For Hannibal, after his great victory at Cannae, had been more concerned with the projects of a conqueror than with those of one who was still waging war.
Mustering the prisoners and dividing them into two groups, he addressed a few kindly words to the allies and dismissed them without ransom, as he had done previously at the Trebia and Lake Trasumennus. He then called up the Romans also and spoke to them with a mildness he had never shown before.
He was waging, he said, no war of extermination with them, but was contending for honour and dominion. His forerunners had yielded to the valour of the Romans, and he was striving to compel them in their turn to yield to his own good fortune and valour.
He would therefore give them an opportunity to redeem the prisoners, and would fix their ransom at five hundred chariot-pieces for each horseman, three hundred for each foot-soldier, and a hundred for each slave.
Although this was a rather large addition to the ransom which the horsemen had agreed to on surrendering, they joyfully accepted any terms of treaty.
It was resolved that the prisoners should themselves elect ten representatives to go to the senate in Rome; nor did Hannibal take any other pledge of their good faith than their oath that they would return.
Carthalo, a Carthaginian noble, was sent with them, so that, if he should see that the [p. 391]
Romans inclined to peace, he might offer terms.1
The envoys had just left the camp when one of them, a fellow of thoroughly un-Roman character, returned to it —as if he had forgotten something —in order to free himself from his oath, and before dark had caught up with his companions.
When the news reached Rome that they were coming, a lictor was sent to meet Carthalo on the way and warn him in the name of the Dictator to depart before nightfall out of Roman territory.