After the provinces had been exchanged, the Sicilians, on being introduced into the senate, discoursed largely on the constant fidelity of king Hiero to the Roman people, converting it into a public merit.
They said, “that the tyrants, Hieronymus, and, after him, Hippocrates and Epicydes, had been objects of detestation to them, both on other accounts and especially on account of their deserting the Romans to take [p. 1058]
part with Hannibal. For this cause Hieronymus was put to death by the principal young men among them, almost with the public concurrence, and a conspiracy was formed to murder Epicydes and Hippocrates, by seventy of the most distinguished of their youth;
but being left without support in consequence of the delay of Marcellus, who neglected to bring up his troops to Syracuse at the time agreed upon, they were all, on an indictment that was made, put to death by the tyrants.
That Marcellus, by the cruelty exercised in the sacking of Leontini, had given occasion to the tyranny of Hippocrates and Epicydes.
From that time the leading men among the Syracusans never ceased going over to Marcellus, and promising him that they would deliver the city to him whenever he pleased;
but that he, in the first instance, was disposed rather to take it by force, and afterwards, finding it impossible to effect his object by sea or land, after trying every means, he preferred having Syracuse delivered to him by Sosis, a brazier, and Mericus, a Spaniard, to receiving it from the principal men of Syracuse, who had so often offered it to him voluntarily to no purpose; doubtless in order that he might with a fairer pretext butcher and plunder the most ancient allies of the Roman people.
If it had not been Hieronymus who revolted to Hannibal, but the people and senate of Syracuse; if the body of the Syracusan people, and not their tyrants, Hippocrates and Epicydes, who held them in thraldrom, had closed the gates against Marcellus;
if they had carried on war with the Roman people with the animosity of Carthaginians, what more could Marcellus have done in hostility than he did, without levelling Syracuse with the ground?
Nothing indeed was left at Syracuse except the walls and gutted houses of her city, the temples of her gods broken open and plundered; her very gods and their ornaments having been carried away.
From many their possessions also were taken away, so that they were unable to support themselves and their families, even from the naked soil, the only remains of their plundered property. They entreated the conscript fathers, that they would order, if not all, at least such of their property as could be found and identified, to be restored to the owners.”
After they had made these complaints, Laevinus ordered them to withdraw from the senate-house, that the senate might deliberate
on their requests, when Marcellus exclaimed, “Nay, rather let [p. 1059]
them stay here, that I may reply to their charges in their presence, since we conduct your wars for you, conscript fathers, on the condition of having as our accusers those whom we have conquered with our arms. Of the two cities which have been captured this year, let Capua arraign Fulvius, and Syracuse Marcellus.”