On hearing these words not only did Masinissa blush, but tears also came. And after saying that he on his part would be under the orders of the general and imploring him to have such regard as the case permitted for the promise
he had rashly given, namely that he would not hand her over to any man's power, he withdrew from headquarters to his own tent a distracted man.
There, with no witnesses present, he spent considerable time, with frequent sighs and groans, so that they could easily be heard by those who stood about the tent.
Then at last, after one very loud groan, he called the faithful slave in whose keeping was the poison, against the uncertainties of fortune, as usual with kings, and bade him mix. it and carry it in a cup to Sophoniba.1
He also ordered him at the same time to tell her that Masinissa would gladly have fulfilled the most [p. 421]
important promise which as husband he was bound2
to keep for a wife;
that since the freedom to do so was taken away by those who had the power, he was keeping the promise next to it in importance, namely, that she should not come into the Romans' power alive.
Mindful of her father the general, and of her native city, and of the two kings to whom she had been married, she was to decide for herself.
When the slave bearing this message together with the poison had reached Sophoniba she said, “I receive the wedding gift, and it is not unwelcome if my husband has been able to bestow nothing better upon his wife. But tell him this, that it would have been easier for me to die if I had not married at my funeral.”
No less high-spirited than her words was her acceptance of the cup, fearlessly drained without a sign of wavering.
As soon as this was reported to Scipio he at once summoned Masinissa, for fear the high-spirited young man in his distress of mind might do something desperate.
He offered now consolation, now gentle rebuke because he atoned for one reckless act by another and made the matter more deplorable than was necessary.
On the following day, in order to divert Masinissa's thoughts from the emotion of the moment, Scipio mounted the tribune and ordered that an assembly be called. There for the first time he addressed Masinissa as king, bestowing upon him the highest terms of praise, and presented him with a golden wreath, a golden patera,
a curule chair and ivory sceptre, an embroidered toga and a tunic adorned with palms.3
He added this tribute: that there was no higher distinction among the Romans than a triumph, and that those who triumphed had [p. 423]
no more magnificent array than that of which4
Masinissa alone of all foreigners was accounted worthy by the Roman people. He then warmly.
praised Laelius also and presented him with a golden wreath. Other officers also and men were rewarded, each according to the service he had performed.
By these distinctions the king was appeased and roused to the hope, soon to be fulfilled, that with Syphax removed he would gain possession of all Numidia.