The Punic Wars: Cannae
by: Q. Claudius Locatus Barbatus

On the third day of August the Roman army marched towards the Carthaginians. They were full of self-confidence and were under direct command of the Consuls. Hannibal, however, had been expecting them. Hannibal used the aggression of the Romans to lure them into (another) trap. He enticed the Roman army into a V-shaped valley. Once in, Hannibal closed it off and attacked the Romans from all sides. The Romans were packed on each other and the Carthaginian arrows made many victims. The Romains were defeated. 50 000 Roman soldiers were killed, the Consul Aemilius Paulus was dead, Varro fled. The Carthaginians lost 5 700 soldiers.

Almost every family had lost relatives in the battle. Almost 100 senatores were killed. Rome was frightened. Nobody was allowed to leave the city. Hannibal sent ten captured Roman soldiers with a Carthaginian a messenger Carthalo to Rome, who had to propose a treaty to the Dictator, Fabius. But some miles before the walls of Rome a lictor awaited Carthalo, telling him that he wasn't allowed to enter the city. From the ten Roman soldiers, who had promised Hannibal to return when no compromise was reached, only nine returned. One had fled, but the Roman Senate tracked him down and sent him back. A Roman was ought to keep his promises! The survivors of the battle were blamed and sent to Sicily, on duty without being paid and with the prohibition to set up a camp closer than a day walking from a city. The commander of these legions became Varro, no longer consul. Hannibal wasn't marching towards Rome, he knew that without Carthaginian support he wouldn't stand long, so he travelled to Napoli.

Syracuse chose the side of Hannibal. Capua too. So did Apulia, Samnium and Calabria. Rome was getting isolated. Hannibal sent 6 000 golden seal-rings to Carthago. They sent in return 4000 Numidian cavalry and 40 elephants. They also sent 26 000 soldiers to Spain under the command of Mago. Hannibal his plans were obvious: Mago had to break through the Roman lines and redo the journey of Hannibal and so put the Romans between two armies. When Hannibal came near to Napoli he saw that the city was preparing itself for defence, so he returned to Capua for the winter.

At that time, Capua was the richest Italian city. Rome had conquered it and it became a "civitas sine iure" (community without [civil] rights). The people of Capua was very glad to see Hannibal coming. They treated him as a deliverer. Hannibal was very glad and granted the city the conquered fasces of Flaminius, Varro and Aemilius. The Carthaginian set up a camp on the mountain Tifata, not to bother the people of Capua and ordered his men to pay everything they bought in Capua cash. Hannibal didn't waste his time during the winter: he made treaties and pacts with the other south Italian people. But some cities refused, mainly the rich ports in the south. The most important of these cities was Napoli, who still controlled the gulf of Capua. Without Napoli Capua wasn't worth much. Smaller cities, without the force to defend themselves had the choice: if they supported Hannibal they would be protected, if they continued to support Rome they had a free road to the Roman area. One small city chose to do this, once evacuated their city was set on fire by the Carthaginians.

At the gulf of Taranto there was a small city, called Locri. The inhabitants were panicking and tried to leave the city as quickly as possible. Hannibal prevented this by blocking the city gates. He made a proposition: the city wouldn't be destroyed if the Carthaginians could use its port. The city agreed and soon the dispatch of Carthago arrived: 40 elephants and Numidian cavalry. Also, many Greeks entered Italia by Locri. They still cherished the hope of a Magna Graecia, but more important: Hannibal made a treaty with Phillipus V of Macedonia. Phillipus promised to join the Carthaginian army in exchange for Greek influence on the Dalmatian coasts. A bit later Syracuse joined this treaty. But Sicily still was an eyesore for Hannibal. Rome still controlled it, and it was protected by Napoli and Tarente.
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