Then Syphax, while riding up to the enemy's troops of cavalry in the hope that by putting his men to shame, by exposing himself, he might be able to stem their flight, was thrown from a horse which had been seriously wounded, was overpowered, captured and brought alive to Laelius, a welcome sight presently to Masinissa above all others.
The slaughter in that battle was not in proportion to the scale of the victory, since only a cavalry battle had been fought.
Not more than five thousand men were slain; less than half of that number were captured in an attack upon the camp, to which very many men, losing heart with the loss of their king, had retreated.
was the capital of the kingdom of Syphax,2
and to that city came a vast number of men from the rout. Masinissa said that, while for himself nothing was at that moment more attractive than to visit as victor his ancestral kingdom, recovered after so long an interval, nevertheless in success as well as in misfortune no time is allowed for loitering.
If Laelius should permit him to go on in advance to Cirta with the cavalry and with Syphax in chains, he would surprise everybody in the excitement due to alarm. Laelius, he said, could follow with the infantry in short marches.
With Laelius' assent he went to Cirta in advance and ordered that the leading Cirtensians be called out of the city to a conference. But with men who were unaware of the king's misadventure he accomplished nothing by revealing what had taken place, nor by threats nor by persuasion, until the king was placed before their eyes in chains.
Then before a sight so grievous wailing began, and in alarm some deserted the walls, others with the sudden agreement of men who curry favour with the victor threw open the gates.
And Masinissa, first sending detachments to all the gates and to favourable points on the walls, that no one might have a way of escape open to him, rode at full speed to take possession of the palace.
As he was entering the forecourt3
the wife of Syphax, daughter of Hasdrubal the Carthaginian, met him at the very threshold.
And [p. 409]
when in the midst of the column of armed men she5
caught sight of Masinissa, conspicuous both by his arms and the rest of his dress, thinking it was the king, as was the fact, she clasped his knees and said: “All power over us has indeed been given you by the gods and by your courage and good fortune.
But if a captive is permitted in the house of the master of her life and death to lift the
voice of a suppliant, if she may touch his knees, his victorious right hand, I pray and entreat you by the royal state in which we too have lived a short time ago, by the name of the Numidian race, which you have shared with Syphax, by the gods of this palace here —and may they receive you under better auspices than those under which they sent Syphax away!
—I beg you to grant this favour to a suppliant, that, whatever your inclination, you yourself decide in regard to your captive and do not suffer me to be subjected to the haughty and cruel decision of any Roman.
If I had been nothing else than the wife of Syphax, still I should have preferred to trust the word of a Numidian and a man born in the same Africa as myself rather than that of a foreigner by birth and nationality.
What a Carthaginian woman, what a daughter of Hasdrubal has to fear from a Roman you see. If by no other means you are able to do so, I beg and implore you to save me by death from the decision of Romans.” Her beauty was conspicuous and her age at full bloom.
Consequently while she was clasping now his knees and now his right hand, begging for his promise not to surrender her to any Roman, and her words were now more nearly those of a charmer than of a
suppliant, the heart of the victor was quickly moved not to pity only, but with the amorous [p. 411]
susceptibility of the Numidian race the victor was6
captivated by love of the captive. He gave her his right hand as a pledge for the fulfilment of her request and withdrew into the palace.
Then he began by himself to consider how he could guarantee that the promise would be kept. As he was unable to solve that problem he borrowed from love a plan that was reckless and unbecoming.
He promptly ordered preparations to be made for a wedding the very same day, in order not to leave any decision open either to Laelius or to Scipio himself in regard to her as a captive when she should be already married to Masinissa.
After the wedding Laelius arrived, and so far was he from concealing his disapproval of the act that at first he even attempted to tear her away from the marriage couch and send her to Scipio with Syphax and the rest of the captives.
He was then persuaded by the entreaties of Masinissa, who begged him to refer to Scipio the decision which of the two kings was to have Sophoniba share his lot. Whereupon, after sending Syphax and the captives away, he with Masinissa's aid subdued the remaining cities of Numidia which were held by the king's garrisons.