The deputies having been brought back into the senate-house, the consul said: “I am not so unmindful of the dignity of the Roman people and of the office I fill as consul, conscript fathers, as to make a defence against charges brought by Greeks, had the inquiry related only to my own delinquency.
But it is not so much what I have done, as what they deserved to suffer, which comes into dispute. For if they were not our enemies, there was no difference between sacking Syracuse then, and when Hiero was alive.
But if, on the other hand, they have renounced their connexion with us, attacked our ambassadors sword in hand, shut us out of their city and walls, and defended themselves against us with an army of Carthaginians, who can feel indignant that they should suffer the hostilities they have offered? I turned away from the leading men of the Syracusans, when they were desirous of delivering up the city to me, and esteemed Sosis and Mericus as more proper persons for so important an affair.
Now you are not the meanest of the Syracusans, who reproach others with the meanness of their condition.
But who is there among you, who has promised that he would open the gates to me, and receive my armed troops within the city? You hate and execrate those who did so; and not even here can you abstain from speaking with insult of them; so far is it from being the case that you would yourselves have done any thing of the kind.
The very meanness of the condition of those persons, conscript fathers, with which these men reproach them, forms the strongest proof that I did not turn away from any man who was willing to render a service to our state.
Before I began the siege of Syracuse I attempted a peace, at one time by sending ambassadors, at another time by going to confer with them; and after that they refrained not from laying violent hands on my ambassadors, nor would give me an answer when I held an interview with their chief men at their gates, then, at length, after suffering many hard- ships by sea and land, I took Syracuse by force of arms.
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what befell them after their city was captured they would complain with more justice to Hannibal, the Carthaginians, and those who were vanquished with them, than to the senate of the victorious people.
If, conscript fathers, I had intended to conceal the fact that I had despoiled Syracuse, I should never have decorated the city of Rome with her spoils. As to what things I either took from individuals or bestowed upon them, as conqueror, I feel assured that I have acted agreeably to the laws of war, and the deserts of each.
That you should confirm what I have done, conscript fathers, certainly concerns the commonwealth more than myself, since I have discharged my duty faithfully; but it is the duty of the state to take care, lest, by rescinding my acts, they should render other commanders for the time to come less zealous.
And since, conscript fathers, you have heard both what the Sicilians and I had to say, in the presence of each other, we will go out of the senate-house together, in order that in my absence the senate may deliberate more freely.” Accordingly, the Sicilians having been dismissed, he himself also went away to the Capitol to levy soldiers.