The impetuosity of the soldiers having been checked, time and opportunity to escape were given to the deserters in the Achradina;
and the Syracusans, at length delivered from their fears, threw open the gates of the Achradina, and sent deputies to Marcellus, requesting only safety for themselves and children.
Having summoned a council, to which the Syracusans were invited who were among the Roman troops, having been driven from home during the disturbances, Marcellus replied, “that the services rendered by Hiero through a period of fifty years, were not more in number than the injuries committed against the Roman people in these few years by those who had had possession of Syracuse;
but that most of these injuries had justly recoiled upon their authors, and that they had inflicted much more severe punishment upon themselves for the violation of treaties, than the Roman people desired.
That he was indeed now besieging Syracuse for the third year, but not that the Romans might hold that state in a condition of slavery, but that the ringleaders of the deserters might not keep it in a state of thraldom and oppression.
What the Syracusans could do was exemplified, either by the conduct of those Syracusans who were among the Roman troops, or that of the Spanish general, Mericus, who had delivered up the post which he was appointed to command, or, lastly, by the late but bold measure adopted by the Syracusans themselves.
That the greatest possible recompence for all the evils and dangers which he had for so long a time undergone, both by sea and land, around the walls [p. 1002]
of Syracuse, was the reflection, that he had been able to take that city.”
The quaestor was then sent with a guard to the island, to receive and protect the royal treasure. The city was given up to be plundered by the soldiery, after guards had been placed at each of the houses of those who had been with the Roman troops.
While many acts exhibited horrid examples of rage and rapacity, it is recorded that Archimedes, while intent on some figures which he had described in the dust, although the confusion was as great as could possibly exist in a captured city, in which soldiers were running up and down in search of plunder, was put to death by a soldier, who did not know who he was;
that Marcellus was grieved at this event, and that pains were taken about his funeral, while his relations also, for whom diligent inquiry was made, derived honour and protection from his name and memory.
Such, for the most part, was the manner in which Syracuse was captured.
The quantity of booty was so great, that had Carthage itself, which was carrying on a contest on equal terms, been captured, it would scarcely have afforded so much.
A few days before the taking of Syracuse, Titus Otacilius passed over from Lilybaeum to Utica with eighty quinqueremes, and entering the harbour before it was light, took some transports laden with corn; then landing, he laid waste a considerable portion of the country around Utica, and brought back to his ships booty of every description.
He returned to Lilybaeum, the third day after he set out, with a hundred and thirty transports laden with corn and booty.
The corn he sent immediately to Syracuse; and had it not been for the very seasonable arrival of this supply, a destructive famine threatened alike the victors and the vanquished.