Many Roman fleets had set sail from Sicily, and from that very harbour. But not only during this war, nor is that surprising, (for most of the fleets went out for the purpose of getting plunder,) but even in any former war, never did a fleet on setting out exhibit so grand a spectacle.
And yet, if the estimate is to be formed with reference to the magnitude of the fleet, it must be owned that two consuls with their armies had passed from thence before, and there were almost as many ships of war in those fleets as the transports with which Scipio was crossing.
For, besides fifty men of war, he conveyed his army over in four hundred transports. But what made the Romans consider one war as
more formidable than the other, the second than the first, was, that it was carried on in Italy, and that so many armies had been destroyed, and their commanders slain.
The general, Scipio, also, who [p. 1267]
enjoyed the highest degree of renown, partly from his brave achievements, and partly from a peculiar felicity of fortune, which conducted him to the acquisition of boundless glory, attracted extraordinary regard.
At the same time, the very project of passing over into the enemy's country, which had not been formed by any general before during that war, had made him an object of admiration; for he had commonly declared, that he passed over with the object of drawing Hannibal out of Italy, of removing the seat of war into Africa, and terminating it there.
A crowd of persons of every description had assembled in the harbour to view the spectacle; not only the inhabitants of Lilybaeum, but all the deputies from Sicily, who had come together out of compliment to witness the departure of Scipio, and had followed Marcus Pomponius, the praetor of the province.
Besides these, the legions which were to be left in Sicily had come forth to do honour to their comrades on the occasion; and not only did the fleet form a grand sight to those who viewed it from the land, but the shore also, crowded as it was all around, afforded the same to those who were sailing away.