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Scipio's First Brilliant Success

For that he was beneficent and high-minded is acknowledged; but that he was acute, sober-minded, and earnest in pursuit of his aims,
Scipio's first exploit, B. C. 218.
no one will admit, except those who have lived with him, and contemplated his character, so to speak, in broad daylight. Of such Gaius Laelius was one. He took part in everything he did or said from boyhood to the day of his death; and he it was who convinced me of this truth: because what he said appeared to me to be likely in in itself, and in harmony with the achievements of that great man. He told me that the first brilliant exploit of Publius was when his father fought the cavalry engagement with Hannibal near the Padus. He was then, as it seems, eighteen years old and on his first campaign. His father had given him a squadron of picked cavalry for his protection; but when in the course of the battle he saw his father surrounded by the enemy, with only two or three horsemen near him, and dangerously wounded, he first tried to cheer on his own squadron to go to his father's assistance, but when he found them considerably cowed by the numbers of the enemy surrounding them, he appears to have plunged by himself with reckless courage into the midst of the enemy: whereupon, his comrades being forced to charge also, the enemy were everawed1 and divided their ranks to let them pass; and Publius the elder, being thus unexpectedly saved, was the first to address his son as his preserver in the hearing of the whole army.2 Having gained an acknowledged reputation for bravery by this exploit, he ever afterwards freely exposed himself to every sort of personal danger, whenever his country rested its hope of safety on him. And this is not the conduct of a general who trusts to luck, but of one who has a clear head.

1 line 5: "everawed" should read "overawed".

2 See on 3, 66.

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