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Scipio's Treatment of the Prisoners

For, as the majority of mankind encounter miseries and embrace dangers for the sake of gain, it is plain that when such opportunity is presented to them as this, the men in the reserve or in the camp would be with difficulty induced to abstain from taking advantage of it; because the usual idea is that everything belongs to the man who actually takes it: and though a general or king may be careful to order all booty to be brought into the common stock, yet everybody considers that what he can conceal is his own. The result is that, while the ruck of the army cannot be prevented from eagerly devoting themselves to plunder, they often run the risk of a complete overthrow: and it has often in fact happened that after a successful movement, such as the carrying of an entrenched camp or the capture of a city, the victorious army has, from no other cause but this, been not only ejected but even utterly defeated. Therefore there is nothing about which leaders ought to exercise more care or foresight, than that, on such an occasion, all may have an absolutely equal prospect of sharing in the booty.

Thus on the present occasion, while the Tribunes were busied in the distribution of the spoil; the Roman commander caused the prisoners, who numbered little short of

Scipio's treatment of the prisoners. The citizens are dismissed to their homes.
With ten thousand, to be assembled; and having first ordered them to be divided into two groups, one containing the citizens and their wives and children, the other the craftsmen, he exhorted the first of these to be loyal to the Romans, and to remember the favour which they were now receiving, and allowed them all to depart to their own houses. tears of joy at this unexpected preservation, they bowed in reverence to Scipio and dispersed.
The skilled slaves are promised their freedom at the end of the war.
He then told the craftsmen that they were for the present public slaves of Rome, but that, if they showed themselves loyal and zealous in their several crafts, he promised them their freedom, as soon as the war with the Carthaginians had been brought to a successful issue.
Some are drafted into the navy.
He then bade them go get their names enrolled in the office of the Quaestor, and appointed a Roman overseer for every thirty of them, their whole number being about two thousand. From the remaining captives he selected the strongest, those who were in the prime of youth and physical vigour, and assigned them to serve on board ship: and having thus increased the number of his naval allies by one half, he manned the ships taken from the enemy as well as his own; so that the number of men on board each vessel were now little short of double what it was before. For the captured ships numbered eighteen, his original fleet thirty-five. These men he also promised their freedom, if they showed themselves loyal and zealous, as soon as they had conquered the Carthaginians. By this treatment of the captives he inspired the citizens with warm feelings of loyalty and fidelity, and the handicraftsmen with great readiness to serve, from the hope held out to them of recovering their freedom.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), SERVUS
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