Immediately after the battle, Scipio, having taken and plundered the enemy's camp, returned to the sea and his ships, with an immense booty, news having reached
him that Publius Lentulus had arrived at Utica with fifty men of war, and a hundred transports laden with every kind of stores.
Concluding that he ought to bring before Carthage every thing which could increase the consternation already existing there, after sending Laelius to Rome to report his victory, he ordered Cneius Octavius to conduct the legions thither by land; and, setting out himself from Utica with the fresh fleet of Lentulus, [p. 1329]
added to his former one, made for the harbour of Carthage.
When he had arrived within a short distance, he was met by a Carthaginian ship decked with fillets and branches of olive. There were ten deputies, the leading men in the state, sent at the instance of Hannibal to solicit peace;
to whom, when they had come up to the stern of the general's ship, holding out the badges of suppliants, entreating and imploring the protection and compassion of Scipio, the only answer given was, that they must come to Tunes, to which place he would move his camp.
After taking a view of the site of Carthage, not so much for the sake of acquainting himself with it for any present object, as to dispirit the enemy, he returned to Utica, having recalled Octavius to the same place.
As they were proceeding thence to Tunes, they received intelligence that Vermina, the son of Syphax, with a greater number of horse than foot, was coming to the assistance of the Carthaginians.
A part of his infantry, with all the cavalry, having attacked them on their march on the first day of the Saturnalia, routed the Numidians with little opposition; and as every way by which they could escape in flight was blocked up, for the cavalry surrounded them on all sides, fifteen thousand men were slain, twelve hundred were taken alive, with fifteen hundred Numidian horses, and seventy-two military standards. The prince himself fled from the field with a few attendants during the confusion.
The camp was then pitched near Tunes in the same place as before, and thirty ambassadors came to Scipio from Carthage. These behaved in a manner even more calculated to excite compassion than the former, in proportion as their situation was more pressing; but from the recollection of their recent perfidy, they were heard with considerably less pity.
In the council, though all were impelled by just resentment to demolish Carthage, yet, when they reflected upon the magnitude of the undertaking, and the length of time which would be consumed in the siege of so well fortified and strong a city, while Scipio himself was uneasy in
consequence of the expectation of a successor, who would come in for the glory of having terminated the war, though it was accomplished already by the exertions and danger of another, the minds of all were inclined to peace.