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Rome Supports the Mamertines

In spite of protracted deliberations, the conflict of
The Senate shirk the responsibility of decision. The people vote for helping the Mamertines.
motives proved too strong, after all, to allow of the Senate coming to any decision; for the inconsistency of aiding the Messenians appeared to them to be evenly balanced by the advantages to be gained by doing so. The people, however, had suffered much from the previous wars, and wanted some means of repairing the losses which they had sustained in every department. Besides these national advantages to be gained by the war, the military commanders suggested that individually they would get manifest and important benefits from it. They accordingly voted in favour of giving the aid.
B. C. 264. Appius Claudius Caudex. M. Fulvius Flaccus, Coss.
The decree having thus been passed by the people, they elected one of the consuls, Appius Claudius, to the command, and sent him out with instructions to cross to Messene and relieve the Mamertines. These latter managed, between threats and false representations, to oust the Carthaginian commander who was already in possession of the citadel, invited Appius in, and offered to deliver the city into his hands. The Carthaginians crucified their commander for what they considered to be his cowardice and folly in thus losing the citadel; stationed their fleet near Pelorus; their land forces at a place called Synes; and laid vigorous siege to Messene.
Hiero joins Carthage in laying siege to the Mamertines in Messene. Appius comes to the relief of the besieged, B. C. 264.
Now at this juncture Hiero, thinking it a favourable opportunity for totally expelling from Sicily the foreigners who were in occupation of Messene, made a treaty with the Carthaginians. Having done this, he started from Syracuse upon an expedition against that city. He pitched his camp on the opposite side to the Carthaginians, near what was called the Chalcidian Mount, whereby the garrison were cut off from that way out as well as from the other. The Roman Consul Appius, for his part, gallantly crossed the strait by night and got into Messene. But he found that the enemy had completely surrounded the town and were vigorously pressing on the attack; and he concluded on reflection that the siege could bring him neither credit nor security so long as the enemy commanded land as well as sea. He accordingly first endeavoured to relieve the Mamertines from the contest altogether by sending embassies to both of the attacking forces.
After vain attempts at negotiation, Appius determines to attack Hiero.
Neither of them received his proposals, and at last, from sheer necessity, he made up his mind to hazard an engagement, and that he would begin with the Syracusans. So he led out his forces and drew them up for the fight: nor was the Syracusan backward in accepting the challenge, but descended simultaneously to give him battle.
Hiero is defeated, and returns to Syracuse.
After a prolonged struggle, Appius got the better of the enemy, and chased the opposing forces right up to their entrenchments. The result of this was that Appius, after stripping the dead, retired into Messene again, while Hiero, with a foreboding of the final result, only waited for nightfall to beat a hasty retreat to Syracuse.

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