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SCIPIO SAILS TO AFRICA
 IT was not usual to award a triumph to a Roman citizen who
had been neither a prætor nor a Consul.
Yet it may be that when Scipio returned to Italy in 206
B.C. he hoped to receive this honour, for he had served
the State loyally and successfully.
The people clamoured for the honour to be given to
their favourite. So the Senate assembled in the temple
of Bellona, which stood outside the walls of the city,
to meet Scipio, and hear what he had accomplished in
If a triumph was to be awarded to him, he must, as was
the custom, stay without the city gates until he
entered it to celebrate the great occasion.
It was a noble record to which the Senate listened.
Scipio had fought with four generals and four armies,
and had been victor in every battle and over each
general. Nor was a single Carthaginian soldier left in
In spite of the splendour of his achievements a triumph
was not decreed to the young soldier. Partly, perhaps,
because among the senators were some who did not care
to forsake old customs, while others did not wish to
encourage so ambitious a youth as Scipio. They did not
know to what his ambitions might lead, and they were
But although Scipio entered Rome as a private citizen,
he did so with all the pomp and splendour that he could
muster. And the people flocked around him, and cheered
him, it may be, the more lustily that he had been
denied the triumph which would have been his had he
held the rank of Consul.
 Soon after this the election of Consuls for the year
205 B.C. took place.
From far and near the people flocked to Rome, not only
to vote, but to see the man who had driven the
Carthaginians from Spain.
In spite of the opposition of the Senate, Scipio was
one of the Consuls chosen. The Senate feared that he
would now persist in his wish to carry on the
Carthaginian war in Africa. They had already done
their utmost to discourage this, his great ambition.
Still, as the colleague of Scipio had duties which
would keep him in Rome, it was plain that if one Consul
was sent to a foreign province that one must be Scipio.
Some of the senators hesitated to let the province be
Africa. It seemed to them too great a risk to send an
army to Africa while Hannibal was still in Italy. At
the head of those opposed to Scipio was Fabius the
Delayer, who was as cautious as of old.
To those who feared Hannibal's presence in Italy,
Scipio explained, that to carry the war to Africa would
be the quickest and surest way to get rid of the great
general. For he would certainly be recalled to help in
the defence of his own country. And in this, as you
will hear, Scipio proved correct.
So determined was the new Consul to go to Africa that
at length he declared that if the Senate refused to
send him, he would appeal to the people in a popular
With this threat, for such it really was, the Senate
was indignant. It knew too well what the result of an
appeal to the people would be.
After violent debates between Scipio's friends and
those who were opposed to him, the Senate reluctantly
gave the province of Sicily to the young Consul. And
with Sicily he was given permission to cross into
Africa, should he think "the best interests of the
State demanded it."
The permission was shorn of all graciousness, for the
 Senate refused to allow Scipio to levy troops. Only
the soldiers already serving in Sicily were put under
But Scipio was not easily thwarted by difficulties.
The Senate could not refuse to let him enrol
volunteers. And no sooner was it known that the Consul
wished for soldiers, than many flocked to his standard.
For to fight under so brave and gallant a captain as
Scipio was an adventure all good soldiers welcomed.
A year was spent in Sicily, where Scipio trained his
volunteers. In the spring of 204 B.C. his ambition was
fulfilled, for he set sail for Africa.
In his fleet the Consul had four hundred transports and
forty warships, while his army was said by some to
consist of twelve thousand five hundred men, by others,
to reach any number within thirty-five thousand.
The fleet had assembled at the seaport town of
Lilybæum, and the citizens were full of interest and
excitement at the novel sight.
A great crowd gathered in the harbour in the early
morning of the day fixed for the departure of the
fleet. Then as a herald commanded silence, a sudden
hush fell upon the people while the Consul offered a
solemn prayer to all the gods and goddesses of Rome,
beseeching them to grant him "protection, victory,
spoils, and a happy . . . return, after inflicting on
the Carthaginian people all those evils with which they
had threatened the Commonwealth of Rome."
When the prayer ended, trumpets sounded, and the fleet
sailed away amid the cheers of the onlookers.
The Carthaginians knew that Scipio was sailing to their
country with an army, yet they sent no fleet to stay
his course. Unhindered by the enemy, undelayed by any
storm, Scipio landed on the coast of Africa at the Fair
Promontory, close to the port of Utica.