The Western Greeks from Dionysius I to Timoleon



The west throughout this period is covered by Diodorus, but the unevenness of his treatment suggests that he did not follow the same source throughout, and there has been a good deal of inconclusive argument as to which sections derive from which sources. On western as on other matters, there are some short insertions into the narrative from a chronological source (cf. p. 15). In XIII. 34 – XIV (412/1 – 387/6) his account is detailed and hostile to Dionysius: several times he cites Timaeus of Tauromenium (FGrH 566), who lived from the mid fourth century to the mid third; but he also cites Ephorus, whom he was following on Greece and the Aegean (the two contrasted XIII. 54. v, etc.), so perhaps he was using both – and probably behind both lay the favourable account of Dionysius’ early supporter Philistus (FGrH 556). Book XV (386/5 – 361/0) is much briefer on Sicily, uncommitted on Dionysius and hostile to demagogues: it may be based on Ephorus without Timaeus, or else on the fourth - century Theopompus of Chios (FGrH115), whose Philippic History included three books on the two Dionysii (cf. XVI. 71. iii). Within book XVI (360/59 – 336/5) there seems to be a mixture of sources, with Theopompus and Timaeus the principal but not the only candidates.

For Dionysius II and the liberators there are eulogising biographies of Dion and Timoleon by both Nepos and Plutarch: for Dion it appears that Heraclides’ supporter Athanis (FGrH 562) underlies the hostile, later part of Nepos’ life and Dion’ s supporter Timonides of Leucas underlies Plutarch’ s; both lives of Timoleon depend on Timaeus, directly and/or through a hellenistic biography.

We have independent fourth - century material in the Platonic Letters iii, vii, viii, which, whether or not they are by Plato, appear to be well informed, and in passages of Aristotle’ s Politics. The western Greeks were not given to inscribing public documents on stone, but there are relevant inscriptions from mainland Greece; and there are some interesting coins.

The Origins of the Syracusan Tyranny

Hermocrates of Syracuse led the resistance to Athens’ Sicilian expedition of 415 – 413 (on which cf. pp. 139 – 47); he was deposed when the resistance seemed likely to fail, but was in favour though apparently not in office by the time the Athenians were defeated (Thuc. VI. 103. iv; VII. 21. iii, 73). What turned the tide was the arrival of forces from the Peloponnese led by the Spartan Gylippus. After the Athenians’ defeat, the truth behind the accounts of Diodorus and Plutarch is probably that Hermocrates and Gylippus argued for more generous treatment of the captives, and the harsh treatment decided on was urged by Diocles (Diod. Sic. XIII. 19. iv – 33. i, Plut. Nic. 28).

In 412 Hermocrates and others were sent with just twenty ships from Syracuse and two from Selinus to support the Spartans in the Aegean (a few more western ships followed), and he became critical of the Persian Tissaphernes and of Sparta’ s navarch Astyochus (Thuc. VIII. 26. i, 29. i, 45. iii, 84 – 5). In his absence there was a democratic revolution in Syracuse. Aristotle says the demos changed from politeia (his word for a compromise between democracy and oligarchy) to democracy (Pol. V. 1304 a 27 – 9); Diodorus has an account which confuses the Diocles of the late fifth century with an archaic lawgiver (XIII. 33. ii – iii, 34. iv – 35), and all we can be sure of is an increase in the number of generals and allotment for civilian appointments. Either in 411 or in 410 Hermocrates and his colleagues were exiled and three men were sent to take over. Hermocrates joined the entourage of the Persian Pharnabazus (Thuc. VIII. 85. iii contr. Xen. Hell. I. i. 27 – 31, cf. Diod. Sic. XIII. 63. i – ii).

While Syracuse became involved in a war with the cities to the north (cf. Diod. Sic. XIII. 56. ii), Egesta gave way in its dispute with Selinus, but Selinus took more than the land originally at issue, and so, perhaps in 410, Egesta appealed to Carthage. There were Carthaginian traders and settlements in Sicily, and Greek traders in Carthage; but Carthage had not tried to interfere in Sicily since its defeat in 480, and had not responded to an appeal from Egesta in 416/5 (Diod. Sic. XII. 82. vii) or taken advantage of the Athenian expedition. Some Athenians may have hoped to conquer Carthage after Sicily, but after their arrival they asked for Carthaginian support, and an inscription reveals contact in 406 (IG i 3 123 = M & L 92 ∽ Fornara 165). At this time the leading position in Carthage, given the title basileus, ‘king’, by our Greek sources (not the shophet, ‘judge’, as often claimed, but the milk, war - leader), was hereditary in the Magonid family; Hannibal, grandson of the Hamilcar who was defeated and killed at Himera in 480, now welcomed an opportunity to avenge that defeat. The council (gerousia in our sources) was divided, but made Hannibalstrategos, while first unsuccessfully trying to arrange for arbitration by Syracuse. That year Carthage sent 5,000 Libyans and 800 Campanian mercenaries to Egesta, and they took advantage of Selinus’ carelessness to win a victory. As Hannibal prepared for a major expedition, Egesta looked to him and Selinus to Syracuse (Diod. Sic. XIII. 43 – 4).

At the beginning of 409 Syracuse sent five more ships to the Aegean (Xen. Hell. I. ii. 8); but Hannibal went to Sicily with a large force (Ephorus said 200,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry, Timaeus half that number) but a limited objective. He landed near the Carthaginian settlement of Motya, at the west end of the island. He first attacked Selinus, and captured it and killed many of the inhabitants, while forces from Acragas and Gela waited to be joined by Syracuse in going to the rescue. When the Syracusans reached Acragas they sent envoys who negotiated a settlement: survivors could remain in Selinus but pay phoros to Carthage (Diod. Sic. XIII. 54 – 59. iv). Hannibal then crossed the island to Himera, being joined by many Sicans and Sicels, while Diocles pursued him with the Greek forces from Acragas, and the ships sent to the Aegean returned. A false rumour of an attack on Syracuse led Diocles to start evacuating Himera and hurry back, and enabled Hannibal to capture a weakened city. He killed the inhabitants and destroyed the city, disbanded his forces but left some to support his allies, and returned home. The campaign had lasted three months, and the opposition had failed disastrously (Diod. Sic. XIII. 59. iv – 62; three months interpolation in Xen. Hell. I. i. 37).

It is perhaps after this that coins from Panormus continue to copy Syracusan designs but bear the legend ZIZ, perhaps the Punic name of Panormus (Kraay, Archaic and Classical Greek Coins, pp. 227 – 8 no. 866), and it is perhaps in connection with this first invasion that the Carthaginians began issuing Greek - type coins with their own designs (Kraay p. 234 no. 872).

If the dates given above are correct, 408 was a quiet year. Hermocrates was still with Pharnabazus, waiting to be sent along with others to the Persian court (Xen. Hell. I. iii. 13, iv. 1); but early in 407 he arrived in Messana with money from Pharnabazus. He hired mercenaries and collected some fugitives from Himera; after failing to gain reinstatement in Syracuse, he went to Selinus and began building that up again. As he raided the area of the Carthaginian settlements he gained more adherents and a good reputation. Collecting the bones of the Syracusans left unburied when Diocles had abandoned Himera, he took them to Syracuse and waited outside for a response: the Syracusans, afraid of a tyranny, exiled Diocles and accepted the bones, but did not accept him. Later he returned on the invitation of some friends and forced his way into the agora, but he and most of his supporters were killed and the remainder were exiled; allegedly one supporter was Dionysius, mistakenly left for dead (Diod. Sic. XIII. 63, 75. ii – ix).

