Plutarch: “Dion”, Plutarch’s Lives, 75 A.C.E.
If it be true, Sosius Senecio, that, as Simonides tells us—
“Of the Corinthians Troy does not complain”
for having taken part with the Achæans in the siege, because the Trojans also had Corinthians (Glaucus, who sprang from Corinth,) fighting bravely on their side, so also it may be fairly said that neither Romans nor Greeks can quarrel with the Academy, each nation being equally represented in the following pair of lives, which will give an account of Brutus and of Dion,—Dion, who was Plato’s own hearer, and Brutus, who was brought up in his philosophy. They came from one and the selfsame school, where they had been trained alike, to run the race of honor; nor need we wonder that in the performance of actions often most nearly allied and akin, they both bore evidence to the truth of what their guide and teacher had said, that, without the concurrence of power and success with justice and prudence, public actions do not attain their proper, great, and noble character. For as Hippomachus the wrestling-master affirmed, he could distinguish his scholars at a distance. though they were but carrying meat from the shambles, so it is very probable that the principles of those who have had the same good education should appear with a resemblance in all their actions, creating in them a certain harmony and proportion, at once agreeable and becoming.
We may also draw a close parallel of the lives of the two men from their fortunes, wherein chance, even more than their own designs, made them nearly alike. For they were both cut off by an untimely death, not being able to accomplish those ends which through many risks and difficulties they aimed at. But, above all, this is most wonderful; that by preternatural interposition both of them had notice given of their approaching death by an unpropitious form, which visibly appeared to them. Although there are people who utterly deny any such thing, and say that no man in his right senses ever yet saw any supernatural phantom or apparition, but that children only, and silly women, or men disordered by sickness, in some aberration of the mind or distemperature of the body, have had empty and extravagant imaginations, whilst the real evil genius, superstition, was in themselves. Yet if Dion and Brutus, men of solid understanding, and philosophers, not to be easily deluded by fancy or discomposed by any sudden apprehension, were thus affected by visions, that they forthwith declared to their friends what they had seen, I know not how we can avoid admitting again the utterly exploded opinion of the oldest times, that evil and beguiling spirits, out of an envy to good men, and a desire of impeding their good deeds, make efforts to excite in them feelings of terror and distraction, to make them shake and totter in their virtue, lest by a steady and unbiased perseverance they should obtain a happier condition than these beings after death. But I shall leave these things for another opportunity, and, in this twelfth book of the lives of great men compared one with another, begin with his who was the elder.
Dionysius the First, having possessed himself of the government, at once took to wife the daughter of Hermocrates, the Syracusan. She, in an outbreak which the citizens made before the new power was well settled, was abused in such a barbarous and outrageous manner, that for shame she put an end to her own life. But Dionysius, when he was reestablished and confirmed in his supremacy, married two wives together, one named Doris, of Locri, the other, Aristomache, a native of Sicily, and daughter of Hipparinus, a man of the first quality in Syracuse, and colleague with Dionysius when he was first chosen general with unlimited powers for the war. It is said he married them both in one day, and no one ever knew which of the two he first made his wife; and ever after he divided his kindness equally between them, both accompanying him together at his table, and in his bed by turns. Indeed, the Syracusans were urgent that their own countrywoman might be preferred before the stranger; but Doris, to compensate for her foreign extraction; had the good fortune to be the mother of the son and heir of the family, whilst Aristomache continued a long time without issue, though Dionysius was very desirous to have children by her, and, indeed, caused Doris’s mother to be put to death, laying to her charge that she had given drugs to Aristomache, to prevent her being with child.
Dion, Aristomache’s brother, at first found an honorable reception for his sister’s sake; but his own worth and parts soon procured him a nearer place in his brother-in-law’s affection, who, among other favors, gave special command to his treasurers to furnish Dion with whatever money he demanded, only telling him on the same day what they had delivered out. Now, though Dion was before reputed a person of lofty character; of a noble mind, and daring courage, yet these excellent qualifications all received a great development from the happy chance which conducted Plato into Sicily; not assuredly by any human device or calculation, but some supernatural power, designing that this remote cause should hereafter occasion the recovery of the Sicilians’ lost liberty and the subversion of the tyrannical government, brought the philosopher out of Italy to Syracuse, and made acquaintance between him and Dion. Dion was, indeed, at this time extremely young in years, but of all the scholars that attended Plato he was the quickest and aptest to learn, and the most prompt and eager to practice, the lessons of virtue, as Plato himself reports of him, and his own actions sufficiently testify. For though he had been bred up under a tyrant in habits of submission, accustomed to a life, on the one hand of servility and intimidation, and yet on the other of vulgar display and luxury, the mistaken happiness of people that knew no better thing than pleasure and self-indulgence, yet, at the first taste of reason and a philosophy that demands obedience to virtue, his soul was set in a flame, and in the simple innocence of youth, concluding, from his own disposition, that the same reasons would work the same effects upon Dionysius, he made it his business, and at length obtained the favor of him, at a leisure hour, to hear Plato.
At this their meeting, the subject-matter of their discourse in general was human virtue, but, more particularly, they disputed concerning fortitude, which Plato proved tyrants, of all men, had the least pretense to; and thence proceeding to treat of justice, asserted the happy estate of the just, and the miserable condition of the unjust; arguments which Dionysius would not hear out, but, feeling himself, as it were, convicted by his words, and much displeased to see the rest of the auditors full of admiration for the speaker and captivated with his doctrine, at last, exceedingly exasperated, he asked the philosopher in a rage, what business he had in Sicily. To which Plato answered, “I came to seek a virtuous man.” “It seems then,” replied Dionysius, “you have lost your labor.” Dion, supposing, that this was all, and that nothing further could come of his anger, at Plato’s request, conveyed him aboard a galley, which was conveying Pollis, the Spartan, into Greece. But Dionysius privately dealt with Pollis, by all means to kill Plato in the voyage; if not, to be sure to sell him for a slave: he would, of course, take no harm of it, being the same just man as before; he would enjoy that happiness, though he lost his liberty. Pollis, therefore, it is stated, carried Plato to Ægina, and there sold him; the Æginetans, then at war with Athens, having made a decree that whatever Athenian was taken on their coasts should forthwith be exposed to sale. Notwithstanding, Dion was not in less favor and credit with Dionysius than formerly, but was entrusted with the most considerable employments, and sent on important embassies to Carthage, in the management of which he gained very great reputation. Besides, the usurper bore with the liberty he took to speak his mind freely, he being the only man who upon any occasion durst boldly say what he thought, as, for example, in the rebuke he gave him about Gelon. Dionysius was ridiculing Gelon’s government, and, alluding to his name, said, he had been the laughing-stock of Sicily. While others seemed to admire and applaud the quibble, Dion very warmly replied, “Nevertheless, it is certain that you are sole governor here, because you were trusted for Gelon’s sake; but for your sake no man will ever hereafter be trusted again.” For, indeed, Gelon had made a monarchy appear the best, whereas Dionysius had convinced men that it was the worst of governments.
Dionysius had three children by Doris, and by Aristomache four, two of which were daughters, Sophrosyne and Arete. Sophrosyne was married to his son Dionysius; Arete, to his brother Thearides, after whose death, Dion received his niece Arete to wife. Now when Dionysius was sick and like to die, Dion endeavored to speak with him in behalf of the children he had by Aristomache, but was still prevented by the physicians, who wanted to ingratiate themselves with the next successor, who also, as Timæus reports, gave him a sleeping potion which he asked for, which produced an insensibility only followed by his death.
Nevertheless, at the first council which the young Dionysius held with his friends, Dion discoursed so well of the present state of affairs, that he made all the rest appear in their politics but children, and in their votes rather slaves than counselors, who timorously and disingenuously advised what would please the young man, rather than what would advance his interest. But that which startled them most was the proposal he made to avert the imminent danger they feared of a war with the Carthaginians, undertaking, if Dionysius wanted peace, to sail immediately over into Africa, and conclude it there upon honorable terms; but, if he rather preferred war, then he would fit out and maintain at his own cost and charges fifty galleys ready for the service.
Dionysius wondered much at his greatness of mind, and received his offer with satisfaction. But the other courtiers, thinking his generosity reflected upon them, and jealous of being lessened by his greatness, from hence took all occasions by private slanders to render him obnoxious to the young man’s displeasure; as if he designed by his power at sea to surprise the government, and by the help of those naval forces confer the supreme authority upon his sister Aristomache’s children. But, indeed, the most apparent and the strongest grounds for dislike and hostility existed already in the difference of his habits, and his reserved and separate way of living. For they, who, from the beginning, by flatteries and all unworthy artifices, courted the favor and familiarity of the prince, youthful and voluptuously bred, ministered to his pleasures, and sought how to find him daily some new amours and occupy him in vain amusements, with wine or with women, and in other dissipations; by which means, the tyranny, like iron softened in the fire, seemed, indeed, to the subject to be more moderate and gentle, and to abate somewhat of its extreme severity; the edge of it being blunted, not by the clemency, but rather the sloth and degeneracy of the sovereign, whose dissoluteness, gaining ground daily, and growing upon him, soon weakened and broke those “adamantine chains,” with which his father, Dionysius, said he had left the monarchy fastened and secured. It is reported of him, that, having begun a drunken debauch, he continued it ninety days without intermission; in all which time no person on business was allowed to appear, nor was any serious conversation heard at court, but drinking, singing, dancing. and buffoonery reigned there without control.
It is likely then they had little kindness for Dion, who never indulged himself in any youthful pleasure or diversion. And so his very virtues were the matter of their calumnies, and were represented under one or other plausible name as vices; they called his gravity pride, his plain-dealing self-will, the good advice he gave was all construed into reprimand, and he was censured for neglecting and scorning those in whose misdemeanors he declined to participate. And to say the truth, there was in his natural character something stately, austere, reserved, and unsociable in conversation, which made his company unpleasant and disagreeable not only to the young tyrant, whose ears had been corrupted by flatteries; many also of Dion’s own intimate friends, though they loved the integrity and generosity of his temper, yet blamed his manner, and thought he treated those with whom he had to do, less courteously and affably than became a man engaged in civil business. Of which Plato also afterwards wrote to him; and, as it were, prophetically advised him carefully to avoid an arbitrary temper, whose proper helpmate was a solitary life. And, indeed, at this very time, though circumstances made him so important, and, in the danger of the tottering government, he was recognized as the only or the ablest support of it, yet he well understood that he owed not his high position to any good-will or kindness, but to the mere necessities of the usurper.
