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Atrocities of the Mutineers

When news of this dreadful affair reached the Carthaginians, they were powerless indeed to do anything, but they were filled with horror; and in a transport of agony despatched messengers to Hamilcar and the second general Hanno, entreating them to rally to their aid and avenge the unhappy victims; and at the same time they sent heralds to the authors of this crime to negotiate for the recovery of the dead bodies. But the latter sternly refused; and warned the messengers to send neither herald nor ambassador to them again; for the same punishment which had just befallen Gesco awaited all who came. And for the future they passed a resolution, which they encouraged each other to observe, to put every Carthaginian whom they caught to death with torture; and that whenever they captured one of their auxiliaries they would cut off his hands and send him back to Carthage. And this resolution they exactly and persistently carried out. Such horrors justify the remark that it is not only the bodies of men, and the ulcers and imposthumes which are bred in them, that grow to a fatal and completely incurable state of inflammation, but their souls also most of all. For as in the case of ulcers, sometimes medical treatment on the one hand only serves to irritate them and make them spread more rapidly, while if, on the other hand, the medical treatment is stopped, having nothing to check their natural destructiveness, they gradually destroy the substance on which they feed; just so at times it happens that similar plague spots and gangrenes fasten upon men's souls; and when this is so, no wild beast can be more wicked or more cruel than a man. To men in such a frame of mind if you show indulgence or kindness, they regard it as a cover for trickery and sinister designs, and only become more suspicious and more inflamed against the authors of it; while if you retaliate, their passions are aroused to a kind of dreadful rivalry, and then there is no crime too monstrous or too cruel for them to commit. The upshot with these men was, that their feelings became so brutalised that they lost the instincts of humanity: which we must ascribe in the first place, and to the greatest extent, to uncivilised habits and a wretchedly bad early training; but many other things contributed to this result, and among them we must reckon as most important the acts of violence and rapacity committed by their leaders, sins which at that time were prevalent among the whole mercenary body, but especially so with their leaders.

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