Hermocrates had shown that the Carthaginian settlements were vulnerable to attack, but Hannibal’ s easy success at Himera may have aroused Carthaginian ambitions. Diodorus next mentions a Syracusan embassy to Carthage (XIII. 79. viii), perhaps prompted by news of the preparations. The elderly Hannibal had a relative, Himilco, appointed as colleague, and collected forces from around the western Mediterranean; this time the army was given as 300,000 by Ephorus, as 120,000 by Timaeus. In spring 406 an advance squadron of Carthaginian ships was defeated by the Syracusans off the west end of the island, but their main force reached Sicily without trouble and made for Acragas, an obvious target east of Selinus on the south coast and at the height of its prosperity (its agricultural produce was sold to Carthage: Diod. Sic. XIII. 81. iv – v). When Acragas rejected an offer of alliance or neutrality the Carthaginians besieged it; Acragas hired a mercenary force under the Spartan freelance Dexippus, and also the Campanians whom Hannibal had used in 409 but then dismissed. The Carthaginians’ desecration of tombs outside the city led (it was said) to a plague and the death of Hannibal. Supporting forces came to Acragas from Syracuse and elsewhere under Daphnaeus, and between Gela and Acragas they won a battle, but the victory was not followed up either by them or by the generals of Acragas, who were consequently stoned by their fellow citizens. Daphnaeus began a blockade of the Carthaginian camp, but as winter approached his men grew careless, a supply squadron from Syracuse was captured by the Carthaginians, and it was now Acragas that was short of food. The Campanians switched to the Carthaginian side, the Italian Greeks among Acragas’ defenders returned home, and in December the people of Acragas decided to abandon the city (going to Gela at first, eventually settled by the Syracusans at Leontini). After a siege of seven or eight months, the Carthaginians occupied Acragas, another striking achievement (Diod. Sic. XIII. 80 – 91. i, cf. interpolation in Xen. Hell. I. v. 21).

The Greek Sicilians were desperate, converging on Syracuse and some sending their families to Italy. At an assembly in Syracuse the young Dionysius, a secretary (Dem. XX. Leptines 161) and a man who had fought well, proposed that the generals should be lynched; when the officials imposed a fine, the rich Philistus offered to pay that and any subsequent fine. Dionysius urged the appointment of better men as generals, and a new board was appointed including himself. He proceeded to avoid his colleagues, claiming that they were in league with the enemy, and endeared himself to the ordinary citizens but not to the upper class; and he persuaded the assembly to recall exiles, many of whom had (like himself) been supporters of Hermocrates. For Diodorus, he was from the beginning planning to make himself tyrant, but he could well have begun as a sincere objector to the disastrous failure to resist Carthage (Diod. Sic. XIII. 91. ii – 92).

In 405 Gela, the Carthaginians’ next obvious target, appealed to Syracuse for help. Dionysius took a force there. He exploited a conflict between the rich and ‘the people’ to secure the condemnation of the rich, and he used their wealth to pay Dexippus’ mercenaries. He promised to double the pay of his own soldiers and return to Gela with a larger force. Arriving in Syracuse, he protested at the holding of a festival while the soldiers went unpaid, and persuaded the assembly to appoint him strategos autokrator and double the soldiers’ pay. (The Platonic Letter viii. 353 a 6 – b 4, 354 d 5 – 6, has Dionysius and his future father - in - law Hipparinus appointed, but that may be a falsification in the interest of Hipparinus’ son Dion. Hipparinus is a backer of Dionysius in Arist. Pol.V. 1306 a 1 – 2.) Next we have one of the favourite gambits of the would - be tyrant. He ordered the army to assemble at Leontini, claimed to have been attacked on the way, and persuaded the people there to vote him a bodyguard (Arist. Pol. III. 1286 b 39 – 40 suggests there was an argument over the size of the bodyguard). He then armed a rabble of men as mercenaries and filled the military offices with his supporters (but he distrusted Dexippus and sent him back to Greece). He took up residence in the dockyard at Syracuse, and contracted a double marriage with Hermocrates’ family: he married Hermocrates’ daughter and his sister married Hermocrates’ brother - in - law. An assembly was held to condemn Daphnaeus and Demarchus, the latter one of the generals who had supplanted Hermocrates in 410 (Diod. Sic. XIII. 93 – 96. iv, cf. interpolation in Xen. Hell. II. ii. 24; in Arist. Pol. V. 1305 A 26 – 6, 1310 B 30 – 1, cf. 1313 B 26 – 8, Dionysius is a demagogue who attacks Daphnaeus and the rich). Dionysius was a man of humble origins who used demagogic methods and attacked the rich in order to provide for his supporters. However, there were also rich men among his supporters, and the primary reason for his rise to power was most probably indignation at the inadequacy of the resistance to the Carthaginians – and resistance to the Carthaginians was still needed.

In the summer the Carthaginians destroyed Acragas and advanced on Gela. The women and children refused evacuation to Syracuse, and joined in a valiant defence; Dionysius brought a large army and navy. When he attempted a three -pronged attack there was a failure of coordination, with both wings defeated while Dionysius and his mercenaries in the centre were delayed in passing through the city – after which he decided to evacuate Gela, and also Camarina, the next city along the coast. Not surprisingly, it was now Dionysius’ turn to be accused of collusion with the enemy. His Italian allies deserted him; the Syracusan cavalry, unable to get at him on the journey, beat him back to Syracuse, where they raped his wife and drove her to suicide. Dionysius hurried in pursuit, burned the city gate which had been closed against him, fought a battle in the agora and killed and exiled opponents. The surviving cavalry fled to Aetna (the inland site at Inessa: cf. p. 83); the people of Gela and Camarina, distrusting Dionysius, joined the fugitives from Acragas in Leontini (Diod. Sic. XIII. 108. ii – 113, cf. interpolation in Xen. Hell. II. ii. 24; suicide Plut. Dion 3. ii).

Fig. 6 The family of Dionysius I. (The manuscripts of our source texts call Dionysius I’s father Hermocrates, but almost certainly the correct name is Hermocritus, given to one of his sons)


At this point there is a lacuna in Diodorus. The text resumes with the Carthaginians suffering from a plague (perhaps on account of the marshy land outside Syracuse: cf. Thuc. VII. 47. ii) and offering terms which Dionysius accepted. Carthage was to possess its original settlements and the Elymans and Sicans of the west; Selinus, Acragas, Himera, Gela and Camarina could continue as cities, but unfortified and tributary to Carthage; Leontini, Messana and the Sicels were to be autonomous, as was Syracuse (but a stipulation that Syracuse was to be ruled by Dionysius is implausible); captured men and ships were to be returned. The Carthaginians departed, taking the plague with them (Diod. Sic. XIII. 114. i – ii). Having gained a greater interest in Sicily, the Carthaginians were to retain it until driven out by the Romans in the third century. They never captured Syracuse but sometimes overran the rest of the island; each of the following wars was to end with a distinction between a western part of Sicily which they controlled and an eastern part which they did not.

