At the same time, when they were employed in these deliberations, a council was held on their case at Carthage;
when a warm debate took place as to whether they should visit with punishment the originators only of the mutiny, who were in number not more than thirty-five, or, whether atonement should be made for this defection, (for such it was rather than a mutiny,) of so dreadful a character as a precedent, by the punishment of a greater number.
The opinion recommending the more lenient course, that the punishment should fall where the guilt originated, was adopted. For the multitude a reprimand was considered sufficient.
On the breaking up of the council, orders were given to the army, which was in Carthage, to prepare for an expedition against Mandonius and Indibilis, and to get ready provisions for several days, in order that they might appear to have been deliberating about this.
The seven tribunes who had before gone to Sucro to quell the mutiny, having been sent out to meet the army, gave in, each of them, five names of persons principally concerned in the
affair, in order that proper persons might be employed to invite them to their homes, with smiles and kind words; and that, when overpowered with wine, they might be thrown into chains.
They were not far distant from Carthage when the intelligence, received from persons on the road, that the whole army was going the following day with Marcus Silanus against the Lacetanians, not only freed them from all the apprehensions which, though they did not give utterance to them, sat heavy upon their minds, but occasioned the greatest transport, because they would thus have the general alone, and in their power, instead of being themselves in his.
They entered the city just at sun-set, and saw the other army making every preparation for a march. Immediately on their arrival they were greeted in terms feigned for the
purpose, that their arrival was looked upon by the general as a happy and seasonable circumstance, for they had come when the other army was just on the point of setting out. After which they proceeded to refresh themselves.
The authors of the mutiny, having been conveyed to their lodgings by proper persons, were apprehended by the tribunes without any disturbance, and thrown into chains.
At the fourth watch the baggage belonging to the army, which, as it was pretended, was about to march, began to set out. As soon as it was [p. 1198]
light the troops marched, but were stopped at the gate, and guards were sent round to all the gates to prevent any one going out of the city.
Then those who had arrived the day before, having been summoned to an assembly, ran in crowds into the forum to the tribunal of the general, with the presumptuous purpose of intimidating him by their shouts.
At the same time that the general mounted the tribunal, the armed troops, which had been brought back from the gates, spread themselves around the rear of the unarmed assembly.
Then all their insolence subsided; and, as they afterwards confessed, nothing terrified them so much as the unexpected vigour and hue of the general, whom they had supposed they should see in a sickly state, and his countenance, which was such as they declared that they did not remember to have ever seen it even in battle.
He sat silent for a short time, till he was informed that the instigators of the mutiny were brought into the forum, and that every thing was now in readiness.