Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

HIS ADVANCE TO SYRACUSE.

303

over to Sicily with such complete safety and in such an extraordinary calm, that they drew their horses by the reins, they swimming along by them as the vessels went

across.

When they were all landed, Timoleon came to receive 20 them, and at once obtained possession of Messena ; from whence he marched in good order to Syracuse, trusting more to his late successes than his present strength, as the whole army he had then with him did not exceed four thousand. Mago however was troubled and fearful at the first notice of his coming, and grew more apprehensive and suspicious upon the following occasion. The marshes about Syracuse, that receive a great deal of fresh water, as well from springs as from lakes and rivers discharging themselves into the sea, breed abundance of eels, which may be always taken there in great quantities by any that will fish for them. The mercenary soldiers on both sides were wont to follow the sport together at their vacant hours and upon any cessation of arms; who, being all Greeks and having no cause of private enmity to each other, as they would venture bravely in fight, so in times of truce used to meet and converse amicably together, And at this present time, while engaged about this common business of fishing, they fell into talk together; and some expressing their admiration of the neighbouring sea, and others theirs of the buildings and public works, one of the Corinthian party took occasion to ask the others : “ And is it possible that you who are Grecians born, should be so forward to reduce a city of this greatness, and enjoying so many advantages, into the state of barbarism; and lend your

assistance

to plant Carthaginians, that are the worst and bloodiest of men, so much the nearer to us? whereas you should rather wish there were many more Sicilies between them and Greece. Have you so little sense as to believe, that they come hither with an army from the Pillars of Hercules and the Atlantic Sea, to hazard themselves for the establishment of Hicetes? who if he had had the consideration which becomes a ruler, would never have thrown out his ancestors and founders to bring in the enemies of his country in the room of them, when he might have enjoyed all suitable honour and command, if he had but joined the cause of Timoleon and the Corinthians." The Greeks that were in pay with Hicetes spread these words about the camp, and gave Mago some ground to suspect, as indeed he had long sought for a pretence to be gone, that there was treachery contrived against him. So that although Hicetes entreated him to stay, and made it appear how much stronger they were than the enemy, yet conceiving they came far more short of Timoleon in respect of courage and fortune, than they surpassed him in number, he presently went aboard and set sail for Africa, letting Sicily escape out of his hands with dishonour to himself, and for such uncertain causes, that no human

reason could be given to explain his departure. 21 The day after he went away, Timoleon came up

before the city in array for a battle. But when he and his company heard of this sudden flight, and saw the docks all empty, they could not forbear laughing at the cowardice of Mago, and in mockery caused proclamation 10 be made through the city, that a reward would be given to any one who could bring tidings whither the

SYRACUSE RECOVERED.

305

cuse.

Carthaginian fleet had conveyed itself away. However, Hicetes resolving to fight it out alone, and not quitting his hold of the city, but sticking close to the quarters he was in possession of, places that were well fortified and not easy to be attacked, Timoleon divided Capture

of Syrahis forces into three parts, and himself attacked the side where the river Anapus runs, which was most difficult of access; and commanded others under Isias, a Corinthian captain, to make their assault from Achradina, while Dinarchus and Demaretus, who brought him the last supply from Corinth, were with a third division to attempt the quarter of Epipolæ. A considerable impression being made from every side at once, the soldiers of Hicetes were beaten off and put to flight; and this

—that the city came to be taken by storm, and fell quickly into their hands, upon the defeat and rout of the enemy— we must in justice ascribe to the valour of the assailants, and the conduct of their general; but that not so much as a man of the Corinthians was either slain or wounded in the action, this the good fortune of Timoleon seems to challenge for her own work, as though in a sort of rivalry with his own personal exertions she made it her aim to exceed and obscure his actions by her favours, that those who heard him commended for his noble deeds, might rather admire the happiness, than the merit of them. For the fame of what was done not only passed through all Sicily and Italy, but even Greece itself after a few days came to ring with the greatness of his exploit; insomuch that the people of Corinth, who had as yet no certainty that their auxiliaries were landed on the island, had tidings brought them at the same time that they were safe and

were conquerors. In so prosperous a course did affairs run, and such was the speed and celerity of execution with which fortune, as with a new ornament, set off the

native lustre of the performance. 22 Timoleon, now master of the citadel, avoided the

error of which Dion had been guilty. He spared not the place for the beauty and sumptuousness of its fabric, and, keeping clear of those suspicions which occasioned first the unpopularity and afterwards the fall of Dion, made a public crier give notice, that all the Syracusans who were willing to have a hand in the work, should bring pick-axes and mattocks, and other instruments, and help him to demolish the fortifications of the tyrants. When they all came up with one accord, looking upon that order and that day as the surest foundation of their liberty, they not only pulled down the castle, but overturned the palaces and monuments adjoining, and whatever else might preserve any memory of the tyrants. Having soon levelled and cleared the place, he there erected courts for administration of justice, gratifying the citizens by this means, and building up popular government on the fall and ruin of tyranny. But since he had recovered a city destitute of inhabitants, some of them being dead in civil wars and seditions, and others in exile to escape tyrants, so that through solitude and want of people the great market-place of Syracuse was overgrown with such quantity of rank herbage that it became a pasture for their horses, the grooms lying along in the grass as they fed by them; while also other towns, very few excepted, were become full of stags and wild boars, so that those who had nothing else to do went hunting,

SYRACUSE RECOVERED.

307

and found game in the suburbs and about the walls; and not one of those who had possessed themselves of castles, or made garrisons in the country, could be persuaded to quit their present abode, or would accept an invitation to return back into the city, so much did they all dread and abhor the very name of assemblies, and forms of government, and public speaking, that had produced the greater part of those usurpers, who had successively assumed a dominion over them,—Timoleon therefore with the Syracusans that remained, considering this vast desolation, and how little hope there was to have it otherwise supplied, thought good to write to the Corinthians, requesting that they would send a colony out of Greece to repeople Syracuse. For else the land about it would lie unimproved; and beside this they expected a greater war from Africa, having news that Mago had killed himself, and that the Carthaginians, out of rage for his ill conduct in the late expedition, had nailed his body on a cross, and that they were raising a mighty force, to make a descent upon Sicily next summer.

These letters from Timoleon being delivered at 23 Corinth, and the ambassadors of Syracuse beseeching them at the same time, that they would take upon

them the care of their city, and once again become the founders of it, the Corinthians were not tempted by any feeling of cupidity to lay hold of the advantage; nor did they seize and appropriate the city to themselves, but going about first to the games that are kept as sacred in Greece, and to the most numerously attended religious assemblages, they made publication by heralds, that the Corinthians, having destroyed the usurpation

« AnteriorContinuar »