The Gauls run down to the bank to meet them with various whoopings and songs, according to their custom, shaking their shields above their heads, and brandishing their weapons
in their right hands, although such a multitude of ships in front of them alarmed them, together with the loud roaring of the river, and the mingled clamours of the sailors and soldiers, both those who were striving to break through the force of the current, and those who from the other bank were encouraging their comrades on their passage.
While sufficiently dismayed by this tumult in front, more terrifying shouts from behind assailed them, their camp having been taken by Hanno; presently he himself came up, and a twofold terror encompassed them, both such a multitude of armed men landing from the ships, and this unexpected army pressing on their rear.
When the Gauls, having made a prompt and bold effort to force the enemy, were themselves repulsed, they break through where a way seemed most open, and fly in consternation to their villages around. Hannibal, now despising these tumultuary onsets of the Gauls, having transported the rest of his forces at leisure, pitches his camp. I believe that there were various plans for transporting the elephants; at least there are various accounts of the way in which it was done.
Some relate, that after the elephants were assembled together on the bank, the fiercest of them being provoked by his keeper, pursued him as he swam across the water, to which he had run for refuge, and drew after him the rest of the herd; the mere force of the stream hurrying them to the other bank, when the bottom had failed each, fearful of the depth.
But there is more reason to believe that they were conveyed across on rafts; which plan, as it must have appeared the safer before execution, is after it the more entitled to credit.
They extended from the bank into the river one raft two hundred feet long and fifty broad, which, fastened higher up by several strong cables to the bank, that it might not be carried down by the stream, [p. 727]
they covered, like a bridge, with earth thrown upon it, so that the beasts might tread upon it without fear, as over solid ground.
Another raft equally broad and a hundred feet long, fit for crossing the river, was joined to this first; and when the elephants, driven along the stationary raft as along a road, had passed, the females leading the way, on to the smaller raft which was joined to it, the lashings, by which it was slightly fastened, being immediately let go, it was drawn by some light boats to the opposite side.
The first having been thus landed, the rest were then returned for and carried across.
They gave no signs of alarm whatever while they were driven along as it were on a continuous bridge. The first fear was, when, the raft being loosed from the rest, they were hurried into the deep.
Then pressing together, as those at the edges drew back from the water, they produced some disorder, till mere terror, when they saw water all around, produced quiet.
Some, indeed, becoming infuriated, fell into the river; but, steadied by their own weight, having thrown off their riders, and seeking step by step the shallows, they escaped to the shore.