|Do not fly Iberia
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Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts
Book XXIV Chapter 33: Negotiations and start of the siege of Syracuse.[214 BC]
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|The Romans, on receiving information of these events, immediately moved their camp from Leontini to Syracuse. It happened at this time that ambassadors were sent by Appius in a quinquereme, to make their way through the harbour. A quadrireme was sent in advance, which was captured as soon as it entered the mouth of the harbour, and the ambassadors with difficulty made their escape. And now not only the laws of peace but of war also were not regarded, when the Roman army pitched their camp at Olympium, a temple of Jupiter, a mile and a half from the city. From which place also it was thought proper that ambassadors should be sent forward; these were met by Hippocrates and Epicydes with their friends without the gate, to prevent their entering the city. The Roman, who was appointed to speak, said that "he did not bring war, but aid and assistance to the Syracusans, not only to such as, escaping from the midst of the carnage, fled to the Romans for protection, but to those also, who, overpowered by fear, were submitting to a servitude more shocking, not only than exile, but than death. Nor would the Romans suffer the horrid murder of their friends to go unavenged. If, therefore, those who had taken refuge with them were allowed to return to their country with safety, the authors of the massacre delivered up, and the Syracusans reinstated in the enjoyment of their liberty and laws, there would be no necessity for arms; but if these things were not done, they would direct their arms unceasingly against those who delayed them, whoever they might be." Epicydes replied, that "if they had been commissioned with any message for them, they would have given them an answer; and when the government of Syracuse was in the hands of those persons to whom they were come, they might visit Syracuse again. If they should commence hostilities, they would learn by actual experience that it was by no means the same thing to besiege Syracuse and Leontini." With this he left the ambassadors and closed the gate. The siege of Syracuse then commenced by sea and land at the same time; by land on the side of the Hexapylum; by sea on the side of the Achradina, the wall of which is washed by its waves; and as the Romans felt a confidence that as they had taken Leontini by the terror they occasioned on the first assault, they should be able in some quarter to effect an entrance into a city so desert, and diffused over so large an extent of ground, they brought up to the walls every kind of engine for besieging cities.