while matters stood thus at Capua, Hannibal was drawn in opposite directions by the desire to take the citadel of Tarentum and to hold Capua.
however, regard for Capua prevailed, a city on which he saw that the attention of all his allies and enemies was concentrated, and one destined to be a striking example, whatever might be the result of its revolt from the Romans.
accordingly, leaving in the land of the Bruttii a large part of his baggage and all the heavy —armed, with picked infantry and cavalry he hastened into Campania in the best possible condition for a rapid march. in spite of his swift movement thirty —three elephants managed to follow him.
he encamped in a closed valley behind Tifata, a [p. 19]
mountain commanding Capua. as he approached, he1
first captured the stronghold of Galatia,2
overpowering its garrison, and then directed his march against the besiegers of Capua.
and sending word in advance to Capua, stating at what time he proposed to attack the Roman camp, so that they also, making ready for a sally, might at the same time burst out of all the gates, he inspired great alarm.
for on one side he himself attacked, on the other all the Capuans, cavalry and infantry, sallied out, and with them the Carthaginian garrison, commanded by Bostar and Hanno.
the Romans in their alarm, so as not to leave one point undefended by rushing in the same direction, divided their forces among them as follows: Appius Claudius was placed facing the Capuans, Fulvius facing Hannibal:
Gaius Nero, the propraetor, with the cavalry of six legions took his place along the road leading to Suessula, Gaius Fulvius Flaccus, the lieutenant, with the cavalry of the allies in the direction of the river Volturnus.
the battle began not only with the usual shouting and uproar, but, in addition to the noise of men and horses and arms, the non —combatant populace of Capua disposed along the walls produced so much shouting, together with the clashing of bronze,3
such as is usually kept up in the still night of a lunar eclipse, as to divert the attention even of the combatants.
Appius was easily keeping the Capuans away from the earthwork of the camp; on the other side a larger force, Hannibal and the Carthaginians, were pressing Fulvius. there the sixth legion gave way, and after it had been forced back, a
cohort of Spaniards with three elephants managed even to reach the [p. 21]
earthwork, and had broken through the Roman centre,4
and wavered between the hope of breaking through into the camp and the danger of being cut off from their own troops.
Fulvius, on seeing the alarm of the legion and the danger to the camp, bade Quintus Navius and other first centurions to attack the cohort of the enemy fighting beneath the earthwork. he said that it was a very critical moment; that either they must be allowed to pass —and
it would be less of an effort for them to burst into the camp than it had been to break through the solid line —or else they must be disposed of beneath the earthwork.
also that it would not involve much fighting; they were few and cut off from their own men; and if the battle —line, which in the panic of the Romans seemed to have been broken through, should face against the enemy from both sides, it would enclose them between two fronts.
Navius, on hearing these words of the commander, snatched a standard of the second maniple of the hastati
from the standard —bearer and carried it towards the enemy, threatening that he would throw it into their midst if the soldiers did not quickly follow him and take a hand in the battle.
a huge frame he had, and his arms added distinction; and the standard held aloft had attracted citizens and enemies to the sight.
but when he had pushed through to the standards of the Spaniards, spears were then hurled at him from every side, and almost the entire line turned against him alone. but neither the numbers of the enemy nor the mass of weapons could beat off the attack of such a man.