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Whilst all men's minds were turned to the Macedonian war, rumours suddenly arose of an outbreak of the Gauls, the last thing that was apprehended.  The Insubres and Cenomani in conjunction with the Boii, who had induced the Celines and Ilvates and the other Ligurian tribes to join them, had taken up arms under Hamilcar, a Carthaginian general, who had held a command in Hasdrubal's army and had remained in the country.  They had stormed and sacked Placentia and in their blind rage had destroyed most of the city by fire, hardly 2000 men being left amid the smoking ruins. Thence, crossing the Po, they advanced with the intention of sacking Cremona.  Hearing of the disaster which had overtaken their neighbours the townsmen had time to close their gates and man their walls so that they might, at all events, be able to stand a siege and send a message to the Roman praetor before the final assault.  I,. Furius Purpureo was in charge of that province at the time, and acting under the resolution of the senate had disbanded his army, retaining only 5000 from the Latin and allied contingents. With this force he was encamped in the neighbourhood of Ariminum.  In a despatch to the senate he described the serious condition of his province; of the two military colonies which had weathered the terrible storm of the Punic War one was taken and destroyed by the enemy and the other was being attacked.  His own army could not render assistance to the colonists in their distress unless he was willing to expose his 5000 allied troops to be massacred by the 40,000 of the enemy-that number was under arms-and by incurring such a fatal disaster himself raise the courage of the enemy who were exulting over the destruction of a Roman colony.
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