Scipio, seeing the enemy's forces thus distributed, and that to carry about his forces to each of the several cities would be rather tedious than important, marched his army back.
Not to leave all that country, however, to the Carthaginians, he sent his brother, Lucius Scipio, at the head of ten thousand foot and one thousand horse, to besiege the most important city of that quarter, called by the barbarians Orinx, and situated on the borders of the Milesians, a nation of Spain so called.
The soil is fertile, and even silver is dug out of it by the inhabitants.
This place served as a fort to Hasdrubal, from which he might make incursions on the inland states. Scipio encamped near the city. Before he formed his lines round it, he sent to the gates to sound the inclinations of the inhabitants, by a direct interview, and persuade them to make trial of the friendship of the Romans rather than of their power.
As they answered nothing of a friendly nature, he threw a double trench and rampart round the place, dividing his army into three parts, in order that one division might assault it while the other two rested.
The first of these beginning the attack, a furious and doubtful contest ensued.
It was by no means easy to approach and bring the ladders to the walls, on account of the weapons which fell upon them; and even of those persons who had raised them, some were thrown down with forks made for the purpose, others were in danger of being laid hold of by iron grapples, and dragged up hanging to the wall.
Scipio, seeing that the contest was equalized owing to the fewness of his party, and that the enemy, fighting from the wall, were superior to him, called off the first division and attacked them with the two others together.
This so terrified the besieged, who were already fatigued with fighting with the former, that not only the townsmen forsook the walls in sudden flight, but the Carthaginian garrison, fearing that the town had been betrayed, also quitted their posts and collected themselves into a body.
Upon this the inhabitants began to be alarmed, lest if the enemy broke into the town they should kill all they met indiscriminately, Carthaginian or Spaniard.
They therefore suddenly threw open the gates and rushed out of the [p. 1165]
town, holding their shields before them, lest any weapons should be cast at them from a distance, and stretching out to view their bare right hands, that it might be seen they had thrown away their swords.
Whether this was not observed, in consequence of the distance, or whether some deception was suspected, is not known; but an attack was made on the deserters, and they were put to death as a hostile force.
Through this gate the enemy marched into the city in battle-array. The other gates were cut through and broken down with axes and sledges; and as each horseman entered, he galloped off to seize the forum, as had been ordered. A body of veteran troops were also added to the horse to support them.
The legionary troops spread themselves in every part of the city, but neither killed nor plundered any, except such as defended themselves with arms.
All the Carthaginians were put under guard, with more than three hundred of the inhabitants, who had shut the gates.
The rest had the town put into their hands, and their property restored. About two thousand of the enemy fell in the assault on this city, and not more than ninety of the Romans.