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Scipio's Speech to his Men

These dispositions made, he went along the ranks delivering an exhortation to the men, which, though short, was much to the point in the circumstances in which they were placed. He called upon them, "Remembering their former victories, to show themselves to be men of mettle and worthy their reputation and their country. To put before their eyes that the effect of their victory would be not only to make them complete masters of Libya, but to give them and their country the supremacy and undisputed lordship of the world. But if the result of the battle were unfavourable, those who fell fighting gallantly would have the record of having died for their country, while those that saved themselves by flight would spend the rest of their days as objects of pitying contempt and scorn. For there was no place in Libya which could secure their safety if they fled; while, if they fell into the hands of the Carthaginians, no one who looked facts in the face could doubt what would happen to them. May none of you," he added, "learn that by experience! Since, then, Fortune puts before us the most glorious of rewards, in whichever way the battle is decided, should we not be at once the most mean-spirited and foolish of mankind if we abandon the most glorious alternative, and from a paltry clinging to life deliberately choose the worst of misfortunes? Charge the enemy then with the steady resolve to do one of two things, to conquer or to die! For it is men thus minded who invariably conquer their opponents, since they enter the field with no other hope of life."

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