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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 43: Claudius plans to travel North[207 BC]
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After Hasdrubal had raised the siege of Placentia, he sent off four Gaulish and two Numidian troopers with despatches to Hannibal. They had passed through the midst of the enemy, and almost traversed the length of Italy, and were following Hannibal's retreat to Metapontum when they missed the road and were brought to Tarentum. Here they were caught by a Roman foraging party dispersed amongst the fields, and conducted to the propraetor Quintus Claudius. At first they tried to mislead him by evasive answers, but the fear of torture compelled them to confess the truth, and they informed him that they were the bearers of despatches from Hasdrubal to Hannibal. They and the despatches, with seals intact, were handed over to Lucius Verginius, one of the military tribunes. He was furnished with an escort of two troops of Samnite cavalry, and ordered to conduct the six troopers to the consul Claudius Nero. After the despatches had been translated to him, and the prisoners had been examined, the consul saw that the regulation which confined each consul to the province and the army and the enemy which had been designated for him by the senate would not in the present instance be beneficial to the republic. He would have to venture upon a startling innovation, and though at the outset it might create as much alarm among his own countrymen as amongst the enemy, it would, when carried through, turn their great fear into great rejoicing. Hasdrubal's despatches he sent on to the senate together with one from himself explaining his project. As Hasdrubal had written to say that he would meet his brother in Umbria, he advised the senators to recall the Roman legion from Capua, raise troops in Rome, and with this City force oppose the enemy at Narnia. This was what he wrote to the senate. But he also sent couriers into the districts through which he intended to march Marrucina, Frentanum and Praetutia to warn the inhabitants to collect all the supplies from the towns and the country districts and have them in readiness on the line of march to feed the troops. They were also to bring their horses and other draught animals so that there might be an ample supply of vehicles for the men who fell out through fatigue. Out of the whole of his army he selected a force of 6000 and 1000 cavalry, the flower of the Roman and allied contingents, and gave out that he intended to seize the nearest city in Lucania with its Carthaginian garrison, so that all should be ready to march. Starting by night, he turned off in the direction of Picenum. Leaving Quintus Catius, his second in command, in charge of the camp he marched as rapidly as he could to join his colleague.
Hannibal in South-Italy, 207 BC and Battle of Metaurus, 207 BC