Their minds, which had fallen into these melancholy reflections in consequence of the intelligence they had just received, were brought back by their immediate fears to deliberate how to oppose the instant danger.
They resolved, that troops should be hastily levied both in the city and in the country; that persons should be sent to hire auxiliaries from the Africans; that the city should be fortified, corn collected, weapons and arms prepared, and ships equipped and sent to Hippo against the Roman fleet.
But now, while engaged in these matters, news at length arrived that it was Laelius, and not Scipio; that the forces which he had brought over were only what were sufficient for making predatory incursions into the country, and that the principal stress of the war still lay in Sicily.
Thus they were enabled to take breath, and they began to send embassies to Syphax and the other petty princes, for the purpose of strengthening their alliances. To Philip also ambassadors were sent, to promise him two hundred talents of silver, if he would cross over into Sicily or Italy.
Ambassadors were also sent into Italy to the two generals, to desire them to keep Scipio at home by terrifying the enemy in every way they could.
To Mago, not only ambassadors were sent, but twenty-five men of war, six thousand infantry, eight hundred horse, and seven elephants, besides a large sum of money to be employed in hiring auxiliaries, in order that, encouraged by these aids, he might advance his army nearer to the city of Rome, and form a junction with Hannibal. Such were the preparations and plans at Carthage.
While Laelius was employed in carrying off an immense quantity of booty from the country, the inhabitants of which had no arms, and which was destitute of forces, Masinissa, moved by the report of the arrival of the Roman fleet, came to him attended by a small body of horse.
He complained that “Scipio had not acted with promptness in this business, in that he had not already passed his army over into Africa, while the Carthaginians were in consternation, and while Syphax was entangled in wars with the neighbouring states, and in doubt and uncertainty as to the course he should take; that if time was allowed to Syphax to adjust his own [p. 1238]
affairs according to his mind, he would not in any thing keep his faith with the Romans inviolate.”
He requested that he would exhort and stimulate Scipio not to delay. Though driven from his kingdom, he said he would join him with no despicable force of foot and horse. Nor was it right, said he, that Laelius should continue in Africa, for he believed that a fleet had set sail from Carthage, with which, in the absence of Scipio, it would not be altogether safe to engage.