When Scipio received intelligence that the posture of affairs at Locri had become more critical, and that Hannibal himself was approaching, lest even the garrison might be exposed to danger;
for it was not an easy matter for it to retire thence; as soon as the direction of the tide in the strait had changed, he let the ships drive with the tide from Messana, having left his brother, Lucius Scipio, in command there.
Hannibal also sent a messenger in advance from the river Butrotus, which is not far from the town of Locri, to desire his party to attack the Romans and Locrians at break of day in the most vigorous manner, while he on the opposite side assaulted the town, which would be unprepared for such a measure, as every one would have his attention occupied with the tumult created in the other quarter.
But when, as soon as it was light, he found that the battle had commenced, he was unwilling to shut himself up in the citadel, where, by his numbers, he would crowd that confined place; nor had he brought with him scaling-ladders to enable him to mount the walls.
Having, however, had the baggage thrown together in a heap, and displayed his line at a distance from the walls to intimidate the enemy, while the scaling-ladders and other requisites for an assault were preparing, he rode round the city with some Numidian horsemen, in order to observe in what quarter the attack might be best made.
Having advanced towards the rampart, the person who happened to stand next him was struck by a weapon from a scorpion; and, terrified at an accident in which he had been exposed to so much danger, he retired, gave directions for sounding a retreat, and fortified a camp out of the reach of weapons.
The Roman fleet from Messana came to Locri several hours before night. The troops were all landed and had entered the city before sun-set.
The following day the fight began from the citadel on the part of the Carthaginians, and Hannibal, having now prepared ladders and all the other requisites for an assault, was coming up to the walls; when, throwing open the gate, the Romans suddenly sallied out [p. 1242]
upon him, Hannibal fearing nothing less than such a step.
They slew as many as two hundred in the attack, having taken them by surprise. The rest Hannibal withdrew into the camp when he found the consul was there; and having despatched a messenger to those who were in the citadel, to desire them to take measures for their own safety, he decamped by night.
Those who were in the citadel also, after throwing fire upon the buildings they occupied, in order that the alarm thus occasioned might detain their enemy, went away with a speed which resembled flight, and overtook the body of their army before night.