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pected reinforcements as well as to feed his present troops. And it is worthy of remark here that if Hasdrubal could have gone by sea to the south of Italy, in place of being obliged to march through Cisalpine Graul, the accession of strength which his arrival would have brought to Hannibal would not only have enabled him to relieve Capua, but perhaps to reduce Rome to the very brink of ruin.
The consuls for the year were Cn. Fulvius, who had been praetor two years before (not that Cn. Fulvius who was defeated at Herdonea), and P. Sulpicius. They remained at Rome for some time to organise their troops, and eventually passed into Apulia with the two legions of liberated slaves which had dispersed at the death of Gracchus but had been re-assembled, and the two legions which had formed the city garrison during the preceding year. The late consuls Appius and Fulvius continued to direct the siege of Capua as proconsuls, and were ordered not to quit the place until it surrendered. Claudius Nero with his two legions continued at Capua under the orders of the consuls. Thus six legions were employed before that place.
The same forces continued to be employed in Etruria, in Cisalpine Gaul, Spain, Sicily, and Sardinia—the total number of legions maintained being twenty-five—the same as the preceding year.
At the commencement of this campaign no army was immediately opposed to Hannibal in Apulia, as it was thought urgent not to recall the troops from Etruria or Cisalpine Gaul. And in Sicily the siege of Syracuse being just terminated, it was of great importance to Rome to complete the conquest of that island.
The citadel of Tarentum was well provisioned and safe for the present. The lines before Capua were finished, and were sufficiently strong to enable the besieging force of 70,000 men to withstand the efforts of Hannibal from without, and those of the garrison from within.
Meanwhile the Capuans awaited with anxious hope the appearance of their great ally. They made constant sorties, but although their cavalry always had the advantage against the Eoman cavalry, their infantry was decidedly inferior and they could not therefore hope to force the Roman lines. The constant inferiority of the Roman cavalry led to the more perfect organisation of the Roman light infantry, which was composed of the strongest and most supple and active youths to be found in the army. This force which now first received the name of "velites," was armed the same as before, viz. with a small round shield and with seven darts of four feet in length having sharp iron points. The velites by constant training came at length to be able to act with the cavalry; accompanying them "en croupe" in their changes of position, and even during the charge, on the first shock of which they jumped to the ground and gliding between and under the horses annoyed the enemy with their darts. It is said that in the cavalry fight which the Romans provoked after this new organisation of the light troops, the Capuans, disconcerted by the novelty of such a mode of fighting, were com