Nero, now that he had already made his distance from the enemy such that it was quite safe to reveal his plan, briefly addressed his soldiers. He said that no plan of any general had been in appearance more reckless, but in fact safer, than his. He was leading them to certain victory.
For inasmuch as his colleague had set out for the war only when infantry and cavalry forces had been furnished by the senate to his own satisfaction —larger
forces and better equipped than if he were marching even against Hannibal —if they should themselves with their troops add ever so small a makeweight, they would change the whole situation.
The mere report along the battle-line —for he would see to it that they did not hear sooner —that a second consul and a second army had arrived would put their victory beyond a doubt.
he said, decides a war and slight influences move men in the direction of hope and fear. Of the glory at least to be derived from success they [p. 389]
would themselves reap almost the whole benefit.2
Always what was the last to be added is felt to have brought with it the whole issue. They themselves could see by what throngs of people, by what admiration, by what approval, their march was acclaimed.
And in fact they were marching everywhere between lines of men and women who had poured out from the farms on every side, and amidst their vows and prayers and words of praise. Defenders of the state men called them, champions of the city of Rome and of the empire. In their weapons and their right hands, they said, were placed their own safety and freedom, and those of their children.
They kept imploring all the gods and goddesses that the soldiers might have a successful march, a favourable battle, a prompt victory over the enemy, and that they might themselves be obliged to pay the vows they had made on their behalf;
that, just as they were now anxiously escorting them, so after a few days they might with rejoicing go to meet them in the exultation of victory.
Then they vied with each other in invitations and offers and in importuning them to take from them in preference to others whatever would serve the men themselves and their beasts; they heaped everything upon them generously.3
The soldiers competed in self-restraint, not to take more than they needed. There was no loitering, no straggling, no halt except while taking food; they marched day and night; they gave to rest hardly enough time for the needs of their bodies.
And men had been sent in advance by Nero to his colleague, to announce their coming and to inquire whether he wished them to come secretly or openly, [p. 391]
by day or by night, to establish themselves in the same4
camp or in another. It was thought best5
that they should enter by night in secret.