And, supposing the cause of this to be ignorance and want of education, he endeavored to induce the young man into a course of liberal studies, and to give him some knowledge of moral truths and reasonings, hoping he might thus lose his fear of virtuous living, and learn to take pleasure in laudable actions. Dionysius, in his own nature, was not one of the worst kind of tyrants, but his father, fearing that if he should come to understand himself better, and converse with wise and reasonable men, he might enter into some design against him, and dispossess him of his power, kept him closely shut up at home; where, for want of other company, and ignorant how to spend his time better, he busied himself in making little chariots, candlesticks, stools, tables, and other things of wood. For the elder Dionysius was so diffident and suspicious, and so continually on his guard against all men, that he would not so much as let his hair be trimmed with any barber’s or hair-cutter’s instruments, but made one of his artificers singe him with a live coal. Neither were his brother or his son allowed to come into his apartment in the dress they wore, but they, as all others, were stripped to their skins by some of the guard, and, after being seen naked, put on other clothes before they were admitted into the presence. When his brother Leptines was once describing the situation of a place, and took a javelin from one of the guard to draw the plan of it, he was extremely angry with him, and had the soldier who gave him the weapon put to death. He declared, the more judicious his friends were, the more he suspected them; because he knew, that were it in their choice, they would rather be tyrants themselves than the subjects of a tyrant. He slew Marsyas, one of his captains whom he had preferred to a considerable command, for dreaming that he killed him: without some previous waking thought and purpose of the kind, he could not, he supposed, have had that fancy in his sleep. So timorous was he, and so miserable a slave to his fears, yet very angry with Plato, because he would not allow him to be the valiantest man alive.
Dion, as we said before, seeing the son thus deformed and spoilt in character for want of teaching, exhorted him to study, and to use all his entreaties to persuade Plato, the first of philosophers, to visit him in Sicily, and; when he came, to submit himself to his direction and advice: by whose instructions he might conform his nature to the truths of virtue, and, living after the likeness of the Divine and glorious Model of Being, out of obedience to whose control the general confusion is changed into the beautiful order of the universe, so he in like manner might be the cause of great happiness to himself and to all his subjects, who, obliged by his justice and moderation, would then willingly pay him obedience as their father, which now grudgingly, and upon necessity, they are forced to yield him as their master. Their usurping tyrant he would then no longer be, but their lawful king. For fear and force, a great navy and standing army of ten thousand hired barbarians are not, as his father had said, the adamantine chains which secure the regal power, but the love, zeal, and affection inspired by clemency and justice; which, though they seem more pliant than the stiff and hard bonds of severity, are nevertheless the strongest and most durable ties to sustain a lasting government. Moreover, it is mean and dishonorable that a ruler, while careful to be splendid in his dress, and luxurious and magnificent in his habitation, should, in reason and power of speech, make no better show than the commonest of his subjects, nor have the princely palace of his mind adorned according to his royal dignity.
Dion frequently entertaining the king upon this subject, and, as occasion offered, repeating some of the philosopher’s sayings, Dionysius grew impatiently desirous to have Plato’s company, and to hear him discourse. Forthwith, therefore, he sent letter upon letter to him to Athens, to which Dion added his entreaties; also several philosophers of the Pythagorean sect from Italy sent their recommendations, urging him to come and obtain a hold upon this pliant, youthful soul, which his solid and weighty reasonings might steady, as it were, upon the seas of absolute power and authority. Plato, as he tells us himself, out of shame more than any other feeling, lest it should seem that he was all mere theory, and that of his own good-will he would never venture into action, hoping withal, that if he could work a cure upon one man, the head and guide of the rest, he might remedy the distempers of the whole island of Sicily, yielded to their requests.
But Dion’s enemies, fearing an alteration in Dionysius, persuaded him to recall from banishment Philistus, a man of learned education, and at the same time of great experience in the ways of tyrants, and who might serve as a counterpoise to Plato and his philosophy. For Philistus from the beginning had been a great instrument in establishing the tyranny, and for a long time had held the office of captain of the citadel. There was a report, that he had been intimate with the mother of Dionysius the first, and not without his privity. And when Leptines, having two daughters by a married woman whom he had debauched, gave one of them in marriage to Philistus, without acquainting Dionysius, he, in great anger, put Leptines’s mistress in prison, and banished Philistus from Sicily. Whereupon, he fled to some of his friends on the Adriatic coast, in which retirement and leisure it is probable he wrote the greatest part of his history; for he returned not into his country during the reign of that Dionysius.
But after his death, as is just related, Dion’s enemies occasioned him to be recalled home, as fitter for their purpose, and a firm friend to the arbitrary government. And this, indeed, immediately upon his return he set himself to maintain; and at the same time various calumnies and accusations against Dion were by others brought to the king: as that he held correspondence with Theodotes and Heraclides, to subvert the government; as, doubtless, it is likely enough, that Dion had entertained hopes, by the coming of Plato, to mitigate the rigid and despotic severity of the tyranny, and to give Dionysius the character of a fair and lawful governor; and had determined, if he should continue averse to that, and were not to be reclaimed, to depose him, and restore the commonwealth to the Syracusans; not that he approved a democratic government, but thought it altogether preferable to a tyranny, when a sound and good aristocracy could not be procured.
This was the state of affairs when Plato came into Sicily, who, at his first arrival, was received with wonderful demonstration of kindness and respect. For one of the royal chariots, richly ornamented, was in attendance to receive him when he came on shore; Dionysius himself sacrificed to the gods in thankful acknowledgment for the great happiness which had befallen his government. The citizens, also, began to entertain marvelous hopes of a speedy reformation, when they observed the modesty which now ruled in the banquets, and the general decorum which prevailed in all the court, their tyrant himself also behaving with gentleness and humanity in all their matters of business that came before him. There was a general passion for reasoning: and philosophy, insomuch that the very palace, it is reported, was filled with dust by the concourse of the students in mathematics who were working their problems there. Some few days after, it was the time of one of the Syracusan sacrifices, and when the priest, as he was wont, prayed for the long and safe continuance of the tyranny, Dionysius, it is said, as he stood by, cried out, “Leave off praying for evil upon us.” This sensibly vexed Philistus and his party, who conjectured, that if Plato, upon such brief acquaintance, had so far transformed and altered the young man’s mind, longer converse and greater intimacy would give him such influence and authority, that it would he impossible to withstand him.
Therefore, no longer privately and apart, but jointly and in public, all of them, they began to slander Dion, noising it about that he had charmed and bewitched Dionysius by Plato’s sophistry, to the end that when he was persuaded voluntarily to part with his power, and lay down his authority, Dion might take it up, and settle it upon his sister Aristomache’s children. Others professed to be indignant that the Athenians, who formerly had come to Sicily with a great fleet and a numerous land-army, and perished miserably without being able to take the city of Syracuse, should now, by means of one sophister, overturn the sovereignty of Dionysius; inveigling him to cashier his guard of ten thousand lances, dismiss a navy of four hundred galleys, disband an army of ten thousand horse and many times over that number of foot, and go seek in the schools an unknown and imaginary bliss, and learn by the mathematics how to be happy; while, in the meantime, the substantial enjoyments of absolute power, riches, and pleasure would be handed over to Dion and his sister’s children.
By these means, Dion began to incur at first suspicion, and by degrees more apparent displeasure and hostility. A letter, also, was intercepted and brought to the young prince, which Dion had written to the Carthaginian agents, advising them, that, when they treated with Dionysius concerning the peace, they should not come to their audience without communicating with him: they would not fail to obtain by this means all that they wanted. When Dionysius had shown this to Philistus, and consulted with him, as Timæus relates, about it, he overreached Dion by a feigned reconciliation, professing, after some fair and reasonable expression of his feelings, that he was at friends with him, and thus, leading him alone to the sea-side, under the castle wall, he showed him the letter, and taxed him with conspiring with the Carthaginians against him. And when Dion essayed to speak in his own defense, Dionysius suffered him not; but immediately forced him aboard a boat, which lay there for that purpose, and commanded the sailors to set him ashore on the coast of Italy.
When this was publicly known, and was thought very hard usage, there was much lamentation in the tyrant’s own household on account of the women, but the citizens of Syracuse encouraged themselves, expecting that for his sake some disturbance would ensue; which, together with the mistrust others would now feel, might occasion a general change and revolution in the state. Dionysius, seeing this, took alarm, and endeavored to pacify the women and others of Dion’s kindred and friends; assuring them that he had not banished, but only sent him out of the way for a time, for fear of his own passion, which might be provoked some day by Dion’s self-will into some act which he should be sorry for. He gave also two ships to his relations, with liberty to send into Peloponnesus for him whatever of his property or servants they thought fit.
Dion was very rich, and had his house furnished with little less than royal splendor and magnificence. These valuables his friends packed up and conveyed to him, besides many rich presents which were sent him by the women and his adherents. So that, so far as wealth and riches went, he made a noble appearance among the Greeks, and they might judge, by the affluence of the exile, what was the power of the tyrant.
Dionysius immediately removed Plato into the castle, designing, under color of an honorable and kind reception, to set a guard upon him, lest he should follow Dion, and declare to the world in his behalf, how injuriously he had been dealt with. And, moreover, time and conversation (as wild beasts by use grow tame and tractable) had brought Dionysius to endure Plato’s company and discourse, so that he began to love the philosopher, but with such an affection as had something of the tyrant in it, requiring of Plato that he should, in return of his kindness, love him only, and attend to him above all other men; being ready to permit to his care the chief management of affairs, and even the government, too, upon condition that he would not prefer Dion’s friendship before his. This extravagant affection was a great trouble to Plato, for it was accompanied with petulant and jealous humors, like the fond passions of those that are desperately in love; frequently he was angry and fell out with him, and presently begged and entreated to be friends again. He was beyond measure desirous to be Plato’s scholar, and to proceed in the study of philosophy, and yet he was ashamed of it with those who spoke against it and professed to think it would ruin him.
