In Sicily, the death of Hiero, and the transfer of the government to his grandson, Hieronymus, had completely altered all things with regard to the Romans. Hieronymus was but a boy, as yet scarcely able to bear liberty, still less sovereign power.
His guardians and friends gladly observed in him a disposition which might be easily plunged into every kind of vice; which Hiero foreseeing, is said to have formed an intention, in the latter part of his long life, of leaving Syracuse free, lest the sovereignty which had been acquired and established by honourable means, should be made a sport of and fall into ruin, under the administration of a boy.
This plan of his his daughters strenuously opposed, who anticipated that the boy would enjoy the name of royalty, but that the administration of all affairs would be conducted by themselves and their husbands, Andranodorus and Zoippus, for these were left the principal of his guardians.
It was not an easy task for a man in his ninetieth year, beset night and day by the winning artifices of women, to disenthral his judgment, and to consult only the good of the state in his domestic affairs.
Accordingly, all he did was to leave fifteen guardians over his son, whom he entreated, on his death-bed, to preserve inviolate that alliance with the Romans, which he had himself cultivated for fifty years, and to take care that the young king should, above all things, tread in the steps of his father, and in that course of conduct in which he had been educated. Such were his injunctions.
On the death of the king, the will was brought forward by the guardians, and the young king, who was now about fifteen, introduced into the public assembly, where a few persons, who had been placed in different parts on purpose to raise acclamations, expressed their approbation of the will;
while all the rest were overwhelmed with apprehensions, in the destitute condition of the state, which had lost as it were its parent.
The funeral of the king was then performed, which was honoured more by the love and affection of his citizens than the attentions of his kindred.
Andranodorus next effected the removal of the other guardians, giving out that Hieronymus had now attained the years of manhood, and was competent to assume the government; and thus, by voluntarily resigning the guardianship which he shared with several others, united the powers of all in himself.