Livy, Book 29: Scipio in Africa
[29.1]On his arrival in Sicily Scipio organised the volunteers into maniples and centuries, and selected three hundred of the most robust and active whom he kept about his person. They did not carry arms, and did not know why they were unarmed, and why they were not included in the centuries. Then he picked out of the whole military population of Sicily three hundred of the noblest and wealthiest and formed them into a cavalry corps to take with him into Africa. He fixed a day on which they were to present themselves fully equipped with horses and arms. The prospect of a campaign far from home with its many toils and great dangers both by land and sea appalled the young fellows as well as their parents and relations. When the appointed day arrived they all appeared fully armed and accounted. Scipio then told them that it had come to his knowledge that some of the Sicilian cavalry were looking forward with dread to their expedition as one full of difficulties and hardships. If any of them felt like that he would rather that they owned it at once than that the republic should have reluctant and inefficient soldiers who were always grumbling. They should speak out their mind, he would listen to them without any feeling of resentment. One of them ventured to say that if he were free to choose he would rather not go, whereupon Scipio replied: "Since, young man, you have not concealed your real sentiments I will provide a substitute for you; you will give up to him your horse and your arms and other military outfit and take him with you at once to train him and instruct him in the management of a horse and the use of arms." The man was delighted to get off on these terms and Scipio handed over to him one of the three hundred whom he was keeping unarmed. When the others saw the trooper exempted in this way with the commander's approval they, every one of them, excused themselves and accepted a substitute. By this means the Romans replaced the three hundred Sicilian cavalry without any expense to the State. The Sicilians had all the care of their training, for the general's orders were that any one who did not carry this out would have to go on active service himself. It is said that this turned out a splendid squadron of cavalry and did good work for the republic in many battles.
Then he inspected the legions and picked out the men who had seen most service, particularly those who had been under Marcellus, as he considered that these had been trained in the best school, and after their protracted investment of Syracuse were thoroughly familiar with the methods of attacking fortified places. In fact Scipio was not contemplating any small operations, he had already fixed his mind on the capture and destruction of Carthage. He then distributed his army amongst the fortified towns and ordered the Sicilians to supply corn, thus husbanding what had been brought from Italy. The old ships were refitted and C. Laelius was sent with them to plunder the African coast; the new ones he beached at Panormus, as owing to their hasty construction they had been built of unseasoned wood and he wished them to be on dry land through the winter. When his preparations for war were completed, Scipio visited Syracuse. This city had not yet recovered its tranquillity after the violent convulsions of the war. Certain men of Italian nationality had seized the property of some Syracusans at the time of the capture, and though the senate had ordered its restitution they still retained it. After making fruitless efforts to recover it, the Greeks came to Scipio for redress. He felt that confidence in the honesty of the government was of the very first importance, and by issuing a proclamation and pronouncing judgment against those who persisted in keeping possession he succeeded in restoring their property to the Syracusans. This action on his part was gratefully appreciated not only by the owners themselves but by all the cities of Sicily, and they exerted themselves more than ever to assist him.
During this summer an extensive war broke out in Spain at the instigation of Indibilis, whose sole motive was his intense admiration for Scipio which made him think lightly of other commanders. The people looked upon him as the only general the Romans had left to them, all the others having been killed by Hannibal. Indibilis told the Spaniards that it was owing to this there was no one else who could be sent to Spain after the two Scipios were killed, and when the war began to press more heavily on Italy he was recalled home as the only man who could oppose Hannibal. The Roman generals in Spain were nothing but names and the veteran army had been withdrawn; now there was confusion everywhere, and an untrained mob of raw recruits. Never again would Spain have such a chance of recovering its liberty. Up to that time it had been in bondage to either the Romans or the Carthaginians, nor always to one alone, occasionally to both at the same time. The Carthaginians had been expelled by the Romans, the Romans could be expelled by the Spaniards if they were unanimous, and then with their country freed for ever from foreign domination they could return to the traditions and rites of their forefathers. By arguments of this kind he succeeded in rousing his own people and their neighbours, the Ausetani. Other tribes round joined them and in a few days 30,000 infantry and about 4000 cavalry mustered in the Sedetanian territory, the appointed rendezvous.
[29.2].The Roman commanders, L. Lentulus and L. Manlius Acidinus, were determined not to let the war spread through any remissness on their part. They united their forces and marched with their combined strength through the Ausetanian territory, inflicting no injury on either the hostile or the peaceable districts, until they came to where the enemy was encamped. They fixed their own camp at a distance of three miles from that of the enemy, and sent envoys to persuade him to lay down his arms. When, however, the Spanish horse attacked a party of foragers, cavalry supports were at once hurried up from the Roman outposts, and a skirmish took place without any special advantage to either side. On the morrow the whole of the Spanish army marched under arms and in battle formation to within a mile of the Roman camp. The Ausetani formed the centre, the Ilergetes were on the right and the left was made up of various nameless tribes. Between the wings and the centre open spaces were left, wide enough to allow of the cavalry charging through when the right moment arrived. The Roman line was formed in the usual way, except that they so far copied the enemy as to leave spaces between the legions for their cavalry also to pass through. Lentulus, however, saw that this disposition would be of advantage to that side only who were the first to send their cavalry through the wide gaps in the opposing line. Accordingly he gave the military tribune, Servius Cornelius, orders to send his cavalry at full speed through the openings. He himself, finding that his infantry were making no progress, and that the twelfth legion, who were on the left, opposed to the Ilergetes, were beginning to give ground, brought up the thirteenth legion who were in reserve to their support. As soon as the battle was restored in this quarter he rode up to L. Manlius, who was at the front encouraging his men and bringing up assistance wherever it was required, and pointed out to him that all was safe on his left and that S. Cornelius, acting under his orders, would soon envelop the enemy with a whirlwind of cavalry. He had hardly said this when the Roman cavalry charging into the middle of the enemy threw his infantry into confusion, and at the same time barred the passage for the Spanish horse. These, finding themselves unable to act as cavalry, dismounted and fought on foot. When the Roman commanders saw the enemy's ranks in disorder, confusion and panic spreading and the standards swaying to and fro, they appealed to their men to break up the enemy while thus shaken and not let them re-form their line. The barbarians would not have withstood the furious attack which followed had not Indibilis and his dismounted cavalry placed themselves in front to screen the infantry. There was very violent fighting for some time, neither side giving way. The king though half dead kept his ground till he was pinned to the earth by a javelin, and then those who were fighting round him were at last overwhelmed beneath showers of missiles. A general flight began and the carnage was all the greater because the troopers had no time to recover their horses, and the Romans never relaxed the pursuit until they had stripped the enemy of his camp. 13,000 Spaniards were killed on that day and about 1800 prisoners taken. Of the Romans and allies a little more than 200 fell, mainly on the left wing. The Spaniards who had been routed on the field or driven out of their camp, dispersed amongst the fields, and finally returned to their respective communities.
[29.3]After this Mandonius summoned a meeting of the national council, at which loud complaints were uttered about the disasters they had incurred, and the authors of the war were strongly denounced. It was resolved to send envoys to make a formal surrender and offer to give up their arms. They threw all the blame on Indibilis for starting the war, and on the other chieftains also, most of whom had fallen in the battle. The reply they received was that their surrender would only be accepted on condition of their giving up Mandonius alive and the other instigators of the war; failing this, the Roman army would march into the country of the Ilergetes and Ausetani, and into the territories of other nations one after another. When this reply was reported to the council, Mandonius and the other chiefs were at once arrested and handed over for punishment. Peace was re-established amongst the Spanish tribes. They were required to furnish double pay for the troops that year, a six months' supply of corn, and cloaks and togas for the army. Hostages were also demanded from about thirty tribes. In this way the revolt in Spain was crushed without any serious disturbance, and all the terror of our arms was turned towards Africa. C. Laelius reached Hippo Regius in the night, and at daybreak his soldiers and the crews of the vessels were sent ashore for the purpose of ravaging the surrounding country. As the inhabitants were all peacefully pursuing their avocations and suspecting no danger, considerable mischief was done amongst them. Wild alarm was spread through Carthage by the breathless fugitives, who declared that a Roman fleet had arrived under the command of Scipio; the report of his having crossed over to Sicily had already got abroad. As no one was quite clear as to how many ships had been sighted, or what was the strength of the force that was landed, they were led by their fears to exaggerate everything. When they had recovered from the first shock of alarm they were filled with consternation and grief. "Has Fortune," they asked, "so completely changed that the nation which in the pride of victory had an army before the walls of Rome, and after making so many of the enemy's armies bite the dust, forced or persuaded into submission all the peoples of Italy should now in the recoil of war have to witness the desolation of Africa and the siege of Carthage without having anything like the resources which the Romans have wherewith to meet these troubles? In the Roman plebs and in Latium they are supplied with a soldiery which is always growing more efficient and more numerous to replace all the armies they have lost, whilst our common people are utterly unwarlike whether in town or country. We have to hire mercenaries from amongst the Africans, upon whom no dependence can be placed, who are as fickle as the wind. The native sovereigns are hostile now; Syphax has quite turned against us since his interview with Scipio; Masinissa has openly declared himself our bitterest enemy. Nowhere does there appear the slightest prospect of help. Mago has not created any outbreak in Gaul nor has he effected a junction with Hannibal; Hannibal himself is weakening, both in prestige and in strength."
[29.4]The Carthaginians were recalled from the gloomy reflections into which the dire news had plunged them by the pressure of immediate danger and the necessity of devising means to meet it. They decided to raise a hasty levy from the town and country population alike, to send officers to enlist African mercenaries, to strengthen the defences of the city, to accumulate stores of corn, to prepare a supply of weapons and armour, to fit out ships and despatch them against the Roman fleet at Hippo. In the midst of these preparations news came that it was Laelius, not Scipio, who was in command, that the force he had brought was only sufficient to make a raid and that the main strength of the war was still in Sicily. So they breathed freely once more, and began to send deputations to Syphax and the other princes with the view of consolidating their alliance. They even sent envoys to Philip with the promise of two hundred talents of silver to induce him to invade either Sicily or Italy. Instructions were also sent to their generals in Italy to keep Scipio fully employed at home and so prevent him from leaving the country. To Mago they sent not only instructions but also 25 warships, a force of 6000 infantry, 800 cavalry and 7 elephants. A large amount of money was also forwarded to him to enable him to raise a body of mercenaries, with which he might be able to move nearer Rome and form a junction with Hannibal. Such were the preparations and plans of Carthage. While Laelius was carrying off the enormous quantity of booty which he had taken from the defenceless and unprotected peasantry, Masinissa, who had heard of the arrival of the Roman fleet, came with a small escort to visit him. He complained of the want of energy shown by Scipio. Why, he asked, had he not brought his army to Africa just at a time when the Carthaginians were in a state of dismay and consternation, and Syphax was preoccupied with war with his neighbours? He was quite certain that if time were allowed him for arranging matters as he wished, Syphax would be anything but a true friend to the Romans. Laelius must urge Scipio to push on without delay and he, Masinissa, though driven from his kingdom would assist him with a force of horse and foot, which would be by no means contemptible. Laelius himself, too, must not stay in Africa, there was reason to believe that a fleet had sailed from Carthage with which in Scipio's absence it would not be safe to engage. After this conversation Masinissa took his departure, and the following day Laelius left Hippo with his ships laden with plunder and returned to Sicily where he laid Masinissa's instructions before Scipio.
