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.