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These words so kindled their courage that they seemed like different men; they raised the battle shout again and flung themselves on the enemy with such force that their attack could no longer be withstood.  The Carthaginian ranks in front of the standards were broken, then the soldiers round the standards were thrown into disorder, and at last their entire army became a scene of confusion. Soon they were unmistakably routed, and they rushed to their camp in such haste and panic that not even in the gates or on the rampart was there any attempt at resistance. The Romans followed almost on their heels and commenced a fresh battle inside the enemies' rampart. Here the combatants had less space to move and the battle was all the more bloody.  The prisoners in the camp also helped the Romans, for they snatched up swords amid the confusion and, forming a solid phalanx, they fell upon the Carthaginians in the rear and stopped their flight.  Out of that large army not 2000 men escaped, and amongst these were the greater part of the cavalry who got clear away with their general, all the rest were either killed or made prisoners, and thirty-eight standards were captured. Of the victors hardly 2000 fell.  The whole of the plunder, with the exception of the prisoners, was given to the soldiers; whatever cattle the owners claimed within thirty days were also excepted.  On their return to camp, laden with booty, some 4000 of the volunteer slaves who had shown remissness in the fighting and had not joined in the rush into the camp took possession of a hill not far from their own camp as they were afraid of punishment.  The next day Gracchus ordered a parade of his army, and these men were brought down by their officers and entered the camp after the rest of the army was mustered. The proconsul first bestowed military rewards on the veterans, according to the courage and activity they had shown in the battle.  Then turning to the volunteer slaves he said that he would much rather have praised all alike, whether deserving or undeserving, than that any man should be punished that day. "And," he continued, "I pray that what I am now doing may prove to be for the benefit, happiness, and felicity of yourselves and of the commonwealth-I bid you all be free."  At these words they broke out into a storm of cheering;  at one moment they embraced and congratulated each other, at another they lifted up their hands to heaven and prayed that every blessing might descend upon the people of Rome and upon Gracchus himself.  Gracchus continued: "Before making you all equal as free men I did not want to affix any mark by which the brave soldier could be distinguished from the coward, but now that the State has fulfilled its promise to you I shall not let all distinction between courage and cowardice be lost.  I shall require the names to be brought to me of those who, conscious of their skulking in battle, lately seceded from us, and when they have been summoned before me I shall make each of them take an oath that he will never as long as he is with the colours, unless prevented by illness, take his meals other than standing.  You will be quite reconciled to this small penalty when you reflect that it would have been impossible to mark you with any lighter stigma for your cowardice."  He then gave orders for the tents and other things to be packed up, and the soldiers carrying their plunder or driving it in front of them with mirth and jest returned to Beneventum in such happy laughing spirits that they seemed to be coming back after a day of revelry rather than after a day of battle.  The whole population of Beneventum poured out in crowds to meet them at the gates;  they embraced and congratulated the soldiers and invited them to partake of their hospitality. Tables had been spread for them all in the forecourts of the houses; the citizens invited the men and begged Gracchus to allow his troops to enjoy a feast.  Gracchus consented on condition that they all banqueted in public view, and each citizen brought out his provision and placed his tables in front of his door.  The volunteers, now no longer slaves, wore white caps or fillets of white wool round their heads at the feast; some were reclining, others remained standing, waiting on the others and taking their food at the same time.  Gracchus thought the scene worth commemorating, and on his return to Rome he ordered a representation of that celebrated day to be painted in the temple of Liberty; the temple which his father had built and dedicated on the Aventine out of the proceeds of the fines.
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