Charles Rollin.

The ancient history of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians ..., Volume 8 online

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worthy of a king. There was a levity and inconstancy in the cha-
racter of the Syracusans, which often inclined them to excessive and
violent resolutions ; but at bottom they were humane and equitable,
and no enemies to a just and reasonable obedience. The proof of
which is, that when they were governed with Mrisdom and modera-

• fdtyb. 1. 1, pi i& t IM4. ^ 84




tioQ, a« by 'nmoleon, they respected the authority of the lawi end

maenstrates, and obeyed them with joy.

Hiero was no sooner entered upon office, and had the supreme
authority confided to him, than he showed' his detestation for the
wretched policy of the tyrants ; who, considering the citizens as
their enemies, had no other Uioughts than to weaken and intimidate
them, and reposed their whole confidence in the foreign soldiers, by
whom they were perpetually surroundad. He began by putting arms
into the hands of th6 citizens, formed them with care in the exer^
cises of war, and empbyed them in preference to aJl others.


Bi«ro*i pacUle reign. Re paitteolarly finroun agriculture. Re applies the abllltiee ot
Archimedes hit relation to the service of the public, and causes him to make an ia
finite number of machines for the defence m a besieged place. He dies very old,
and much legietted by the people.

When Hiero (Ittained the sovereign authority, his great aim was
to convince his subjects, less by his Words than his actions, that he
was infinitely remote from any design to the prejudice of their for-
tunes or liberty. He was not intent upon being feared, but upon be-
ing loved. He'looked upon himself less as their master, than as their
protector and father, ^fore his reign, the state had been divided
by two factions, that of the citizens and that of the soldiers; whose
differences, supported on both sides with great animosity, had oc-
casirned infinite mistbrtunes. He used his utmost endeavours to ex-
tinnruish all remains of this division, and to eradicate from their
minds all seeds of discord and misunderstanding. He seems to have
Fucceeded wonderfully in that respect, as, during a reign of more
than fifly years, no sedition or revolt disturbed the tranquillity of

What contributed most, without doubt, to this happy, calm, was
the particular care taken by Hiero to keep his subjects employed ;
to banish luxury and idleness, the parent of all vices, and the usual
source of all seditions, from his dominions; to support and improve
the natural fertility of his country; and to reflect honour upon
agriculture, which he considered as -ue certain means to render his
])eople happy, and to diffuse abundance throughout his kingdom.
The cultivation of lands, indeed, besides employing an infinite num-
ber of hands, which would otherwise remain idle and unprofitable,
draws into a country, by the exportation of grain, the riches of the
neighbouring nations, and turns their current into the houses of the
people, by a commerce which is renewed every year, and which is
the deserved fruit of their labour and industry. This is, and we
cannot repeat it too often, what ought to be the peculiar attention
of a wise government, as one of the most essential parts of wLo
and salutary policy, though unhappily too much neglected.

Hiero tpphed hunself entirely to this end. He did not thuik it


unworthy of the sovereigpty to study and make bimseif thoitnighly
master of all the rules of agriculture. He even gave himself th«
trouble to compose books upon that subject, of which we ought
much to regret the loss.^ But he considered that object of his in-
quiries in a manner still more worthy of a king. The principal
riches of the state, and the most certain fund of the prince's revenue
consisted in com. He therefore believed it of the highest conse
quence, and what demanded his utmost care and apphcation, to
establish good order in that traffic, to render the condition of the
husbandmen, of whom the greatest part of the people were com-
posed, safe and happy; to ascertain the prince's dues, whose princi-
pal revenue rose from them ; to obviate such disorders as might get
ground to the prejudice of his institutions; and to prevent the un-
just vexations which might possibly be attempted to ber introduced
in the sequel. To answer all these purposes, Hiero made regula-
tions so wise, reasonable, equitable, and at the same time con*
formable to the people's and prince's interests, that they became
in a manner the fundamental laws of the country, and were alwap
observed as sacred and inviolable, not only in his reign, but in all
Rucceeding times. When the Romans had subjected the city and
dominions of Syracuse, they imposed no new tributes, and decreed
that all things should be disposed according to the laws of Hlero :j
in order that the Syracnsans, in changing their masters, might have
the consolation not to change their laws, and see themselves in
some measure still governed by a prince, whose very name was al-
ways dear to them, and rendered those laws exceedingly veneraWe.
I have observed, that in Sicily the prince's principal revenue con-
sisted in corn; the tenth being paid him. It was therefore his interest
that the country should be well cultivated, that estimates should be
made of the value of the lands; and that they should produce abun-
dantly, as his revenue augmented in proportion to their fertility.
The collectors of this tenth for the prince, which was paid in kind,
and not in money, were called Dpcumani^ that is to say, farmers
of the tenths. Hiero, in the regulations he made upon this head,
did not neglect his own interests, which is the mark of a wise prince
and good ecouonfbt. He knew very well, there was reason to ap<

