The Carthaginians, when news came of this unhappy event, could take no action, but their indignation was extreme, and in the heat of it they sent messengers to Hamilcar and their other general Hanno imploring them to come and avenge the unfortunate victims. To the assassins they sent heralds begging that the bodies might be given up to them. Not only was this request refused but the messengers were told to send neither herald nor envoy again, as any who came would meet with the same punishment that had just befallen Gesco. With regard to treatment of prisoners in the future, the mutineers passed a resolution and engaged each other to torture and kill every Carthaginian and send back to the capital with his hands cut off every ally of Carthage, and this practice they continued to observe carefully. No one looking at this would have any hesitation in saying that not only do men's bodies and certain of the ulcers and tumours afflicting them become so to speak savage and brutalized and quite incurable, but that this is true in a much higher degree of their souls. In the case of ulcers, if we treat them, they are sometimes inflamed by the treatment itself and spread more rapidly, while again if we neglect them they continue, in virtue of their own nature, to eat into the flesh and never rest until they have utterly destroyed the tissues beneath. Similarly such malignant lividities and putrid ulcers often grow in the human soul, that no beast becomes at the end more wicked or cruel than man. In the case of men in such a state, if we treat the disease by pardon and kindness, they think we are scheming to betray them or deceive them, and become more mistrustful and hostile to their would-be benefactors, but if, on the contrary, we attempt to cure the evil by retaliation they work up their passions to outrival ours, until there is nothing so abominable or so atrocious that they will not consent to do it, imagining all the while that they are displaying a fine courage. Thus at the end they are utterly brutalized and no longer can be called human beings. Of such a condition the origin and most potent cause lies in bad manners and customs and wrong training from childhood, but there are several contributory ones, the chief of which is habitual violence and unscrupulousness on the part of those in authority over them. All these conditions were present in this mercenary force as a whole and especially in their chiefs.
This desperation of the enemy made Hamilcar anxious, and he begged Hanno to join him, being convinced that if both armies united, an end would be put sooner to the whole war. Meanwhile he continued to put to the sword those of the enemy who were conquered in the field, while those brought to him captive prisoners he threw to the elephants to be trampled to death, as it was clear to him that the rebellion would never be stamped out until the enemy were utterly exterminated.
The prospects of the Carthaginians in the war now seemed much brighter, but the tide of events suddenly turned completely against them. For when the two generals met, they quarrelled so seriously, that this difference caused them not only to neglect many opportunities of striking a blow at the enemy, but to afford many such to the latter. The Carthaginians perceiving this, ordered one of the two to leave his post and the other to remain in sole command, leaving the choice to the troops. In addition to this they suffered the total loss at sea in a storm, of the supplies they were conveying from the place they call Emporia, supplies on which they entirely relied for their commissariat and other needs. And again, as I said above, they had lost Sardinia, an island which had always been of great service to them in difficult circumstances. The severest blow of all, however, was the defection of Hippacritae and Utica, the only two cities in Libya which had not only bravely faced the present war, but had gallantly held out during the invasion of Agathocles and that of the Romans; indeed they never had on any occasion given the least sign of hostility to Carthage. But now, apart from their unjustifiable defection to the cause of the Libyans, their sympathies so suddenly changed, that they exhibited the greatest friendship and loyalty to the rebels, while beginning to show every symptom of passionate and determined hatred of Carthage. After butchering the troops the Carthaginians had sent to assist them, about five hundred in number, together with their commander, they threw all the bodies from the wall, and surrendered the city to the Libyans. They would not even give the Carthaginians the permission they requested to bury their unfortunate compatriots. Mathos and Spendius in the meantime, elated by these events, undertook the siege of Carthage itself. Barcas had now been joined in the command by Hannibal, the general whom the citizens had dispatched to the army, on the soldiers voting that Hanno should be the one to retire, when the decision was left in their hands by the Carthaginians at the time the two generals had quarrelled. Accompanied then by this Hannibal and by Naravas, Hamilcar scoured the country, intercepting the supplies of Mathos and Spendius, receiving the greatest assistance in this and all other matters from the Numidian Naravas.
