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Hannibal Enters Tarentum

The arrangements between these young men and Hannibal were these. Hannibal was to arrive at the town by the inland road and on the eastern side near the Temenid gates; and when there, was to light a fire on the tomb, which some called the tomb of Hyacinthus, and others of Apollo: Tragiscus and his confederates, when they saw this, were to light an answering fire from within the walls. This done, Hannibal was to put out his fire and advance slowly towards the gate. In pursuance of these arrangements, the young men marched through the inhabited part of town and came to the tombs.
Why the Tarentines bury within the walls.
For the eastern quarter of Tarentum is full of monuments, because those who die there are to this day all buried within the walls, in obedience to an ancient oracle. For it is said that the god delivered this answer to the Tarentines, "That it were better and more profitable for them if they made their dwelling with the majority"; and they thought therefore that they would be living in accordance with the oracle if they kept the departed within the walls. That is why to this day they bury inside the gates.

The young men, then, having gone as far as the tomb of

Hannibal arrives and gets into the town.
Pythionicus, waited to see what would happen. Presently Hannibal arrived and did as arranged: whereupon Nicon and Tragiscus with renewed courage displayed their beacon also; and, as soon as they saw the fire of the Carthaginians being put out, they ran to the gates as fast as they could go, wishing to get the picket at the gate tower killed before the Carthaginians arrived; as it had been agreed that they should advance leisurely and at a foot's pace. Everything went smoothly: the guards were overpowered; and while some of the young men were engaged in killing them, others were cutting the bolts. The gates having been quickly thrown open, Hannibal arrived at the right moment, having so timed his march that he never had to stop on the way to the town at all.

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SEPULCRUM
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