To this Hannibal replied that the Hirpini and Samnites were doing everything at once, reporting their losses, and asking for troops, and complaining that they were undefended and neglected.
But they ought first to have reported, then asked for protection, finally, if this was not obtained, they should then, and not sooner, have complained that help had been besought in vain.
He would lead his army, not into the territory of the Hirpini or the Samnites, in order not to be another burden, but into the nearest lands of allies of the Roman people. By devastating these he would satisfy his own army and drive the frightened enemy to a distance from them.
As for the Roman war, if the battle of Lake Trasumennus was more celebrated than that of the Trebia, if Cannae than Trasumennus, he would overshadow the memory even of Cannae by a greater and more famous victory.
With this answer and also with ample gifts he sent the ambassadors away. He himself set out, leaving a moderate force on Tifata, and proceeded with the rest of his army to Nola
Hanno also came thither from the land of the Bruttii with reinforcements brought from Carthage and with the elephants. [p. 149]
Having pitched his camp not far away, Hannibal1
found on enquiry that everything was very different from what he had heard from the legates of his allies.
For Marcellus had not done anything in such a way that it could be said to have been left to fortune or rashly left to the enemy. After reconnoitring, having strong forces and a safe refuge, he had gone out to forage, and every possible precaution had been taken, as though against Hannibal in person.
Then on learning of the approach of the enemy, he kept his troops inside the walls. He ordered the senators of Nola
to walk up and down on the walls, and to observe everything that went on among the enemy all around.
Hanno, having come close to the wall, called out from their number Herennius Bassus and Herius Pettius to a conference, and when they came out with Marcellus' permission, he addressed them through an interpreter.
He lauded Hannibal's courage and success.
He belittled the majesty of the Roman people, as wasting away along with their resources. And if these qualities were evenly matched, he said, as once they had been, nevertheless those who had found out how burdensome was Roman rule to the allies, how great had been Hannibal's indulgence even to all captives who called themselves Italians, these were bound to prefer Carthaginian alliance and friendship to Roman.
If both consuls were at Nola
with their armies, still they would be no more a match for Hannibal than they had been at Cannae; much less could one praetor with a few raw soldiers defend Nola
It was their own concern more than Hannibal's whether he took Nola
by capture or by surrender. For he would take it, as he had taken Capua and Nuceria. But what a difference [p. 151]
there was between the lot of Capua and that of2
Nuceria the men of Nola
themselves knew, being situated about half-way between them.
He did not wish to forecast what would happen to the city if captured, but assured them instead that if they surrendered Marcellus and Nola
with the garrison, no one but themselves should name the terms on which they might enter alliance and friendship with Hannibal.