[29.5]It was about this time that the ships which had been despatched from Carthage to Mago appeared off the coast at a place situated between the Ingauni and Genua. Mago's fleet happened to be anchored there at the time, and as soon as he learnt the nature of the instructions brought to him and that he was to gather together as large a force as possible, he at once summoned a council of the Gallic and Ligurian chieftains, the two nationalities of which the large population of that country was composed. When they were assembled he told them that his mission was to restore them to liberty, and as they could see for themselves reinforcements were being sent to him from home. But it depended upon them what numbers and strength would be available for the war. There were two Roman armies in the field, one in Gaul, the other in Etruria, and he knew as a matter of fact that Spurius Lucretius would unite his forces with M. Livius. A good many thousands of men must be armed if they were to offer an effectual resistance to two Roman generals and two armies. The Gauls assured him that they were perfectly willing to do their part, but as one Roman camp was on their territory and the other just within the frontier of Etruria, almost within sight of them, any attempt to assist the Carthaginians openly would subject their country to an invasion from both sides. Mago must ask from the Gauls only such assistance as they could furnish secretly. As for the Ligurians, the Roman camp was a long way from their cities, they were therefore free to act as they chose, it was right that they should arm their men and take their fair share in the war. The Ligurians raised no objection, they only asked for an interval of two months in which to raise their force. Mago in the meantime after sending the Gauls home began to hire mercenary troops secretly throughout their country, and clandestine supplies were sent to him from the different communities. M. Livius marched his army of volunteer slaves from Etruria into Gaul and after joining hands with Lucretius made preparations for opposing any movement which Mago might make in the direction of Rome. If on the other hand the Carthaginians remained quiet in that corner of the Alps he would also stay where he was, near Ariminum, to defend Italy.
[29.6]Scipio's eagerness to carry out his project was quickened by the report which C. Laelius brought back of his conversation with Masinissa, and the troops, too, were very keen to make the voyage when they saw the whole of Laelius' fleet loaded with plunder taken from the enemy. His larger purpose, however, was crossed by a smaller undertaking, namely the conquest of Locri, one of the cities which in the general defection of Italy had gone over to the Carthaginians. The hope of achieving this object had arisen from a very trivial incident. The struggle in Bruttium had assumed the character of brigandage much more than that of regular warfare. The Numidians had commenced the practice, and the Bruttians followed their example, not so much because of their alliance with the Carthaginians as because it was their traditional and natural method of carrying on war. At last even the Romans were infected by the passion for plunder and, as far as their generals allowed them, used to make predatory incursions on the enemy's fields. A party of Locrians who had left the shelter of their city were caught by them in one of these raids and carried off to Regium, and amongst them were some artisans who had been working for the Carthaginians in the citadel of Locri. Many of the Locrian nobles who had been expelled by their opponents when the city was surrendered to Hannibal had retired to Regium and were living there at the time. They recognised these artisans and naturally after their long absence wanted to know what was going on at home. After replying to all their questions the prisoners said that if they were ransomed and sent back they believed that they could betray the citadel to them, as they lived there and were implicitly trusted by the Carthaginians. The nobles, filled as they were, with a yearning for home and burning to take vengeance on their opponents, came to an understanding with them as to how the project was to be executed and what signals those in the citadel were to look out for. They then promptly ransomed them and sent them back. Their next step was to proceed to Syracuse, where some of the refugees were staying, and interview Scipio. They told him what the prisoners had promised to do, and he felt that there was a reasonable prospect of success. Two military tribunes, M. Sergius and P. Matienus, accompanied them back to Regium with orders to take 3000 men from the garrison there and march to Locri. Written instructions were also sent to the propraetor Q. Pleminius to take command of the expedition.
The troops started from Regium carrying with them ladders specially constructed to reach the lofty elevation of the citadel and about midnight they arrived at the place from which they were to give the signal agreed upon. The conspirators were on the look out, and when they observed the signal they lowered ladders which they had made for the purpose, and in this way the assailants were able to mount at several different points simultaneously. Before any shouting arose they attacked the men on guard who, suspecting no danger, were asleep. Their dying groans were the first sounds that were heard, then there was the consternation of men suddenly awakened and not knowing the cause of the tumult, and at last when they discovered it they roused the rest and every man shouted his loudest, "To arms! the enemy is in the citadel and the sentinels are being killed!" The Romans, who were far outnumbered, would have been overpowered had not the shouts of those outside bewildered the garrison, whilst everything seemed more terrible in the confusion and panic of a nocturnal assault. The Carthaginians in their alarm imagined that the citadel was filled by the enemy, and abandoning all further resistance fled to the other citadel which was situated not far from the first. The city itself, which lay between the two as the prize of victory, was held by the townsmen. Sorties were made from each citadel and skirmishes went on day by day. Q. Pleminius commanded the Roman garrison and Hamilcar the Carthaginian. The numbers on each side were augmented by reinforcements from neighbouring positions. At last Hannibal himself moved up and the Romans would not have held out had not the population, embittered by the tyranny and rapacity of the Carthaginians, taken their side.
[29.7]When information reached Scipio as to the serious state of affairs at Locri and Hannibal's approach, he feared for the garrison, which would be in great danger owing to the difficulty of withdrawal. Leaving his brother Lucius in command of a detachment at Messana, he set sail as soon as the tide turned and allowed a favourable voyage. Hannibal had reached the river Bulotus, at a point not far from Locri, and had sent instructions from there to Hamilcar, ordering him to commence a violent attack on the Romans and Locrians, whilst he himself would deliver an assault on the opposite side of the city, which would be left unguarded as everyone's attention would be devoted to the attack which Hamilcar was making. He arrived before the city at daybreak and found the fighting already begun, but he would not confine himself in the citadel where his men, crowded together, would hamper one another's movements, and he had not brought scaling ladders for an attempt on the walls. After giving orders for the baggage to be piled, he displayed his army in battle formation with the view of intimidating the enemy. Whilst ladders were being got ready and preparations made for an assault he rode round the walls with his Numidians to see where an approach could best be made. As he was advancing towards the wall, one of those who happened to be close to him was struck by a missile from a scorpion, and, alarmed at the danger to which his men were exposed, he ordered the retreat to be sounded and entrenched himself in a position far beyond the range of any missiles. The Roman fleet arrived from Messana sufficiently early in the day to allow of the whole force disembarking and entering the city before sunset. The next day the Carthaginians began the fighting from the citadel, whilst Hannibal advanced to the walls with the scaling ladders and all other apparatus in readiness for the assault. Suddenly a gate was flung open, and the Romans sallied out against him - the last thing he was expecting. In their sudden charge they killed as many as 200, and Hannibal, finding that the consul was commanding in person, retired the rest of his force to his camp. He sent word to those in the citadel that they must provide for their own safety. During the night he broke up his camp and departed, and the men in the citadel, after setting their quarters on fire in order to delay any pursuit by the confusion thus created, followed and overtook their main body with a speed which looked very much like flight.
[29.8]When Scipio discovered that the citadel had been evacuated and the camp abandoned, he summoned the Locrians to an assembly and bitterly reproached them for their defection. The authors of the revolt were executed and their property assigned to the leaders of the other party as a reward for their exceptional loyalty to Rome. As regarded the political status of Locri he said that he would make no change, they were to send representatives to Rome, and what the senate thought right, that would be their fate. He added that he was quite sure that although they had behaved so badly to Rome, they would be better off under the Romans, incensed as they were against them, than under their friends, the Carthaginians. Leaving the detachment which had captured the citadel, with Pleminius in command, to protect the city, he returned with the troops he had brought to Messana. After their secession from Rome the Locrians had met with such tyrannical and brutal treatment from the Carthaginians, that they could have submitted to ordinary ill-usage not only with patience but almost with cheerfulness. But, as a matter of fact, Pleminius so far surpassed Hamilcar, his soldiers so far surpassed the Carthaginians in criminality and greed that they seemed to be rivalling one another in vice, not in courage. Nothing that can make the power of the strong hateful to the weak and defenceless was left undone by the general and his men in their conduct towards the townsmen. Unspeakable outrages were inflicted on their persons, their wives and their children. Their rapacity did not shrink even from sacrilege; not content with plundering the other temples it is recorded that they laid hands on the treasury of Proserpine, which had always been undisturbed, except by Pyrrhus, and even he restored the plunder and made a costly offering to expiate his sacrilegious deed. As on that occasion the king's ships, tempest tossed and shattered, brought to land nothing that was uninjured, except the sacred money of the goddess, so now by a disaster of a different kind the same money drove all who were contaminated by the violation of her temple to such a pitch of frenzy that general was turned against general, and soldier against soldier in all the madness of mortal strife.
[29.9]Pleminius was in supreme command, and he had with him the troops he had brought from Regium, the rest were under the military tribunes. One of his men was running off with a silver cup which he had stolen from a house, and the owners were running after him. He happened to meet Sergius and Matienus, the military tribunes, who ordered the cup to be taken from him. A dispute arose, angry shouts were raised, and at last a regular fight began between the soldiers of Pleminius and those of the military tribunes. As first one and then another ran up and joined his own side, the number and noise of the combatants went on increasing. Pleminius' party were worsted and ran to their commander with loud and angry shouts, showing him their wounds and blood-stained armour, and repeating the insulting language which had been used about him in the quarrel. He was furious, and rushing out of his house summoned the tribunes before him, and ordered them to be stripped and the rods got ready. This took some time, for they struggled and appealed for help to their men, who, excited by their recent victory, ran up from all parts as though they had been summoned to arms to repel an attack. When they saw the persons of their tribunes actually outraged by the rods they were kindled into ungovernable fury, and without the slightest respect for the majesty of office or even for humanity, they grossly maltreated the lictors, and then having separated Pleminius from his men and hemmed him in, they slit his nose and ears and left him half dead. All this was reported to Scipio at Messana, and a few days later he came in a six-banked galley to Locri, where he held a formal enquiry into the causes of the disturbance. Pleminius was acquitted and retained his post; the tribunes were declared to be guilty and thrown into chains with a view to their being sent to Rome. Scipio then returned to Messana, and from there proceeded to Syracuse. Pleminius was beside himself with rage. He considered that Scipio had treated his wrongs far too lightly, and that the only man who could assess the penalty was the man who had suffered the outrage. The tribunes were dragged before him, and after undergoing every torture which the human body can endure, were put to death. Even then his cruelty was not satiated and he ordered the bodies to be cast forth unburied. He exercised the same savage cruelty upon the leading citizens of Locri, who he learnt had gone to Scipio to complain of his misconduct. The shocking proofs he had already given of his lust and greed amongst the allies of Rome were now multiplied in his fury, and the shame and odium they created recoiled not only on him but on his commander-in-chief as well.
