Scipio having without difficulty regained the affection of his soldiers, both by his punctuality in discharging the arrears of pay to all, as well the guilty as the innocent, and particularly by the looks and language of reconciliation towards all, before he quitted Carthage summoned an assembly;
and after inveighing at large against the perfidy of the petty princes who were
in rebellion, declared “that the feelings with which he set out to take revenge for their villany were widely different from those with which he lately corrected the error committed by his countrymen.
That on the latter occasion, he had with groans and tears, as though he were cutting his own vitals, expiated either the imprudence or the guilt of eight thousand men with the heads of thirty; but now he was going to the destruction of the Ilergetians with joyful and animated feelings: for they were neither natives of the same soil, nor united with him by any bond of society.
The only connexion which did subsist between them, that of honour and friendship, they had themselves severed by their wicked conduct.
When he looked at the troops which composed his army, besides that he saw that they were all either of his own country, or allies and of the Latin confederacy; he was also strongly affected by the circumstance, that there was scarcely a soldier in it who was not brought out of Italy into that country either by his uncle, Cneius Scipio, who was the first of the Roman name who had come into that province, or by his father when consul, or by himself.
That they were all accustomed to the name and auspices of the Scipios; that it was his wish to take them home to their country to receive a well-earned triumph; and that he hoped that they would support him when he put up for the consulship, as if the honour sought were to be shared [p. 1206]
in common by them all.
With regard to the expedition which they were just going to undertake, that the man who considered it as a war must be forgetful of his own achievements. That, by Hercules, Mago, who had fled for safety with a few ships beyond the limits of the world into an island surrounded by the ocean, was a source of greater concern to him than the Ilergetians;
for in it there was both a Carthaginian general and a Carthaginian army, whatever might be its numbers; while here were only robbers and leaders of robbers, who, though they possessed sufficient energy for ravaging the lands of their neighbours, burning their houses, and carrying off their cattle, yet would have none at all in a regular and pitched battle; and who would come to the encounter relying more on the swiftness with which they can fly than on their arms.
Accordingly,” he said, “that he had thought it right to quell the Ilergetians before he quitted the province, not because he saw that any danger could arise from them, or that a war of greater importance could grow out of these proceedings;
but in the first place, that a revolt of so heinous a character might not go unpunished, and in the next place, that not a single enemy might be said to be left in a province which had been subdued with such valour and success.
He bid them, therefore, follow him, with the assistance of the gods, not so much to make war upon, for the contest was not with an enemy who was upon an equality with them, but to take vengeance on the basest of men.”