As Spain was undisturbed by a Carthaginian war, so it was evident that some of the states remained quiet more [p. 1187]
from fear, arising from a consciousness of demerit, than from sincere attachment. The most remarkable of them, both for their greatness and guilt, were Illiturgi and Castulo.
Castulo had been in alliance with the Romans when in prosperity, but had revolted to the Carthaginians after the destruction of the Scipios and their armies. The Illiturgians, by betraying and putting to death those who fled thither after that calamity, had added villany to revolt.
It would have been more deserved than expedient to have executed severe vengeance upon these people on his first arrival, while the affairs of Spain were in an uncertain state;
but now, when all was tranquil, as the time for visiting them with punishment appeared to have arrived, he summoned Lucius Marcius from Tarraco, and sent him with a third of his forces to attack Castulo, and with the rest of the army he himself reached Illiturgi, after about five days' march.
The gates were closed, and every arrangement and preparation made for repelling an attack; so completely had the consciousness of what they deserved produced the same effect as a declaration of war against them. From this circumstance Scipio commenced his exhortation to his soldiers:
he said, that “by closing their gates the Spaniards had themselves shown what their deserts were by what they feared, and that therefore they ought to prosecute the war against them with much greater animosity than against the Carthaginians. For with the latter the contest was carried on for empire and glory almost without any exasperated feeling, while they had to punish the former for perfidy, cruelty, and villany.
That the time had now arrived when they should take vengeance for the horrid massacre of their fellow soldiers, and for the treachery which was prepared for themselves, had they been carried in their flight to the same place;
and by the severity of the punishment inflicted in the present instance, establish it as a law for ever, that no one should consider a Roman citizen and soldier, whatever his situation, a fit object for injurious treatment.”
Animated by this exhortation of their general, they distributed the scaling-ladders to men selected from each of the companies; and the army being divided into two parts, so that Laelius, as lieutenant-general, might command one, they attacked the city in two places at once; thus creating an alarm in two quarters at the same time.
It was not by the [p. 1188]
exhortations of one general, nor of the several nobles who were present, that the townsmen were stimulated to a vigorous defence of the city, but by the fear which they themselves entertained; they bore in mind, and admonished each other, that the object aimed at was punishment, and not victory.
That the only question for them was, where they should meet death, whether in the battle and in the field, where the indiscriminate chance of war frequently raised up the vanquished and dashed the victor to the ground; or whether, after a short interval, when the city was burnt and plundered, after suffering every horror and indignity, they should expire amid stripes and bonds before the eyes of their captive wives and children.
Therefore, not only those who were of an age to bear arms, or men only, but women and children,
beyond the powers of their minds and bodies, were there, supplying with weapons those who were fighting in defence of the place, and carrying stones to the walls for those who were strengthening the works; for not only was their liberty at stake, which excites the energies of the brave only, but they had before their eyes the utmost extremity of punishment, to be inflicted on all indiscriminately, and an ignominious death.
Their minds were worked up to the highest pitch, both by emulation in toil and danger, and also by the mere sight of each other.
Accordingly the contest was entered upon with such ardour, that the army which had subdued the whole of Spain was frequently driven back from the walls of one town, and exhibited such a want of resolution in the contest as was not very honourable to it.
When Scipio perceived this, he was afraid lest, by the failure of his attempts, the courage of the enemy should be raised and his own troops be dispirited; and thinking it incumbent upon him to exert himself in person and share the danger, reproved his soldiers for their cowardice, and ordered the scaling-ladders to be brought, threatening to mount the wall himself, since the rest hesitated.
He had now advanced near the walls with no small danger, when a shout was raised from all sides by the soldiers, who were alarmed at the danger their general was exposed to, and the scaling-ladders began to be reared in several places at once. Laelius too, in another quarter, pressed on vigorously.
It was then that the energy of the townsmen was subdued, and those who defended the [p. 1189]
walls being beaten off, the Romans took possession of them. The citadel also was captured during the confusion on a side where it was thought impregnable.