Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Inside the walls of Carthage a vast army of mercenaries gathers in the gardens of Hamilcar. There are Ligurians, Lusitanians, nomadic barbarians from North Africa, Romans, Greeks, Gauls, and Egyptians. A feast for these thousands of hired warriors is in preparation. Odors of cooking food come from Hamilcar’s kitchens, and the Council of Elders provides many oxen to roast over the open fires in the gardens. The men, tired from their defeat at the hands of the Romans and weary from the sea journey over the Mediterranean, wait with ill-concealed impatience for the feasting to begin.
More than that, they are in an ugly mood because they were not paid. Hamilcar, their beloved leader even in defeat, promises them their pay many times. The city elders, however, parsimonious and afraid of this huge assembly of fierce foreigners, withholds the pay. Offers of token payment are angrily refused.
While the revelry is at its height, many men are emboldened by drink and began to pillage the palace of Hamilcar. In a private lake, surrounded by a heavy hedge, they find fish with jewels in their gill flaps. With joy they ruthlessly tear off the gems and boil the sacred fish for their feast. The slaves bring new foods and fresh casks of wine for the drunken revelers. Then above them on a high balcony appears Salammbô, the priestess of the moon goddess and daughter of Hamilcar. Her great beauty stills the wild barbarians. She calls down a malediction on their...
(The entire section is 1373 words.)
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