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I – In Sicily died Gerone (308 - 215), our faithful ally in good and bad luck.
He reigned for forty-five years.

Because his son Gelone disappeared the year before, his successor was his nephew Geronimo, who at that time counted only fifteen years.


Adranodorus and Zoippo, Gerone’s sons-in-law, Geronimo's guardians, fearing that the Romans would have had a strong influence on the people of Syracuse, thus making their ambitions unmanageable, decided to desert from the Romans to join the Carthaginians.

Geronimo, as young as fickle, was induced by them to betray by saying that Hannibal was destroying the armies of Rome.

The Carthaginian, having with great promise conquered the favor of Adranodoro and Zoippo, was informed that Geronimo had been convinced by them to associate with Carthage.

Promptly Hannibal sent to Geronimo two of his fiduciaries, Hippocrates and Epicides, both Carthaginians but originally of Syracuse.


Through them the young king agreed with Annibale that, once having driven the Romans from Sicily, the island would be divided between Syracusans and Carthaginians, having the Imera River as boundary of their respective domains.

Given the good disposition manifested by the two Carthaginians, Geronimo, after a few days, changed his mind, asked for the whole of Sicily.

Hippocrates and Epicides, realized having to do with a fool, promised to intercede with Hannibal, whose good disposition, they said, was certain.

Feeling himself master of the whole island, Geronimo got ready to attack Leontini, (today Lentini) where stood a Roman garrison.

Sent ahead Hippocrates and Epicides, each with two thousand soldiers, Geronimo advanced with fifteen thousand infantry men and knights.
But fallen into an ambush, perhaps prepared on the instigation of the same Carthaginians, was killed.

Leontini was taken by the Syracusans, the Roman garrison massacred.

Died Geronimo, Syracuse rushed into the most complete anarchy, the various factions committed horrendous crimes, neither the daughters nor Gerone's nephews were spared.

In this situation the true masters of the city turned out to be Hippocrates and Epicides.

The Praetor Appio Claudio, informed the Senate of the event, moved all his troops to the borders of the Syracuse kingdom. The Senate committed consul Marcello the command of operations in Sicily.

Appio Claudio


II – Those of Leontini, hoping for Carthaginians' help, refused to negotiate with Marcello, who attacked the city, before the Syracusans' relief arrived, in a short time (214) conquered the city, avenging the massacre of the Roman garrison.

When the walls were knocked down, Leontini ceased to be a threat to the Romans.

The happy outcome of his first clash convinced Marcello to attack Syracuse.
At first he attacked the city on the side of the sea, having mounted on sixty-five ships powerful war machines. But in Syracuse there was Archimedes, an extraordinary inventor, constructor of throw machines and all sorts of defensive works.


The inventions of Archimedes made the Roman attacks vain and Marcello had to fall back on the siege, surrounding Syracuse by the ground and by the sea.

Once this was made, he left with at least the third part of his army, to bring under the rule of Rome the Sicilian cities which had defected.

Eloro (not far from Noto, at the mouth of the River Tellaro) and Erbesso (perhaps the current Pantalica) surrendered. Megara Hyblea was taken with the strength and looted.

The war was extending to the whole of Sicily.

The Carthaginian Imilcone disembarked at Eraclea Minoa with twenty-five thousand infantry men and three thousand knights, greeted by an Hannibal message urging him to regain Sicily.

In an attempt to annihilate Marcello's troops, Hippocrates left Syracuse with ten thousand infantry and five hundred knights, to reunite with Imilcone.


Agrigento surrendered.

Marcello, having failed to prevent the enemy, came back from Agrigento when surprised the Syracusans of Hippocrates, slaughtered the infantry, while the knights with Hippocrates took refuge in Acre (Palazzolo Acreide).

Encouraged by Marcello's victory, the philo-Roman towns did not defect.

Marcello returned to Syracuse.


