Page 0603



oligarchic chief was endeavoring to regain possession of Syracuse he was

slain; but his cause was immediately taken up by the young Dionysius, a

man of great abilities and audacity, who soon obtained a vote of the

assembly by which he was raised first to authority and then to despotism.

He first made successful war upon several of the Sicilian cities, and

then began a conflict with Carthage. But this undertaking proved beyond

his capacity to manage. The island was invaded by an immense force of

Carthaginians, and Syracuse was only saved from capture, and perhaps

destruction, by the ravages of a pestilence which broke out in the camp

of the besiegers. Imilcon, the Carthaginian general, then purchased from

Dionysius the privilege of a safe retreat from the island.

Under the direction of the tyrant, Syracuse soon became the foremost city

in the west. And, indeed, in all continental Greece, Sparta only could

rival the power and grandeur of the Sicilian capital. Dionysius himself

set the example in artistic and literary culture. He courted the Muses.

He had his poems publicly recited, not only in his own city, but also in

Athens. He contended for prizes at the Lenaean festival and at the

Olympic games. Several second and third prizes were awarded to him, and

finally the first prize in tragedy, given for his play entitled the

Ransom of Hector. For thirty-eight years he wielded the destinies of the

city, and died without an overthrow.

After him his son, known as Dionysius the Younger, became master of

Syracuse, and for a while, under the influence of Plato, who was invited

to his court, showed some signs of mitigating the rigorous rule

established by his father; but the influence of courtiers prevailed

against these tendencies, and Plato himself, falling into disrepute, was

for a season in danger of his life. At length, however, the philosopher

escaped and returned to Greece.

Soon afterwards, in B. C. 357, Dion, the leader of the opposing party in

politics, headed an insurrection against the tyrant, and the latter was

overthrown, to the great joy of the people. Dion then became ruler of the

city, and was expected to make an effort at reform. He had been the

friend of Plato, and had imbibed that great thinker's profound but

somewhat impracticable views of government, and the people looked for a

millennium; but in this they were so grievously disappointed that Dion

was soon assassinated by one Callippus, who held the city for about a

year, when he was in turn driven out by a nephew of Dion. Several

revolutions followed in quick succession, until finally an appeal was

sent to Sparta for the restoration of order. The Lacedaemonian

authorities thereupon dispatched the celebrated Timoleon (1) to quiet the

disturbances in Sicily, and especially to restore the ascendancy of

Spartan influence in Syracuse.

The squadron given to Timoleon numbered only ten vessels, but with this

small armament he made his way into Sicily. Having arrived at Adranum he

encountered Hicetas, the then leader of the democratic party in the

island, who came out with a large force to drive back the Spartans.

Timoleon, however, gained a decisive victory, and then marched into

Syracuse without further opposition. Dionysius (the third of that name),

who now headed the oligarchy, surrendered to him, and he thus became

master of the city. He at once proceeded to the demolition of the

fortifications of Orytigia and the destruction of the other relics of the

reign of the Elder Dionysius, including his splendid mausoleum; and when

this work was accomplished the new governor erected courts of justice on

the sites of the overthrow. Those who had been banished were invited to

return, and of these-together with companies of citizens who joined them-

there came from Corinth ten thousand in a single colony. The constitution

was revised, and most of the statutes of Diocles again made operative in

the government of the city ______________________________ 1 The story of

Timoleon's previous life is a tragedy. Once in battle he saved the life

of his elder brother Timophenes, but afterwards, when the latter was

overtaken in a piece of treachery to his country, he consented to his

death. Then remorse seized him, and, loaded with the imprecations of his

mother, he slunk out of sight and tried to starve himself to death. After

a long seclusion he was, by one of those strange caprices for which the

Greek mind was so peculiarly noted, called to take charge of the

expedition just organized in aid of the Syracusans.