was followed almost immediately by a war with the Greeks on the eastern coast.
The Tarentines had encouraged the people of Palaeopolis through their long resistance with vain hopes of succour, and when they heard that the Romans had got possession of the place they severely blamed the Palaeopolitans for leaving them in the lurch, as though they were quite guiltless of having behaved in a similar manner themselves.
They were furious with the Romans, especially after they found that the Lucanians and Apulians had established friendly relations with them —for it was in this year that the alliance had been formed —and they realised that they would be the next to be involved.
They saw that it must soon become a question of either fighting Rome or submitting to her, and that their whole future in fact depended upon the result of the Samnite war. That nation stood out alone, and even their strength was inadequate for the struggle, now that the Lucanians had abandoned them.
They believed, however, that these could still be brought back and induced to desert the Roman alliance, if sufficient skill were shown in sowing the seeds of discord between them.
These arguments found general acceptance among a people who were fickle and restless, and some young Lucanians, distinguished for their unscrupulousness rather than for their sense of honour, were bribed to make themselves tools of the war party.
After scourging one another with rods they presented themselves with their backs exposed, in the popular Assembly, and loudly complained that after they had ventured inside the Roman camp, they had been scourged by the consul's orders and were within an ace of losing their heads.
The affair had an ugly look, and the visible evidence removed any suspicion of fraud. The Assembly became greatly excited, and amidst loud shouts insisted upon the magistrates convening the senate.
When it assembled the senators were surrounded by a crowd of spectators who clamoured for war with Rome, whilst others went off into the country to rouse the peasantry to arms. Even the coolest heads were carried away by the tumult of popular feeling; a decree was passed that a fresh alliance should be made with the Samnites, and negotiations were opened with them accordingly.
The Samnites did not feel much confidence in this sudden and apparently groundless change of policy, and the Lucanians were obliged to give hostages and allow the Samnites to garrison their fortified places. Blinded by the imposition that had been practised on them and by their furious resentment at it, they made no difficulty about accepting these terms.
Shortly afterwards, when the authors of the false charges had removed to Tarentum, they began to see how they had been hoodwinked, but it was then too late, events were no longer in their power, and nothing remained but unavailing repentance.