But a war about this time breaking out, he sent Plato away, promising him in the summer to recall Dion, though in this he broke his word at once; nevertheless, he remitted to him his revenues, desiring Plato to excuse him as to the time appointed, because of the war, but, as soon as he had settled a peace, he would immediately send for Dion, requiring him in the interim to be quiet, and not raise any disturbance, nor speak ill of him among the Grecians. This Plato endeavored to effect, by keeping Dion with him in the Academy, and busying him in philosophical studies.
Dion sojourned in the Upper Town of Athens, with Callippus, one of his acquaintance; but for his pleasure he bought a seat in the country, which afterwards, when he went into Sicily, he gave to Speusippus, who had been his most frequent companion while he was at Athens, Plato so arranging it, with the hope that Dion’s austere temper might be softened by agreeable company, with an occasional mixture of seasonable mirth. For Speusippus was of the character to afford him this; we find him spoken of in Timon’s Silli, as “good at a jest.” And Plato himself, as it happened, being called upon to furnish a chorus of boys, Dion took upon him the ordering and management of it, and defrayed the whole expense, Plato giving him this opportunity to oblige the Athenians, which was likely to procure his friend more kindness than himself credit. Dion went also to see several other cities, visiting the noblest and most statemanlike persons in Greece, and joining in their recreations and entertainments in their times of festival. In all which, no sort of vulgar ignorance, or tyrannic assumption, or luxuriousness was remarked in him; but, on the contrary, a great deal of temperance, generosity, and courage, and a well-becoming taste for reasoning and philosophic discourses. By which means he gained the love and admiration of all men, and in many cities had public honors decreed him; the Lacedæmonians making him a citizen of Sparta, without regard to the displeasure of Dionysius, though at that time he was aiding them in their wars against the Thebans.
It is related that once, upon invitation, he went to pay a visit to Ptoeodorus the Megarian, a man, it would seem, of wealth and importance; and when, on account of the concourse of people about his doors, and the press of business, it was very troublesome and difficult to get access to him, turning about to his friends who seemed concerned and angry at it, “What reason,” said he, “have we to blame Ptoeodorus, when we ourselves used to do no better when we were at Syracuse?”
After some little time, Dionysius, envying Dion, and jealous of the favor and interest he had among the Grecians, put a stop upon his incomes, and no longer sent him his revenues, making his own commissioners trustees of the estate. But, endeavoring to obviate the ill-will and discredit which, upon Plato’s account, might accrue to him among the philosophers, he collected in his court many reputed learned men; and, ambitiously desiring to surpass them in their debates he was forced to make use, often incorrectly, of arguments he had picked up from Plato. And now he wished for his company again, repenting he had not made better use of it when he had it, and had given no greater heed to his admirable lessons. Like a tyrant, therefore, inconsiderate in his desires, headstrong and violent in whatever he took a will to, on a sudden he was eagerly set on the design of recalling him, and left no stone unturned, but addressed himself to Archytas the Pythagorean (his acquaintance and friendly relations with whom owed their origin to Plato), and persuaded him to stand as surety for his engagements, and to request Plato to revisit Sicily.
Archytas therefore sent Archedemus, and Dionysius some galleys, with divers friends, to entreat his return; moreover, he wrote to him himself expressly and in plain terms, that Dion must never look for any favor or kindness, if Plato would not be prevailed with to come into Sicily; but if Plato did come, Dion should be assured of whatever he desired. Dion also received letters full of solicitations from his sister and his wife, urging him to beg Plato to gratify Dionysius in this request, and not give him an excuse for further ill-doing. So that, as Plato says of himself, the third time he set sail for the Strait of Scylla—
“Venturing again Charybdis’s dangerous gulf.”
This arrival brought great joy to Dionysius, and no less hopes to the Sicilians, who were earnest in their prayers and good wishes that Plato might get the better of Philistus, and philosophy triumph over tyranny. Neither was he unbefriended by the women, who studied to oblige him; and he had with Dionysius that peculiar credit which no man else ever obtained, namely, liberty to come into his presence without being examined or searched. When he would have given him a considerable sum of money, and, on several repeated occasions, made fresh offers, which Plato as often declined, Aristippus the Cyrenæan, then present, said that Dionysius was very safe in his munificence, he gave little to those who were ready to take all they could get, and a great deal to Plato, who would accept of nothing.
After the first compliments of kindness were over, when Plato began to discourse of Dion, he was at first diverted by excuses for delay, followed soon after by complaints and disgusts, though not as yet observable to others, Dionysius endeavoring to conceal them, and, by other civilities and honorable usage, to draw him off from his affection to Dion. And for some time Plato himself was careful not to let anything of this dishonesty and breach of promise appear, but bore with it, and dissembled his annoyance. While matters stood thus between them, and, as they thought, they were unobserved and undiscovered, Helicon the Cyzicenian, one of Plato’s followers, foretold an eclipse of the sun, which happened according to his prediction; for which he was much admired by the tyrant, and rewarded with a talent of silver; whereupon Aristippus, jesting with some others of the philosophers, told them, he also could predict something extraordinary; and on their entreating him to declare it, “I foretell,” said he, “that before long there will be a quarrel between Dionysius and Plato.”
At length, Dionysius made sale of Dion’s estate, and converted the money to his own use, and removed Plato from an apartment he had in the gardens of the palace to lodgings among the guards he kept in pay, who from the first had hated Plato, and sought opportunity to make away with him, supposing he advised Dionysius to lay down the government and disband his soldiers.
When Archytas understood the danger he was in, he immediately sent a galley with messengers to demand him of Dionysius; alleging that he stood engaged for his safety, upon the confidence of which Plato had come to Sicily. Dionysius, to palliate his secret hatred, before Plato came away, treated him with great entertainments and all seeming demonstrations of kindness, but could not forbear breaking out one day into the expression, “No doubt, Plato, when you are at home among the philosophers, your companions, you will complain of me, and reckon up a great many of my faults.” To which Plato answered with a smile, “The Academy will never, I trust, be at such a loss for subjects to discuss as to seek one in you.” Thus, they say, Plato was dismissed; but his own writings do not altogether agree with this account.
Dion was angry at all this, and not long after declared open enmity to Dionysius, on hearing what had been done with his wife; on which matter Plato, also, had had some confidential correspondence with Dionysius. Thus it was. After Dion’s banishment, Dionysius, when he sent Plato back, had desired him to ask Dion privately, if he would be averse to his wife’s marrying another man, For there went a report, whether true, or raised by Dion’s enemies, that his marriage was not pleasing to him, and that he lived with his wife on uneasy terms. When Plato therefore came to Athens, and had mentioned the subject to Dion, he wrote a letter to Dionysius, speaking of other matters openly, but on this in language expressly designed to be understood by him alone, to the effect that he had talked with Dion about the business, and that it was evident he would highly resent the affront, if it should be put into execution. At that time, therefore, while there were yet great hopes of an accommodation, he took no new steps with his sister, suffering her to live with Dion’s child. But when things were come to that pass, that no reconciliation could be expected, and Plato, after his second visit, was again sent away in displeasure, he then forced Arete, against her will, to marry Timocrates, one of his favorites; in this action coming short even of his father’s justice and lenity; for he, when Polyxenus, the husband of his sister, Theste, became his enemy, and fled in alarm out of Sicily, sent for his sister, and taxed her, that, being privy to her husband’s flight, she had not declared it to him. But the lady, confident and fearless, made him this reply: “Do you believe me, brother, so bad a wife, or so timorous a woman, that, having known my husband’s flight, I would not have borne him company, and shared his fortunes? I knew nothing of it; since otherwise it had been my better lot to be called the wife of the exile Polyxenus, than the sister of the tyrant Dionysius.” It is said, he admired her free and ready answer, as did the Syracusans, also, her courage and virtue, insomuch that she retained her dignity and princely retinue after the dissolution of the tyranny, and, when she died, the citizens, by public decree, attended the solemnity of her funeral. And the story, though a digression from the present purpose, was well worth the telling.
From this time, Dion set his mind upon warlike measures; with which Plato, out of respect for past hospitalities, and because of his age, would have nothing to do. But Speusippus and the rest of his friends assisted and encouraged him, bidding him deliver Sicily, which with lift-up hands implored his help, and with open arms was ready to receive him. For when Plato was staying at Syracuse, Speusippus, being oftener than he in company with the citizens, had more thoroughly made out how they were inclined; and though at first they had been on their guard, suspecting his bold language, as though he had been set on by the tyrant to trepan them, yet at length they trusted him. There was but one mind and one wish or prayer among them all, that Dion would undertake the design, and come, though without either navy, men, horse, or arms; that he would simply put himself aboard any ship, and lend the Sicilians his person and name against Dionysius. This information from Speusippus encouraged Dion, who, concealing his real purpose, employed his friends privately to raise what men they could; and many statesmen and philosophers were assisting to him, as, for instance, Eudemus the Cyprian, on whose death Aristotle wrote his Dialogue of the Soul, and Timonides the Leucadian. They also engaged on his side Miltas the Thessalian, who was a prophet, and had studied in the Academy. But of all that were banished by Dionysius, who were not fewer than a thousand, five and twenty only joined in the enterprise; the rest were afraid, and abandoned it. The rendezvous was in the island Zacynthus, where a small force of not quite eight hundred men came together, all of them, however, persons already distinguished in plenty of previous hard service, their bodies well trained and practiced, and their experience and courage amply sufficient to animate and embolden to action the numbers whom Dion expected to join him in Sicily.
Yet these men, when they first understood the expedition was against Dionysius, were troubled and disheartened, blaming Dion, that, hurried on like a madman by mere passion and despair, he rashly threw both himself and them into certain ruin. Nor were they less angry with their commanders and muster-masters, that they had not in the beginning let them know the design. But when Dion in his address to them had set forth the unsafe and weak condition of arbitrary government, and declared that he carried them rather for commanders than soldiers, the citizens of Syracuse and the rest of the Sicilians having been long ready for a revolt, and when, after him, Alcimenes, an Achæan of the highest birth and reputation, who accompanied the expedition, harangued them to the same effect, they were contented.
It was now the middle of summer, and the Etesian winds blowing steadily on the seas, the moon was at the full, when Dion prepared a magnificent sacrifice to Apollo; and with great solemnity marched his soldiers to the temple in all their arms and accouterments. And after the sacrifice, he feasted them all in the race-course of the Zacynthians, where he had made provision for their entertainment. And when here they beheld with wonder the quantity and the richness of the gold and silver plate, and the tables laid to entertain them, all far exceeding the fortunes of a private man, they concluded with themselves, that a man now past the prime of life, who was master of so much treasure, would not engage himself in so hazardous an enterprise without good reason of hope, and certain and sufficient assurances of aid from friends over there. Just after the libations were made, and the accompanying prayers offered, the moon was eclipsed; which was no wonder to Dion, who understood the revolutions of eclipses, and the way in which the moon is overshadowed and the earth interposed between her and the sun. But because it was necessary that the soldiers, who were surprised and troubled at it, should be satisfied and encouraged, Miltas the diviner, standing up in the midst of the assembly, bade them be of good cheer, and expect all happy success, for that the divine powers foreshowed that something at present glorious and resplendent should be eclipsed and obscured; nothing at this time being more splendid than the sovereignty of Dionysius, their arrival in Sicily should dim this glory, and extinguish this brightness. Thus Miltas, in public, descanted upon the incident. But concerning a swarm of bees which settled on the poop of Dion’s ship, he privately told him and his friends, that he feared the great actions they were like to perform, though for a time they should thrive and flourish, would be of short continuance, and soon suffer a decay. It is reported, also, that many prodigies happened to Dionysius at that time. An eagle, snatching a javelin from one of the guard, carried it aloft, and from thence let it fall into the sea. The water of the sea that washed the castle walls was for a whole day sweet and potable, as many that tasted it experienced. Pigs were farrowed perfect in all their other parts, but without ears. This the diviners declared to portend revolt and rebellion, for that the subjects would no longer give ear to the commands of their superiors. They expounded the sweetness of the water to signify to the Syracusans a change from hard and grievous times into easier and more happy circumstances. The eagle being the bird of Jupiter, and the spear an emblem of power and command, this prodigy was to denote that the chief of the gods designed the end and dissolution of the present government. These things Theopompus relates in his history.
Two ships of burden carried all Dion’s men; a third vessel, of no great size, and two galleys of thirty oars attended them. In addition to his soldiers’ own arms, he carried two thousand shields, a very great number of darts and lances, and abundant stores of all manner of provisions, that there might be no want of anything in their voyage; their purpose being to keep out at sea during the whole voyage, and use the winds, since all the land was hostile to them, and Philistus, they had been told, was in Iapygia with a fleet, looking out for them. Twelve days they sailed with a fresh and gentle breeze; on the thirteenth, they made Pachynus, the Sicilian cape. There Protus, the chief pilot, advised them to land at once and without delay, for if they were forced again from the shore, and did not take advantage of the headland, they might ride out at sea many nights and days, waiting for a southerly wind in the summer season. But Dion, fearing a descent too near his enemies, and desirous to begin at a greater distance, and further on in the country, sailed on past Pachynus. They had not gone far, before stress of weather, the wind blowing hard at north, drove the fleet from the coast; and it being now about the time that Arcturus rises, a violent storm of wind and rain came on, with thunder and lightning, the mariners were at their wits’ end, and ignorant what course they ran, until on a sudden they found they were driving with the sea on Cercina, the island on the coast of Africa, just where it is most craggy and dangerous to run upon. Upon the cliffs there they escaped narrowly of being forced and staved to pieces; but, laboring hard at their oars, with much difficulty they kept clear until the storm ceased. Then, lighting by chance upon a vessel, they understood they were upon the Heads, as it is called, of the Great Syrtis; and when they were now again disheartened by a sudden calm, and beating to and fro without making any way, a soft air began to blow from the land, when they expected anything rather than wind from the south and scarce believed the happy change of their fortune. The gale gradually increasing, and beginning to blow fresh, they clapped on all their sails, and, praying to the gods, put out again into the open sea, steering right from Africa for Sicily. And, running steady before the wind, the fifth day they arrived at Minoa, a little town of Sicily, in the dominion of the Carthaginians, of which Synalus, an acquaintance and friend of Dion’s, happened at that time to be governor; who, not knowing it was Dion and his fleet, endeavored to hinder his men from landing; but they rushed on shore with their swords in their hands, not slaying any of their opponents (for this Dion had forbidden, because of his friendship with the Carthaginians), but forced them to retreat, and, following close, pressed in a body with them into the place, and took it. As soon as the two commanders met, they mutually saluted each other; Dion delivered up the place again to Synalus, without the least damage done to anyone therein, and Synalus quartered and entertained the soldiers, and supplied Dion with what he wanted.
They were most of all encouraged by the happy accident of Dionysius’s absence at this nick of time; for it appeared that he was lately gone with eighty sail of ships to Italy. Therefore, when Dion was desirous that the soldiers should refresh themselves there, after their tedious and troublesome voyage, they would not be prevailed with, but, earnest to make the best use of that opportunity, they urged Dion to lead them straight on to Syracuse. Leaving therefore their baggage, and the arms they did not use, Dion desired Synalus to convey them to him as he had occasion, and marched directly to Syracuse.
The first that came in to him upon his march were two hundred horse of the Agrigentines who were settled near Ecnomum, and, after them, the Geloans. But the news soon flying to Syracuse, Timocrates, who had married Dion’s wife, the sister of Dionysius, and was the principal man among his friends now remaining in the city, immediately dispatched a courier to Dionysius with letters announcing Dion’s arrival; while he himself took all possible care to prevent any stir or tumult in the city, where all were in great excitement, but as yet continued quiet, fearing to give too much credit to what was reported. A very strange accident happened to the messenger who was sent with the letters; for being arrived in Italy, as he traveled through the land of Rhegium, hastening to Dionysius at Caulonia, he met one of his acquaintance, who was carrying home part of a sacrifice. He accepted a piece of the flesh, which his friend offered him, and proceeded on his journey with all speed; having traveled a good part of the night, and being through weariness forced to take a little rest, he laid himself down in the next convenient place he came to, which was in a wood near the road. A wolf, scenting the flesh, came and seized it as it lay fastened to the letter-bag, and with the flesh carried away the bag also, in which were the letters to Dionysius. The man, awaking and missing his bag, sought for it up and down a great while, and, not finding it, resolved not to go to the king without his letters, but to conceal himself, and keep out of the way.
Dionysius, therefore, came to hear of the war in Sicily from other hands, and that a good while after. In the meantime, as Dion proceeded in his march, the Camarineans joined his forces, and the country people in the territory of Syracuse rose and joined him in a large body. The Leontines and Campanians, who, with Timocrates, guarded the Epipolæ, receiving a false alarm which was spread on purpose by Dion, as if he intended to attack their cities first, left Timocrates, and hastened off to carry succor to their own homes. News of which being brought to Dion, where he lay near Macræ, he raised his camp by night, and came to the river Anapus, which is distant from the city about ten furlongs; there he made a halt, and sacrificed by the river, offering vows to the rising sun. The soothsayers declared that the gods promised him victory; and they that were present, seeing him assisting at the sacrifice with a garland on his head, one and all crowned themselves with garlands. There were about five thousand that had joined his forces in their march; who, though but ill-provided, with such weapons as came next to hand, made up by zeal and courage for the want of better arms; and when once they were told to advance, as if Dion were already conqueror, they ran forward with shouts and acclamations, encouraging each other with the hopes of liberty.
The most considerable men and better sort of the citizens of Syracuse, clad all in white, met him at the gates. The populace set upon all that were of Dionysius’s party, and principally searched for those they called setters or informers, a number of wicked and hateful wretches, who made it their business to go up and down the city, thrusting themselves into all companies, that they might inform Dionysius what men said, and how they stood affected. These were the first that suffered, being beaten to death by the crowd. Timocrates, not being able to force his way to the garrison that kept the castle, took horse, and fled out of the city, filling all the places where he came with fear and confusion, magnifying the amount of Dion’s forces, that he might not be supposed to have deserted his charge without good reason for it. By this time, Dion was come up, and appeared in the sight of the people; he marched first in a rich suit of arms, and by him on one hand his brother, Megacles, on the other, Callippus the Athenian, crowned with garlands. Of the foreign soldiers, a hundred followed as his guard, and their several officers led the rest in good order; the Syracusans looking on and welcoming them, as if they believed the whole to be a sacred and religious procession, to celebrate the solemn entrance, after an absence of forty-eight years, of liberty and popular government.
Dion entered by the Menitid gate, and, having by sound of trumpet quieted the noise of the people, he caused proclamation to be made, that Dion and Megacles, who were come to overthrow the tyrannical government, did declare the Syracusans and all other Sicilians to be free from the tyrant. But, being desirous to harangue the people himself, he went up through the Achradina. The citizens on each side the way brought victims for sacrifice, set out their tables and goblets, and as he passed by each door threw flowers and ornaments upon him, with vows and acclamations, honoring him as a god. There was under the castle and the Pentapyla a lofty and conspicuous sundial, which Dionysius had set up. Getting up upon the top of that, he made an oration to the people, calling upon them to maintain and defend their liberty; who, with great expressions of joy and acknowledgment, created Dion and Megacles generals, with plenary powers, joining in commission with them, at their desire and entreaty, twenty colleagues, of whom half were of those that had returned with them out of banishment. It seemed also to the diviners a most happy omen, that Dion, when he made his address to the people, had under his feet the stately monument which Dionysius had been at such pains to erect; but because it was a sundial on which he stood when he was made general, they expressed some fears that the great actions he had performed might be subject to change, and admit some rapid turn and declination of fortune.