III - Almost at the same time the commander of the Carthaginian fleet, Bomilcare deployed fifty-five ships in front of the great port of Syracuse, but since the Roman forces were superior, neither could receive supplies by the Syracusan allies, who were already beginning to lack provisions, he returned to Carthage.


At the other end of Sicily the Romans disembarked at Panormo (Palermo), a legion.

Imilcone thinking that easily he would have overhelmed these troops, set out along the interior of the island.

But the Romans, once again embarked, came to Pachino by sea.
Imilcone then followed the island again to induce Sicilian cities to abandon the alliance with the Romans.

The first to surrender was Morgantia (Morgantina, today Aidone), where we had massed a great deal of wheat.
Many other cities defected, even Enna, “urbs inexpugnabilis” (impregnable city) was preparing to do so, but the commander of the Roman garrison, the centurion Lucio Pinario, did not fall into the trap tricked by the Ennesi with Imilcone's help, but pretending to adhere to the demands of the notables, who asked him to hand over the keys of the city, said he would do so if the people's assembly had asked for it.

Invited to attend the assembly in the theater, Pinario's soldiers, formerly instructed, occupied all the way out and at a signal of Pinario attacked the citizens, carrying out perhaps a cruel, certainly necessary, massacre.

So Enna was kept up to the Romans and the garrison stood safe.
The massacre did not reconcile the Sicilians with the Romans, but Marcello not only did not disapprove, but even granted the soldiers the booty.

Hippocrates took refuge in Morgantia, Imilcone went to Agrigento, Marcello returned to Syracuse's siege, and having authorized the praetor Appio Claudio to go to Rome to ask for the consulate, appointed commander of the fleet Tito Quinzio Crispino.

Tito Quinzio Crispino


IV – Meanwhile, the horizon of the war became wider.

In Africa Numidia was divided into two kingdoms, to the west the one of Maesesili, to the east of Carthage, that of the Massili, head of the one was Siface, of the other Gaia.

Since the Carthaginians had resolved to support Gaia, it seemed to the Scipioni that this might be a good opportunity to earn Siface to the Roman cause.

They sent ambassadors to the king by offering friendship and alliance against the common Carthaginian enemy.


The happy king rejoined the embassy by committing his men to cause the Numidians in the Carthaginian field to desert.

Immediately the Carthaginians sent Gaia ambassadors inviting him to go to war against Siface with their help.

Masinissa, son of Gaia, young and belligerent, wanted nothing more than the war.

And war was.


The severely defeated Siface had to take refuge in the furthest lands of his kingdom.

In Spain the only event worthy of note was the passage of the Celtiberi youth in the Roman field.

It was the first time that the Romans enlisted mercenaries. 


V – In Italy, Hannibal had not given up the idea of capturing Taranto, to have at his disposal a great port, where to receive all sorts of supplies, and at the same time to offer king Filippo V an easy landing in Italy.

Promised great prizes to the anti-Roman faction, he awaited the events.
When his accomplices were ready, they warned Hannibal to approach the city.

These maneuvers did not escape our Tarantini friends, who in turn warned Marco Livio, garrison commander, of the imminent danger.

The Roman then decided to fortify in the acropolis, which on the one hand dominates the harbor, on the opposite side confines with the lower city.

Carrying all the war machines on the fortress the Romans prepared to resist.

The conspirators, having realized that they had been discovered, fearing for their own lives, informed Hannibal, nightly opened the gates of the city.

The Carthaginians rushed inside, but in the meantime Marco Livio had stood with his men on the rock.
It seemed to Hannibal that it was easy to force the Romans to surrender, but as soon as his troops approached the moat that our soldiers had dug to separate the acropolis from the low city, they were attacked by the legionaries and forced to retreat.

In order to prevent the Romans from making new sorties, Hannibal ordered to build a wall.

Only then did the Carthaginian realize what had been hidden: the harbor was in the hands of the Romans, and therefore they could be supplied at will.

