Hannibal, leaving the Hirpini, crossed over into Samnium,1
laid waste the lands of Beneventum, and captured the city of Telesia. He even deliberately sought to vex the Roman general, for he hoped that by so often insulting and distressing his allies he might anger him and induce him to come down and fight on equal terms.
Amongst the numerous allies of Italian stock who had been made prisoners by Hannibal at Trasumennus and afterwards released were three Campanian knights, whom he had even then enticed with gifts and promises to procure for him the goodwill of their countrymen.
These men now informed him that if he would bring his army into Campania the opportunity would be afforded him of taking Capua. It was a weighty undertaking for such men to enter into, and Hannibal hesitated, now trusting and again distrusting them, but in the end they persuaded him to march from Samnium into Campania.
He warned them again and again to confirm their words with deeds, and dismissed them with orders to come back to him with more people, including some of their leading men.
He then ordered his guide to conduct him to the territory of Casinum, for he had been told by those who knew the country that if he occupied that pass he could keep the Romans from marching to the aid of their [p. 245]
But the difficulty experienced by2
Carthaginians in pronouncing Latin names caused the guide to understand Casilinum
instead of Casinum;
and quitting the proper road he led him down through the districts of Allifae, Caiatia and Cales into the Plain of Stella.
There Hannibal, looking round on the mountains and rivers that enclosed the plain, called up the guide and asked him where in the world he was.
And only when the guide had answered that he should lodge that night in Casilinum, did he perceive at last how the man had blundered, and that Casinum lay far off in another direction.
Whereupon he scourged the guide, and, to terrify the others, crucified him, and going into camp behind entrenchments, dispatched Maharbal with the cavalry to ravage the Falernian countryside. The devastation extended even to the Baths of Sinuessa.
The Numidians wrought great havoc and spread dismay and terror more widely still;
yet this terror, even though all the country blazed with war, did not cause the allies to waver in their loyalty, assuredly because the rule under which they were governed was just and temperate, nor did they refuse —and that is the only guarantee of loyalty —to yield obedience to their betters.