[29.10]The date of the elections was approaching, when a despatch was received from the consul P. Licinius. In it he stated that both he and his army were suffering from serious illness, and they could not have held their position if the enemy had not been visited with equal or even greater severity. As, therefore, he could not himself come, he would, if the senate approved, nominate Quintus Caecilius Metellus as Dictator to conduct the elections. He suggested that it would be advisable in the public interest for Q. Caecilius' army to be disbanded, as there was no immediate use for them now that Hannibal had gone into winter quarters and the epidemic had attacked their camp with such violence that unless they were soon disbanded, not a single man, judging from appearances, would survive. The senate left it to the consul to take such steps as he thought most consistent with his duty to the commonwealth. About this time the citizens were much exercised by a religious question which had lately come up. Owing to the unusual number of showers of stones which had fallen during the year, an inspection had been made of the Sibylline Books, and some oracular verses had been discovered which announced that whenever a foreign foe should carry war into Italy he could be driven out and conquered if the Mater Idaea were brought from Pessinus to Rome. The discovery of this prediction produced all the greater impression on the senators because the deputation who had taken the gift to Delphi reported on their return that when they sacrificed to the Pythian Apollo the indications presented by the victims were entirely favourable, and further, that the response of the oracle was to the effect that a far grander victory was awaiting Rome than the one from whose spoils they had brought the gift to Delphi. They regarded the hopes thus raised as confirmed by the action of Scipio in demanding Africa as his province as though he had a presentiment that this would bring the war to an end. In order, therefore, to secure all the sooner the victory which the Fates the omens and the oracles alike foreshadowed, they began to think out the best way of transporting the goddess to Rome.
[29.11]Up to that time the Roman people had no allies amongst the communities in Asia. They had not forgotten however, that when they were suffering from a serious epidemic they had sent to fetch Aesculapius from Greece though they had no treaty with that country, and now that King Attalus had formed a friendly league with them against their common enemy, Philip, they hoped that he would do what he could in the interest of Rome. Accordingly, they decided to send a mission to him; those selected for the purpose being M. Valerius Laevinus who had been twice consul and had also been in charge of the operations in Greece, M. Caecilius Metellus an ex-praetor, S. Sulpicius Galba, formerly aedile, and two who had been quaestors, Cnaeus Tremellius Flaccus and M. Valerius Falto. It was arranged that they should sail with five quinqueremes in order that they might present an appearance worthy of the people of Rome when they visited those states which were to be favourably impressed with the greatness of the Roman name. On their way to Asia the commissioners landed at Delphi, and at once went to consult the oracle and ascertain what hopes it held out to them and their country of accomplishing their task. The response which they are said to have received was that they would attain their object through King Attalus and when they had conveyed the goddess to Rome they were to take care that the best and noblest men in Rome should accord her a fitting reception. They went on to the royal residence in Pergamum, and here the king gave them a friendly welcome and conducted them to Pessinus in Phrygia. He then handed over to them the sacred stone which the natives declared to be "the Mother of the Gods," and bade them carry it to Rome. M. Valerius Falto was sent on in advance to announce that the goddess was on her way, and that the best and noblest man in Rome must be sought out to receive her with all due honour. The consul commanding in Bruttium nominated Q. Caecilius Metellus as Dictator to conduct the elections and his army was disbanded; L. Veturius Philo was Master of the Horse. The new consuls were M. Cornelius Cethegus and P. Sempronius Tuditanus; the latter was elected in his absence as he was commanding in Greece. Then followed the election of praetors, those elected being Tiberius Claudius Nero, M. Marcius Ralla, L. Scribonius Libo and M. Pomponius Matho. When the elections were over, the Dictator resigned his office. The Roman Games were celebrated three times, the Plebeian Games, seven times. The curule aediles were the two Cornelii, Cnaeus and Lucius. Lucius was in charge of the province of Spain; he was elected in his absence, and though absent, discharged the duties of his office. Tiberius Claudius Asellus and M. Junius Pennus were the plebeian aediles. The temple of Virtus near the Porta Capena was dedicated by M. Marcellus this year; it had been vowed by his father at Clastidium in Gaul seventeen years previously. M. Aemilius Regillus, Flamen of Mars, died this year.
[29.12]Little attention had been paid to affairs in Greece for the last two years. As a result, Philip, finding that the Aetolians had been abandoned by the Romans to whom alone they looked for help, compelled them to sue for peace and accept whatever terms he chose. Had he not devoted all his strength to secure this result as soon as possible, his operations against them would have been interrupted by the proconsul P. Sempronius who had succeeded Sulpicius and commanded a force of 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry and 35 ships of war, a considerable force to bring to the assistance of our allies. Hardly had the peace been concluded when news reached the king that the Romans were at Dyrrachium and that the Parthini and neighbouring tribes had risen and were besieging Dimallum. The Romans had diverted their force to this place, for as the Aetolians had concluded the treaty with the king without their consent, they showed their resentment by refusing the help which they were sent to give them. On receiving this intelligence Philip, anxious to prevent the movement from spreading, hastened to Apollonia. Sempronius had withdrawn to this place after sending Laetorius with a portion of his force and fifteen ships to Aetolia to see how matters stood there and, if possible, upset the peace. Philip ravaged the country round Apollonia, and brought his forces up to the city in order to give the Romans an opportunity of fighting. As, however, he saw that they kept within their walls, and feeling doubtful as to his ability to attack the place, he withdrew into his kingdom. An additional motive for his retirement was his desire to establish peace with them as he had with the Aetolians, or if not peace at all events a truce, and consequently he avoided irritating them by further hostilities.
The Epirotes were by this time tired of the long-continued war and after sounding the Romans sent envoys to Philip with proposals for a general settlement and assuring him that there was no doubt as to its being arranged if he would confer with Sempronius. The king was by no means averse from the proposal, and readily consented to visit Epirus. Phoenice, an important city in Epirus, was chosen as the place of meeting, and there the king, after a preliminary interview with Aeropus, Dardas and Philip, the chief magistrates of the Epirotes, met Sempronius. There were present at the conference Amynander, king of the Athamanians, as well as the chief magistrates of the Epirotes and Acarnanians. The Epirote magistrate, Philip, opened the discussion by appealing to the king and the Roman general to put a stop to the war out of consideration for the Epirotes. The conditions of peace as stated by Sempronius were that the Parthini together with the towns of Dimallum, Bargullum and Eugenium should belong to Rome, and Atintania should be annexed by Macedon, if Philip obtained the sanction of the senate to the arrangement. When the terms were settled the king included Prusias, king of Bithynia, and also the Achaeaus, the Boeotians, the Thessalians, the Acarnanians and the Epirotes as parties to the agreement. The Romans on their side extended its provisions to the Ilienses, King Attalus, Pleuratus, Nabis, tyrant of the Lacedaemonians, the Eleans, the Messenians and the Athenians. The clauses were then reduced to writing and duly sealed. A two months' armistice was agreed upon to allow of envoys being sent to Rome to obtain from the Assembly the ratification of the treaty. All the tribes voted for it; they were glad to be relieved for the time from the pressure of other wars now that their efforts were directed towards Africa. After the conclusion of peace, P. Sempronius left for Rome to take up the duties of his consulship.
[29.13]P. Sempronius and M. Cornelius entered upon their consulship in the fifteenth year of the Punic War. To the latter was decreed the province of Etruria with the standing army there; Sempronius received Bruttium and had to enrol fresh troops. Of the praetors, M. Marcius took over the City jurisdiction, L. Scribonius Libo was charged with the jurisdiction over aliens and also the administration of Gaul, Sicily fell to M. Pomponius Matho, and Sardinia to Tiberius Claudius Nero. P. Scipio had his command extended for twelve months with the army and fleet which he already had. P. Licinius was to remain in Bruttium with two legions as long as the consul thought it advisable for him to retain his command there. M. Livius and Sp. Lucretius were also to retain the legions with which they had been protecting Gaul against Mago. Cnaeus Octavius was to hand over his legion and the command in Sardinia to Nero and take charge of a fleet of forty ships for the protection of the coast within the limits fixed by the senate. The remains of the army of Cannae, amounting to two legions, were assigned to M. Pomponius, the praetor commanding in Sicily. T. Quinctius was to hold Tarentum and C. Hostilius Tubulus Capua with the existing garrisons - both with the rank of propraetor. With regard to the command in Spain it was left to the people to decide upon the two proconsuls who were to be sent into that province and they were unanimous in retaining L. Cornelius Lentulus and L. Manlius Acidinus in command there. The consuls proceeded with the enlistment, as ordered by the senate, for the purpose of raising fresh legions for Bruttium and bringing the other armies up to full strength.
[29.14]Although Africa had not been officially placed among the provinces - the senators, I think, kept it secret to prevent the Carthaginians from getting information beforehand - the citizens fully expected that Africa would be the scene of hostilities this year, and that the end of the Punic War was not far off. In this state of excitement men's minds were filled with superstition and the ready credence given to announcement of portents increased their number. Two suns were said to have been seen; there were intervals of daylight during the night; a meteor was seen to shoot from east to west; a gate at Tarracina and at Anagnia a gate and several portions of the wall were struck by lightning; in the temple of Juno Sospita at Lanuvium a crash followed by a dreadful roar was heard. To expiate these portents special intercessions were offered for a whole day, and in consequence of a shower of stones a nine days' solemnity of prayer and sacrifice was observed. The reception of Mater Idaea was also being anxiously discussed. M. Valerius, the member of the deputation who had come in advance, had reported that she would be in Italy almost immediately and a fresh messenger had brought word that she was already at Tarracina. The attention of the senate was engrossed by a very difficult question; they had to decide who was the best and noblest man in the State. Every one felt that to gain this distinction would be for him a real victory, far outweighing any official position or honourable distinction which either patricians or plebeians could confer. Of all the great and good men in the State they adjudged the best and noblest to be P. Scipio, the son of the Cnaeus Scipio who had fallen in Spain; a young man not yet old enough to be quaestor. What special merits of his induced the senate to come to this conclusion I should have been glad to record for posterity had the writers who lived nearest to those days handed them down. As it is I will not obtrude my conjectures upon a matter hidden in the mists of antiquity.
P. Scipio was ordered to go to Ostia, accompanied by all the matrons, to meet the goddess. He was to receive her as she left the vessel, and when brought to land he was to place her in the hands of the matrons who were to bear her to her destination. As soon as the ship appeared off the mouth of the Tiber he put out to sea in accordance with his instructions, received the goddess from the hands of her priestesses, and brought her to land. Here she was received by the foremost matrons of the City, amongst whom the name of Claudia Quinta stands out pre-eminently. According to the traditional account her reputation had previously been doubtful, but this sacred function surrounded her with a halo of chastity in the eyes of posterity. The matrons, each taking their turn in bearing the sacred image, carried the goddess into the temple of Victory on the Palatine. All the citizens flocked out to meet them, censers in which incense was burning were placed before the doors in the streets through which she was borne, and from all lips arose the prayer that she would of her own free will and favour be pleased to enter Rome. The day on which this event took place was 12th April, and was observed as a festival; the people came in crowds to make their offerings to the deity; a lectisternium was held and Games were constituted which were known afterwards as the Megalesian.