After this, Dion, taking the Epipolæ, released the citizens who were imprisoned there, and then raised a wall to invest the castle. Seven days after, Dionysus arrived by sea, and got into the citadel, and about the same time came carriages bringing the arms and ammunition which Dion had left with Synalus. These he distributed among the citizens; and the rest that wanted furnished themselves as well as they could, and put themselves in the condition of zealous and serviceable men-at-arms.
Dionysius sent agents, at first privately, to Dion, to try what terms they could make with him. But he declaring that any overtures they had to make must be made in public to the Syracusans as a free people, envoys now went and came between the tyrant and the people, with fair proposals, and assurances that they should have abatements of their tributes and taxes, and freedom from the burdens of military expeditions, all which should be made according to their own approbation and consent with him. The Syracusans laughed at these offers, and Dion returned answer to the envoys that Dionysius must not think to treat with them upon any other terms but resigning the government; which if he would actually do, he would not forget how nearly he was related to him, or be wanting to assist him in procuring oblivion for the past, and whatever else was reasonable and just. Dionysius seemed to consent to this, and sent his agents again, desiring some of the Syracusans to come into the citadel and discuss with him in person the terms to which on each side they might be willing, after fair debate, to consent. There were therefore some deputed, such as Dion approved of; and the general rumor from the castle was, that Dionysius would voluntarily resign his authority, and rather do it himself as his own good deed, than let it be the act of Dion. But this profession was a mere trick to amuse the Syracusans. For he put the deputies that were sent to him in custody, and by break of day, having first, to encourage his men, made them drink plentifully of raw wine, he sent the garrison of mercenaries out to make a sudden sally against Dion’s works. The attack was quite unexpected, and the barbarians set to work boldly with loud cries to pull down the cross-wall, and assailed the Syracusans so furiously that they were not able to maintain their post. Only a party of Dion’s hired soldiers, on first taking the alarm, advanced to the rescue; neither did they at first know what to do, or how to employ the aid they brought, not being able to hear the commands of their officers, amidst the noise and confusion of the Syracusans, who fled from the enemy and ran in among them, breaking through their ranks, until Dion, seeing none of his orders could be heard, resolved to let them see by example what they ought to do, and charged into the thickest of the enemy. The fight about him was fierce and bloody, he being as well known by the enemy as by his own party, and all running with loud cries to the quarter where he fought. Though his time of life was no longer that of the bodily strength and agility for such a combat, still his determination and courage were sufficient to maintain him against all that attacked him; but, while bravely driving them back, he was wounded in the hand with a lance, his body armor also had been much battered, and was scarcely any longer serviceable to protect him, either against missiles or blows hand to hand. Many spears and javelins had passed into it through the shield, and, on these being broken back, he fell to the ground, but was immediately rescued, and carried off by his soldiers. The command-in-chief he left to Timonides, and, mounting a horse, rode about the city, rallying the Syracusans that fled; and, ordering up a detachment of the foreign soldiers out of Achradina, where they were posted on guard, he brought them as a fresh reserve, eager for battle, upon the tired and failing enemy, who were already well inclined to give up their design. For having hopes at their first sally to retake the whole city, when beyond their expectation they found themselves engaged with bold and practiced fighters, they fell back towards the castle. As soon as they gave ground, the Greek soldiers pressed the harder upon them, till they turned and fled within the walls. There were lost in this action seventy-four of Dion’s men, and a very great number of the enemy. This being a signal victory, and principally obtained by the valor of the foreign soldiers, the Syracusans rewarded them in honor of it with a hundred minæ, and the soldiers on their part presented Dion with a crown of gold.
Soon after, there came heralds from Dionysius, bringing Dion letters from the women of his family, and one addressed outside, “To his father, from Hipparinus;” this was the name of Dion’s son, though Timæus says, he was, from his mother Arete’s name, called Aretæus; but I think credit is rather to be given to Timonides’s report, who was his father’s fellow-soldier and confidant. The rest of the letters were read publicly, containing many solicitations and humble requests of the women; that professing to be from his son, the heralds would not have them open publicly, but Dion, putting force upon them, broke the seal. It was from Dionysius, written in the terms of it to Dion, but in effect to the Syracusans, and so worded that, under a plausible justification of himself and entreaty to him, means were taken for rendering him suspected by the people. It reminded him of the good service he had formerly done the usurping government, it added threats to his dearest relations, his sister, son, and wife, if he did not comply with the contents, also passionate demands mingled with lamentations, and, most to the purpose of all, urgent recommendations to him not to destroy the government, and put the power into the hands of men who always hated him, and would never forget their old piques and quarrels; let him take the sovereignty himself, and so secure the safety of his family and his friends.
When this letter was read, the Syracusans were not, as they should have been, transported with admiration at the unmovable constancy and magnanimity of Dion, who withstood all his dearest interests to be true to virtue and justice, but, on the contrary, they saw in this their reason for fearing and suspecting that he lay under an invincible necessity to be favorable to Dionysius; and they began therefore to look out for other leaders, and the rather, because to their great joy they received the news that Heraclides was on his way. This Heraclides was one of those whom Dionysius had banished, very good soldier, and well known for the commands he had formerly had under the tyrant; yet a man of no constant purpose, of a fickle temper, and least of all to be relied upon when he had to act with a colleague in any honorable command. He had had a difference formerly with Dion in Peloponnesus, and had resolved, upon his own means, with what ships and soldiers he had, to make an attack upon Dionysius. When he arrived at Syracuse, with seven galleys and three small vessels, he found Dionysius already close besieged, and the Syracusans high and proud of their victories. Forthwith, therefore, he endeavored by all ways to make himself popular; and, indeed, he had in him naturally something that was very insinuating and taking with a populace that loves to be courted. He gained his end, also, the easier, and drew the people over to his side, because of the dislike they had taken to Dion’s grave and stately manner, which they thought overbearing and assuming; their successes having made them so careless and confident, that they expected popular arts and flatteries from their leaders, before they had in reality secured a popular government.
Getting therefore together in an irregular assembly, they chose Heraclides their admiral; but when Dion came forward, and told them, that conferring this trust upon Heraclides was in effect to withdraw that which they had granted him, for he was no longer their generalissimo if another had the command of the navy, they repealed their order, and, though much against their wills, canceled the new appointment. When this business was over, Dion invited Heraclides to his house, and pointed out to him, in gentle terms, that he had not acted wisely or well to quarrel with him upon a punctilio of honor, at a time when the least false step might be the ruin of all; and then, calling a fresh assembly of the people, he there named Heraclides admiral, and prevailed with the citizens to allow him a life-guard, as he himself had.
Heraclides openly professed the highest respect for Dion, and made him great acknowledgments for this favor, attending him with all deference, as ready to receive his commands; but underhand he kept up his dealings with the populace and the unrulier citizens, unsettling their minds and disturbing them with his complaints, and putting Dion into the utmost perplexity and disquiet. For if he advised to give Dionysius leave to quit the castle, he would be exposed to the imputation of sparing and protecting him; if, to avoid giving offense or suspicion, he simply continued the siege, they would say he protracted the war, to keep his office of general the longer, and overawe the citizens.
There was one Sosis, notorious in the city for his bad conduct and his impudence, yet a favorite with the people, for the very reason that they liked to see it made a part of popular privileges to carry free speech to this excess of license. This man, out of a design against Dion, stood up one day in an assembly, and, having sufficiently railed at the citizens as a set of fools, that could not see how they had made an exchange of a dissolute and drunken for a sober and watchful despotism, and thus having publicly declared himself Dion’s enemy, took his leave. The next day, he was seen running through the streets, as if he fled from some that pursued him, almost naked, wounded in the head, and bloody all over. In this condition, getting people about him in the marketplace, he told them that he had been assaulted by Dion’s men; and, to confirm what he said, showed them the wounds he had received in his head. And a good many took his part, exclaiming loudly against Dion for his cruel and tyrannical conduct, stopping the mouths of the people by bloodshed and peril of life. Just as an assembly was gathering in this unsettled and tumultuous state of mind, Dion came before them, and made it appear how this Sosis was brother to one of Dionysius’s guard, and that he was set on by him to embroil the city in tumult and confusion; Dionysius having now no way left for his security but to make his advantage of their dissensions and distractions. The surgeons, also, having searched the wound, found it was rather razed, than cut with a downright blow; for the wounds made with a sword are, from their mere weight, most commonly deepest in the middle, but this was very slight, and all along of an equal depth; and it was not one continued wound, as if cut at once, but several incisions, in all probability made at several times, as he was able to endure the pain. There were credible persons, also, who brought a razor, and showed it in the assembly, stating that they met Sosis running in the street, all bloody, who told them that he was flying from Dion’s soldiers, who had just attacked and wounded him; they ran at once to look after them, and met no one, but spied this razor lying under a hollow stone near the place from which they observed he came.
Sosis was now likely to come by the worst of it. But when, to back all this, his own servants came in, and gave evidence that he had left his house alone before break of day, with the razor in his hand, Dion’s accusers withdrew themselves, and the people by a general vote condemned Sosis to die, being once again well satisfied with Dion and his proceedings.
Yet they were still as jealous as before of his soldiers, and the rather, because the war was now carried on principally by sea; Philistus being come from Iapygia with a great fleet to Dionysius’s assistance. They supposed, therefore, that there would be no longer need of the soldiers, who were all landsmen and armed accordingly: these were rather, indeed, they thought, in a condition to be protected by themselves, who were seamen, and had their power in their shipping. Their good opinion of themselves was also much enhanced by an advantage they got in an engagement by sea, in which they took Philistus prisoner, and used him in a barbarous and cruel manner. Ephorus relates that when he saw his ship was taken he slew himself. But Timonides, who was with Dion from the very first, and was present at all the events as they occurred, writing to Speusippus the philosopher, relates the story thus: that Philistus’s galley running aground, he was taken prisoner alive, and first disarmed, then stripped of his corslet, and exposed naked, being now an old man, to every kind of contumely; after which they cut off his head, and gave his body to the boys of the town, bidding them drag it through the Achradina, and then throw it into the Quarries. Timæus, to increase the mockery, adds further, that the boys tied him by his lame leg, and so drew him through the streets, while the Syracusans stood by laughing and jesting at the sight of that very man thus tied and dragged about by the leg, who had told Dionysius, that, so far from flying on horseback from Syracuse, he ought to wait till he should be dragged out by the heels. Philistus, however, has stated, that this was said to Dionysius by another, and not by himself.
