In this confused state of affairs it 'was1
decided to summon the people to an assembly. There while some inclined in one direction, some in another, and an uprising was not far away, Apollonides, one of the leading citizens, made a speech which was well-advised, considering the crisis.
He said that neither the prospect of safety nor that of destruction had ever been nearer to any state.
For if with one mind they should all incline, whether to the Romans or to the Carthaginians, no state would be in a more highly favoured and happier condition.
If they pulled in different directions, war between Carthaginians and Romans would not be more cruel than that among the Syracusans themselves, since within the same walls each side would have its own armies, its own weapons, its own generals. Accordingly they must make the greatest effort to reach agreement.
Which alliance was the more advantageous was a question decidedly subordinate and of far less weight.
Yet Hiero's authority ought to be followed in choosing allies rather than that of Hieronymus; in other words, a friendship which had proved happy for fifty years should be preferred to one unknown at present and formerly faithless.
For their decision it was also of considerable importance that they could decline the Carthaginians' offer of peace without necessarily waging war with them at once. With the Romans they must straightway have either peace or-war.
The less of party passion the speech seemed to have, the greater was its influence. To the magistrates and picked senators they added a military council also. Commanders of units and prefects of auxiliaries as well were ordered to take part in the deliberations.
After the question had been repeatedly debated with [p. 267]
great contention, finally, as they evidently had no2
means of carrying on a war with the Romans, it was decided to make an alliance with them, and to send ambassadors for the ratification.