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Scipio's Storm of Cartagena

A reader of this site recommended, JW Deming, recommended B.H. Liddel Hart's "Scipio Africanus" to me - and I'm damn pleased I got it.

It's excellent. It combines a mix of strategic thought and analysis with diplomacy and looking deeply into motivations for actions. From chapter 3, after leading a surprise attack and taking the city of New Carthage -

Chapter III: The Storm of Cartagena

"Some young Romans came across a girl of surpassing bloom and beauty, and being aware that Scipio was fond of women brought her to him… saying that they wished to make a present of the damsel to him. He was overcome and astonished by her beauty, and he told them that had he been in a private position no present would have been more welcome, but as he was the general it would be the least welcome of any… So he expressed his gratitude to the young men, but called the girl's father, and handing her over to him, at once bade him give her in marriage to whomever of the citizens he preferred. The self-restraint and moderation Scipio showed on this occasion secured him the warm approbation of his troops."

Livy's account enlarges the picture, saying that she was previously betrothed to a young chief of the Celtiberians, named Allucius, who was desperately enamoured of her; that Scipio, hearing this, sent for Allucius and presented her to him; and that when his parents pressed thank-offerings upon him, he gave them to Allucius as a dowry from himself. This kindly and tactful act not only spread his praises through the Spanish tribes, but earned a more tangible reinforcement, for Allucius reappeared a few days later with fourteen hundred horsemen to join Scipio.


On Aesop

Here's my favorite thing I've written so far today. 38,000/50,000. I wasn't inspired to write much in the story I already did, so after a bit of struggling with that, I decided to write something new, set in the #Cthulhu Mythos, and specifically intended as basically a novelization of one of the scenarios I'm going to include in Cultists of Cthulhu: Miskatonic University. This part is taken from a bit of backstory of one of the characters, the one who happens to be the Cultist in this instance of the game. It explains why he ends up trying to do what he does.


He had finally decided that he had enough data to write up what he had been doing and submit it to a prestigious academic journal, and was out on the town celebrating with his wife, when it happened. They had eaten at a new seafood restaurant that had opened recently and which her friends had been telling her was wonderful. She had had crab for the first time in her life. She had always wanted to try crab. During the meal she felt slightly uncomfortable, but tried to hide it - this was a special night celebrating his accomplishment, and she did not want to tarnish it in any way. Eventually it became too much for her to conceal, and when he asked her what the matter was and she told him, he cut their dinner short so as to take her home to rest. As they were walking home, hand in hand as they always did, she collapsed in his arms. This was no mere faint. He held her, cried out to her, called for help, and laid her down in the street and did the chest-compression exercises he had seen as a means for rescuing her. Her breathing came in ragged gasps, growing every fainter. Her face was swollen and covered in red hives. Her whole body was swelling, filling her well tailored clothes grotesquely. When the chest compressions failed, and no one answered his cries for help, he picked her up - he, a man crippled by polio, picked up his wife, who weighed two stone more than him and had stood a head higher - and ran with her six city blocks to the hospital. By the time he got there his mangled leg was an agonizing inferno of fire and needles, like knives heated in a kiln and shoved through him at every angle. He hardly noticed. He carried her in to the hospital, where the nurses and doctors leapt up and took her from him, and as he collapsed he refused to answer questions about himself, and would only tell them what had happened to her. He lost consciousness when she was being wheeled away into the emergency room.

He awoke the next day in a hospital bed, his leg re-set into a brace. He had dreamed that the two of them were walking along when a horrible, red tentacled monster, with skin like a rash and a shell covering its body, its tentacles covered in claws, had grabbed her and pulled her away from him into Outer Space. She screamed for him to help her as she was dragged away, until she reached the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, where the lack of pressure robbed her of her voice and made her blood vessels expand horribly, puffing out her body and tinting it a terrible bloody color. He screamed her name until she disappeared. When he regained consciousness, for a brief, blissful moment he thought that she had never really died, that the entire day before had been part of his dream. Then he realized she wasn’t lying next to him, and that he was in a hospital bed, instead of his traditional four-poster mahogany that she had chosen for them during their engagement. He cried out for a doctor, and a nurse ran into the room to ask what was the matter. He tried to clamber out of bed, but his leg was bound in place and he stumbled. He asked over and over where Marcia was, whether she was okay, what had happened, what had happened, what happened, but this nurse didn’t know. She hadn’t been there when he had arrived with Marcia, she didn’t even know he was there on behalf of his wife. How could she not know? How could it not be plain that Marcia was the most important thing here, in this hospital, on this whole planet? In all of the planets, on all of the worlds in all of the universe, Marcia was the most important thing, how was that not obvious? The nurse went and found the doctor who had admitted Marcia. When he entered, Professor James Montgomery Ellery saw the look on his face, and he knew that Marcia Jessica Ellery nee Schwartz, Marcia of the black hair and green eyes, Marcia who knew the only place he was ticklish, Marcia who could always beat him at chess, Marcia who made apple pies even better than his mother, Marcia who was 3/4ths done with her first novel that would surely have been a hit even if they had had to publish it under his name, but now it would never be done, he couldn’t finish it, he couldn’t write fiction, he didn’t understand how, he didn’t even know the ending, she had insisted that she wouldn’t tell him until she had written it, Marcia, Marcia, his beloved Marcia, this fool of a Doctor was trying to tell him that he would never see her again, that he would never get to speak with her or hold her and feel her hold him back, that she was cold and would always be cold (she hated the cold! She always wore two sweaters, even indoors!), that she would never be warm, that he would never again hear her laugh, this Doctor, who does he think he is, what medical school did he go to, he’s a quack, obviously a lunatic, James Ellery was also a Doctor, he should be let in to see her, what do you care if he has a Doctorate in chemistry, he’s done things with living and dead organisms that your feeble mind could not even comprehend much less invent on your own, let him, let him in, let him see her, for all of the mercy in God’s creation, let him see her one last time!

And then he did, and he broke down and cried, and would have cried forever if he had not remembered something very important.

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