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Quote of the day: One Musonius Rufus, a man of equestrian
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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 16: The Carthagenians leave Spain[206 BC]
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When the outposts brought intelligence of the enemy's departure Scipio sent on his cavalry and followed with his entire army. Such was the rapidity of the pursuit that had they followed in Hasdrubal's direct track they must have caught him up. But, acting on the advice of their guides, they took a shorter route to the river Baetis, so that they might be able to attack him if he attempted its passage. Finding the river closed to him, Hasdrubal turned his course towards the ocean, and his hurried march, which in its haste and confusion looked like a flight gave him a considerable start on the Roman legions. Their cavalry and light infantry harassed and retarded him by attacking him in flank and rear, and whilst he was continually forced to halt to repel first the cavalry and then infantry skirmishers, the legions came up. Now it was no longer a battle but sheer butchery, until the general himself set the example of flight and escaped to the nearest hills with some 6000 men, many of them without arms. The rest were killed or made prisoners. The Carthaginians hastily improvised an intrenched camp on the highest point of the hills, and as the Romans found it useless to attempt the precipitous ascent, they had no difficulty in making themselves safe. But a bare and sterile height was hardly a place in which to stand even a few days' siege, and there were numerous desertions. At last Hasdrubal sent for ships he was not far from the sea and fled in the night, leaving his army to its fate. As soon as Scipio heard of his flight he left Silanus to keep up the investment of the Carthaginian camp with 10,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, whilst he himself with the rest of his force returned to Tarraco. During his seventy days' march to this place, he took steps to ascertain the attitude of the various chiefs and tribes towards Rome, so that they might be recompensed as they deserved. After his departure Masinissa came to a secret understanding with Silanus, and crossed over with a small following to Africa, to induce his people to support him in his new policy. The reasons which determined him on this sudden change were not evident at the time, but the loyalty which he subsequently displayed throughout his long life to its close proved beyond question that his motives at the beginning were carefully weighed. After Mago had sailed to Gades in the ships which Hasdrubal had sent back for him, the rest of the army abandoned by their generals broke up, some deserting to the Romans, others dispersing amongst the neighbouring tribes. No body of troops remained worth consideration either for numbers or fighting strength. Such, in the main, was the way in which under the conduct and auspices of Publius Scipio the Carthaginians were expelled from Spain, fourteen years from the commencement of the war, and five years after Scipio assumed supreme command. Not long after Mago's departure Silanus joined Scipio at Tarraco, and reported that the war was at an end.