[29.15]Whilst steps were being taken to complete the drafts for the legions in the provinces, some of the senators suggested that the time had come to deal with a state of things, which, however they might have put up with it at a time of critical emergency, was intolerable now that the goodness of the gods had removed their fears. Amid the close attention of the House they stated that "the twelve Latin colonies which refused to furnish soldiers when Q. Fabius and Q. Fulvius were our consuls have now for almost six years been enjoying an exemption from military service, as though an honourable distinction had been conferred upon them. In the meanwhile our good and faithful allies have, as a reward for their fidelity and devotion, been completely exhausted by the levies which they have raised year after year." These words not only recalled to the memory of the senate a fact which they had almost forgotten, but they called forth a strong feeling of resentment. Accordingly, they insisted on taking this as the first business before the House, and made the following decree: "The consuls shall summon to Rome the chief magistrates and the ten leading councillors of each of the offending colonies, namely, Nepete, Sutrium, Ardea, Cales, Alba, Carseoli, Sora, Suessa, Setia, Cerceii, Narnia, and Interamna. They shall order each colony to supply a contingent of infantry twice as numerous as the largest they have raised since the Carthaginians appeared in Italy, and 120 cavalry in addition. In case any colony cannot make up the required number of mounted men they shall be allowed to substitute three foot-soldiers for each horseman deficient. Both the cavalry and infantry are to be selected from the wealthiest citizens, and sent wherever reinforcements are required outside the limits of Italy. If any of them refuse to comply with this demand, we order that the magistrates and representatives of that colony be detained, and no audience of the senate shall be granted until they have done what is required of them. In addition to these requirements a property tax of one tenth per cent. shall be imposed on those colonies to be paid annually, and the assessment shall be made similarly to the one in force in Rome. The Roman censors are to supply the censors of the colonies with the necessary schedule of instructions, and the latter must bring their lists to Rome and verify their accuracy on oath before going out of office."
In pursuance of this resolution of the senate the magistrates and chief councillors of those colonies were summoned to Rome. When the consuls ordered them to furnish the necessary supplies of men and money they broke out into loud and angry remonstrances. It was impossible, they said, for so many soldiers to be raised, they would have the utmost difficulty in getting as many as they were bound to supply under the old conditions. They entreated that they might be allowed to appear and plead their cause before the senate, and protested that they had done nothing to justify this ruinous treatment. Even if it meant death to them, no fault which they might have committed, no angry threats on the part of Rome could make them raise more men than they possessed. The consuls were inflexible and ordered the representatives to remain in Rome whilst the magistrates returned home to levy the men. They were told that unless the required number of men was brought to Rome the senate would grant them no audience. As there was no hope of approaching the senate and begging for more favourable treatment, they proceeded with the enlistment throughout the twelve colonies, and it presented no difficulty owing to the increase in the number of men of military age through the long exemption.
[29.16]Another matter which had been lost sight of for a similar length of time was brought up by M. Valerius Laevinus. It was only just and right, he said, that the sums which were contributed by private individuals in the year when he and M. Claudius were the consuls should at last be repaid. No one ought to be surprised that he was particularly anxious for the State to meet its obligations honourably, for, apart from the fact that it specially concerned the consul for that year, it was he himself who advocated these contributions at a time when the treasury was exhausted, and the plebeians were unable to pay their war-tax. The senators were glad to be reminded of the incident, and the consuls were instructed to submit a resolution to the House. They made a decree that the loans should be repaid in three instalments, the first, immediately by the consuls then in office, the second and third by the consuls who should be in office in two and four years' time, respectively. A subject was afterwards brought up which absorbed all other interests, namely the terrible state of things at Locri. Up to that time nothing had been heard of it, but since the arrival of the delegates it had become generally known. Deep resentment was felt at the criminal conduct of Pleminius, but still more at the partiality or the indifference shown by Scipio. The delegates from Locri, presenting a picture of grief and misery, approached the consuls, who were on their tribunals in the comitium, and holding out in Greek fashion olive-branches as tokens of suppliants prostrated themselves on the ground with tears and groans. In reply to the consuls' enquiry as to who they were, they stated that they were Locrians, and that they had experienced at the hands of Pleminius and his Roman soldiers such treatment as the Roman people would not wish even the Carthaginians to undergo. They craved permission to appear before the senate and unfold their tale of woe.
[29.17]An audience was granted them, and the senior delegate addressed the senate in the following terms: "Whatever importance, senators, you attach to our complaints must, I am well aware, depend very largely upon your knowing accurately the circumstances under which Locri was betrayed to Hannibal, and after the expulsion of his garrison was again brought under your suzerainty. For if our senate and people were in no way responsible for the defection, and it can be shown that our return to your obedience was brought about not only with our full consent, but even by our own efforts and courage, then you will feel all the more indignation at such shameful outrages having been inflicted by your officer and soldiers upon good and faithful allies. I think, however, that we ought to put off for another time any explanation of our double change of sides, for two reasons. One is that the matter ought to be discussed when P. Scipio is present, as he recaptured Locri and was an eyewitness of all our acts, both good and bad, and another reason is that, however bad we may be, we ought not to have suffered as we have done. We do not deny, senators, that when we had the Carthaginian garrison in our citadel we had to submit to many acts of insolence and cruelty at the hands of Hamilcar and his Numidians and Africans, but what were they compared with what we are going through today? I pray, senators, that you will not take offence at what I am most reluctantly compelled to say. The whole world is waiting in feverish expectation to see whether you or the Carthaginians are to be the lords of the earth. If the choice between Roman and Punic supremacy depended upon the way in which the Carthaginians have treated us Locrians as compared with what we are suffering today from your soldiers, there is not one of us who would not prefer their rule to yours. And yet in spite of all this, see what our feeling towards you has been. When we were suffering comparatively slight injuries from the Carthaginians we betook ourselves to your commander; now that we are suffering from your troops injuries worse than any enemy would inflict it is before you and no one else that we lay our complaint. If you, senators, do not show any regard for our misery, there is nothing left which we can pray for, even to the immortal gods themselves."
Q. Pleminius was sent with a body of troops to recover Locri from the Carthaginians and was left with his troops in the city. In this officer of yours - the extremity of misery gives me courage to speak freely - there is nothing human except his face and appearance, there is no trace of the Roman save in his garb and speech; he is a wild beast, a monster such as were fabled to haunt the waters which divide us from Sicily, to the destruction of navigators. If he were content with wreaking his own villainy and lust and rapacity upon your allies, we might fill up this one gulf, deep as it is, by patient endurance, but as it is, he has been so eager to spread licentiousness and wickedness indiscriminately that he has made every centurion and every private soldier into a Pleminius. They all alike rob, plunder, beat, wound, kill, outrage matrons, maidens and boys torn from their parent's arms. Each day witnesses a fresh storm, a fresh sack of our city; everywhere, day and night, it is echoing with the shrieks of women who are being seized and carried off. Any one who knows what is going on might wonder how we are able to endure it all, or why they have not become weary of their crimes. I cannot go into details, nor is it worth your while to hear what each of us has suffered; I will give you a general description. There is not a single house in Locri, I venture to assert, not a single individual who has escaped ill-treatment; there is no form of villainy or lust or rapacity which has not been practiced upon everyone who was a suitable victim. It is difficult to decide which is the worst misfortune for a city, to be captured by an enemy in war, or to be crushed by force and violence by a sanguinary tyrant. All the horrors which attend the capture of a city we have suffered and are suffering to the utmost; all the tortures which ruthless and cruel tyrants inflict on their down-trodden subjects Pleminius has inflicted on us, our children and our wives."
[29.18]"There is one matter about which our religious instincts compel us to make a special complaint, and we should be glad if you would hear what has happened, and if you so decide, take steps to clear your State from the taint of sacrilege. We have seen with what pious care you not only worship your own gods, but even recognise those of other nations. Now there is in our city a shrine sacred to Proserpine, and I believe some rumours of the sanctity of that temple reached your ears during your war with Pyrrhus. On his return voyage from Sicily he touched at Locri and added to the atrocities which he had committed against us for our loyalty to you by plundering the treasury of Proserpine, which up to that day had never been disturbed. He placed the money on board his fleet, and continued his journey overland. What happened, senators? The very next day his fleet was shattered by a terrible storm and the ships which were carrying the sacred gold were all cast ashore on our coast. Taught by this great disaster that there are gods after all, the arrogant monarch gave orders for all the money to be collected and carried back to Proserpine's treasury. In spite of this nothing ever prospered with him afterwards, he was driven out of Italy and in a foolhardy attempt to enter Argos by night he met with an ignoble and dishonourable death. Your commander and the military tribunes had heard of this incident and of countless others which were related to them not so much to increase the feeling of dread as to give proofs of the direct and manifest power of the goddess, a power which we and our ancestors had often experienced. Notwithstanding this, they dared to lay sacrilegious hands on that inviolate treasure and to attains themselves and their houses and your soldiers with the guilt of their unhallowed plunder. We implore you therefore, senators, by all you hold sacred, not to employ these men in any military service till you have expiated their crime, lest their sacrilege should be atoned for, not by their blood alone but also by disaster to the commonwealth.
Even now the wrath of the goddess is not slow to visit your officers and soldiers. Frequently have they already engaged in pitched battles; Pleminius leading the one side, the military tribunes the other. They have fought quite as furiously with one another as they ever fought with the Carthaginians, and in their frenzy would have given Hannibal an opportunity of recapturing Locri if we had not sent for Scipio. Do not suppose that whilst the guilt of sacrilege drove the soldiers mad, the goddess did not manifest her wrath by punishing the leaders. It is just here where she manifested it most clearly. The tribunes were beaten with rods by their superior officer, afterwards he was caught unawares by them and, in addition to being hacked all over, his nose and ears were sliced off and he was left for dead. At length, recovering from his wounds, he placed the tribunes in irons and then, after flogging them and subjecting them to all the tortures that are inflicted on slaves, he put them to death and after they were dead forbade them to be buried. In this way is the goddess inflicting retribution upon the despoilers of her temple, nor will she cease to vex them with every kind of madness until the sacred hoard has once more been deposited in the shrine. Once when our ancestors were hard pressed in the war with Croto, they decided, as the temple was outside the city walls, to carry the treasure into the city. A voice was heard at night proceeding from the shrine and uttering a warning: 'Lay no hand upon it! The goddess will protect her temple.' Deterred by religious fears from moving the treasure, they wanted to build a wall round the temple. After it had been carried up some distance it suddenly collapsed. Often in the past has the goddess protected her temple and the seat of her presence, or else as at the present time she has exacted a heavy atonement from those who have violated it. But our wrongs she cannot avenge, nor can any one but you, senators; it is your honour that we invoke and your protection beneath which we seek shelter. To allow Locri to remain under that commander and those troops is, as far as we are concerned, the same as handing us over for punishment to all the rage of Hannibal and his Carthaginians. We do not ask you to accept what we say at once, in the absence of the accused or without hearing his defence. Let him appear, let him hear the charges against him, and let him rebut them. If there be any single crime that one man can be guilty of towards another, which that man has failed to commit against us, then we are willing to go through all our sufferings, if it is in our power to do so, once more, and ready to pronounce him void of all offence towards gods and men."
