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Gallic Prisoners

The two armies being now within a short distance of each other, Hannibal and Publius both thought it necessary to address their men in terms suitable to the occasion.

The manner in which Hannibal tried to encourage his army was this. He mustered the men, and caused some youthful prisoners whom he had caught when they were attempting to hinder his march on the Alpine passes, to be brought forward. They had been subjected to great severities with this very object, loaded with heavy chains, half-starved, and their bodies a mass of bruises from scourging. Hannibal caused these men to be placed in the middle of the army, and some suits of Gallic armour, such as are worn by their kings when they fight in single combat, to be exhibited; in addition to these he placed there some horses, and brought in some valuable military cloaks. He then asked these young prisoners, which of them were willing to fight with each other on condition of the conqueror taking these prizes, and the vanquished escaping all his present miseries by death. Upon their all answering with a loud shout that they were desirous of fighting in these single combats, he bade them draw lots; and the pair, on whom the first lot fell, to put on the armour and fight with each other. As soon as the young men heard these orders, they lifted up their hands, and each prayed the gods that he might be one of those to draw the lot. And when the lots were drawn, those on whom they fell were overjoyed, and the others in despair. When the fight was finished, too, the surviving captives congratulated the one who had fallen no less than the victor, as having been freed from many terrible sufferings, while they themselves still remained to endure them. And in this feeling the Carthaginian soldiers were much disposed to join, all pitying the survivors and congratulating the fallen champion.

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