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BATTLE OF THE METAURUS.

his brother. He. sent messengers to Hannibal to announce his own line of march, and to propose that they should unite their armies in South Umbria, and then wheel round against Rome. Those messengers traversed the greater part of Italy in safety; but, when close to the object of their mission, were captured by a Roman detachment; and Hasdrubal’s letter, detailing his whole plan of the campaign, was laid, not in his brother's hands, but in those of the commander of the Roman armies of the south. Nero saw at once the full importance of the crisis. The two sons of Hamilcar were now within two hundred miles of each other, and if Rome were to be saved the brothers must never meet alive. Nero instantly ordered seven thousand picked men, a thousand being cavalry, to hold themselves in readiness for a secret expedition against one of Hannibal's garrisons; and as soon as night had set in, he hurried forward on his bold enterprise: but he quickly left the southern road towards Lucania, and wheeling round, pressed northward with the utmost rapidity, towards Picenum. He had, during the preceding afternoon, sent messengers to Rome, who were to lay Hasdrubal's letters before the senate. There was a law forbidding a consul to make war or march his army beyond the limits of the province assigned to him, but in such an emergency, Nero