Scipio, now that he had reached Sicily, assigned1
his volunteers to their ranks and centuries.
Three hundred of them, young men in the bloom of their youth and conspicuous for their physical strength, he kept about him unarmed and ignorant of the purpose for which they were being reserved without being organized in centuries or furnished with arms.
Then he chose out of the number of the younger men of all Sicily three hundred horsemen, men of high rank and of wealth, to cross over with him into Africa.
He appointed a day also on which they were to present themselves equipped and furnished with horses and arms. Such service far from home seemed to them formidable and likely to bring many hardships and great dangers on land and sea. And concern on this account troubled not merely the men themselves but also their parents and relations.
When the day which had been appointed came the men displayed their arms and horses. Then Scipio said reports were coming to him that some of the Sicilian horsemen shrank from that service as formidable and difficult.
If any were of that mind he preferred that they should confess it to him at once, rather than complain later and prove spiritless soldiers and useless for the state. Let them declare what was their mind; he would give them a kindly hearing.
When one of them ventured to say that [p. 209]
if he was free to choose whichever he wished he did2
not wish to serve at all, thereupon Scipio said to him:
“Accordingly, since you have not concealed what your mind is, young man, I will furnish a substitute for you, and to him you shall hand over your arms and horse and the other equipment for the service, and forthwith shall take him away with you to your home, train him and see that he is taught horsemanship and the use of arms.”
As the man gladly accepted the terms Scipio turned over to him one of the three hundred unarmed men that-he had. When the others saw the horseman thus discharged with the consent of the commander, every man excused himself and took a substitute.
Thus three hundred Sicilians were replaced by Roman horsemen without expense to the state.
Of their training and drilling the Sicilians were in charge, because the general's order was that any man who failed to do so should himself serve.3
They say that this cavalry squadron proved excellent and was of value to the state in many battles.
Then while mustering the legions he chose out of them soldiers who had served for the greatest number of campaigns, especially those who had done so under Marcellus as commander, believing them to have been schooled by the best training and in particular to be most skilled
in besieging cities in consequence of the long siege of Syracuse. For he was planning nothing small, but already the destruction of Carthage.
Thereupon he distributed his army among the towns, requisitioned grain from the Sicilian cities, spared the grain imported from [p. 211]
Italy. He repaired the old ships,4
and with these5
sent Gaius Laelius to Africa for plunder. The new ships he beached at Panormus, that they might winter out of the water, since they had been built in haste of green timber.
Every preparation for the war having been made, he came to Syracuse, which was not yet quite peaceful after the great unsettlement due to the war.
The Greeks were making their claims to properties granted them by the senate against certain Italians who were holding on with the same use of force with which they had seized the property during the war.6
Thinking it of the utmost importance to keep a promise given by the state, Scipio restored their property to the Syracusans, partly by
an edict, partly also by granting hearings against those who persisted in maintaining an unlawful possession.
This act was acceptable not only to the owners themselves but to all the communities of Sicily as well, and all the more energetically did they render assistance for the war.
In the same summer a great war broke out in Spain, instigated by Indibilis7
of the Ilergetes for no other reason than because contempt for other generals sprang from admiration for Scipio.
He thought that Scipio was the one general left to the Romans, the rest having been killed by Hannibal; that consequently after the slaying of the Scipios they had no one else to send to Spain, and had also, once the war grew more serious in Italy, summoned him to face Hannibal; that, besides [p. 213]
having merely nominal commanders in Spain, the8
Romans had taken away the veteran army also.
There was nothing but confusion and an untrained mob of recruits.
Never would there be such an opportunity for the liberation of Spain.
Slaves they had been down to that time, either to Carthaginians or to Romans, and not by turns to the one people or the other but at times to both at once.
The Carthaginians had been driven out by the Romans; the Spaniards, if they should agree, were able to drive out the Romans, so that, free from all foreign authority, Spain might return permanently to its ancestral customs and usages.
By these and similar utterances he stirred up not only his own countrymen but also the Ausetani,9
a neighbouring tribe, and other peoples adjoining his territory and theirs.
And thus within a few days thirty thousand infantry and about four thousand horse came together in the territory of the Sedetani,10
in accordance with their instructions.