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Rome Saved by Luck

On this being known at Rome, the utmost confusion
Terror at Rome.
and terror prevailed among the inhabitants,— this movement of Hannibal's being as unexpected as it was sudden; for he had never been so close to the city before. At the same time their alarm was increased by the idea at once occurring to them, that he would not have ventured so near, if it were not that the armies at Capua were destroyed. Accordingly, the men at once went to line the walls, and the points of vantage in the defences of the town; while the women went round to the temples of the gods and implored their protection, sweeping the pavements of the temples with their hair: for this is their customary way of behaving when any serious danger comes upon their country. But just as Hannibal had encamped, and was intending to attempt the city itself next day, an extraordinary coincidence occurred which proved fortunate for the preservation of Rome.

For Gnaeus Fulvius and Publius Sulpicius, having already

The Consular levies fortunately being at Rome enable the Romans to make a counter-demonstration
enrolled one consular army, had bound the men with the usual oath to appear at Rome armed on that very day; and were also engaged on that day in drawing out the lists and testing the men for the other army:1 whereby it so happened that a large number of men had been collected in Rome spontaneously in the very nick of time. These troops the Consuls boldly led outside the walls, and, entrenching themselves there, checked Hannibal's intended movement. For the Carthaginians were at first eager to advance, and were not altogether without hope that they would be able to take Rome itself by assault.
Hannibal devastates the Campagna.
But when they saw the enemy drawn up in order, and learnt before long from a prisoner what had happened, they abandoned the idea of attacking the city, and began devasting the country-side instead, and setting fire to the houses. In these first raids they collected an innumerable amount of booty, for the field of plunder upon which they were entered was one into which no one had ever expected an enemy to set foot.

1 Or "legion," according to others. But as both Consuls are engaged in the business, it seems reasonable to refer it to the two consular armies of two legions each.

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