Such were the positions of the field forces. The Carthaginians, being shut in on all sides, were obliged to resort to an appeal to the states in alliance with them. Hiero during the whole of the present war had been most prompt in meeting their requests, and was now more complaisant than ever, being convinced that it was in his own interest for securing both his Sicilian dominions and his friendship with the Romans, that Carthage should be preserved, and that the stronger power should not be able to attain its ultimate object entirely without effort. In this he reasoned very wisely and sensibly, for such matters should never be neglected, and we should never contribute to the attainment by one state of a power so preponderant, that none dare dispute with it even for their acknowledged rights. But now the Romans as well as Hiero observed loyally the engagements the treaty imposed on them. At first there had been a slight dispute between the two states for the following reason. The Carthaginians when they captured at sea traders coming from Italy to Libya with supplies for the enemy, brought them into Carthage, and there were now in their prisons as many as five hundred such. The Romans were annoyed at this, but when on sending an embassy, they recovered all the prisoners by diplomatic means, they were so much gratified, that in return they gave back to the Carthaginians all the remaining prisoners from the Sicilian war and henceforth gave prompt and friendly attention to all their requests. They gave permission to their merchants to export all requirements for Carthage, but not for the enemy, and shortly afterwards, when the mercenaries in Sardinia on revolting from Carthage invited them to occupy the island, they refused. Again on the citizens of Utica offering to surrender to them they did not accept, but held to their treaty engagements.
The Carthaginians, then, on thus obtaining assistance from their friends continued to withstand the siege. But Mathos and Spendius were just as much in the position of besieged as of besiegers. Hamilcar had reduced them to such straits for supplies that they were finally forced to raise the siege. A short time afterwards, collecting a picked force of mercenaries and Libyans to the number of about fifty thousand and including Zarzas the Libyan and those under his command, they tried again their former plan of marching in the open parallel to the enemy and keeping a watch on Hamilcar. They avoided level ground, as they were afraid of the elephants and Naravas' horse, but they kept on trying to anticipate the enemy in occupying positions on the hills and narrow passes. In this campaign they were quite equal to the enemy in terms of assault and enterprise, but were often worsted owing to their want of tactical skill. This was, it seems, an opportunity for seeing by the light of actual fact, how much the methods gained by experience and the skill of a general, differ from a soldier's inexperience in the art of war and mere unreasoning routine. For in many partial engagements, Hamilcar, like a good draught-player, by cutting off and surrounding large numbers of the enemy, destroyed them without their resisting, while in the more general battles he would sometimes inflict large loss by enticing them into unsuspected ambuscades and sometimes thow them into panic by appearing when they least expected it by day or by night. All those he captured were thrown to the elephants. Finally, taking them by surprise and encamping opposite to them in a position unfavourable for action on their part but favouring his own strong point — generalship — he brought them to such a pass, that not daring to risk a battle and unable to escape, as they were entirely surrounded by a trench and palisade, they were at last driven by famine to eat each other — a fitting retribution at the hands of Providence for their violation of all law human and divine in their treatment of their neighbours. They did not venture to march out and do battle, as they were faced by the certainty of defeat and condign punishment for all captured, and they did not even think of asking for terms, as they had their evil deeds on their conscience. Always expecting the relief from Tunis that their leaders continued to promise them, there was no crime against themselves that they scrupled to commit. But when they had used up their prisoners in this abominable manner by feeding on them, and had used up their slaves, and no help came from Tunis, and their leaders saw that their persons were in obvious danger owing to the dreadful extremity to which the common soldiers were reduced, Autaritus, Zarzas and Spendius decided to give themselves up to the enemy and discuss terms with Hamilcar. They therefore dispatched a herald, and when they had obtained leave to send envoys, they went, ten in all, to the Carthaginians. The terms Hamilcar made with them were, that the Carthaginians might choose from the enemy any ten they wished, the remainder being free to depart with one tunic apiece. These terms having been agreed to, Hamilcar at once said that by virtue of them he chose the ten envoys. By this means the Carthaginians got into their power Autaritus, Spendius, and the other principal leaders. The Libyans, when they learnt of their officers' arrest, thought they had been betrayed, as they were ignorant of the treaty, and rushed to arms, but Hamilcar, surrounding them (more than forty thousand) with his elephants and the rest of his forces, cut them all to pieces. This occurred near the place called the Saw; it got this name from its resemblance to the tool so called.
