"Publius Nasica, a youth of uncommon merit, was the only one of those who were for fighting yesterday, that disclosed his sentiments to me; and even he was afterwards silent, so that he seems to have come over to my opinion.
Some others have thought proper, rather to carp at their general in his absence, than to offer advice in his presence.
Now, I shall, without the least reluctance, make known to you, Publius Nasica, and to any who, with less openness, entertained the same opinion with you, my reasons for deferring an engagement.
For, so far am I from being sorry for yesterday's inaction, that I am convinced that by that course I preserved the army. And if any of you think that I hold this opinion groundlessly, let him come forward, if he pleases, and take with me a review of how many things were favourable to the enemy and adverse to us.
In the first place, how far they surpass us in numbers, I am sure not one of you was at any time ignorant; and yesterday, I am convinced that you must have observed it, when you saw their line drawn out.
Of our small force, a fourth part had been left to guard the baggage; and you know that they are not the worst of the soldiers who are left in custody of the baggage.
But suppose we were all here, can we believe it a matter of little moment, that, with the blessing of the gods, we shall this day, if judged proper, or tomorrow at farthest, march to battle out of this our own camp, [p. 2104]
where we have lodged last night?
Is there no difference, whether you order a soldier to take arms in his own tent, when he has not suffered any fatigue on that day, either from a long march or laborious work; after he has enjoyed his natural rest, and is fresh; so as to lead him into the field vigorous both in body and mind; or whether, when he is wearied by such a march, or fatigued with carrying a load;
while he is wet with sweat, and while his throat is parched with thirst, and his mouth and eyes filled with dust, you oppose him, under a scorching noon-day sun, to an enemy who has had full repose, and who brings into the battle his strength unimpaired by any previous circumstance?
Is there, in the name of the gods, any one so dastardly, that, if matched in this manner, he would not overcome the bravest man?
We must consider, that the enemy had, quite at their leisure, formed their line of battle; had recruited their spirits, and were standing in regular order; whereas we must have formed our line in hurry and confusion, and have engaged before it was completed.