Then, when the herald had enforced silence, Scipio began as follows:1
"Never have I supposed that language with which to address my army would fail me; not that I have ever occupied myself with words rather than deeds, but because, having lived in camps almost from boyhood, I was familiar with the minds of soldiers.
But how to speak to you
—for that both thoughts and language fail me. I do not know even by what name I ought to address you.
Citizens? when you have revolted from your country? Or soldiers? when you have rejected the high command and the auspices, have broken the sanctity of your oath? Enemies?
I recognize the bodies, faces, clothing, appearance of citizens, but the deeds, the words, the plans, the spirit of enemies. For what else did you either wish or hope for but the same as the Ilergetes and the Lacetani? And yet they followed Mandonius and Indibilis, men of royal rank, as leaders in their madness. You conferred the auspices and high command upon the Umbrian Atrius and the Calenian Albius.
Say that not all of you did that, soldiers, or wished it done; that it was the frenzy and folly of a few; I will gladly accept your denial. For the acts committed were such that, if they were shared by the entire army, they cannot be expiated without atonements on a great scale.
"Unwillingly do I handle such misdeeds, as if they were wounds. But unless handled and treated they cannot be healed.
As for myself, after the Carthaginians were driven out of Spain I did not believe [p. 113]
there was in the entire province any place, any people,2
where my life was hated; so had I borne myself not only towards allies, but also towards enemies.
Behold! here in my own camp —how mistaken I was! —a rumour of my death was not only believed but even waited for.
Not that I should wish the crime to be shared by all. For my part, if I believed that the whole of my army had desired my death I should die here at once before your eyes, nor would a life hated by my fellow-citizens and my soldiers give me pleasure.
But every crowd is in itself motionless, as is the natural state of the sea; rather do winds and breezes ruffle it. So among you there is either calm or sudden storms. And the cause and source of every madness is chargeable to its promoters; your insanity came by contagion.
Even today you do not seem to me to know what a pitch of frenzy you have reached, what a crime you have dared to commit against me, against your country and parents and children, against the gods, witnesses of your oath, what a crime as regards the auspices under which: you are serving, or the custom of the service and the discipline of your ancestors, or the dignity of the supreme command!
"Of myself I say nothing, granting that you were hasty rather than eager in believing, granting in short that I am a man whose authority irks an army, and no wonder. But the country, what evil had she done you, when you were betraying her by sharing your designs with Mandonius and Indibilis?
What harm had the Roman people done you when you took away [p. 115]
the command from tribunes elected by vote of the3
people and conferred it upon private persons, when, not even satisfied with having them as tribunes, you, a Roman army, bestowed the fasces of your commander upon men who had never had a slave to whom they might give orders?
In the headquarters were lodged Albius and Atrius; at their tent sounded the trumpet, men came to them for the watchword; they sat on Publius Scipio's tribunal. A lictor attended them; the way was cleared before they proceeded; fasces with their axes were borne before them.
Showers of stones and thunderbolts hurled from the sky and animals bringing forth strange offspring you reckon portents; here we have a portent which cannot be expiated by any victims, by any set days of prayer, without the blood of those who have dared so great a crime.