Scipio, seeing that the citadel had been abandoned by the enemy and the site of the camp deserted, summoned the Locrians to an assembly and stoutly upbraided them for their revolt.
He punished those who had prompted it and bestowed their property upon the leaders of the other party in view of their conspicuous loyalty towards the Romans.
As regards their state, he said he would neither grant the Locrians anything nor take anything away.
They should send envoys to Rome; and whatever lot the senate thought it proper for them to have would be theirs. Even though they had deserved ill of the Roman people, of this he was certain, that they would be in a better position under angry Romans than they were under friendly Carthaginians.
Leaving Pleminius, his lieutenant, to defend the city with the force which had captured the citadel, Scipio crossed over to Messana with the troops with which he had come.
With such arrogance and cruelty had the Locrians been treated by the Carthaginians after their revolt from the Romans that they could bear minor wrongs not only calmly but almost willingly.
In actual fact, however, so far did Pleminius surpass Hamilcar, commandant of the garrison, so far did the Roman soldiers in the garrison surpass the Carthaginians in [p. 239]
villainy and greed that they seemed to be competing1
not in arms but in vices.
Of all the things that make the power of the stronger odious to the helpless man not one was overlooked by commander and soldiers in dealing with the townspeople. Unutterable insults were practised upon their own persons, upon their children, upon their wives.
It goes without saying that their avarice did not refrain from despoiling even sacred things. And not only were other temples desecrated, but also the treasure chambers of Proserpina,2
untouched in every age except that they were said to have been despoiled by Pyrrhus, who met with a signal punishment and restored the plunder gained by his sacrilege.3
Consequently, just as formerly the king's ships, battered and wrecked, had landed nothing intact but the goddess' sacred money which they were trying to carry
away, so on this occasion also, with a different kind of disaster that same money visited insanity upon all who had shared in that desecration of the temple, and mutually turned commander against commander, soldier against soldier, with the frenzy of enemies.