|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 28: Salapia not taken; siege of Locri released[208 BC]
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Hannibal felt convinced that the enemy would be thoroughly cowed by the death of one consul and the disablement of the other, and he determined not to lose the opportunity thus afforded him. He at once transferred his camp to the hill where the action had been fought, and here he interred the body of Marcellus, which had been found. Crispinus, unnerved by the death of his colleague and his own wound, left his position in the dead of night and fixed his camp on the first mountains he came to, in a lofty position protected on every side. And now the two commanders showed great wariness, the one trying to deceive his opponent, the other taking every precaution against him. When the body of Marcellus was discovered, Hannibal took possession of his rings. Fearing that the signet might be used for purposes of forgery, Crispinus sent couriers to all the cities round, warning them that his colleague was killed and his ring in the possession of the enemy, so that they were not to trust any missives sent in the name of Marcellus. Soon after the consul's messenger had arrived at Salapia, a despatch was received from Hannibal purporting to come from Marcellus, and stating that he would come to Salapia the night after they received the letter, and the soldiers of the garrison were to hold themselves in readiness in case their services should be required. The Salapians saw through the ruse, and supposed that he was seeking an opportunity for punishing them, not only for their desertion of the Carthaginian cause, but also for the slaughter of his cavalry. They sent back the messenger, who was a Roman deserter, that he might not be cognisant of the measures which they decided to take, and then made their dispositions. The townsmen took their places on the walls and other commanding positions, the patrols and sentries for the night were strengthened and kept a most careful look out, and the pick of the garrison were formed up near the gate to which the enemy were expected to come. Hannibal approached the city about the fourth watch. The head of the column was formed of Roman deserters; they carried Roman weapons, their armour was Roman, and they were all speaking Latin. When they reached the gate, they called up the sentinels and told them to open the gate as the consul was there. The sentinels, pretending to be just wakened up, bustled about in hurry and confusion and began slowly and laboriously to open the gate. It was closed by a portcullis, and by means of levers and ropes they raised it just high enough for a man to pass upright under it. The passage was hardly sufficiently clear when the deserters rushed through the gate, each trying who should be first. About 600 were inside, when suddenly the rope which held it was let go, and the portcullis fell with a great crash. The Salapians attacked the deserters, who were marching carelessly along with their shields hung from their shoulders, as though friends; others on the gate tower and the walls kept off the enemy outside with stones and long poles and javelins. So Hannibal, finding himself caught in his own trap, drew off and proceeded to raise the siege of Locri. Cincius was making a most determined attack upon the place with siege works and artillery of every kind which he had brought from Sicily, and Mago was beginning to despair of holding the place when his hopes were suddenly revived by the news of Marcellus' death. Then came a messenger with the tidings that Hannibal had sent his Numidian cavalry on in advance, and was following as rapidly as he could with his infantry. As soon as the signal was given from the look-out of the approach of the Numidians,Mago flung the city gate open and made a vigorous sortie. Owing to the suddenness of his attack which was quite unlooked for, rather than to his fighting strength, the battle was for some time an even one, but when the Numidians came up, such a panic seized the Romans that they abandoned the siege works and the engines with which they were battering the walls, and fled in disorder to the sea and to their ships. Thus by the arrival of Hannibal, the siege of Locri was raised.
Actions in Italy in 208 BC
Event: Actions in Italy in 208 BC