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[75] While they were stricken with fear and perplexity on this account, the city of Utica (the largest in Africa after Carthage itself, having a harbor with good anchorage and well adapted for landing an army, at a distance of sixty stades from Carthage and well situated as a base of operations against it), observing the plight the Carthaginians were in, and recalling their ancient animosity toward them, sent an embassy to Rome at this critical moment offering to give themselves up to the Romans. The Senate, which had been previously eager and prepared for war, having gained the accession of a city so strong and so conveniently placed, now disclosed its purpose. Assembling in the Capitol (where they were accustomed to deliberate on the subject of war), the senators voted to declare war against Carthage. They immediately despatched the consuls in command of the forces, M. Manlius having charge of the foot soldiers and L. Marcius Censorinus of the fleet, and they gave them secret orders not to desist from the war until Carthage was razed to the ground. After offering sacrifice they sailed for Sicily, intending to cross over thence to Utica. They were conveyed in 50 quinqueremes and 100 hemiolii,1 besides many open boats and transports. The army consisted of 80,000 infantry and about 4000 cavalry, all the very best. There was a general rush of citizens and allies to join this splendid expedition, and absolute confidence in the result, and many were eager to have their names on the enrolment.

1 The quinquereme was a ship with five banks of oars, the hemiolius with one-and-a-half.

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