Monday 9 September 2013

The Mercenary War- Part 2

Mattan and Spendius were becoming desperate with worry.  Abd-Melqart's leniency and mercy towards rebel prisoners who had been captured would probably lead many of their soldiers to desert to his side.  They needed to do something quickly.  Eventually they decided to use the Gaul, Autharitus.  He went around telling the rebels that the Canaanite prisoners, including Abd-Melqart's officer Ger-sakkun (who had first signed the treaty at the end of the war with the Romans), were plotting a rebellion.  This caused an outrage among the rebels, and Ger-sakkun and the captured Canaanites were brought out into the open.  They were then stoned to death in the rebel camp.  Abd-Melqart, horrified by this barbarism, announced a policy of equal measure towards any future rebel prisoners that he captured.  This pleased Mattan and Spendius, for now no rebel would think of deserting and allowing himself to be captured by Abd-Melqart.

Meanwhile, a rebellion in Shardana was beginning to take place.  Rebels killed the Canaanite soldiers stationed on the island.  A storm at sea sunk merchant ships bringing supplies from across the sea into Qart-Hadasht.  Worst of all, fellow Canaanite city-states and former allies Atiqa and Ippone killed the officers that Abd-Melqart had sent to garrison them and defected to the rebels.  Qart-Hadasht sent a number of soldiers under Hanno, who was previously stationed at Ippone to hold off Mattan's forces, to liberate Shardana.  But once on the island, the soldiers turned against him and killed his officers before joining the Shardanan rebels.  Things were looking very dark indeed.  But all was not lost, and the Addirim sent messengers to the Greek city-state of Syracuse on the island of Shekelesh asking for assistance.  King Hiero II of Syracuse sent more supplies to Qart-Hadasht.  Then things changed even more when Rome came to Qart-Hadasht's side.  After all, if the rebels won, Qart-Hadasht would no longer be able to pay all those talents in tribute.  Italian merchants were forbidden to trade with the rebels, and the Romans allowed the Qart-Hadashtim to recruit mercenaries in their lands.  Abd-Melqart sent an invitation to Hanno asking for co-operation, but Hanno sneered at this proposal, asking why he would want to join his rival general.  When the two generals refused to join together, the Addirim decided to choose one of them as sole in command.  The army was given the choice between choosing Abd-Melqart or Hanno as their leader, and they chose Abd-Melqart.  A deputy named Hannobaal, who was a war veteran, was elected to fight alongside him.  Meanwhile messengers from Rome arrived in Qart-Hadasht demanding that the captured Italian merchant ships be set free or else another war would begin.  The Addirim did not want another war on top of the current one, and so agreed to the terms. 

While all of this was going on in Qart-Hadasht, Spendius and Mattan planned to attack the city itself and cause terror and panic inside of its walls.  They rode out from Tunis and approached the great city walls from the land, arriving near the great inland lakes near the walls, where the city sewers emptied themselves into.  They then began to cause terror and panic on the streets within with their large army.

The city of Qart-Hadasht, with its great inland lakes nearby, on the edge of which the rebel forces were now camped
The great ships sailed out from the commercial port and went trading, and the merchants still poured into the markets selling food supplies and other goods, so the people were not starved.  However the rebels were becoming a threat.  In the meanwhile, another Phutite clan chief called Zarbats came with 50, 000 Phutite soldiers to join with Mattan.  Zarbats was leader of one of those tribes whom Abd-Melqart had been harassing with his conquests of nearby towns, and had come to join the attack.  There was still hope though.  Within the city, on the outskirts was a quarter called Megara.  It was a quarter of the city filled with gardens, vineyards, fruit trees, and flowing canals and irrigation ditches or streams.  The people here had slaves working the land, but none of the slaves had escaped Qart-Hadasht to join the rebels, thanks to the very liberal treatment of slaves as recommended by the great agricultural writer Magon.  So the Addirim and the free people of the city did not fear a slave revolt as well.

Abd-Melqart rode out from the city with his troops and began to harass the rebel supply lines.  In response, Spendius moved away from the city with the 50, 000 soldiers brought by Zarbats.  He constantly tried to shadow Abd-Melqart's army from the south, keeping to high ground to avoid the cavalry and elephants.  The Phutites had adopted the phalanx formation, and were hoping to spit the Qart-Hadashtim upon their spears.

Phutite infantry spearmen
Standing in the valley, they raised their hands to heaven and called upon the gods of their various clans.  There was ram-headed Ammon, and the lion-gods, and Lady Tanit the Blessed Mother, and Lady Aset, and the desert-raging Lord Set, the great sea god Yam, the warrior-god Gurzil who is in the form of a bull, and the rain god Anzar.  They didn't notice, though, that they were moving further and further away from Qart-Hadasht.  Backing off, they found themselves within a valley surrounded on three sides by mountains.  It was then that Abd-Melqart's forces sprung to close off the exits, and some 40, 000 men were trapped within the valley.  Zarbats told his men not to panic, but to calmly await Mattan to return with some more soldiers from Tunis.  But they did not come, and as the days grew on, the men became more and more desperate.  Food supplies quickly ran out.  In desperation, the starved Phutites turned towards slaughtering pack animals and cavalry horses, and then finally, each other.  It was a grim sight to see Phutites eating their fellow Phutites.  Finally, Zarbats could stand it no more.  He gathered seven other men and went to seek audience with Abd-Melqart in his camp.  He was joined by the Greek, Spendius, and by the Gaul, Autharitus.  Together, they entered the camp and were admitted into the general's tent.  They asked Abd-Melqart to let them all go free, and he agreed, provided that he be allowed to keep 10 of them as hostages.  The 10 rebels agreed, and Abd-Melqart announced that he would be keeping them as the hostages in his camp.

Meanwhile, the rebels in the valley began to suspect treachery, and quickly sallied forth to attack Abd-Melqart's camp.  The furious Canaanite ordered his army to fight back, and the Canaanites slaughtered the Phutites, with most of them being trampled to death by the elephants.

Having accomplished all of these things, Abd-Melqart marched his forces on to Tunis in order to confront Mattan.  To terrify Mattan's forces into submission, Abd-Melqart ordered that Spendius, Zarbats, Autharitus and the other 7 rebel hostages be brought forward and crucified before the city walls.  He took up position on the south of the city, with his deputy Hannobaal taking position on the north.  Mattan was furious when he saw his fellows being killed in such a way, and with a vengeful fury he charged out on the north side of the city, defeating Hannobaal's forces and forcing Abd-Melqart to flee to the mouth of the Bagrada River.  Hannobaal himself was captured, along with 30 members of the Addirim, and all were crucified by Mattan on the same crosses which Abd-Melqart had used to crucify Spendius and the others.  Mattan then retreated from the city and escaped.  Being a devotee of the mother goddess Tanit, he prayed for safety as he fled.

Crucifixion was a gruesome punishment used by both Abd-Melqart and Mattan during the course of this war
At this point, the Addirim anointed Hanno again, to serve as a general alongside his rival, Abd-Melqart.  The two did not get on well together, but joined on this occasion to pursue Mattan.  They won several small-scale invasions, but fought and fought until at last they defeated Mattan's forces near the town of Lepki.  The rebels were completely destroyed.  The Phutites were all defeated or killed, and the same fate was shared by the rebel mercenaries; the Shekelesh, the Shardanans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Thracians, the Scythians, the Tereshites, the Italians, the Celtiberians, and the Celts from Gaul.  It was a vicious and brutal war, cruel and merciless to all sides, but Abd-Melqart and Hanno emerged victorious by that winter.  The surrounding Phutite towns submitted once again to Qart-Hadasht.  But now arms had to be turned to fellow Canaanites, for Atiqa and Ippone still considered themselves enemies of Qart-Hadasht.  Abd-Melqart and Hanno besieged those cities, and they surrendered.  The remaining Numidian tribes which had sided with the rebels were also conquered at this time.  As for Mattan, he was dragged back to Qart-Hadasht in chains, and was sent to walk through the streets while being attacked and eventually beaten to death by mobs of citizens.

There was one land still to conquer though: Shardana.  Recently the rebellion there grew to a height after the Shardanan rebels besieged a general called Bodashtart in a citadel and later executed him and his men after the fort fell.  The Addirim sent an expedition to Shardana with Abd-Melqart commanding the forces.  But the native Shardanans had thrown the rebels off the island already, and they had sailed to Italy, asking the Romans to take control of Shardana.  The Romans then sent troops to the islands of Shardana and Korsim, and seized them for themselves.  Qart-Hadasht lost control of these islands like they had lost control of the island of Shekelesh.  Hatred for the Romans once more flared up in the streets of that city.

Hanno returned to the governors' palace in Qart-Hadasht and returned to his position of power within the Addirim.  People were angry with them, including members of the navy and the merchants.  They were angry because Hanno had gotten rid of most of the navy and had hurt trade.  A young and handsome man named Hasdrubaal emerged as the leader of those who opposed Hanno.  The Addirim and Hanno needed a scapegoat to blame for both recent wars, and they settled on Abd-Melqart.  They blamed him for losing the first war with the Romans, and blamed him for making unrealistic promises to the mercenaries which led to the Mercenary War.  But Hasdrubaal allied himself with Abd-Melqart, and the general was looked upon highly by the commoners as the hero who had returned home from battle in triumph and who had proven himself to be a great warrior and leader.  It was this that allowed him to avoid standing trial before the Tribunal of the Hundred and Four.  Victorious and fresh from battle, Abd-Melqart looked out from the citadel walls atop the Bozrah hill in the direction of the western sunset, with Hasdrubaal by his side.  He watched as Shamash descended into the underworld to judge the shades- the Rephaim- between the great mountains Targhizizi and Tharumagi which lay beyond the sea and beyond the Pillars of Melqart in the far west.  What new conquests awaited him in the future?  For now, only time would tell.

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