This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
However, when the mild weather came, Hannibal led his army out of their winter quarters and marched back to Casilinum.  Although the assault had been suspended, the uninterrupted investment had reduced the townsfolk and the garrison to the extremity of want.  Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was in command of the Roman camp, as the Dictator had to leave for Rome to take the auspices afresh.  Marcellus was equally anxious to assist the besieged garrison, but he was detained by the Vulturnus being in flood, and also by the entreaties of the people of Nola and Acerrae who feared the Campanians in case the Romans withdrew their protection.  Gracchus simply watched Casilinum, for the Dictator had given strict orders that no active operations should be undertaken in his absence. He therefore kept quiet, though the reports from Casilinum might easily have been too much for any man's patience.  It was stated as a fact that some, unable to endure starvation any longer, had flung themselves from the walls, others had stood there unarmed and exposed their defenceless bodies to the missiles of the enemy.  These tidings sorely tried his patience, for he durst not fight against the Dictator's orders, and he saw that he would have to fight if he were seen getting corn into the place, and there was no chance of getting it in without being seen.  He gathered in a supply of corn from all the fields round and filled a number of casks with it, and then sent a messenger to the chief magistrate at Casilinum asking him to pick up the casks which the river carried down.  The next night, while all were intently watching the river, after their hopes had been raised by the Roman messenger, the casks floated down in the middle of the stream; and the corn was divided in equal shares amongst them all.  The same thing happened on the two following days; they were sent off by night and reached their destination; so far they had escaped the notice of the enemy.  Then, owing to the perpetual rain, the river became more rapid than usual and the cross currents carried the casks to the bank which the enemy were guarding.  They caught sight of them as they stuck amongst the osier beds which grew on the bank and a report was made to Hannibal in consequence of which greater caution was observed and a closer watch was kept, so that nothing could be sent by the Vulturnus to the city without being detected.  Nuts, however, were scattered on the river from the Roman camp; these floated down the mid-stream and were caught in baskets. At last things came to such a pitch that the inhabitants tried to chew the leather straps and hides which they tore from their shields, after softening them in boiling water, nor did they refuse mice and other animals; they even dug up from the bottom of their walls grass and roots of all sorts.  When the enemy had ploughed up all the grass outside the walls they sowed it with rape, which made Hannibal exclaim: "Am I to sit here before Casilinum until these seeds have grown?"  and whereas he had never allowed any terms of surrender to be mentioned in his hearing, he now consented to proposals for the ransom of all the freeborn citizens. The price agreed upon was seven ounces of gold for each person.  When their liberty was guaranteed they surrendered, but were kept in custody till all the gold was paid, then in strict observance of the terms they were released.  This is much more likely to be true than that after they had left cavalry were sent after them and put them all to death. The great majority were Praenestines. Out of the 570 who formed the garrison not less than half had perished by sword and famine, the rest returned in safety to Praeneste with their commanding officer, M. Anicius, who had formerly been a notary.  To commemorate the event his statue was set up in the forum of Praeneste, wearing a coat of mail with a toga over it and having the head veiled. A bronze plate was affixed with this inscription: "Marcus Anicius has discharged the vow he made for the safety of the garrison of Casilinum." The same inscription was affixed to the three images standing in the temple of Fortune.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.