[29.19]At the close of the delegate's speech, Q. Fabius enquired whether they had laid their complaints before Scipio. They stated in reply that they had sent a deputation to him, but he was fully occupied with his preparations for war and had either sailed or was going to sail in a very few days for Africa. They had had proof of the high favour in which Pleminius stood with his commander-in-chief, for after investigating the circumstances which led to the dispute between him and the military tribunes Scipio had thrown the tribunes into chains and allowed his subordinate to retain his command though he was equally or even more guilty. They were then ordered to withdraw, and in the discussion which followed both Pleminius and Scipio were very severely handled by the leaders of the House, especially by Quintus Fabius. He declared that Scipio was born to destroy all military discipline. It was the same in Spain; more men had been lost there in mutiny than in battle. His conduct was that of some foreign tyrant, first indulging the licence of the soldiers and then punishing them. Fabius closed his attack with the following drastic resolution: "I move that Pleminius be brought to Rome to plead his cause in chains, and if the charges which the Locrians have brought against him are substantiated, that he be put to death in prison and his property confiscated. With regard to Publius Scipio, as he has left his province without orders, I move that he be recalled, and that it be referred to the tribunes of the plebs to bring in a bill before the Assembly to relieve him of his command. As to the Locrians, I move that they be brought back into the House, and that we assure them in reply to their complaint that the senate and the people alike disapprove of what has been done, and that we recognise them as good and trusty allies and friends. And, further, that their wives and children and all that has been taken away from them be restored, and that all the money abstracted from Proserpine's treasury be collected, and double the amount put back. The question of expiation must be referred to the pontifical college, who must decide what expiatory rites are to be observed, what deities are to be propitiated and what victims are to be sacrificed in cases where sacred treasures have been violated. The soldiers at Locri must be transferred to Sicily and four Latin cohorts sent to garrison the place." Owing to the heated debate between Scipio's supporters and opponents the votes could not be collected that day. Not only had he to bear the odium of Pleminius' criminal brutality towards the Locrians, but the Roman commander was even taunted with his style of dress as being un-Roman and even unsoldierly. It was asserted that he walked about the gymnasium in a Greek mantle and Greek slippers and spent his time amongst rhetoricians and athletes and that the whole of his staff were enjoying the attractions of Syracuse and living a life of similar self-indulgence and effeminacy. They had completely lost sight of Hannibal and the Carthaginians; the entire army was demoralised and out of hand; like the one formerly at Sucro or the one now at Locri, they were more dreaded by their allies than by the enemy.
[29.20]Though there was sufficient truth in these charges to give them an air of probability, Q. Metellus carried the majority with him. Whilst agreeing with the rest of Fabius' speech, he dissented from what he said about Scipio. Scipio, he said, had only the other day been chosen by his fellow-citizens, young as he was, to command the expedition which was to recover Spain, and after he had recovered it, was elected consul to bring the Punic War to a close. All hopes were now centered in him as the man who was destined to subjugate Africa and rid Italy of Hannibal. How, he asked, could they with any propriety order him to be peremptorily recalled, like another Q. Pleminius, without being heard in his defence, especially when the Locrians admitted that the cruelties of which they complained took place at a time when Scipio was not even on the spot and when nothing could be definitely brought against him, beyond undue leniency or shrinking from cruelty in sparing his subordinate officers? He moved a resolution that M. Pomponius, the praetor to whom Sicily had been allotted, should depart for his province in three days' time; that the consuls should select at their discretion ten members of the senate who would accompany the praetor, as well as two tribunes of the plebs and one of the aediles. With these as his assessors he should conduct an investigation, and if the acts of which the Locrians complained should prove to have been done under the orders or with the consent of Scipio, they should order him to quit his province. If he had already landed in Africa, the tribunes and the aedile with two of the ten senators whom the praetor considered fittest for the task should proceed thither, the tribunes and the aedile to bring Scipio back and the two senators to take command of the army until a fresh general arrived. If on the other hand M. Pomponius and his ten assessors ascertained that what had been done was neither by the orders nor with the concurrence of Scipio, he was to retain his command and carry on the war as he proposed. This resolution proposed by Metellus was adopted by the senate, and the tribunes of the plebs were asked to arrange which of them should accompany the praetor. The pontifical college was consulted as to the necessary expiations for the desecration and robbery of Proserpine's temple. The plebeian tribunes who accompanied the praetor were M. Claudius Marcellus and M. Cincius Alimentus. A plebeian aedile was assigned to them so that in case Scipio refused to obey the praetor or had already landed in Africa, the tribunes might, by virtue of their sacrosanct authority, order the aedile to arrest him and bring him back with them. They decided to go to Locri first and then on to Messana.
[29.21]As to Pleminius two stories are current. One is to the effect that when he heard of the decision arrived at in Rome he started to go into exile at Naples, and on his way was met by Q. Metellus, one of the ten senators, who arrested him and brought him back to Regium. According to the other account Scipio himself sent an officer with thirty men of highest rank amongst his cavalry and threw Pleminius and the prime movers of the outbreak into chains. They were all handed over by Scipio's orders or those of the officer to the people of Regium for safe keeping. The praetor and the rest of the commission, on their arrival at Locri, made the religious question their first care, in accordance with their instructions. All the sacred money in the possession of Pleminius and his soldiers was collected together, and together with what they had brought with them was placed in the temple, and then expiatory sacrifices were offered. After this the praetor summoned the troops to assembly, and issued an order of the day threatening severe punishment to any soldier who stayed behind in the city or carried away anything that did not belong to him. He then ordered the standards to be borne outside the city, and fixed his camp in the open country. The Locrians were given full liberty to take whatever they recognised as their own property, and make a claim for whatever could not be found. Above all he insisted upon the immediate restoration of all free persons to their homes, any one who neglected to restore them would be very severely punished.
The praetor's next business was to convene an assembly of the Locrians, and here he announced that the senate and people of Rome gave them back their constitution and their laws. Whoever wished to prosecute Pleminius or any one else was to follow the praetor to Regium. If their government wished to charge Scipio with either ordering or approving of the crimes against gods and men which had been perpetrated in Locri they were to send representatives to Messana, where, with the aid of his assessors, he should hold an enquiry. The Locrians expressed their gratitude to the praetor and the other members of the commission, and to the senate and people of Rome. They announced their intention of prosecuting Pleminius, but as to Scipio, "though he had not been much troubled about the injuries inflicted on their city, they would rather have him their friend than their enemy. They were quite convinced that it was neither by the orders nor with the approval of P. Scipio that such infamous crimes were committed; his fault was that he either reposed too much confidence in Pleminius or felt too much distrust in the Locrians. Some men are so constituted that whilst they would not have crimes committed they lack the resolution to inflict punishment when they have been committed." The praetor and his council were greatly relieved at not having to call Scipio to account; Pleminius and thirty-two others they found guilty and sent them in chains to Rome. The commission then went to Scipio to find out by personal observation whether there was any truth in the common rumours about Scipio's style of dress and love of pleasure, in order to be able to report to Rome.
[29.22]Whilst they were on their way to Syracuse Scipio prepared to justify himself, not by words but by acts. He gave orders for the whole of the army to muster at Syracuse and the fleet to be prepared for action as though he had to engage the Carthaginians that day both by land and sea. When the commission had landed he received them courteously, and the following day he invited them to watch the maneuvers of his land and sea forces, the troops performing their evolutions as in battle, whilst the ships in the harbour engaged in a sham sea-fight. Then the praetor and the commissioners were taken for a tour of inspection round the arsenals and magazines and the other preparations for war, and the impression made by the whole and by each separate detail was such as to convince them that if that general and that army could not conquer Carthage, no one ever could. They bade him sail for Africa with the blessing of heaven, and fulfil as speedily as possible the hopes and expectations in which the centuries had unanimously chosen him as their consul. They left in such joyous spirits that they seemed to be taking back the announcement of a victory, and not simply reporting the magnificent preparations for war. Pleminius and his fellow criminals were thrown into prison as soon as they reached Rome. When they were first brought before the people by the tribunes the minds of all were too full of the sufferings of the Locrians to leave any room for pity. But after they had been brought forward several times the feeling against them became gradually less embittered, the mutilation which Pleminius had suffered and the thought of the absent Scipio who had befriended him disposed the populace in his favour. However, before the trial was over he died in prison. Clodius Licinius in the Third Book of his Roman History says that Pleminius bribed some men to set fire to various parts of the City during the Games which Scipio Africanus was celebrating, in fulfilment of a vow, during his second consulship, to give him an opportunity of breaking out of gaol and making his escape. The plot was discovered, and he was by order of the senate consigned to the Tullianum. No proceedings took place with regard to Scipio except in the senate, where all the commissioners and the tribunes spoke in such glowing terms of the general and his fleet and army that the senate resolved that an expedition should start for Africa as soon as possible. They gave Scipio permission to select from the armies in Sicily what troops he would like to take with him, and what he would leave in occupation of the island.
[29.23]During these occurrences in Rome, the Carthaginians had established look-out stations on all the headlands and waited anxiously for the news which each successive courier brought; the whole winter was passed in a state of alarm. They formed an alliance with King Syphax, a step which they considered would materially aid in protecting Africa against invasion, for it was in reliance upon his cooperation that the Roman general would attempt a landing Hasdrubal Gisgo had, as we have already mentioned, formed ties of hospitality with the king when on his departure from Spain he met Scipio at his court. There was some talk of a closer connection through the king's marriage with Hasdrubal's daughter, and with a view to realising this project and fixing a day for the nuptials - for the girl was of a marriageable age - Hasdrubal paid Syphax a visit. When he saw that the prince was passionately desirous of the match - the Numidians are of all barbarians the most ardent lovers - he sent for the maiden from Carthage and hastened on the wedding. The gratification felt at the match was heightened by the action of the king in strengthening his domestic tie with Carthage by a political alliance. A treaty was drawn up and ratified on oath between Carthage and the king, in which the contracting parties bound themselves to have the same friends and the same enemies. Hasdrubal, however, had not forgotten the treaty which Scipio had formed with Syphax, nor the capricious and fickle character of the barbarians with whom he had to deal, and his great feat was that if once Scipio landed in Africa this marriage would prove a very slight restraint upon the king. So whilst the king was in the first transports of passion and obedient to the persuasive endearments of his bride, he seized the opportunity of inducing Syphax to send envoys to Scipio advising Scipio not to sail to Africa on the faith of his former promises, as he was now connected with a Carthaginian family through his marriage with Hasdrubal's daughter; Scipio would remember meeting her father at his court. They were to inform Scipio that he had also made a formal alliance with Carthage, and it was his wish that the Romans should conduct their operations against Carthage at a distance from Africa as they had hitherto done. Otherwise he might be involved in the dispute and compelled to support one side and abandon his alliance with the other. If Scipio refused to keep clear of Africa, and led his army against Carthage, Syphax would feel himself under the necessity of fighting in defence of the land of his birth, and in defence of his wife's native city and her father and her home.
