Having thus, by the exhibition of several pairs, worked on the passions of his troops, he dismissed them. Then, convening an assembly, he addressed them —so it is said —in the following strain: "If that spirit which but now was roused in you by the example of the plight of others shall presently be yours, when you consider your own prospects, then, soldiers, the victory is ours.
For that was no mere spectacle, but a kind of picture, as it were, of your own condition.
And I incline to think that Fortune has laid you under stronger bonds and heavier necessities than your captives.
On the right and on the left two seas encompass you, and you have not a single ship, even to flee in; round you is the river Po —the Po, a greater and more turbulent river than the Rhone; behind you tower the Alps, which you hardly scaled when you were fresh and vigorous.
Here, soldiers, you must conquer or die, where for the first time you have faced the enemy. And the same Fortune which has laid upon you the [p. 127]
necessity of fighting holds forth the promise of such1
prizes, in the event of victory, that men are wont to ask not even the immortal gods for greater.
If it were only Sicily and Sardinia, wrested from our fathers, that we were going to recover by our valour, these would still be great enough rewards. As it is, whatever the Romans have won and heaped up in the course of all their triumphs, whatever they possess, is all destined —and its owners with it —to be yours.
Come then! Arm yourselves, with Heaven helping you, to earn this splendid wage!
Long enough have you been chasing flocks on the barren mountains of Lusitania and Celtiberia, without seeing any recompense for all your toil and dangers.
It is now time for you to make rich and lucrative campaigns, and reap the large rewards of so long a march over so many mountains and rivers and through so many warlike tribes. Here Fortune has fixed the final goal of your labours; here, when your wars are ended, she will worthily requite you.
"Nor must you think that in proportion to the great name of the war will be the difficulty you will have in winning it.
It has often happened that even an enemy held cheap has caused a bloody battle, and that nations and princes of renown have been very lightly overcome. Take from your enemies this one glory of the Roman name, and in what particular can they bear comparison with you?
To say nothing of your twenty years of service and your far-famed courage and good fortune, you
have come from the Pillars of Hercules, from the Ocean and the uttermost limits of the world, and through so many of the fiercest tribes of Spain and Gaul have fought your way victoriously to this field.
You will be [p. 129]
pitted against an army of recruits, who have been2
this very summer cut to pieces, routed, and besieged by Gauls —an army as yet unknown to its general and one that knows not him.
Or am I, who if not actually born in the headquarters of my father-most illustrious of commanders —was at least brought up there, am I, the subjugator of Spain and Gaul and conqueror not only of the Alpine tribes, but —what is much more —of the Alps themselves, am I, I ask you, to compare myself to this six-months general, who has deserted his own army?
Why, if one were to show him to-day the Phoenicians and Romans without their standards, I am certain he would not know which army he was consul of.
For my part, soldiers, I regard it as no slight advantage that there is not one of you in whose sight I have not often myself performed some soldierly feat; not one of whose courage I have not in my turn been a spectator and eye-witness —whose deeds of prowess, noted, together with their times and circumstances, I am not able to rehearse.
I shall enter the battle in company with men whom I have praised and decorated a thousand times, and to all of whom I was a foster-son before I was their general. Opposed to me will be men who do not even know each other.