Erehend, that the country people, who frequently consider the most
i^\ and moderate imposts as intolerable burdens, might be tempt-
ea to defraud the prince of his dues. To spare thenTthis tempta-
tion, he took such just and exact precautions,! that whether the
com were in the ear, on the floor to be thrashed, laid up in barns,

•Pita. I.xvlll.c.3.

t Decumas lege Hieronicft leinper vrndendascensuerunt, ut lis iucandior easet muna
lis illlua fiinctM, si ejus r^is, qui Siculfo carlssinius fuit, non solam instituta, coinmu
tmto iinperio, venlm etiaro nomen remaneret. Cte. Oral, in Ver. defrum. u. 15.

% Hieroniea lex omnibus custodiis subjectum aratorern decumano tradit ut neque i»
ftegf>*ibus, neque in areis, neque in liorreto, neque in amovendo, neque in asportandc
fnunento, traoo uno pdnet arator alao maxiina psni, firaudare dacamaaam. OKs.
Op«t <R rtr- d§ tnmt n. 90.



or laden fbr carriaj^, it was not possible for the husbandman to se-
crete any part of it, or to defraud the collector of a single g^ain,
without exposing himself to a severe penalty. Cicero acquaints
ns with thene circumstances at m ich length. But he adds also,
that Hiero had taken the same precautions against the avidity of
tho collectors, to whom it was equally impossible to extort any
thing from the husbandmen beyond the tenth. Hiero seems Uf
have been very much against the husbandman's being drawn from
his home upon any pretext whatsoever. In fact, says Cicero, in-
veighing against Verres, who gave them great trouble by frequent
and painful journeys, it is very hard and afflictinor to the poor hus«
banamen, to be brought from their country to the citv, from the
plough to the bar, and from the care of tilling their lands to that of
prosecuting law-suits. '' Miserum atque iniquum, ex agro homines
traduci in forum, ab aratro ab subselha, ab usu rerum rusticarum
ad insolitam litem atque judicium."* And besides, can they flatter
themselves, let their cause be ever so just, that they shall carry it
to the prejudice of the collectors ? *' Judici ut arator decumanum
persequatur ?"

Can there be any thin^ more to a king's praise than what we
have now said ? Hiero might undertake wars, for he did not want
valour, gain battles, make conquests, and extend the bounds of liis
dominions, and upon these accounts miorht pass for a hero in the
opinion of the generality of men. But with how many taxes must
he have loadea his people ! How many husbandmen must he have
torn from their lands ! How much blood would the gaining of those
victories have cost him ! and of what emolument would they have
been to the state ? Hiero, who knew wherein true glory consists,
placed his in governing his people with wisdom, and in making
them happy. Instead of conquering new countries by the force of
arms, he endeavoured to multiply his own in a manner by the culti-
vation of the lands, by rendering them more fertile than they were,
and in actually multiplyinor his people, wherein the real force and
true riches of a state consist; .and which can never fail to happen
when the people of a country reap a reasonablie advantage from
their labour.

A. M. 3780. l^t was in the second Punic war, that Hiero

Ant J. c. 9ia gave distinguished proofs of his attachment to the
Romans.f As soon as he received advice of Hannibal's arrival in
Italy, he went with his fleet well equipped to meet Tiberius Sem-
pronius, who was arrived at Messina, to offer that consul his ser-
vices, and to assure him that, advanced in age as he was, be would
show the same zeal for the Roman people as he had formerly done
in his youth in the first war against the Carthaginians. He took
upon him to supply the consul's legions, and the troops of the allies,
with corn and clothes at his own expense. Upon the news re^

•€lt.OraLtBV«r.d«fnim.a.]4 fUv.LziL & SO^SL



oeived the same instant, of the advantage gained by the Roman
over the Carthaginian fleet, the consul thanked the king for his
advantageous offers, and made no use of them at that time.

Uiero's inviolable fidelity towards the Romans,* which is very
remarkable in his character, appeared still more conspicuously aflor
their defeat near the lake of Thrasymenus. They had already lost
three battles against Hannibal, each more unfortunate and mora
bloody than the other. Hiero, in that mournful conjuncture, sent
a fleet laden with provisions to the port of Ostia. The Syracusaa
ambassadors, when introduced to the senate, told them, << That
Hiero their master had been as sensibly afflicted with their last dis-
grace, as if he had suffered it in his own person. That though he
well knew, that the grandeur of the Roman people was ahnost more
worthy of admiration m times of adversity, than after the most sig-
nal success ; he had sent them all the aid that could be expected
from a good and faithful ally, and earnestly desired the senate
would not refuse to accept it. That they had particularly brought
a Victory of gold, that weighed three hundred pounds, which the
king hoped they would vouchsafe to receive as a favourable augu-
ry, and a pledge of the vows which he made for their prosperity.
That they had also imported three hundred thousand bushels oC
wheat, and two hundred thousand of barley ; and that if the Ro*
man people desired a greater quantity, Hiero would cause as
much as they pleased to be transported to whatever places they
should appoint. That he knew the Roman people employed
none in their armies but citizens and allies ; but that he had seen
light-armed strangers in their camp. That ho had therefore sent
them a thousand archers and shngors, who might be opposed suc-
cessfully to the Baleares and Moors of Hannibal's army." — They
added to this aid a very salutary piece of advice, which was, that
the prsBtor, who should be sent to command in Sicily, might de-
spatch a fleet to Africa, in order to find the Carthaginians such
employment in their own country, as might put it out of their pow-
er by that diversion to send any succours to Hannibal.

The senate answered the king's ambassadors hi very obliging
and honourable terms, *'*• That Hiero acted like a very generous
prince, and a most faithful ally : that from the time he had con-
tracted an alliance with the Romans, his attachment for them had
been constant and unalterable; in fine, that in all times and places
he had powerfully and magnificently succoured them: that the peo-
ple haa a due sense of such generosity : that some cities of Italy
had already presented the Roman people with gold, who, afler
having expressed their gratitude, had not thought fit to accept it:
that the Victory was too favourable an augury not to be received s
that they would place her in the Capitol, that is to say, in the
temple of the most high Jupiter, in order that »he might establish

• Uv I. ul a 37. 3a



there her fixed and lasting abode.*' AH the com and barley on boud
the ships, with the archers and slingers, were seat to the consuls.

Valerius Maximus* makes an observation here, upon the noble
and prudent liberality of Hiero; first, in the generous design be
forms, of presenting the Romans with three hundred and twenty
pounds weight of gold ; then in the industrious precaution he uses,
to prevent them from refusing to accept it. He does not offer them
that gold in specie ; he knew the exceeding delicacy of the Roman
people too well for that; but under the form of a Victory, which
they dared not refuse, upon account of the good omen it seemed to
bring along with it.

It is extraordinary to see a prince, whose dominions were situate
as Syracuse was, in regard to Carthage, from which it had every
thin^* to fear, at a time when Rome seemed near her ruin, continue
unalterably faithful, and declare openly for her interests, notwith
standing all the dangers to which so daring a conduct exposed hinu
A more prudent politician, to speak the usual language, would
perhaps have waited the event of a new action, and not have been
so hasty to declare himself without necessity, and at his extreme
peril. Such examples are the more estimable for being rare and
almost unparalleled.

I do not know, however, whether, even in good policy, Hiero
ought not to have acted as he did. It would have been the great-
est of all misfortunes for Syracuse, had the Carthaginians entirely
ruined, or even weakened the Romans too much. That city would
have immediately felt all the weight of Carthage; as it was situat-
ed over-against it, and lay highly convenient for strengthening its
commerce, securing to it the empire of the sea, and establishirig it
firmly in Sicily, by the possession of the whole island. It would
therefore have been imprudent to suffer such allies to be ruined by
the Carthaginians, who would not have been the better friends to
the Syracusans for having renounced the Romans by force. It was
therefore a decisive stroke, to fly immediately to the aid of the Ro-
mans; and as Syracuse would necessarily fall after Rome, it was
absolutely requisite to hazard every thing, either to save Rome, or
fall with her.