The Rule of Dionysius I

The next Carthaginian war was started by the Greeks. Before that Dionysius had consolidated his position. He fortified the peninsula of Ortygia (see map 7) and reserved that for his friends and mercenaries, and he reassigned land to supporters among citizens and non - citizens, including liberated slaves, possibly the serf class of Kyllyrioi (Diod. Sic. XIV. 7. i – v; Kyllyrioi Hdt. VII. 155. ii). His position was such that he could be called basileus, ‘king’, in an Athenian speech of 400 (Lys. VI. Andocides 6 – 7); in three Athenian decrees he is given the title archon of Sicily (IG ii218 = R&O 10 ∼ Harding 20, of 394/3; 103, 105 + 523 = 33, 34 ∼ -, 52, of 368). In the fifth century Gelon and Hieron had dedicated at Delphi and Olympia as individuals, but (perhaps) Polyzelus as ‘lord of Gela’ (cf. pp. 80, 86). Dionysius began a war against the Sicels, but a mutiny led to his hurrying back to Syracuse. The rebels blockaded him, and obtained ships from Messana and Rhegium. Dionysius was now in serious difficulties, but while opening negotiations for his withdrawal he invited the Campanian mercenaries to come from western Sicily, and in the end he defeated the rebels (Diod. Sic. XIV. 7. v – 9). A Corinthian, Nicoteles, was acting as champion of the citizens; but a Spartan agent perhaps called Aristas arrived, nominally to support them but in fact to support Dionysius and try to earn his gratitude. Dionysius disarmed the citizens, built further walls, eventually one enclosing the whole of Epipolae (see map 7), and strengthened his forces (Diod. Sic. XIV. 10 [Aristus], cf. 70. iii [Aretes], 18).

Perhaps in 402, Dionysius began a war against the Greek cities north of Syracuse. First he captured Aetna, the refuge of his dissident cavalry. He attacked Leontini, occupied by fugitives from the cities of the south coast, but did not have the machines for a siege. He turned inland to the Sicels, helping a tyrant to seize power in Enna but then deposing him, attacking but making a treaty with Herbita (its ruler Archonides afterwards founded the city of Halaesa on the north coast). On the east coast, Naxos and Catana were both betrayed to Dionysius: he enslaved the citizens, sacked the cities, and gave the land to the Sicels in the case of Naxos, to the Campanian mercenaries in the case of Catana. When Dionysius returned to Leontini, the people there agreed to migrate to Syracuse (Diod. Sic. XIV. 14 – 16. iv). Like Gelon and Hieron, Dionysius seems to have been anxious that there should be no east coast city which could rival Syracuse. Under 400/399, from his chronographic source, Diodorus notes that Dionysius founded a colony at Adranum, below Mount Etna (Diod. Sic. XIV. 37. v). However, Rhegium, incited by Syracusan exiles, was becoming worried and decided to attack Dionysius before it was too late. It sent out a large force which was joined by one from Messana; but Messana’ s generals had not consulted the assembly, their soldiers mutinied, the campaign collapsed and the two cities made peace with Dionysius (Diod. Sic. XIV. 40).

Dionysius next began preparations for a war with Carthage – presumably more to regain lost ground than to keep the Sicilian Greeks submissive, as Diodorus alleges. Perhaps building on developments in machinery which had reached Carthage from Phoenicia, he is credited with technical innovations: quadriremes and quinqueremes, and catapults, which are not found in mainland Greece until later (cf. pp. 354, 381 – 2). If this is correct, and it is not impossible, the larger ships will have had more than one man to an oar rather than more than three banks of oars, and the catapults will have been arrow -firing mechanical bows. He built up a large citizen and mercenary army, with particular encouragement from Sparta. For the payment of his mercenaries he issued gold and 10 - drachma silver coins (Kraay pp. 231 – 3 nos. 815 – 16, 818 – 19). To assure himself of support, he adopted a more conciliatory attitude. He won over Messana with a gift of land. He offered land and a marriage alliance to Rhegium but was rebuffed; but Rhegium’ s rival Locri provided Dionysius with a wife called Doris, and at the same time he married Aristomache, the daughter of his Syracusan supporter Hipparinus. When he held an assembly to urge war against Carthage, Diodorus says the citizens hated the Carthaginians and blamed them for their subjection to him, and they hoped that the war would result in better treatment for them and would provide an opportunity to reclaim their freedom (Diod. Sic. XIV. 41 – 43. iv, 44 – 5).

In an exceptional occurrence, perhaps in 397, the Greeks in Syracuse and the other cities drove out the Carthaginian traders, and Dionysius sent an ultimatum demanding the liberation of the cities. He took a large army and navy (said to be 80,000 infantry, over 3,000 cavalry, nearly 200 warships); Eryx in the north - west of the island submitted to him, but Motya demolished the causeway linking it to the mainland and prepared to resist. Dionysius built a mole, and campaigned in the vicinity while the work proceeded. Meanwhile Carthage sent ten ships to raid the harbour of Syracuse, and Himilco took a hundred ships to Motya but did not fight a battle. The siege of Motya was a contest of machines and ingenuity; Dionysius finally captured the city with much slaughter. At the end of the summer he returned to Syracuse, leaving a garrison in Motya, Egesta and Entella under siege, and his brother Leptines as navarch with 120 ships (Diod. Sic. XIV. 46. i – v, 47, 53. v).

In 396 Dionysius had smaller forces, perhaps owing to shortage of funds, but he returned to the west, where Egesta held out against his siege and burned the attackers’ camp. The Carthaginians appointed Himilco basileus (it is not clear what his position had been since Hannibal’ s death: perhaps he was already basileus and was now made strategos autokrator). Himilco went to Panormus, on the north coast, with large forces (300,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, 400 warships according to Ephorus, 100,000 plus 30,000 raised in Sicily according to Timaeus). He recovered Motya and the other western cities (founding Lilybaeum, to the south, to replace Motya: Diod. Sic. XXII. 10. iv, cf. XIII. 54. iv), and as Dionysius withdrew, destroying the crops, Himilco proceeded along the north coast to Messana: when its army had gone out against his army, his ships sailed in and captured the city, which he destroyed (Diod. Sic. XIV. 54. ii – 57, 58. iii – iv).

Dionysius prepared to resist in Syracuse and Leontini. Himilco encouraged the Sicels in Naxos to found Tauromenium, to the north; and an eruption of Etna forced him to take an inland route to Catana while his fleet under Mago sailed directly there. Dionysius sent Leptines to fight against Mago before Himilco could join him, but Leptines was defeated, Dionysius retired to defend Syracuse, and his abandoned allies left him (Diod. Sic. XIV. 58. i – ii, 59 – 61). In the winter of 396/5 he sent his brother - in - law Polyxenus with a further appeal to the Greeks of Italy and to the Spartans and other Greeks. Himilco sailed into the great harbour of Syracuse, landed and overran the countryside, allegedly raiding temples of Demeter and Core and desecrating tombs (Diod. Sic. XIV. 62 – 63. iii).

In 395 Polyxenus brought thirty ships from Sparta and elsewhere, with the Spartan ‘Pharacidas’ (perhaps the Pharax who had been active in the Aegean: cf. pp. 242 – 3). While Dionysius and Leptines were away to fetch supplies, the Syracusans won a naval battle: this led to a Syracusan challenge to Dionysius, but Pharacidas and the mercenaries remained loyal to him. Then the Carthaginians were again hit by a plague. Dionysius was victorious in a combined land and sea attack, after which Himilco gave him a bribe of 300 talents, it is alleged, and sailed away at night. Of the remainder of his force the Sicels escaped, the Iberians were enrolled as mercenaries by Dionysius, the rest were captured and sold. Himilco’ s shameful return prompted a serious revolt in Libya and led him to commit suicide (Diod. Sic. XIV. 63. iv – 77).

