Quite opportunely for the opening of the campaign, the Taurini, the nearest tribe, had begun a war against the Insubres. But Hannibal was unable to put an army in the field to aid the Insubres, as the soldiers while convalescing felt more keenly than ever the distress arising from the hardships they had undergone;
for rest coming after toil, plenty after want, comfort after filth and wet, produced all manner of disorders in their squalid and well-nigh brutalized bodies.
This was the reason why the consul Publius Cornelius, who had come by sea to Pisa, though the army which he received from Manlius and Atilius was made up of raw recruits, still quaking from their recent defeats, yet marched in all haste towards the Po, that he might join battle with an enemy not yet restored to vigour.
But when the consul reached Placentia, Hannibal [p. 115]
had already broken camp and taken the capital city1
of the Taurini by assault, because they would not freely come into his friendship.
On the other hand, he would have brought the Gauls who dwell along the Po to join him, not alone from fear but even of their own free choice, had not the consul taken them by surprise, appearing unexpectedly whilst they were looking about them for a pretext to revolt.
Hannibal, too, moved forward from the Taurini, being persuaded that the Gauls, uncertain which side they had best adhere to, would attach themselves to those who were on the spot.
The armies were now almost within sight of each other, and the opposing generals, though as yet they did not know one another well, had yet each been imbued with a kind of admiration for his antagonist.
For Hannibal's name had been very renowned amongst the Romans, even before the destruction of Saguntum, and Scipio was a man of mark in the eyes of Hannibal, from the mere fact of his having been selected, in preference to any other, to command against himself.
Each had increased the other's good opinion —Scipio, because, though left behind in Gaul, he had confronted Hannibal at his crossing over into Italy; Hannibal by the audacity with which he had conceived and executed his passage of the Alps.
Scipio, however, was the first to cross the Po. He brought his army up to the river Ticinus, and in order to put heart into the men before leading them out to fight, harangued them after the following fashion: