Rome Supports the Mamertines
In spite of protracted deliberations, the conflict of
The Senate shirk the responsibility of decision. The people vote for helping the Mamertines.
motives proved too strong, after all, to allow of
the Senate coming to any decision; for the inconsistency of aiding the Messenians appeared
to them to be evenly balanced by the advantages
to be gained by doing so. The people, however,
had suffered much from the previous wars, and
wanted some means of repairing the losses which they had sustained in every department. Besides these national advantages
to be gained by the war, the military commanders suggested
that individually they would get manifest and important benefits
from it. They accordingly voted in favour of giving the aid.
B. C. 264. Appius Claudius Caudex. M. Fulvius Flaccus, Coss.
decree having thus been passed by the people,
they elected one of the consuls, Appius Claudius,
to the command, and sent him out with instructions to cross to Messene
and relieve the Mamertines. These latter managed, between threats
and false representations, to oust the Carthaginian commander
who was already in possession of the citadel, invited Appius
in, and offered to deliver the city into his hands. The Carthaginians crucified their commander for what they considered to
be his cowardice and folly in thus losing the citadel; stationed
their fleet near Pelorus; their land forces at a place called Synes;
and laid vigorous siege to Messene
Hiero joins Carthage in laying siege to the Mamertines in Messene. Appius comes to the relief of the besieged, B. C. 264.
Now at this juncture Hiero,
thinking it a favourable opportunity for totally
expelling from Sicily
the foreigners who were
in occupation of Messene
, made a treaty with
the Carthaginians. Having done this, he started
upon an expedition against that
city. He pitched his camp on the opposite
side to the Carthaginians, near what was called
the Chalcidian Mount, whereby the garrison were cut off from
that way out as well as from the other. The Roman Consul
Appius, for his part, gallantly crossed the strait by night and
got into Messene
. But he found that the enemy had completely surrounded the town and were vigorously pressing on
the attack; and he concluded on reflection that the siege
could bring him neither credit nor security so long as the enemy
commanded land as well as sea. He accordingly first endeavoured
to relieve the Mamertines from the contest altogether
by sending embassies to both of the attacking forces.
After vain attempts at negotiation, Appius determines to attack Hiero.
of them received his proposals, and at last,
from sheer necessity, he made up his mind to
hazard an engagement, and that he would begin with the Syracusans. So he led out his
forces and drew them up for the fight: nor was
the Syracusan backward in accepting the challenge, but descended simultaneously to give him battle.
Hiero is defeated, and returns to Syracuse.
After a prolonged
struggle, Appius got the better of the enemy,
and chased the opposing forces right up to
their entrenchments. The result of this was
that Appius, after stripping the dead, retired into Messene
again, while Hiero, with a foreboding of the final result, only
waited for nightfall to beat a hasty retreat to Syracuse