Dionysius’ mercenaries were unpaid and disaffected: in the last attack on the Carthaginians he had contrived the death of some (Diod. Sic. XIV. 72. ii – iii); after the war he settled the others in Leontini and hired a fresh force. In Messana he settled Locrians and others, including fugitive Messenians (cf. pp. 32, 50, 132), but he moved the Messenians elsewhere when Sparta protested against their being placed in the city named after Messenia. In 395 – 394 he campaigned successfully against the Sicels (Diod. Sic. XIV. 78). In 394, with Locri allied to Dionysius and Messana resettled by him, Rhegium felt threatened. It therefore welcomed opponents of Dionysius and settled some at Mylae, on the north coast, and then (under Heloris, a former supporter of Dionysius now in exile) attacked Messana; but Messana defeated the Rhegians and captured Mylae. In the winter Dionysius made an unsuccessful attack on Tauromenium, in which he was nearly killed; after which Messana and Acragas defected from him (Diod. Sic. XIV. 87 – 8).

In the same winter, 394/3, Athens honoured Dionysius and tried to detach him from Sparta. Conon’ s plan for a marriage alliance between Dionysius and Evagoras of Salamis came to nothing, but it was claimed that Dionysius had been dissuaded from sending ships to support Sparta (IG ii 2 18 = R&O 10 ∼ Harding 20, Lys. XIX. Property of Aristophanes 19 – 20; cf. p. 262).

Mago, it seems, had been left by Himilco in Sicily, and he began a Carthaginian recovery, with mild treatment of subjects and encouragement of Dionysius’ opponents. In 393 he attacked Messana but was defeated by Dionysius at Abacaene. Dionysius next made a surprise attack on Rhegium, burning the gates but failing to get in, and then made a year’ s truce (Diod. Sic. 90. ii – vii). In 392 Mago was sent reinforcements from Carthage, and he won over most of the Sicels’ cities but not the strong city of Agyrium. Dionysius went there, cut Mago’ s supply lines and waited to starve him, but was unsuccessful since the Syracusan army grew impatient and returned home. Carthage offered and Dionysius accepted terms similar to those of 405 (cf. p. 317), except that the Sicels were made subject to him: the Carthaginians were thus accepting that they had failed to conquer the east of the island. Dionysius replaced the Sicels in Tauromenium with some of his mercenaries (Diod. Sic. XIV. 95 – 96. i; from the chronological source XVI. 7. i has under 358/7 another foundation of Tauromenium, with survivors from the old Naxos, by Andromachus, father of the historian Timaeus).

In southern Italy a league comprising Croton and neighbouring cities, with institutions copied from Achaea, had been formed some time before 417 (cf. pp. 85 – 6). About 393, under pressure from the Lucanians on one side and Dionysius on the other, other cities of south - west Italy including Rhegium joined them in an enlarged Italiot League (Diod. Sic. XIV. 91. i). Peace with Carthage enabled Dionysius to deal with Rhegium, and that was now to involve dealing with the League. In 390 he made Locri his base for a war against Rhegium and Croton, but an attempt to intercept ships sailing from Croton to Rhegium failed when Dionysius was caught in a storm. He made an alliance with the Lucanians, who in 389 defeated Thurii: some surviving Thurians fled to passing ships, which turned out to be a Syracusan squadron under Leptines. However, instead of completing the Lucanian victory Leptines arranged a settlement between the Lucanians and the League, to which Dionysius reacted by replacing him with his brother Thearidas (Diod. Sic. XIV. 100 – 102. iii).

In 388 Thearidas captured a Rhegian squadron in the Lipari Islands, while Dionysius began a siege of Caulonia; the resistance was coordinated by Croton, with the exiled Syracusan Heloris in command. At the River Eleporus, north of Caulonia, Dionysius first defeated and killed Heloris with an advance party and then defeated the main army, but he released his prisoners and left the cities of the League independent. Rhegium, threatened with a siege, submitted, and had to pay an indemnity, surrender its ships and give hostages. Caulonia and Hipponium were destroyed, their citizens transported to Syracuse and their land given to Locri (Diod. Sic. XIV. 103 – 106. iii, 107. ii – iv). Dionysius was not yet finished with Rhegium. In 387 after provoking a breach of the settlement he began a siege. He suffered a nearly fatal wound, but in 386, after almost a year, starvation led to Rhegium’ s unconditional surrender; its general Phyton was humiliated and killed, and its citizens were ransomed or sold as slaves (Diod. Sic. XIV. 107. v – 108, 111 – 12). It is said that Dionysius intended, but did not manage, to build a wall across the toe of Italy to strengthen his position there (Strabo 261. VI. i. 10).

With Dionysius at the height of his power, we pass from the detailed narrative of Diodorus XIV to the scraps of book XV.

Since Lysias’ speech urging Dionysius’ exclusion from the Olympic games (XXXIII. Olympic, where 5 calls him ‘the tyrant of Sicily’) fits better into a context after the Peace of Antalcidas, it was probably in 384 rather than 388 that Dionysius sent his brother Thearidas with chariots and his poems to compete there: not only did Lysias denounce Dionysius, but his poems were laughed at, his chariots were involved in accidents and the homeward - bound ship was driven into Taras by a storm (Diod. Sic. XIV. 109. i – vi, 388/7; XV. 7. ii – iii, 386/5). In Syracuse Dionysius was trying to build up a court circle, but had to face home truths about his poetry from Philoxenus (a writer of the choral songs known as dithyrambs) and about his tyranny from Plato. Dionysius’ brother - in - law Dion had introduced Plato to Dionysius, and after the encounter Plato had to be got out of Syracuse, though the story that Dionysius had him sold as a slave is likely to be a fiction (Diod. Sic. XV. 6 – 7. i, Plut. Dion 4 – 5. vii).

Dionysius had trouble with men who initially had supported him. Of early supporters, Hipparinus had died; Polyxenus is not heard of after being sent to support Sparta in 387 (below); Heloris, previously described as Dionysius’ adopted father (Diod. Sic. XIV. 8. v), was in exile by the late 390’ s, serving Dionysius’ s enemies Rhegium and the Italiot League. Of Dionysius’ brothers, Leptines was dismissed after reconciling Thurii and the Lucanians, but Thearidas seems not to have suffered for his involvement in the fiasco at Olympia. Diodorus reports that Leptines and Dionysius’ early backer Philistus were exiled and welcomed in Thurii but later returned; Leptines on his return married one of Dionysius’ daughters, and fought and died at Cronium (XV. 7. iii – iv; Cronium p. 323). According to Plutarch Philistus was exiled for showing his ambition by marrying a daughter of Leptines: he went to the Adriatic and (this at least seems to be correct) did not return until after Dionysius I’ s death (Plut. Dion 11. iv – vii).

Abroad, after conquering the toe of Italy, Dionysius extended his interests further. While he had not sent help to Sparta in 393, he did send Polyxenus with ships to join Antalcidas in the Hellespont in 387 (Xen. Hell. V. i. 26: cf. above). Diodorus (XV. 13, 385/4; 14, 384/3) begins by mentioning the Ionic Gulf, Epirus and a plan to sack Delphi (presumably an unfounded rumour: cf. Jason of Pherae, p. 287). Dionysius made an alliance with the Illyrians and helped them to restore Alcetas, an exile in Syracuse, as king of Molossis, despite Spartan intervention on the other side (for Alcetas in the 370’ s cf. pp. 269 – 70). He had already founded a colony at a site probably to be read as Issa = Vis, one of the islands off the Dalmatian coast. (The manuscripts of Diodorus seem to refer to Lissus = Lesh, on the mainland 35 miles = 55 km. north of Epidamnus, but that seems not to have been settled this early; however, SIG3 141, recording the sending of settlers from Issa to Black Corcyra = Kor cˇ ula, is now known to be of the late fourth or early third century, and so does not prove that Issa was settled by Dionysius.) From this base Dionysius did something which is lost in a lacuna in Diodorus’ text, and he helped the Parians when they colonised nearby Pharos = Hvar, and again later when the Illyrians supported the natives against the settlers. A fragment of Theopompus (FGrH 115 F 128c) seems to credit Dionysius with a presumably short - lived colony at Adria, at the mouth of the Po; but Ancona, on the Italian mainland about the same latitude as Issa, is said to have been founded by opponents of Dionysius (Strabo 241. V. iv. 2). On the other side of Italy Dionysius raided the Etruscan temple of Agylla = Caere (cf. Strabo 226. V. ii. 8: the Etruscans were friends of Carthage; and it is alleged that the Gauls after their sack of Rome in 386 offered him an alliance [Just. Epit. XX. 5. iv]).

