The Punic Wars: The Allies
by: Q. Claudius Locatus Barbatus
PARS I | PARS II | PARS III | PARS IV | PARS V | PARS VI | PARS VII | PARS VIII | PARS IX | PARS X | PARS XI
The Augures in the year 215 BC were terrible: The sea was on fire, a cow gave birth to a foal and in the temple of Iuno the statues were bleeding. The number of Roman allies had diminished in a terrible manner. Rome was obliged to impose double taxes on its people and on the people of its allies. Also new recruits were trained. Rome realised that there politics of Roman citizenship also had his dark side. Indignant and offended cities now chose the side of Hannibal. Especially Umbria was grumbling: Hannibal had ransacked its villages and killed its men. But the Roman senate insisted on her claims. Deserters were whipped (370 of them were thrown of the Tarpe´c Rock. Punitive expeditions were sent to disobedient cities.
Tarente (Tarentum) was a fortified city that played an important role in reaching Sicily from the Italian shore. But Tarentum had always been a rebellious city. Nonetheless Rome conquered it, but took with it the sons of the most important families, as hostages. Should Tarentum misbehave, the sons would be killed. During the panic in Rome the hostages tried to escape. 80 of them were captured again and thrown of the Tarpe´c Rock. The main Tarentinian families were furious and sent negotiators to Hannibal. Rome was panicking again and two proconsuls were elected: Gracchus and Marcellus. Marcellus rushed with his army to Nola, the first defence line of Napoli. Hannibal was besieging it.
Hannibal was living "on his horse". He had to rush from coast to coast to defend his allies against the Romans, who were trying to land on the beaches. The cities that didn't want to support Hannibal were besieged. Casilinum had to surrender, despite of many efforts of Gracchus to help them. Hannibal led his army to the last big city of Southern Italy: Napoli. On his way was the city Nola. The people of Nola were in favour of Hannibal. But Marcellus wasn't. He hanged 70 rebel leaders and defended the city well. From time to time they made sallies. For the first time the Carthaginians lost more men then the Romans. Also for the first time Hannibal was betrayed by his men, 272 soldiers of his Numidian cavalry joined the Romans. The next day the Carthaginians were gone. Marcellus sent out men to see were they were going. Hannibal was heading for Tarentum.
Two citizens of Tarentum had promised Hannibal to open the gates for him. These were Philemenus and Nico. Philemenus had promised Hannibal that he would be able to let the Carthaginians enter the city through a small gate. Nico had promised Hannibal the entrance through the main gate. Hannibal took his infantry with him and marched to the city at night. On a signal, given by Hannibal, Philemenus and Nico killed the guards at the gates and opened the gates for Hannibal's army. Hannibal ordered his army to kill the Romans, but to spare the lives of the citizens. The Roman force inside the city was confused. Was this the citizens or the Carthaginians that attacked them? Many of them fled to the castrum, in the middle of the harbor. Hannibal finally conquered a large port, but its harbor was useless.