Having ordered Caius Laelius with the marines to guard the city, Scipio led back his legions to the camp the same day in person; and as his soldiers were tired, as they had in one day gone through every kind of military labour;
for they had engaged the enemy in the field, and had undergone very great fatigue and danger in taking the city; and after they had taken it had fought, and that on disadvantageous ground, with those who had fled to the citadel, he ordered them to attend to themselves.
The next day, having assembled the land and naval forces, he, in the first place, ascribed praise and thanks to the immortal gods, who had not only in one day made him master of the wealthiest city in Spain, but had previously collected in it the riches of almost all Africa and Spain; so that while his enemy had nothing left, he and his army had a superabundance of every thing.
He then commended in the highest terms the valour of his soldiers, because that neither the sally of the enemy, nor the height of the walls, nor the unexplored fords of the lake, nor the fort standing upon a high hill, nor the citadel, though most strongly fortified, had deterred them from surmounting and breaking through every thing.
Therefore, though all credit was due to them all, he said that the man who first mounted the wall ought to be distinguished above the rest, by being honoured with a mural crown; and he desired that he who thought himself worthy of that reward would claim it.
Two persons laid claim to it, Quintus Trebellius, a centurion of the fourth legion, and Sextus Digitius, a marine. Nor did these contest so fiercely as each excited the zeal of his own body of men.
Caius Laelius, admiral of the fleet, patronized the marines, and Marcus Sempronius Tuditanus, the legionary troops.
As this contest began almost to assume the character of a mutiny, Scipio having notified that he should appoint three delegates, who, after making themselves acquainted with the case, and examining the witnesses, might decide
which had been the first to scale the wall and enter the town, added Publius Cornelius Caudinus, a middle party, to Laelius and Sempronius, the advocates of the two parties, and ordered these three delegates to sit and determine the cause.
But as the contest was now carried on with increased warmth, because those high characters, who had acted more as moderators of the zeal of both than as advocates of any particular [p. 1083]
party, were withdrawn, Caius Laelius, leaving the council, went up to the tribunal of Scipio and informed him, “that the contest was proceeding without bounds or moderation, and that they had almost come to blows.
But still, though no violence should take place, that the proceedings formed a most hateful precedent; for that the honours due to valour were being sought by fraud and perjury.
That on one side stood the legionary troops, on the other the marines, ready to swear by all the gods what they wished, rather than what they knew, to be true, and to involve in the guilt of perjury not only themselves and their own persons, but the military standards, the eagles, and their solemn oath of allegiance.
That he laid these matters before him, in accordance with the opinion of Publius Cornelius and Marcus Sempronius.” Scipio, after highly praising Laelius, summoned an assembly, and then declared, “that he had ascertained satisfactorily that Quintus Trebellius and Sextus Digitius had mounted the wall at the same time, and that he presented them both with mural crowns in consideration of their valour.” He then gave presents to the rest, according to the merit and valour of each.
Above all he honoured Caius Laelius, the admiral of the fleet, by the placing him upon an equality with himself, and bestowing upon him every kind of commendation, and also by presenting him with a golden crown and thirty oxen.