Timæus avails himself of this advantage, which Philistus truly enough affords against himself in his zealous and constant adherence to the tyranny, to vent his own spleen and malice against him. They, indeed, who were injured by him at the time are perhaps excusable, if they carried their resentment to the length of indignities to his dead body; but they who write history afterwards, and were noway wronged by him in his lifetime, and have received assistance from his writings, in honor should not with opprobrious and scurrilous language upbraid him for those misfortunes, which may well enough befall even the best of men. On the other side, Ephorus is as much out of the way in his encomiums. For, however ingenious he is in supplying unjust acts and wicked conduct with fair and worthy motives, and in selecting decorous and honorable terms, yet when he does his best, he does not himself stand clear of the charge of being the greatest lover of tyrants, and the fondest admirer of luxury and power and rich estates and alliances of marriage with absolute princes. He that neither praises Philistus for his conduct, nor insults over his misfortunes, seems to me to take the fittest course.
After Philistus’s death, Dionysius sent to Dion, offering to surrender the castle, all the arms, provisions, and garrison-soldiers, with full pay for them for five months, demanding in return that he might have safe conduct to go unmolested into Italy, and there to continue, and also to enjoy the revenues of Gyarta, a large and fruitful territory belonging to Syracuse, reaching from the sea-side to the middle of the country. Dion rejected these proposals, and referred him to the Syracusans. They, hoping in a short time to take Dionysius alive, dismissed his ambassadors summarily. But he, leaving his eldest son, Apollocrates, to defend the castle, and putting on board his ships the persons and the property that he set most value upon, took the opportunity of a fair wind, and made his escape, undiscovered by the admiral Heraclides and his fleet.
The citizens loudly exclaimed against Heraclides for this neglect; but he got one of their public speakers, Hippo by name, to go among them, and make proposals to the assembly for a redivision of lands, alleging that the first beginning of liberty was equality, and that poverty and slavery were inseparable companions. In support of this, Heraclides spoke, and used the faction in favor of it to overpower Dion, who opposed it; and, in fine, he persuaded the people to ratify it by their vote, and further to decree, that the foreign soldiers should receive no pay, and that they would elect new commanders, and so be rid of Dion’s oppression. The people, attempting, as it were, after their long sickness of despotism, all at once to stand on their legs, and to do the part, for which they were yet unfit, of freemen, stumbled in all their actions; and yet hated Dion, who, like a good physician, endeavored to keep the city to a strict and temperate regimen.
When they met in the assembly to choose their commanders, about the middle of summer, unusual and terrible thunders, with other inauspicious appearances, for fifteen days together, dispersed the people, deterring them, on grounds of religious fear, from creating new generals. But, at last, the popular leaders, having found a fair and clear day, and having got their party together, were proceeding to an election, when a draught-ox, who was used to the crowd and noise of the streets, but for some reason or other grew unruly to his driver, breaking from his yoke, ran furiously into the theater where they were assembled, and set the people flying and running in all directions before him in the greatest disorder and confusion; and from thence went on, leaping and rushing about, over all that part of the city which the enemies afterwards made themselves masters of. However, the Syracusans, not regarding all this, elected five and twenty captains, and, among the rest, Heraclides; and underhand tampered with Dion’s men, promising, if they would desert him, and enlist themselves in their service, to make them citizens of Syracuse, with all the privileges of natives. But they would not hear the proposals, but, to show their fidelity and courage, with their swords in their hands, placing Dion for his security in the midst of their battalion, conveyed him out of the city, not offering violence to anyone, but upbraiding those they met with their baseness and ingratitude. The citizens, seeing they were but few, and did not offer any violence, despised them; and, supposing that with their large numbers they might with ease overpower and cut them off before they got out of the city, fell upon them in the rear.
Here Dion was in a great strait, being necessitated either to fight against his own countrymen, or tamely suffer himself and his faithful soldiers to be cut in pieces. He used many entreaties to the Syracusans, stretching out his hands towards the castle, that was full of their enemies, and showing them the soldiers, who in great numbers appeared on the walls and watched what was doing. But when no persuasions could divert the impulse of the multitude, and the whole mass, like the sea in a storm, seemed to be driven before the breath of the demagogues, he commanded his men, not to charge them, but to advance with shouts and clashing of their arms; which being done, not a man of them stood his ground; all fled at once through the streets, though none pursued them. For Dion immediately commanded his men to face about, and led them towards the city of the Leontines.
The very women laughed at the new captains for this retreat; so to redeem their credit, they bid the citizens arm themselves again, and followed after Dion, and came up with him as he was passing a river. Some of the light-horse rode up and began to skirmish. But when they saw Dion no more tame and calm, and no signs in his face of any fatherly tenderness towards his countrymen, but with an angry countenance, as resolved not to suffer their indignities any longer, bidding his men face round and form in their ranks for the onset, they presently turned their backs more basely than before, and fled to the city, with the loss of some few of their men.
The Leontines received Dion very honorably, gave money to his men, and made them free of their city; sending envoys to the Syracusans, to require them to do the soldiers justice, who, in return, sent back other agents to accuse Dion. But when a general meeting of the confederates met in the town of the Leontines, and the matter was heard and debated, the Syracusans were held to be in fault. They, however, refused to stand to the award of their allies, following their own conceit, and making it their pride to listen to no one, and not to have any commanders but those who would fear and obey the people.
About this time, Dionysius sent in a fleet, under the command of Nypsius the Neapolitan, with provisions and pay for the garrison. The Syracusans fought him, had the better, and took four of his ships; but they made very ill use of their good success, and, for want of good discipline, fell in their joy to drinking and feasting in an extravagant manner, with so little regard to their main interest, that, when they thought themselves sure of taking the castle, they actually lost their city. Nypsius, seeing the citizens in this general disorder, spending day and night in their drunken singing and reveling, and their commanders well pleased with the frolic, or at least not daring to try and give any orders to men in their drink, took advantage of this opportunity, made a sally, and stormed their works; and, having made his way through these, let his barbarians loose upon the city, giving up it and all that were in it to their pleasure.
The Syracusans quickly saw their folly and misfortune, but could not, in the distraction they were in, so soon redress it. The city was in actual process of being sacked, the enemy putting the men to the sword, demolishing the fortifications, and dragging the women and children with lamentable shrieks and cries prisoners into the castle. The commanders, giving all for lost, were not able to put the citizens in any tolerable posture of defense, finding them confusedly mixed up and scattered among the enemy. While they were in this condition, and the Achradina in danger to be taken, everyone was sensible who he was in whom all their remaining hopes rested, but no man for shame durst name Dion, whom they had so ungratefully and foolishly dealt with. Necessity at last forcing them, some of the auxiliary troops and horsemen cried out, “Send for Dion and his Peloponnesians from the Leontines.” No sooner was the venture made and the name heard among the people, but they gave a shout for joy, and, with tears in their eyes, wished him there, that they might once again see that leader at the head of them, whose courage and bravery in the worst of dangers they well remembered, calling to mind not only with what an undaunted spirit he always behaved himself, but also with what courage and confidence he inspired them when he led them against the enemy. They immediately, therefore, dispatched Archonides and Telesides of the confederate troops, and of the horsemen Hellanicus and four others. These, traversing the road between at their horses’ full speed, reached the town of the Leontines in the evening. The first thing they did was to leap from their horses and fall at Dion’s feet, relating with tears the sad condition the Syracusans were in. Many of the Leontines and Peloponnesians began to throng about them, guessing by their speed and the manner of their address that something extraordinary had occurred.
Dion at once led the way to the assembly, and, the people being gathered together in a very little time, Archonides and Hellanicus and the others came in among them, and in short declared the misery and distress of the Syracusans, begging the foreign soldiers to forget the injuries they had received, and assist the afflicted, who had suffered more for the wrong they had done, than they themselves who received it would (had it been in their power) have inflicted upon them. When they had made an end, there was a profound silence in the theater; Dion then stood up, and began to speak, but tears stopped his words; his soldiers were troubled at his grief, but bade him take good courage and proceed. When he had recovered himself a little, therefore, “Men of Peloponnesus,” he said, “and of the confederacy, I asked for your presence here, that you might consider your own interests. For myself, I have no interests to consult while Syracuse is perishing, and, though I may not save it from destruction, I will nevertheless hasten thither, and be buried in the ruins of my country. Yet if you can find in your hearts to assist us, the most inconsiderate and unfortunate of men, you may to your eternal honor again retrieve this unhappy city. But if the Syracusans can obtain no more pity nor relief from you, may the gods reward you for what you have formerly valiantly done for them, and for your kindness to Dion, of whom speak hereafter as one who deserted you not when you were injured and abused, nor afterwards forsook his fellow-citizens in their afflictions and misfortunes.”
Before he had yet ended his speech, the soldiers leapt up, and with a great shout testified their readiness for the service, crying out, to march immediately to the relief of the city. The Syracusan messengers hugged and embraced them, praying the Gods to send down blessings upon Dion and the Peloponnesians. When the noise was pretty well over, Dion gave orders that all should go to their quarters to prepare for their march, and, having refreshed themselves, come ready armed to their rendezvous in the place where they now were, resolving that very night to attempt the rescue.
Now at Syracuse, Dionysius’s soldiers, as long as day continued, ransacked the city, and did all the mischief they could; but when night came on, they retired into the castle, having lost some few of their number. At which the factious ringleaders taking heart, and hoping the enemy would rest content with what they had done and make no further attempt upon them, persuaded the people again to reject Dion, and, if he came with the foreign soldiers, not to admit him; advising them not to yield, as inferior to them in point of honor and courage, but to save their city and defend their liberties and properties themselves. The populace, therefore, and their leaders sent messengers to Dion to forbid him to advance, while the noble citizens and the horse sent others to him to desire him to hasten his march; for which reason he slacked his pace, yet did not remit his advance. And in the course of the night, the faction that was against him set a guard upon the gates of the city to hinder him from coming in. But Nypsius made another sally out of the castle with a far greater number of men, and those far more bold and eager than before, who quite ruined what of the rampart was left standing, and fell in, pell-mell, to sack and ravage the city. The slaughter was now very great, not only of the men, but of the women also and children; for they regarded not so much the plunder, as to destroy and kill all they met. For Dionysius, despairing to regain the kingdom, and mortally hating the Syracusans, resolved to bury his lost sovereignty in the ruin and desolation of Syracuse. The soldiers, therefore, to anticipate Dion’s succors, resolved upon the most complete and ready way of destruction, to lay the city in ashes, firing all at hand with torches and lamps, and at distance with flaming arrows, shot from their bows. The citizens fled every way before them; they who, to avoid the fire, forsook their houses were taken in the streets and put to the sword; they who betook themselves for refuge into the houses were forced out again by the flames, many buildings being now in a blaze, and many falling in ruins upon them as they fled past.
This fresh misfortune by general consent opened the gates for Dion. He had given up his rapid advance, when he received advice that the enemies were retreated into the castle; but, in the morning, some horse brought him the news of another assault, and, soon after, some of those who before opposed his coming fled now to him, to entreat him he would hasten his relief. The pressure increasing, Heraclides sent his brother, and after him his uncle, Theodotes, to beg him to help them: for that now they were not able to resist any longer; he himself was wounded, and the greatest part of the city either in ruins or in flames. When Dion met this sad news, he was about sixty furlongs distant from the city. When he had acquainted the soldiers with the exigency, and exhorted them to behave themselves like men, the army no longer marched but ran forwards, and by the way were met by messengers upon messengers entreating them to make haste. By the wonderful eagerness of the soldiers and their extraordinary speed, Dion quickly came to the city and entered what is called the Hecatompedon, sending his light-armed men at once to charge the enemy, that, seeing them, the Syracusans might take courage. In the meantime, he drew up in good order his full-armed men and all the citizens that came in and joined him; forming his battalions deep, and distributing his officers in many separate commands, that he might, be able to attack from many quarters at once, and so he more alarming to the enemy.
So, having made his arrangements and offered vows to the gods, when he was seen in the streets advancing at the head of his men to engage the enemy, a confused noise of shouts, congratulations, vows, and prayers was raised by the Syracusans, who now called Dion their deliverer and tutelar deity, and his soldiers their friends, brethren, and fellow-citizens. And, indeed, at that moment, none seemed to regard themselves, or value their safeties, but to be concerned more for Dion’s life than for all their own together, as he marched at the head of them to meet the danger, through blood and fire and over heaps of dead bodies that lay in his way.
And indeed the posture of the enemy was in appearance terrible; for they were flushed and ferocious with victory, and had posted themselves very advantageously along the demolished works, which made the access to them very hazardous and difficult. Yet that which disturbed Dion’s soldiers most was the apprehension they were in of the fire, which made their march very trouble some and difficult; for the houses being in flames on all sides, they were met everywhere with the blaze, and, treading upon burning ruins and every minute in danger of being overwhelmed with falling houses, through clouds of ashes and smoke they labored hard to keep their order and maintain their ranks. When they came near to the enemy, the approach was so narrow and uneven that but few of them could engage at a time; but at length, with loud cheers and much zeal on the part of the Syracusans, encouraging them and joining with them, they beat off Nypsius’s men, and put them to flight. Most of them escaped into the castle, which was near at hand; all that could not get in were pursued and picked up here and there by the soldiers, and put to the sword. The present exigency, however, did not suffer the citizens to take immediate benefit of their victory in such mutual congratulations and embraces as became so great a success; for now all were busily employed to save what houses were left standing, laboring hard all night, and scarcely so could master the fire.
The next day, not one of the popular haranguers durst stay in the city, but all of them, knowing their own guilt, by their flight confessed it, and secured their lives. Only Heraclides and Theodotes went voluntarily and surrendered themselves to Dion, acknowledging that they had wronged him, and begging he would be kinder to them than they had been just to him; adding, how much it would become him who was master of so many excellent accomplishments, to moderate his anger and be generously compassionate to ungrateful men, who were here before him, making their confession, that, in all the matter of their former enmity and rivalry against him, they were now absolutely overcome by his virtue. Though they thus humbly addressed him, his friends advised him not to pardon these turbulent and ill-conditioned men, but to yield them to the desires of his soldiers, and utterly root out of the commonwealth the ambitious affectation of popularity, a disease as pestilent and pernicious as the passion for tyranny itself. Dion endeavored to satisfy them, telling them that other generals exercised and trained themselves for the most part in the practices of war and arms; but that he had long studied in the Academy how to conquer anger, and not let emulation and envy conquer him; that to do this it is not sufficient that a man be obliging and kind to his friends, and those that have deserved well of him, but rather, gentle and ready to forgive in the case of those who do wrong; that he wished to let the world see that he valued not himself so much upon excelling Heraclides in ability and conduct, as he did in outdoing him in justice and clemency; herein to have the advantage is to excel indeed; whereas the honor of success in war is never entire; fortune will be sure to dispute it, though no man should pretend to have a claim. What if Heraclides be perfidious, malicious, and base, must Dion therefore sully or injure his virtue by passionate concern for it? For, though the laws determine it juster to revenge an injury than to do an injury, yet it is evident that both, in the nature of things, originally proceed from the same deficiency and weakness. The malicious humor of men, though perverse and refractory, is not so savage and invincible but it may be wrought upon by kindness, and altered by repeated obligations. Dion, making use of these arguments, pardoned and dismissed Heraclides and Theodotes.
And now, resolving to repair the blockade about the castle, he commanded all the Syracusans to cut each man a stake and bring it to the works; and then, dismissing them to refresh themselves, and take their rest, he employed his own men all night, and by morning had finished his line of palisade; so that both the enemy and the citizens wondered, when day returned, to see the work so far advanced in so short a time. Burying therefore the dead, and redeeming the prisoners, who were near two thousand, he called a public assembly, where Heraclides made a motion that Dion should be declared general with full powers at land and sea. The better citizens approved well of it, and called on the people to vote it so. But the mob of sailors and handicraftsmen would not yield that Heraclides should lose his command of the navy; believing him, if otherwise an ill man, at any rate to be more citizenlike than Dion, and readier to comply with the people. Dion therefore submitted to them in this, and consented Heraclides should continue admiral. But when they began to press the project of the redistribution of lands and houses, he not only opposed it, but repealed all the votes they had formerly made upon that account, which sensibly vexed them. Heraclides, therefore, took a new advantage of him, and, being at Messene, harangued the soldiers and ships’ crews that sailed with him, accusing Dion that he had a design to make himself absolute. And yet at the same time he held private correspondence for a treaty with Dionysius by means of Pharax the Spartan. Which when the noble citizens of Syracuse had intimation of, there arose a sedition in the army, and the city was in great distress and want of provisions; and Dion now knew not what course to take, being also blamed by all his friends for having thus fortified against himself such a perverse and jealous and utterly corrupted man as Heraclides was.
Pharax at this time lay encamped at Neapolis, in the territory of Agrigentum. Dion, therefore, led out the Syracusans, but with an intent not to engage him till he saw a fit opportunity. But Heraclides and his seamen exclaimed against him, that he delayed fighting on purpose that he might the longer continue his command; so that, much against his will, he was forced to an engagement and was beaten, his loss however being inconsiderable, and that occasioned chiefly by the dissension that was in the army. He rallied his men, and, having put them in good order and encouraged them to redeem their credit, resolved upon a second battle. But, in the evening, he received advice that Heraclides with his fleet was on his way to Syracuse, with the purpose to possess himself of the city and keep him and his army out. Instantly, therefore, taking with him some of the strongest and most active of his men, he rode off in the dark, and about nine the next morning was at the gates, having ridden seven hundred furlongs that night. Heraclides, though he strove to make all the speed he could, yet, coming too late, tacked and stood out again to sea; and, being unresolved what course to steer, accidentally he met Gæsylus the Spartan, who told him he was come from Lacedæmon to head the Sicilians, as Gylippus had formerly done. Heraclides was only too glad to get hold of him, and fastening him as it might be a sort of amulet to himself, he showed him to the confederates, and sent a herald to Syracuse to summon them to accept the Spartan general. Dion returned answer that they had generals enough, and, if they wanted a Spartan to command them, he could supply that office, being himself a citizen of Sparta. When Gæsylus saw this, he gave up all pretensions, and sailed in to Dion, and reconciled Heraclides to him, making Heraclides swear the most solemn oaths to perform what he engaged, Gæsylus himself also undertaking to maintain Dion’s right, and inflict chastisement on Heraclides if he broke his faith.
The Syracusans then laid up their navy, which was at present a great charge and of little use to them, but an occasion of differences and dissensions among the generals, and pressed on the siege, finishing the wall of blockade with which they invested the castle. The besieged, seeing no hopes of succors and their provisions failing, began to mutiny; so that the son of Dionysius, in despair of holding out longer for his father, capitulated, and articled with Dion to deliver up the castle with all the garrison soldiers and ammunition; and so, taking his mother and sisters and manning five galleys, he set out to go to his father, Dion seeing him safely out, and scarce a man in all the city not being there to behold the sight, as indeed they called even on those that were not present, out of pity that they could not be there, to see this happy day and the sun shining on a free Syracuse. And as this expulsion of Dionysius is even now always cited as one of the greatest and most remarkable examples of fortune’s vicissitudes, how extraordinary may we imagine their joy to have been, and how entire their satisfaction, who had totally subverted the most potent tyranny that ever was by very slight and inconsiderable means!
