Hannibal crosses over from the Hirpini into Samnium; lays waste the territory of Beneventum; takes the town of Telesia; and purposely irritates the dictator, if perchance he could draw him down to a battle on the plain, exasperated by so many indignities and disasters inflicted on his allies.
Among the multitude of allies of Italian extraction, who had been captured by Hannibal at the Trasimenus, and dismissed, were three Campanian horsemen, who had even at that time been bribed by many presents and promises from Hannibal to win over the affections of their countrymen to him.
These, bringing him word that he would have an opportunity of getting possession of Capua, if he brought his army into the neighbourhood in Campania, induced Hannibal to quit Samnium for Campania; though he hesitated, fluctuating between confidence and distrust, as the affair was of more importance than the authorities.
He dismissed them, repeatedly charging them to confirm their promises by acts, and ordering them to return with a greater number, and some of their leading men.
Hannibal himself orders his guide to conduct him into the territory of Casinum, being certified by persons acquainted with the country, that if he seized that pass he would deprive the Romans of a passage by which they might get out to the assistance of their allies.
But his Punic accent, ill adapted to the pronunciation of Latin names, caused the guide to understand Casilinum, instead of Casinum; and leaving his former course, he descends through the territory of Allifae, Calatia, and Cales, into the plain of Stella, where, seeing the country enclosed on all sides by mountains
and rivers, he calls the guide to him, and asks him where in the world he was?
when he replied, that on that day he would lodge at Casilinum: then at length the error was discovered, and that Casinum lay at a great distance in another direction.
Having scourged the guide with rods and crucified him, in order to strike terror into all others, he fortified a camp, and sent Maharbal with the cavalry into the Falernian territory to pillage. This depredation reached as far as the waters of Sinuessa; the Numidians caused destruction to a vast extent, but flight and consternation through a still wider space.
Yet not even the terror of these things, when all around was consuming in the flames of war, could shake the fidelity of the allies;
for this manifest reason, because they lived under a temperate and mild government: nor were they unwilling to submit to those who were superior to them, which is the only bond of fidelity.