In Syracuse Dionysius devoted himself to public works, as ambitious tyrants often did: he is credited with grandiose temples and gymnasia, but also docks and walls (Diod. Sic. XV. 13. v); and he spent the proceeds from Agylla on mercenaries, with a view to another war against Carthage (Diod. Sic. XV. 14. iv). Diodorus, while implying that that war was a lengthy one, narrates the whole of it under 383/2 (XV. 15 – 17); some scholars prolong it to 374 because a Spartan force sent to Corcyra then pretended to be heading for Sicily (Diod. Sic. XV. 46. ii), which is possible but not certain. Dionysius provoked the war by winning over the cities subject to Carthage. Carthage made an alliance with the Italiot League, and its restoration of Hipponium, which Dionysius had destroyed in 388 (Diod. Sic. XV. 24. i, from the chronological source), is presumably an episode in this war. So too, probably, are a naval attack by Dionysius on Thurii, frustrated by the wind (Ael. V.H. XII. 61), and his capture of Croton (Livy XXIV. 3. viii, Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. XX. 7. iii). It is possible also that during this war he lost Locri and had to recover it (cf. Just. Epit. XXI. 2, Pl. Leg. I. 638 B 1 – 2). The war ended with two major battles. First, at Cabala Dionysius was victorious and Mago was killed. Then the Carthaginians offered terms and Dionysius demanded withdrawal from Sicily and repayment of his costs, so they made a truce. However, Mago’ s son (Himilco if Polyaenus Strat. V. 10. v belongs here) revived the army and returned (cf. Polyaenus Strat. VI. 16. i). Then at Cronium, near Panormus, the Carthaginians were victorious and the reinstated Leptines was killed. Carthage now proposed terms which Dionysius accepted: Carthage was to have Selinus and the territory of Acragas as far as the River (Ha)lycus, and Dionysius had to pay 1,000 talents. (These cities had been in the Carthaginian sphere before, but had perhaps gone over to Dionysius. It is disputed whether the river is correctly called Halycus or Lycus, but it appears in any case to be the Platani, between Selinus and Acragas with Heraclea Minoa at its mouth: Heraclea will have been a possession of Acragas now ceded to Carthage.)

Dionysius was sufficiently recovered to send help to Sparta in 372, and again in 369 and 368 (cf. pp. 250, 254: in 372 his ships, with dedications for Delphi and Olympia, were captured by the Athenian Iphicrates). After Leuctra Athens was on the same side as Sparta, and in 368 Dionysius was made an ally of Athens but was not accepted by Athens’ allies as a member of the League (cf. pp. 267, 272).

As for Carthage, Diodorus mentions a plague and a revolt of the Libyans and Sardinia in connection with the restoration of Hipponium (XV. 24. ii – iii, 379/8), and a plague and a revolt of the Libyans as providing the opportunity for Dionysius’ last Carthaginian war, in 368 (XV. 73. i). Presumably these references are to the same plague and revolt, which will have begun not many years before 368. In 368 Dionysius manufactured a border dispute and invaded western Sicily; he won over Selinus and Entella, and captured Eryx but failed to take Lilybaeum. On hearing of a fire in the Carthaginian docks he sent most of his ships back to Syracuse, but the Carthaginians sent a fleet under Hanno (Polyaenus Strat. V. 9), which unexpectedly attacked the ships in the harbour below Eryx and captured them. A truce was made for the winter (Diod. Sic. XV. 73. i – iv) – and during that winter Dionysius died (cf. below), and his successor Dionysius II made peace with Carthage (Diod. Sic. X V. 73. v, XVI. 5. i – ii).

Himilco seems not to have succeeded Mago as Carthaginian basileus: Hanno, the commander in 368, was a rich man and strongly anti - Greek but not a Magonid. He secured the condemnation of his rival Suniatus [Eshmuniaton], who was in touch with Dionysius; and some time later he tried to seize autocratic power, eventually with the support of a slave class and the Libyans, but was suppressed (Arist. Pol. V. 1307 a 2 – 5, Just. Epit. XX. 5. xi, XXI. 4). After that Carthage settled into the constitution which Aristotle compared with the Spartan and the ‘Cretan’. The council (gerousia) was divided into pentarchies which chose the Hundred and Four; there were still basileis, from a range of families, who commanded the armies subject to the control of the Hundred and Four; there were institutions which could be compared with the Spartan messes; and there was an assembly, which had the opportunity to exercise power when the officials and council disagreed (Pol. II. 1272 b 24 – 1273 b 26).

Having become an ally of Athens in 368, Dionysius I sent his tragedy The Ransom of Hector for performance at the Lenaea early in 367, and it was awarded the first prize. Diodorus has a story of his dying through excessive celebration of that success, and in this way rather than by beating the Carthaginians fulfill-ing an oracle that he would die when he had defeated his betters (XV. 74. i – iv). IG ii 2 105 + 223 = R&O 34 ∼ Harding 52 should not, as it once was, be dated to the later part of 368/7, and there is no reason why Dionysius should not have died shortly after the Lenaea and why the story should not be based on that much truth: if he ‘became tyrant’ in 406/ 5, the sources will be correct in giving him thirty - eight years in power.

It is hard to make a fair assessment of Dionysius’ rule, since we hear of little apart from warfare, and have a detailed but hostile account for the first half of his reign but a perfunctory account for the second. He rose to power through dissatisfaction with the unsuccessful resistance to Carthage, but was not himself a great deal more successful, which provoked opposition to him. Carthage tended to deal more cruelly than Greeks with defeated enemies, and Greeks forced to choose between Carthage and Dionysius tended to prefer Dionysius; Syracuse itself was never taken by the Carthaginians, and a division of Sicily between Carthage in the west and Syracuse in the east became established. Outside the Carthaginian sphere, at his most powerful Dionysius controlled much of Sicily, the toe of Italy and some places further afield. In Sicily some old cities died, some new ones came into existence, movements of population and Carthaginian attacks were so frequent that there was little stability except in Syracuse. Dionysius portrayed himself as a just ruler, and gave his daughters the names of virtues; intellectuals were welcome at his court as long as they did not speak too freely; the constitutional mechanisms of the polis seem not to have been entirely abolished, but his son Dionysius II succeeded to his position without difficulty. In some ways Dionysius I foreshadows the hellenistic kings, but it is unlikely that he used the title basileus, and the story of his wearing the Persian diadem (Livy XXIV. 5. iii – iv) was perhaps invented as a precedent for Hieron in the third century.

Dionysius II and the Liberators

Dionysius II, whose mother was Doris of Locri, was Dionysius I’s eldest son. Whereas Dion and Timoleon caught the Greeks’ imagination, we know little about him. It was alleged that Dion had tried to induce the elder Dionysius to leave the tyranny to his sons by Dion’s sister Aristomache (Nep. X. Dion 2. iv – v, Plut. Dion 6. ii – iii). Diodorus suggests that the younger Dionysius had had little education and was not a dynamic man (Diod. Sic. XVI. 5).