Taranto's defection was followed by those of Metaponto and Turii


VI – In Rome were elected consuls Quinto Fulvio Flacco, for the third time and Appio Claudio Pulcro.
To Marcello was extended the command in Sicily, to Levino the command of the fleet, to Varrone, as already mentioned, the Piceno defense.

Quinto Fulvio Flacco Varrone

With some regret we, that served in the army of Varrone, left the fortifications, we had built near Siponto, in the Daunia Mountains.

In fact we had established a strong friendship with the peasants and shepherds of the place, so that in those years we never lacked anything and even many fishermen often carried us good fish from the two great lakes in northern Daunia (the lake of Lesina and that of Varano).

Therefore it was with some sadness that we left those friends and those places from which you can see the wonderful expanse of the Adriatic Sea.

Gaio Terenzio, facing the grief of the population, promised that we would not abandon them to the Carthaginian fury, remembering their friendship we would always defend them, in the meantime we left to the shepherds our fortifications. then we started defending Piceno, while Lucania was assigned to Tiberio Sempronio Gracco.

Tiberio Sempronio Gracco

The consuls, assuming the command of the legions, that were located at Benevento, marched toward the Capuano territory, devastating the campaigns and threatening Capua itself.

Assuming that Hannibal, having left Apulia, would defend Capua, in order not to leave Benevento without defenses, the consuls asked Tiberio Gracco to leave Lucania with a cavalry contingent and the light infantry.

Gracco, while preparing for the departure, betrayed by a Lucano, fell with his escort in an ambush at the site known as “Old Camps”.

The death of such a famous and beloved man was not only a cause of great pain but even caused the general break up of the legions formed by the slaves liberated by Gracco, fearing those, with the death of their patron, would have fallen into slavery again.


VII – Appio Claudio and Quinto Fulvio, as soon as they arrived in Capuano territory, began war operations.

In these early situations, the Capuans, comforted by the news that Hannibal was coming to their aid, fought with great ardor.
The Carthaginian, considering the initial difficulties encountered by ours, was convinced that his only presence would have thrown the Romans into panic.

But the consuls, fearless at all, accepted the clash, which was very violent. Pressed by the enemy cavalry, ours were about to surrender when presented  on the battlefield Gneo Cornelio Lentulo, who had replaced Gracco in the command of the Roman contingent.

Hannibal fearing to be assaulted behind retired to his camp, but also the consuls brought their troops into camps to treat the injured.

The next day the consuls, wanting to avert Hannibal from Capua, came out of their camps, Fulvio headed for Cuma, Appio for Lucania.
Hannibal after a first uncertainty decided to pursue Appio, who, made a wide turn, on another road returned to Capua.

The preparation of the siege of Capua began by storing grain in Casilinum, at the mouth of the Volturno a fortress was built, in Puteoli there was detached a strong garrison.

In this way, controlling the Tyrrhenian sea and the Volturno river, from Ostia was transported the wheat that Tito Manlio had sent from Sardinia, so that in the winter nothing was lacking to the army.


VIII – While the consuls with great care prepared the siege of Capua, praetor Gneo Fulvio Flacco, brother of the consul, after regaining some Apule cities, camped near Herdonea (today Ordona in the province of Foggia), allowing his soldiers to indulge in each license, ignoring discipline.

Meanwhile Hannibal, fearing a general uprising of Lucania and Apulia, convinced that Capua did not run an imminent risks, went to Herdonea, where he knew that the Roman praetor had encamped with two legions.

Dragged by his own soldiers, Gneo Fulvio run up to Hannibal and run up to a shameful defeat.
As the legionaries had been tracotating with the allies, as they were cowardly in battle, overtaken by Gneo Fulvio who, as soon as he saw signs of collapse, was the first to flee.

Of the Romans those who did not fall into battle dispersed in the countryside.

Approximately one year after Gneo Fulvio was committed of trial, accused of cowardice and unfitness. When he realized to be defenseless, left the Urbe (Roma) in voluntary exile, getting off with a pecuniary sanction.


