Scipio, on being informed that the situation at Locri had become more critical and that Hannibal himself was approaching, was afraid to take risks for the garrison as well, since it was not easy to retire from the place.
Accordingly he too set out from Messana, after leaving his brother Lucius Scipio there in command of the garrison; and as soon as the strait shifted with the tide, he cast off with . . . ships while the current favoured.1
And Hannibal [p. 235]
sent a messenger from the river Bulotus —it is not far2
from the city of Locri —ordering his men to engage in battle with the Romans and Locrians with the utmost violence at daybreak, while, when all eyes were turned in the direction of that conflict, he should himself attack the city unawares from the
rear. When he came upon the battle, already begun at daybreak, he did not wish to shut himself in the citadel, where he would have clogged a cramped space by his numbers, and on the other hand he had not brought ladders for scaling city
walls. After making a pile of the soldiers' baggage and displaying his line of battle at no great distance from the walls to frighten the enemy, while ladders and other requisites for an assault were being prepared, he rode round the city with his Numidian horsemen, to discover just where to make the
attack. He had approached the wall when a man who happened to stand nearest to him was struck by a missile from a scorpion. Frightened away by an occurrence so dangerous, he thereupon ordered the recall to be sounded and fortified a camp beyond the range of
missiles. The Roman fleet sailing from Messana reached Locri while several hours of daylight
remained. All were landed from the ships and before sunset they entered the city.
On the following day a battle was begun by the Carthaginians from their citadel, and Hannibal, having made ready the ladders and everything else for the assault, was coming close to the walls when suddenly the Romans opened a gate and sallied out against an enemy who feared anything but
that. In making this surprise attack they slew about two hundred. As for the rest, Hannibal on [p. 237]
learning that the consul was there withdrew them3
to his camp, and sending word to the men in the citadel to shift for themselves, he broke camp in the night and marched
away. And the men in the citadel set fire to the houses which they were occupying, that the commotion might delay the enemy, and with a speed that resembled flight overtook their own column before nightfall.