At the same time that the consuls retired from Casilinum, their object having been accomplished, Gracchus, who was in Lucania, sent, under a praefect of the allies, some cohorts which he had levied in that country to ravage the lands of the enemy.
These, as they were straggling in a careless manner, Hanno surprising, retorted upon his enemy a defeat not much less disastrous than he had himself received at Beneventum, and then hastily retired to the territory of the Bruttians, lest Gracchus should overtake him.
Of the consuls, Marcellus returned to Nola, whence he had come, Fabius proceeded to Samnium to waste the lands, and recover by force the cities which had revolted.
The Samnites of Caudium suffered the severest devastation; their fields were laid waste by fire for a wide extent, and both men and cattle were conveyed away as booty.
The towns of Compulteria, Telesia, Compsa, Melae, Fulfulae, and Orbitanium, were taken by storm.
Blandae, belonging to the Lucanians, and $Aecae to the Apulians, were taken after a siege. Twenty-five thousand of the enemy were captured or slain in these towns, and three hundred and seventy deserters recovered; who, being sent to Rome by the consul, were all of them beaten with rods in the comitium, and thrown down from the rock.
Such were the achievements of Fabius within the space of a few days. Ill health detained Marcellus from active operations at Nola.
The town of Accua also was taken by storm, during the same period, by the praetor Quintus Fabius, whose province was the neighbourhood of Luceria; he also fortified a stationary camp at Ardonea.
While the Romans were thus employed in different quarters, Hannibal had reached Tarentum, utterly [p. 920]
destroying every thing whichsoever way he went. In the territory of Tarentum, the troops at length began to march in a peaceable manner.
There nothing was violated, nor did they ever go out of the road; it was evident that this was done not from the moderation of the soldiery, or their general, but to conciliate the affections of the Tarentines.
However, on advancing almost close to the walls without perceiving any movement, which he expected would occur on the sight of his vanguard, he pitched his camp about a mile off the city.
Three days before the arrival of Hannibal, Marcus Livius, who had been sent by Marcus Valerius, the propraetor, commanding the fleet at Brundusium, had enlisted the young nobility of Tarentum, and stationing guards at every gate, and
round the walls, wherever circumstances made it necessary, had kept such a strict watch both by day and night, as to give no opportunity for making any attempt either to the enemy or doubtful allies.
On this account several days were consumed there to no purpose, when Hannibal, as none of those who had come to him at the lake Avernus, either came themselves or sent any letter or message, perceiving that he had carelessly followed delusive promises, moved his camp thence.
Even after this he did not offer any violence to the Tarentine territory, not quitting the hope of shaking their allegiance to the Romans, though his simulated lenity had hitherto been of no advantage to him; but as soon as he came to Salapia he collected stores of corn there from the Metapontine and Heraclean lands; for midsummer was now past, and the situation pleased him as a place for winter quarters.
From hence the Moors and Numidians were detached to plunder the territory of Sallentum, and the neighbouring woods of Apulia, from which not much booty of any other sort was obtained, but principally droves of horses, four thousand of which were distributed among his horsemen to be broken.