Thus ended the battle of Cannae, a battle where prodigies of valor were seen on both sides. "Of the six thousand horse of which the Roman cavalry was composed, only seventy Romans reached Venusia with Varro, and, of the auxiliary cavalry, only three hundred men found shelter in various towns. Ten thousand foot were taken prisoners, but they were not in the battle.
But this siege was raised by Hannibal's bringing his forces to Lacinium, and in consequence of a report, that his colleague, with whom he wished to effect a junction, had now led his army from Venusia. He therefore returned from Bruttium into Apulia, and the consuls took up a position in two separate camps, distant from each other less than three miles, between Venusia and Bantia.
C. Egnatius Marus of Venusia was flamen of the emperor Tiberius, pontifex, and praefectus fabrum, and three times duovir quinquennalis, which seems to show a deference to a man who was the priest of the emperor, and seems to preclude an election by the citizens after a regular term of other offices.
Nor was it even now restricted to the territory on Rome's side of the mountains; the last war had shown but too clearly that the Roman rule over central Italy was only secured, if it reached from sea to sea. Of a similar nature and of still greater importance was the founding of Venusia , whither the unprecedented number of 20,000 colonists was conducted.
He now hoped that under the first impression made by the great battle on the Romans he should be able to secure the freedom of the Greek towns in Italy, and to call into existence between them and Rome a series of states of the second and third order as dependent allies of the new Greek power; for such was the tenor of his demands: the release of all Greek towns and therefore of the Campanian and Lucanian towns in particular from allegiance to Rome, and restitution of the territory taken from the Samnites, Daunians, Lucanians, and Bruttians, or in other words especially the surrender of Luceria and Venusia.
In the Latin colony of Venusia a free peasant had been seized by a young Roman diplomatist not holding office but passing through the town, on account of a jest which he had allowed himself to make on the Roman's litter, had been thrown down, and whipped to death with the straps of the litter.
Croton and Locri on the other hand were partly carried by storm, partly forced to capitulate, by the united Phoenicians and Bruttians; and the citizens of Croton were conducted to Locri, while Bruttian colonists occupied that important naval station. The Latin colonies in southern Italy, such as Brundisium, Venusia, Paesturn, Cosa, and Cales, of course maintained unshaken fidelity to Rome.
In a political point of view, the insurrection had gained ground on all sides during this first year of the war; the secession of Nola, the rapid capitulation of the strong and large Latin colony of Venusia, and the Umbro-Etruscan revolt were suspicious signs that the Roman symmachy was tottering to its very base and was not in a position to hold out against this last trial.
The Romans put their forces under one Varro, a business man, who was considered the champion of popular liberty. The armies met on the field of Cannæ, on the banks of the river Aufidus which enters the Adriatic, and there the practical man was defeated with tremendous slaughter, though he was able himself to escape toward the mountains to Venusia, and again to return to Canusium.
As soon as daylight discovered the flight of the enemy, Marcellus, leaving his wounded under the protection of a small garrison at Numistro, in command of which he placed Lucius Furius Purpureo, a military tribune, commenced a close pursuit of Hannibal, and overtook him at Venusia.