He then ordered the Spanish hostages to be summoned. What the number of these was I feel reluctant to state, because in some authors I find that it was about three hundred, in others seven hundred and twenty-five. There is the same difference between authors with regard to the other particulars.
One writes that the Punic garrison consisted of ten thousand, another of seven, a third of not more than two thousand. In some you may find that ten thousand persons were captured, in others above twenty-five thousand.
I should have stated the number of scorpions captured, both of the greater and smaller size, at sixty, if I had followed the Greek author, Silenus; if Valerius Antius, of the larger at six thousand, of the smaller at thirteen; so great is the extent of falsehood.
Nor are they agreed even respecting the commanders; most say that Laelius commanded the fleet, but some say Marcus Junius Silanus.
Valerius Antius says, that Arines commanded the Punic garrison, and was given up to the Romans; [p. 1084]
other writers say it was Mago. They are not agreed respecting the number of the ships taken, respecting the weight of gold and silver, and of the money brought into the public treasury.
If we must assent to some of their statements, the medium is nearest to the truth.
However, Scipio having summoned the hostages, first bid them all keep up their spirits, observing, “that they had fallen into the hands of the Roman
people, who chose to bind men to them by benefits rather than by fear, and keep foreign nations attached to them by honour and friendship, rather than subject them to a gloomy servitude.”
Then receiving the names of the states to which they belonged, he took an account of the captives, distinguishing the number belonging to each people, and sent messengers to their homes, to desire that they would come and take back their respective friends.
If ambassadors from any of the states happened to be present, he delivered their countrymen to them in person, and assigned to them the quaestor, Caius Flaminius, the charge of kindly taking care of the rest.
Meanwhile, there advanced from the midst of the crowd of hostages a woman in years, the wife of Mandonius, who was the brother of Indibilis, the chieftain of the Illergetians; she threw herself weeping at the general's feet, and began to implore him to give particularly strict injunctions to their guardians with respect to the care and treatment of females.
Scipio replied, that nothing certainly should be wanting; when the woman rejoined: "We do not much value such things, for what is not good enough for such a condition? A care of a different kind disquiets me, when beholding the age of these females; for I am myself no longer exposed to the danger peculiar to females.
Around her stood the daughters of Indibilis, in the bloom of youth and beauty, with others of equal rank, all of whom looked up to her as a parent.
Scipio then said: “Out of regard for that discipline which I myself and the Roman nation maintain, I should take care that nothing, which is any where held sacred, should be violated among us.
In the present case, your virtue and your rank cause me to observe it more strictly; for not even in the midst of misfortunes have you forgotten the delicacy becoming matrons.”
He then delivered them over to a man of tried virtue, ordering him to treat them with no less respect and modesty than the wives and mothers of guests. [p. 1085]