But these, however, were acts committed by exasperated enemies in the heat of battle, and executed, in conformity with the laws of war, upon men armed and most fiercely resisting;
there was another more horrible carnage in the city, where a harmless and defenceless crowd of women and children were butchered by their own countrymen, who threw their bodies, most of them still alive, upon the burning pile, while streams of blood damped the rising flame; and lastly, [p. 1193]
wearied with the piteous slaughter of their friends, they threw themselves, arms and all, into the midst of the flames.
When the carnage was now completed the victorious Romans came up, and at the first sight of so revolting a transaction they stood for some time wrapt in wonder and amazement;
but afterwards, from a rapacity natural to humanity, wishing to snatch out of the fire the gold and silver which glittered amid the heap of other materials, some were caught by the flames, others scorched by the hot blasts, as the foremost were unable to retreat, in consequence of the immense crowd which pressed upon them.
In this manner was Astapa destroyed by the sword and fire, without affording any booty to the soldiers. After the rest of the people in that quarter, influenced by fear, had made submission to him, Marcius led his victorious troops to Scipio, at Carthage.
Just at this same time deserters arrived from Gades, who promised to betray the town and Carthaginian garrison which occupied it, together with the commander and the fleet.
Mago had halted there after his flight, and having collected some ships on the ocean, had got together a considerable number of auxiliaries from the coast of Africa, on the other side the strait, and also by means of Hanno the praefect from the neighbouring parts of Spain.
After pledges had been exchanged with the deserters, Marcius and Laelius were sent thither, the former with the light cohorts, the latter with seven triremes and one quinquereme, in order that they might act in concert by land and sea.