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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 3: Lucius Scipio conquers Orongi[207 BC]
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When Scipio became aware of this breaking up of the hostile forces, he saw that to carry his arms from city to city would involve a loss of time far greater than the results gained, and consequently marched back again. Not wishing, however, to leave that district in the enemy's hands, he sent his brother Lucius with 10,000 infantry and 1000 cavalry to attack the richest city in that part of the country; the natives call it Orongi. It is situated in the country of the Maessesses, one of the tribes of Southern Spain; the soil is fertile, and there are also silver mines. Hasdrubal had used it as his base from which to make his incursions on the inland tribes. Lucius Scipio encamped in the neighbourhood of the city, but before investing it, he sent men up to the gates to hold a parley with the townsmen and endeavour to persuade them to put the friendship rather than the strength of the Romans to the proof. As nothing in the shape of a peaceable answer was resumed, he surrounded the place with a double line of circumvallation and formed his army into three divisions, so that one division at a time could be in action while the other two were resting, and thus a continuous attack might be kept up. When the first division advanced to the storm there was a desperate fight; they had the utmost difficulty in approaching the walls and bringing up the scaling-ladders owing to the rain of missiles showered down upon them. Even when they had planted the ladders against the walls and began to mount them, they were thrust down by forks made for the purpose, iron hooks were let down upon others so that they were in danger of being dragged off the ladders and suspended in mid-air. Scipio saw that what made the struggle indecisive was simply the insufficient number of his men and that the defenders had the advantage because they were fighting from their walls. He withdrew the division which was engaged, and brought up the two others. In face of this fresh attack the defenders, worn out with meeting the former assault, retreated hastily from the walls, and the Carthaginian garrison, fearing that the city had been betrayed, left their various posts and formed into one body. This alarmed the townsmen, who dreaded lest the enemy when once inside the city should massacre every one, whether Carthaginian or Spaniard. They flung open one of the gates and burst out of the town, holding their shields in front of them in case missiles should be hurled on them from a distance, and showing their empty right hands to make it plain that they had thrown away their swords. Their action was misinterpreted either owing to the distance at which they were seen, or because treachery was suspected, and a fierce attack was made upon the flying crowd, who were cut down as though they were a hostile army. The Romans marched in through the open gate whilst other gates were demolished with axes and mallets, and as each cavalry man entered he galloped in accordance with instructions to the forum. The cavalry were supported by a detachment of triarii; the legionaries occupied the rest of the city. There was no plundering and, except in the case of armed resistance, no bloodshed. All the Carthaginians and about a thousand of the townsmen who had closed the gates were placed under guard, the town was handed over to the rest of the population and their property restored to them. About 2000 of the enemy fell in the assault upon the city; not more than 90 of the Romans.
Actions in Spain, 207 BC
Event: Actions in Spain, 207 BC