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Quote of the day: The dark complexion of the Silures, thei
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 22: Astapa attacked[206 BC]
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Meantime Scipio's lieutenants were by no means inactive. Marcius crossed the Baetis, called by the natives the Certis, and received the surrender of two cities without striking a blow. Astapa was a city which had always been on the side of Carthage. But it was not this that created a strong feeling of resentment so much as its extraordinary hatred against the Romans, far more than was justified by the necessities of war. Neither the situation nor the fortifications of the city were such as to inspire its inhabitants with confidence, but their love of brigandage induced them to make raids on the territories of their neighbours who were allies of Rome. In these excursions they made a practice of capturing any Roman soldiers or camp sutlers or traders whom they came across. As it was dangerous to travel in small parties, large companies used to travel together and one of these whilst crossing the frontier was surprised by the brigands who were lying in ambush, and all were killed. When the Roman army advanced to attack the place, the inhabitants, fully aware of the chastisement which their crime merited, felt quite certain that the enemy were too much incensed to allow of any hope of safety in surrender. Despairing of protection either in their walls or their arms, they resolved upon a deed equally cruel and horrible to themselves and to those who belonged to them. Collecting the more valuable of their possessions they piled them up into a heap in a selected place in their forum. On this pile they ordered their wives and children to take their seats and then heaped round them a quantity of wood, on the top of which they threw dead brushwood. Fifty armed men were told off to guard their possessions and the persons of those who were dearer than their possessions, and the following instructions were given them: "Remain on guard as long as the battle is doubtful, but if you see that is going against us, and the city is on the point of being captured, you know that those whom you see going into action will never return alive, and we implore you by all the gods celestial and infernal in the name of liberty, liberty which will end in either an honourable death or a dishonourable servitude, that you leave nothing on which a savage enemy can vent his rage. Fire and sword are in your hands. Better that faithful and loving hands should make away with what is doomed to die than that the enemy should add mockery and scorn to murder. "These admonitions were followed by a dire curse on any one who was turned from his purpose by hope of life or by softheartedness. Then they flung open the gates and burst out in a tumultuous charge. There was no advanced post strong enough to check them, for the last thing to be feared was that the besieged would venture outside their walls. One or two troops of horse and some light infantry were sent against them from the camp, and a fierce irregular fight ensued in which the troopers who had been first to come into collision with the enemy were routed, and this created a panic amongst the light infantry. The attack would have been pushed even to the foot of the rampart if the pick of the legions had not made the most of the few minutes allowed them for getting into line. As it was, there was at first some wavering amongst the front ranks, for the enemy, blinded by rage, rushed with mad recklessness upon wounds and death. Then the veterans who came up in support, unshaken by the frantic onset, cut down the front ranks and stayed the advance of those behind. When in their turn they tried to force the enemy back they found that not a man would give ground, they were all resolved to die where they stood. On this the Romans extended their lines, which their superiority in numbers enabled them to do easily, until they outflanked the enemy, who fighting in a compact body were killed to a man.

Actions in Spain in 206 BC

Event: Actions in Spain in 206 BC