If the facts, which history has preserved of so long and happy a
rei^n, are few, they do not give us the less idea of tms prince, and
oug^ht to make us exceedingly regret the want of more particular
inrormation concerning his actions.

The sum of a hundred talents (a hundred thousand crowns,)
which he sent to the Rhodians,! and the presents he made them
afber the great earthquake, which laid waste their island, and threw

* TrecenM millia modlum triUci, et iacenta millia hordei, aurique ducenta et qua-
4ragiiita pondo urbi iioetroe niuneii luigit. Neque ignarui verccuiidise niajorum nonro-
nioi, qudd noUet accipere, in habitum id Victoria fbrmavit, ut eos relfgione motot, ,
niuiiificeutili uxxk uti cc^ret: voluntate mit^ndi priAa, Itenun provldeiiti4 cavundi ne
rmiitteretur, liberalii. yoL Max. 1. iv. c &



stsAcrrsB. u

down their Colossas, are iUastnous instances of his liberality and
munificence. The modesty with which his presents were attended
infinitely enhances the value of them. He caused two statues to
be erected in the public square at Rhodes, representing the people
of Syracuse placing a crown upon the head of the Rhodians ; as if,
says Polybius, Hiero, after having made that people such magnifi-
cent presents, far from assuming any vanity from his munificence,
believed himself their debtor upon that very account. And indeed
the liberaUty and beneficence of a prince to strangers is rewarded
with interest, in the pleasure they give to himself, and the glory he
acquires by them.

There is a pastoral of Theocritus {Idyll. 16.) which bears the
name of the kinjr we speak of, wherein the poet seems tacitly to
reproach that prince with paying very ill for the verses made in
honour of him. But the mean manner in which he claims, as it
were, a reward for the verses he meditates, leaves room to con-
clude, that the imputation of avarice falls with more justice upon
the poet than upon the prince,* distinguished and esteemed, as we
have seen, from his Jibendity.

It4s to Hiero*s just taste, and singular attention to every thing
that concerned the public good, that Syracuse was indebted for
those amazing machines of war, of which we shall soon see it make
■0 great a use, when besieged by the Romans."" Though that
prince seemed to devote his cares entirely to the tranquillity and do-
mestic affairs of the kingdom, he did not neglect those of war;
convinced, that the surest means to preserve the peace of his do-
minions, was to hold himself always in readiness to moke war upon
unjust neighbours, who should attempt to disturb it. He knew
how to profit by the advantage he possessed of having in his domi-
nions the most learned geometrician the world had ever produced ;
it is plain I mean Archimedes. He was illustrious, not only by his
great ability in geometry, but his birth, as he was Hiero's relation*
Sensible alone to the pleasures of the mind, and highly averse to
the hurry and tumult of business and government, he devoted him-
Belf solely to the study of a science, whose sublime speculations on
truths purely intellectual and spiritual, and entirely distinct from
matter, have such attraction for the learned of the first rank, as
«carce leaves them at liberty to apply themselves to any other

Hiero had, however, sufficient influence over Archimedes, to en-
gage him to descend from those lofty speculations to the practice
of those mechanics which depend on the hand, but are disposed and
directed by the head. He pressed him continually, not to employ
his art always in soaring after immaterial and intetlectuai objects,
but to bring it down to sensible and corporeal things, and to render
iia reasoningB in some measure more evident and familiar to the




generality of mankind, by joining them experimentally with things

Archimedes frequently convefsed with the king, who always
heard him with ereat attention and extreme pleasure* One day,
when he was explaining to him the wonderful efiects of the powers
of motion, he proceeded to demonstrate, *' That with a certain given
power any weight whatsoever might be moved." And applauding
tiimself afterwards on the force of his demonstration, he ventured to
boast, that if there were another world beffldes this we inhabit, by
going to that he could remove this at pleasure. The king, surprised
and delighted, desired him to put his position in execution, by re*
moving some great weight with a small force.

