XXII[22arg] A story of the distinguished leader Sertorius; of his cunning, and of the clever devices which he used to control and conciliate his barbarian soldiers.
SERTORIUS, a brave man and a distinguished general, was skilled in using and commanding an army. In times of great difficulty he would lie to [p. 111] his soldiers, if a lie was advantageous, he would read forged letters for genuine ones, feign dreams, and resort to fictitious omens, if such devices helped him to keep up the spirits of his soldiers. the following story about Sertorius is particularly well known: A white hind of remarkable beauty, agility and swiftness was given him as a present by a man of Lusitania. He tried to convince everyone that the animal had been given him by the gods, and that inspired by the divine power of Diana, it talked with him, and showed and indicated what it was expedient to do; and if any command which he felt obliged to give his soldiers seemed unusually difficult, he declared that he had been advised by the hind. When he said that, all willingly rendered obedience, as if to a god. One day, when an advance of the enemy had been reported, the hind, alarmed by the hurry and confusion, took to flight and hid in a neighbouring marsh, and after being sought for in vain was believed to have perished. Not many days later, word was brought to Sertorius that the hind had been found. Then he bade the one who had brought the news to keep silence, threatening him with punishment in case he revealed the matter to anyone; and he ordered him suddenly on the following day to let the animal into the place where lie himself was with his friends. Then, next day, having called in his friends, he said that he had dreamed that the lost hind had returned to him, and after its usual manner had told him what ought to be done. Thereupoli he signed to the slave to do what he had ordered; the hind was let loose and burst into Sertorius' room, amid shouts of amazement. [p. 113] This credulity of the barbarians was very helpful to Sertorius in important matters. It is recorded that of those tribes which acted with Sertorius, although he was defeated in many battles, not one ever deserted him, although that race of men is most inconstant.