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The following day Hannibal crossed the Anio and led out the whole of his force to battle; Flaccus and the consuls did not decline the challenge.  When both sides were drawn up to decide an action in which Rome was the victor's prize, a tremendous hailstorm threw the two armies into such disorder that they had difficulty in holding their arms. They retired to their respective camps, fearing everything rather than their enemy. The following day, when the armies were drawn up in the same position, a similar storm separated them.  On each occasion, after they were once more in camp, the weather cleared up in an extraordinary way.  The Carthaginians looked upon the occasion as preternatural, and the story runs that Hannibal was heard to say that at one time he lacked the will, at another the opportunity, of becoming master of Rome. His hopes were further damped by two incidents, one of some importance, the other less so.  The more important was his receiving information that while he was actually in arms near the walls of Rome a force had marched out fully equipped, under their standards, to reinforce the army in Spain.  The other incident, which he learnt from a prisoner, was the sale by auction of the spot on which he had fixed his camp, and the fact that, in spite of his occupation of it, there was no abatement in the price.  That any one should have been found in Rome to buy the ground which he was holding in possession as spoil of war, seemed to Hannibal such an insulting piece of arrogance that he instantly summoned a crier and made him give notice of the sale of the silversmiths' shops round the Forum of Rome.  These incidents led to his withdrawal from Rome, and he retired as far as the river Tutia, six miles distant from the City. From there he marched to the grove of Feronia and the temple, which was celebrated in those days for its wealth.  The people of Capena and other cities round used to bring their first-fruits and other offerings, according to their ability, and they had also embellished it with a considerable quantity of gold and silver. Now the temple was despoiled of all its treasures. Great heaps of metal, where the soldiers, struck by remorse, had thrown pieces of uncoined brass, were found there after Hannibal's departure.  All writers are agreed as to the plundering of this temple. Coelius tell us that Hannibal diverted his march to it while he was going from Eretum to Rome, after marching from Amiternum by Reate and Cutiliae.  According to this writer, on leaving Capua, Hannibal entered Samnium, and from there passed to the Peligni; then, marching past the town of Sulmo, he crossed the frontiers of the Marrucini and then advanced through the Alban territory to the country of the Marsi, and from there to Amiternum and the hamlet of Foruli.  There can be no uncertainty as to the route he took, for the traces of that great commander and his large army could not have been lost in so short a space of time;  the only point at issue is whether that was the route he took when he marched to Rome or whether he followed it on his return to Campania.
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