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Tarentum Betrayed To Hannibal

For some time before this, Hannibal had given out that
Hannibal prepares to act.
he was ill, to prevent the Romans wondering when they were told of his staying so long on the same ground; and he now made a greater pretence than ever of ill-health, and remained encamped three days' march from Tarentum. But when the time was come, he got ready the most conspicuous for their speed and daring in his cavalry and infantry, to the number of about ten thousand, and gave orders that they should take provisions for four days. He started just before daybreak, and marched at full speed; having told off eighty Numidian horsemen to keep thirty stades ahead, and to scour the country on both sides of the road; so that no one might get a sight of the main body, but might either be taken prisoners by this advanced guard, or, if he escaped, might carry a report of it into the city as if it were merely a raid of Numidian horsemen. When the Numidians were about a hundred and twenty stades from the town, Hannibal halted his men for supper by the side of a river flowing through a deep gully, and offering excellent cover; and having summoned his officers, did not indeed tell them outright what the service was on which they were going, but simply exhorted them, first to show themselves brave men, as the prize awaiting them was the greatest they had ever had; and, secondly, that each should keep the men of his own company well together, and rebuke sharply all who left their own division on any pretext whatever; and, thirdly, to attend strictly to orders, and not attempt anything on their own account outside them. Dismissing the officers with these words, he got his troops on the march just after dark, being very anxious to reach the wall about midnight; having Philemenus to act as guide, and having got ready for him a wild-boar to enable him to sustain the part which he was to perform.

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    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 43-44, commentary, 43.3
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