CHAPTER IX: IN THE FIELD
Hamilcar had thought that the Mercenaries would await him at Utica, or that they
would return against him; and finding his forces insufficient to make or to sustain
an attack, he had struck southwards along the right bank of the river, thus
protecting himself immediately from a surprise.
He intended first to wink at the revolt of the tribes and to detach them all from the
cause of the Barbarians; then when they were quite isolated in the midst of the
provinces he would fall upon them and exterminate them.
In fourteen days he pacified the region comprised between Thouccaber and
Utica, with the towns of Tignicabah, Tessourah, Vacca, and others further to the
west. Zounghar built in the mountains, Assoura celebrated for its temple,
Djeraado fertile in junipers, Thapitis, and Hagour sent embassies to him. The
country people came with their hands full of provisions, implored his protection,
kissed his feet and those of the soldiers, and complained of the Barbarians.
Some came to offer him bags containing heads of Mercenaries killed, so they
said, by themselves, but which they had cut off corpses; for many had lost
themselves in their flight, and were found dead here and there beneath the olive
trees and among the vines.
On the morrow of his victory, Hamilcar, to dazzle the people, had sent to
Carthage the two thousand captives taken on the battlefield. They arrived in long
companies of one hundred men each, all with their arms fastened behind their
backs with a bar of bronze which caught them at the nape of the neck, and the
wounded, bleeding as they still were, running also along; horsemen followed
them, driving them on with blows of the whip.
Then there was a delirium of joy! People repeated that there were six thousand
Barbarians killed; the others would not hold out, and the war was finished; they
embraced one another in the streets, and rubbed the faces of the Pataec Gods
with butter and cinnamomum to thank them. These, with their big eyes, their big
bodies, and their arms raised as high as the shoulder, seemed to live beneath
their freshened paint, and to participate in the cheerfulness of the people. The
rich left their doors open; the city resounded with the noise of the timbrels; the
temples were illuminated every night, and the servants of the goddess went
down to Malqua and set up stages of sycamore-wood at the corners of the cross-
ways, and prostituted themselves there. Lands were voted to the conquerors,
holocausts to Melkarth, three hundred gold crowns to the Suffet, and his
partisans proposed to decree to him new prerogatives and honours.
He had begged the Ancients to make overtures to Autaritus for exchanging all
the Barbarians, if necessary, for the aged Gisco, and the other Carthaginians
detained like him. The Libyans and Nomads composing the army under Autaritus
knew scarcely anything of these Mercenaries, who were men of Italiote or Greek
race; and the offer by the Republic of so many Barbarians for so few
Carthaginians, showed that the value of the former was nothing and that of the
latter considerable. They dreaded a snare. Autaritus refused.