There was a daughter of Hiero, named Heraclea, the wife of Zoippus, who, having been sent by Hieronymus as ambassador to king Ptolemy, had become a voluntary exile.
As soon as she was apprized that they were coming to her also, she fled for refuge into the chapel to the household gods, accompanied by her two virgin daughters, with dishevelled hair, and other marks of wretchedness.
In addition to this, she had recourse to prayers also; she implored them “by the memory of her father, Hiero, and her brother, Gelon, that they would not suffer her, a guiltless person, to be consumed by their hatred of Hieronymus.
That all that she had derived from his reign was the exile of her husband. That neither did she enjoy the same advantages as her sister while Hieronymus was alive, nor was her cause the same as hers now he was dead. What?
Though her sister would have shared the throne with Andranodorus, had he succeeded in his designs, she must have been in servitude with the rest.
Can any one doubt, that if information should be conveyed to Zoippus that Hieronymus had been put to death, and that Syracuse was free, he would instantly embark and return to his native land. But how are all human hopes deceived!
His wife and children are struggling for their lives in his native land, now blessed with liberty! In what manner standing in the way of liberty or the laws?
What danger could arise to any one from them, from a solitary, and in a manner, widowed woman and girls living in a state of orphanage? But perhaps it will be granted that no danger is to be apprehended from them, but alleged that the whole royal family is detested.
If this were the case, she entreated that they would banish them far from Syracuse and Sicily, and order them to be conveyed to Alexandria, the wife to her husband, the daughters to their father.”
Seeing that their ears and minds were unimpressed, and that certain of them were drawing their swords to prevent a fruitless [p. 928]
consumption of time, she gave over entreating for herself, and began to implore them to “spare, at least, her daughters, at an age which even exasperated enemies spared.” She entreated them “that they would not, in their revenge on tyrants, themselves imitate the crimes which were odious to them.”
While thus employed, they dragged her from the sanctuary and murdered her;
and after that they fell upon the virgins, who were sprinkled with the blood of their mother; who, distracted alike by fear and grief, and as if seized with madness, rushed out of the chapel with such rapidity, that had there been an opening by which they might have escaped into the street, they would have filled the city with confusion.
As it was, they several times made their escape through the midst of so many armed men with their persons uninjured in the contracted space which the house afforded, and extricated themselves from their grasp, though they had to disengage themselves from so many and such strong hands; but at length enfeebled by wounds, and after covering every place with blood, they fell down lifeless.
This murder, piteous as it was in itself, was rendered still more so by its happening that a short time after it a message arrived that they should not be killed, as the minds of the people were now turned to compassion.
This compassion then gave rise to a feeling of anger, because so much haste had been shown in carrying the punishment into effect, and because no opportunity was left for relenting or retracing the steps of their passion.
The multitude therefore gave vent to their indignation, and demanded an election to supply the places of Andranodorus and Themistus, for both of them had been praetors; an election by no means likely to be agreeable to the praetors.