The day was fixed for the election, when, to the surprise of all, one person from the extremity of the crowd nominated Epicydes, and then another from the same quarter nominated Hippocrates. Afterwards the voices in favour of these persons increased with the manifest approbation of the multitude.
The assembly was one of a heterogeneous character, consisting not only of the commons, but a crowd of soldiers, with a large admixture even of deserters, who were desirous of innovation in every thing.
The praetors, at first, concealed their feelings, and were for protracting the business; but at length, overcome by the general opinion, [p. 929]
and apprehensive of a sedition, they declared them the prae- tors.
These did not, however, immediately openly avow their sentiments, though they were chagrined that ambassadors had been sent to Appius Claudius to negotiate a ten days' truce, and that on obtaining this, others were sent to treat for the renewal of the old alliance.
The Romans, with a fleet of a hundred ships, were then stationed at Murgantia, waiting the issue of the commotion raised at Syracuse by the death of the tyrants, and to what their recent acquisition of liberty would impel the people.
Meanwhile, the Syracusan ambassadors were sent by Appius Claudius to Marcellus on his coming into Sicily, and Marcellus having heard the conditions of peace, and being of opinion that matters might be brought to a settlement, himself also sent ambassadors to Syracuse to treat with the praetors in person on the renewal of the alliance.
But now by no means the same state of quiet and tranquillity existed there. Hippocrates and Epicydes, their fears being removed, after that intelligence had arrived that a Carthaginian fleet had put in at Pachynum, complained sometimes to the mercenary soldiers, at other times to the deserters, that Syracuse was being betrayed to the Romans.
And when Appius began to station his ships at the mouth of the port, in order to inspire the other party with courage, their false insinuations appeared to receive great corroboration;
and on the first impulse, the populace had even run down in a disorderly manner to prevent them from disembarking.