Dion tried to attend to his education, bringing back Plato for the purpose, and Dion’s opponents secured the recall of Philistus to act as a counterpoise. Dion was accused of instructing the Carthaginians to negotiate only through him, and was got out of the city to Greece; Plato failed to achieve a reconciliation, and at the end of a war about which we know nothing he returned to Athens (Pl. Ep. vii. 328 b – 330 c, 337 e – 338 a, cf. Ep. iii. 316 c – 317 a, Plut. Dion 9 – 17, Diod. Sic. XVI. 6. ii – iv). Later Dionysius induced Plato to visit again (he was in Syracuse when there was an eclipse of the moon, on 12 May 361: Plut. Dion 19. vi), but he failed to achieve a recall of Dion; instead relations worsened, Dion’ s property was confiscated and his niece and wife Arete given another husband. A mutiny among mercenaries whose pay had been reduced was blamed on Heraclides, an associate of Dion, who escaped from Syracuse; and in 360 Plato left (Pl. Ep. vii. 338 a – 341 a, 345 c – 350 b, cf. Ep. iii. 317 a, 318 c, Plut. Dion 18 – 21; Diod. Sic. omits this visit, and XVI. 6. iv has Heraclides leaving with Dion). Plato met Dion at the Olympic festival that summer, and Dion began to plan his return to Syracuse (Pl. Ep. vii. 350 b – e).

It took time for Dion to gather supporters: his links with Plato will have made him suspect to some, others will have thought he merely wanted to take Dionysius’ place. Even Plato saw in him ambition and desire for revenge as well as idealism (Ep. vii. 350 b – 351 c); Aristotle, who is silent on the Platonic connection, mentions Dion’ s contempt for Dionysius as a drunkard, and categorises Dion as ambitious not for his own advantage but for glory, and as a man within the family who overthrew a tyrant (Pol. V. 1312 a 4 – 6, 21 – 39, b 16 – 17). In 357 (after an eclipse of the moon on 9 August: Plut. Dion 24. i) he set out from Zacynthus with a few fellow exiles, a small mercenary force and a supply of arms for the Sicilians (the success of so small a force was remarked on already in 355: Dem. XX. Leptines 162). Dionysius was away in Italy, and Philistus was watching the short sea crossing, so Dion crossed the open sea to Heraclea Minoa, where the Carthaginian governor was a friend. As in Diodorus’ account, Heraclides should be seen as a partner, to follow with reinforcements; Plutarch projects back their later quarrel and makes him a rival liberator (Diod. Sic. XVI. 6. v, 9. ii – iv, cf. 10. v, 11. iii, Plut. Dion 22 – 26. i, 32. iii – iv).

Dion advanced on Syracuse, picking up support from Greek cities, Sicans and Sicels, and some Italiots. He was welcomed by the Syracusans despite the attempts of Timocrates (the man who had taken over his wife) to keep them under control, and made a triumphal entry into the outer city. The assembly offered to make him and his brother Megacles strategoi autokratores, but they insisted on a board of twenty, half from the city and half returned exiles. Timocrates fled, leaving Ortygia with a garrison but no commander. Dionysius had heard the news, and returned seven days after Dion’s entry. He opened negotiations and tried to import food; on one occasion he attacked the outer city but was beaten back. In reporting the negotiations, Diodorus concentrates on Dion’s attempts to outwit Dionysius, while Plutarch shows Dionysius trying to drive a wedge between Dion and the citizens. Philistus returned, bringing cavalry from Rhegium (which Dionysius II had refounded: Strabo 258. VI. i. 6); he tried to recover Leontini for Dionysius, but the Syracusans helped the Leontinians to defeat him (Diod. Sic. XVI. 9. v – 13, 16. i, Plut. Dion 26. ii – 32. ii).

Perhaps in 356 Heraclides arrived with his forces. He was elected navarch, but Dion insisted on his being a subordinate, not an independent commander, and in a battle he defeated Philistus, who committed suicide or was killed. Dionysius resumed negotiations, and when unsuccessful departed to Locri, leaving his son Apollocrates with the garrison in Ortygia. A rift opened between Dion, who had perhaps been too tolerant of Dionysius’ overtures and was certainly no democrat, and Heraclides, who was blamed for letting Dionysius escape and who became a supporter of extreme measures including redistribution of land. A new board of twenty - five generals was appointed, including Heraclides but not Dion. Dion joined the mercenaries, whose pay was in arrears, and withdrew to Leontini, pursued by the Syracusans but defeating them (Diod. Sic. XVI. 16. ii – 17, Plut.Dion 32. ii – 40). It was perhaps at this point that three prostatai of the city were elected: Heraclides, Athanis (who was to continue Philistus’ history) and an Achaean (Theopompus FGrH 115 F 194).

The garrison in Ortygia was starving, but in 355 Dionysius sent a man called Nypsius with supplies. After his arrival the citizens won a battle, but later he overran the outer city; and in response the Syracusans recalled Dion and the mercenaries, who regained the outer city. Dion was proposed as strategos auto-krator by Heraclides, but the poorer citizens objected; Dion retained Heraclides as navarch, but insisted on annulling the redistribution of land. Heraclides led an expedition to Messana and disparaged Dion; a Spartan agent called Pharax complicated matters before joining Dionysius; another Spartan agent, Gaesylus, arranged an uneasy reconciliation between Dion and Heraclides. By now the garrison was again starving, Apollocrates negotiated for its withdrawal, and the whole of Syracuse came under the control of Dion; the citizens voted to honour him as a hero (Diod. Sic. XVI. 18 – 20, Plut. Dion 41 – 52: hero, benefactor and saviour Diod. 20. vi, saviour and god Plut. 46. i). Perhaps now, Dion and Heraclides were listed together in the record of thearodokoi to look after messengers from the sanctuary at Epidaurus (IG iv 2. i 95. 39 – 40).

Dion was still in touch with Plato (cf. Pl. Ep. iv). In Syracuse he refused to demolish the citadel or Dionysius I’ s tomb, or to discharge his mercenaries; he apparently hoped to set up some kind of oligarchy, and summoned advisers from Corinth. Heraclides objected, and we read that Dion procured his assassination but when he was safely dead gave him a grand funeral. In 354, however, the Athenian Callippus, who had come to Syracuse with Dion (said to be a Platonist, but Plat. Ep. vii. 333 e denies this), had Dion murdered (Plut. Dion 53 – 7, cf. Tim. 1. ii, Diod. Sic. XVI. 31. vii). It is hard to be sure what kind of régime Dion had envisaged for Syracuse: he had no doubt learned something from Plato, but he probably objected specifically to Dionysius II rather than to autocratic rule as such. The Platonic Letters vii, defending Plato’s involvement in Syracuse, and viii, advising what to do next, belong to the context shortly after Dion’s death.

Syracuse then suffered under a series of rulers. Callippus lasted thirteen months: in 353, while he was attacking Catana, Hipparinus (half - brother of Dionysius II and nephew of Dion) set out from Leontini, where Dion’s sup-porters had fled, and captured Syracuse (Plut. Dion 58. i – iv, cf. Diod. Sic. XVI. 36. v). Callippus, driven from Sicily, captured Rhegium from a garrison installed by Dionysius, but was murdered there (Plut. Dion 58. v – vii, cf. Diod. Sic. XVI. 45. ix). In 351, when Hipparinus was killed, he was succeeded by his brother Nysaeus; both are said to have been drunkards (Theopompus FGrH 115 FF 186 – 8, Ael. V.H. II. 41). Dionysius since 356 had been based in Locri: about 346 he was expelled from there and his wife and daughters were tortured and killed. He returned to Syracuse, captured it from Nysaeus and, embittered by his exile, ruled savagely (Plut. Tim. 1. i – v, Just. Epit. XXI. 3. ix – x). Dion’ s supporters then appealed to Hicetas, a friend of Dion (Plut. Dion 58. viii) now ruling in Leontini (and recorded as Leontini’ s Epidaurian thearodokos in IG iv2. 1 95. 66 – 8): ‘not better than any of those who were admittedly tyrants, but they had no one else to turn to’ (Plut. Tim. 1. vi).

