previous next

Scipio Determines to Attack

When news of these proceedings reached the Roman camp Scipio immediately determined to attack. Leaving orders, therefore, to the army and navy, which were besieging Utica, as to what they were to do, he started with all his army in light marching order. On the fifth day he reached the Great Plains, and during the first day after his arrival encamped on a piece of rising ground about thirty stades from the enemy. Next day he descended into the plain and drew up his army1 at a distance of seven stades from the enemy, with his cavalry forming an advanced guard. After skirmishing attacks carried on by both sides during the next two days, on the fourth both armies were deliberately brought out into position and drawn up in order of battle.
The battle on the Great Plains. 24th June, B. C. 203.
Scipio followed exactly the Roman system, stationing the maniples of hastati in the front, behind them the principes, and lastly the triarii in the rear. Of his cavalry he stationed the Italians on the right wing, the Numidians and Massanissa on the left. Syphax and Hasdrubal stationed the Celtiberes in the centre opposite the Roman cohorts, the Numidians on the left, and the Carthaginians on the right.
The Roman wings are both victorious.
At the very first charge the Numidians reeled before the Italian cavalry, and the Carthaginians before those under Massanissa; for their many previous defeats had completely demoralised them. But the Celtiberes fought gallantly, for they had no hope of saving themselves by flight, being entirely unacquainted with the country; nor any expectation of being spared if they were taken prisoners on account of their perfidy to Scipio: for they were regarded as having acted in defiance of justice and of their treaty in coming to aid the Carthaginians against the Romans, though they had never suffered any act of hostility at Scipio's hands during the campaigns in Iberia.
The Celtiberes, on the centre, are cut to pieces after a gallant resistance.
When, however, the two wings gave way these men were surrounded by the principes and triarii, and cut to pieces on the field almost to a man. Thus perished the Celtiberes, who yet did very effective service to the Carthaginians, not only during the whole battle, but during the retreat also; for, if it had not been for the hindrance caused by them, the Romans would have pressed the fugitives closely, and very few of the enemy would have escaped.
Syphax and Hasdrubal escape.
As it was, owing to the delay caused by these men, Syphax and his cavalry effected their retreat to his own kingdom in safety; while Hasdrubal with the survivors of his army did the same to Carthage.

1 παρενέβαλλε, which Schweig. translates castra locavit: but though the word does sometimes bear that meaning, I cannot think that it does so here. Scipio seems to have retained his camp on the hill, only two and a half miles' distant, and to have come down into the plain to offer battle each of the three days. Hence the imperfect.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
203 BC (1)
hide References (3 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: