Scipio, seeing that the citadel was abandoned by the enemy, and their camp deserted, called the Locrians to an assembly and rebuked them severely for their defection.
He inflicted punishment on the persons principally concerned, and gave their effects to the leaders of the other party, in consideration of their extraordinary fidelity to the Romans.
As to the Locrians in general, he said that he would neither grant them any thing, nor take any thing from them. They might send ambassadors to Rome, and they should experience that treatment which the senate thought proper to adopt.
Of one thing, however, he said he was confident, which was, that although they had deserved ill at the hands of the Romans, they would be better off when subject to them, though incensed against them, than they had been when in the power of their friends the Carthaginians.
Leaving Quintus Pleminius lieutenant-general, and the garrison which had taken the citadel to defend the city, the general himself crossed over to Messana with the forces he had brought with him.
The Locrians had been treated with such insolence and cruelty by the Carthaginians since their revolt from the Romans, that they were able to endure severities of an ordinary kind not only with patience but almost willingness.
But indeed, so greatly did Pleminius surpass Hamilcar, who had commanded the garrison, so greatly did the Roman soldiers in the garrison surpass the Carthaginians in villany and rapacity, that it would appear that they endeavoured to outdo each other, not in arms, but in vices.
None of all those things which render the power of a superior hateful to the powerless was omitted towards the inhabitants, either by the general or his soldiers. The most shocking insults were committed [p. 1243]
against their own persons, their children, and their wives.
For their rapacity did not abstain from the spoliation even of sacred things; and not only were other temples violated, but even the treasures of Proserpine, which had never been touched through all ages, excepting that they were said to have been carried away by Pyrrhus, who restored the spoils, together with a costly offering in expiation of his sacrilege.
Therefore, as on the former occasion, the royal ships, wrecked and shattered, brought nothing safe to land, except the sacred money of the goddess, which they were carrying away;
so now also, that same money, by a different kind of calamity, cast a spirit of madness upon all who were contaminated by this violation of the temple, and turned them against each other with the fury of enemies, general against general, and soldier against soldier.