But this was a poor compensation for the now inevitable fall of Capua.
Long had its citizens, particularly the better passes, anticipated
with sorrowful forebodings what was coming; the senate-house and the
administration of the city were left almost exclusively to the leaders
of the popular party hostile to Rome. Now despair seized high and
low, Campanians and Phoenicians alike. Twenty-eight senators chose a
voluntary death; the remainder gave over the city to the discretion of
an implacably exasperated foe.
Of course a bloody retribution had to
follow; the only discussion was as to whether the process should be
long or short: whether the wiser and more appropriate course was to
probe to the bottom the further ramifications of the treason even
beyond Capua, or to terminate the matter by rapid executions. Appius
Claudius and the Roman senate wished to take the former course; the
latter view, perhaps the less inhuman, prevailed.