His next business was to pay over to the Quaestors
such public money of the Carthaginians as had
been captured. It amounted to more than
six hundred talents, so that when this was added to the four
hundred which he had brought with him from Rome
, he found
himself in possession of more than one thousand talents.
It was on this occasion that some young Romans fell in
with a girl surpassing all the other women in
bloom and beauty; and seeing that Scipio was
fond of the society of women, they brought her
to him, and, placing her before him, said that they desired to
present the damsel to him. He was struck with admiration
for her beauty, and replied that, if he had been in a private
position, he could have received no present that would have
given him greater pleasure; but as general it was the last in the
world which he could receive. He meant to convey, I presume,
by this ambiguous answer that, in hours of rest and idleness,
such things are the most delightful enjoyments and pastimes
for young men; whereas in times of activity they are hindrances
physically and mentally. However that may be, he thanked
the young men; but called the girl's father, and handing her
over at once to him, told him to bestow her in marriage on
whichever of the citizens he chose. By this display of continence
and self-control he gained the warm respect of his men.
Having made these arrangements, and handed over the rest
Laelius sent to Rome with the news. B.C. 209.
of the captives to the Tribunes, he despatched
Gaius Laelius on board a quinquereme to Rome
with the Carthaginian prisoners and the noblest
of the others, to announce at home what had taken place.
For as the prevailing feeling at Rome
was one of despair of
success in Iberia
, he felt certain that on this news their spirits
would revive, and that they would make much more strenuous
efforts to support him.