After this conference, he returned into the citadel, and assembling his soldiers, thus addressed them: “Soldiers, I suppose you have heard in what manner the Roman garrisons have been betrayed and cut off by the Sicilians of late.
You have escaped the same treachery, first by the kindness of the gods, and secondly by your own good conduct, in unremittingly standing and watching under arms. I wish the rest of our time may be passed without suffering or committing dreadful things.
This caution, which we have hitherto employed, has been directed against covert treachery, but not succeeding in this as they wished, they now publicly and openly demand back the keys of the gates; but as soon as we shall have delivered them up, Enna will be instantly in the hands of the Carthaginians, and we shall be butchered under circumstances more horrid than those with which the garrison of Murgantia were massacred.
I have with difficulty procured a delay of one night for deliberation, that I might employ it in acquainting you with the danger which threatens you.
At daybreak they intend holding a general assembly for the purpose of criminating me, and stirring up the people against you; to-morrow, therefore, Enna will be inundated either with your blood, or that of its own inhabit- [p. 942]
ants. If they are beforehand with you, you will have no hope left; but if you anticipate their proceedings, you will have no danger.
Victory will belong to that side which shall have drawn the sword first. You shall all, therefore, full armed, attentively wait the signal. I shall be in the assembly, and by talking and disputing will spin out the time till every thing shall be ready.
When I shall have given the signal with my gown, then, mind me! raising a shout on all sides, rush upon the multitude, and fell all before you with the sword, taking care that no one survive from whom either force or fraud can be apprehended.
You, mother Ceres and Proserpine, I entreat, and all ye other gods, celestial and infernal, who frequent this city and these consecrated lakes and groves, that you would lend us your friendly and propitious aid, as we adopt this measure not for the purpose of inflicting, but averting injury.
I should exhort you at greater length, my soldiers, if you were about to fight with armed men; men unarmed and off their guard, you will slay to satiety. The consul's camp too is near, so that nothing can be apprehended from Himilco and the Carthaginians.”