The Romans, on a sudden, observed a vast cloud of dust, which, as the ground, thickly covered with brushes, obstructed their view, they at first supposed to be only sand raised by the wind; but at length, when they saw that it continued uniform, and approached nearer and nearer as the line advanced, they understood the real cause of it, and, hastily seizing their arms, drew up, as their commander directed, before the camp. When the enemy came up, both sides rushed to the encounter with loud shouts. But the Numidians maintained the contest only as long as they trusted for support to their elephants; for, when they saw the animals entangled in the boughs of the trees, and dispersed or surrounded by the enemy, they betook themselves to flight, and most of them, having thrown away their arms, escaped, by favor of the hill, or of the night, which was now coming on, without injury. Of the elephants, four were taken, and the rest, to the number of forty, were killed.
The Romans, though fatigued and exhausted1
with their march, the construction of their camp, and the engagement, yet, as Metellus was longer in coming than they expected, advanced to meet him in regular and steady order. The subtlety of the Numidians, indeed, allowed them neither rest nor relaxation. But as the two parties drew together, in the obscurity of the night, each occasioned, by a noise like that of enemies approaching, alarm and trepidation in the other; and, had not parties of horse, sent forward from both sides, ascertained the truth, a fatal disaster was on the point of happening from the mistake. However, in place of fear, joy quickly succeeded; the soldiers met with mutual congratulations, relating their adventures, or listening to those of others, and each extolling his own achievements to the skies. For thus it is with human affairs; in success, even cowards may boast; while defeat lowers the character even of heroes.