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Fertility and Beauty of the Plains Near Capua

Hannibal, however, had not adopted this plan without good reason. For the plains about Capua are the best in Italy for fertility and beauty and proximity to the sea, and for the commercial harbours, into which merchants run who are sailing to Italy from nearly all parts of the world. They contain, moreover, the most famous and beautiful cities of Italy. On its seaboard are Sinuessa, Cumae, Puteoli, Naples, and Nuceria; and inland to the north there are Cales and Teanum, to the east and south [Caudium1] and Nola. In the centre of these plains lies the richest of all the cities, that of Capua. No tale in all mythology wears a greater appearance of probability than that which is told of these, which, like others remarkable for their beauty, are called the Phlegraean plains; for surely none are more likely for beauty and fertility to have been contended for by gods. In addition to these advantages, they are strongly protected by nature and difficult of approach; for one side is protected by the sea, and the rest by a long and high chain of mountains, through which there are but three passes from the interior, narrow and difficult, one from Samnium [a second from Latium2] and a third from Hirpini. So that if the Carthaginians succeeded in fixing their quarters in these plains, they would have the advantage of a kind of theatre, in which to display the terrors of their power before the gaze of all Italy; and would make a spectacle also of the cowardice of their enemies in shrinking from giving them battle, while they themselves would be proved beyond dispute to be masters of the country.

1 Holsten for the Δαύνιοι of the old text; others suggest Calatia.

2 Added by conjecture of Schw. One MS. has δευτέρα ἀπὸ τοῦ Ἐριβανοῦ.

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