IX – In order to minimize the defeat, the consuls and the praetor Publio Cornelio Lentulo were asked to collect the remains of the two legions and to bring under the insignia the slaves freed by Sempronio Gracco.

The consuls, called the praetor Claudio Nero from Claudio's Fields (Claudio Marcello) at Suessula, started the siege of Capua, digging a moat and raising a towered wall.

Claudio Nero

The Capuani, after having tried to impede the Romans, withdrew within their walls, not without sending to Hannibal complaining of the abandonment of their own city.

The Carthaginian replied disdainfully, he would come to their rescue as other times and that at his sole view the consuls would have gone away.
Hannibal was fought between the desire to capture the fortress of Taranto and the need not to abandon Capua.
The need prevailed.

So he left for Campania with a body of knights, with his light infantry and thirty-three elephants, in a short time arrived near Capua, warned Bostare and Magone, commanders of the Carthaginian garrison, to be ready with the Capuani and at his signal burst out of the walls assaulting the Romans.   


X –While the Carthaginians were approaching to Capua, ours deployed in such a way: Appio faced the Capuani and the Carthaginian garrison, Fulvio opposed Hannibal, while Nero with the cavalry of the six legions covered Suessula.

When the battle began, Appio rejected the Capuani and forced them to take refuge within the walls.
Bravely fighting in the front row, while exhorting his soldiers, Appio was seriously injured in his chest.

Fulvio was attacked by the enemy cavalry and by the infantry supported by the elephants, when he saw that the sixth legion was beginning to yield, called to himself the most valued of the centurions, ordered them to counterattack with all their strength.

The centurion Quinto Navio, an extraordinarily valiant man, advanced in the front row, dragged the legionaries against the Spanish cohort, that was about to break our lineup.

Impressive for his high stature Navio was targeted by the enemies, but he did not step back.
The melee enraged furiously.

Quinto Navio

Afflicted by our spears, elephants rushed to the moat.

The Spanish cohort was forced to retreat.

As Hannibal saw the attempt to take possession of the Roman camp failed, put the insignia back into his own camp.

Fulvio rejoiced not only for the outcome of the battle, but also because the Capuani saw that even Hannibal was unable to save them.


XI – Overpowered by his present impotence, the Carthaginian attempted to induce the Romans to abandon the siege of Capua, resorting to the stratagem of going to Rome, to drag the proconsul to his pursuit.

But Fulvio informed the Senate that the enemy did not have enough strength to menace the Urbe. However he would follow him with chosen troops, while Appio, wounded, remained at Capua.

Great was Hannibal's humiliation when he knew that as he approached Rome, two legions left the city to go to Spain.

Enraged the Carthaginian devastated all he could, then, turning wide from Capua, through Sannio and Lucania returned to the Bruttio.

The Capuani seeing themselves deserted and also Bostare and Annone, wrote to Annibale an harsh letter, complaining that not only he had abandoned the Capuani, but also the Carthaginian garrison, exposing them to every torture, hiding himself in the Bruttio not to see with his own eyes the fall of the city.


XII – Approaching the end of every hope, those of the Capuani who more than others had conspired for the delivery of the city to Hannibal, favoring the slaughter of the Roman garrison, fearing the delation by their fellow citizens, committed suicide.

Accepted the surrender of Capua, the proconsuls ordered to open the gate facing the Roman camp, from here Fulvio entered with a legion and two wings of knights.

He ordered to deliver all the weapons, sent sentinels to all the gates so that no one could escape, captured the Carthaginian garrison, handed over all gold and silver, and ordered the senators to go to the Roman camp where they were chained.

From here, those who headed the betrayal were sent, twenty-five to Cales (in the current Calvi Risorta, just north of Casilinum), twenty-eight to Teano Sidicino.

About the punishment of the culpable Appio and Fulvio disagreed, the latter, inflexible man, recalling the many suffering that the defeat of the Capuani had brought to the Romans, meant the price of their betrayal was to be paid with the most severe punishment. Appio instead thought that the Senate should be interviewed. By common decision a letter was sent to the Senate by asking for instructions.