[29.24]Furnished with these instructions the king's envoys repaired to Syracuse to interview Scipio. He recognised that he was deprived of the valuable support which he had hoped for in his African campaign, but he decided to send the envoys back at once before their mission became generally known. He gave them a letter for the king in which he reminded him of the personal ties between them, and the alliance he had formed with Rome, and solemnly warned him against breaking those ties or violating the solemn engagements he had undertaken, and so offending the gods who had witnessed and would avenge them. The visit of the Numidians could not, however, be kept secret, for they strolled about the city and were seen at headquarters, and there was a danger of the real object of their visit becoming all the more widely known through the efforts made to conceal it, and of the army being discouraged at the prospect of having to fight the king and the Carthaginians at the same time. To prevent this Scipio determined to keep them from the truth by preoccupying their minds with falsehood. The troops were summoned to assembly and Scipio told them that there must be no further delay. The friendly princes were urging him to start for Africa as soon as possible; Masinissa himself had already gone to Laelius to complain of the way in which time was being wasted, and now Syphax had sent envoys to express his surprise at the delay and to demand that the army should be sent to Africa or, if there was a change of plan, that he should be informed of it in order that he might take measures to safeguard himself and his kingdom. As therefore all the preparations were completed and circumstances did not admit of any further delay, it was his intention to order the fleet to Lilybaeum, to muster the whole of his infantry and cavalry there and on the very first day which promised a favourable voyage set sail, with the blessing of heaven, for Africa. He then wrote to M. Pomponius requesting him, if he thought it advisable, to come to Lilybaeum that they might consult together as to what legions should be selected and what ought to be the total strength of the invading force. Orders were also sent all round the coast for every transport vessel to be requisitioned and brought to Lilybaeum. When the whole of the military and naval forces in Sicily were assembled there, the town could not afford accommodation for all the men, nor could the harbour hold all the ships, and such enthusiasm prevailed in all ranks that it seemed as though instead of marching to war they were to reap the fruits of a victory already won. This was particularly the case with the survivors of Cannae, who felt quite certain that under no other leader would they be able to do such service for the commonwealth as would put an end to their ignominious condition. Scipio was far from despising these men, he was quite aware that the defeat at Cannae was not brought about by any cowardice on their part, and he knew, too, that there were no soldiers in the Roman army who had had such a long experience in every kind of fighting, and in the conduct of sieges. They formed the fifth and sixth legions. After announcing to them that he would take them with him to Africa, he inspected them man by man, and those whom he did not consider suitable he left behind, replacing them from the men whom he had brought from Italy. In this way he brought up the strength of each legion to 6200 men and 300 cavalry. He selected the Latin contingent also, both horse and foot, out of the army of Cannae.
[29.25]As to the number of troops put on board there is considerable divergence among the authorities. I find that some state it to have amounted to 10,000 infantry and 2200 cavalry; others give 16,000 infantry and 1600 cavalry; others again double this estimate and put the total of infantry and cavalry at 32,000 men. Some writers give no definite number, and in a matter so uncertain I prefer to include myself amongst them. Coelius declines, it is true, to give any definite number, but he exaggerates to such an extent as to give the impression of a countless multitude; the very birds, he says, fell to the ground stunned by the shouting of the soldiers, and such a mighty host embarked that it seemed as though there was not a single man left in either Italy or Sicily. To avoid confusion Scipio personally superintended the embarkation. C. Laelius who was in command of the fleet had previously sent all the seamen to their posts and kept them there while the soldiers went on board. The praetor, M. Pomponius, was responsible for the shipping of the stores; forty-five days' provisions, including fifteen days' supply of cooked food, were put on board. When all were now on board, boats were sent round to take off the pilots and captains and two men from each ship who were to assemble in the forum and receive their orders. When all were present, his first enquiry was as to the supply of water for the men and horses, whether they had put on board sufficient to last as long as the corn. They assured him that there was water in the ships sufficient to last for forty-five days. He then impressed upon the soldiers the necessity of keeping quiet and maintaining discipline and not interfering with the sailors in the discharge of their duties. He further informed them that he and Lucius Scipio would command the right division of twenty ships of war, whilst C. Laelius, prefect of the fleet, in conjunction with M. Porcius Cato, who was quaestor at the time, would be in charge of the left line containing the same number, and would protect the transports. The warships would show single lights at night, the transports would have two, while the commander's ship would be distinguished by three lights. He gave the pilots instructions to make for Emporia. This was an extremely fertile district, and supplies of all kinds were to be found there in abundance. The natives, as usually happens in a fruitful country, were unwarlike, and would probably be overpowered before assistance could reach them from Carthage. After issuing these orders he dismissed them to their ships, and on the morrow at the given signal they were, with the blessing of heaven, to set sail.
[29.26]Many Roman fleets had put out from Sicily and from that very port, but not even during the First Punic War - in the present war the majority were simply raiding expeditions - had any afforded a more striking picture at its departure. And yet, if you only take into account the number of vessels, it must be remembered that two consuls with their respective armies had left that port on a previous occasion and the warships in their fleets were almost as numerous as the transports with which Scipio was now making his passage, for in addition to the forty ships of war he was carrying his army in four hundred transports. Several causes conspired to invest the occasion with unique interest. The Romans regarded the present war as a more serious one than the former because it was going on in Italy, and had involved the destruction of so many armies with their generals. Scipio, again, had become the most popular general of his time for his gallant deeds of arms, and his unvarying good fortune had immensely raised his reputation as a soldier. His design of invading Africa had never before been attempted by any commander, and it was generally believed that he would succeed in drawing Hannibal away from Italy and finish the war on African soil. A vast crowd of spectators had gathered in the harbour; besides the population of Lilybaeum, all the deputations from the different cities in the island who had come to pay their respects to Scipio as well as those who had accompanied M. Pomponius, the governor of the province, were present. The legions which were to remain in Sicily also marched down to bid their comrades God-speed, and the throng which crowded the harbour was as grand a spectacle to those afloat as the fleet itself was to those ashore.
[29.27]When the moment for departure came, Scipio ordered the herald to proclaim silence throughout the fleet and put up the following prayer: "Ye gods and goddesses of sea and land, I pray and beseech you to vouchsafe a favourable issue to all that has been done or is being done now or will be done hereafter under my command. May all turn out happily for the burghers and plebs of Rome, for our allies of the Latin name, for all who have the cause of Rome at heart, and for all who are marching beneath my standard, under my auspices and command, by land or sea or stream. Grant us your gracious help in all our doings, crown our efforts with success. Bring these my soldiers and myself safe home again, victorious over our conquered foes, adorned with their spoils, loaded with booty and exulting in triumph. Enable us to avenge ourselves on our enemies and grant to the people of Rome and to me the power to inflict exemplary chastisement on the city of Carthage, and to retaliate upon her all the injury that her people have sought to do to us." As he finished he threw the raw entrails of the victim into the sea with the accustomed ritual. Then he ordered the trumpeter to sound the signal for departure, and as the wind which was favourable to them freshened they were quickly carried out of sight. In the afternoon they were enveloped in so thick a fog that they had difficulty in keeping their ships from fouling one another, and as they got out to sea the wind dropped. During the night a similar fog prevailed, which dispersed after sunrise, and at the same the wind freshened. At last they descried land, and a few minutes later the pilot informed Scipio that they were not more than five miles from the coast of Africa, and that the headland of Mercurius was plainly visible. If he would give orders for him to steer for it, the man assured him, the whole of the fleet would soon be in port. When he caught sight of land Scipio offered a prayer that this first view of Africa might bring good to himself and to the republic. He then gave orders for the fleet to make for an anchorage further south. They went before the wind which was still in the same quarter, but a fog which came up about the same time as on the day before blotted out the view of the land and made the wind fall. As night came on everything became obscure, and to avoid all risk of the ships coming into collision or being driven ashore it was decided to cast anchor. When it grew light, the wind again freshened from the same quarter, and the dispersal of the fog revealed the entire coastline of Africa. Scipio enquired the name of the nearest headland, and on learning that was called Pulchrum ("Cape Beautiful") he remarked, "I accept the omen, steer for it." The fleet brought up there and the whole of the force was landed. This description of the voyage as favourable and unaccompanied by any confusion or alarms rests upon the statements of numerous Greek and Latin authorities. According to Coelius, though the fleet was not actually submerged by the waves, it was exposed to every possible danger from sea and sky, and was at last driven from the African coast to the island of Aegimurus, and from here with great difficulty succeeded in getting on the right course. He adds that as the ships were leaking badly and all but sinking, the soldiers took to the boats without orders just as though they were shipwrecked and escaped to land without arms and in the utmost disorder.
[29.28]When the disembarkation was completed, the Romans measured out a site for their camp on some rising ground close by. The sight of a hostile fleet, followed by the bustle and excitement of the landing, created consternation and alarm, not only in the fields and farms on the coast, but in the cities as well. Not only were the roads filled everywhere by crowds of men and troops of women and children, but the peasantry were driving their live stock inland, so that you would say that Africa was being suddenly depopulated. The terror which these fugitives created in the cities was greater even than what they themselves felt, especially in Carthage, where the confusion was almost as great as if it had been actually captured. Since the days of the consuls M. Atilius Regulus and L. Manlius, almost fifty years ago, they had never seen a Roman army other than those employed on raiding expeditions, who picked up what they could in the fields and always got back to their ships before the countrymen could assemble together to meet them. This made the excitement and alarm in the city all the greater. And no wonder, for there was neither an effective army nor a general whom they could oppose to Scipio. Hasdrubal, the son of Gisgo, was by far the most prominent man in the State, distinguished alike by his birth, his military reputation and his wealth, and now by his connection with royalty. But the Carthaginians had not forgotten that he had been defeated and routed in several battles by this very Scipio, and that as a general he was no more a match for him than the irregular levies which made up his force were a match for the army of Rome. There was a general call to arms, as though they were anticipating an immediate assault; the gates were hastily closed, troops stationed on the walls, outposts and sentinels posted, and the night was passed under arms. The next day, a body of cavalry, 1000 strong, who had been sent down to the sea to reconnoitre and harass the Romans during the disembarkation, came upon the Roman outposts. Scipio, meanwhile, after sending the fleet to Utica, had advanced a short distance from the shore and seized the nearest heights, where he stationed some of his cavalry as outposts; the rest he sent to plunder the fields.
