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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXVII Chapter 5: Utica attacked[210 BC]
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On receiving his letter of recall the consul Marcus Valerius handed over the army and the administration of the province to the praetor Cincius, and gave instructions to Marcus Valerius Messala, the commander of the fleet, to sail with a part of his force to Africa and harry the coast and at the same time find out what he could about the plans and preparations of Carthage. Then he left with ten vessels for Rome, which he reached after a good voyage. Immediately on his arrival he summoned a meeting of the senate and laid before them a report of his administration. For nearly sixty years, he said, Sicily had been the scene of war both by land and sea, and the Romans had suffered many serious defeats there. Now he had completely reduced the province, there was not a Carthaginian in the island, nor was there a single Sicilian amongst those who had been driven away who had not now returned. They had all been repatriated, and were settled in their own cities and ploughing their own fields. Once more the desolated land was under tillage, the land which enriched its cultivators with its produce and formed an unfailing bulwark against scarcity for Rome in times of war and peace, alike. When the consul had addressed the senate, Mutines and others who had done good service to Rome were introduced, and the promises which the consul had made were redeemed by the bestowal of honours and rewards upon them. A resolution was carried in the Assembly, with the sanction of the senate, conferring the full Roman citizenship on Mutines. Marcus Valerius, meanwhile, having reached the African shore with his fifty ships before daybreak, made a sudden descent on the territory of Utica. Extending his depredations far and wide he secured plunder of every kind including a large number of prisoners. With these spoils he returned to his ships and sailed back to Sicily, entering the port of Lilybaeum, within a fortnight of his departure. The prisoners were subjected to a close examination, and the following facts were elicited and duly forwarded to Laevinus that he might understand the position in Africa: 5000 were at Carthage with Gala's son, Masinissa, a young man of great energy and enterprise; other mercenary troops were being raised throughout Africa to be sent over to Spain to reinforce Hasdrubal, so that he might have as large a force as possible with which to cross over into Italy and join his brother, Hannibal. The Carthaginians, believed that in adopting this plan they were sure of victory. In addition to these preparations an immense fleet was being fitted out to recover Sicily, and it was expected to appear off the island in a short time. The consul communicated this intelligence to the senate, and they were so impressed by its importance that they thought the consul ought not to wait for the elections, but return at once to his province after naming a Dictator to preside over the elections. Matters were delayed somewhat by the debate which followed. The consul said that when he reached Sicily he would nominate Marcus Valerius Messalla, who was at that time commanding the fleet, as Dictator; the senators on the other hand asserted that no one who was outside Roman soil, i.e., who was beyond the frontiers of Italy, could be nominated Dictator: Marcus Lucretius, one of the tribunes of the plebs, took the sense of the House upon the question, and the senate made a decree, requiring the consul, previously to his departure from the City, to put the question to the people, whom they wished to have nominated Dictator, and then to nominate the man whom the people had chosen. If the consul declined to do this, then the praetor was to put the question, and if he refused, then the tribunes were to bring the matter before the people. As the consul refused to submit to the people what was within his own rights, and had inhibited the praetor from doing so either, it fell to the tribunes to put the question, and the plebs resolved that Quintus Fulvius, who was then at Capua, should be nominated. But the day before the Assembly met, the consul left secretly in the night for Sicily, and the senate, thus left in the lurch, ordered a despatch to be sent to Marcellus, urging him to come to the aid of the Common-wealth which his colleague had deserted, and nominate the man whom the people had resolved to have as Dictator. Quintus Fulvius was accordingly nominated Dictator by the consul Marcus Claudius, and under the same resolution of the plebs Publius Licinius Crassus, the Pontifex Maximus, was named by Quintus Fulvius as his Master of the Horse.

Utica attacked

Event: Utica attacked