The tumult and clamour was now such as usually takes place in a captured city, but no man knew for certain what was the occasion.
The Tarentines supposed that the Romans had suddenly risen to plunder the city. To the Romans it appeared, that some commotion had been set on foot by the townsmen with a treacherous design.
The prefect, who was awakened at the first alarm, escaped to the port, whence getting into a boat he was conveyed round to the citadel.
The sound of a trumpet also from the theatre excited alarm; for it was a Roman trumpet, prepared by the conspirators for this very purpose; and as it was blown unskilfully by a Grecian, it could not be ascertained who gave the signal, or to whom it was given.
At dawn of the day, the Romans recognised the [p. 970]
Carthaginian and Gallic arms, which removed all doubt; and the Greeks, seeing the bodies of slain Romans spread about in all directions, perceived that the city had been taken by Hannibal.
When the light had increased, so that they could discriminate with greater certainty, and the Romans who survived the carnage had taken refuge in the citadel, the tumult now beginning to subside a little, Hannibal gave orders to assemble the Tarentines without their arms.
All of them attended the assembly, except those who had accompanied the Romans in their retreat to the citadel, to share every fortune with them.
Here Hannibal having addressed the Tarentines in terms of kindness, and appealed to the services he had rendered to those of their countrymen whom he had captured at the Trasimenus and at Cannae, and having at the same time inveighed against the haughty domination of the Romans, desired that they would every one of them retire to their respective houses, and inscribe their names upon their doors; declaring, that he should give orders that those houses which had not the names written upon them should be plundered.
That if any man should write his name upon the house of a Roman, (and the Romans occupied houses by themselves,) he should treat him as an enemy.
Having dismissed the assembly, and the names inscribed upon the doors having made it easy to distinguish the house of an enemy from that of a friend, on a signal given, the troops ran in every direction to plunder the lodgings of the Romans, and a considerable booty was found.