Thus on the removal of Thraso, who formed the only bond which held together the alliance with the Romans, immediately affairs clearly indicated defection.
Ambassadors were sent to Hannibal, who sent back in company with a young man of noble birth named Hannibal, Hippocrates and Epicydes, natives of Carthage, and of Carthaginian extraction on their mother's side, but whose grandfather was an exile from Syracuse.
Through their means an alliance was formed [p. 903]
between Hannibal and the tyrant of Syracuse; and, with the consent of Hannibal, they remained with the tyrant.
As soon as Appius Claudius, the praetor, whose province Sicily was, had received information of these events, he sent ambassadors to Hieronymus; who, upon stating that the object of their mission was to renew the alliance which had subsisted between the Romans and his grandfather, were heard and dismissed in an insulting manner, Hieronymus asking them sneeringly, “how they had fared at the battle of Cannae? for that the ambassadors of Hannibal stated what could hardly be credited.”
He said, “he wished to know the truth, in order that before he made up his mind, he might determine which he should espouse as offering the better prospect.”
The Romans replied, that they would return to him when he had learned to receive embassies with seriousness; and, after having cautioned, rather than requested him, not rashly to change his alliance, they withdrew. Hieronymus sent ambassadors to Carthage, to conclude a league in conformity with the alliance with Hannibal.
It was settled in the compact, that after they had expelled the Romans from Sicily, (which would speedily be effected if the Carthaginians sent ships and troops,) the river Himera, which divides the island in nearly equal portions, should be the limit of the Carthaginian and Syracusan dominions.
Afterwards, puffed up by the flattery of those persons who bid him be mindful, not of Hiero only, but of king Pyrrhus, his maternal grandfather, he sent another embassy, in which he expressed his opinion that equity required that the whole of Sicily should be conceded to him, and that the dominion of Italy should be acquired as the peculiar possession of the Carthaginians.
This levity and inconstancy of purpose in a hot-headed youth, did not excite their surprise, nor did they reprove it, anxious only to detach him from the Romans.