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HIERO II. was descended from the family of Gelon, who had formerly reigned in Syracuse." As his mother was of slavish extraction, his father Hierocles, according to the barbarous customs of those times, caused him to be exposed soon after his birth; believing that the infant dishonoured the nobility of his

If Justin's fabulous account may be believed, the bees nourished him several days with their honey. The oracle declaring, that so singular an event was a certain presage of his future greatness, Hierocles caused him to be brought back to his house, and took all possible care of his education.


a A. M, 3700. Ant. J. C. 304. Justin. l. xxiii. c. 4. VOL. 8.


The child improved as much from the pains taken to form him, as could be expected. He distinguished himself early from all those of his years, by his address in military exercises, and his courage in battle. He acquired the esteem of Pyrrhus, and received several rewards from his own hands. He was of a beautiful aspect, large statue, and robust complexion. In his conversation he was humane and polite, in business just, and moderate in command ; so that he wanted nothing royal, except a throne,

· Discord having arisen between the citizens of Syracuse and their troops, the latter, who were in the neighbourhood, raised Artemidorus and Hiero to the supreme command, which comprehended all authority civil and military. The latter was at that time thirty years old, but of a prudence and maturity that promised a great king. Honoured with this command, by the help of some friends he entered the city, and having found means to bring over the adverse party, who were intent upon nothing but raising disorders, he behaved with so much wisdom and greatness of mind, that the Syracusans, though highly dissatisfied with the liberty assumed by the soldiers of making such an election without any right, were however unanimous in conferring upon him the title and power of supreme commander,

From his first measures, it was easy to judge that the new magistrate aspired at something more than

b In alloquio blandus, in negotio justus, in imperio moderatus ; prorsus ut nihil ei regium deesse præter regnum, videretur. Justin.

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CA. M. 3729. Ant. J. C. 275. Polyb. 1. i. p. 8, 9.

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