This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Hannibal's principal cause of anxiety was the effect produced by the fall of Capua. It was generally felt that the Romans had shown greater determination in attacking than he had in defending the place, and this alienated many of the Italian communities from him.  He could not occupy them all with garrisons unless he was prepared to weaken his army by detaching numerous small units from it; a course at that time highly inexpedient.  On the other hand he did not dare to withdraw any of his garrisons and so leave the loyalty of his allies to depend upon their hopes and fears.  His temperament, prone as it was to rapacity and cruelty, led him to plunder the places which he was unable to defend, in order that they might be left to the enemy waste and barren.  This evil policy had evil results for him, for it aroused horror and loathing not only amongst the actual sufferers but amongst all who heard of them. The Roman consul was not slow in sounding the feelings of those cities where any hope of recovering them had shown itself. Amongst these was the city of Salapia.  Two of its most prominent citizens were Dasius and Blattius. Dasius was friendly to Hannibal; Blattius favoured the interests of Rome as far as he safely could, and had sent secret messages to Marcellus holding out hopes that the city might be surrendered.  But the thing could not be carried through without the help of Dasius. For a long time he hesitated, but at last he addressed himself to Dasius, not so much in the hope of success as because no better plan presented itself.  Dasius was opposed to the project, and by way of injuring his political rival disclosed the affair to Hannibal. Hannibal summoned them both before his tribunal.  When they appeared, he was occupied with business, intending to go into their case as soon as he was at liberty, and the two men, accuser and accused, stood waiting, apart from the crowd. Whilst thus waiting Blattius approached Dasius on the subject of the surrender. At this open and barefaced conduct, Dasius called out that the surrender of the city was being mooted under the very eyes of Hannibal.  Hannibal and those round him felt that the very audacity of the thing made the charge improbable, and regarded it as due to spite and jealousy, since it was easy to invent such an accusation in the absence of witnesses.  They were accordingly dismissed. Blattius, however, did not desist from his venturesome project. He was perpetually urging the matter and showing what a beneficial thing it would be for them both and for their city.  At last he succeeded in effecting the surrender of the city with its garrison of 5000 Numidians. But the surrender could only be effected with a heavy loss of life. The garrison were by far the finest cavalry in the Carthaginian army, and although they were taken by surprise and could make no use of their horses in the city, they seized their arms in the confusion and attempted to cut their way out.  When they found escape impossible they fought to the last man. Not more than fifty fell into the hands of the enemy alive.  The loss of this troop of horse was a heavier blow to Hannibal than the loss of Salapia; never from that time was the Carthaginian superior in cavalry, hitherto by far his most efficient arm.
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.