Hicetas encouraged the Syracusans to appeal to their mother city, Corinth, but also opened negotiations with Carthage. Corinth saw this as an opportunity to deal with the embarrassment of Timoleon, who c. 365 (but Diodorus makes the episode recent) had been involved in the killing of his own brother Timophanes when he tried to make himself tyrant (cf. p. 255): if Timoleon wanted to oppose tyranny, let him do it in Sicily. Early in 344 Timoleon was sent with a small force (but a dedication, SEG xi 126 a = R&O 74, points to more support from Corinth and its colonies, eventually if not at first, than our literary sources reveal). Hicetas, once he was certain of Carthaginian support, told the Corinthians not to bother to send help, but Timoleon went nevertheless (Diod. Sic. XVI. 65, 66. i – v, Plut. Tim. 2 – 8).

Hicetas attacked Syracuse, feigning retreat and defeating Dionysius’ forces when they pursued him. Meanwhile the Carthaginians sent a large force under Hanno (if this is Hanno the great, his downfall came soon afterwards, and Mago’ s withdrawal from Syracuse in 343 may be connected with it), which captured Entella. Hicetas had some Carthaginian ships sent to intercept Timoleon at Rhegium, but he slipped away and reached Tauromenium, where he was welcomed by Andromachus. (Andromachus, whose son was Timaeus, is never described as a tyrant, and was not overthrown by Timoleon – whether because he was virtuous or because he was the first to welcome Timoleon.) At Adranum, to the south of Mount Etna, Hicetas and Timoleon were invited to support opposing parties, and Timoleon, despite his inferior numbers, was successful in a surprise attack (Diod. Sic. XVI. 66. v – 68. x, Plut. Tim. 9 – 12).

On the liberation of Syracuse Diodorus and Plutarch diverge irreconcilably. In Diodorus’ account, spread over three years (XVI. 68. xi, 69. iii – vi, 70. i – iii), Timoleon marched on Syracuse immediately after his success at Adranum [345/4]. He occupied the outskirts while Hicetas was in the middle city and Dionysius in Ortygia, and the Carthaginian fleet arrived in the great harbour. He received reinforcements from ‘Marcus’ of Catana and from Corinth; the Carthaginians withdrew, leaving Hicetas isolated and Timoleon able to take over the whole of the outer city [344/3]. Finally Dionysius surrendered, and was dispatched to retirement in Corinth [343/2: cf. the papyrus chronicle, P. Oxy. i 12 = FGrH 255, iv]. In Plutarch’s account (Tim. 13 – 21) the success at Adranum won Timoleon allies, in particular Mamercus of Catana. Within fifty days of Timoleon’s arrival in Sicily (16. ii) Dionysius surrendered to him, and Timoleon sent men to take over Ortygia and dispatched Dionysius to Corinth. Hicetas besieged Ortygia but failed to procure the assassination of Timoleon; the Carthaginians under Mago sailed into the great harbour. Hicetas and Mago attacked Catana, from which Timoleon was supplying Ortygia, but returned to Syracuse when the garrison captured part of the outer city. Despite Hanno’ s attempt to prevent it, reinforcements from Corinth reached Timoleon, and he then marched on Syracuse. His soldiers and those of Hicetas began to fraternise; Mago departed; Timoleon made a three - pronged attack and was victorious with no losses, and so gained control of all Syracuse.

Certainty is impossible, but most scholars have preferred Plutarch’ s order of events. If that is right, what will have happened quickly is that Timoleon, perhaps representing himself to Dionysius as an ally, persuaded him to hand over Ortygia and retire to Catana; in 343 the Carthaginians arrived in the harbour but inexplicably departed, Hicetas was defeated but was allowed to withdraw with his surviving forces, and finally Dionysius was shown that he had no future in Sicily and sent to Corinth.

Unlike Dion, Timoleon did demolish the tyrants’ buildings in Ortygia. He gave Syracuse a new constitution, reported by Diodorus in two phases: in the first, ‘democracy’, with a new code of laws, emphasising equality in private relations, and the amphipolos of Olympian Zeus as the chief annual official; in the second, connected with an invitation to men to settle in Syracuse, a revision of the ‘laws of Diocles’ (cf. p. 312) bearing on public affairs, guided by a Corinthian called Cephalus (Diod. Sic. XVI. 70. iv – vi [343/2], 82. vi – vii [339/8], cf. Plut. Tim. 22. i – iii, 23, 24. iii). The two phases may be authentic; the Dionysii had not abolished all political institutions, but after the ending of the tyranny and the departure of its supporters a comprehensive reform was necessary, and while some matters had to be decided quickly others will have taken time. Under Corinthian influence, ‘democracy’ is not likely to be more specific than constitutional government; a powerful council is likely, but it is not clear whether the synedrion of six hundred involved in the later rise of Agathocles (Diod. Sic. XIX. 5. vi with 4. iii, 6. iv: cf. p. 330) is that council degenerated or a later creation; there are various references to decisions of an assembly (Diod. Sic. XVI. 90. i, XIX. 3. iv, 5. v, Plut. Tim. 38. iv, 39. v). However, Timoleon himself retained a powerful position, probably as strategos autokrator, and Plutarch quotes a resolution of ‘Timoleon and the Syracusans’ (Tim. 22. viii); after he finally resigned, there was perhaps an annual board of generals (cf. Diod. Sic. XIX. 3. i, iii).

Settlers (Diod. Sic. XVI. 82. iii, v, 83, cf. XIX. 2. viii, Plut. Tim. 22. iv – 24. i) must have been badly needed, as in the upheavals since the return of Dion many people had been killed and many more must have fled from what had previously been Sicily’ s greatest city. Attracting settlers will have taken time, since at first people must have hesitated to believe that Timoleon’s régime would be better than previous régimes; but in the end they came, more from Sicily and southern Italy than from Greece and the Aegean, and the archaeological evidence points to an impressive revival not only in Syracuse but throughout Greek Sicily. Coins of Corinth and its colonies found their way to Sicily in large quantities, presumably in payment for Sicilian agricultural produce, and Syracuse and briefly Leontini issued coins of Corinthian type (Kraay p. 236 nos. 820, 854).

