Hannibal thought it well to encourage his soldiers by an object lesson before haranguing them. He therefore caused the army to gather in a circle for the spectacle, and setting in the midst some captive mountaineers with fetters on them, gave the order to throw some Gallic weapons down at their feet, and bade an interpreter enquire if any were willing to fight for life or death, on condition of [p. 125]
being granted freedom, if victorious, and presented1
with a horse and arms.
When the captives, to the last man, called for sword and combat, and lots were being cast to decide amongst them, each hoped that he should be the one whom fortune selected for that contest;
and he who had drawn the lot would leap for joy, and dancing about —as their custom is —while the others showered congratulations on him, would eagerly snatch up his weapons.
But when they fought, the feeling, not only in the bosoms of the other captives but even amongst the onlookers in general, was such that the fortune of those who conquered was not more praised than that of those who met an honourable death.2