While affairs were in this unsettled state, it was resolved to call an assembly; in which, when some leaned to one side and some to the other, and an insurrection being on the point of breaking out, Apollonides, one of the nobles, delivered a speech fraught with salutary advice, considering the critical state of affairs:
“Never,” he said, “had a state a nearer prospect of safety and annihilation.
For if they would all unanimously espouse the cause either of the Romans or the Carthaginians, there could be no state whose condition would be more prosperous and happy;
but if they pulled different ways, the war between the Romans and Carthaginians would not be more bloody than that which would take place between the Syracusans themselves, in which both the contending parties would have their forces, their troops, and their generals, within the same walls. Every exertion ought there- [p. 930]
fore to be made that all might think alike.
Which alliance would be productive of the greater advantages, was a question of quite a secondary nature, and of less moment;
though the authority of Hiero ought to be followed in preference to that of Hieronymus in the selection of allies, and a friendship of which they had had a happy experience through a space of fifty years, ought to be chosen rather than one now untried and formerly unfaithful.
That it ought also to have some weight in their deliberations, that peace with the Carthaginians might be refused in such a manner as not immediately, at least, to have a war with them, while with the Romans they must forthwith have either peace or war.”
The less of party spirit and warmth appeared in this speech the greater weight it had. A military council also was united with the praetors and a chosen body of senators; the commanders of companies also, and the prefects of the allies, were ordered to consult conjointly.
After the question had been agitated with great warmth, at length, as there appeared to be no means of carrying on a war with the Romans, it was resolved that a treaty of peace should be formed, and that ambassadors should be sent with those from Rome to ratify the same.