were sent to Hannibal, and he sent back with a young noble named Hannibal2
also Hippocrates and Epicydes, [p. 193]
who were born at Carthage but Syracusans by origin3
(their grandfather being an exile), Carthaginians themselves on the mother's side. Through these men an alliance was made between Hannibal and the tyrant of Syracuse, and with Hannibal's consent they remained with the tyrant.
Appius Claudius, the praetor, whose province was Sicily, on learning of this, forthwith sent legates to Hieronymus. While they were saying that they had come to renew the alliance which they had had with his grandfather, they were heard with derision and dismissed by Hieronymus, who in jest asked what success they had had in the battle at Cannae; for Hannibal's envoys reported what was scarcely to be believed.
He wished to know, he said, what the truth was, that he might accordingly determine from which side he had the more to hope.
The Romans departed, saying that they would return to him when he began to give a sober hearing to embassies, and warning rather than asking him not to be rash in changing his loyalty. Hieronymus sent ambassadors to Carthage to make a treaty in accordance with the alliance arranged with Hannibal. The agreement was that, after they had driven the Romans out of Sicily (and this would be shortly done if they
would send ships and an army), the river Himera, which nearly divides the island in halves, should be the boundary of the kingdom of Syracuse and the Carthaginian empire.
Thereupon, puffed up by the flatteries of those who bade him remember not Hiero only but also King Pyrrhus, his maternal grandfather,4
Hieronymus sent another embassy, through which he declared it was fair for them to yield all Sicily to him, and for the Carthaginian people to seek their own dominion over Italy. [p. 195]
At this trifling and boastful spirit in a madcap youth5
they did not wonder, nor find fault either, provided they made him break with the Romans.
VII. But in everything he was on the verge of ruin.
For after sending Hippocrates and Epicydes in advance, each with two thousand armed men, to attack the cities which were held by Roman garrisons, he too setting out with all the rest of the army —and they were about fifteen thousand infantry and cavalry —had gone to Leontini.6
The conspirators all of whom, as it happened, were in the army, took possession of an empty house looking down upon the narrow street by which the king used to go down to the market-place.
There, while the rest, drawn up under arms, were to stand waiting for him to pass, one of them —his name was Dinomenes —, as being a body-guard, was assigned the rôle of halting, on some pretext, the column following the king in the narrow street, when he approached the door of the house. This was carried out as had been arranged.
Dinomenes, raising one foot and pretending to loosen a knot drawn too tight, delayed the crowd and caused such a gap that, when the attack on the king was made as he passed without guards, he was stabbed with several thrusts before help could reach him. On hearing the shouting and uproar they hurled their weapons at Dinomenes, who was now obviously blocking the way.
In the midst of these, however, he escaped with only two wounds. The guards fled as soon as they saw the king lying there.
Of the assassins some proceeded to the market-place and into a crowd which rejoiced in its freedom, some to Syracuse to forestall the designs of Adranodorus and the other supporters of the king. In the unsettled [p. 197]
state of affairs Appius Claudius, seeing a war7
beginning near at hand, informed the senate by letter that Sicily was being won over to the Carthaginian people and Hannibal.
For his own part, to meet the schemes of the Syracusans, he concentrated all his garrisons on the frontier between the province and the kingdom.8
At the end of that year Quintus Fabius9
by the authority of the senate fortified and garrisoned Puteoli, which as a commercial centre had grown in population during the war.
Then, while on his way to Rome to hold the elections, he proclaimed them for the first date available for an election, and without stopping passed the city and came down to the Campus.10
On the day set the right to vote first fell to the century of the younger men of the Aniensis tribe, and it named Titus Otacilius and Marcus Aemilius Regillus as consuls. Thereupon Quintus Fabius, after silence had been made, spoke somewhat as follows: