While they were on their way to Syracuse, Scipio prepared to clear himself, not by words but facts. He ordered all his troops to assemble there, and the fleet to be got in readiness, as though a battle had been to be fought that day with the Carthaginians, by sea and land.
On the day of their arrival he entertained them hospitably, and on the next day presented to their view his land and naval forces, not only drawn up in order, but the former performing evolutions, while the fleet in the harbour itself also exhibited a mock naval fight.
The praetor and the deputies were then conducted round to view the armouries, the granaries, and other preparations for the war.
And so great was the admiration excited in them of each particular, and of the whole together, that they firmly believed, that under the conduct of that general, and with that army, the Carthaginians would be vanquished, or by none other.
They bid him, with the blessing of the gods, cross over, and, as soon as possible, realize to the Roman people the hopes they conceived on that day when all the centuries concurred in naming him first consul.
Thus [p. 1262]
they set out on their return in the highest spirits, as though they were about to carry to Rome tidings of a victory, and not of a grand preparation for war.
Pleminius, and those who were implicated in the same guilt with him, when they arrived at Rome, were thrown immediately into prison. At first, when brought before the people by the tribunes, they found no place in their compassion, as their minds were previously engrossed by the sufferings of the Locrians; but afterwards, being repeatedly brought before them, and the hatred with which they were regarded subsiding, their resentment was softened.
Besides, the mutilated appearance of Pleminius, and their recollections of the absent Scipio, operated in gaining them favour with the people.
Pleminius, however, died in prison, before the people had come to a determination respecting him. Clodius Licinius, in the third book of his Roman history, relates, that this Pleminius, during the celebration of the votive games, which Africanus, in his second consulate, exhibited at Rome, made an attempt, by means of certain persons whom he had corrupted by bribes, to set fire to the city in several places, that he might have an opportunity of breaking out of prison, and making his escape;
and that afterwards, the wicked plot having been discovered, he was consigned to the Tullian dungeon, according to a decree of the senate.
The case of Scipio was considered no where but in the senate; where all the deputies and tribunes, bestowing the highest commendations on the fleet, the army, and the general, induced the senate to vote that he should cross over into Africa as soon as possible;
and that permission should be given him to select himself, out of those armies which were in Sicily, those forces which he would carry with him into Africa, and those which he would leave for the protection of the province.