He then introduced into the senate the Saguntine ambassadors, the eldest of whom thus spoke: “Although there remains no degree of suffering, conscript fathers, beyond what we have endured, in order that we might keep our faith towards you to the last; yet such are the benefits which we have received both from yourselves and your generals, that we do not repent of the calamities to which we have ourselves been exposed.
On our account you undertook the war, and having undertaken it, you have continued to carry it on for now the fourteenth year with such inflexible perseverance, that frequently you have both yourselves been reduced, and have brought the Carthaginians to the last extremity.
At a time when you had a war of such a desperate character in Italy, and Hannibal as your antagonist, you sent your consul with an army into Spain, to collect, as it were, the remains of our wreck.
Publius and Cneius Cornelius, from the time they entered the province, never ceased from adopting such measures as were favourable to us and detrimental to our enemies.
First of all, they restored to us our [p. 1215]
town; and, sending persons to collect our countrymen, who were sold and dispersed throughout all Spain, restored them from a state of slavery to freedom.
When our circumstances, from being wretched in the extreme, had nearly assumed a desirable state, your generals Publius and Cneius Cornelius fell, more to be lamented by ourselves even than by you.
Then truly we seemed to have been dragged back from distant places to our ancient abode, to perish again, and witness the second destruction of our country. Nor did it appear that there was any need forsooth of a Carthaginian army or general to effect our destruction;
but that we might be annihilated by the Turdulans, our most inveterate enemies, who had also been the cause of our former overthrow. When suddenly, to our great surprise, you sent us this Publius Scipio, in seeing whom declared consul, and in having it in
our power to carry word back to our countrymen that we have seen it, for on him our hopes and safety entirely rest, we consider ourselves the most fortunate of all the Saguntines.
He, when he had taken a great number of the cities of your enemies in Spain, on all occasions separated the Saguntines out of the mass of captives, and sent them back to their country; and lastly, by his arms he reduced to so low a state Turdetania, which harboured such animosity against us, that if that
nation continued to flourish it was impossible that Saguntum could stand, that it not only was not an object of fear to us, but, and may I say it without incurring odium, not even to our posterity.
We see the city of those persons demolished, to gratify whom Hannibal destroyed Saguntum. We receive tribute from their lands, which is not more acceptable to us from the advantage we derive from it than from revenge.
In consideration of these benefits, than which we could not hope or wish for greater from the immortal gods, the senate and people of Saguntum have sent us ten ambassadors to you to return their thanks;
and at the same time to offer you their congratulations on your having carried on your operations in Spain and Italy so successfully of late years, that you have subdued by your arms, and have gotten possession of Spain, not only as far as the river Iberus, but also to where the ocean forms the limit of the remotest regions of the world; while in Italy you have left nothing to the Carthaginian except so much space as the rampart of his camp en- [p. 1216]
We have been desired, not only to return thanks for these blessings to Jove most good and great, the guardian deity of the capitoline citadel, but also, if you should permit us, to carry into the Capitol this present of a golden crown in token of victory.
We request that you would permit us so to do; and, if you think proper, that you would, by your authority, perpetuate and ratify the advantages which your generals have conferred upon us.”
The senate replied to the Saguntines, “that the destruction and restoration of Saguntum would form a monument to all the nations of the world of social faith preserved on both sides.
That, in restoring Saguntum, and rescuing its citizens from slavery, their generals had acted properly, regularly, and according to the wishes of the senate; and that, whatever other acts of kindness they had done to them, were in conformity with the wishes of the senate. That they gave them permission to deposit their present in the Capitol.”
Orders were then given to furnish the ambassadors with apartments and entertainment, and that not less than ten thousand asses
should be given to each as a present. After this, the rest of the embassies were introduced and heard.
On the request of the Saguntines that they
might go and take a view of Italy as far as they could with safety, they were furnished with guides, and letters were sent to the several towns, requiring them to entertain the Spaniards kindly.
The senate then took into consideration the state of public affairs, the levying troops, and the provinces.