When Apollocrates was gone, and Dion coming to take possession of the castle, the women could not stay while he made his entry, but ran to meet him at the gate. Aristomache led Dion’s son, and Arete followed after weeping, fearful and dubious how to salute or address her husband, after living with another man. Dion first embraced his sister, then his son; when Aristomache bringing Arete to him, “O Dion,” said she, “your banishment made us all equally miserable; your return and victory has canceled all sorrows, excepting this poor sufferer’s, whom I, unhappy, saw compelled to be another’s, while you were yet alive. Fortune has now given you the sole disposal of us; how will you determine concerning her hard fate? In what relation must she salute you as her uncle, or as her husband?” This speech of Aristomache’s brought tears from Dion, who with great affection embraced his wife, gave her his son, and desired her to retire to his own house, where he continued to reside when he had delivered up the castle to the Syracusans.
For though all things had now succeeded to his wish, yet he desired not to enjoy any present advantage of his good fortune, except to gratify his friends, reward his allies, and bestow upon his companions of former time in Athens and the soldiers that had served him some special mark of kindness and honor, striving herein to outdo his very means in his generosity. As for himself, he was content with a very frugal and moderate competency, and was indeed the wonder of all men, that when not only Sicily and Carthage, but all Greece looked to him as in the height of prosperity, and no man living greater than he, no general more renowned for valor and success, yet in his garb, his attendance, his table, he seemed as if he rather commoned with Plato in the Academy than lived among hired captains and paid soldiers, whose solace of their toils and dangers it is to eat and drink their fill, and enjoy themselves plentifully every day. Plato indeed wrote to him that the eyes of all the world were now upon him; but it is evident that he himself had fixed his eye upon one place in one city, the Academy, and considered that the spectators and judges there regarded not great actions, courage, or fortune, but watched to see how temperately and wisely he could use his prosperity, how evenly he could behave himself in the high condition he now was in. Neither did he remit anything of his wonted stateliness in conversation or serious carriage to the people; he made it rather a point to maintain it, notwithstanding that a little condescension and obliging civility were very necessary for his present affairs; and Plato, as we said before, rebuked him, and wrote to tell him that self-will keeps house with solitude. But certainly his natural temperament was one that could not bend to complaisance; and, besides, he wished to work the Syracusans back the other way, out of their present excess of license and caprice.
Heraclides began again to set up against him, and, being invited by Dion to make one of the Council, refused to come, saying he would give his opinion as a private citizen in the public assembly. Next he complained of Dion because he had not demolished the citadel, and because he had hindered the people from throwing down Dionysius’s tomb and doing despite to the dead; moreover he accused him for sending to Corinth for counselors and assistants in the government, thereby neglecting and slighting his fellow-citizens. And indeed he had sent messages for some Corinthians to come to him, hoping by their means and presence the better to settle that constitution he intended; for he designed to suppress the unlimited democratic government, which indeed is not a government, but, as Plato calls it, a marketplace of governments, and to introduce and establish a mixed polity, on the Spartan and Cretan model, between a commonwealth and a monarchy, wherein an aristocratic body should preside, and determine all matters of greatest consequence; for he saw also that the Corinthians were chiefly governed by something like an oligarchy, and the people but little concerned in public business.
Now knowing that Heraclides would be his most considerable adversary, and that in all ways he was a turbulent, fickle, and factious man, he gave way to some whom formerly he hindered when they designed to kill him, who, breaking in, murdered Heraclides in his own house. His death was much resented by the citizens. Nevertheless, when Dion made him a splendid funeral, followed the dead body with all his soldiers, and then addressed them, they understood that it would have been impossible to have kept the city quiet, as long as Dion and Heraclides were competitors in the government.
Dion had a friend called Callippus, an Athenian, who, Plato says, first made acquaintance and afterwards obtained familiarity with him, not from any connection with his philosophic studies, but on occasion afforded by the celebration of the mysteries, and in the way of ordinary society. This man went with him in all his military service, and was in great honor and esteem; being the first of his friends who marched by his side into Syracuse, wearing a garland upon his head, having behaved himself very well in all the battles, and made himself remarkable for his gallantry. He, finding that Dion’s principal and most considerable friends were cut off in the war, Heraclides now dead, and the people without a leader, and that the soldiers had a great kindness for him, like a perfidious and wicked villain, in hopes to get the chief command of Sicily as his reward for the ruin of his friend and benefactor, and, as some say, being also bribed by the enemy with twenty talents to destroy Dion, inveigled and engaged several of the soldiers in a conspiracy against him, taking this cunning and wicked occasion for his plot. He daily informed Dion of what he heard or what he feigned the soldiers said against him; whereby he gained that credit and confidence, that he was allowed by Dion to consort privately with whom he would, and talk freely against him in any company, that he might discover who were his secret and factious maligners. By this means, Callippus in a short time got together a cabal of all the seditious malcontents in the city; and if anyone who would not be drawn in advised Dion that he was tampered with, he was not troubled or concerned at it, believing Callippus did it in compliance with his directions.
While this conspiracy was afoot, a strange and dreadful apparition was seen by Dion. As he sat one evening in a gallery in his house alone and thoughtful, hearing a sudden noise he turned about, and saw at the end of the colonnade, by clear daylight, a tall woman, in her countenance and garb like one of the tragical Furies, with a broom in her hand, sweeping the floor. Being amazed and extremely affrighted, he sent for some of his friends, and told them what he had seen, entreating them to stay with him and keep him company all night; for he was excessively discomposed and alarmed, fearing that if he were left alone the specter would again appear to him. He saw it no more. But a few days after, his only son, being almost grown up to man’s estate, upon some displeasure and pet he had taken upon a childish and frivolous occasion, threw himself headlong from the top of the house and broke his neck.
While Dion was under this affliction, Callippus drove on his conspiracy, and spread a rumor among the Syracusans, that Dion, being now childless, was resolved to send for Dionysius’s son, Apollocrates, who was his wife’s nephew and sister’s grandson, and make him his heir and successor. By this time, Dion and his wife and sister began to suspect what was doing, and from all hands information came to them of the plot. Dion, being troubled, it is probable, for Heraclides’s murder, which was like to be a blot and stain upon his life and actions, in continual weariness and vexation, declared he had rather die a thousand times, and open his breast himself to the assassin, than live not only in fear of his enemies but suspicion of his friends. But Callippus, seeing the women very inquisitive to search to the bottom of the business, took alarm, and came to them, utterly denying it with tears in his eyes, and offering to give them whatever assurances of his fidelity they desired. They required that he should take the Great Oath, which was after this manner. The juror went into the sanctuary of Ceres and Proserpine, where, after the performance of some ceremonies, he was clad in the purple vestment of the goddess, and, holding a lighted torch in his hand, took his oath. Callippus did as they required, and forswore the fact. And indeed he so little valued the goddesses, that he stayed but till the very festival of Proserpine, by whom he had sworn, and on that very day committed his intended murder; as truly he might well enough disregard the day, since he must at any other time as impiously offend her, when he who had acted as her initiating priest should shed the blood of her worshiper.
There were a great many in the conspiracy; and as Dion was at home with several of his friends in a room with tables for entertainment in it, some of the conspirators beset the house around, others secured the doors and windows. The actual intended murderers were some Zacynthians, who went inside in their under-dresses without swords. Those outside shut the doors upon them and kept them fast. The murderers fell on Dion, endeavoring to stifle and crush him; then, finding they were doing nothing, they called for a sword, but none durst open the door. There were a great many within with Dion, but everyone was for securing himself, supposing that by letting him lose his life he should save his own, and therefore no man ventured to assist him. When they had waited a good while, at length Lycon the Syracusan reached a short sword in at the window to one of the Zacynthians, and thus, like a victim at a sacrifice, this long time in their power, and trembling for the blow, they killed him. His sister, and wife big with child, they hurried to prison, who poor lady, in her unfortunate condition was there brought to bed of a son, which, by the consent of the keepers, they intended to bring up, the rather because Callippus began already to be embroiled in troubles.
After the murder of Dion, he was in great glory, and had the sole government of Syracuse in his hands; and to that effect wrote to Athens, a place which, next the immortal gods, being guilty of such an abominable crime, he ought to have regarded with shame and fear. But true it is, what is said of that city, that the good men she breeds are the most excellent, and the bad the most notorious; as their country also produces the most delicious honey and the most deadly hemlock. Callippus, however, did not long continue to scandalize fortune and upbraid the gods with his prosperity, as though they connived at and bore with the wretched man, while he purchased riches and power by heinous impieties, but he quickly received the punishment he deserved. For, going to take Catana, he lost Syracuse; whereupon they report he said, he had lost a city and got a bauble. Then, attempting Messena, he had most of his men cut off, and, among the rest, Dion’s murderers. When no city in Sicily would admit him, but all hated and abhorred him, he went into Italy and took Rhegium; and there, being in distress and not able to maintain his soldiers, he was killed by Leptines and Polysperchon, and, as fortune would have it with the same sword by which Dion was murdered, which was known by the size, being but short, as the Spartan swords, and the workmanship of it very curious and artificial. Thus Callippus received the reward of his villanies.
When Aristomache and Arete were released out of prison, Hicetes, one of Dion’s friends, took them to his house, and seemed to intend to entertain them well and like a faithful friend. Afterwards, being persuaded by Dion’s enemies, he provided a ship and pretended to send them into Peloponnesus, but commanded the sailors, when they came out to sea, to kill them and throw them overboard. Others say that they and the little boy were thrown alive into the sea. This man also escaped not the due recompense of his wickedness, for he was taken by Timoleon and put to death, and the Syracusans, to revenge Dion, slew his two daughters; of all which I have given a more particular account in the life of Timoleon.
Translated by John Dryden. The copyright for the original of this document is held in the Public Domain. Font, formatting, spelling modernizations, typo/transcription corrections, and explanatory footnotes for this version of Plato’s “The Republic” Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal.