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Many Roman fleets had put out from Sicily and from that very port, but not even during the First Punic War-in the present war the majority were simply raiding expeditions-had any afforded a more striking picture at its departure.  And yet, if you only take into account the number of vessels, it must be remembered that two consuls with their respective armies had left that port on a previous occasion and the warships in their fleets were almost as numerous as the transports with which Scipio was now making his passage, for in [3??] addition to the forty ships of war he was carrying his army in four hundred transports.  Several causes conspired to invest the occasion with unique interest. The Romans regarded the present war as a more serious one than the former because it was going on in Italy, and had involved the destruction of so many armies with their generals.  Scipio, again, had become the most popular general of his time for his gallant deeds of arms, and his unvarying good fortune had immensely raised his reputation as a soldier.  His design of invading Africa had never before been attempted by any commander, and it was generally believed that he would succeed in drawing Hannibal away from Italy and finish the war on African soil.  A vast crowd of spectators had gathered in the harbour; besides the population of Lilybaeum, all the deputations from the different cities in the island who had come to pay their respects to Scipio as well as those who had accompanied M. Pomponius, the governor of the province, were present.  The legions which were to remain in Sicily also marched down to bid their comrades God-speed, and the throng which crowded the harbour was as grand a spectacle to those afloat as the fleet itself was to those ashore.
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