when he noticed this anxiety and concern, following an action taken with such impulsiveness, Scipio called an assembly, and discoursed with such elevation of spirit on his age and the command entrusted to him and the war to be waged, that he again
awakened and revived the ardour which had cooled, and filled men with a more assured hope than belief in a man's promise or reasoning based upon confidence of his success usually inspires.
for Scipio was remarkable not only for his real abilities, but thanks to a certain skill also had from his youth adapted himself to their display, doing most of his actions before the public either as if they were prompted by visions in
the night or inspired by the gods, whether because he also was possessed by a certain superstition, or in order that men might carry out without hesitation his commands and advice, as though emanating from an oracular response.
more than that, preparing men's minds from the very beginning, from the time when he put on the manly gown, there was not a day on which he did any business public or private without going first to the Capitol, and after he had entered the temple, sitting down and usually passing the time there alone in seclusion.1
this custom, which he maintained throughout his lifetime, confirmed in some men the belief, whether deliberately circulated or by chance, that he was a man of divine race.
and it revived the tale previously told of Alexander the Great2
and rivalling it as unfounded gossip, that his
conception [p. 75]
was due to an immense serpent, and that the form of3
the strange creature had very often been seen in his mother's chamber, and that, when persons came in, it had suddenly glided away and disappeared from sight.4
he himself never made light of men's belief in these marvels; on the contrary it was rather promoted by a certain studied practice of neither denying such a thing nor openly asserting it.
many other things of the same sort, some true, some pretended, had passed the limits of admiration for a mere man in the case of this youth.
such were the things on which the citizens relied when they then entrusted to an age far from mature the great responsibility of so important a command.
to the forces which Spain had from the old army, and those which had been transported under Gaius Nero from Puteoli, were added ten thousand infantry and a thousand cavalry. and Marcus Iunius Silanus, the propraetor, was assigned to aid in the conduct of the war.
so with a fleet of thirty ships (and they were all quinqueremes5
) Scipio set out from the mouth of the Tiber, sailed along the coast of the Tuscan Sea and past the Alps . . . and the Gallic Gulf, and then rounding the promontory of the Pyrenees, landed his troops at Emporiae, a Greek city, for they also6
are sprung from Phocaea.
then ordering the ships to follow, and proceeding by land to Tarraco, he held an assembly of all the allies; for on hearing of his coming embassies had poured out from the entire province. there he ordered the ships to be beached, while he sent back four triremes of the Massilians [p. 77]
which out of courtesy had escorted him from their7
then he began to give answers to the embassies which were in suspense owing
to the repeated changes of fortune, and that with high spirit indeed, due to his great faith in his own abilities, yet so that no over —confident word slipped from his lips, and that in all he said there was not only great dignity but also great sincerity.