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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVI Chapter 19: Scipio goes to Spain.[211 BC]
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Perceiving the solicitude and anxiety which people felt, after performing the business with so much ardour, he summoned an assembly, in which he discoursed in so noble and high minded a manner, on his years, the command intrusted to him, and the war which he had to carry on, as to rekindle and renew the ardour which had subsided, and inspire the people with more confident hopes than the reliance placed on human professions, or reasoning on the promising appearance of affairs, usually engenders. For Scipio was not only deserving of admiration for his real virtues, but also for his peculiar address in displaying them, to which he had been formed from his earliest years; -- effecting many things with the multitude, either by feigning nocturnal visions or as with a mind divinely inspired; whether it was that he was himself, too, endued with a superstitious turn of mind, or that they might execute his commands and adopt his plans without hesitation, as if they proceeded from the responses of an oracle. With the intention of preparing men's minds for this from the beginning, he never at any time from his first assumption of the manly gown transacted any business, public or private, without first going to the Capitol, entering the temple, and taking his seat there; where he generally passed a considerable time in secret and alone. This practice, which was adhered to through the whole of his life, occasioned in some persons a belief in a notion which generally prevailed, whether designedly or undesignedly propagated, that he was a man of divine extraction; and revived a report equally absurd and fabulous with that formerly spread respecting Alexander the Great, that he was begotten by a huge serpent, whose monstrous form was frequently observed in the bedchamber of his mother, but which, on any one's coming in, suddenly unfolding his coils, glided out of sight. The belief in these miraculous accounts was never ridiculed by him, but rather increased by his address; neither positively denying any such thing nor openly affirming it. There were also many other things, some real and others counterfeit, which exceeded in the case of this young man the usual measure of human admiration, in reliance on which the state intrusted him with an affair of so much difficulty, and with so important a command, at an age by no means ripe for it. To the forces in Spain, consisting of the remains of the old army, and those which had been conveyed over from Puteoli by Claudius Nero, ten thousand infantry and a thousand horse were added; and Marcus Junius Silanus, the propraetor, was sent to assist in the management of affairs. Thus with a fleet of thirty ships, all of which were quinqueremes, he set sail from the mouth of the Tiber, and coasting along the shore of the Tuscan Sea, the Alps, and the Gallic Gulf, and then doubling the promontory of the Pyrenees, landed his troops at Emporiae, a Greek city, which also derived its origin from Phocaea. Ordering his ships to attend him, he marched by land to Tarraco; where he held a congress of deputies from all the allies; for embassies had poured forth from every province on the news of his arrival. Here he ordered his ships to be hauled on shore, having sent back the four triremes of the Massilians which had, in compliment to him, attended him from their home. After that, he began to give answers to the embassies of the several states, which had been in suspense on account of the many vicissitudes of the war; and this with so great dignity, arising from the great confidence he had in his own talents, that no presumptuous expression ever escaped him; and in every thing he said there appeared at once the greatest majesty and sincerity. |
Event: Actions in Spain in 211 BC.