The Mercenaries Accept an Arbitration
The Carthaginians saw their folly when it was too late.
The mercenaries at Tunes.
It was a grave mistake to have collected so
large a number of mercenaries into one place
without any warlike force of their own citizens
to fall back upon: but it was a still graver mistake to have
delivered up to them their children and wives, with their heavy
baggage to boot; which they might have retained as hostages,
and thus have had greater security for concerting their own
measures, and more power of ensuring obedience to their
orders. However, being thoroughly alarmed at the action
of the men in regard to their encampment, they went every
length in their eagerness to pacify their anger.
them supplies of provisions in rich abundance,
to be purchased exactly on their own terms,
and at their own price. Members of the Senate
were despatched, one after the other, to treat with them; and
they were promised that whatever they demanded should be
conceded if it were within the bounds of possibility. Day by
day the ideas of the mercenaries rose higher.
The demands of the mercenaries.
For their contempt
became supreme when they saw the dismay and excitement in Carthage
; their confidence in themselves was profound; and their engagements
with the Roman legions in Sicily
them, that not only was it impossible for the Carthaginians to
face them in the field, but that it would be difficult to find any
nation in the world who could. Therefore, when the Carthaginians conceded the point of their pay, they made a further
claim for the value of the horses they had lost. When this
too was conceded, they said that they ought to receive the
value of the rations of corn due to them from a long time previous, reckoned at the highest price reached during the war.
And in short, the ill-disposed and mutinous among them being
numerous, they always found out some new demand which
made it impossible to come to terms. Upon the Carthaginian
government, however, pledging themselves to the full extent
of their powers, they eventually agreed to refer the matter to
the arbitration of some one of the generals who had been
actually engaged in Sicily
. Now they were displeased with
Hamilcar Barcas, who was one of those under whom they had
fought in Sicily
, because they thought that their present unfavourable position was attributable chiefly to him. They
thought this from the fact that he never came to them as an
ambassador, and had, as was believed, voluntarily resigned his
The dispute referred to the arbitration of Gesco.
But towards Gesco their feelings
were altogether friendly. He had, as they
thought, taken every possible precaution for
their interests, and especially in the arrangements for their conveyance to Libya
. Accordingly they referred the dispute to the arbitration of the latter.