When the news of this sudden insurrection was brought to Rome, and the Fathers learnt that the Punic War was augmented by a war with the Gauls, they commanded Gaius Atilius, the praetor, to take one Roman legion and five thousand of the allies —a
force which the consul1
had just levied —and proceed to the relief of Manlius. Atilius reached Tannetum without any fighting, for the enemy had retired in alarm.
Publius Cornelius, too, after enrolling a new legion2
in place of that which had been sent with the praetor, set out from the City with sixty ships of war, and coasting Etruria and the mountainous country of Liguria and the Salui, arrived at Massilia, and went into camp at the nearest mouth of the Rhone —for
the river discharges itself into the sea by several3
—hardly believing, even then, that Hannibal could have crossed the Pyrenees.
But when he found that Hannibal was actually planning how to cross the Rhone, being uncertain where he should encounter him, and his soldiers not having as yet fully recovered from the tossing of the sea, he sent out a chosen band of three hundred cavalry, with Massiliot guides and Gallic auxiliaries,4
to make, while he was waiting, a thorough reconnaissance, and have a look at the enemy from a safe distance.
Hannibal, having pacified the others through fear or bribery, had now reached the territory of a powerful nation called the Volcae.5
They inhabit both banks of the Rhone, but doubting their ability to keep the Phoenician from the western bank, they had brought nearly all their people over the Rhone, so as to have the river for a bulwark, and were holding the eastern bank
with arms. The rest of the dwellers by the river, and such of the Volcae themselves as had clung to their homes, were enticed by Hannibal's gifts to assemble large boats from every quarter and to fashion new ones; and indeed [p. 77]
they themselves were eager to have the army set6
across as soon as possible and to relieve their district of the burden of so huge a horde of men. So they brought together a vast number of boats, and of canoes roughly fashioned for local traffic, and made new ones by hollowing out
single trees. The Gauls took the lead in this, but the soldiers presently fell to work themselves, when they found the timber plentiful and the
labour light. They were unshapely troughs, but the men could make them quickly, and their one concern was to get something that would float and hold a cargo, in which they might ferry themselves and their belongings over.