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“Improbe amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis ? "
LIVY. BOOK xxx. 11-15.
CHAP. XI. About the same time on the arrival of Lælius and Masinissa in Numidia after nearly a fortnight's journey, the latter received the allegiance of the Massylians, his hereditary subjects, who received him with all the joy that naturally greets a sovereign after a long and unwelcome absence. Syphax finding his officers and garrisons expelled from the country, confined himself within his original kingdom, by no means however peaceably disposed. His wife and father-in-law both worked on his amorous nature and urged him forward in his designs : and such a wealth of resources had he both in men and horses that the prospect of a powerful kingdom which had been for years past enjoying prosperity might well have inflamed the ambition even of one of less uncivilized and headstrong spirit. Accordingly he assembled together his whole available military force and distributed among them horses, armour, and weapons. He divided the cavalry into squadrons, the infantry into cohorts, remembering the lessons which he had learnt in old days from the Roman centurions. With an army in point of num
bers fully equal to that which he had formerly possessed, but composed almost wholly of raw material, he marched to meet the enemy and pitched his camp at a short distance from him. First of all horsemen in small reconnoitering detachments advanced under cover from the outposts. These were driven in by the enemy's missiles, and compelled to retire to their own ranks. Then followed sallies on
either side, and the infuriation of those who were repulsed constantly brought fresh troops into action. It is in this way generally that cavalry engagements are provoked : hope and rage respectively swell the victorious and the routed ranks. And so, in this instance, a combat, which was originally brought on by a small number, finally, as the enthusiasm for conflict spread, drew out the whole cavalry force of both armies. long as it continued a purely cavalry engagement, the overwhelming numbers of the Masæsylians, whom Syphax launched out in huge columns, were almost irresistible. But after a time the Roman infantry by a sudden movement inserted themselves among the squadrons, who opened for their advance, and thus they rallied the line and stayed the enemy in the midst of their furious onset. The barbarians first slackened pace, then halted, disconcerted at this novel mode of warfare, and ended by not only yielding ground before the infantry but by failing to hold their own even against the cavalry, to whom the protection of the infantry had lent new courage. By this time the main body too were drawing near, whereupon the Masæsylians without waiting for the first shock of battle fled before the mere sight of the colours and the arms. So powerfully affected were they by the memory of their previous disasters or by the terror of the moment.
CHAP. XII. Syphax now rode up in front of the squadrons of the enemy, hoping that a sense of shame or of his