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Mischief Brewing Among the Mercenaries

The course of events at Carthage subsequent to the
Evacuation of Sicily.
peace was as follows: As soon as possible after it was finally ratified Barcas withdrew the troops at Eryx to Lilybaeum, and then immediately laid down his command. Gesco, who was commandant of the town, proceeded to transport the soldiers into Libya. But foreseeing what was likely to happen, he very prudently embarked them in detachments, and did not send them all in one voyage. His object was to gain time for the Carthaginian government; so that one detachment should come to shore, receive the pay due to them, and depart from Carthage to their own country, before the next detachment was brought across and joined them. In accordance with this idea Gesco began the transportation of the troops. But the Government—partly because the recent expenses had reduced their finances to a low ebb, partly because they felt certain that, if they collected the whole force and entertained them in Carthage, they would be able to persuade the mercenaries to accept something less than the whole pay due to them—did not dismiss the detachments as they landed, but kept them massed in the city.
The mercenaries sent to Sicca,
But when this resulted in the commission of many acts of lawlessness by night and day, they began to feel uneasy at their numbers and their growing licentiousness; and required the officers, until such time as arrangements for discharging their pay should have been made, and the rest of the army should have arrived, to withdraw with all their men to a certain town called Sicca, receiving each a piece of gold for their immediate necessities. As far as quitting the city was concerned they were ready enough to obey; but they desired to leave their heavy baggage there as before, on the ground that they would soon have to return to the city for their wages. But the Carthaginian government were in terror lest, considering the length of their absence and their natural desire for the society of wives or children, they would either not quit the city at all; or, if they did, would be sure to be enticed by these feelings to return, and that thus there would be no decrease of outrages in the city. Accordingly they forced them to take their baggage with them: but it was sorely against the will of the men, and roused strong feelings of animosity among them. These mercenaries being forced to retire to Sicca, lived there as they chose without any restraint upon their lawlessness. For they had obtained two things the most demoralising for hired forces, and which in a word are in themselves the allsufficient source and origin of mutinies,—relaxation of discipline and want of employment.1 For lack of something better to do, some of them began calculating, always to their own advantage, the amount of pay owing to them; and thus making out the total to be many times more than was really due, they gave out that this was the amount which they ought to demand from the Carthaginians. Moreover they all began to call to mind the promises made to them by the generals in their harangues, delivered on various occasions of special danger, and to entertain high hopes and great expectations of the amount of compensation which awaited them. The natural result followed.

1 Sicca Venerea, so called from a temple of Venus, was notorious for its licentiousness. Valer. Max. 2, 6, 15.

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    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 2.6.15
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