At the beginning of the summer in which these events were taking place, after Publius Scipio in Spain had spent the entire winter in winning over the support of the barbarians, partly by gifts and partly by restoring their hostages and captives, Edesco, who was eminent among the Spanish chieftains, came to him.1
His wife and children were in the hands of the Romans; but in addition to this reason he was drawn by that more or less fortuitous trend of feeling which had turned all Spain away from Punic rule to Roman.
Indibilis and Mandonius,2
unquestionably the leading men of all Spain, had the same reason for leaving Hasdrubal, taking with them the whole force of their countrymen and withdrawing to heights which overlooked his camp, and from which there was a safe retreat along continuous ridges to the Romans.
Hasdrubal, seeing that the resources of the enemy were increasing by such large accessions, while his own were diminishing and, unless he ventured to do something, they would melt away to the Roman side, as they had begun to do, decided to fight as soon as possible.
Scipio was even more eager for battle, both because of confidence which was increasing with his success, and because he preferred to fight with one general and army before the armies of the enemy should unite, rather than with them all at [p. 281]
But even supposing he should have to fight3
with several at the same time, he had enlarged his forces by a certain artifice. For, seeing that he was making no use of ships, since the whole coast of Spain was rid of Punic fleets, he beached his vessels at Tarraco and added their crews to the land forces.
And arms he had in abundance, both those captured at (New) Carthage and those which after the capture of that city he had caused to be made by impounding a large number of artisans.
With these troops Scipio set out at the beginning of spring from Tarraco and proceeded to lead against the enemy; for by this time Laelius also, without whom he did not wish any important action to be taken, had returned from Rome.
As Scipio was passing through an entirely peaceful region, while allies escorted and welcomed him whenever he crossed the boundary of a tribe, Indibilis and Mandonius with their forces met him.
Indibilis spoke for them both, not at all boorishly or carelessly, as one might expect of a barbarian, but rather with modesty and dignity, and more like a man who excused their change of sides as necessary than one who bragged that they had, as it were, seized that as the first opportunity.
For he was aware, he said, that the word deserter was detested by old allies, suspected by new ones; and he did not blame men for that habit, if only it was the motive, not the word, which produced hatred in both parties.
He then recounted their services to the Carthaginian [p. 283]
and on the other hand the greed and5
haughtiness of the generals and the wrongs of every sort they had done to them and their countrymen. Consequently it was till then merely their body that had been with them; their mind had long since been where they believed justice and right were held in honour.
Even to the gods, he said, do those who cannot endure the violence and the wrongs of men flee as suppliants; as for themselves, their prayer to Scipio was that he should not reckon the change of sides either to their detriment or to their credit.
According as he should henceforward come to know their worth by testing them, let him in that light estimate the value of their service.6
The Roman replied that he would do precisely that, and not regard as deserters men who did not consider an alliance valid in which nothing either divine or human was sacred. Thereupon their wives and children were brought before their eyes and given over to them as they wept for joy.
And on that day they were escorted to guest-quarters, while the next day their promise of loyalty was accepted on the basis of a treaty, and they were sent away to bring up their forces.
Thereafter they were quartered in the same camp, until with these men as guides the enemy was reached.