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Quote of the day: With his naturally furious temper
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 17: Scipio and Hasdrubal visit Syphax[206 BC]
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Lucius Scipio was sent to Rome in charge of numerous prisoners of high rank to announce the subjugation of Spain. Everybody else welcomed this brilliant success with feelings of delight and exultation, but the one man who had achieved it and whose thirst for solid and lasting renown was insatiable looked upon his conquest of Spain as only a small instalment of what his lofty ambition led him to hope for. Already he was looking to Africa and the great city of Carthage as destined to crown his glory and immortalise his name. This was the goal before him and he thought it best to prepare the way to it by gaining over the kings and tribes in Africa. He began by approaching Syphax, king of the Masaesulians, a tribe of Moorish nationality. They lived opposite that part of the Spanish coast where New Carthage lies. At that time there existed a treaty of alliance between their king and Carthage, but Scipio did not imagine that Syphax would regard the sanctity of treaties more scrupulously than they are generally regarded by barbarians whose fidelity depends upon the caprices of fortune. Accordingly he sent Gaius Laelius to him with presents to win him over. The barbarian was delighted with the presents, and, as he saw that the cause of Rome was everywhere successful, whilst the Carthaginians had failed in Italy and entirely disappeared from Spain, he consented to become friendly to Rome, but insisted that the mutual ratification of the treaty should take place in the presence of the Roman general. All that Laelius could obtain from the king was a safe-conduct, and with that he returned to Scipio. In furtherance of his designs on Africa it was of supreme importance for him to secure Syphax; he was the most powerful of the native princes, and had even attempted hostilities against Carthage; moreover, his frontiers were only separated from Spain by a narrow strait. Scipio thought it worth while running considerable risk in order to accomplish his end, and as it could not be effected in any other way, he made arrangements for visiting Syphax. Leaving the defence of Spain in the hands of Lucius Marcius at Tarraco and Marcus Silanus at New Carthage, to which latter place he had proceeded by forced marches from Tarraco, he sailed across to Africa accompanied by Gaius Laelius. He only took two quinqueremes, and as the sea was calm most of the passage was made by rowing, though a light breeze occasionally assisted them. It so happened that Hasdrubal after his expulsion from Spain entered the harbour at the same time. He had brought his seven triremes to anchor and was preparing to land when the two quinqueremes were sighted. No one entertained the smallest doubt that they belonged to the enemy and could easily be overpowered by superior numbers before they gained the harbour. The efforts of the soldiers and sailors, however, to get their arms ready and the ships into trim amidst much noise and confusion were rendered futile by a freshening breeze from the sea, which filled the sails of the quinqueremes and carried them into port before the Carthaginians could get up their anchors. As they were now in the king's harbour, no one ventured to make any further attempt to molest them. So Hasdrubal, who was the first to land, and Scipio and Laelius, who disembarked soon afterwards, all made their way to the king.