Livius 29.27

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When the moment for departure came, Scipio ordered the herald to proclaim silence throughout the fleet and put up the following prayer: "Ye gods and goddesses of sea and land, I pray and beseech you to vouchsafe a favourable issue to all that has been done or is being done now or will be done hereafter under my command. May all turn out happily for the burghers and plebs of Rome, for our allies of the Latin name, for all who have the cause of Rome at heart, and for all who are marching beneath my standard, under my auspices and command, by land or sea or stream. Grant us your gracious help in all our doings, crown our efforts with success. Bring these my soldiers and myself safe home again, victorious over our conquered foes, adorned with their spoils, loaded with booty and exulting in triumph. Enable us to avenge ourselves on our enemies and grant to the people of Rome and to me the power to inflict exemplary chastisement on the city of Carthage, and to retaliate upon her all the injury that her people have sought to do to us." As he finished he threw the raw entrails of the victim into the sea with the accustomed ritual. Then he ordered the trumpeter to sound the signal for departure, and as the wind which was favourable to them freshened they were quickly carried out of sight. In the afternoon they were enveloped in so thick a fog that they had difficulty in keeping their ships from fouling one another, and as they got out to sea the wind dropped. During the night a similar fog prevailed, which dispersed after sunrise, and at the same the wind freshened. At last they descried land, and a few minutes later the pilot informed Scipio that they were not more than five miles from the coast of Africa, and that the headland of Mercurius was plainly visible. If he would give orders for him to steer for it, the man assured him, the whole of the fleet would soon be in port. When he caught sight of land Scipio offered a prayer that this first view of Africa might bring good to himself and to the republic. He then gave orders for the fleet to make for an anchorage further south. They went before the wind which was still in the same quarter, but a fog which came up about the same time as on the day before blotted out the view of the land and made the wind fall. As night came on everything became obscure, and to avoid all risk of the ships coming into collision or being driven ashore it was decided to cast anchor. When it grew light, the wind again freshened from the same quarter, and the dispersal of the fog revealed the entire coastline of Africa. Scipio enquired the name of the nearest headland, and on learning that was called Pulchrum ("Cape Beautiful") he remarked, "I accept the omen, steer for it." The fleet brought up there and the whole of the force was landed. This description of the voyage as favourable and unaccompanied by any confusion or alarms rests upon the statements of numerous Greek and Latin authorities. According to Coelius, though the fleet was not actually submerged by the waves, it was exposed to every possible danger from sea and sky, and was at last driven from the African coast to the island of Aegimurus, and from here with great difficulty succeeded in getting on the right course. He adds that as the ships were leaking badly and all but sinking, the soldiers took to the boats without orders just as though they were shipwrecked and escaped to land without arms and in the utmost disorder.


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