As soon as day appeared, silence having been obtained by a herald, Scipio thus spoke from the ship of the commander-in-chief:
“Ye gods and goddesses who preside over the seas and lands, I pray and entreat you, that whatever things have been, are now, or shall be performed during my command, may turn out prosperously to myself, the state, and commons of Rome, to the allies and the Latin confederacy, and to all who follow my party and that of the Roman people, my command and auspices, by land, by sea, and on rivers. That you would lend your favourable aid to all those measures, and promote them happily.
That you would bring these and me again to our homes, safe and unhurt; victorious over our vanquished enemies, decorated with spoils, loaded with booty, and triumphant.
That you would grant us the opportunity of taking revenge upon our adversaries and foes, and put it in the power of myself and the Roman people to make the Carthaginian state feel those signal severities which they endeavoured to inflict upon our state.”
After these prayers, he threw the raw entrails of a victim into the sea, according to custom, and, with the sound of a trumpet, gave the signal for sailing.
Setting out with a favourable wind, which blew [p. 1268]
pretty strong, they were soon borne away out of sight of the land; and in the afternoon a mist came over them, so that they could with difficulty prevent the ships from running foul of each other. The wind abated when they got into the open sea.
The following night the same haziness prevailed; but when the sun rose it was dispelled, and the wind blew stronger. They were now within sight of land, and, not long after, the pilot observed to Scipio, that “Africa was not more than five miles off;
that he could discern the promontory of Mercury, and that if he gave orders to direct their course thither, the whole fleet would presently be in harbour.”
Scipio, when the land was in sight, after praying that his seeing Africa might be for the good of the state and himself, gave orders to make for another place of landing, lower down.
They were borne along by the same wind; but a mist, arising nearly about the same time as on the preceding day, hid the land from them; and the wind fell as the mist grew more dense.
Afterwards, the night coming on increased the confusion in every respect; they therefore cast anchor, lest the ships should either run foul of each other, or be driven on shore. At daybreak the wind, rising in the same quarter, dispelled the mist and discovered the whole coast of Africa.
Scipio asked what was the name of the nearest promontory, and, on being told that it was called the cape of Pulcher, he observed, “the omen pleases me, direct your course to it.” To this place the fleet ran down, and all the troops were landed.
I have adopted the accounts given by a great many Greek and Latin authors, who state that the voyage was prosperous, and unattended with any cause of alarm or confusion.
Caelius alone, except that he does not state that the ships were sunk in the waves, says that they were exposed to all the terrors of the heavens and the sea, and that at last the fleet was driven by tempest from Africa to the island Aegimurus, from which, with great difficulty, they got into the right course;
and that, the ships almost foundering, the soldiers, without orders from their general, got into boats, just as if they had suffered shipwreck, and escaped to land without arms, and in the utmost disorder.