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The Hannibalian War — Tarentum

It was in the wantonness of excessive prosperity that the Tarentines invited Pyrrhus of Epirus; for democratic liberty that has enjoyed a long and unchecked career comes naturally to experience a satiety of its blessings, and then it looks out for a master; and when it has got one, it is not long before it hates him, because it is seen that the change is for the worse. This is just what happened to the Tarentines on that occasion. . . .

On this news being brought to Tarentum and Thurii there was great popular indignation. . . .

The conspirators left the town at first under the pretext of

Hannibal marched south early in B.C. 212 to renew his attempt upon Tarentum, on which he had wasted much of the previous summer (Livy, 25, 1) The severity of the punishment of the Tarentine hostages who tried to escape from Rome caused a conspiracy of Tarentines to betray the town to Hannibal. Livy, 25, 7-8.
a foray, and got near Hannibal's camp before daybreak. Then, while the rest crouched down on a certain wooded spot by the side of the road, Philemenus and Nicon went up to the camp. They were seized by the sentries and taken off to Hannibal, without saying a word as to where they came from or who they were, but simply stating that they wished for an interview with the general. Being taken without delay to Hannibal they said that they wished to speak with him privately. He assented with the utmost readiness; whereupon they explained to him their own position and that of their native city, charging the Romans with many various acts of oppression, that they might not seem to be entering on their present undertaking without good reason. For the present Hannibal dismissed them with thanks and a cordial acceptance of their proposed movement, and charging them to come back very soon and have another interview with him. "This time," he added, "when you get at a sufficient distance from the camp, take possession of the first cattle you find being driven out to pasture in the early morning, and go off boldly with them and their herdsmen; for I will take care that you are unmolested." His object in doing this was to give himself time to inquire into the tale of the young men; and also to confirm their credit with their fellow-citizens, by making it appear that their expedition had really been for the purpose of foraging. Nicon and his companions did as they were bidden, and left Hannibal in great exultation at having at last got an opportunity of completing his enterprise: while they themselves were made all the more eager to carry out their plot by having been able to accomplish their interview with Hannibal without danger, and by having found him warmly disposed to their undertaking, and by having besides gained the confidence of their own people by the considerable amount of booty which they had brought home. This they partly sold and partly used in splendid entertainments, and thus not only were believed in by the Tarentines, but excited a considerable number to emulate their exploit.

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212 BC (1)
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 7
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