The same year, the two Cornelii, Publius and Cneius, as affairs were now in a prosperous state in Spain, and they had recovered many ancient allies, and attached fresh ones to them, extended their views even to Africa.
Syphax was a king of the Numidians, who had suddenly become hostile to the Carthaginians;
to him they sent three centurions as ambassadors, to form a treaty of friendship and alliance with him; and to promise, that, if he persevered in pressing the war against the Carthaginians, he would render an acceptable service to the senate and people of Rome, and they would endeavour to requite the favour with large additions, and at a seasonable time.
This embassy was gratifying to the barbarian; and when conversing with the ambassadors on the [p. 954]
art of war, he heard the observations of those experienced soldiers, by comparing his own practice with so regular a system of discipline, he became sensible of how many things he himself was ignorant.
Then he entreated them to give the first proof of their being good and faithful allies, “by letting two of them carry back the result of their embassy to their generals, while one remained with him as his instructor in military science, observing that the Numidian nation were unacquainted with the method of carrying on war with foot forces, being useful only as mounted soldiers.
That it was in this manner that their ancestors had carried on war even from the first origin of their nation, and to this they were habituated from their childhood. But that they had to contend with an enemy who relied upon the prowess of their infantry; with whom, if they wished to be placed upon an equality in respect of efficient strength, they must also furnish themselves with infantry.
That his dominions abounded with a large quantity of men fit for the purpose, but that he was unacquainted with the art of arming, equipping, and marshalling them; that all his infantry were unwieldy and unmanageable, like a rabble collected together by chance.”
The ambassadors answered, that they would comply with his request for the present, on his engaging to send him back immediately, if their generals did not approve of what they had done.
The name of the person who staid behind with the king was Quintus Statorius. With the two other Romans, the Numidian sent ambassadors into Spain, to receive the ratification of the alliance from the Roman generals.
He gave it in charge to the same persons, forthwith to induce the Numidians, who were serving as auxiliaries among the Carthaginian troops, to go over to the other side.
Statorius raised a body of infantry for the king out of the large number of young men which he found; and having formed them into companies, in close imitation of the Roman method, taught them to follow their standards and keep their ranks when being marshalled, and when performing their evolutions;
and he so habituated them to military works and other military duties, that in a short time the king relied not more on his cavalry than on his infantry; and in a regular and pitched battle, fought on a level plain, he overcame his enemies, the Carthaginians.
In Spain also the arrival of the king's ambassadors was of the greatest advantage to the Romans, for at the news thereof the Numidians began [p. 955]
rapidly to pass over. Thus the Romans and Syphax were united in friendship, which the Carthaginians hearing of, immediately sent ambassadors to Gala, who reigned in another part of Numidia, over a nation called Massylians.