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Roman Reaction

When the prisoners who had surrendered on terms
Hannibal's treatment of prisoners.
were with the other prisoners brought to Hannibal, he had them all collected together to the number of more than fifteen thousand, and began by saying that Maharbal had no authority to grant them their lives without consulting him. He then launched out into an invective against Rome: and when he had finished that, he distributed all the prisoners who were Romans among the companies of his army to be held in safe keeping; but allowed all the allies to depart without ransom to their own country, with the same remark as he had made before, that "he was not come to fight against Italians, but in behalf of Italians against Rome." He then gave his army time to refresh themselves after their fatigue, and buried those of highest rank who had fallen in his army, amounting to about thirty; the total number of his loss being fifteen hundred, most of whom were Celts. He then began considering, in conjunction with his brother and friends, where and how he should continue his attack, for he now felt confident of ultimate success.

When the news of this disaster reached Rome, the chief

Dismay at Rome.
men of the state could not, in view of the gravity of the blow, conceal its extent or soften it down, but were forced to assemble the people and tell them the truth. When the Praetor, therefore, from the Rostra said, "We have been beaten in a great battle," there was such a consternation, that those who had been present at the battle as well as at this meeting, felt the disaster to be graver than when they were on the field of battle itself. And this feeling of the people was not to be wondered at. For many years they had been unaccustomed to the word or the fact of defeat, and they could not now endure reverse with patience or dignity. The Senate, however, rose to the occasion, and held protracted debates and consultations as to the future, anxiously considering what it was the duty of all classes to do, and how they were to do it.

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