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Internal strife rocks ancient Carthage as a group of mercenaries led by Mathos threaten to destroy the city if they are not paid for their services during the First Punic War. Salammbo, daughter of General Hamilcar, promises payment in jewels to Mathos, with whom she has fallen in love. Narr Havas, greedy for money and in love with Salammbo, fills the jewel chests with rocks, however, causing the angry mercenaries to again march on Carthage. They are stopped by General Hamilcar's army, Narr Havas is executed after his plot is revealed, and Salammbo and Mathos are reunited.