after these decrees of the senate were completed, the consuls cast lots for their provinces. Sicily and the fleet fell to Marcellus, Italy with the war against Hannibal to Laevinus.
that allotment, just as if Syracuse had again been captured, so badly frightened the Sicilians, who were standing before the eyes of the consuls while awaiting the result, that their lamentation and tearful voices at once attracted the eyes of men and later occasioned remark.
for [p. 113]
they went the rounds of the senators' houses in1
mourning garb, asserting that they would not only leave, each group of them, their native city, but all Sicily, if Marcellus should return again in command.
for no fault of theirs he had before been merciless to them; what would he do when angry, knowing that Sicilians had come to Rome to complain about himself? it was better for that island to be overwhelmed by the fires of Aetna or sunk in the strait than to be handed over as it were to a personal foe for punishment.
these complaints of the Sicilians, at first circulated in the homes of the nobles, and repeated in conversations inspired partly by pity for the Sicilians, partly by antagonism to Marcellus, even reached the senate. it was demanded of the consuls that they raise in the senate the question of an exchange of provinces.
Marcellus said that, if the Sicilians had already been heard by the senate, his opinion would perhaps have been different.
as it was, to prevent any one from saying that they were restrained by fear from freely complaining about the man in whose power they would presently be, he was ready, if it was of no consequence to his colleague, to exchange his province.
he deprecated, he said, a verdict from the senate in advance;2
for, granted that it would have been unfair for the choice of a province to be given to his colleague without casting lots, how much greater was the injustice, or rather the insult, if his own allotment should be transferred to that colleague?
accordingly the senate adjourned, after showing what it favoured, but making no such decree.
between themselves the consuls made an exchange of provinces, for Fate was sweeping Marcellus in the [p. 115]
direction of Hannibal.
the result was that he who,3
after the greatest reverses, had been the first to win from Hannibal the glory of a battle that was not a reverse,4
added to his opponent's fame, being the last of the Roman commanders to fall,5
at the very moment of success in the war.