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History of Rome (Ab Urbe Condita) by Livy
Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXXVIII Chapter 30: Adherbal defeated[206 BC]
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Hanno, Mago's lieutenant, had been despatched during this time, with a small body of Africans to hire troops among the Spanish tribes, and succeeded in raising 4000 men. Soon afterwards, his camp was captured by Lucius Marcius, most of his men were killed in the assault, some during their flight by the pursuing cavalry; Hanno himself escaped with a handful of his men. Whilst this was going on at the Baetis Laelius sailed westward and brought up at Carteia, a city situated on that part of the coast where the Straits begin to widen into the ocean. Some men had come into the Romancamp with a voluntary offer to surrender the city of Gades, but the plot was discovered before it was ripe. All the conspirators were arrested and Mago handed them over to the custody of Adherbal for conveyance to Carthage. Adherbal placed them on board a quinquereme which was sent on in advance as it was a slower vessel than the eight triremes with which he followed shortly after. The quinquereme was just entering the Straits when Laelius sailed out of the harbour of Carteia in another quinquereme followed by seven triremes. He bore straight down upon Adherbal, feeling quite sure that the quinquereme could not be brought round, as it was caught by the current sweeping through the channel. Surprised by this unsuspected attack, the Carthaginian general hesitated for a few moments whether to follow his quinquereme or turn his prows against the enemy. This hesitation put it out of his power to decline the contest, for they were now within range of one another's missiles, and the enemy were pressing on him on all sides. The strength of the tide prevented them from steering their ships as they wished. There was no semblance of a naval battle, no freedom of action, no room for tactics or maneuvers. The tidal currents completely dominated the action and carried the ships against their own side and against the enemy indiscriminately, in spite of all the efforts of the rowers. You might see a ship which was endeavouring to escape carried stem foremost against the victors, whilst the one pursuing it, if it got into an opposing current, was swept back as though it were the one in flight. And when they were actually engaged and one ship was making for another in order to ram it, it would swerve from its course and receive a side-blow from the other's beak, whilst the one which was coming broadside on would suddenly be swung round and present its prow. So the varying struggle of the triremes went on, directed and controlled by Chance. The Roman quinquereme answered the helm better, either because its weight made it steadier, or because it had more banks of oars to cut through the waves. It sank two triremes, and sweeping rapidly past a third sheared off all the oars on one side, and it would have disabled the rest if Adherbal had not got clear away with the remaining five, and crowding all sail reached Africa.

Actions in Spain in 206 BC

Event: Actions in Spain in 206 BC