While the Romans were engaged in these preparations and transactions, the captured ship, which formed one of those which had been sent to Rome, made its escape on the voyage and returned to Philip; from which source it became known that the ambassadors with their letters had been made prisoners.
Not knowing, therefore, what had been agreed upon between Hannibal and his ambassadors, or what proposals they were to have brought back to him, he sent another embassy with the same instructions.
The ambassadors sent to Hannibal were Heraclitus, surnamed Scotinus, Crito of Beraea, and Sositheus of Magnesia;
these successfully took and brought back their commissions, but the summer had passed before the king could take any step or make any attempt. Such an influence had the capture of one vessel, together with the ambassadors, in deferring a war which threatened the Romans.
Fabius crossed the Vulturnus, after having at length expiated the prodigies, and both the consuls prosecuted the war in the neighbourhood of Capua.
Fabius regained by force the towns Compulteria, Trebula, and Saticula, which had revolted to the Carthaginians; and in them were captured the garrisons of Hannibal and a great number of Campanians.
At Nola, as had been the case the preceding year, the senate sided with the Romans, the commons with Hannibal; and deliberations were held clandestinely on the subject of massacring the nobles and betraying the city;
but to prevent their succeeding in their designs, Fabius marched his army between Capua and the camp of Hannibal on Tifata, and sat down in the Claudian camp above Suessula, whence he sent Marcus Marcellus, the proconsul, with those forces which he had under him, to Nola for its protection.