Indeed not a few noble Capuani were related to many Roman nobles.

As the reply from Rome was late to arrive, Appio did not hold the enemy wound and came to death.
Then Fulvio, no longer waiting, left Capua with two thousand knights, came to Teano Sidicino, brought the Capuani senators into the forum, at first made  lose their senses by cane’s strokes, then decapitated them, according to the ancient costume.

Left Teano to Cales, here he was reached by the Senate letter.
Fulvio did not want to read it and inflicted on these Senators the same punishment imposed on those of Teano.
Later, reading the Senate's letter, he knew that he was asked to suspend the sentence.

As for Capua, it was not destroyed, but the inhabitants were dispersed in the countryside without being authorized to approach the city, which became a village inhabited by peasants without having its magistrates.

Justice was administered by a magistrate temporarily sent from Rome.


XIII – While Capua was besieged, in Sicily Marcello was uncertain if attacking Imilcone and Hippocrates in Agrigento, or assail Syracuse.

Enormous walls defended the vast city, which could be supplied by the Carthaginians through the harbor, but the Syracusans escaped with the Romans insisted that Marcello should not depart from Syracuse. Then he urged them to come into contact with those of their own party, who were trapped in the city, ensuring that if Syracuse had been delivered to the Romans, they would have lived freely, ruled by their own laws.

But the philo-Romans were closely guarded.

No contact was possible.

When a centurion discovered a weak spot in the Syracuse Walls, counting the number of stones and calculating their height as accurately as possible, he realized that a stretch of walls could be overcome with not too high stairs.

It often happens when the walls are very long, that to track the irregularities of  the ground, while their height always looks the same, indeed continually changes.
However, that stretch of walls was carefully watched.

As I have said above, abuses and violence governed the city so much that every day many refugees sheltered in the Roman camp.
One of them told that within few days Diana's fair would be held for three days.

Epicide, as the Romans had nothing prepared for the siege of the city, would offer wine to all the rejoicing people.


Marcello did not miss the opportunity, while the Syracusans banqueted and on the walls the same guards were drunk, sent a thousand armed with the most valiant of the centurions to climb the low walls, killed the guards, made the whole army advance, while those who had climbed the walls unhinged the gates of the city.


XIV - Syracuse is called Pentapoli (5 cities) and really within the walls there are five neighborhoods each similar to a city, they are: the Island (Ortigia), the Akradina, the Tiche, the Neapolis and the Elipolis.

Marcello had entered Elipolis, when Epicide, warned by the escape of the inhabitants, advanced from the island, thinking of a raid of few armed. When he realized that the Romans had entered with great strength, he ran to occupy Akradina, fearing in particular the rebellion of the Syracusans.

At the same time, he sent messengers to Imilcone and Hippocrates to ask for their rescue, if they did not want the whole city to fall into the enemy's hand.

When Marcello saw that it was useless to hope for the revolt of the philo-Romans, set his camp between Neapolis and the Tiche. Ordained to the soldiers not to massacre the people, but gave a free hand to the plunder.

Bomilcare, while the general attention was directed to that part of the city that the Romans occupied, sailed from the port of Syracuse with thirty-five ships, to return from Carthage, after a few days, with a hundred ships.

Marcello, meanwhile, besieged Akradina in an attempt to get it hungry, but in the meantime had come from Agrigento with their army Imilcone and Hippocrates, consolidating near the great harbor. Later, along with those of Akradina, they attacked the Romans who, at the command of the legate Tito Quinzio Crispino, guarded the old camps.

Crispino, a very brave man, not only rejected, but fired his enemies.

At the same time, while Bomilcare landed supplies, Epicide moving from the island attacked Marcello, but was repelled.

