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During these proceedings at Beneventum, Hannibal, after ravaging the Neapolitan territory, shifted his camp to Nola.  As soon as the consul became aware of his approach he sent for Pomponius, the propraetor, to join him with the army which was in camp above Suessula, and prepared to meet the enemy without delay.  He sent C. Claudius Nero with the best of the cavalry out through the camp gate which was furthest from the enemy, in the dead of night, with instructions to ride round to the rear of the enemy without being observed and follow him slowly, and when he saw the battle begin, throw himself across his rear.  Nero was unable to follow out his instructions, whether because he lost his way or because he had not sufficient time is uncertain. The battle commenced in his absence and the Romans undoubtedly had the advantage, but owing to the cavalry not making their appearance in time the general's plans were all upset.  Marcellus did not venture to pursue the retreating Carthaginians, and gave the signal for retreat though his soldiers were actually conquering.  It is asserted that more than 2000 of the enemy were killed that day, whilst the Romans lost less than 400. About sunset Nero returned with his horses and men tired out to no purpose and without having even seen the enemy.  He was severely censured by the consul who even went so far as to say that it was entirely his fault that they had not inflicted on the enemy in his turn a defeat as crushing as the one at Cannae.  The next day the Romans marched into the field, but the Carthaginian remained in camp, thereby tacitly admitting that he was vanquished. The following day he gave up all hope of gaining possession of Nola, his attempts having been always foiled, and proceeded to Tarentum, where he had better hopes of securing the place through treachery.
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