As they expected that other fresh accounts would follow those which they had received, not only of the death, but even of the burial, of Scipio, and yet none arrived;
and as the rumour which had been so idly originated began to die away, the first author of it began to be sought out; and each backing out in order that he might appear rather to have inconsiderately credited than to have fabricated such a report, the leaders were forsaken, and began now to dread their own ensigns of authority, and to apprehend that, instead of that empty show of command which they wore, a legitimate and rightful power would be turned against them.
The mutiny being thus paralysed, and credible persons bringing in accounts, first, that Scipio was alive, and, soon after, that he was even in good health, seven military tribunes were sent by Scipio himself.
At the first arrival of these their minds were violently excited; but they were soon calmed by the mild and soothing language which they addressed to such of their acquaintance as they met with;
for, going round first of all to the tents, and then entering the principia and the praetorium, wherever they observed circles of men conversing together, they addressed them, inquiring rather what it was that had occasioned their displeasure and sudden consternation, than taxing them with what had occurred.
“That they had not received their pay at the appointed time,” was generally complained; and “that although at the time of the horrid [p. 1196]
transaction of the Illiturgians, and after the destruction of two generals and two armies, the Roman cause had been defended and the province retained by their valour; the Illiturgians had received the punishment due to their offence, but there was no one found to reward them for their meritorious services.”
The tribunes replied, “that, considering the nature of their complaints, what they requested was just, and that they would lay it before the general; that they were happy that there was nothing of a more gloomy and irremediable character; that both Publius Scipio, by the favour of the gods, and the commonwealth, were in a situation to requite them.”
Scipio, who was accustomed to war but inexperienced in the storms of sedition, felt great anxiety on the occasion, lest the army should run into excess in transgressing, or himself in punishing.
For the present he resolved to persist in the lenient line of conduct with which he had begun, and sending collectors round to the tributary states, to give the soldiers hopes of soon receiving their pay.
Immediately after this a proclamation was issued that they should come to Carthage to receive their pay, whether they wished to do so in detached parties or all in a body.
The sudden suppression of the rebellion among the Spaniards had the effect of tranquillizing the mutiny, which was by this time beginning to subside of itself; for Mandonius and Indibilis, relinquishing their attempt, had returned within their borders when intelligence was brought that Scipio was alive; nor did there now remain any person, whether countryman or foreigner, whom they could make their companion in their desperate enterprise.
On examining every method, they had no alternative except that which afforded a retreat from wicked designs, which was not of the safest kind, namely, to commit themselves either to the just anger of the general, or to his clemency, of which they need not despair.
For he had pardoned even enemies whom he had encountered with the sword;
while they reflected that their sedition had been unaccompanied with wounds or blood, and was neither in itself of an atrocious character nor merited severe punishment. So natural is it for men to be over-eloquent in extenuating their own demerit.
They felt doubtful whether they should go to demand their pay in single cohorts or in one entire body; but the opinion that they should go in a body, which they regarded as the safer mode, prevailed. [p. 1197]