Shortly later a violent plague spread among the Romans and the enemies.
Marcello, as the tremendous heat exacerbated the soldiers' conditions, put them in the shadow of the houses in the city, while the men of Imilcone and Hippocrates had no place to take refuge.

Terrified by the plague, the Sicilians, who had come to the aid of the Syracusans, fled each one to their own lands.
The Carthaginians, oppressed by plague and heat, all fell to the last man.

Not a few were our dead too. 


XV – Bomilcare resumed the sea, returned to Carthage by informing the senate of the critical situation in which their Syracusans allies were, but at the same time said that the Romans were too close, so if he returned to Syracuse with sufficient forces and abundant supplies would Even captured the enemies.

Convinced by the Senators, he departed from Carthage with a fleet of hundred and thirty warships and seven hundred warships (cargo ships).

Driven by favorable winds, Bomilcare came to Pachino shortly, but those winds that pushed him to the west prevented him from sailing to Syracuse.

Epicide fearing that, while the winds of the Levant continued, the Carthaginian fleet returned to Africa, leaving the Akradina in the hands of the mercenaries, sailed to Bomilcare.
In this situation Marcello, preventing the moves of the Sicilians, who intended to free Syracuse from the siege of Rome and at the same time want to prevent Bomilcare from landing in the great harbor, took the sea with the fleet commanded by Crispino.

Bomilcare, despite having more power, when he saw that Crispino was running against him, caught with no fear whatsoever, took off.

Epicide saw his hopes falling down, not to be trapped in Syracuse, went to Agrigento, waiting for the events.


XVI – When the Syracusans came to know about the escape of Epicide and therefore the Island had been abandoned, they understood that they had no alternative except the yield.

Therefore, killed the Epicide lieutenants, they nominated six governors who, by accusing Geronimo, Hippocrates, and the same Epicide the fault of desertion,  had to treat the surrender, willing at any cost to reconcile with the Romans.
But their desire was frustrated, as the mercenaries and Sicilians, who had deserted by the Roman army, lorded in the city.

The deserters, fearing that Marcello would not have pity on them, first killed the six governors, then began to kill the Syracusans, while the mercenaries anxiously asked what arrangements had been made with the Romans, finally they realized that unequal was their destiny from that of the deserters, reassured by Marcello's messengers, left to their destiny the deserters, who entrenched in Akradina.

Marcello granted to those who wanted to escape the space to do so, ordered the latest assault.
The deserters, showing themselves so vile, as they were cruel, gave themselves to an ignominious escape.

Guarded the houses of the Romans' friends, Marcello gave a free hand to the plundering of Akradina.

It is reported that in the fury of the plunder a soldier killed Archimedes.
His relatives sought by Marcello were saved.

The one which had been the largest city in the world had to give Rome the primacy, but according to the agreements with Marcello, retained its institutions and although subjected to us, it was designated as the capital of Roman Sicily.

Indeed, Greek cities were always rivals of the Carthaginians and in particular Syracuse.
The choice of Adranodoro and Zoippo, who, as guardians of the young Geronimo heir of the great Gerone, handed the city over to the Carthaginians, betraying a glorious past, prepared the end of Syracusan grandeur.

A huge booty fell in Roman hands.


Marcello brought to Rome the treasures of Greek art, involuntarily provoking an insurmountable conflict between those who opened up to the Greek influence and those who refused any mixture.

Publius Cornelio Scipione “the African”, was the most famous exponent of the innovative current, Marco Porcio Catone “the Censore”, was the representative of the other current of thought.

Publius Cornelio Scipione “the African” Marco Porcio Catone “the Censore”

Famous is a letter from Catone to his son, in which he, referring to the Greeks, wrote, "I will teach you, O son, what mass of uncorrectable rogues they are".

That was not just an ideal, but above all a political confrontation.

To use an actual expression, Catone was an isolationist, who did not admit allies but subjects.
On the contrary, the African thought that the interests of Rome would be better guaranteed by granting to the defeated people those conditions that the very ancient Rome had granted to the Latins




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