Hasdrubal first noted that there was only a small army of Romans in the camp and that all their hope was in the Celtiberian auxiliaries.
Then, as he was well acquainted with every form of treachery practised by barbarians and particularly by those tribes among which he had been campaigning for so many years, and
as oral communication was easy, since both camps were full of Spaniards, by means of secret conferences he made an agreement with the chief men of the Celtiberians at a high price that they should withdraw their troops.
Nor did it seem an outrageous act —for it was not urged that they should turn their arms against the Romans —and a price which would have been ample even for engaging [p. 467]
in the war was offered them not to wage war. Again,1
not only peace itself, but also a return home and the advantage of seeing their families and their property were attractions to the mass of them.
Accordingly their leaders were not more easily persuaded than the rank and file.
At the same time they had no fear from the Romans either, if they, being so few in number, should try to hold them by force. It will always be a necessary precaution for Roman generals, and these instances must really be accounted warnings, not so to trust their foreign auxiliaries as not to have in camp more of their own strength and of forces that are absolutely their own.
The Celtiberians suddenly took up their standards and departed, and when Romans asked the reason and implored them to remain, they gave no other answer than that they were called away by a war at home.
Scipio, now that his allies could not be held either by entreaties or by force, saw that he could neither be a match for the enemy without them nor rejoin his brother, and that no other promising plan was available.
Thereupon he decided to retire as far as possible, taking every care and being on the alert not to expose himself anywhere on level ground to the enemy, who crossed the river and kept almost at their heels as they withdrew.