[29.29]In the skirmish which ensued, the Romans killed some of the enemy in the actual fighting, but the greater number were slain in the pursuit, amongst them the young Hanno, who was in command. Scipio ravaged the surrounding fields and captured a fairly opulent city in the immediate neighbourhood. In addition to the plunder which was at once put on board the transports and sent to Sicily, he made prisoners of some 8000 men, freemen and slaves. What cheered the whole army most of all at the outset of their campaign was the arrival of Masinissa, who, according to some writers, was accompanied by a mounted force of 200 men; most authorities, however, assert that it numbered 2000. As this monarch was by far the greatest of his contemporaries and rendered most important service to Rome, it may be worth while to digress from the order of our narrative and give a brief account of the various fortunes he experienced in the loss and subsequent recovery of the throne of his ancestors. Whilst he was fighting for the Carthaginians in Spain, his father Gala died. In accordance with the Numidian custom the crown passed to the late king's brother Oezalces, a man advanced in years. He died not long afterwards and the elder of his two sons, Capussa - the other was quite a boy - succeeded to the throne. But as he wore the crown by right of descent rather than through any influence or authority he possessed with his subjects, a certain Mazaetullus prepared to dispute his claim. This man was also of royal blood and belonged to a family which had always been foes to the reigning house, and had kept up a constant struggle with varying fortunes against the occupants of the throne. He succeeded in rousing his countrymen, over whom, owing to the king's unpopularity, he had considerable influence, and taking the field against him, compelled him to fight for his crown. Capussa fell in the action, together with many of his principal supporters; the whole of the Maesulian tribe submitted to Mazaetullus. He would not, however, accept the title of king, this he bestowed on the boy Lacumazes, the sole survivor of the royal house. and contented himself with the modest title of Protector. With a view to an alliance with Carthage he married a Carthaginian lady of noble birth, a niece of Hannibal's, and widow of Oezalces. He also sent envoys to Syphax and renewed the old ties of hospitality with him, thus securing on all sides support for the coming struggle with Masinissa.
[29.30]On hearing of his uncle's death, followed by that of his cousin, Masinissa left Spain for Mauretania. Baga was king at the time, and Masinissa, by his earnest and humble entreaties, obtained from him a force of 4000 Moors to serve as an escort as he could not induce him to supply enough for warlike operations. With this escort he reached the frontiers of Numidia, having sent messengers in advance to his father's friends and his own. Here about 500 Numidians joined him, and, as had been arranged, his escort of Moors returned to their king. His adherents were fewer than he expected, too few, in fact, with which to venture on so great an enterprise. Thinking, however, that by active personal effort he might collect a force which would enable him to achieve something, he advanced to Thapsus, where he met Lacumazes, who was on his way to Syphax. The king's escort retreated hurriedly into the town, and Masinissa captured the place at the first assault. Some of the royal troops surrendered, others who offered resistance were killed, but the great majority escaped with their boy-king in the confusion and continued their journey to Syphax. The news of this initial success, slight though it was, brought the Numidians over to Masinissa, and from the fields and hamlets on all sides the old soldiers of Gala flocked to his standard and urged the young leader to win back his ancestral throne. Mazaetullus had considerably the advantage in point of numbers; he had the army with which he had defeated Capussa as well as some of the troops who had gone over to him after the king's death, and Lacumazes had brought very large reinforcements from Syphax. His total force amounted to 15,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, but, though so inferior in both arms, Masinissa engaged him. The courage of the veterans and the skill of their commander, trained as he had been in the wars in Spain, carried the day; the king and the Protector with a mere handful of Masaesulians escaped into Carthaginian territory. Thus Masinissa won back the throne of his ancestors. As he saw, however, that a much more serious contest awaited him with Syphax, he thought it best to effect a reconciliation with his cousin, and sent to the boy to assure him that if he would place himself in Masinissa's hands he would experience the same honourable treatment that Oezalces received from Gala. He also pledged his word to Mazaetullus that he should not suffer for what he had done, and, more than that, that all his property should be restored to him. Both Lacumazes and Mazaetullus preferred a moderate share of fortune at home to a life of exile, and in spite of all the efforts of the Carthaginians went over to Masinissa.
[29.31].Hasdrubal happened to be on a visit to Syphax at the time. The Numidian did not consider it a matter of much importance to him whether the Maesulian throne was occupied by Lacumazes or Masinissa, but Hasdrubal warned him that he was making a very great mistake if he supposed that Masinissa would be content with the same frontiers as his father Gala. "That man," he said, "possessed much more ability and much more force of character than any one of that nation had hitherto shown. In Spain he had often exhibited to friends and foes alike proofs of a courage rare amongst men. Unless Syphax and the Carthaginians stifled that rising flame, they would soon be involved in a conflagration which nothing could check. As yet his power was weak and insecure, he was nursing a realm whose wounds had not yet closed." By continually urging these considerations, Hasdrubal persuaded him to move his army up to the frontiers of Maesulia and fix his camp on territory which he claimed as beyond question forming part of his dominions, a claim which Gala had contested not only by argument, but by force of arms. He advised him in case any one offered opposition - and he only wished they would - to be prepared to fight; if they for fear of him retired he must advance into the heart of the kingdom. The Maesulii would either submit to him without a struggle or they would find themselves hopelessly outmatched in arms. Encouraged by these representations Syphax commenced war with Masinissa, and in the very first battle defeated and routed the Maesulians. Masinissa with a few horsemen escaped from the field and fled to a mountain range called by the natives Bellum. Several households with their tent-wagons and cattle - their sole wealth - followed the king; the bulk of the population submitted to Syphax. The mountain district which the fugitives had taken possession of was grassy and well watered, and as it afforded excellent pasturage for cattle it provided ample sustenance for men who lived on flesh and milk. From these heights they harried the whole country round, at first in stealthy nocturnal incursions, and afterwards in open brigandage. They ravaged the Carthaginian territory mainly, because it offered more plunder and depredation was a safer work there than amongst the Numidians. At last they reached such a pitch of audacity that they carried their plunder down to the sea and sold it to traders who brought their ships up for the purpose. More Carthaginians fell or were made prisoners in these forays than often happens in regular warfare. The authorities at Carthage complained loudly of all this to Syphax and pressed him to follow up these remnants of the war. Angry as he was, however, he hardly thought it part of his duties as a king to hunt down a robber at large on the mountains.
[29.32]Boncar, one of the king's officers, a keen and energetic soldier, was selected for the task. He was supplied with 4000 infantry and 200 horsemen and he had a good prospect of gaining rewards if he brought back Masinissa's head, or - what would afford measureless gratification - captured him alive. Making a surprise attack on the plunderers when they were suspecting no danger, he cut off an enormous number of men and cattle from their armed escort and drove Masinissa himself with a few followers up to the summit of the mountain. He now regarded serious hostilities as at an end, and after despatching his capture of men and cattle to the king, sent back also the bulk of his troops whom he considered unnecessary for what remained of the fighting, retaining only 500 infantry and 200 mounted men. With these he hastened in pursuit of Masinissa who had left the heights and, catching him in a narrow valley, he blocked both entrances and inflicted a very severe loss on the Maesulii. Masinissa with not more than fifty troopers got away through steep mountain tracks unknown to his pursuers. Boncar, however, kept on his track and overtook him in the open country near Clupea where he surrounded him so completely that the whole party were killed with the exception of four who with Masinissa, himself wounded, slipped out of his hands during the fray. Their flight was observed and the cavalry were sent in pursuit. They spread over the plain, some making a short cut to head off the five fugitives, whose flight brought them to a large river. Dreading the enemy more than the river, they spurred their horses without a moment's hesitation into the water, and the rapid current carried them down stream. Two were drowned before their pursuers' eyes, and it was believed that Masinissa had perished. He, however, with the two survivors, landed amongst the bush on the other side. This was the end of Boncar's pursuit, as he would not venture into the river and did not believe that there was any one now left for him to follow. He returned to the king with the baseless story of Masinissa's death, and messengers were sent to carry the good news to Carthage. The report soon spread throughout Africa, and affected men's minds in very different ways. Masinissa was resting in a secret cave and treating his wound with herbs, and for some days kept himself alive on what his two troopers brought in from their forays. As soon as his wound was sufficiently healed to allow him to bear the movements of the horse he started with extraordinary boldness on a fresh attempt to recover his kingdom. During his journey he did not collect more than forty horsemen, but when he reached the Maesulii and made his identity known, his appearance created intense excitement. His former popularity and the unhoped-for delight of seeing him safe and sound, after they had believed him dead, had such an effect that in a few days 6000 infantry and 4000 cavalry had gathered round his standard. He was now in possession of his kingdom, and began to devastate the tribes who were friendly to Carthage, and the territory of the Maesulii, which formed part of the dominions of Syphax. Having thus provoked Syphax into hostilities, Masinissa took up a position on some mountain heights between Cirto and Hippo, a situation which was every way advantageous.
[29.33]Syphax looked upon the struggle as too serious a one to be entrusted to his lieutenants. He placed one division of his army under his son Vermina with instructions to march round the back of the mountain and attack the enemy in the rear while he himself occupied his attention in front. Vermina started in the night as he was to fall on the enemy unawares; Syphax broke camp and marched out in broad daylight with the obvious intention of giving regular battle. When sufficient time had elapsed for Vermina to reach his objective, Syphax led his men over a part of the mountain which afforded a gentle slope and made straight for the enemy, trusting to his superiority in numbers and the success of the attack in the rear. Masinissa prepared to meet the attack with confidence owing to his vastly superior position. The battle was fiercely and for a long time evenly contested; Masinissa had the advantage of the ground and finer soldiers, Syphax, that of great superiority in numbers. His masses of men, which had been formed into two divisions, one pressing the enemy in front, the other surrounding his rear, gave Syphax a decisive victory. Flight was impossible as they were hemmed in on both sides, and almost the whole force of infantry and cavalry were killed or made prisoners. Some two hundred horsemen had gathered as a bodyguard round Masinissa, and he divided them into three troops with orders to cut their way through at different points and after they had got clear away to rejoin him at a spot he named. He himself charged through the enemy and escaped in the direction he intended, but two of the troops found escape impossible, one surrendered, the other after an obstinate resistance was buried beneath the enemy's missiles. Masinissa found Vermina almost at his heels, but by continually doubling first to one side and then to the other he eluded his pursuit until at last he forced him to abandon the exhausting and hopeless chase. Accompanied by sixty troopers he reached the Lesser Syrtis. Here, in the proud consciousness of his many heroic efforts to recover his father's throne, he passed his time between the Carthaginian Emporia and the tribe of the Garamantes until the appearance of Scipio and the Roman fleet in Africa. This leads me to believe that when Masinissa came to Scipio it was with a small rather than with a large body of troops; the former would be much more suitable to the fortunes of an exile, the latter to those of a reigning prince.
