While these events were ocucrring, the consul, Laevinus, after a great part of the year had elapsed, having arrived in Sicily, where he had been expected by both the old and new allies, considered it his first and principal duty to adjust the affairs of Syracuse, which were still in a state of disorder, the peace being but recent.
He then marched his legions to Agrigentum, the seat of the remaining part of the war, which was occupied by a strong garrison of Carthaginians;
and here fortune favoured his attempt. Hanno was commander-in- chief of the Carthaginians, but their whole reliance was placed upon Mutines and the Numidians.
Mutines, scouring the whole of Sicily, employed himself in carrying off spoil from the allies of the Romans; nor could he by force or stratagem be cut off from Agrigentum, or prevented from sallying from it whenever he pleased.
The renown which he gained by this conduct, as it began now to eclipse the fame of the commander-in-chief, was at last converted into a source of jealousy; so that even now his successes were not as acceptable as they ought to have been, on account of the person who gained them.
For these reasons Hanno at last gave his commission to his own son, concluding that by taking away his command he should also deprive him of the influence he possessed with the Numidians.
But the result was very different; for their former attachment to him was increased by the envy incurred by him.
Nor did he brook the affront put upon him by this injurious treatment, but immediately sent secret messengers to Laevinus, to treat about delivering up Agrigentum. After an agreement had been entered into by means of these persons, and the mode of carrying it into execution concerted, the Nu- midians seized on a gate which leads towards the sea, having driven the guards from it, or put them to the sword, and then received into the city a party of Romans sent for that purpose;
and when these troops were now marching into the heart of the city and the forum with a great noise, Hanno, concluding that it was nothing more than a disturbance and secession of the Numidians, such as had happened before, advanced to quell [p. 1072]
but observing at a distance that the numbers were greater than those of the Numidians, and hearing the Roman shout, which was far from being new to him, he betook himself to flight before he came within reach of their weapons.
Passing out of the town at a gate in the opposite quarter, and taking Epicydes to accompany him, he reached the sea with a few attendants; and having very seasonably met with a small vessel, they abandoned to the enemy Sicily, for which they had contended for so many years, and crossed over into Africa.
The remaining multitude of Carthaginians and Sicilians fled with headlong haste, but as every passage by which they could escape was blockaded up, they were cut to pieces near the gates.
On gaining possession of the town, Laevinus scourged and beheaded those who took the lead in the affairs of Agrigentum.
The rest, together with the booty, he sold. All the money he sent to Rome. Accounts of the sufferings of the Agrigentines spreading through all Sicily, all the states suddenly turned to the Romans. In a short time twenty towns were betrayed to them, and six taken by storm. As many as forty put themselves under their protection, by voluntary surrender.
The consul having rewarded and punished the leading men of these states, according to their several deserts, and compelled the Sicilians, now that they had at length laid aside arms, to turn their attention to the cultivation of their lands,
in order that the island might by its produce not only maintain its inhabitants, but, as it had frequently done on many former occasions, add to the supplies of Rome and Italy, he returned into Italy, taking with him a disorderly multitude from Agathyrna.
These were as many as four thousand men, made up of a mixed assemblage of every description of persons, exiles, bankrupts, the greater part of them felons, who had supported themselves by rapine and robbery, both when they lived in their native towns, under the restraint of the laws, and also after that a coincidence in their fortunes, brought about by causes different in each case, had congregated them at Agathyrna.
These men Laevinus thought it hardly safe to leave in the island, when an unwonted tranquillity was growing up, as the materials of fresh disturbances; and besides, they were likely to be useful to the Rhegians, who were in want of a band of men [p. 1073]
habituated to robbery, for the purpose of committing depredations upon the Bruttian territory. Thus, so far as related to Sicily, the war was this year terminated.