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Fall of Heronymus

Some of the historians who have described the fall of
Fall of Hieronymus, B. C. 214.
Hieronymus have written at great length and in terms of mysterious solemnity. They tell us of prodigies preceding his coming to the throne, and of the misfortunes of Syracuse. They describe in dramatic language the cruelty of his character and the impiety of his actions; and crown all with the sudden and terrible nature of the circumstances attending his fall. One would think from their description that neither Phalaris, nor Apollodorus, nor any other tyrant was ever fiercer than he. Yet he was a mere boy when he succeeded to power, and only lived thirteen months after. In this space of time it is possible that one or two men may have been put to the rack, or certain of his friends, or other Syracusan citizens, put to death; but it is improbable that his tyranny could have been extravagantly wicked, or his impiety outrageous. It must be confessed that he was reckless and unscrupulous in disposition; still we cannot compare him with either of the tyrants I have named. The fact is that those who write the histories of particular episodes, having undertaken limited and narrow themes, appear to me to be compelled from poverty of matter to exaggerate insignificant incidents, and to speak at inordinate length on subjects that scarcely deserve to be recorded at all. There are some, too, who fall into a similar mistake from mere want of judgment. With how much more reason might the space employed on these descriptions,—which they use merely to fill up and spin out their books,—have been devoted to Hiero and Gelo, without mentioning Hieronymus at all! It would have given greater pleasure to readers and more instruction to students.

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