It would scarcely have been easy even for any good and moderate king, succeeding one so deeply rooted in their affections as Hiero was, to obtain the favour of the Syracusans.
But Hieronymus, forsooth, as if he was desirous of exciting regret for the loss of his grandfather by his own vices, showed, immediately on his first appearance, how completely every thing was changed.
For those who for so many years had seen Hiero and his son Gelon differing from the rest of the citizens neither in the fashion of their dress nor any other mark of distinction, now beheld the purple, the diadem, and armed guards, and their
king sometimes proceeding from his palace in a chariot drawn by four white horses, according to the custom of the tyrant Dionysius.
This costliness in equipage and appearance was accompanied by corresponding contempt of everybody, capricious airs, insulting expressions, difficulty of access, not to strangers only, but even to his guardians also, unheard of lusts, inhuman cruelty.
Terror so great took possession of every body therefore, that some of his guardians, either by a voluntary death, or by exile, anti- [p. 902]
cipated the terror of his inflictions.
Three of those persons to whom alone belonged a more familiar access to the palace, Andranodorus and Zoippus, sons-in-law of Hiero, and one Thraso, were not much attended to upon other subjects; but the two former exerting themselves in favour of the Carthaginians, while Thraso argued for the Roman alliance, they sometimes engaged the attention of the young king by their zeal and earnestness.
It was at this time that a conspiracy formed against the life of the tyrant was discovered by a certain
servant, of the same age as Hieronymus, who from his very childhood had associated with him on entirely familiar terms. The informer was able to name one of the conspirators, Theodotus, by whom he himself had been solicited.
He was immediately seized, and delivered to Andranodorus to be subjected to torture, when, without hesitation, he confessed as to himself, but concealed his accomplices.
At last, when racked with every species of torture, beyond the power of humanity to bear, pretending to be overcome by his sufferings, he turned his accusation from the guilty to the innocent, and feigned that Thraso was the originator of the plot, without whose able guidance, he said, they
never would have been bold enough to attempt so daring a deed, he threw the guilt upon such innocent men, near the king's person, as appeared to him to be the most worthless, while fabricating his story amid groans and agonies.
The naming of Thraso gave the highest degree of credibility to the story in the mind of the tyrant. Accordingly he was immediately given up to punishment, and others were added who were equally innocent.
Not one of the conspirators, though their associate in the plot was for a long time subjected to torture, either concealed himself or fled; so great was their confidence in the fortitude and fidelity of Theodotus, and so great was his firmness in concealing their secret.