[29.34]After the loss of their cavalry corps and its commander, the Carthaginians raised a fresh force which they placed under Hamilcar's son Hanno. They had sent repeated messages to both Hasdrubal and Syphax and at last sent a special embassy to each of them, appealing to Hasdrubal to succour his native city which was all but invested, and imploring Syphax to come to the aid of Carthage and indeed of the whole of Africa. Scipio at the time was encamped about a mile from Utica, having moved up from the coast where for a few days he had occupied an intrenched position close to his fleet. The mounted troops which had been supplied to Hanno were by no means strong enough to harass the enemy or even to protect the country from his depredations, and his first and most pressing task was to increase its strength. Though he did not reject recruits from other tribes, his levy consisted mainly of Numidians, by far the finest cavalry in Africa. When he had brought his corps up to about 4000 men, he took possession of a town called Salaeca, about fifteen miles from the Roman camp. This was reported to Scipio, and he exclaimed, "What? Cavalry in houses in the summer! Let there be more of them as long as they have such a leader!" Realising that the less energy the enemy showed, the less hesitation ought he himself to show, he instructed Masinissa and his cavalry to ride up to the enemy's quarters and draw them into action: when their whole force was engaged and he was being outnumbered he was to retire slowly, and when the moment arrived Scipio would come to his support. The Roman general waited until Masinissa had had sufficient time to draw the enemy, and then followed with his cavalry, his approach being concealed by some low hills which fortunately flanked his route.
Masinissa, in accordance with his instructions, rode right up to the gates and, when the enemy appeared, retired as though afraid to meet him; this simulated fear made the enemy all the more confident, until he was tempted into a rash pursuit. The Carthaginians had not yet all emerged from the city, and their general had more than enough to do in forcing some who were heavy with wine and sleep to seize their weapons and bridle their horses and preventing others from rushing out of the gates in scattered disorder, with no attempt at formation and even without their standards. The first who incautiously galloped out fell into Masinissa's hands, but they soon poured out in a compact body and in greater numbers, and the fighting became more equal. At last, when the whole of the Carthaginian cavalry were in the field, Masinissa could not longer bear the weight of their attack. His men did not, however, take to flight but retired slowly before the enemy's charges until their commander had brought them as far as the rising ground which concealed the Roman cavalry. Then these latter charged from behind the hill, horses and men alike fresh, and threw themselves, in front and flank and rear, upon Hanno and his Africans, who were tired out with the fight and the pursuit. Masinissa at the same time wheeled round and recommenced fighting. About 1000 who were in the front ranks, unable to effect a retreat, were surrounded and killed, amongst them Hanno himself; the rest, appalled at their leader's death, fled precipitately, and were pursued by the victors for more than thirty miles. As many as 2000 were either killed or made prisoners, and it is pretty certain that amongst them there were not less than 200 Carthaginians, including some of their wealthiest and noblest families
[29.35]On the very day on which this action was fought, it happened that the ships which had carried the plunder to Sicily returned with supplies, as though they had divined that they would have to carry back a second cargo of spoils of war. Not all the authorities state that two Carthaginian generals of the same name were killed in two separate actions, they were afraid, I think, of being misled into repeating the same incident twice over. Coelius at all events, and Valerius tell us that Hanno was taken prisoner. Scipio distributed amongst the cavalry and their officers rewards proportioned to the service each had rendered; Masinissa was distinguished above the rest by some splendid presents. After placing a strong garrison in Salaeca he continued his advance with the rest of his army, and not only stripped the fields along his line of march, but captured various towns and villages as well, spreading terror far and wide. After a week's marching he returned to camp with a long train of men and cattle and all sorts of booty, and the ships were sent off for the second time heavily loaded with the spoils of war. He now abandoned his plundering expeditions and devoted all his strength to an attack on Utica, intending if he took it to make that the base of his future operations. His naval contingent was employed against the side of the city which faced the sea, while his land army operated from some rising ground which commanded the walls. Some artillery and siege engines he had brought with him, and some had been sent with the supplies from Sicily, new ones were also being constructed in an arsenal where a large number of artisans trained in this work were assembled. Under the pressure of such a vigorous investment all the hopes of the people of Utica rested on Carthage, and all the hopes of the Carthaginians rested on Hasdrubal and on whatever assistance he could obtain from Syphax. In their anxiety for relief everything seemed to be moving too slowly. Hasdrubal had been doing his utmost to obtain troops, and had actually assembled a force of 30,000 infantry and 3000 cavalry, but he did not venture to move nearer the enemy till Syphax joined him. He came with 50,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry, and with their united forces they at once advanced from Carthage and took up a position not far from Utica and the Roman lines. Their approach led to one important result at least: after prosecuting the siege of Utica with all the resources at his command Scipio abandoned any further attempts on the place, and as winter was coming on he constructed an intrenched camp on a tongue of land which projected into the sea and was connected by a narrow isthmus with the mainland. He enclosed the military and naval camps within the same lines. The legions were stationed in the middle of the headland; the ships, which had been beached, and their crews occupied the northern side; the low ground on the south side was allotted to the cavalry. Such were the incidents in the African campaign down to the end of the autumn.
[29.36]In addition to the corn which had been accumulated from the plunder of all the country round, and the supplies which had been conveyed from Sicily and Italy, a large quantity was sent by the propraetor Cnaeus Octavius which he had obtained from Ti. Claudius, the governor of Sardinia. The existing granaries being all full, new ones were built. The army was in need of clothing and Octavius received instructions to confer with the governor as to whether any could be made and despatched from that island. The matter was promptly attended to and in a short time 1200 togas and 12,000 tunics were sent off. During this summer the consul P. Sempronius, who was commanding in Bruttium, was marching near Croto when he fell in with Hannibal. An irregular battle ensued, as both armies were in column of march and did not deploy into line. The Romans were repulsed, and though it was more of a melee than a battle no fewer than 1200 of the consul's army were killed. They retreated in confusion to their camp, but the enemy did not venture to attack it. The consul, however, marched away in the silence of the night after despatching a message to the proconsul P. Licinius to bring up his legions. With their united forces the two commanders marched back to meet Hannibal. There was no hesitation on either side, the consul's confidence was restored by the doubling of his strength, and the enemy's courage was raised by his recent victory. P. Sempronius stationed his own legions in front, those of P. Licinius were placed in reserve. At the commencement of the battle the consul vowed a temple to Fortuna Primigenia in case he routed the enemy, and his prayer was granted. The Carthaginians were routed and put to flight, above 4000 were killed, nearly 300 were made prisoners and 40 horses and 11 standards were captured. Daunted by his failure, Hannibal withdrew to Croto. Etruria, at the other end of Italy, was almost wholly in sympathy with Mago, hoping to effect a revolution with his help. The consul M. Cornelius kept his hold on the province more by the terror created by his judicial proceedings than by force of arms. He conducted the investigations which the senate had commissioned him to make without any respect of persons, and many Etrurian nobles who had personally interviewed Mago or been in correspondence with him about the defection of their cantons were brought up and condemned to death; others knowing themselves to be equally guilty went into exile and were sentenced in their absence. As their persons were beyond arrest, their property only could be confiscated as an earnest of their future punishment.
[29.37]While the consuls were thus occupied in their widely separated spheres of action, the censors, M. Livius and C. Claudius, were busy in Rome. They revised the roll of senators, and Q. Fabius Maximus was again chosen as Leader of the House. Seven names were struck off the roll, but none of them had ever filled a curule chair. The censors insisted upon the exact fulfilment of the contracts which had been made for the repair of public buildings, and they made additional contracts for the construction of a road from the Forum Boarium to the temple of Venus with public seats on each side of it and also for the building of a temple to Mater Magna on the Palatine. They also imposed a new tax in the shape of a duty on salt. In Rome and throughout Italy it had been sold at a sextans, and the contractors were bound to sell it at the old price in Rome but allowed to charge a higher price in the country towns and markets. It was commonly believed that one of the censors had devised this tax to spite the people because he had once been unjustly condemned by them, and it was said that the rise in the price of salt pressed most heavily on those tribes who had been instrumental in procuring his condemnation. It was owing to this that Livius got the name of Salinator. The lustrum was closed later than usual because the censors had sent commissioners into the provinces to ascertain the number of Roman citizens who were serving in the armies. Including these, the total number as shown in the census amounted to 214,000. The lustrum was closed by C. Claudius Nero. This year, for the first time, a return was furnished of the population of the twelve colonies, the censors of the colonies themselves furnishing the lists so that the military strength and financial position of each might be permanently recorded in the archives of the State. Then followed the revision of the equites. It so happened that both the censors had government horses. When they came to the Pollian tribe, which contained the name of M. Livius, the usher hesitated about citing the censor himself. "Cite M. Livius," exclaimed Nero and then, whether it was that the old enmity still survived or that he was pluming himself upon an ill-timed strictness, he turned to Livius and ordered him to sell his horse as he had been condemned by the verdict of the people. When they were going through the Arniensian tribe and came to his colleague's name, Livius ordered C. Claudius Nero to sell his horse for two reasons, first because he had borne false witness against him, and secondly because he had not been sincere in his reconciliation with him. Thus at the close of their censorship a dispute arose equally discreditable to both, each besmirching the other's good name at the cost of his own.
After C. C. Nero had made the usual affidavit that he had acted in accordance with the laws, he went up to the treasury and amongst the names of those whom he left disfranchised he placed that of his colleague. He was followed by M. Livius who took still more dramatic action. With the exception of the Maecian tribe, who had neither condemned him nor afterwards, in spite of his condemnation, made him either consul or censor, Livius reduced to the status of aerarii the whole of the remaining tribes of the Roman people on the ground that they had condemned an innocent man, and afterwards had made him consul and censor. He argued that they must admit that either they were acting wrongfully as judges in the first instance, or afterwards as electors. Amongst the thirty-four tribes, C. C. Nero, he said, would be disfranchised, and if there were any precedent for disfranchising the same man twice he would have inserted his name specially. This rivalry between the censors in affixing a stigma on each other was deplorable, but the sharp lesson administered to the people for their inconstancy was just what a censor ought to have given and befitted the seriousness of the times. As the censors had fallen into disfavour one of the tribunes of the plebs, Cnaeus Baebius, thought it a good opportunity for advancing himself at their expense, and appointed a day for their impeachment. The project was defeated by the unanimous vote of the senate, who were determined that the censorship should not for the future be at the mercy of popular caprice.
[29.38]During the summer Clampetia in Bruttium was taken by storm by the consul; Consentia, Pandosia and some other unimportant places surrendered voluntarily. As the time for the elections was approaching it was thought best to summon Cornelius from Etruria as there were no active hostilities there, and he conducted the elections. The new consuls were Cnaeus Servilius Caepio and Caius Servilius Geminus. At the election of praetors which followed, those returned were P. Cornelius Lentulus, P. Quintilius Varus, P. Aelius Paetus and P. Villius Tappulus; the last two were plebeian aediles at the time. When the elections were over the consul returned to Etruria. Some deaths took place among the priests this year, and appointments were made to fill the vacancies. Tiberius Veturius Philo was appointed Flamen of Mars in place of M. Aemilius Regillus who died in the preceding year. M. Pomponius Matho, who had been both augur and keeper of the Sacred Books, was succeeded by M. Aurelius Cotta in the latter office and as augur by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, a very young man, a very unusual thing at that time in appointments to the priesthood. Golden chariots were placed in the Capitol by the curule aediles, C. Livius and M. Servilius Geminus. The Roman Games were celebrated for two days by the aediles P. Aelius and P. Villius. There was also a feast in honour of Jupiter on the occasion of the Games.
End of Book 29
Copyright (c) 1996 by Bruce J. Butterfield.
No Restrictions for Non-Commercial use