Archimedes preparing to satisfy the just and ratio'jal curiosity of
his kinsman and friend, chose out one of the ga'^eys in the port,
caused it to be drawn on shore with great labour, and by abundance
of men. He then ordered its usual lading to be put on board, and
besides that, as many men as ir could bold. A^erwards, placing
himself at some distance, and sitting at his ease, without trouble,
or exerting his strength in the least, by only moving with his hand
the end or a machine, which he had provided with numerous cords
and pulleys, he drew the galley to him upon the land, with as much
ease, and as steadily, as if it had swum upon the water.

The king, upon the sight of so prodigious an effect of the powers
of motion, was entirely astonished; and judging from that experi-
ment of the effiqacy of the art, he eamesUy solicited Archimedes tc
make several sorts of machines and battering engines for sieges am
attacks, as well for the defence as assault of places.

It has been sometimes asked, whether the sublime knowledjOfe ot
which we speak, be necessary to a king; and if the study of art
and sciences ought to form part of the-education of a young princef
What we read here demonstrates tlieir utility. If kmg Hiero had
wanted taste and curiosity, and employed himself solely in his plea-
sures, Archimedes had remained inactive in his closet, and all his
extraordinary science been of no advantage to his country. What
treasures of useful knowledge lie buried in obscurity, and in a man-
ner hid under the earth, because princes set no value upon learned
men, and consider them as persons useless to the state. But when,
in their youth, they have imbibed some small tincture of arts and
sciences (for the study of princes ought to extend no farther in that
pouit,] tliey esteem such as distinguish themselves by their learning,
sometimes converse with them, and hold them in honour; and by
so glorious « protection make way for valuable discoveries, of which
the state soon reaps the advantage. Syracuse had this obligation
to Hiero ; whiClh, without doubt^^ was the effect of his excellent
education ; for he had been bred with uncommon care and attention.

What has been said hitherto of Archimedes, and what we shall
presently add, with respect to those admirable machines of war
which were used daring the mg^ of Syracuse, shows how wrong



^ 18 to despise those sablime and c^wcoktiTe sciences, whose on^
olijects are simple and abstract ideas. It is true, that aU mere geo-
metrical or algebraical ^)eculations do not relate to nsefnl thinss.
But it is also as tnie, that most of those, which have not that rela-
tion, conduct or refer to those that have. They may appear un-
profitable, as lonff as they do not deviate, if I may so say, nrom this
intellectual world; but the mixed mathematics, which descend to
matter, and consider the motions of the stars, the perfect know-
ledge of navigation, the art of drawing remote objects near by the
assistance of telescopes, the increase of the powers of motion, the
nice exactitude of the balance, and other ramilar objects, become
more easy of access, and in a manner familiarize themselves with
the vulgar. The labour of Archimedes was long obscure, and per-
haps contemned, because he confined himself to simple and barren
speculations. Ought we therefore to conclude that it was useless
and unprofitable ? It wa^ from that very source of knowledge,
buried till then in obscurity, that shot forth those brilliant lij^hts and
wonderful discoveries, which displav from their birth a sensible and
manifest utility, and inspired the Romans with astonishment and
despair when they besieged Syracuse.

Hiero was great and ma^mificent in all things, in building pa-
laces, arsenals, and temples, lie caused an infinite number of ships
of all burdens to be built for the exportation of com ; a trafilc in
which almost the whole wealth of the island consisted. We are
told of a gaUey built by his order, under the direction of Archi-
medes, which was reckoned one of the most famous structures of
antiquity.* It was a whole year in building. Hiero passed whole
days amongst the workmen, to animate them by his presence.

This sUip had twenty benches of oars. The enormous pile was
fastened together on all sides with huge nails of copper, which
weighed each ten pounds and upwards.

The inside had in it three ffalleries or corridors, the lowest of
which led to the hold by a flight of st-airs, the second to apartments,
and the first to soldiers' lodgiugs.

On the right and left side of the middle gallery, there were apart-
ments to the number of thirty ; in each of which were four beds
for men. The apartment for the officers and seamen had fifteen
beds, and three great rooms for eating ; the last of which, that was
at the stem, served for a kitchen. All the floors of these apart
poents were inlaid with small stones of different colours, represent
ing stories taken from the Iliad of Homer. The ceilings, windows,
and all the other parts, were finished with wonderful art, and em •
belhshed with all kinds of ornaments.

In the uppermost gallery there was a gymnasuim, or place of

Online LibraryCharles RollinThe ancient history of the Egyptians, Carthaginians, Assyrians ..., Volume 8 → online text (page 2 of 39)