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When the Campanians, in their turn, heard of the disaster which had overtaken them and their allies, they sent to Hannibal to inform him that the two consuls were at Beneventum, a day's march from Capua, and that the war had all but reached their walls and gates. If he did not come with all speed to their help Capua would fall into the hands of the enemy more rapidly than Arpi had done.  Not even Tarentum, much less its citadel, ought to be of so much importance in his eyes as to make him give up to Rome, abandoned and defenceless, the Capua which he always used to say was as great as Carthage.  Hannibal promised that he would take care of Capua, and sent a force of 2000 cavalry by whose aid they would be able to keep their fields from being devastated.  The Romans, meanwhile, amongst their other cares, had not lost sight of the citadel of Tarentum and its beleaguered garrison. P. Cornelius, one of the praetors, had, acting on the instructions of the senate, sent his lieutenant, C. Servilius, to purchase corn in Etruria, and after loading some ships sailed to Tarentum and made his way through the enemies' guard ships into the harbour.  His arrival produced such a change that the very men who, having lost almost all hope, had been frequently invited by the enemy in their colloquies with them to go over to them, now actually invited and tried to persuade the enemy to come over to them. Soldiers, too, had been sent from Metapontum, so the garrison was now strong enough for the defence of the citadel.  The Metapontines, on the other hand, relieved from their fears by the departure of the Romans, promptly went over to Hannibal.  The people of Thurii, on the same part of the coast, took the same step. Their action was due in some measure to the defection of Tarentum and Metapontum, but it was due quite as much to their feeling of exasperation against the Romans at the recent massacre of their hostages.  It was the relations and friends of these who sent messengers with despatches to Hannibal and Mago, who were in the neighbourhood, promising to put the city in their power if they would march up to the walls.  M. Atinius was in command at Thurii with a small garrison, and they thought that he would easily be drawn into a precipitate engagement, not because he trusted to his own small garrison, but because he relied upon the soldiery of Thurii, whom he had carefully drilled and armed against such an emergency.  After the Carthaginian generals had entered the country of Thurii they divided their forces: Hanno proceeded with the infantry in battle order up to the city; Mago and his cavalry halted and took up a position behind some hills admirably adapted for concealing his movements.  Atinius understood from his scouts that the hostile force consisted entirely of infantry, accordingly he went into battle quite unaware of the treachery of the citizens or the maneuver of the enemy.  The contest was a very spiritless one, only a few Romans were in the fighting line, and the Thurians were awaiting the issue rather than helping to decide it. The Carthaginian line purposely fell back in order to draw their unsuspecting enemy behind the hill where the cavalry were waiting. No sooner had they reached the place than the cavalry dashed forward with their battle cry.  The Thurians, an ill-disciplined crowd, disloyal to the side on which they fought, were at once put to flight; the Romans kept up the fight for some time in spite of their being attacked on one side by the infantry and on the other by the cavalry, but at last they, too, turned and fled to the city.  There a body of the traitors admitted the stream of their fellow townsmen through the open gate, but when they saw the Romans routed and [15??] running towards the city they shouted that the Carthaginians were at their heels and the enemy would enter the city pell mell with the Romans unless they instantly closed the gates. The Romans accordingly were shut out for slaughter by the enemy, Atinius and a few others being alone allowed to enter.  A heated discussion thereupon arose amongst the townsmen; some were for maintaining their loyalty to Rome, others thought they ought to yield to fate and surrender the city to the victors.  As usual, evil counsels and the desire to be on the winning side carried the day. Atinius and his men were conducted down to the sea and placed on board ship, not because they were Romans, but because, after Atinius' mild and impartial administration, they wished to provide for his safety. Then the Carthaginians were admitted into the city.  The consuls left Beneventum and marched their legions into the territory of Capua, partly to destroy the crops of corn which were now in the blade, and partly with the view of making an attack upon the city.  They thought that they would make their consulship illustrious by the destruction of so wealthy and prosperous a city and at the same time they would wipe out a great stain from the republic which had allowed the defection of so close a neighbour to go for three years unpunished. They could not, however, leave Beneventum unguarded.  If, as they felt certain would be the case, Hannibal came to Capua to help his friends, it would be necessary, in view of the sudden emergency, to provide against the attacks of his cavalry. They sent orders, therefore, to Tiberius Gracchus, who was in Lucania, to come to Beneventum with his cavalry and light infantry, and to leave some one in command of the legions in the standing camp who were protecting Lucania.
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