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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXI Chapter 45: The battle of Ticinus[218 BC]
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|When the minds of the soldiers on both sides had been animated to the contest by these exhortations, the Romans throw a bridge over the Ticinus, and, for the sake of defending the bridge, erect a fort on it. The Carthaginian, while the Romans were engaged in this work, sends Maharbal with a squadron of five hundred Numidian horse, to lay waste the territories of the allies of the Roman people. He orders that the Gauls should be spared as much as possible, and the minds of their chiefs be instigated to a revolt. When the bridge was finished, the Roman army being led across into the territory of the Insubrians, took up its station five miles from Victumviae. At this place Hannibal lay encamped; and having quickly recalled Maharbal and the cavalry, when he perceived that a battle was approaching, thinking that in exhorting the soldiers enough could never be spoken or addressed by way of admonition, he announces to them, when summoned to an assembly, stated rewards, in expectation of which they might fight. He promised, "that he would give them land in Italy, Africa, Spain, where each man might choose, exempt from all burdens to the person who received it, and to his children: if any one preferred money to land, he would satisfy him in silver; if any of the allies wished to become citizens of Carthage, he would grant them permission; if others chose rather to return home, he would lend his endeavours that they should not wish the situation of any one of their countrymen exchanged for their own." To the slaves also who followed their masters he promised freedom, and that he would give two slaves in place of each of them to their masters. And that they might know that these promises were certain, holding in his left hand a lamb, and in his right a flint, having prayed to Jupiter and the other gods, that, if he was false to his word, they would thus slay him as he slew the lamb; after the prayer he broke the skull of the sheep with the stone. Then in truth all, receiving as it were the gods as sureties, each for the fulfilment of his own hopes, and thinking that the only delay in obtaining the object of their wishes arose from their not yet being engaged, with one mind and one voice demanded the battle.||
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Horse:a. the animal. b. cavalry.