Meanwhile, in the rest of Sicily there were still tyrants and Carthaginians, and Timoleon set out to deal with both. In 342 he failed to capture Leontini, to which Hicetas had returned, but he liberated Engyum and Apollonia, sending Apollonia’ s tyrant Leptines to join Dionysius in Corinth. In Timoleon’ s absence Hicetas attacked Syracuse and was defeated, but it seems unlikely that, as Plutarch claims, he was persuaded to resign his tyranny. Timoleon raided the rest of the island, to liberate Entella and other cities, and to obtain booty to help pay for the mercenaries (Diod. Sic. XVI. 72. ii – 73. ii, Plut. Tim. 24. i – ii, iv). Mago had committed suicide after abandoning Syracuse in 343 (Plut. Tim. 22. viii); but perhaps in 341 (Diodorus has nothing on Sicily between 342/1 and 340/39) the Carthaginians sent a fresh expedition, and Timoleon was able to include in his army troops from Leontini. He invaded the west of the island, and his great inferiority in numbers (12,000 [Diodorus] or 7,000 [Plutarch] against 70,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry from Carthage) was increased when a body of mercenaries deserted. However, at the River Crimisus (probably the Belice, which enters the sea near Selinus) he was helped by a hailstorm which blew on to his men’ s backs and into the enemy’ s faces to defeat the Carthaginians and capture their camp; the surviving Carthaginians withdrew to Lilybaeum. Timoleon did not follow up the victory, but it was celebrated as a great success, with dedications in Syracuse and Corinth (Diod. Sic. XVI. 73. iii, 77. iv – 81. ii, Plut. Tim. 25 – 30. iii: Plutarch 29. v – vi quotes a dedication by ‘the Corinthians and Timoleon the general’, but the surviving inscription from Corinth, SEG xi 126 a = R&O 74, is a dedication by Syracuse and various Corinthian colonies).

In 340 we find Hicetas and Mamercus of Catana in alliance with the Carthaginians, commanded by Gescon (Hanno’ s son, recalled from exile) and for the first time using Greek mercenaries, and they had successes both in the west and in the north - east of Sicily (Diod. Sic. XVI. 81. iii – iv, Plut. Tim. 30. iv – x). In 339, however, Timoleon won victories over Hicetas and over Mamercus and the Carthaginians, after which the Carthaginians made peace. Their sphere was once more to be bounded by the River (Ha)lycus (cf. p. 323); the Greek cities were to be free, and Carthage was not to support tyrants (Diod. Sic. XVI. 81. iii – iv, 82. iii, Plut. Tim. 31, 34. i – ii). Timoleon was then free to deal with the remaining tyrants. Hicetas was captured and executed, perhaps after a trial; the tyrants of Centuripa and Agyrium were overthrown and publicly executed; liberated cities were brought into alliance with Syracuse. Mamercus went to Italy to gain the support of the Lucanians, but his supporters turned back and surrendered Catana to Timoleon; Mamercus took refuge with Hippo in Messana, but in 337 Hippo was captured in an attempted escape and tortured to death. After that Mamercus surrendered and was put to death in Syracuse (Diod. Sic. XVI. 82. iv, Plut. Tim. 32 – 3, Polyaenus Strat. V. 12. ii). The population of Leontini was transported to Syracuse, but that of Camarina was reinforced (Diod. Sic. XVI. 82. vii).

The tyrants had been disposed of, and Timoleon was going blind, so he resigned ‘after serving as general for eight years’. Soon afterwards he died; he was honoured before his death and buried gloriously after it (Diod. Sic. XVI. 90. i, Plut. T im. 37. iv – 39). His propaganda attributed his success to the favour of the gods and the good fortune which that brought; Polybius belittled his achievement, and criticised Timaeus for his extravagant praise of it (XII. 23. iv – vii). The truth appears to be that Timoleon genuinely did disapprove of despotic rule, but was prepared to hold a quasi - tyrannical position and to beat the tyrants at their own tricks in order to achieve their overthrow. He was an able commander, good at improvising, and picked good subordinates. He did not drive the Carthaginians back from the position they had obtained at the beginning of the century, but he limited them to that, and he brought the rest of Sicily a generation of peace and prosperity, at a time when Philip of Macedon was making himself master of Greece (cf. chapter 24). But he could not satisfy everybody: we hear nothing of Sicily in the time of Alexander the Great, but in 317 Agathocles made himself tyrant in Syracuse, offering a cancellation of debts and redistribution of land.

On the Italian Greeks we have little information except where they are caught up in Sicilian history. Sparta’ s colony Taras was one of the most flourishing cities, becoming the leader of the Italiot League, and transferring the League’ s sanctuary from Croton to Heraclea in 374. An influential figure in the second quarter of the century was Archytas, a philosopher - politician who was general seven times in wars against the Messapians, and who helped to arrange for Plato’ s final departure from Syracuse in 360 (Pl. Ep. vii. 338 c, 350 a – b, Plut. Dion 20, Diog. Laert. VIII. 79 – 82). Rhegium seems to have become independent after it was captured from Dionysius II by Callippus at the end of the 350’ s, and Locri expelled Dionysius c. 346 (cf. p. 327). In 346 Taras was at war with the Lucanians. Phalaecus, the last Phocian general in the Third Sacred War, set out with his mercenaries to find employment in this war, but they mutinied; Sparta sent king Archidamus with a force to support Taras, but he was killed in battle in 338 (Diod. Sic. XVI. 61. iv – 63. ii, 88. iii – iv: cf. p. 385). Perhaps from 334 to 331 Alexander of Molossis went to fight for Taras (the first of a series of Epirote interventions in Italy which eventually were to bring Rome into the Balkan peninsula; he is said to have made a treaty with Rome): he overran much of southern Italy, but his successes alarmed Taras, which turned against him, and he died in a battle against the Italians (Livy VIII. 3. vi, 24, Strabo 256. VI. i. 5, 280 VI. iii. 4, Just. Epit. XII. 2. i – xv). The other Greek city which became particularly important was Neapolis, which seems to have enjoyed a good relationship with its Italian neighbours, and which may have made a treaty with Rome in 326 (Livy VIII. 26. vi).


Freeman, History of Sicily, vol. iv, was edited after Freeman’ s death by A. J. Evans. For a shorter but more up - to - date account see Finley, Ancient Sicily.

On the sources of our sources, for Diod. Sic. XIII – XV see D. M. Lewis, CAH2 vi, 121 – 3, with citation of earlier discussions; for book XV Caven, Dionysius I, 187 – 8, despairingly suggests that an original, fuller text has been ousted by an epitome. For book XVI and the lives of Timoleon by Nepos and Plutarch see Talbert, Timoleon and the Revival of Greek Sicily, ch. 2. On the Platonic Letters see Brunt, Studies in Greek History and Thought, ch. 10, esp. 312 – 30, 339 – 42 (arguing that vii is reliable, whether by Plato or not, iii is a rhetorical exercise derived from vii, viii must be a later exercise since it is unaware of the suicide of Dion’ s son).

On Dionysius I see Caven, Dionysius I. Dionysius’ ambitions and achievements in the Adriatic are minimised by A. G. Woodhead, ‘The “Adriatic Empire” of Dionysius I of Syracuse’, Klio lii 1970, 503 – 12.

On Dion see H. D. Westlake, ‘Dion: A Study in Liberation’, DUJ2 vii 1945 – 6, 37 – 44 = his Essays on the Greek Historians and Greek History, ch. 15; ‘Friends and Successors of Dion’, Hist. xxxii 1983, 161 – 72; Berve, Dion (in German). On Dion’ s heroic honours see A. B. Bosworth, ‘Heroic Honours in Syracuse’, in Heckel and Tritle (eds.), Crossroads of History: The Age of Alexander, ch. 1.

On Timoleon see H. D. Westlake, ‘Timoleon and the Reconstruction of Syracuse’, CHJ vii 1941 – 3, 73 – 100 = his Essays , ch. 17; ‘The Purpose of Timoleon’ s Mission’ , AJP lxx 1949, 65 – 75 = his Essays , ch. 16; Timoleon and His Relations with Tyrants; Talbert , Timoleon and the Revival of Greek Sicily.

On the Carthaginians in Sicily see C. R. Whittaker, ‘Carthaginian Imperialism in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries’ , in Garnsey and Whittaker (eds.), Imperialism in the Ancient W o r ld , ch. 3.

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