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Polybius: the First Punic War

Map of ancient Sicily. Map design Jona Lendering. According to the Greek historian Polybius of Megalopolis (c.200-c.118), the First Punic War (264-241) between Carthage and Rome was "the longest and most severely contested war in history". And indeed, it lasted almost a quarter of a century and probably, a million people lost their lives. In the end, Rome had conquered the island of Sicily, and had become a Mediterranean superpower.

Polybius' World History was translated by W.R. Paton.

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Coin of Hiero II
Hiero II (©!!)

Book 1, chapter 16

When news of the successes of Appius and his legions reached Rome, [263 BCE] they elected Manius Otacilius [Crassus] and Manius Valerius [Maximus] consuls, and dispatched their whole armed force and both commanders to Sicily. (The Romans have four legions of Roman citizens in all apart from the allies. These they enroll annually, each legion comprising 4,000 foot and 300 horse.)

On their arrival in Sicily most of the cities revolted from the Carthaginians and Syracusans and joined the Romans. 

Hiero, observing both the confusion and consternation of the Sicilians, and at the same time the numbers and the powerful nature of the Roman forces, reached from all this the conclusion that the prospects of the Romans were more brilliant than those of the Carthaginians. His conviction therefore impelling him to side with the Romans, he sent several messages to the consuls with proposals for peace and alliance. The Romans accepted his overtures, especially for the sake of their supplies; for since the Carthaginians commanded the sea they were apprehensive lest they should be cut off on all sides from the necessities of life, in view of the fact that the armies which had previously crossed to Sicily had run very short of provisions. Therefore, supposing that Hiero would be of great service to them in this respect, they readily accepted his friendly advances. 

Having made a treaty by which the king bound himself to give up his prisoners to the Romans without ransom, and in addition to this to pay them 100 talents, the Romans henceforth treated the Syracusans as allies and friends. 

King Hiero having placed himself under the protection of the Romans, continued to furnish them with the resources of which they stood in urgent need, and ruled over Syracuse henceforth in security, treating the Greeks in such a way as to win from them crowns and other honors. We may, indeed, regard him as the most illustrious of princes and the one who reaped longest the fruits of his own wisdom in particular cases and in general policy.

to book 1, chapter 17
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