IN the beginning of the same year, Sextus Digitius, praetor in the Hither Spain, fought with those states which, after the departure of Marcus Cato, had, in great numbers, recommenced hostilities, numerous battles, but none deserving of particular mention; and all so unfavourable to him, that he scarcely delivered to his successor half the number of men that he had received.
In consequence of this, every state in Spain would certainly have resumed new courage, had not the other praetor, Publius Cornelius Scipio, son of Cneius, been successful in several engagements on the other side of the Iberus;
and, by these means, diffused such a general terror, that no less than fifty towns came over to his side. These exploits Scipio performed in his praetorship.
Afterwards, when propraetor, as the Lusitanians, after ravaging the farther province, were returning home, with an immense booty, he
attacked them on their march, and continued the engagement from the third hour of the day to the eighth, before any advantage was gained on either side. He was inferior to the [p. 1554]
enemy in number of men, but he had the advantage of them in other respects:
with his troops formed in a compact body, he attacked a long train, encumbered with multitudes of cattle; and with his soldiers fresh, engaged men, fatigued by a long march; for the enemy had set out at the third watch, and besides travelling the remainder of the night, had continued their route to the third hour of the day;
nor had they been allowed any rest, as the battle immediately succeeded the toil of the march.
Wherefore, though at the beginning they retained some vigour of body and spirits, and, at first, threw the Romans into disorder, yet, after some time, the fight became equal. In this critical situation the proprietor made a vow to celebrate games in honour of Jupiter, in case he should defeat and cut off the enemy.
The Romans then made a more vigorous push, and the Lusitanians gave way, and, in a little time, turned their backs. As the victors pursued them briskly, no less than twelve thousand of them were slain, and five hundred and forty taken prisoners, most of whom were horsemen.
There were taken, besides, a hundred and thirty-four military standards. Of the Roman army, but seventy-three men were lost. The battle was fought at a small distance from the city of Ilipa.
Thither Publius Cornelius led back his victorious army, amply enriched with spoil; all which was exposed to view under the walls of the town, and permission given to the owners to claim their effects.
The remainder was put into the hands of the quaestor to be sold, and the money produced by the sale was distributed among the soldiers.