By this achievement Hamilcar again made the Carthaginians very hopeful of better fortune, although by this time they had nearly given up all for lost. In conjunction with Naravas and Hannibal he now raided the country and its towns. The Libyans in general gave in and went over to them owing to the recent victory, and after reducing most of the cities, the Carthaginians reached Tunis and began to besiege Mathos. Hannibal encamped on the side of the town next Carthage and Hamilcar on the opposite side. Their next step was to take Spendius and the other prisoners up to the walls and crucify them there in the sight of all. Mathos noticed that Hannibal was guilty of negligence and over-confidence, and attacking his camp, put many Carthaginians to the sword and drove them all out of the camp. All the baggage fell into the rebels' hands and they made Hannibal himself prisoner. Taking him at once to Spendius' cross they tortured him cruelly there, and then, taking Spendius down from the cross, they crucified Hannibal alive on it and slew round the body of Spendius thirty Carthaginians of the highest rank. Thus did Fortune, as if it were her design to compare them, give both the belligerents in turn cause and opportunity for inflicting on each other the cruellest punishments. Owing to the distance between the two camps it was some time before Hamilcar heard of the sortie and attack, and even then he was slow to give assistance owing to the difficult nature of the interjacent ground. He therefore broke up his camp before Tunis and on reaching the river Macaras, encamped at its mouth by the seaside.
The suddenness of this reverse took the Carthaginians by surprise, and they became again despondent and low-spirited. It was only the other day that their spirits had begun to revive so they at once fell again. Yet they did not omit to take steps for their safety. They appointed a committee of thirty senators and dispatched them to Hamilcar accompanied by Hanno, the general who had previously retired from command, but now resumed it, and by all their remaining citizens of military age, whom they had armed as a sort of forlorn hope. They enjoined these commissioners to put an end by all means in their power to the two generals' long-standing quarrel, and to force them, in view of the circumstances, to be reconciled. The senators, after they had brought the generals together, pressed them with so many and varied arguments, that at length Hanno and Barcas were obliged to yield and do as they requested. After their reconciliation they were of one mind, and consequently everything went as well as the Carthaginians could wish, so that Mathos, unsuccessful in the many partial engagements which took place around the place called Leptis and some other cities, at length resolved to decide matters by a general battle, the Carthaginians being equally anxious for this. Both sides then, with this purpose, called on all their allies to join them for the battle and summoned in the garrisons from the towns, as if about to stake their all on the issue. When they were each ready to attack, they drew up their armies confronting each other and at a preconcerted signal closed. The Carthaginians gained the victory, most of the Libyans falling in the battle, while the rest escaped to a certain city and soon afterwards surrendered, but Mathos himself was taken by the enemy.
The rest of Libya at once submitted to Carthage after the battle, but Hippacritae and Utica still held out, feeling they had no reasonable grounds to expect terms in view of their having been so proof to all considerations of mercy and humanity when they first rebelled. This shows us that even in such offences it is most advantageous to be moderate and abstain from unpardonable excesses willingly. However, Hanno besieging one town and Barcas the other soon compelled them to accept such conditions and terms as the Carthaginians thought fit to impose.
This Libyan war, that had brought Carthage into such peril, resulted not only in the Carthaginians regaining possession of Libya, but in their being able to inflict exemplary punishment on the authors of the rebellion. The last scene in it was a triumphal procession of the young men leading Mathos through the town and inflicting on him all kinds of torture. This war had lasted for three years and four months, and it far excelled all wars we know of in cruelty and defiance of principle.
The Romans about the same time, on the invitation of the mercenaries who had deserted to them from Sardinia, undertook an expedition to that island. When the Carthaginians objected on the ground that the sovereignty of Sardinia was rather their own than Rome's, and began preparations for punishing those who were the cause of its revolt, the Romans made this the pretext of declaring war on them, alleging that the preparations were not against Sardinia, but against themselves. The Carthaginians, who had barely escaped destruction in this last war, were in every respect ill-fitted at this moment to resume hostilities with Rome. Yielding therefore to circumstances, they not only gave up Sardinia, but agreed to pay a further sum of twelve hundred talents to the Romans to avoid going to war for the present. Such then was the nature of these events.