving the hostages and tore them in pieces, considering them the ones who had led them into the trap. Others treated in a similar way those who had favored giving up the arms. Some stoned the ambassadors for bringing the bad news and others dragged them through the city. Still others, meeting certain Italians, who were caught among them in this sudden and unexpected mischance, maltreated them in various ways, saying that they would make them suffer for the fraud practised upon them in the matter of the hostages and the arms. The city was full of wailing and wrath, of fear and threatenings. People roamed the streets invoking whatever was most dear to them and took refuge in the temples as in asylums. They upbraided their gods for not being able to defend themselves. Some went into the arsenals and wept when they found them empty. Others ran to the dockyards and bewailed the ships that had been surrendered to perfidious men. Some called their elephants by name, as though they had been present, and reviled their own ancestors and themselves for not perishing, sword in hand, with their country, instead of paying tribute and giving up their elephants, their ships, and their arms. Most of all was their anger kindled by the mothers of the hostages who, like Furies in a tragedy, accosted those whom they met with shrieks and accused them of giving away their children against their protest, or mocked at them, saying that the gods were now taking vengeance on them for the lost children. A few kept their wits about them, closed the gates, and brought stones upon the walls to be used in place of catapults.
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THE PUNIC WARS
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