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Scipio Suppresses A Mutiny in Spain

When a mutiny broke out among part of the troops
Scipio appeases a mutiny in the Roman camp, at Sucro. Livy, 28, 24. In the autumn of B. C. 206.
in the Roman camp, Scipio, though he had now had a very adequate experience of the difficulties of administration, never felt himself more at a loss how to act or in greater embarrassment. And naturally so. For as in the case of the body, causes of mischief, such as cold, heat, fatigue, or wounds, may be avoided by precautions, or easily relieved when they occur; while those which arise from within the body itself, such as tumours or diseases, are difficult to foresee and difficult to relieve when they do exist, so it is, we must believe, with political and military administration. Against plots from without, and the attacks of enemies, the precautions to be taken and the measures for relief may readily be learned by those who pay the requisite attention; but to decide on the right method of resisting intestine factions, revolutions, and disturbances is difficult, and requires great tact and extreme acuteness; and, moreover, the observation of one maxim suitable in my opinion to all armies, states, and bodies alike, which is this: never in such cases to allow any lengthened idleness or repose, and least of all at a time of success and when provisions are abundant.

Being, then, as I have all along said, a man eminently careful, acute, and prompt, Scipio summoned a meeting of the military tribunes and proposed a solution of the existing troubles as follows. He said that "he must promise the soldiers the settlement of their pay; and, in order to create a belief in his promise, he must now take public steps to exact with all speed the contributions which had been already imposed upon the cities for the support of the whole army, with the distinct understanding that the object of that measure was the settlement of the pay: and these same tribunes should return to the army and urge and entreat the men to abandon their rebellious spirit, and come to him to receive their pay, either singly or, if they preferred it, in a body. And when this was done he would consider, as circumstances arose, what measures it was necessary to take."

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    • T. G. Tucker, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 8, 8.81
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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 24
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