Then at length the enemy were roused, the shower was now subsiding, and daylight coming on.
Hannibal had a garrison of about five thousand armed men in the city, and the inhabitants themselves had three thousand men in arms; these the Carthaginians placed in front against the enemy, to guard against any treachery on their rear.
The fight was carried on at first in the dark, and in the narrow streets, the Romans having seized not only the streets, but the houses also nearest the gate, that they might not be struck or wounded by any thing discharged at them from above.
Some of the Arpinians and Romans recognised each other, which led to conversations, in which the Romans asked them, what it was they meant?
for what offence on the part of the Romans, or what service on that of the Carthaginians, they, who were Italians, made war in favour of foreigners and barbarians, against their ancient allies the Romans, and endeavoured to render Italy tributary and stipendiary to Africa?
The Arpinians urged in excuse of themselves, that in ignorance of all the circumstances, they had been sold to the Carthaginians by their nobility, and that they were kept in a state of thraldom and oppression by the few.
A beginning having been made, greater numbers on both sides entered into conversation; and at length the praetor of Arpi was brought by his countrymen before the consul, and after exchanging assurances in the midst of the standards and the troops, the Arpinians suddenly turned their arms against the Carthaginians, in favour of the Romans.
Some Spaniards also, little less than a thousand in number, after only stipulating with the consul that the Carthaginian garrison might be
allowed to march out unhurt, passed over to the consul.
The gates were therefore [p. 953]
thrown open for the Carthaginians; and being allowed to go out unmolested, in conformity with the stipulation, they joined Hannibal in Salapia.
Thus was Arpi restored to the Romans, without the loss of a life, except that of one man, who was formerly a traitor, and recently a deserter. The Spaniards were ordered to receive a double allowance of provisions, and on very many occasions the republic availed itself of their brave and faithful services.
While one of the consuls was in Apulia, and the other in Lucania, a hundred and twelve Campanian noblemen, having gone out of Capua, with the permission of the magistrates, under pretence of collecting booty from the enemy's lands, came into the Roman camp, which lay above Suessula.
They told the soldiers, forming the vanguard, that they wished to speak with the praetor. Cneius Fulvius commanded the camp; who, on being informed of the circumstance, ordered ten of them to be brought into his presence unarmed; and after hearing their request, (and all they asked was, that when the Romans should recover Capua, their property might be restored to them,) they were all received under his protection.
The other praetor, Sempronius Tuditanus, took by force the town of Aternum; more than seven thousand were captured, with a considerable quantity of coined brass and silver.
A dreadful fire happened at Rome, which continued for two nights and a day; every thing was burnt to the ground between the Salinae and the Carmental gate, with the Aequimaelium and the Jugarian street.
In the temples of Fortune, Mater Matuta, and Hope, which latter stood without the gate, the fire, spreading to a wide extent, consumed much both sacred and profane.