A formidable war broke out this summer in the Hither Spain, where the Celtiberians assembled such a force as they had hardly ever brought into the field before, amounting to no less than thirty-five thousand men.
Quintus Fulvius Flaccus was governor of this province, who, because he heard that the Celtiberians were arming their young men, drew together all the succours he could procure from the allies. But he was by no means equal to the enemy in point of numbers.
Early in spring, he marched his army into Carpetania, and fixed his camp close to the town of Aebura, in which he posted a small garrison.
In a few days after, the Celtiberians pitched their camp at the foot of a hill, about two miles from that place. When the Roman praetor was informed of their approach, he detached his brother, Marcus Fulvius, with two troops of the allied horse, to the enemy's post, to take a view of them; ordering him to advance as near as possible to their rampart, so as to form a judgment of the size of the camp; and not to engage in fight, but to retreat if he should see the enemy's cavalry coming out.
He acted according to his instructions, and for several days there was nothing further done than these two troops showing themselves, and then retreating when the enemy's cavalry sallied from their tents.
At length, [p. 1887]
the Celtiberians came out, with their entire force of horse and foot together, and drawing up in a line, posted themselves about midway between the two camps.
The whole plain was level, and convenient for fighting, and here the Spaniards stood waiting for their enemy. The Roman general kept his men within the rampart during four successive days, while the others constantly drew up theirs, and formed in the same place.
No motion was made by the Romans; and from that time the Celtiberians, because they had not an opportunity of engaging, remained quiet in their camp; their cavalry only advanced as out-posts, to be ready in case of any movement being made by Fulvius.
Both parties went for wood and forage behind their own camps, neither interrupting the other.