Gn. Cornelius Scipio Asina Surrenders
Meanwhile, however, those who were charged with the
shipbuilding were busied with the construction of the vessels;
while others collected crews and were engaged in teaching
them to row on dry land: which they contrived to do in the
following manner. They made the men sit on rower's benches
on dry land, in the same order as they would sit on the benches
in actual vessels: in the midst of them they stationed the
Celeustes, and trained them to get back and draw in their
hands all together in time, and then to swing forward and
throw them out again, and to begin and cease these movements at the word of the Celeustes. By the time these
preparations were completed the ships were built. They
therefore launched them, and, after a brief preliminary practice
of real sea-rowing, started on their coasting
voyage along the shore of Italy
, in accordance
with the Consul's order.
B. C. 260. Cn. Cornelius Scipio Asina, C. Duilius, Coss.
For Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio, who had been appointed by the
Roman people a few days before to command the fleet,
after giving the ship captains orders that as soon as they had
fitted out the fleet they should sail to the Straits, had put to sea
himself with seventeen ships and sailed in advance to Messene
for he was very eager to secure all pressing necessaries for
the naval force.
Cornelius captured with the loss of his ships.
While there some negotiation was suggested
to him for the surrender of the town of Lipara
Snatching at the prospect somewhat too eagerly,
he sailed with the above-mentioned ships and
anchored off the town. But having been informed in Panormus
of what had taken place, the Carthaginian general
Hannibal despatched Boōdes, a member of the Senate, with
a squadron of twenty ships. He accomplished the voyage at
night and shut up Gnaeus and his men within the harbour.
When day dawned the crews made for the shore and ran
away, while Gnaeus, in utter dismay, and not knowing in the
least what to do, eventually surrendered to the enemy.
The rest of the Roman fleet arrive and nearly capture Hannibal.
Carthaginians having thus possessed themselves of the ships
as well as the commander of their enemies,
started to rejoin Hannibal. Yet a few days
afterwards, though the disaster of Gnaeus was
so signal and recent, Hannibal himself was
within an ace of falling into the same glaring mistake. For
having been informed that the Roman fleet in its voyage along
the coast of Italy
was close at hand, he conceived a wish to
get a clear view of the enemy's number and disposition. He
accordingly set sail with fifty ships, and just as he was rounding the "Italian Headland" he fell in with the enemy, who
were sailing in good order and disposition. He lost most
of his ships, and with the rest effected his own escape in a
manner beyond hope or expectation.