After the battle at Pharsalus, Cato and Scipio made their escape to Africa, and there, with the aid of King Juba, collected considerable forces. Caesar therefore resolved to make an expedition against them. So, about the time of the winter solstice, he crossed into Sicily, and wishing to cut off at once in the minds of his officers all hope of delaying there and wasting time, he pitched his own tent on the sea-beach. When a favouring wind arose, he embarked and put to sea with three thousand infantry and a few horsemen.
Then, after landing these unobserved, he put to sea again, being full of fears for the larger part of his force, and meeting them after they were already at sea, he conducted all into camp.
On learning that the enemy were emboldened by an ancient oracle to the effect that it was always the prerogative of the family of the Scipios to conquer in Africa, he either flouted in pleasantry the Scipio who commanded the enemy,
or else tried in good earnest to appropriate to himself the omen, it is hard to say which. He had under him, namely, a man who otherwise was a contemptible nobody, but belonged to the family of the Africani, and was called Scipio Sallustio. This man Caesar put in the forefront of his battles as if commander of the army, being compelled to attack the enemy frequently and to force the fighting.
For there was neither sufficient food for his men nor fodder for his beasts of burden, nay, they were forced to feed their horses on sea-weed, which they washed free of its salt and mixed with a little grass to sweeten it. For the Numidians showed themselves everywhere in great numbers and speedy, and controlled the country. Indeed, while Caesar's horsemen were once off duty
(a Libyan was showing them how he could dance and play the flute at the same time in an astonishing manner, and they had committed their horses to the slaves and were sitting delighted on the ground), the enemy suddenly surrounded and attacked them, killed some of them, and followed hard upon the heels of the rest as they were driven headlong into camp.
And if Caesar himself and with him Asinius Pollio, had not come from the ramparts to their aid and checked their flight, the war would have been at an end. On one occasion, too, in another battle, the enemy got the advantage in the encounter, and here it is said that Caesar seized by the neck the fugitive standard-bearer, faced him about, and said:
‘Yonder is the enemy.’