When they had all crossed over, Timoleon took them and at once occupied Messana, then, uniting them with his other forces, marched against Syracuse, relying on the good fortune and success that attended his efforts rather than on the strength of his army; for his followers were not more than four thousand in number. But when Mago got tidings of his approach, disturbed and fearful as he was, he was made still more suspicious for the following reason.
In the shoals about the city, which receive much fresh water from springs, and much from marshes and rivers emptying into the sea, great numbers of eels live, and there is always an abundance of this catch for anybody. These eels the mercenary soldiers on both sides, when they had leisure or a truce was on, used to hunt together. And since they were Greeks and had no reason for private hatred of one another, while in their battles they risked their lives bravely, in their times of truce they would visit and converse with one another.
And so now, as they were busy together with their fishing, they conversed, expressing their admiration of the richness of the sea and the character of the adjacent lands. And one of those who were serving on the Corinthian side said:
‘Can it really be that you, who are Greeks, are eager to barbarize a city of such great size and furnished with such great advantages, thus settling Carthaginians, who are the basest and bloodiest of men, nearer to us, when you ought to pray for many Sicilies to lie as a barrier between Greece and them?
Or do you suppose that they have collected an army and are come hither from the pillars of Heracles and the Atlantic sea in order to risk their lives in behalf of the dynasty of Hicetas? He, if he reasoned like a true leader, would not be casting out his kindred people, nor would he be leading against his country her natural enemies, but would be enjoying a befitting amount of honour and power, with the consent of Timoleon and the Corinthians.’ Such speeches as these the mercenaries disseminated in their camp, and made Mago suspicious of treachery, though he had long wanted a pretext for going away.
Therefore when Hicetas begged him to remain and tried to show him how much superior they were to their enemies, he thought rather that they were more inferior to Timoleon in bravery and good fortune than they surpassed him in the number of their forces, and weighing anchor at once, sailed off to Libya, thus letting Sicily slip out of his hands disgracefully and for no reason that man could suggest.