Quintus Fabius, the consul, was encamped before Casilinum, which was occupied by a garrison of two thousand Campanians and seven hundred of the soldiers of Hannibal The commander was
Statius Metius, who was sent there by Cneius Magius Atellanus, who was that year Medixtuticus, and was arming the slaves and people without distinction, in order to assault the Roman camp, while the consul was intently occupied in the siege of Casilinum. None of these things escaped Fabius.
He therefore sent to his colleague at Nola, “That another army was requisite, which might be opposed to the Campanians, while the siege of Casilinum was going on;
that either he should come himself, leaving a force sufficient for the protection of Nola, or if the state of Nola required him to stay there, in consequence of its not being yet secure against the attempts of Hannibal, that he should summon Tiberius Gracchus, the proconsul, from Beneventum” On this message, Marcellus, leaving two thousand troops in garrison at Nola, came to Casilinum with the rest of his forces;
and at his arrival the Campanians, who were already in motion, desisted from their operations. Thus the siege of Casilinum was commenced by the two consuls.
But as the Roman soldiers received many wounds as they rashly approached the walls, and as they did not succeed satisfactorily in their attempts, Fabius gave it as his opinion that this, which was a small matter, though as difficult as more important ones, should be abandoned, and that they should retire from the place, as affairs of greater moment were pressing.
Marcellus, however, succeeded in persuading him that they should not go away with their object unaccomplished, observing that as there were many objects which great generals should not attempt, so when once attempted they should not be abandoned, because the mere report in either case would have important consequences.
Upon this the vineae and all kinds of military works and engines were applied; in consequence of which, the Campanians entreated Fabius to allow them to retire to Capua in safety;
when a few of them having come out of the town, Marcellus took pos- [p. 919]
session of the gate through which they passed, and first slew all indiscriminately who were near the gate, and then rushing in, the slaughter commenced in the town also. About fifty of the Campanians, who at first came out of the city, having fled for refuge to Fabius, arrived safe at Capua under his protection.
Thus Casilinum was captured on an accidental opportunity which occurred during the conferences and delay of those who were soliciting protection. The prisoners, both those who were Campanians and those who were Hannibal's soldiers, were sent to Rome, where they were shut up in a prison.
The crowd of townsmen was distributed among the neighbouring people to be kept in custody.