2. TIB. SEMPRONIUS, TIB. F. TIB. N. GRACCHUS, a distinguished general of the second Punic war. In B. C. 216 he was curule aedile; and shortly after the battle of Cannae, he was appointed magister equitum to the dictator, M. Junius Pera, who had to levy a fresh army against Hannibal. Both then pitched their camp near Casilinum; and the dictator being obliged to return to Rome, Gracchus was entrusted with the command of the camp; but in accordance with the dictator's command, he abstained from entering into any engagement with the enemy, although there was no want of favourable opportunities, and although the inhabitants of Casilinum, which was besieged by Hannibal, were suffering from famine.
As there was no other way of relieving the besieged without fighting against the enemy, he contrived in three successive nights to send down the river Vulturnus casks filled with provisions, which were eagerly caught up by the inhabitants, the river flowing through the town.
But in the fourth night the casks were thrown on shore by the wind and waves, and thus discovered by the enemy, who now, with increased watchfulness, prevented the introduction of any further supplies into Casilinum.
The famine in the place increased to such a fearful degree, that the people and the garrison, which chiefly consisted of Praenestines, fed on leather, mice, and any herbs they could get, until at length they surrendered.
The garrison was allowed to depart on condition of a certain sum being paid for every man. Out of 570 men, more than half had perished in the famine, and the rest, with their commander, M. Anicius, went to Praeneste, where afterwards a statue was erected to Anicius, with an inscription recording the sufferings of the besieged at Casilinum. Shortly after this affair Gracchus accompanied the dictator to Rome, to report on the state of affairs, and to take measures for the future.
The dictator expressed great satisfaction with the conduct of Gracchus, and recommended him for the consulship, to which he was accordingly elected for the year B. C. 215, with L. Postumius Albinus.
The time was one of great disasters for Rome; but Gracchus did not lose his courage, and inspired the senate with confidence, directing their attention to the point where it was most needed.
He undertook the command of the volones and allies, marched across the river Vulturnus, and pitched his camp in the neighbourhood of Liternum.
He there trained and disciplined his troops, and prepared them to meet the enemy. On hearing that the Campanians were about to hold a large meeting at Hamae, he marched towards Cumae, where he encamped, and from whence he made an unexpected attack upon the assembled Campanians. They were routed in a very short time, and 2000 of them, with their commander, Marius Alfius, fell in the engagement.
After taking possession of their camp, Gracchus quickly returned to Cumae, as Hannibal was encamped at no great distance.
The latter, on hearing of the affair of Hamae, hastened thither, but came too late, and found only the bodies of the slain, whereupon he too returned to his camp above Tifata; but immediately after he laid siege to Cumae, as he was anxious to obtain possession of a maritime town. Gracchus was thus besieged by Hannibal: he could not place much reliance on his troops, but was obliged to hold out for the sake of the Roman allies, who implored his protection.
He made a sally, in which he was so successful, that the Carthaginians, being taken by surprise, lost a great number of men; and before they had time to turn round, he ordered his troops to withdraw within the walls of Cumae. Hannibal now expected a regular battle; but, as Gracchus remained quiet, he raised the siege, and returned to Tifata. Soon afterwards Gracchus marched his troops from Cumae to Luceria in Apulia.
For the year 214 his imperium was prolonged, and, with his two legions of volones, he was ordered to carry on his operations in Apulia; but the dictator, Q. Fabius Maximus, commanded him to go to Beneventum.
At the very time he arrived there Hanno, with a large army, came from Bruttium ; but a little too late, the place having been already occupied by Gracchus. When the latter heard that Hanno had pitched his camp on the river Cator, and was ravaging and laying waste the country, he marched out, and took up his quarters at a short distance from the enemy. His volones, who had served in the hope of being restored to freedom, now began to murmur; but as lie had full power from the senate to act as he thought proper in this matter, he assembled the soldiers, and wisely proclaimed their freedom.
This generous act created such delight among the men, that it was difficult to keep them from attacking the enemy at once.
But the next morning at day-break he complied with their demand. Hanno accepted the battle.
The contest was extremely severe, and lasted for several hours; but the loss of the Carthaginians was so great, that Hanno, with his cavalry, was obliged to take to flight.
After the battle, Gracchus treated a number of the volones who had behaved rather cowardly during the engagement, with that generous magnanimity which is so peculiar a feature in the family of the Gracchi, and by which they rise far above their nation.
He then returned with his army to Beneventum, where the citizens received them with the greatest enthusiasm, and celebrated the event with joy and festivities. Gracchus afterwards had a picture made of these joyous scenes, and dedicated it in the temple of Libertas on the Aventine, which had been built by his father.
At the end of the year he was in his absence elected consul a second time for B. C. 213, with Q. Fabius Maximus.
He now carried on the war in Lucania, fought several minor engagements, and took some of the less important towns of the country; but as it was not thought advisable to draw the consuls away from their armies, Gracchus was commanded to nominate a dictator to hold the comitia.
He nominated C. Claudius Centho. In B. C. 212 he was ordered by the consuls to quit Lucania, and again take up his quarters at Beneventum.
But before he broke up an ill omen announced to him his sad catastrophe.
He was betrayed by Flavius, a Lucanian, into the hands of the Carthaginian Mago. [FLAVIUS, No. 2.] According to most accounts, he fell in the struggle with Mago, at Campi Veteres, in Lucania; and his body was sent to Hannibal, who honoured it with a magnificent burial. Livy records several different traditions respecting his death and burial. but adds the remark that they do not deserve credit. (Liv. 22.57
, xxv, 1, 3, 15-17; Appian, Annib.
35; Zonar. 9.3
, &c.; Oros. 4.16
; Eutrop. 3.4
, who confounds Tib. Sempronius Longus with our Tib. Sempronius Gracchus; Cic. Tusc.
1.37; Gellius, 2.2