Stabat fulgentem portans in bella bipennem
Cinyphius socerique miser Magonis inire
optabat pugnam ante oculos spe laudis Isalcas,
Sidonia tumidus sponsa vanoque superbus
foedere promissae post Dardana proelia taedae.
huic immittit atrox violentas Appius iras
conantique gravem fronti librare securim
altior insurgens galeam super exigit ictum.
at fragilis valido conamine solvitur ensis
aere in Cinyphio, nec dispar sortis Isalcas
umbonem incerto detersit futilis ictu.
tum quod humo haud umquam valuisset vellere saxum,
ni vires trux ira daret, contorquet anhelans
Appius et lapsu resupino in terga cadentem
mole premit scopuli perfractisque ossibus urget.
vidit coniuncto miscens certamina campo
labentem socer, et lacrimae sub casside fusae
cum gemitu, rapidusque ruit: data foedera nuper
accendunt animos expectatique nepotes.
iamque aderat clipeumque viri atque immania membra
lustrabat visu, propiorque a fronte coruscae
lux galeae saevas paulum tardaverat iras.
haud secus, e specula praeceps delatus opaca,
subsidens campo submissos contrahit artus,
cum vicina trucis conspexit cornua tauri,
quamvis longa fames stimulet, leo: nunc ferus alta
surgentes cervice toros, nunc torva sub hirta
lumina miratur fronte ac iam signa moventem
et sparsa pugnas meditantem spectat harena.
(Silius Italicus, Punica 5.287-315)

Isalcas stood near; he came from Cinyps, and his weapon was a shining axe; his ambition, poor wretch, was to fight and win glory under the eyes of Mago, his father-in-law; for he was proud of his Carthaginian bride-to-be, and flattered by the vain promise that, when war with Rome was over, they should be wedded. Fierce Appius turned his furious rage against Isalcas, and, rising to his full height, delivered his stroke at the helmet, while the other sought to aim his heavy axe at the forehead. But the brittle sword broke against the helmet of the Cinyphian, so sturdy was the stroke. Nor was Isalcas more fortunate: he missed his mark and only cut off the boss of the Roman’s shield. Then Appius, breathing hard, swung aloft a stone, which he could never have lifted from the ground but for the strength that anger gave him, and crushed his foe as he fell backwards with the heavy boulder, and rammed it down upon the shattered bones. Mago, who was fighting not far away, groaned when he saw his son-in-law fall, and the tears fell behind his helmet. Then he rushed up in haste; the marriage he had lately approved, and his hope of grandchildren, stirred his rage. On he came and surveyed the shield and the huge limbs of Appius; and the light that shone from the front of the gleaming helmet, seen at close quarters, cooled his fierce wrath for a space. So a lion, that has rushed down from a wooded height, crouches down upon the plain and gathers his limbs under him, when he sees hard by the horns of a fierce bull, even though long fasting urges him on; the beast stares now at the starting muscles on the great neck, and now at the savage eyes beneath the shaggy forehead, and watches the bull preparing for action and pawing the dust in readiness for fight. (tr. James Duff Duff)


Syphax, king of the Masaesyli of western Numidia

Verum ubi mox iuncto sociarant aggere vires
Massylus Tyriusque duces, accitaque regno
lenierat pubes infaustae vulnera noctis,
ira pudorque dabant et coniunx, tertius ignis,
immanes animos; afflataque barbarus ora
castrorum flammis et se velamine nullo
vix inter trepidas ereptum ex hoste catervas
frendebat minitans; sed enim non luce Syphacem
nec claro potuisse die nec sole tuente
a quoquam vinci. iactarat talia vecors,
sed iam claudebat flatus nec plura sinebat
Atropos et tumidae properabat stamina linguae.
(Silius Italicus, Punica 17.109-120)

But presently, when the Massylian and Carthaginian generals had united their forces behind a common rampart, and fresh troops summoned from all the kingdom had mitigated the disaster of the night, anger and shame and love for his bride – a third incentive – filled the king’s heart with inordinate passion: he breathed out savage threats and ground his teeth, to think that his face had been scorched by the fire in the camp, and that he had with difficulty been rescued from the foe, a naked man in the midst of his discomfited soldiers. No man on earth, he declared, could ever have conquered Syphax in bright daylight or in the face of the sun. Such was his mad boasting; but Atropos was already putting an end to his insolence and suffered him to say no more; and the thread of that proud talker was nearly spun. (tr. James Duff Duff)